A Comparison Between The Old Man And The New, Also Between The Law And The Gospel, Containing A Short Sum Of All The Divinity Necessary For A Christian Conscience.

By John Bradford (1510–1555)[1]

A man that is regenerate, consisteth of two men (as a man may say), namely of “the old man,” and of “the new man.” “The old man” is like to a mighty giant, such a one as was Goliath; for his brith is now perfect. But “the new man” is like unto a little child, such a one as was David; for his birth is not perfect until the day of his general resurrection.

“The old man” therefore is more stronger, lusty, and stirring than is “the new man,” because the birth of “the new man” is but begun now, and “the old man” is perfectly born. And as “the old man” is more stirring, lusty, and stronger than “the new man;” so is the nature of him clean contrary to the nature of “the new man,” as being earthly and corrupt with Satan’s seed; the nature of “the new man” being heavenly, and blessed with the celestial seed of God. So that one man, inasmuch as he is corrupt with the seed of the serpent, is an “old man;” and inasmuch as he is blessed with the seed of God from above, he is a “new man.” And as, inasmuch as he is an “old man,” he is a sinner and an enemy to God; so, inasmuch as he is regenerate, he is righteous and holy and a friend to God, the seed of God preserving him from sin, so that he cannot sin as the seed of the serpent, wherewith he is corrupt even from his conception, inclineth him, yea, enforceth him to sin, and nothing else but to sin; so that the best part in man tofore regeneration, in God’s sight, is not only an enemy, but “enmity” itself.

One man therefore which is regenerate well may be called always just, and always sinful: just in respect of God’s seed and his regeneration; sinful in respect of Satan’s seed and his first birth. Betwixt these two men therefore there is continual conflict and war most deadly; “the flesh and the old man” fighting against “the spirit and the new man,” and “the spirit and the new man” fighting against “the flesh and the old man.” Which “old man” by reason of his birth that is perfect doth often for a time prevail against “the new man,” being but as a child in comparison; and that in such sort as not only others, but even the children of God themselves, think that they be nothing else but “old,” and that the spirit and seed of God is lost and gone away: where yet notwithstanding the truth is otherwise, the spirit and seed of God at the length appearing again, and dispelling away the clouds which cover “the Sun” of God’s seed from shining, as the clouds in the air do the corporal sin; so that sometime a man cannot tell by any sense that there is any sun, cloud and wind so hiding it from our sight: even so our blindness and corrupt affections do often shadow the sight of God’s seed in God’s children, as though they were plain reprobates.

Whereof it cometh, that they praying according to their sense, but not according to the truth, desire of God to give them again his spirit, as though they had lost it, and he had taken it away. Which thing God never doth in deed, although he make us to think so for a time; for always he holdeth his hand under his children in their falls, that they lie not still as other do which are not regenerate. And this is the difference betwixt God’s children which are regenerate and elect before all time in Christ, and the wicked castaways, that the elect lie not still continually in their sin as do the wicked, but at the length do return again by reason of God’s seed, which is in them hid as a sparkle of fire in the ashes; as we may see in Peter, David, Paul, Mary Magdalene, and others.

For these (I mean God’s children) God hath made all things in Christ Jesus, to whom he hath given them this dignity that they should be “his inheritance” and spouses.

This our Inheritor and “Husband” Christ Jesus, God with God, ‘Light of Light,’ co-eternal and consubstantial with the Father and with the Holy Ghost, to the end that he might become our “Husband” (because the husband and the wife must become “one body and flesh”), hath taken our nature upon him, communicating with it and by it in his own person, to us all his children, his “divine majesty,” as Peter saith; and so is become “flesh of our flesh and bone of our bones” substantially, as we are become “flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones” spiritually; all that ever we have pertaining to him, yea, even our sins, as all that ever he hath pertaineth unto us, even his whole glory. So that if Satan shall summon us to answer for our debts or sins, in that the wife is no suitable person, but the husband, we may well bid him enter his action against our “Husband” Christ, and he will make him a sufficient answer.

For this end (I mean that we might be coupled and married thus to Christ, and so be certain of salvation, and at godly peace with God in our consciences,) God hath given his holy word, which hath two parts, as now the children of God consisteth of two men; one part of God’s word being proper to “the old man,” and the other part of God’s word being proper to”the new man.” The part properly pertaining to “the old man” is the law: the part properly pertaining to “the new man” is the gospel.

The law is a doctrine which commandeth and forbiddeth, requiring doing and avoiding; under it therefore are contained all precepts, inhibitions, threats, promises upon conditions of our doing and avoiding, &c. The gospel is a doctrine which always offereth and giveth, requiring nothing on our behalf as of worthiness or as a cause, but as a certificate unto us: and therefore under it are contained all the free and sweet promises of God, as “I am the Lord thy God,” &c.

In those that be of years of discretion it requireth “faith,” not as a cause, but as an instrument whereby we ourselves may be certain of our good “Husband” Christ and of His glory: and therefore, when the conscience feeleth itself disquieted for fear of God’s judgments against sin, she may in nowise look upon the doctrine pertaining to “the old man,” but to the doctrine only that pertaineth to “the new man;” in it not looking on that which it requireth, that is “faith,” because we never believe as we should; but only on it which it offereth, which it giveth, that is, on God’s grace and eternal mercy and peace in Christ Jesus.

So shall she be in quiet, when she looketh for it altogether out of herself in God’s mercy in Christ Jesus; in whose lap if she lay her head with John, then is she happy, and shall find quietness indeed. When she feeleth herself quiet, then a God’s name let her look on the law, and upon such things as God requireth, thereby to bridle and keep down the old Adam, to slay that Goliath; from whom she must needs keep the sweet promises, being the bed wherein her sweet spouse Christ and she meet and lie together. As the wife will keep her bed only for her husband, although in other things she is contented to have fellowship with her servants and others, as to speak, sit, east, drink, go, &c.; so our consciences, which are Christ’s wives, must needs keep the bed, that is, God’s sweet promises, only for ourselves and for our “Husband,” there to meet together, to embrace together, to laugh together, and to be joyful together. If sin, the law, the devil, or any thing, would creep into the bed, and lie there, then complain to thy “Husband” Christ, and forthwith thou shalt see him play Phineas’ part.

Thus, my dearly beloved, I have given you in few words a some of all that divinity which a Christian conscience cannot want.

——————————-
[1] The account of John Bradford’s life and death according to the Foxe’s Book of Martyrs:

“Rev. John Bradford was born at Manchester, in Lancashire; he was a good Latin scholar, and afterward became a servant of Sir John Harrington, knight. He continued several years in an honest and thriving way; but the Lord had elected him to a better function. Hence he departed from his master, quitting the Temple, at London, for the University of Cambridge, to learn, by God’s law, how to further the building of the Lord’s temple. In a few years after, the university gave him the degree of master of arts, and he became a fellow of Pembroke Hall. Martin Bucer first urged him to preach, and when he modestly doubted his ability, Bucer was wont to reply, “If thou hast not fine wheat bread, yet give the poor people barley bread, or whatsoever else the Lord hath committed unto thee.” Dr. Ridley, that worthy bishop of London, and glorious martyr of Christ, first called him to take the degree of a deacon and gave him a prebend in his cathedral Church of St. Paul. In this preaching office Mr. Bradford diligently labored for the space of three years. Sharply he reproved sin, sweetly he preached Christ crucified, ably he disproved heresies and errors, earnestly he persuaded to godly life. After the death of blessed King Edward VI Mr. Bradford still continued diligent in preaching, until he was suppressed by Queen Mary. An act now followed of the blackest ingratitude, and at which a pagan would blush. It has been recited, that a tumult was occasioned by Mr. Bourne’s (then bishop of Bath) preaching at St. Paul’s Cross; the indignation of the people placed his life in imminent danger; indeed a dagger was thrown at him. In this situation he entreated Mr. Bradford, who stood behind him. to speak in his place, and assuage the tumult. The people welcomed Mr. Bradford, and the latter afterward kept close to him, that his presence might prevent the populace from renewing their assaults. The same Sunday in the afternoon, Mr. Bradford preached at Bow Church in Cheapside, and reproved the people sharply for their seditious misdemeanor. Notwithstanding this conduct, within three days after, he was sent for to the Tower of London, where the queen then was, to appear before the Council. There he was charged with this act of saving Mr. Bourne, which was called seditious, and they also objected against him for preaching. Thus he was committed, first to the Tower, then to other prisons, and, after his condemnation, to the Poultry Compter, where he preached twice a day continually, unless sickness hindered him. Such as his credit with the keeper of the king’s Bench, that he permitted him in an evening to visit a poor, sick person near the steel-yard, upon his promise to return in time, and in this he never failed. The night before he was sent to Newgate, he was troubled in his sleep by foreboding dreams, that on Monday after he should be burned in Smithfield. In the afternoon the keeper’s wife came up and announced this dreadful news to him, but in him it excited only thankfulness to God. At night half a dozen friends came, with whom he spent all the evening in prayer and godly exercises. When he was removed to Newgate, a weeping crowd accompanied him, and a rumor having been spread that he was to suffer at four the next morning, an immense multitude attended.

The Description Of The Burning Of M. John Bradford A Preacher, And John Leafe A Prentise.

At nine o’clock Mr. Bradford was brought into Smithfield. The cruelty of the sheriff deserves notice; for his brother-in-law, Roger Beswick, having taken him by the hand as he passed, Mr. Woodroffe, with his staff, cut his head open. Mr. Bradford, being come to the place, fell flat on the ground, and putting off his clothes unto the shirt, he went to the stake, and there suffered with a young man of twenty years of age, whose name was John Leaf, an apprentice to Mr. Humphrey Gaudy, tallow-chandler, of Christ-church, London. Upon Friday before Palm Sunday, he was committed to the Compter in Bread-street, and afterward examined and condemned by the bloody bishop. It is reported of him, that, when the bill of his confession was read unto him, instead of pen, he took a pin, and pricking his hand, sprinkled the blood upon the said bill, desiring the reader thereof to show the bishop that he had sealed the same bill with his blood already. They both ended this mortal life, July 12, 1555, like two lambs, without any alteration of their countenances, hoping to obtain that prize they had long run for; to which may Almighty God conduct us all, through the merits of Christ our Savior! We shall conclude this article with mentioning that Mr. Sheriff Woodroffe, it is said, within half a year after, was struck on the right side with a palsy, and for the space of eight years after, (until his dying day,) he was unable to turn himself in his bed; thus he became at last a fearful object to behold. The day after Mr. Bradford and John Leaf suffered in Smithfield William Minge, priest, died in prison at Maidstone. With as great constancy and boldness he yielded up his life in prison, as if it had pleased God to have called him to suffer by fire, as other godly men had done before at the stake, and as he himself was ready to do, had it pleased God to have called him to this trial.”



Comments

Comments are closed.

Copyright © 2011, The Association of Historic Baptists