THE PROLOG UPON THE PISTLES OF S. JAMES AND JUDAS

Methinks —me thynketh (Orig.)

Though this epistle were refused in the old time and denied of many to be the epistle of a very apostle, and though also it lay not the foundation of the faith of Christ, but speaks of a general faith in God, neither preaches his death and resurrection, either the mercy that is laid up in store for us in him, or everlasting covenant made us in his blood, which is the office and duty of a very apostle, as Christ says, John fifteen you shall testify of me: yet because it sets up no man’s doctrine, but cries to keep the law of God, and makes love which is without partiality the fulfilling of the law, as Christ and all the apostles did, and has thereto many good and godly sentences in it: and has also nothing that is not agreeable to the rest of the scripture, if it be looked indifferently on: methinks it ought of right to be taken for holy scripture. For as for that place for which haply it was at the beginning refused of holy men (as it ought, if it had meant as they took it, and for which place only, for the false understanding, it has been chiefly received of the Papists) yet if the circumstances be well pondered it will appear that the author’s intent was far otherwise than they took him for.

For where he says in the second chap. faith without deeds is dead in itself, he means none other thing than all the scripture does: how that that faith which has no good deeds following, is a false faith and none of that faith justifies or receives forgiveness of sins. For God promised them only forgiveness of their sins which turn to God, to keep his laws. Wherefore they that purpose to continue still in sin have no part in that promise: but deceive themselves, if they believe that God has forgiven them their old sins for Christ’s sake. And after when he says that a man is justified by deeds and not of faith only, he will no more than that faith does not so justify everywhere, that nothing justifies save faith. For deeds also do justify. And as faith only justifies before God, so do deeds only justify before the world, whereof is enough spoken, partly in the Prolog on Paul to the Romans, and also in other places. For as Paul affirms Romans three that Abraham was not justified by works afore God, but by faith only as Genesis bears record, so will James that deeds only justified him before the world, and faith wrought with his deeds: that is to say, faith wherewith he was righteous before God in the heart did cause him to work the will of God outwardly, whereby he was righteous before the world, and whereby the world perceived that he believed in God loved and feared God. And as Hebrews eleven the scripture affirms that Rahab was justified before God through faith, so does James affirm that through works by which she shewed her faith, she was justified before the world, and it is true.

And as for the epistle of Judas, though men have and yet do doubt of the author, and though it seem also to be drawn out of the second epistle of S. Peter, and thereto alledges scripture that is nowhere found, yet seeing the matter is so godly and agreeing to other places of holy scripture, I see not but that it ought to have the authority of holy scripture.

 

 

THE PROLOGE VPON THE PISTLES OF S. JAMES AND IUDAS

Though this epistle were refused in the olde tyme and denyed of manye to be the epistle of a verye apostle, and though also it laye not the foundacyon of the fayth of Christ, but speaketh of a generall fayth in god, nether preacheth his deathe and resurreccyon, ether the mercye that is layde vp in store for vs in him, or euerlastynge couenaunt made vs in his bloude, which is the offyce and dutye of a verye apostle, as Christ sayeth. Io. xv. ye shall testifie of me: yet because yt setteth vp no mannes doctryne, but cryeth to kepe the lawe of god, and maketh loue which is withoute percialite the fullfillinge of the lawe, as christ and all the apostles dyd, and hath therto manye good and godlye sentences in it: and hath also nothinge that is not agreable to the rest of the scripture, yf it be loked indifferentlye on: me thynketh it ought of ryght to be taken for holye scripture. For as for that place for which haply it was at the begynninge refused of holye men (as it ought, if it had meant as they toke it, and for which place only, for the false vnderstondinge, it hath been chefely receaued of the Papistes) yet if the circumstances be well pondered it will apere that the auctors entent was farre other wise then they tooke him for.

For where he sayth in the. ij. chap. fayth withoute deedes is deed in it selfe, he meaneth none other thinge then all the scripture dothe: how that that fayth which hath no good dedes folowinge, is a false fayth and none of that fayth iustifieth or receaueth forgeuenes of synnes. For God promised them onlie forgeuenes of their synnes which turne to god, to kepe his lawes. Wherfore they that purpose to continew still in synne haue no parte in that promyse: but deceaue them selues, if they beleue that God hath forgeuen them their olde synnes for Christes sake. And after when he sayth that a man is iustified by dedes and not of fayth onlye, he will no more then that fayth dothe not so iustifie euery where, that nothinge iustifieth saue fayth. For dedes also do iustifie. And as fayth onlye iustifieth before God, so do dedes onlye iustifie before the worlde, wher of is ynough spoken, partlye in the Prologe on Paule to the Romayns, and also in other places. For as Paule affyrmeth Roma. iij. that Abraham was not iustified by workes afore God, but by fayth onlye as Genesis beareth recorde, so will Iames that dedes onlye iustified him before the worlde, and fayth wrought with his dedes: that is to saye, fayth wherwith he was ryghteous before God in the hert did cause him to worke the will of God outwardly, wherby he was ryghteous before the worlde, and wherby the worlde perceaued that he beleued in god loued and feared God. And as Hebre. xj. the scripture affirmeth that Rahab was iustified before God thorow fayth, so doth Iames affirme that thorow workes by which she shewed hir fayth, she was iustified before the worlde, and it is true.

And as for the epistle of Iudas, though men haue and yet do doute of the auctoure, and though it seme also to be drawen oute of the seconde epistle of S. Peter, and therto alledgeth scripture that is no where founde, yet seinge the matter is so godly and agreynge to other places of holye scripture, I se not but that it ought to haue the auctoritye of holye scripture.