The fourth Chapter, Of the great loue of God towards mankind, and of the inward beholding of Christ crucified.
LEt vs therfore now, I praie you, by faith be∣hold and consider the great charitie & good∣nesse of God, in sending his sonne to suffer death for our redemption, when we were his mortall enimies, and after what sort and maner he sent him.
First it is to be considered, yea to be vndoubtedlie, and with a perfect faith beleeued, that God sent him to vs freelie. For he did giue him, and sold him not. A more noble and rich gift he could not haue giuen. He sent not a seruant or a friend, but his onlie sonne so deerelie beloued: not in delights, riches, and honours; but in crosses, pouerties, and slanders: not as a Lord, but as a seruant, yea and in most vile and painefull passi∣ons, to wash vs: not with water, but with his owne pretious bloud: not from mire, but from the puddle and filth of our iniquities. He hath giuen him, not to make vs poore; but to enrich vs with his diuine ver∣tues, merits, and graces: yea, and in him he hath gi∣uen vs all good things, and finallie himselfe; and with such great charitie, as can not be expressed.
Was it not a most high and abundant charitie of God, to send Christ to shed his bloud, to loose honour, life, and all, for his enimies? Euen in the time, when he had done him most iniurie, he first shewed his chari∣tie to vs, with such flames of loue, that greater could not be shewed. God in Christ hath opened vnto vs, (al∣though Page 50 we be weake and blind of our selues) that we may behold in this miserable estate, the great wise∣dome, goodnesse, and truth, with all the other godlie perfections, which be in Christ. Therefore inwardlie to behold Christ crucified vpon the crosse, is the best and godliest meditation that can be.
We may see also in Christ crucified, the beautie of the soule, better than in all the bookes of the world. For who that with a liuelie faith, seeth and feeleth in spirit, that Christ the sonne of God is dead for the satisfieng and purifieng of the soule, shall see, that his soule is ap∣pointed for the verie tabernacle and mansion of the in∣estimable and incomprehensible maiestie and honour of God. We see also in Christ crucified, how vaine and foolish the world is, and how that Christ being most wise despised the same. We see also how blind it is, be∣cause the same knoweth not Christ, but persecuteth him. We see also how vnkind the world is, by the kil∣ling of Christ, in the time he did shew it most fauour. How hard, and obstinate was it, that would not be mollified with so manie teares, such sweate, and so much bloudshead of the sonne of God, suffering with so great and high charitie?
Therefore he is now verie blind, that seeth not how vaine, foolish, false, ingrate, cruell, hard, wicked, and e∣uill the world is. We may also in Christ crucified weigh our sinnes, as in a diuine ballance, how gree∣uous and how weightie they be, seeing they haue cru∣cified Christ. For they would neuer haue beene coun∣terpaised, but with the great and pretious weight of the bloud of the sonne of God. And therefore God, of his high goodnesse, determined that his blessed sonne should rather suffer bloudshead, thau our sinnes should haue condemned vs. We shall neuer knowe our owne miserie and wretchednesse, but with the light of Christ crucified: Then we shall see our owne crueltie, when Page 51 we feele his mercie; our owne vnrighteousnesse and iniquitie, when we see his righteousnes and holinesse. Therefore, to learne to knowe trulie our owne sinnes, is to studie in the booke of the Crucifixe, by continuall conuersation in faith: and to haue perfect and plenti∣full charitie, is to learne first by faith the charitie that is in God towards vs.
We may see also in Christ vpon the Crosse, how great the paines of hell, and how blessed the ioies of heauen be: and what a sharpe and painefull thing it shall be to them, that of that sweet, happie, and glori∣ous ioie Christ shall be depriued. Then this Crucifixe is the booke, wherein God hath included all things, and hath most compendiouslie written therein all truth, profitable and necessarie for our saluation. Therefore let vs endeuour our selues to studie this booke, that we being lightened with the spirit of God, may giue him thanks for so great a benefit.