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Means of Grace.
Q. 1. What is to be understood by the means of grace?
A. Those things which God has appointed for the instruction, conviction, conversion, and sanctification of mankind.
Q. 2. What are the means of grace?
A. The principal means of grace are a preached gospel; reading the Holy Scriptures and other religious books; prayer in public, private, and secret; the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper; religious conversation and meditation; self-examination; and religious education. (a)
diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless.—Luke xxi. 33. 34. 36. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life; and so that day come upon you unawares.
Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
(a) 1 Cor. i. 18. 21. 23, 24. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks, foolishness. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God - Eph. iv. 11, 12. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors or teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.-Acts xvii. 11. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily whether these things were so.—Matt. vii. 7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. -Matt. xxviii. 19. Go, ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.—1 Cor. xi. 26. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.—Luke xxiv. 32. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?—Ps. i. 2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate, day and night.—2 Cor. xiii. 5. Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves. Know ye
Q. 3. How do the means of grace have an effect?
A. By instructing and impressing the minds of men. The mind is influenced by the instrumentality of motives. All the Christian graces are put forth in view of truth. There can be no love to God, without a knowledge of Him;no repentance for sin, without a knowledge of the law;—no faith in Christ, without a knowledge of Him;—and no Christian hope, without a knowledge of the blessings to be conferred upon Christians. There is, ordinarily, a connection between divine knowledge and grace; that is, there is not ordinarily, grace or holiness without knowledge derived from the bible. And there can be no conversion, or sanctification, without religious impression. The mind in ordinary cases will not act till instructed and impressed. The means of grace, then, produce their effect by presenting truth before the mind, and motives to induce the mind to act in view of truth.(6)
Q. 4. Will the means of grace, of themselves, ever effect, or insure, the regeneration or sanctification of the soul?
A. They never will. They are to be viewed only as the instrument, used by the Holy Spirit in enlightening the understanding, and influencing the conscience;-in occasioning, but not causing, holy affections of heart. Moral suasion, or the exhibition of divine truth, will of itself avail nothing towards renewing and sanctifying the heart. There must be the agency of the Holy Ghost to give efficiency to means. Their saving efficacy depends upon God's agency. (c)
not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?—Deut. vi. 6, 7. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when th ou liest down, and when thou risest up.
(b) Ps. xix. 8. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Heb. iv. 12. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.-Jer. xxiii. 29. word like as a fire, saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
(c) 1 Cor. iii. 6. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.1 Pet. i. 23. Being born again, not of corruptibie seed,
Is not my
Q. 5. Are the common means of
grace absolutely necessary, in the nature of things, to prepare men for heaven?
A. It is presumed they are not. God could renew and sanctify the hearts of those whom he saves, without the common means of grace, if he pleased. We have reason to think He does this in the salvation of infants. But God's ordinary method, in renewing and sanctifying the soul, is by the instrumentality of means.
Without them, therefore, there will, ordinarily, be no convictions, nor conversions, no fruits of the Spirit, no accessions to the Church of Christ; but with them there will, generally, be the ends for which they are used.
Q. 6. How does this doctrine of means and ends affect the agency and sovereignty of God, and the agency and dependence of man?
A. The connection of means and ends, however certain, does neither injure nor destroy the agency or sovereignty of God, nor the agency or dependence of man; but proves and illustrates these doctrines. God acts by the instrumentality of means; and, in doing it, His agency is as real and sovereign as though He acted without it. Man acts freely, while he is acted upon by the Holy Spirit, and, thus, man is really dependent, and still a free agent. (d)
Q. 7. Are all men, sinners as well as saints, under obligations to attend on and use the means of grace?
A. They are. The commands of God, and the benefit resulting from their use, bind them to this duty. Saints are sanctified through the truth. Sinners are usually converted by the instrumentality of means. There is no account in Scripture, that any who had arrived to years of discretion were converted until they had enjoyed some of the means of grace. There is, therefore, a much
but of incorruptible by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.-James i. 18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.--John. xvii. 17. Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.
(d) 1 Cor. iii. 7. So then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.-Philip. ii.
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God, which worketh in you both to will and 10 do of his good plea
greater hope of the salvation of those who attend upon them than there is of those who do not. This hope does not arise from anything good in the doings of the unregenerate, but from the fact, that they are brought within the influence of means, and into a situation in which God is wont to grant His Spirit in renewing and sanctifying the soul. God does not, generally, extend His grace, in the salvation of men, further than the enjoyment of the means which he has appointed. The prospect, therefore, of the salvation of sinners in human view is limited to their attention to the means of grace. As means and ends are thus inseparably connected by God, in the economy of salvation, saints and sinners are bound to use the means, in order to obtain the ends. And none but the ignorant, enthusiastic, immoral, and wicked will deny the duty. (e)
Q. 8. How should the means of grace be improved?
A. In sincerity, with a disposition to profit by them, under a deep sense that the blessing of Heaven is necessary to give them a good influence, and with earnest prayer to God that he would render them efficacious.
(e) Acts xx. 32. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all thein which are sanctified.—John xvii. 17. Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.-Acts ii. 37. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, What shall we do?-Acts ii. 41. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.--2 Cor. x. 4, 5. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.--Prov. viii. 33-35. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posis of
For whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord.—Prov. xv. 8. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
Q. 1. What is meant by Divine worship?
A. Paying God that homage, or veneration, which is due to his perfect and adorable nature.(a)
Q. 2. Is worship a moral or positive duty, or both?
A. Worship, considered in itself, is a moral duty, and is, therefore, taught by the light of nature as well as revelation; but the manner and time of worshipping God are subjects of positive injunction, and are, therefore, taught by the Scriptures only.
Q. 3. What kinds of worship does God require of man?
A. Public, private or family, and secret worship. These kinds of worship are taught by the light of nature, and the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and are congenial to the feelings of good people.(6)
Q. 4. When is public worship to be observed?
A. On the sabbath, and at other times, as circumstances may require.(c)
(a) Rev. iv. 9–11. And when those beasts give glory, and honor, and ihanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth forever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
(b) Ps. Ixxxiv. 4. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; they will be still praising thee.-Ps. cxxxii. 7. We will go into his iabernacles; we will worship at his footstool.-Josh. xxiv. 15. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.—Matt. vi. 6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
(c) Lev. xix. 30. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary; I am the Lord. --Joel i. 14. Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land, into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord.-Ps. C. 4. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praiser be thankfuí unto him, and bless his name.