Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reading for the 22nd Sunday after Trinity

Sunday, being the 23rd after Pentecost, was therefore the 22nd after Trinity; and the new Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham provides, as the "post-biblical reading" of the day for use at either the Office of Readings in the modern Roman Liturgy of the Hours, or for use at either Morning or Evening Prayer as set out in the Customary, a most interesting and profitable passage from William Beveridge's sermon  ‘Christ’s Resurrection the cause of our Justification’ – which, having found online elsewhere (as Sermon LXXIV in Volume IV of his works), I subjoin below. He I had not heard of previous to reading this work; I discover that he was born in 1637 and died in 1708, which means he would be classed as one of the Caroline Divines; he was Anglican Bishop of St Asaph, in Wales.

Herewith, the sermon:

Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity

A reading from the sermons of William Beveridge.

Now, according to this the true notion of faith described by the Holy Ghost himself, as we hope for pardon and justification from Christ, according to the promises which God hath made us in him, upon our believing in him for it, we are accordingly pardoned and justified by him, because we are thereby actually stated [sic] in him, and made partakers of him, and of all that he hath merited for that purpose; as the apostle saith, ‘We are partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end’ (Heb 3:14). So that if we continue stedfastly to believe in Christ, we are thereby partakers of him; and if of him, then, be sure, of all that is in him, as he is our Mediator and Redeemer.

Hence they who truly believe in him are said to be ‘one with him’ (Jn 17:21); to be ‘joined to him’ (1 Cor 6:17); to be ‘in him’ (2 Cor 5:17, Rom. 16:7, Phil 1:1); ‘to dwell in him’ (1 Jn 4:13); to ‘abide in him’ (1 Jn 3:6); ‘as a branch abideth in the vine’ (Jn 15:4-6); and a member in the body, for ‘he is the head of the body, the church’ (Col 1:18); and believers are all members, ‘every one in particular’ (1 Cor 12:27); yea, they are ‘members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones’ (Eph 5:30); and so are united and joined to him as a wife is to her husband.

This is that mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his church, betwixt Christ and all that truly believe in him; by their believing in him they are thus united to him, and by virtue of this their union to him, they partake of all his merits: as a branch partakes of the sap and juice that is in the stock, as a member partakes of the spirit that is in the head, and as a wife partakes of all the honours, estate, and privileges of her husband, so doth a believer partake of all the merits of Christ, by reason of his being joined to him, and abiding always in him. He was crucified with him (Gal 2:20), and he rose again with him (Col 3:1). He was in him and with him in all he did or suffered, and so he in him satisfied God’s justice for his sins, he in him fulfilled all righteousness, and therefore he in him may justly be accounted righteous before God himself. He cannot but be so, upon that very account, because he is in Christ. ‘For there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.’ (Rom 8:1) And if they be not condemned, they must needs be justified, and if they be justified, or accounted righteous before God, it must be by that righteousness which they have in him, in whom they are, for they have no other which may truly be accounted so; but in him they have most absolute and perfect righteousness, because his was so; and being his in whom they are by their believing in him, it is reckoned theirs too as effectually, to all intents and purposes, as if it had been performed in their own persons. […]

But here we must observe, that all who, being thus in Christ, are justified by his merit, they are also sanctified by the Spirit that is in him. As there is ‘no condemnation to them that are in Jesus Christ,’ so they ‘walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’ (Rom 8:1). And ‘if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature’ (2 Cor 5:17): therefore ‘a new creature’ because in him, who is ‘made to us wisdom and sanctification’, as well as ‘righteousness and redemption’; and all that are of him partake of all that is in him; of his wisdom to make them wise, and his grace to make them holy in themselves, as well as of his righteousness and merit to justify them before God. […]

And this is that which St James means, where he treats upon this subject, wherein some have thought he contradicts St Paul, but that is a great mistake, for St Paul saith, that ‘we are justified by faith without the works of the law’ (Rom 3:28). St James doth not say, that we are justified by the works of the law without faith, he only saith, that ‘a man is justified by works, and not by faith only’ (Jas 2:24), where he plainly asserts our justification by faith, and only denies that we are justified by faith only, or by such a faith as is alone, without good works. [...]

No comments: