A PROLOG UPON THE THREE EPISTLES OF S. JOHN

This first epistle of Saint John contains the doctrine of a very apostle of Christ, and ought of right to follow his Gospel. For as in his epistle he sets out the true faith, and teaches by it only all men to be saved and restored unto the favour of God again: even so here in this epistle he goes against them that boast themselves of faith and yet continue without good works and teaches many ways that where true faith is, there the works tarry not behind, and contrary that where the works follow not, there is no true faith but a false imagination and utter darkness.

And he writes sore against a certain sect of heretics which then began to deny that Christ was come in the flesh, and calls them very antichrists. Which sect goes now in her full swing. For though they deny not openly with the mouth that Christ is come in the flesh: yet they deny it in the heart with their doctrine and living. For he that will be justified and saved through his own works, the same does as much as he that denies Christ to be come in the flesh seeing that Christ came only therefore in the flesh, that he should justify us, or purchase us pardon of our sins, bring us into the favour of God again and make us heirs of eternal life, with his works only and with his blood shedding, without and before all our works.

So fights this epistle both against them that will be saved by their own good works, and also against them that will be saved by a faith that has no lust to do works at all, and keeps us in the middle way, that we believe in Christ to be saved by his works only, and then to know that it is our duty for that kindness, to prepare ourselves to do the commandment of God, and to love every man his neighbor as Christ loved him, seeking with our own works God’s honour and our neighbor’s wealth only, and trusting for eternal life and for all that God has promised us for Christ’s sake.

The two last epistles though they be short, yet are goodly examples of love and faith and do savour of the spirit of a true apostle.

 

 

A PROLOGE VPON THE THRE EPISTLES OF S. IOHN

This fyrst epistle of saynt Iohn contayneth the doctryne of a verye apostle of Christ, and ought of ryght to folowe his Gospell. For as in his epistle he setteth oute the true fayth, and teacheth by it onlye all men to be saued and restored vnto the fauoure of God agayne: euen so here in this pistle he goeth agaynst them that boste them selues of fayth and yet contynew withoute good workes and teacheth manye wayes that where true fayth is, there the workes tarye not behinde, and contrarye that where the workes folowe not, there is no true fayth but a false ymagynacion and vtter darcknes.

And he wryteth sore agaynst a certen secte of heretyckes which then beganne to denye that Christ was come in the flesshe, and calleth them verye Antichristes. Which secte goeth now in hir full swynge. For though they denye not openlye with the mouth that Christ is come in the flesshe: yet they denye it in the harte with their doctryne and lyuynge. For he that wyllbe iustified and saued thorow his awne workes, the same doth as moche as he that denyeth Christ to be come in the flesshe seinge that Christ came onlye therfore in the flesshe, that he shuld iustifie vs, or purchase vs pardon of oure synnes, bringe vs into the fauoure of God agayne and make vs heyres of eternall lyfe, with his workes onlye and with his bloudeshedinge, with oute and before all oure workes.

So fyghteth this pistle both agaynst them that wilbe saued by their awne good workes, and also agaynst them that wilbe saued by a fayth that hath no lust to do workes at all, and kepeth vs in the myddle waye, that we beleue in Christ to be saued by his workes onlye, and then to knowe that it is oure dutie for that kindnes, to prepare oure selues to do the commaundment of god, and to loue euery man his neyboure as Christ loued him, sekinge with oure awne workes Godes honoure and oure neybours welthe onlye, and trustinge for eternall lyfe and for all that God hath promysed vs for Christes sake.

The two last pistles though they be shorte, yet are goodlye ensamples of loue and fayth and do sauoure of the spirite of a true Apostle.