More on the Benefit of Christ

My favorite portions are the distinction between law and gospel and the description of Christ’s church as his bride.

Reform Thought in Sixteenth-Century Italy is interesting in other ways to anyone who has an interest in the 16th century religious thought. If there was every an example of heterogeneous thought, it was in Italy at this time. A Reformation of the church was clearly needed, but opinions differed as on its nature and extent.


My earlier post on the 16th-century booklet The Benefit of Christ has elicited many responses. Several people have pointed me to this edition, which I had seen before. It’s not a faithful translation and is written in such an archaic language that in no means communicates the warmth and spontaneity of the Italian original.

My readers’ interest has spurred me to do further research, and I have discovered a good modern translation, practically identical to the one I mentioned in my post. It’s included in the book Reform Thought in Sixteenth-Century Italy, edited by Elizabeth G. Gleason[1]. The book is expensive but there are a few affordable used copies out there. It’s also available in many libraries throughout the US (I checked it out through my local library).

Is it worth the effort, given that we have so many other excellent Reformation books which are widely available? I am firmly convinced that it is. Think of a concise, but thorough exposition of basic soteriology with the warmth of the Heidelberg Catechism. It goes through sin, salvation, union with Christ, and remedies against lack of assurance. It could easily be used for a Bible study, an introduction to Christianity, or family devotions.

My pastor says it’s his favorite book after the Bible. My favorite portions are the distinction between law and gospel and the description of Christ’s church as his bride (with the same warmth of a Samuel Rutherford).

Here is an excerpt on assurance of salvation which is reminiscent of Martin Luther: “If I reflect on my actions, there is no doubt that I know I am sinful and condemned, and my conscience would never be quiet, if I believed that my sins were pardoned through the works that I do. But if I reflect on the promises and the covenant of God, who promises me remission of sins through the blood of Christ, I am as certain of having obtained this and of having his grace as I am confident and certain that he who has promised and made the covenant cannot lie of deceive.”[2]

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