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Spirit and by faith he hath begotten us again, making us his children; giving us his kingdom and the inheritance of life everlasting, with Jesus Christ his own true and natural Son.
Master. Seeing then God hath created all other things to serve man, and made man to obey, honour, and glorify him, what canst thou say more of the beginning and making of man?
Scholar. Even that which Moses wrote;-that God shaped the first man of clay, and put into him soul and life: then, that he cast Adam in a dead sleep, and brought forth a woman, whom he drew out of his side, to make her a companion with him of all his life and wealth. And therefore was man called Adam, because he took his beginning of the earth: and the woman called Eve, because she was appointed to be the mother of all living.
Master. What image is that after the likeness whereof thou sayest that man was made?
Scholar. That is most absolute righteousness, and perfect holiness; which most nearly belongeth to the very nature of God, and most clearly appeared in Christ our new Adam: of the which in us there scarce are to be seen any sparkles.
Master. What are there scarce to be seen?
Scholar. It is true forsooth; for they do not now so shine as they did in the beginning before man's fall, forasmuch as man, by the darkness of sins and mist or errors, hath corrupted the brightness of this image. In such sort hath God in his wrath wreaked him upon the sinful man.
Master. But I pray thee, tell me wherefore came it thus to pass?
Scholar. I will shew you. When the Lord God had made the frame of this world, he himself planted a garden, full of delight and pleasure, in a certain place eastward, and called it Eden. Wherein, beside other passing fair trees, not far from the midst of the garden, was there one especially called the Tree of Life, and another called the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Herein the Lord, of his singular love, placed man, and committed unto him the garden to dress and look unto; giving him liberty to eat of the fruits of all the trees of Paradise, except the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. The fruit of this tree if ever he tasted he should without fail die for it. But Eve, deceived by the devil counterfeiting the shape of a serpent, gathered of the forbidden fruit; which was for the fairness to the eye to be desired; for the sweetness in taste to be reached at; and pleasant for the knowledge of good and evil; and she eat thereof, and gave unto her husband to eat of the same. For which doing they both immediately died; that is to say, were not only subject to the death of the body, but also lost the life of the soul which is righteousness. And forthwith the image of God was defaced in them; and the most beautiful proportion of righteousness, holiness, truth, and knowledge of God was confounded, and in a manner utterly blotted out. There remained the earthly image, joined with unrighteousness, guile, fleshly mind, and deep ignorance of godly and heavenly things. Hereof grew the weakness of our flesh hereof came this corruption and disorder of lusts and affections: hereof came that pestilence: hereof came that seed and nourishment of sins wherewith mankind is infected,
and it is called sin original. Moreover, thereby nature was so corrupted and overthrown, that unless the goodness and mercy of Almighty God had holpen us by the medicine of grace, even as in body we are thrust down into all wretchedness of death so must it needs have been that all men of all sorts should be thrown into everlasting punishment and fire unquenchable.
Master. Oh the unthankfulness of man! But what hope had our first parents, and from thenceforth the rest, whereby they were relieved?
Scholar. When the Lord God had both with words and deeds chastised Adam and Eve, (for he thrust them both out of the garden with a most grievous reproach,) he then cursed the serpent, threatening him that the time should one day come when the seed of the woman should break his head. Afterward the Lord God established that same glorious and most bountiful promise; first with a covenant made between him and Abraham by circumcision, and in Isaac his son; then again by Moses; last of all by the oracles of the holy prophets.
Master. What meaneth that serpent's head, and that seed that God speaketh of?
life and force. Therefore head to betoken the whole
Scholar. In the serpent's head lieth all his venom, and the whole pith of his do I take the serpent's power and kingdom, or more truly, the tyranny of the old serpent the devil. The seed (as St. Paul doth plainly teach) is Jesus Christ the Son of God, very God and very man; conceived of the Holy Ghost; engendered of the womb and substance of Mary, the blessed, pure, and undefiled maid; and
was so born and fostered by her as other babes be, saving that he was most far from all infection of sin.
Master. All these foundations that thou hast laid are most true. Now, therefore, let us go forward to those his doings, wherein lieth our salvation and conquest against that old serpent.
Scholar. It shall be done, good master. After that Christ Jesus had delivered in charge to his Apostles that most joyful and in all points heavenly doctrine the Gospel, (which in Greek is called Euangelion, in English good tidings), and had, as by sealing, established the same with tokens and miracles innumerable, whereof all his life was full; at length was he sore scourged, mocked with pouting, scorning, and spitting in his face; last of all his hands and feet bored through with nails; and he fastened to a cross. Then he truly died, and was truly buried, that by his most sweet sacrifice he might pacify his Father's wrath against mankind; and subdue him by his death who had the authority of death, which was the devil. Forasmuch, not only the living, but also the dead, were they in hell or elsewhere, they all felt the power and force of this death; to whom, lying in prison (as Peter saith,) Christ preached, though dead in body yet relived in spirit. The third day after he rose again alive in body also, and with many notable proofs the space of forty days he abode among his disciples, eating and drinking with them. In whose sight he was conveyed away in a cloud up into heaven; where he now sitteth at the right hand of God the Father; being made Lord of all things, be they in heaven or in earth; King of all kings;
our everlasting and only High Bishop; our only attorney; only Mediator; only peacemaker between God and man. Now, since that he is entered into his glorious majesty, by sending down his Holy Spirit unto us (as he promised) he lighteneth our dark blindness; moveth, ruleth, teacheth, cleanseth, comforteth, and rejoiceth our minds, and so will he continually do, till the end of the world.
Master. Well I see thou hast touched the chief articles of our religion, and hast set out, as in a short abridgment, the creed that thou didst rehearse. Now therefore I will demand the questions of certain points.
Scholar. Do as shall please you, master; for you may more perfectly instruct me in those things that I do not thoroughly understand, and put me in remembrance of that I have forgotten; and print in my mind deeper such things as have not taken stedfast hold therein.
Master. Tell me then, If by his death we get pardon of our sins, was not that enough but that he must also rise again from the dead?
Scholar. It was not enough, if ye have a respect either to him or to us. For unless he had risen again he should not be taken for the Son of God. For which cause also, while he hung upon the Cross, they that saw him upbraided him and said, "He hath saved others, but cannot save himself; let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him." But now uprising from the dead to everlasting continuance of life, he hath shewed a much greater power of his Godhead than if by coming down from the cross he had fled from the terrible pains of death.