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FA48 The beginning of all evil in our kind of living springeth out of the depravation and corruptness of our judgment, because our will always followeth that which reason judgeth to be followed. Now that which every man taketh to be friendly and agreeing to his nature, the same doth he judge necessarily to be good for him, and to be desired. This is meat, drink, apparel, riches, favor, dignity, rule, knowledge, and such-like; because they are thought good and agreeing either to the body or to the mind, or to both; for they help either to the conservation or to the pleasure of man, accounted of every one amongst good things.
Howbeit, such is the weakness of our wit on the one part, and the blindness and too much rage of our lusts on the other part, that we being left to ourselves cannot but in the desire of things which we judge good and agreeing to our nature, by the judgment of our senses and reason, we cannot, I say, but overpass the bounds whereby they might be profitable unto us; and so we make them hurtful to us, which of themselves are ordained for our health. What is more necessary than meat and drink, or more agreeing to nature? but yet how few be there which do not hurt themselves by them! In like manner it goeth with riches, estimation, friends, learning, etc. Yea, although we be in these most temperate, yet when there wanteth the Spirit, our regenerator, we are so drowned in them, that we utterly neglect to lift up our minds to the good pleasure of God, to the end we might imitate and follow God our Maker, by yielding ourselves over duly to use his gifts to the common and private utility of our neighbors.
But now God only is life and eternity, and cannot but demand of us his handy-work, that we should render ourselves and all we have to the end wherefore we were made; that is, to resemble for our portion his goodness, as those which be nothing else but witnesses and instruments of his mercy.
So that, when we wholly do naturally strive against that kind of life whereto he hath created us, by seeking always ourselves, what other thing ought to ensue but that he should again destroy us, and take away his notable gifts, wherewith he endued us that by all kind of well-doing; we should resemble his image? Yea, what other thing may ensue, but that he should leave us, and that eternally? that we might feel and by experience prove how bitter a thing it is to leave the Lord, in whom is all goodness.
O that therefore I might find such favor in thy sight, dear Father, that thou wouldest work in me by thy holy Spirit a true knowledge of all good things, and hearty love to the same, through Christ Jesus our Lord and only Savior. Amen.