1) What signifies this name Christ? Anointed; whereupon ‘it may be gathered, that our Savior Christ is a King, a Priest, and a Prophet, which three were accustomed by the ceremonial law to be anointed. A King, because he, being the Son of God, alight to be Lord and Ruler of all things by inheritance: and because he hath conquered and subdued unto himself, by death, by bearing our sins, by redeeming us his inheritance out of the power of the devil, all the whole kingdom, power, and authority over death, sin, and the devil. A Priest, because he, once for all, hath entered into the most holy and innermost tabernacle of God, and hath offered, once for all, a perpetual sufficient sacrifice to satisfy for all men’s sins, and to purchase all men’s redemption; not ceasing now still to be a perpetual Mediator and Intercessor to God his Father for man, he himself being both God and man; making an end of and abolishing all sacrifices and ceremonies. which were but shadows and significations, to put the Jews in remembrance of his coming, before he came. A Prophet; for the true and only sufficient doctrine which he preached when here upon earth, and left behind him written by his apostles for our learning, binding our conscience to be subject to none other doctrine but to his alone. Heb. ii. vii. ix. x. Thomas Becon, Writings of the Re. Thomas Becon (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication), 429.
THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST.
The Gospel for the Sunday next before Easter, commonly called Palm Sunday.
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, lie said unto his disciples, &c.–Matthew xxvi.
This day is read in the church, as you have heard, the story of the painful passion and dreadful death of our most loving Lord and sweet Savior Jesus Christ. And although the passion of Christ ought at all times, and every day, diligently to be remembered by us and every Christian, seeing it is that only and alone precious treasure, whereby we are delivered and set at liberty from all the power of hell, from Satan, sin, death, damnation, &c; yet the ancient fathers of Christ’s church, in times past, have well provided that we should have every year a certain peculiar time appointed for this purpose, in the which we might do and exercise this, either privately or publicly. For by this means the passion of Christ shall be more diligently inculcated and beaten into the youth, and also be the more surely en-grafted in the memory of the elder sort of people. Now forasmuch as the passion of Christ has in times past been marvelously abused by vain meditations and cogitations of superstitious and ignorant hypocrites, we will at this present leave all such vanity, and declare how the passion and death of Christ ought truly and profitably to be considered, weighed, and pondered, unto our singular consolation and comfort, and also unto the amendment of our life and conversation. This will be brought to pass if we diligently weigh, ponder, and consider these principal points following.
I. What the passion of Christ is.
II. What excited and moved him to suffer this passion.
III. How Christ both outwardly and inwardly suffered.
IV. What fruit and profit he has procured and gotten for us by his passion.
I. The passion of Christ is none other than an immeasurable dolor, sorrow, torment, and pain, which he, from a singular and unspeakable love towards us, sustained and suffered for our sins, that he might purge them and utterly put them away through his satisfaction, outwardly in his body, and inwardly in his soul, till at the last he died on the cross; which shall be opened and declared more plainly hereafter.
II. There are five causes that moved Christ to suffer his most dolorous and painful passion. The first is our sin, which could no otherwise be cleansed, and put away, but only by the passion and death of Christ. The second cause is, the great and unspeakable charity, love, and favor that Christ and his heavenly Father bore toward us men, which charity could not abide that we should perish and be damned in our sins. The third cause is, the everlasting counsel and providence of God, whereby he determined by this means to show his love and to deliver mankind from sin. The fourth cause is, the true and faithful promise which he made in times past. Out of which, afterwards follows the blindness and indignation of the Jews, which is the fifth cause.
As touching the first cause, I mean, our sin, the holy prophet Isaiah speaks in this manner; He was wounded, even to the death, for our sins, and broken in pieces for our wickednesses. In these words the prophet declares, wherefore Christ was so evil handled and so grievously punished–verily not for his own sin. For he is the only begotten and dearly-beloved Son of God, who never committed sin, neither was there ever found any guile in his mouth; yea, for our sin, for thine iniquities and mine, was he wounded and broken in pieces. Therefore says the prophet, “For our sin.” Now that he says “our,”that is, for the sin of all men he suffered and died. For when he had once taken upon him our infirmities and diseases, then must he also die for our sins and wickednesses, as the prophet says in the before recited chapter, “The Lord has laid the iniquity of us all upon him.” And a little after, the prophet, speaking in the person of God, says, “For the sin of my people have I stricken and smitten him.” And in the end of this chapter he says, “He bare the sins of many, and paid for transgressors.” David in like manner complains in a certain psalm, and, speaking in the person of Christ, says, “The rebukes of them which rebuked thee,” (he means the heavenly Father,) “fell on me.” And a little before, he says, “I paid the things that I never took.” We have grievously offended God, dishonored his holy name, and greatly obscured his glory; all this must Christ pay, satisfy, and make amends for. Therefore Peter in his first epistle, “Christ suffered once for our sins, the just for the unjust.” Hereof it follows that not the Jews who lived at that time, neither the soldiers, nor yet Pilate, Herod, &c, alone are guilty of the passion and death of Christ, but also all sorts of us, who all without exception have sinned. For, for our sins was Christ slain and nailed on the cross. Neither are we better than they that crucified him. Although the Jews did not know him as the Son of God, otherwise they would not have crucified the Lord of glory, yet for all that, even of mere malice and envy against him, they laid hands on him as a guiltless man, accused him, and slew him. But he had never come to that point if our sins had not been, for the which he was stricken, wounded, and slain. So likewise made we him to serve in our sins, and caused him much sorrow with our iniquities. Therefore let us no more be angry with that miserable caitiff Judas, with Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, Annas, &c, as the manner heretofore has been; yea, rather let every man be angry with himself, accuse himself, and impute the fault to himself, as unto him who, for his sins did cast Christ, that innocent Lamb of God, into this most horrible and intolerable pain.
The second cause is, the exceeding great charity, love, and mercy of God, which he showed unto us miserable men and wicked sinners, without any merit or desert on our behalf, wherewith the heavenly Father being moved, spared not his only begotten Son, as St. Paul says, “but for us delivered him up even unto death.” This St. John declares in his epistle, saying, “In this has the love of God appeared, that he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to make satisfaction for our sins.” And Christ himself says, “God has so dearly loved the world, that he has given his only begotten Son, that all who believe in him should not perish, but have life everlasting.” This charity and love moved Christ also to obey his Father, so that he came down into this world, and took our sins upon him; as the prophet Isaiah says, “In his love and in his favor has he redeemed them.” Paul says, “God sets forth his love marvelously towards us in this, that when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And Christ himself says, “No man has a greater love than this, that a man should give his life for his friends.” Of these places of Holy Scripture before alleged, it appears evidently that the second cause of the death of Christ is, the love of God toward all mankind, whom our miserable and wretched state did so greatly move and strike with tender compassion, that he sent his only begotten Son into this world, who also of very love toward man, obeyed his Father’s will, even unto the death, the most ignominious and spiteful death of the cross, and gave him over into the hands of sinners, that he, by his death and passion, might deliver us from everlasting death and damnation. Whereof we may learn to love one another, and so to be minded one to another, as Christ was minded toward us. Of this St. John admonishes and teaches us in his epistle, where he says, “In this have we known love, that he gave his life for us, and we ought to give our lives for our brethren.” Paul also, in his epistle to the Philippians, exhorts us, that after the example of Christ, we should humble ourselves, and serve one another, even as Christ served us
The third cause is, the everlasting counsel and providence of God, who, by his unspeakable wisdom, determined from everlasting to deliver mankind by the death of his Son, before the world was made; as Peter in his sermon testifies, where he after many words of the crucifying of Christ, said thus: “Him,” (Christ) “have ye taken by the hands of unrighteous persons, after he was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and have crucified and slain him.” And Christ himself in the gospel tells before hand in many places, and gives his disciples forewarning, how this passion and death shall chance and come unto him, by the everlasting counsel and decree of his heavenly Father. As he said also unto Pilate, “Thou should have no power at all over me, except it were given thee from above.”
The fourth cause is, the faith and truth of God. For when this counsel was determined from everlasting, then God would not have kept it in secret, but opened the same before, many times; and promised that Savior in many places of Scripture, by his holy prophets, as St. Paul testifies in his epistles. This promise would God, as the everlasting truth, perform, and according to his promise, send the Savior, suffer him to be crucified and slain, as witnesses St. Peter in the chronicle of the apostles’ acts, written by blessed Luke. God, says he, “has performed those things which he before declared by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer,” &c. Christ also, after his resurrection, spoke thus with the two disciples that were journeying towards Emmaus; It was necessary that all things should be fulfilled that are written of me in the law of Moses, in the prophets, and in the psalms. What testimonies there are of the passion of Christ in the Scriptures of the old testament, you may easily see in the evangelical history of the passion and death of Christ, which I would wish you diligently to note for the confirmation of your faith in this behalf.
The last cause is, the hardening and blindness of the Jews, who, through their great contumacy and stubbornness, and through their impenitence or unrepentant hearts, being forsaken of God, were punished and blinded, that they should hear and not understand, that they should see with their eyes, and discern nothing, as it is written in the Scriptures. By this means they slew the Son of God, and so provoked the fierce vengeance and hot wrath of God against them; as the apostle says, “The wrath of God is come on them even to the uttermost.” For although God from everlasting had determined that his Son Christ should suffer and die, and it could none otherwise be but as God had before decreed, yet were not the Jews excused. For they found no cause of death in him. And although they did not know that he was the Son of God, yet they knew this for a certainty, that he was a godly and innocent man, whom they of mere envy and malice slew, as Pilate against himself testified, saying, I find no cause of death in him. Therefore they sought another thing than God did, who appointed his Son to suffer and to die, that he by his sufferings and death might deliver them that believe, from sin, death, the devil, and hell, and that he by his resurrection, might be glorified, and obtain a most worthy renown. But Satan, with his members, the scribes and Pharisees, sought another thing, even to slay Christ, to bring Christ to shame, and utterly to root him out of remembrance, both him and his doctrine, that there might be no more mention made of him; and so the wicked Jews, through their envy, their blinded hearts, and their ungracious counsel, executed, contrary to their will and device, the decree and determination of the heavenly Father, whereby, through the mercy of Christ dying for them, health and salvation came to so many as believe. Yea, the ungodly Jews, deservedly blinded, were disappointed of their purpose, and advanced Christ unto glory whom they determined utterly to destroy; as it is written, The Lord brings the counsel of the heathen to naught, and makes the devices of the people to be of none effect. But the counsel of the Lord shall endure for ever, and the thoughts of his heart from generation to generation.
When we earnestly consider these causes, then shall we see what miserable and damnable sinners we are; verily, even such as could none otherwise be saved, but only by Christ, so that for us and our salvation, he must needs die, yea, and that the most ignominious and spiteful death of the cross. Again, we shall see the most burning heat and incomparable fire of the love of our heavenly Father, and of his Son Christ, who having no regard to our sins, nor yet that ‘we were his enemies, died for us that we should not perish in our sins. Moreover we see, how faithful and true God is, and that all his words and promises will take place and proceed, against all the violence, force, power, strength, craft, and subtlety of the devil and the world; and that heaven and earth shall sooner lull, perish, and come to nought, than one jot or little of God’s word shall be found untrue and false. By the first, we learn of the law how great and horrible a thing sin is, before the eyes of God’s majesty; for the abolishing whereof the only and innocent Son of God must be scourged, and die so bitter, ignominious, and spiteful a death; yea, and that only to take away other men’s sins. By the second, we learn the gospel, and the loving, gentle, and merciful heart of God toward us, who for us and for our salvation, sent his only begotten Son, that incomparable treasure, into this world, and suffered him to be nailed on the cross. By the third, we learn assuredly to trust and believe the promise of God, and not to fear the ungodly and wicked persecutors, forasmuch as we see that he has so faithfully and so abundantly performed by his Son, all that ever he promised. Again, he has confounded and brought to shame the devil and all his children of this world, and has made frustrate and void all their devices, counsels, and imaginations, insomuch that whereas they thought with this their work, utterly to kill, confound, and extinguish Christ, they have most of all advanced Christ unto his great honor and glory, and by this means brought to pass, that all the faithful shall receive salvation by this crucified Christ. For how could Satan and the stiff-necked Pharisees think that Christ should be brought by death unto life, by burial unto resurrection, by ignominy and contempt unto glory and honor, and made king and ruler over all creatures both in heaven and in earth? But mighty is the Lord our God to perform his promise, and to confound the world with his god, the devil, as he doth and shall do, even to the end of the world.
III. But now follows the third thing which we ought to consider, about the passion of Christ. This is, how great pain and affliction Christ suffered inwardly and outwardly. Of the external passion and outward suffering, we have abundantly in the evangelical history, where we read how he was taken, spit upon, whipped, beaten, crowned with thorns, and at the last crucified and put to death. Of the inward passion and suffering that he had in his heart and conscience, when he must strive with death, which was before his eyes, hell, and the devil, Luke writes in his gospel on this manner, He was in an agony, and prayed the longer, and his sweat was like drops of blood trickling down to the ground. Of which words, the exceeding great horror and torment which Christ suffered in his conscience, may be esteemed and judged, and how horrible the sight of death, of sin, which he took on him, of hell, and the devil, was before him, seeing that his sweat, contrary to all reason of nature, was bloody, and so came from him. Again, in that the Comforter and Creator of all the world was cast into such necessity and fear, that his Father sent an angel unto him to comfort him, as Luke also testifies. That strife of death is fearful beyond all measure, and takes away all strength of nature, as we see in condemned persons, who are suddenly taken to be put to death. What a marvelous torment and anger there appears in them, till nature has made herself captive to death, so that the pain and death itself may justly seem to be nothing in comparison of that great agony, trouble, and fear! How exceedingly great and immeasurable it was in Christ, his bloody sweat that came from him manifestly declares. This calamity and fearfulness was afterward wonderfully increased, when he, hanging upon the cross, was forsaken of all his disciples and friends; also mocked, scornfully and spitefully railed on by his enemies, insomuch that he, being in such an agony, cried out unto his heavenly Father, saying, O my God, O my God, why hast thou forsaken me; whereof we may read more at large in the twenty-second psalm of David. In which psalm, the prophet has exactly painted and set forth the bitter complaints, and the afflicted conscience of Christ, miserable and forsaken; where also thou shall find in what anguish and affliction he was for our sins. And here let us learn, as we said before, the high hatred, great displeasure, and extreme wrath that God bears against sin, insomuch that because of it he would not spare his only-begotten and dearly-beloved Son, nor yet forgive him, seeing he took upon him the cause of other men’s sins, as we may see in the prophet Isaiah. And St. Paul says, “He spared not his only begotten Son.” This Christ also signified, when he spoke to the woman thus, If they do this in a moist tree, what shall be done in a sear and dry tree? As though he should say, Learn of me, who bear other men’s sins, and in myself am innocent, righteous, and holy, what punishments ye have deserved, and what shall befall you who by nature are sinners and wicked, and can do nothing that is good. Therefore Christ warns the women to weep for themselves, who with their sins had deserved that pain and punishment which he now must suffer. In consideration whereof St. Peter says, “If the righteous shall scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and the ungodly appear?”
For God has here plainly and evidently set forth before our eyes in Christ, his anger, wrath, and displeasure against sin; seeing that he suffered the high goodness, innocence, wisdom, justice–even his only begotten Son, to come into extreme poverty, pain, contempt, and ignominy because thereof, as though he were the greatest enemy that God has, and such a one as is not worthy to live on the ground. Yea, God did so show himself toward him, as though he had given him over forever and ever, and would never after be reconciled unto him, as Christ miserably complains in the twenty-second psalm. And all this came to pass for other men’s sins, which Christ took upon him! O how horribly shall God avenge sins in them that naturally are prone and bent unto sin, and can do no otherwise than sin and do wickedly, seeing he declared this so severely in his Son, in whom, notwithstanding, he had a singular delight, and great pleasure! Oh how grievously will he punish them who confess not their sins, yea, who will be counted holy and righteous, and will by no means receive Christ to be their sufficient Savior and perfect Redeemer, to purge and put away their sins, but will rather cleave to their own righteousness, to their own works, and to the merits and intercessions of others! Therefore let all true and faithful Christians diligently consider this, and with all study and labor beware of sin, and of the wrath of God, seeing it cost the Son of God the price of his life, seeing also that for the avoiding of the same, he was enforced to suffer most grievous pain, great and bitter sorrow, and at the last the most ignominious and shameful death of the cross, that by this means he might appease the wrath of God, kindled against man for sin, deliver man from sin, reconcile man to his heavenly Father, and make him inheritor of everlasting glory.
IV. Let us consider the fruits and profits of the passion and death of Christ. For this is our joy and comfort; verily as they are great, so are they infinite and innumerable, if they were weighed, pondered, and considered, diligently and at large. For Christ is that true wheat corn, whereof he himself speaks in the gospel of John, saying, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except the wheal corn fall into the ground and die, it abides alone. But if it die, it brings forth much fruit. Of these many fruits, we will declare some, yea, and those the chief and principal. For those being known and perfectly believed, no man shall lightly waver in his conscience, nor yet despair through pusillanimity and weakness of mind, but he shall be comforted and lifted up, with a sure hope of the merits of Christ’s passion, and always stand firm and constant in all assaults of the enemy.
The first fruit of Christ’s passion is, that Christ, God and man, by his death has redeemed and delivered us from the curse of the law. For seeing that the heart of man by nature is evil, and there is no man that does good, but all of us, in the judgment of God, are sinners and liars; the curse of the law by this means comes upon us, and condemns us as despisers and transgressors of the law, and says, “Cursed be every one that abides not in all things that are written in the book of the law, that he may do them.” From this curse and judgment of the law, has Christ delivered us, who has taken upon him our cause and satisfied the law, that so many as put their confidence, faith, and trust in him, he should make free from such curse, sentence, and judgment of the law; and so by his death he has redeemed and delivered us from the law, so that it can no more condemn us. As St. Paul testifies in his epistle to the Galatians, saying, Christ has delivered us from the curse of the law, while he became accursed for our sake. Now how Christ became accursed, Paul declares more at large, and says, “It is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangs on the tree.’” This sentence of the law was general over all that were crucified and put to death on the cross. Among whom Christ also came, and outwardly suffered the ignominy and curse of the law, and was reputed, taken, and judged as a malefactor and wicked person. But Christ, by suffering the outward curse and condemnation of the law, without deserving it, overcame and utterly put away the inward curse and condemnation of the law; so that tor ever after, it can no more bind us, nor hurt so many as believe in Christ. For although outwardly we are cursed, evil spoken of, despised, and condemned, as it befell Christ, and must needs so likewise come to pass with us, for we must be made conformable and like unto Christ in bearing the cross, yet inwardly we are free and blessed, and the curse of the law cannot prevail against us, neither can the law itself any more accuse us and condemn us. For if God, through Christ, be with us, who can be against us? So likewise we read in St. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians; “When the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made subject to the law, that he might deliver them that were bound by the law. Christ, for our sake, fell into the law, that is to say, under the pain of the law, that we might be delivered from the same, and obtain that portion of inheritance which is due to the sons of God.” Whereof the prophet Isaiah also says, “Ye are freely bought, ye shall freely be delivered.” St. Peter also says, “We are delivered by the precious blood of Christ, that innocent Lamb of God.”
The second fruit and profit of the passion of Christ is, that by it we are made free from sin; and it is in a manner the same with the first. For when we are free from the law, then are we also free from sin; not that we sin not, or cannot offend, but that sin is no more imputed unto us, nor brought in against us by the law. Therefore says blessed John in his epistle, “The blood of Christ makes us clean from all sin.” And Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews says, that the “blood of Christ purges our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Again, to the Corinthians, he says, “God made Him that knew no sin, sin for our sake, that in Him we might be made that righteousness which is allowed before God.” Christ, for our sake, was made sin, that is to say, a sacrifice and oblation for sin, and by this means has he reconciled us unto God, and made us before God, of unrighteous, righteous, of sinful and wicked, perfect and good.
Now forasmuch as we are free from the curse of the law and from sin, it follows that we also are free and safe from death, the devil, and hell, which is the third fruit of Christ’s passion. For, seeing death is the stipend and reward of sin, as the apostle says, and sin is abrogated and taken away from us by the passion and death of Christ, it follows that death is also taken away, so that it has no power against us. Therefore doth Christ threaten death by the prophet, and says, “O death, I will be thy death.” For seeing that Christ was the true life, he could not be overcome of death, but he, being the noble conqueror and valiant victor over death, took away the sting from death, and slew hell. As Christ himself says by the aforesaid prophet, “I will deliver them from hell, and from death will I make them safe.” So was Satan also cast out, as Christ says in the gospel of John, so that he cannot execute against us the pain of hell and death. And all this is come to pass, because Christ has fulfilled the law for us, and purged our sins by the sprinkling of his blood.
The fourth fruit and profit of the passion of Christ is, that we are not only delivered from the law, sin, death, hell, and the devil, but we are also, through the merits of Christ’s passion, received into the grace and favor of God. For he has satisfied the Father for us, and has reconciled us unto him, as Paul testifies, saying, When we were yet enemies, we were reconciled unto God by the death of his Son. Again, God has reconciled us unto him by Christ Jesus. Once again, God the Father has delivered us from the powers of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his well-beloved Son. Yea, we are not only by the death of Christ reconciled and set at one with God the Father, but also with all the angels and heavenly spirits. For when the Father, through his Son, favors us, and is merciful unto us, then all creatures do the same through him, and are at concord and perfect agreement with us. As St. Paul says, “It pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell in him, and by him to reconcile all things to himself; pacifying by the blood of his cross things both in heaven and in earth.” And ye which some time were far off, and enemies in your minds through evil works, has he now reconciled in the body of his flesh by death, that he should make you holy, blameless, and without fault in his sight. And in many places it is declared, how wo are reconciled and set at one with the Father, and made heirs of the kingdom of heaven through Christ.
The fifth fruit and profit of the passion of Christ is the New Testament, in which he promises unto us, and bequeaths unto us remission of sins sealed and confirmed with the death and blood of Christ; as it is written, “He is the Mediator of the New Testament, that through death, which came for the redemption of those transgressions that were in the First Testament, they who were called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For wheresoever a testament is, there must also be the death of him that makes the testament. For the testament takes authority when men arc dead, for it is of no value as long as he that made it is alive.” Of these words it evidently appears that the New Testament, wherein we have remission of sins, is sealed and ratified by the death of Christ. Therefore Christ calls the cup, the cup of the New Testament in his blood, which is shed for the remission of sins.
Last of all, Christ with his death and passion has gotten unto us this fruit and profit, that our cross and sufferings please God, that after this it should no more be a cursing or pain, but a holy blessing and mortifying of our old Adam and wicked flesh. And by this means our tribulation, persecution, and death is a holy and acceptable sacrifice unto God. And all this comes to pass through the merits of Christ and his death; as Paul says to the Romans, “Those which he knew before, he also ordained before, that they should be like fashioned unto the form of his Son, that he might be the first begotten Son among many brethren.” As the sacrifice of Christ and his death, was a pure and acceptable sacrifice to God; so likewise the death of all Christians shall be a holy sacrifice to God, not for the dignity of itself, but for Christ, of whose fullness all we have received, even grace for grace.
Now forasmuch as we know the fruit and profit, and also the whole work, which Christ has brought to pass by his passion and death; let us now learn how we may be made partakers of the same, and henceforth so frame our lives agreeably thereunto, that we may follow Christ our Savior, and be known to be like him, yea, his true disciples.
Verily then shall we be partakers of the benefits of Christ, of the fruits and profit of his passion, when we believe that we all were condemned sinners. Again, that Christ even of mere love and favor, unto our profit and singular advantage, without any of our merit and desert, suffered all that ever he suffered. Also, that by none other Mediator or work, but by Christ alone and by his merit, we can be saved, so that the passion, death, resurrection, life, righteousness, and innocency of Christ, with all that ever he has, is our own, and freely given unto us of our heavenly Father. Wherefore, St. John says, “He gave them power to be made the sons of God, even so many as believe in his name.” It is certain and sure that no one can be the son of God, except he be holy, godly, and righteous. But this we cannot be of ourselves, of our own strength and works. Therefore he says that Christ gives this unto us. It then follows, that by Christ we have received that which we had not before, neither could we deserve to have with our works. Whereby then did this come unto us? Verily by faith: for John says, that “he gave them power to be made the sons of God, even so many as believe in his name.” This power then have they only that believe, not in their own works and righteousness, but in the name of Christ, which is Jesus, that is to say, a Savior; even that they should believe that he is the only, alone, and true Savior, without whom we can do nothing, and without whose merits all our works, although ever so holy and good, are damnable and cursed. Thus by faith alone, we obtain all that Christ has, and are partakers of the same; as his innocency, holiness, righteousness, wisdom, perfection, the kingdom of heaven, and everlasting life; not that faith is our work, and therefore so nobly recompensed, but that it is the hand, organ, and instrument, wherewith we take and lay hold on Christ our Savior. For everything is prepared, given, and purchased for us before, and faith does no more than take and embrace this benefit, cleaves surely unto it, and doubts not but that Christ has obtained and performed all things for her. For Christ is freely given unto us, to be our Savior whom the Father has set forth unto us, to be our mercy-stock, so that whosoever will have and enjoy everlasting salvation, must have and enjoy it by Christ, and by none other. Therefore ought we all to lay hand on him with a strong and unshaken faith. But he that will not receive him as his one only, alone, and all sufficient Savior, but will cleave to his own works and righteousness, without fail shall be damned. For to this end we have Christ given us of God the Father, to be our Savior, that by him we should have power to be made; the sons of God, I mean all such as believe in his name, deny and forsake themselves and their works, and only joy, rejoice, and glory in the name of Christ, wishing and desiring only, by that name to be made holy and acceptable before the presence of God’s majesty.
When we have thus, through faith and confidence iu Christ, challenged unto us Christ and all his merits, with all the fruits, advantages, and profits that he got, either by his life or by his death, as our own and proper goods, then let us also endeavor ourselves to set Christ before us as an example, whose life and conversation, whose acts and deeds, we ought to follow. For although, as we heard before, we deserve nothing by our works, yet may we not be without good works in this life. Therefore let us frame all our lives, and all that ever we do, after the example of Christ, whom the Scripture sets forth unto us two manner of ways. First, as a Savior, and this is the principal part of our righteousness. Secondly, as an example; that with him we should mortify and slay old Adam; as St. Paul says, “So many of us as are baptized in Christ, are baptized into his death,” that is to say, that we should crucify with him our flesh and wicked lusts, suppress them, and give no place to the wicked appetites of the flesh. So do we declare ourselves to be true Christians, as the apostle says, “They that belong unto Christ, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts thereof.” For he that truly knows sin, and the wrath of God against sin, and how dearly Christ bought us, and paid our ransom that we might be delivered from it, will undoubtedly hate sin from the very bottom of his heart. And when he shall not be able to resist, he will be inwardly sorry, and study all means possible how he may repress that sin, and be able to tame and restrain that wicked flesh. Again, if he truly believe how loving, merciful, and gentle, God has shown himself toward him through Christ our Savior, and how God has pleasured him freely and without deserving, he shall greatly be stirred up to serve and please God, and for his sake love his neighbor, whom God has commended unto him, not only if he be his friend, but also though he be his very enemy. For Christ received him, and by his passion and death saved him, even then when he was his enemy.
Thus the true, diligent, and earnest consideration of the passion of Christ, works in us true fruits and good works, that is to say, the mortifying and crucifying of old Adam; as Paul says, “They that have put on Christ,” he means by faith, or they that are of Christ, have crucified their flesh, with all her concupiscences; yea, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; so that we, in the passion, cross, and death of the old man, should be made like to Christ, to his passion and death. For so has God ordained.
Thus briefly have we declared how we ought truly to consider the passion of Christ, with the fruits and causes thereof; by the which passion and death we are delivered from Satan, from sin, from the curse of the law, from desperation, from death, from hell, from the wrath of God, and from everlasting damnation; and are translated and removed into the heavenly country, that glorious kingdom of the most glorious God. Last of all, we opened unto you how we ought by faith to take and challenge unto us those most singular and inestimable benefits, and so form and frame our conversation and life after the example of Christ, that it may outwardly appear, that we are the thankful disciples of Christ, and the faithful and loving children of the heavenly Father. And forasmuch as we cannot do this of our own strength and power, let us most humbly pray unto God, that he, for Christ Jesus’ sake, may give us his strength and Spirit, that we may live before him in pure faith and unfeigned love, and in the great day of the Lord appear faultless among the dear and well-beloved children of God, and so hear out of his mouth who suffered and died for us, this most sweet and comfortable saying: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom which was prepared for you from the beginning of the world.” To this Lord Christ, our only Savior and most perfect Redeemer, with God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, our most sweet Comforter, be all honor, glory, and praise, for ever. Amen. Thomas Becon, “The Sufferings of Christ,” in The Writings of the Rev. Thomas Becon (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication), 457-471. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.]