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13—Formula for the admission of children to the Holy Sacrament."
A most promising and significant table of contents, this, and of itself rich in important historical hints and practical suggestions. How full of meaning especially the first item noted, touching the source and aim of sermons ! Let us then, turning again to the Book, see what all is intended by this regulation.
Of Dootrine.” Regulation Concerning Sermons fc. Sermons are to
Thus saith the Lord Jesus Christ, John xvii. be derived from chap., v.: 3, " This is life eternal, that they the word of God.
may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” In order that He might lead His chosen ones, to the knowledge of this eternal life, the Lord Jesus appointed the preaching of repentance, and the forgiveness of sins, that by this means (thus instituted on account of our infirmity, which would not be able to bear the voice of God Himself) the knowledge of God. and eternal life might be begun in our hearts here on earth, until we attain in Heaven without external means to that perfection in which we shall behold God face to face.
And whereas God hath revealed Himself in His Word, which is fully contained in Canonicis Libris, that is the genuine undoubted Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; therefore all sermons are to be drawn therefrom, and based thereon, and always directed to the existing wants and sins of the people, according to the declaration of the Holy Apostle Paul, ii. Tim. ii., xvi, " All scripture given of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that a man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." ; Sermons are to
And inasmuch as the Word of God directe be adapted to the its doctrine to this end, that men may be led Catechism
) to a knowledge of their sins and misery; then instructs them how they may be delivered from all their sins and misery; and thereby, how they shall thank God for such deliver ance: therefore Preachers, in treating their texts, shall diligently
· This is the German version of the passage.
consider these three poinis, and be careful to use the medicine according to the necessity of wounded consciences. They shall also study to suit their sermons to the weak capacities of the common people, so that the article of the Catechism, to which the subject of their sermon has reference, may be intelligibly introduced and impressed upon their minds.
Ministers of the gospel shall further not presume to expound any other book besides the Holy Scriptures, without the advice and previous knowledge of their Inspectors, who shall then take care that such books are set forth and expounded, as may be most edifying to the unlearned
General Introduction of all Sermons. Grace, peace, and mercy, from God the Father, and His beloved Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all, Amen
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you all, Amen. -i. Cor. xii. 13.
Exhortation to prayer, to be used occasionally by the Minister
before the sermon, especially on Week-days. Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, let us call upon our faithful God and Father, and humbly beseech Him, to turn away His face from our sins, by which we have constantly kindled His wrath against us. And whereas we are, alas! altogether unworthy to appear before His Holy Majesty, let us entreat Him to look upon us in the face of His beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord, accept of the merits of His suffering and death in satisfaction for all our sins, and thus render us acceptable unto Him. Let us also supplicate Him that He would by His Holy Spirit, enlighten us with the right understanding of His Word, and grant us grace to receive the same with true faith and humility, that we may learn therefrom to withdraw all our confidence, continually more and more, from all creatures, and trust in Him alone, to serve and glorify Him, that our whole life may praise His name, and we may render Him that love and obedience, which faithful servants owe unto their Lord, and children unto their Father, seeing that it hath pleased Him to call u8 and accept of us, to be His servants, and children, and heirs of future glory. Let us therefore beseech Him for these things, as our faithful Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ hath taught us to pray, sincerely saying:
Our Father who art in Heaven, Sc.
Regulation for preaching on Sabbath-days. On every Sabbath morning at eight o'clock, a sermon shall be preached from the word of God, in all cities, towns and villages, which, as indeed all other sermons, shall not exceed an hour in length.
The sermon shall be introduced by one of the forms prescribed above, and may be followed by the prayer hereafter designated, commencing: Our Heavenly Father, &c.”
“ The morning service shall be concluded with the public confession of sin, and absolution, in connection with the appended prayer. After the prayer a short Psalm may be sung, and the congregation dismissed to their homes with the benediction : “ The Lord bless Thee &c."
A catechetical sermon shall also be preached, every Sabbath afternoon, at such an hour as may be most convenient for each congregation. And wherever two sermons are delivered in an afternoon, as in cities and larger towns, at the first, after singing, God shall be called upon in prayer for grace rightly to understood His Word. Next to this at the commencement of the sermon, the summary of the Catechism,' together with the texts of the five chief points, shall be distinctly read to the people, when a half hour shall be employed in explaining a few questions of the summary. After the sermon on these questions, the youth shall be examined, and finally the whole service be concluded with prayer and singing, and the people permitted to return home.
In the other service, to be held towards evening, the principal points of Christian doctrine, contained in the Catechism, shall be explained somewhat more fully and in detail, for the benefit of the aged and adults. The introduction shall be the same as in the case of other sermons-viz: the prescribed greeting, singing and prayer. Afterwards a text corresponding with the doctrine under consideration, together with the appropriate questions of the Catechism, shall be read, and clearly expounded. The whole shall be concluded with the prayer given below, and directed to be used after catechi. sation.
In the country however, where only one service is held in the afternoon, the youth shall assemble at the second ringing of the bell, to be examined and catechised; when this is finished, the bell shall be rung the third time, that the whole congregation may gather together. Then as an introduction, after singing and prayer, the summary of the Catechism together with the texts shall be read. Afterwards a half hour may be spent in explaining several ques
This is placed immediately after the complete Catechism, and consists of twenty-three questions and answers, forming the marrow of the Heidleberg Catechism.
tions, when those who are prepared to answer with meekness and modesty, may be examined and instructed in the fundamental truths of salvation, and the service be concluded with the usual prayer.
Sermons during the Week. Two sermons shall be preached in every city (or large town) during the week, on working days, namely on Wednesday and Friday; and in villages one sermon, on Wednesday or some other more suitable day, when German psalms or hymns shall be sung both before and after the sermon. The service shall be concluded with the particular prayers designated below under the proper title.
Fast-day Sermons. And inasmuch as the righteous anger of God is kindled more and more every day, in these last evil times, by horrible vices and crimes, by blasphemies contempt of His word, gluttony, drunkenness, lewdness, fornication, and the like fearful iniquities, which are becoming so prevalent that we must greatly fear, yea feel undoubtedly certain, that the terrible chastisements, threatening us on every side, will break in upon us with power, if we take not warning, and implore the Lord for mercy :
It becomes highly necessary for us to turn unto God our Lord, in hearty sorrow and 'repentance, with humble and believing suppli. cation entreating Him to hold back the uplifted rod.
The first Wednes. A special day of prayer shall therefore be day of each month observed on the first Wednesday of every
a day of prayer. month, on which all, both young and old, men and women, and servants, shall as far as possible, meet together, according to the special Proclamation issued, in order heartily to beseech the Lord our God to turn away the heavy chastisements now threatening us, or mercifully to mitigate them, being comfortably assured that we shall not supplicate in vain, but that help will be graciously granted us from above. On such occasions the Ministers shall preach from such texts as may serve to set forth a proper knowledge of our sins, and of God's displeasure at them, and to lead the people to true repentance; and they shall endeavor to apply the whole properly to the peculiar circumstances of the occasion, and the existing condition of the churches. Before and after the sermon, penitential psalms shall be sung, and the service shall then be closed with the prayer designated below for such occasions. And as it is designed to be a day of prayer, in which all the afflictions of Christianity are to be considered, the sermon itself shall be made somewhat shorter, in order to allow more time for including all conditions of men, and all existing cases of distress.
Of Sermons on Festival and Holy-days. On Christmas, and the day following, the basis of our salvation, viz: the incarnation of the eternal son of God, and the personal union of the two natures in Christ, as set forth in the Scripture history of the Birth of Christ, shall be explained, together with the benefits flowing to us therefrom, as all is contained in the second part of the Catechism.
On the Sabbath intervening between Christmas and New-year's. day, (being the time when new Elders are elected), a sermon shall be preached upon the duties of the Elder's office. In this it shall be shown from the word of God, that this office is not ordained of men but by God, that it is necessary and useful for the edification and perpetuity of the Church, and that it is not an infringment upon the office of civil government, but distinct from it. It shall also be shown what belongs to the office of Elders, and by what considerations they should be incited to diligence in the discharge of its duties. Thus will the congregations be admonished to becoming submission and respect towards the Elders, and these to faithfulness and zeal in their office.
On Easter-day, and the Monday following the history of the Resurrection of Christ shall be the subject of preaching, so that the congregations may receive thorough instruction from the Sacred Scriptures, upon those two chief points of our christian faith, namely, that Jesus Christ arose from the dead on the third day, and that we too shall arise from the dead. And in order that this history may be the better understood, and more profit may be derived therefrom, Ministers shall commence the explanation of the narrative of the sufferings and death of Christ on Invocavit Sabbath, and continue it until Easter.
The festival of the Ascension of Christ, also, has its history, as recorded in the Arts of the Apostles 1st chap., and Mark 16th chap., and Luke 24th chap.; on this day therefore, Ministers will preach upon that article of our faith, in which we confess that Jesus ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, and from thence will come to judge the quick and the dead.
On Whitsuntide, and the Monday following, the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles shall be the subject of the preaching.
Morning and Evening meetings for Prayer. In all the larger towns, on all working-days, the people shall be assembled every morning, and, without singing, have a chapter of the Sacred Scriptures distinctly read to them, the substance of which, together with such of the principal doctrines therein contained as are most profitable for comfort, exhortation, and instruction, shall be