Prolog to Rom., Chapter 1

Page 1

Page 1, Folio ccii

Forasmuch as this epistle is the principal and most excellent part of the New Testament, and most pure evangelion, that is to say glad tidings and that we call gospel, and also a light and a way in unto the Holy Scripture, I think it meet, that every Christian man not only know it by rote and without the book, but also exercise himself therein evermore continually, as with the daily bread of the soul. No man verily can read it too oft or study it too well: for the more it is studied the easier it is, the more it is chewed the pleasanter it is, and the more groundly it is searched the preciouser things are found in it, so great treasure of spiritual things lies hid therein.

I will therefore bestow my labour and diligence, through this little preface or prolog, to prepare a way in thereunto, so far forth as God shall give me grace, that it may be the better understood of every man, for it has been hitherto evil darkened with glosses and wonderful dreams of sophisters, that no man could spy out the intent and meaning of it, which nevertheless of itself, is a bright light, and sufficient to give light unto all the scripture.

Folio cciii

Above all others —aboue all other (Orig.)

How Paul useth certain words must be diligently understood.

First we must mark diligently the manner of speaking of the apostle, and above all things know what Paul means by these words, the Law, Sin, Grace, Faith, Righteousness, Flesh, Spirit and such like, or else read you it never so oft, you shall but lose your labor. This word Law may not be understood here after the common manner, and to use Paul’s term, after the manner of men or after man’s ways, that you would say the law here in this place were nothing but learning which teaches what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, as it goes with man’s law where the law is fulfilled with outward works only, though the heart be never so far off. But God judges the ground of the heart, yea and the thoughts and the secret movings of the mind, and therefore his law requires the ground of the heart and love from the bottom thereof, and is not content with the outward work only: but rebukes those works most of all which spring not of love from the ground and low bottom of the heart, though they appear outward never so honest and good, as Christ in the gospel rebukes the Pharisees above all others that were open sinners, and calls them hypocrites, that is to say simulars, and painted sepulchers. Which Pharisees yet lived no men so pure, as pertaining to the outward deeds and works of the law. Yea and Paul in the third chapter of his epistle unto the Philippians confesses of himself, that as touching the law he was such a one as no man could complain on, and notwithstanding was yet a murderer of the Christians, persecuted them, and tormented them, so sore, that he compelled them to blaspheme Christ, and was altogether merciless, as many which now feign outward good works are.




Folio ccii

For as moche as this pistle is the principall and most excellent part of the newetestament, and most pure Euangelion, that is to saye gladde tydinges and that we call gospell, and also a lyghte and a waye in vnto the hole scripture, I thynke it mete, that euery Christen man not only knowe it by rote and with oute the boke, but also exercise him selfe therin euermore continually, as with the dayly brede of the soule. No man verely can rede it to ofte or studie it to well: for the moareit is studyed the easier it is, the moare it is chewed the plesander it is, and the moare groundely it is serched the precioser thinges are found in it, so greate treasure of spirituall thinges lyeth hyd therin.

I will therfore bestowe my laboure and diligence, thorowe this lytell preface or prologe, to prepare awaye in ther vnto, so farforth as god shall geue me grace, that it maye be the better vnderstonde of euery man, for it hath bene hetherto euyll darkened with gloses and wonderfull dreames of sophisters, that noman cowde spye oute the entente and meanynge of it, which neuerthelesse of it selfe, is a bryght lyghte, and sufficient to geue lyght vnto all the scripture.

Fyrst wemust marke diligently the maner of speakynge of the Apostel, and aboue all thinge knowe what Paul meaneth by these wordes, the Lawe, Synne, Grace, Fayth, Ryghteousnes, Flesshe, Sprite and soche lyke, or els rede thou it neuer so ofte, thou shalt but loose thy laboure. This word Lawe maye not be vnderstonde here after the commune maner, and to vse Paules terme, after the maner ofmen or after mannes wayes, that thou woldest saye the lawe here in this place were nothinge but lernynge whiche teacheth what ought to be done and what oughte not to be done, as it goeth with mannes lawe where the lawe is fulfilled with oute warde workes only, though the hert be never so farre of. But God iudgeth the grounde of the herte, ye and the thoughtes and the secret mouynges of the mynde, and therefore his lawe requireth the grounde of the hert and loue from the botome there of, and is not content with the oute ward worke only: but rebuketh those workes most of all which springe not of loue from the grounde and lowe botome of the herte, though they appere outward neuer so honest and good, as Christ in the gospell rebuketh the Pharises aboue all other that were open synners, and calleth them ypocrites, that is to saye Simulars, and paynted Sepulchres. Which Pharises yet lyued no men so pure, as perteynynge to the outewarde dedes and workes of the lawe. Ye and Paul in the thyrd chapter of his Pistel vnto the Philippians confesseth of him selfe, that as touchynge the lawe he was suche a one as no man cowde complayne on, and notwithstondynge was yet a murderer of the Christen, persecuted them, and tormented them, so soore, that he compelled them to blaspheme Christe, and was all to gether mercylesse, as many which now fayne outward good workes are.