Saturday, November 23, 2013

Anglican Homily on Almsdeeds - Part 1 of 3

This is the first part of a sermon in three parts.

Among the many duties that Almighty God requires of His faithful servants by which He wants them to glorify His Name and declare the certainty of their calling, none is either more acceptable to Him or more profitable for them than works of mercy and pity shown upon the poor who are afflicted with any kind of misery. Nevertheless, such is the slothful sluggishness of our dull nature to that which is good and godly that we are almost in nothing more negligent and less careful than we are in this requirement. It is therefore a very necessary thing that God’s people should awake their sleepy minds and consider their duty in this matter. It is also appropriate that all true Christians should eagerly seek and learn what God by His Holy Word requires of them; so that, first knowing their duty, of which many by their slackness seem to be very ignorant, they may afterwards diligently endeavor to perform the same. By this knowledge of their duty, godly charitable persons may be encouraged to continue in their merciful deeds of giving alms to the poor, and also such as previously have either neglected or condemned it may, when they hear how much it pertains to them, advisedly consider it, and virtuously apply themselves thereunto.

And, to increase comprehension of these matters, I intend to speak on the following points in order:

First, I will show how earnestly Almighty God in His Holy Word requires us to do almsdeeds, and how acceptable they are unto Him.

Secondly, how profitable it is for us to use them, and what commodity and fruit they will bring unto us.

Thirdly and last, I will show out of God’s Word that the one who is liberal to the poor and generously provides for their needs shall nevertheless have sufficient for himself and shall be in no danger of poverty or scarcity.

Concerning the first, which is the acceptation and dignity or worth of almsdeeds before God, know this: to help and succor the poor in their need and misery pleases God so much that nothing can be more thankfully taken or accepted of God, as the Holy Scripture in various places records. For first we read that Almighty God accounts what is bestowed upon the poor to be given and bestowed upon Himself. For so the Holy Ghost testifies unto us by the Wise Man, saying, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, And He will pay back what he has given” [Proverbs 19:17]. And Christ in the Gospel asserts, and as a most certain truth binds it with an oath, that the alms bestowed upon the poor were bestowed upon Him and so shall be counted at the last day. For thus He says to charitable almsgivers, when He sits as Judge to give sentence on every man according to his deserts: Truly, I say to you, “Whatever good and merciful deed you did upon any of the least of these my brethren, you did the same unto Me. In relieving their hunger, you relieved mine; in quenching their thirst, you quenched Mine; in clothing them, you clothed me; and when you harbored them, you lodged Me also; when you visited them, being sick or in prison, you visited me” [Matthew 25:35-40]. For just as he who receives a prince’s ambassadors and entertains them well honors the prince who sent them, so he who receives the poor and needy and helps them in their affliction and distress, thereby receives and honors Christ their Master. He was poor and needy Himself while He lived here among us to work the mystery of our salvation, and at His departure He promised to send to us in His place those who are poor [Matthew 26:11]. Whatever we would do for Him, we must do unto them. And for this cause Almighty God says unto Moses, “The land in which you dwell shall never be without poor men” [Deuteronomy 15:11], because He would provide a continual test of whether His people loved Him or not; that in obeying His will, they might assure themselves of His love and favor towards them, and not doubt that as they accepted and willingly performed His law and ordinances in which He commanded them to open their hand unto their brethren in the land who were poor and needy, so He would lovingly accept them, and truly perform the promises that He had made to them.

The holy apostles and disciples of Christ, who daily saw by His deeds and heard in His doctrine how generous He was to the poor; the godly fathers also who lived both before and since Christ, no doubt endued with the Holy Ghost and most certainly certified of God’s holy will; they both most earnestly exhort us and all their writings almost continually admonish us that we would remember the poor and bestow our charitable alms upon them. St. Paul exhorts us as follows: “Comfort the feeble minded, lift up the weak, and be charitable* toward all men” [1 Thessalonians 5:14]. And again: But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” [Hebrews 13:16]. Isaiah the Prophet teaches, “Share your bread with the hungry, and bring to your house the poor who are cast out. When you see the naked, clothe him, and do not hide your face from your poor neighbor, neither despise your own flesh” [Isaiah 58:7]. And the holy father Tobit gives this counsel:
“Give alms from your possessions, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it. Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor.” [Tobit 4:7]
“Give some of your food to the hungry, and some of your clothing to the naked.” [Tobit 4:16]
And the learned and godly doctor Chrysostom gives this admonition: “Let merciful alms be always with us as a garment;” that is, as careful as we are to put our garments upon us, to cover our nakedness, to defend us from the cold, and to show ourselves decent, so careful let us be at all times and seasons to give alms to the poor and show ourselves merciful towards them. But what do these frequent admonitions and earnest exhortations of the Prophets, Apostles, fathers, and holy doctors mean? Surely, as they were faithful toward God and therefore discharged their duty truly in telling us what was God’s will, so of a singular love toward us they labored not only to inform us, but also to persuade us, that to give alms and to assist the poor and needy was a very acceptable thing and a high sacrifice to God, wherein He greatly delights and finds particular pleasure. Similarly, the wise man, the son of Sirach, teaches us that whoever is merciful and gives alms offers the right thank offering [Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 35:2]. And he adds that the right thank offering makes the altar fat, and it is a sweet smell before the Highest; it is acceptable before God, and shall never be forgotten [Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 35 6-7].

And the truth of this doctrine is verified by the examples of those holy and charitable fathers of whom we read in the Scriptures, who were given to merciful compassion towards the poor and charitable relief of their necessities. One of those fathers was Abraham, with whom God was so pleased that He deigned to come to him in the form of an angel, and to be entertained by him at his house [Genesis 18]. Such was Abraham’s kinsman Lot, whom God so favored for sheltering His messengers, who otherwise would have lain in the street, that He saved him with his whole family from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Such were the holy fathers Job and Tobit, with many others, who felt most sensible proofs of God’s special love towards them. And as all these by the mercifulness and tender compassion that they showed to the miserable afflicted members of Christ by relieving, helping, and succoring them with their temporal goods in this life, obtained God’s favor, and were dear, acceptable, and pleasant in His sight; so now they themselves take pleasure in the fruition of God, in the pleasant joys of heaven, and are also in God’s eternal Word set before us as perfect and permanent examples, both of how we may please God in this mortal life and also of how we may come to live in joy with them in everlasting pleasure and felicity. For most true is that saying of St. Augustine, that the giving of alms and relieving of the poor is the right way to heaven: Via coeli pauper est, or “The poor man is the way to heaven.” In times past, a picture of Mercury used to be placed beside highways to point with his finger the right way to the town. And a wooden or stone cross is set up at crossroads to caution the travelling man which way he must turn to direct his journey in the right way. But God’s Word, as St. Augustine says, has set in the way to heaven the poor man and his house; so that whoever will take the right road to heaven and not turn out of the way must go by the poor. The poor man is the Mercury that shall set us the ready way; and if we look well to this mark, we shall not wander much out of the right path.

The manner of wise worldly men among us is that if they know a man of lower estate than themselves to be in favor with the prince or any other nobleman whom they either fear or love, such a one they will be glad to benefit and please, so that when they have need, he may become their spokesman, either to help with his good word to obtain a benefit or to escape a displeasure. Now surely it ought to be a shame to us that worldly men for temporal things lasting only a season should be more wise and provident in procuring them than we in heavenly. Our Savior Christ testifies that poor men are dear to Him and that He loves them especially, for He calls them His little ones [Matthew 10:42; 25:40] by a name of tender love; he says they are His brethren. And St. James says that God hath chosen them to be heirs of his kingdom [James 2:5]. “Has not God,” says He, “chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him?” And we know that the prayer which they make for us shall be acceptable to and heard by God. Their complaint shall be heard also. Of them Jesus the son of Sirach certainly assures us, “If the poor complains of you in the bitterness of his soul, his prayer shall be heard; even He that made him shall hear him” [Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 4:6-7]. Be courteous therefore to the poor. We know also that He who acknowledges himself to be their Master and Patron, and refuses not to take them for His servants, is both able to give us pleasure and displeasure, and that we stand every hour in need of His help. Why should we then be either negligent or unwilling to procure the friendship and favor of the poor, by which we may be assured to get the favor of Him who is both able and willing to provide all we need of goods and wealth? Christ declares how much He accepts our charitable affection toward the poor because He promises a reward to those who give even a cup of cold water in his name to those who need it [Mark 9:41]; and that reward is the kingdom of heaven. Undoubtedly, God regards highly that which He rewards so liberally. For He who promises a princely recompense for a beggary benevolence declares that He is more delighted with the giving than with the gift and that He esteems the doing of the thing as much as the fruit and commodity that comes of it.

Therefore, whoever has previously neglected to give alms, let him know now that God requires it of him; and he who has been liberal to the poor, let him know that his godly doings are accepted and thankfully taken at God’s hands, which He will repay two- and three-fold. For as the Wise Man says: “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, And He will pay back what he has given” [Proverbs 19:17], the gain being primarily the possession of life everlasting through the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be all honor and glory forever. Amen.

* Editor’s note: Most translations render the last phrase as “Be patient with all men.”

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Anglican Homily on How Dangerous a Thing It Is to Fall from God: Part II

This is the last half of the sermon posted last week.

In the previous part of this sermon we saw how many ways men fall from God; some by idolatry, some through lack of faith, some by neglecting their neighbors, some by not hearing God’s Word, some by taking pleasure in the vanities of worldly things. We also saw the depth of the misery of the man who has strayed from God; and how God of His infinite goodness, to call again man from that his misery, first uses gentle admonitions by His preachers, and afterward He sends terrible judgment. Now, if gentle admonition and threatening together do not produce repentance, then God will show His terrible countenance upon us; He will pour intolerable plagues upon our heads; and afterwards He will take away from us all the aid and assistance with which He previously defended us from all such manner of calamity. As the evangelical Prophet Isaiah, agreeing with Christ’s parable, teaches us, God made an excellent vineyard for his beloved children. He hedged it, He walled it round about, He planted it with chosen vines, and made a tower in the midst of it, and therein also a winepress; and when He looked for it to produce good grapes, it brought forth wild grapes [Isaiah 5]. And here is what follows: “Now shall I show you,” says God, “What I will do with my vineyard. I will pluck down the hedges so that it may perish; I will break down the walls so that it may be trodden under foot: I will let it lie waste; it shall not be cut, it shall not be dug, but briers and thorns shall overgrow it; and I shall command the clouds that they shall no more rain upon it” [Isaiah 5:5-6].

By these judgments we are warned that if we who are the chosen vineyard of God do not bring forth good grapes—that is to say, good works—which are delectable and pleasant in His sight, when He looks for them, when He sends His messengers to call upon us for them, but rather bring forth wild grapes, that is to say works that are sour, unsavory, and unfruitful, then He will pluck away all defense and allow severe plagues of famine and battle, dearth and death to light upon us. Finally, if these do not serve the purpose, He will let us lie waste; He will give us over; He will turn away from us; He will dig and delve no more about us; He will let us alone, and allow us to bring forth whatever fruit we will: brambles, briers, and thorns, all naughtiness, all vice, and so abundantly that they shall completely overtake us, and shall choke, strangle, and utterly destroy us.

But those in this world who live not for God but for their own carnal liberty do not perceive how great God’s wrath is towards them when He will not dig nor delve any more about them, when He leaves them alone. Instead, they consider it a great benefit to be left to their own devices; and so they live as though carnal liberty were the true liberty of the Gospel. But God forbid, good people, that we should ever desire such liberty, for although God sometimes allows the wicked to have their pleasure in this world, ungodly living results in endless destruction. The murmuring Israelites received what they longed for: they had quails enough, even until they were weary of them. But what was the result? Their sweet meat had sour sauce: even while the meat was in their mouths, the plague of God fell upon them, and suddenly they died. So, if we live wickedly and God allows us to follow our own wills, to have our own delights and pleasures, and does not correct us with some plague, there is no doubt that He is almost utterly displeased with us.

And, although it may be long before He strikes, many times when He strikes such persons, He strikes them at once forever. So that when He does not strike us, when He ceases to afflict us, to punish or beat us, and allows us to run headlong into all ungodliness and pleasures of this world that we delight in, without punishment and adversity, it is a dreadful sign that He no longer loves us, that He no longer cares for us, but has given us over to our own selves. As long as a man prunes his vines, digs at the roots, and lays fresh earth to them, he sees some evidence of fruitfulness that may be recovered in them. But when he ceases spending such cost and labor on them, it is a sign that he thinks they will never be good. And as long as a father loves his child, he looks angrily and corrects him when he misbehaves, but when he sees that those measures are ineffective and ceases from correction of his son and allows him to do what he wants to do, it is a sign that he intends to disinherit him and to cast him away forever.

So surely nothing should pierce our hearts so deeply, as well as put us in horrible fear, as when we know in our conscience that we have grievously offended God and continue in disobedience, and yet He strikes not, but quietly allows us to remain in the wickedness that we delight in. Then especially is it time to cry, and to cry again, as David did, “Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” [Psalm 51:11]. “Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger” [Psalm 27:9]. “Do not hide Your face from me, Lest I be like those who go down into the pit” [Psalm 143:7]. Such prayers of lamentation, as they confirm to us the horrible danger in which men remain when God turns His face from them, should move and stir us to cry out to God with all our hearts so that we may not be brought into such a state, which is so sorrowful, so miserable, and so dreadful that no tongue can sufficiently express nor any heart think. For what deadly grief may a man suppose it is to be under the wrath of God; to be forsaken of Him; to have His Holy Spirit, the Author of all goodness, to be taken from him; to be brought to so vile a condition that he is suitable for no better purpose than to be forever condemned to hell! For not only do various passages written by David show that upon the turning of God’s face from any persons they shall be left bare from all goodness and far from hope of remedy, but also the passage cited from Isaiah 5 indicates the same: God at length so forsakes His unfruitful vineyard that He will not only allow it to bring forth weeds, briers, and thorns, but also, further to punish the unfruitfulness of it, He says He will not cut it, He will not deliver it, and He will command the clouds not to rain upon it. By this is signified the teaching of His Holy Word which St. Paul expresses in terms of planting and watering [I Corinthians 3:6-8], meaning that he will take that away from them so that they shall be no longer of His kingdom; they shall no longer be governed by His Holy Spirit; they shall be separated from the grace and benefits that they had, and might have continued to enjoy through Christ; they shall be deprived of the heavenly light and life they had in Christ while they abode in Him; they shall again be as they were once, men without God in this world [Ephesians 2:12], or rather, even worse off; and, in sum, they shall be given into the power of the devil, who rules all those who are cast away from God, as he did Saul and Judas, and generally all who operate by their own will, the children of mistrust and unbelief.

Therefore, good Christian people, let us beware lest we, rejecting God’s Word, by which we obtain and retain true faith in God, be not at length cast off so far that we become as the children of unbelief. They are of two sorts, which are quite differentin fact, almost total oppositesand yet both equally far from returning to God. The first sort, only comparing their sinful and detestable living with the right judgment and perfection of God’s righteousness, are so without counsel and so comfortless, (as is everyone from whom the Spirit of counsel [Isaiah 11:2] and comfort is gone,) that they will not be persuaded that God either can or will restore to them His favor and mercy. The second sort, hearing the loving and large promises of God’s mercy, yet not understanding the true nature of faith, make those promises larger than God ever did; trusting that, although they continue in their sinful and detestable living, God will at the end of their life show His mercy upon them, and then they will return. Both of these two sorts of men are in a damnable state: and yet nevertheless God, who wills not the death of the wicked, has shown means whereby both the same, if they take heed in time, may escape.

The first, as they dread God’s rightful justice in punishing sinners (whereby they should indeed be dismayed and should despair regarding any hope that may be in themselves), so if they would steadfastly believe that God’s mercy is the remedy appointed against such despair and distrust, not only for them, but generally for all who are sorry and truly repentant and will cling to God’s mercy, they may be sure they shall obtain mercy, and enter into the haven of safeguard. Those who enter this haven, regardless of how wicked they once were, shall be out of danger of everlasting damnation. According to God’s message delivered by Ezekiel, the very moment that the wicked turns from his sin and shows earnest and true repentance, God will forget all his wickedness [Ezekiel 33:12, 14-16, 19].

The second, as they are ready to believe God’s promises, so should they be just as ready to believe the judgment of God. They should believe the Law as well as the Gospel. They should believe both that there is a hell and everlasting fire and that there is a heaven and everlasting joy. They should believe damnation to be threatened to the wicked and evildoers, as much as they should believe salvation to be promised to the faithful in word and works. They should believe God to be true in the one as much as in the other. And sinners who continue in their wicked living ought to realize that the promises of God’s mercy and the Gospel do not pertain to them while they remain in that state, but only the Law and those Scriptures which speak of the wrath and indignation of God and His judgment. These passages should attest to them that as long as they presume upon God’s mercy and live dissolutely, God will gradually withdraw His mercy from them. Furthermore, He is eventually so provoked to wrath that He often destroys such presumptive people suddenly. For of such St. Paul said, “When they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them” [I Thessalonians 5:3]. Let us beware therefore of such wicked boldness to sin. For God, who has promised His mercy to those who are truly repentant, even near the end of their life, has not promised to the presumptuous sinner either that he shall have long life or that he shall have true repentance at the end. For that purpose He has made every man’s death uncertain, so that he should not put his hope in returning in the end, and in the meantime, to God’s great displeasure, live an ungodly life.

Therefore let us all follow the counsel of the Wise Man:
Do not delay to turn back to the Lord, and do not postpone it from day to day; for suddenly the wrath of the Lord will come upon you, and at the time of punishment you will perish. [Ecclesiasticus 5:7]
Let us therefore turn immediately: and, when we turn, let us pray to God as Hosea teaches, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously” [Hosea 14:2]. And, if we turn to Him with a humble and very penitent heart, He will receive us to His favor and grace for the sake of His holy Name, of His promise, of His truth and mercy promised to all faithful believers in Jesus Christ His only natural Son. To whom, the only Savior of the world, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honor, glory, and power world without end. Amen.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Anglican Homily on How Dangerous a Thing It Is to Fall from God - Part I

Another of our modern-language versions of the Anglican Homilies, this is the first part of the homily on turning away from God.

The Wise Man says that pride was the beginning of our forsaking God; by it man’s heart was turned from God his Maker, for pride is the fountain of all sin: he who has it shall be full of cursings, and at the end it shall overthrow him [Ecclesiasticus 10:12-13]. And, as through pride and sin we go from God, so shall God, and all goodness with Him, go from us. The Prophet Hosea plainly affirms that those who depart from God by vicious living yet try to pacify and distract Him by sacrifice are laboring in vain. Despite all their sacrifice, He still departs from them. Forasmuch, says the Prophet, as they do not apply their minds to return to God, although they go about with whole flocks and herds to seek the Lord, yet they shall not find Him; for He is gone away from them [Hosea 5:4, 6].
We can turn from God in various ways. Sometimes it is done directly by idolatry, as Israel and Judah did [Hosea 4:12; 5:5]. Sometimes men turn from God by lack of faith and mistrusting of God, as Isaiah says:
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
And rely on horses,
Who trust in chariots because they are many
And in horsemen because they are very strong,
But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
Nor seek the Lord [Isaiah 31:1]
But what follows?
When the Lord stretches out His hand,
Both he who helps will fall,
And he who is helped will fall down;
They all will perish together. [Isaiah 31:3]
Sometimes men go from God by neglecting his commandments concerning their neighbor, which require them to express hearty love towards every man: as Zachariah said unto the people on God’s behalf,
‘Execute true justice,
Show mercy and compassion
Everyone to his brother.
Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless,
The alien or the poor.
Let none of you plan evil in his heart
Against his brother.’

“But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts. “But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land became desolate after them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate.” [Zechariah 7:9-14]

And, in sum, all those who, following the persuasions and stubbornness of their own hearts and going backward and not forward, [Jeremiah 7:24], do not abide the Word of God and instead turn away from God. Insomuch that Origen says, “He that with mind, with study, with deeds, with thought and care, applies and gives himself to God’s Word, and thinks upon his laws day and night, gives himself wholly to God, and in his precepts and commandments is exercised, this is he that is turned to God.” And on the other hand he says, “Whosoever is occupied with fables and tales when the Word of God is rehearsed is turned from God. Whosoever in time of reading God’s Word is diverted in thought to worldly business, money, or profit is turned from God. Whosoever is entangled with the cares of possessions, filled with covetousness of riches, whosoever studies for the glory and honor of this world, he is turned from God.” So that anyone who does not have his mind set on all that is commanded or taught of God; he who does not listen unto it, embrace, and print it in his heart, to the intent that he may duly fashion his life after it; he has plainly turned from God, even though he may continue to do other things that he considers better and more to God’s honor.
The truth of this point is seen in holy Scripture by the example of King Saul [I Samuel 15:1-24], who being commanded of God by Samuel to kill all the Amalekites and destroy them clearly with their goods and livestock, yet he, being moved partly with pity and partly (as he thought) with devotion to God, saved Agag their king, and all the best of their cattle, to sacrifice to God. With this disobedience God was highly displeased and said to the Prophet Samuel, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments” [I Samuel 15:11].

And, when Samuel asked why he had saved the cattle, contrary to God’s command, he excused the matter partly by fear, saying he dared do none other because the people wanted it; partly because he thought God would be content, seeing that this deed was done with a good intent and devotion to honor God with the sacrifice of such excellent animals. But Samuel, reproving all such intents and devotions because no matter how much they seem to honor God, they contradict His Word (and obedience to His Word is the only way we may be assured of his pleasure) said:
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”

By all these examples of Holy Scripture we may know that as we forsake God, so shall He forsake us. And what miserable state consequently and necessarily follows thereupon, a man may easily consider by the terrible judgment of God. And even though he may be unable to fathom the depth of such misery, which is so great that it passes any man’s capacity in this life sufficiently to understand, he shall soon perceive enough that, unless he has a heart of stone, he shall fear, tremble, and quake.
First, the displeasure of God toward us is commonly expressed in the Scripture by two things: by showing His fearful countenance upon us, and by turning His face or hiding it from us. His great wrath is signified by showing His dreadful countenance; but it is signified many times more by His turning or hiding His face, for it means that He clearly forsakes us and gives us over. The same is true with the behavior of mankind. For men commonly bear a good, cheerful, and loving countenance towards those whom they favor, so that by the face or countenance of a man it is apparent what will or mind he bears towards another. So, when God shows His dreadful countenance towards us, that is to say, when He sends dreadful plagues of sword, famine, or pestilence upon us, it appears that He is greatly angry with us. But, when He withdraws from us His Word, the right doctrine of Christ, His gracious assistance and aid, which is inherently connected to His Word, and leaves us to our own wit, to our own will and strength, He declares then that He has begun to forsake us. For, while God has shown to all those who truly believe His Gospel His face of mercy in Jesus Christ, which so enlightens their hearts that if they behold it as they ought to do, they are transformed into His image, are made partakers of the heavenly light and of His Holy Spirit, and are fashioned to Him in all goodness requisite to the children of God; so if they afterward neglect the same, if they are unthankful unto Him, if they do not order their lives according to His example and doctrine and to the setting forth of His glory, He will take away from them His kingdom, His holy Word, by which He should reign in them, because they do not bring forth the fruit thereof that He looks for.

Nevertheless, God is so merciful and longsuffering that He does not visit us suddenly with great wrath. But when we begin to shrink from His Word, not believing it, or not expressing it in our lives, He first sends His messengers, the true preachers of His Word, to admonish us and warn us of our duty; that as He, for His great love for us, delivered His own Son to suffer death so that we by His death might be delivered from death and be restored to life everlasting, to dwell with Him forever and to be partakers and inheritors with Him of His everlasting glory and kingdom of heaven, so again that we should walk in a godly life, as is right for His children to do. And if we still remain disobedient to His Word and will, not knowing Him, not loving Him, not fearing Him, not putting our whole trust and confidence in Him; and, on the other side, to our neighbors behaving ourselves uncharitably by disdain, envy, malice, or by committing murder, robbery, adultery, gluttony, deceit, lying, swearing, or any similar detestable works and ungodly behavior; then He threatens us by terrible warnings, swearing in great anger that "whosoever does these works shall never enter into His rest [Hebrews 4:1-3], which is the kingdom of heaven.