Second Pentecost Day Sermon A.
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." John 3:19.
With light is understood not only the right understanding and right knowledge in spiritual matters, but also the right experiences and right Christian life. But with darkness is understood not only lack of understanding and wrong knowledge, but also the evil will of sorrowless men and an ungodly life. When the Saviour now says that "men loved darkness rather than light," then it is to be understood that natural men do not wish to come into light, they do not wish to reveal their evil deeds, they do not wish to confess their sins. In this way Augustine, that renowned teacher of Christians, has understood this Bible passage, that the sorrowless and heathens love darkness so much that they cover and deny their sins, which nevertheless will someday come into the light. We well know that thieves and whores hate even natural light. If someone comes upon a thief with a candle when he is stealing, then he tries to extinguish the candle so that he would not be recognized. So also do whores hate natural light and become angry at those who come upon them with a candle in their pure devilishness. But they hate that spiritual light even more. When Christians demand of them a true confession of sin, then they want to cover their sins and deny them, saying, "it is not necessary to confess, nor does one need to cry out to the world." Why has Augustine understood this passage so, that it pertains to confession of sins, that all the deeds of darkness must be brought into light? But grace thieves do not at all wish to confess their sins. They do not want to come into the light; they love darkness more than light because their deeds are evil. With light is also understood right self-knowledge. But how can grace thieves come into self-knowledge, who do not know that they have spiritual hatred toward Christians in their heart, nor do they know what the devil of honor effects in them when they want to cover up their sins? How then could they know what the devil of greed effects in them and what the devil of self-righteousness effects? With light is also understood the right understanding of the Word of God. But the sorrowless and grace thieves do not wish to come into that light, for some of them expound the Scriptures like the devil. Not even Nicodemus understood what new birth is, although he was a master in Israel. And the scribes understood all of the prophets' promises of the kingdom of the Messiah wrongly. How then could the sorrowless understand the Scriptures rightly when Apostle Paul, who was such a man of Scriptures, did not understand more than that Christians were one wrong heresy and a sect of the Nazarene, which wanted to change that old ordinance of Moses and bring false faith into the kingdom. Why did Paul begin to understand the Scriptures differently as soon as his conscience had awakened? But the Jews became terribly angry at Paul as soon as the change took place in him. Are not the sorrowless and grace thieves of this time able to guess that it is the devil, but not Luther, who expounds God's Word to them wrongly. But they must now be in darkness because they love darkness. With darkness is understood also that natural blindness and darkness in spiritual matters, in which the sorrowless travel the broad road to destruction. Although some do feel that they are on a poor road, nevertheless they do not become free from Satan's snares. Some depend on this, that Christians are false prophets and wild spirits; therefore the sorrowless are then true prophets. The sorrowless, no doubt, understand God's Word correctly when they say, "Surely we see for ourselves from the book." What do you see for yourselves from the book? No doubt you see as much as the Jews saw, who had received that enlightenment from hell that John the Baptist had a devil and the Nazarene had a devil and Christians were false prophets. That much a sorrowless person sees from the Book. If he would not love darkness, if he would have a desire to come into light, then he could, however, receive that enlightenment from the Book that he himself is a false prophet and wild spirit, but he does not wish to come into that light, for he loves darkness more than light, "because his deeds are evil." One sorrowless person loves darkness more than light because his deeds are evil. It is one sign of darkness, that he loves his old bosom sins and holds them to be permissible. We see that drunkards love even whiskey and consider it to be sweet, although all rational people know that such a desire makes a person into an animal. So also whores love their own flesh more than God. They want to live as animals and they also die as animals. It appears as though drunkards and whores would have received that enlightenment from hell, that they have the best right to step into the kingdom of heaven. But they probably do not have a soul at all when they live like animals and die like animals. Such ones hate Christianity the worst, which is spiritual light. But neither do the liquor merchants love the light, but they love darkness because their deeds are evil. And this now is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, but men love darkness more than light because their deeds are evil. If this light had not come into the world, if this Christianity would not have come, then they would have had less responsibility, and such a severe condemnation would not have come upon them. Then they would have been able to go to hell in peace under the shadow of ignorance and lack of understanding. It would have been easier for them on Judgement Day, as for the men of Sodom and Gomorrah, to whom was not preached so much of penitence, repentance, and faith as to these Jews. But just for this reason, that the light has come — just for this reason that these sorrowles and hardened ones have heard and seen so much Christianity, therefore one terrible condemnation will come upon those who have not believed that light has come into the world, who have not believed that this light is the true enlightenment and true Christianity. When so much has been spoken to the hardened Jews of penitence, repentance, and living faith, and they have not yet been able to believe that all enemies of truth, all scoffers and opposers will receive condemnation upon themselves, just for the reason that this light has come into the world. For the sorrowless and hardened ones will not be able to say on Judgement Day: "We have not known or understood how we should have lived." These sorrowless and hardened ones cannot say on Judgement Day as the men of Sodom and Gomorrah: "It has not been spoken to us of repentance. It has not been preached to us of penitence." The doubting ones and prisoners of unbelief or self-righteousness will not have reason to say: "It has not been preached to us of faith." Perhaps the greatest grace thieves will say, "It has not been preached to us of faith," but they lie, for grace thieves want to go unto Christ without penitence and without repentance. But Christ has not accepted Pharisees and such grace thieves who say, "We have one father, even God." To them Christ Himself has said, "Ye are of your father the devil." To such grace thieves has been preached such a gospel as John the Baptist preached to the Pharisees: "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matt 3:7) But to the penitent, sorrowful, doubting, and downpressed souls the gospel has been preached; we know assuredly that the gospel is preached to the poor, but judgement is preached to the rich. And upon this confidence, we now bow our knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Father of light, praying with humble and penitent hearts that He would yet allow this light to enlighten those who sit in darkness and under the shadow of death, that they could yet see this light which has now come into the world. Although it makes those blind who love the darkness, nevertheless the children of light rejoice as the young of swallows, who begin to sing early when the sun rises. Hear, Father of light, the sigh of the penitent, sorrowful, and doubting ones who still sit in darkness and in the valley of the shadow of death, awaiting the dawning of the day. Amen. Our Father, which art in the heavens, etc.
The Gospel: John 3:16-21.
We must now, through God's grace, consider: What living beings are they who love darkness more than light. First consideration: What living beings are they who love darkness more than light? Second consideration: What kind of condemnation will they receive? If now the Father of light would enlighten this whole atmosphere, that all the living beings of darkness would see this light, and that all who are lonely in that darkness could come into light. Amen.
First consideration; What living beings are they who love darkness? All those people who live under the earth, as elves and earthlings and bastards who screech in the dusk and frighten the living and those people who live upon the earth. So also the magpies and forestdevils who laugh at and curse the light. First the elves or rulers of the earth who, under the earth, dig the earth with their fingernails and imagine that they will find a treasure trove there, but when this treasure trove is brought to light, it is nothing more than a charcoal pit. The daughters of elves are said to be in clothing of broadcloth, and they wear silk scarves and other finery with which they draw whorebucks to themselves, as rings, earrings, gold chains, with which the devil of adultery has bound them to an iron collar. They are also said to have long hair and beautiful singing voices, although they cannot sing anything except adulterous songs. If many a youth has become deceived by their beauty when he has become drunken from the wine of adultery, surely also many a Christian daughter, through adultery, has gone under the earth to live in darkness when she has taken an elf's son for a husband.
Have you not heard how elves steal the children of men before they are baptized, and even afterwards they exchange the children of men on whose breast a cross has not been placed? For elves cannot bear a cross to be placed upon the breast of their children; elves surely swaddle their children, but it is not allowed in the kingdom of the elves that the swaddling bands would be put to cross upon the child's breast. It is well known from that, that elves are enemies of Jesus' cross, and how could the elves carry the cross, who eat devil's dung and the manure of old adam. After that drinking they are so filthy and drowsy, as if they would have eaten dung, but just the same they consider devil's dung sweet although it stinks as poison a quarter of a mile away. When these elves drink a lot of that flowing devil's dung, they finally end up in the underworld, although elves imagine, in their blindness, that some sorcerer has raised up earthlings upon them. But it is a well proven matter that everyone who sees earthlings has drunk too much devil's dung. Earthlings have sunk even deeper into bottomless depths than elves have, because earthlings have come from those souls who have borne the name of a Christian upon the earth, but through unwatchfulness have fallen away from Christianity and become earthlings. These earthlings frighten living people with their apparitions and even after their spiritual death they keep a church attendance and burn candles, for which reason they are called "church goers" by some. But what does church attendance help them any more after death, when here in the time of grace they have sat deaf and dumb in the Lord's house. The Word of God has gone over the head, past the mouth and past the ears, and never toward the heart. To this same group of earthlings belong also the bastards, who soon after birth have become lifeless. The old man has had opportunity to kill the new man shortly after birth; therefore these bastards have never suckled at the Parent's breast, and they have died without baptism. Now they screech in the dusk and long for baptism and the name of a Christian, but no one can give them the name of a Christian except elves and earthlings; they give bastards the name of a Christian. Saint Paul testifies that those children whom the Father does not chastise are bastards and not sons. This is now the crowd of darkness, who love darkness and hate the light because their deeds are evil. Into it also come magpies and forest devils, who love darkness and hate the light. Magpies laugh if some living person speaks to them of penitence and repentance. But forest devils curse the Christians and gnash their teeth as the Jews did who spoke with Stephen. They gnashed their teeth and stopped their ears, that they would not be able to hear such terrible words of blasphemy as Stephen spoke. For the words of one Christian sound so terrible in the ears of a forest devil, that he cannot bear to hear them at all. Some forest
devils are so holy, so pious, and so godly, that they cannot bear to hear a Christian's curse, but let them begin to read their lessons themselves, and then surely cursing will become blessing and their blessing will become cursing. Otherwise a forest devil is said to be quite some whore; certainly the daughters of men can guard themselves from him. Some who hate the light are like owls, who crane their necks and peer. Owls fly around the houses in the twilight and eat mice and terrible things, as prophet Isaiah testifies of them, and with that mouseflesh they imagine that they will live in eternity. Trappers of mice are such who watch for faults of Christians, as the Pharisees who always were watching Christ's faults, and with these they kept their spirits alive. These owls do not care at all about those who drink, curse and fight, commit adultery and steal; such ones are often the Pharisees' best friends. But Christians are always an offense, and the Pharisees watch their life if they could get from them some mouse that would be quite sweet food in the owl's mouth. Such is the nature of a Pharisee, whose foundation of salvation is self-righteousness: he strains at gnats and swallows sharp-finned fish; he certainly sees small faults in the Christians, but his own sins he loves, covers and hides; he demands, therefore, the holiness of angels from Christians; no doubt he thinks that Christians arc hypocrites as he himself is. But do not look for mice, good Pharisee. Do not look at the mote in a Christian's eye as long as a beam is in your own eye. First take the beam out of your own eye; take the hatred and greed and envy out of your own heart, for these sins will take you to hell. And you, grace thief, who began to watch for faults in the Christians and to catch mice, take the iron spike out of your heart. It swells your heart and makes it so fat that you no longer fit through the strait gate. How would he, who no longer fits into the Christians' meeting house, fit into the kingdom of heaven? It is impossible. Who therefore are those living beings who love the darkness? Yes, they are elves and earthlings, bastards, magpies, forest devils, and owls. Elves, or slaves of mammon, who dig the earth with their fingernails and imagine that they will find a treasure trove there; then earthlings are those who have borne the name of a Christian but have lost that power and become seven times worse than before. Then bastards arc those who the old man has killed shortly after birth, who have never nursed at the Parent's breast. They have died without baptism and now long for the name of a Christian. Then magpies, who with laughter and blasphemy repay Christians' warnings of judgement and condemnation. Then forest devils, who are quite some whores, cursers, tax thieves, drunkards, and fighters; they are such men who go boldly and with great speed to hell. Then the owls, or such Pharisees or self-righteous Christians, who eat horrible things and catch mice; they strain at gnats and swallow camels, watch Christians' faults and, like devil's angels, rejoice over the fall of Christians and say, "Such are the Christians." All these love the darkness more than the light because their deeds are evil.
The second consideration: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." If light would not have come into the world, then the lovers of darkness would have gotten by more easily; such a great responsibility would not have weighed upon them. But now light has come into the world: they have seen the powerful works that have been done in the people, so much has been spoken and preached to them of penitence, repentance, and faith that they have become tired of hearing and have hardened. Just this hardening, which has come to the opposers through Christianity, should be one sign that this Christianity is right, for old Simeon has said: "Behold,, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against." Thus have the Jews hardened during the time of John the Baptist, in the Saviour's time, and in the time of the Apostles; the more they were preached to, the more they hardened. The devil resists so firmly when he cannot be at peace in his den that he makes his heart swell, makes it so hard, wicked, and hardened that nothing can pierce it anymore, neither the law nor the gospel. It is the same as if it would be preached to that wall. The world's slaves certainly reproach the Christians for that hardening, saying, "You yourselves have hardened us; answer now for our souls." But it is not so, good Pharisee, it is not as you imagine. The Christians have not hardened you, but the devil has hardened you. The Lord said to Moses, "I will harden Pharaoh's heart." Has the Lord then hardened Pharaoh's heart? No, say I, but the devil, the devil of pride, the devil of hatred, and the devil of self-righteousness harden the heart. And now Jesus says, "It shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, then for you — for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes." (Luke 10:12,13) Can the sorrowless of this time say that neither the law nor the gospel have been preached to them? Can they say, "The Christians have not spoken anything to us of penitence and repentance"? Come now to accuse the Christians already in this time of grace, that they can, in those places, correct their faults, where there truly is correction to be made.
Therein is now the condemnation for the hardened ones: "That light is come into the world, and men love darkness more than light because their deeds are evil." The Jews cannot say, "Judgement has not been preached to us", nor can the poor say, "the gospel has not been preached to us." We know assuredly that condemnation has been preached to the Jews, namely the condemnation that follows hardening and spiritual hatred and persecution of Christians. So also has the gospel been preached to the poor, namely to the poor in spirit; that is to the penitent, sorrowful, doubting, distressed, and down-pressed souls the gospel has been preached. And for this reason, that this light has come into the world and just the same men have loved darkness more than light, just for this reason the hardened and enemies of Jesus' cross are now condemned, that they would not in any way be able to say that they are blameless. If this light would not have come, then their judgement would have been lighter: they would have been able to have this excuse, that the way to heaven was not made known to them. But now it has been made known to them. And if so much would have been preached in the pagan land of penitence, repentance, and faith as has been preached here, then they would have long ago been penitent and made repentance in sackcloth and ashes. And those pagans who live in Gog and Magog will rise up on Judgement Day to judge these baptized pagans and say, "If so much would have been preached to us of penitence and repentance and faith, then we would have become penitent." But those few souls who have believed the gospel can, nevertheless, try their consciences, whether there is still in them that fault, that they have not spoken so diligently to the pagans in these last years as they should have. We have heard that some pagans have already accused the Christians that they no longer visit the homes of the pagans. And what will they then do in eternity if Christians do not warn themselves against laziness and carelessness in that place. Then the pagans will truly have reason to accuse the Christians on Judgement Day, Although pagans here do accuse the Christians, that Christians come to curse and condemn them, but only in eternity will the eyes of the hardened open, and they they will surely accuse the Christians that they have not rightly barked at and condemned them. But our hope is that those few souls, who here have confessed the truth and freed their souls, will see God in the light, and the pagans must condemn themselves that they have not accepted that good counsel. And then they must sec the confessors of truth in the light, on the right side of the Son of God. Amen.