To The Clergy Of The Diocese of St. Asaph.
, Beloved in the Lord,
AS our Saviour, the Head of the whole Church, which he hath purchased with his Blood, hath been pleased to call Me, the unworthiest of his Servants, to take care of that Part of it which he hath planted in the Diocese to which You belong: So I verily believe and expect that he will e’er-long call Me to give Him an Account how I have discharged the Trust, and performed the Duty, which he hath laid upon Me. The Consideration whereof hath made Me very solicitous and thoughtful what to do, and how I may behave myself in this Place and Station, so that I may appear before Him at that Day with Joy, and not with Shame and Grief.
Whereupon, calling to mind the several Parts of the Office which he hath conferred upon Me, and the Promises which I made when I was admitted into it, I presently thought it necessary to begin with that, without which whatsoever else either You or I shall do, will turn to little or no Account as to the main End of our Ministry, I mean, the Duty of Catechising or Instructing the People committed to our Care, in the Principles of the Christian Religion, that they may know what they must believe and do, that they may serve God acceptably while they live upon Earth, and be happy for ever.
Not as if I thought that this Duty hath been hitherto neglected among you: For I have heard, to my great Comfort, that it is generally practised throughout the Diocese every Lord’s-Day. But taking my Measures from what I have observed in other Places, I fear, that notwithstanding all your Care and Diligence, you have not yet found that happy Effect of it which you desire; and therefore will be glad of any Direction or Assistance that may be given you, for the more effectual Performance of it.
It is, I confess, a thing much to be lamented, that among the many who profess the Faith of Christ, there are so few that either strive to live up to it themselves, or take care that their Relations and Families should be taught it. Whereby it comes to pass, that in many Places the Minister is often forced to omit this Duty, for want of some to whom he may perform it. But howsoever, that should not discourage but rather excite you to use the greater Diligence and Application both in Publick and Private, to convince those under your Charge, of the great Necessity that lyes upon them to observe what the Laws both of and Man require in this Case, as ever they expect or desire, that either they or theirs should be saved: not doubting but that ‘s Blessing will attend your sincere Endeavours in this, as well as in the Execution of any other Part of the Office and Ministry to which he hath called you.
And whatsoever other Difficulties you may meet with, you have a great Advantage in having so many Persons of great Worth and Quality among you, who, rightly understanding the excellent and truly Apostolical Constitution of our Church, have a just Value and Zeal for it: Which, I doubt not, but they will be ready upon all Occasions to shew, by setting before their Tenants and Neighbours a good Example, as in other Respects, so particularly in sending their Children and Servants to be Catechised publickly in the Church: Which they will do the more constantly, when they find, that you do not only examine those who are sent, whether they can say the Catechism, but set yourselves in good earnest to instruct them throughly in all the fundamental Articles of the Christian Faith, and in all the Duties which they owe to Almighty , to their Sovereign, to their Parents, and to all their other Relations, as well as to themselves and to one another. For they will then see, that this is the best sort of Education that Parents can give their Children; and that which will do them more good than any thing else which they can ever do for them.
Upon these and the like Considerations, having spent some Thoughts about Catechising in general, so as to attain the End of it, in the way that it is here proposed, and having accordingly drawn up a short Explication of the Catechism which our Church hath set forth, I thought good to Present you with it, as a Testimony of my Readiness to contribute what I can towards the laying the Foundation in some, as well as to the building up others of the Diocese in our most Holy Faith.
If it hath no other, I hope, at least, it will have this good Effect, That it will put you in mind to stir up the Gift of which is in you, by the Imposition of Hands, and to exert it in studying, contriving, and using all the Means and Methods that you can think of, that all in your respective Parishes, who as yet are young or ignorant, but capable of Learning, may be so well instructed in the Church-Catechism set forth for that Purpose, that they may be fit to be Confirmed.
Sept. 19th. 1704.
IF we consider the Excellency of that Religion which Jesus Christ hath revealed and delivered to us in his Gospel, we may well expect, that all who embrace and profess it, should be the most excellent Persons upon Earth, far exceeding all other Men in Piety, and Justice, and Charity, and Temperance, and every thing that is vertuous and Praise-worthy. But we see to our Grief and Shame, that many who do not only profess it among us, but have the Gospel continually Preached to them, are notwithstanding as bad, if not much worse, than some of those who never heard of it. Neither can it be otherwise, so long as the great Duty of Catechising, or instructing People in the first Principles of the Christian Religion, is so generally neglected or slightly performed, as it hath been for many Years together. For People being baptized into Christ, as they ought to be, in their Infancy, although they then promised by their Sureties to believe all the Articles of the Christian faith, and to obey God’s Commandments, and are accordingly obliged to do so, yet unless they be rightly informed, as they grow up, of what they then promised, before they have contracted any ill Habits, whatsoever outward Profession they may make of the Christian Religion, it hath little or no Effect upon them. For they usually profess it, not as it is the Religion of Christ, but as it is the Religion of their Country, in which they are born and bred. And although they have the Gospel preached over and over again to them, and make it a great part of their Religion to hear it, yet it makes but little Impression upon them, because they do not understand the Principles we go upon, nor the meaning of the Terms we use, and must of necessity use, in the right preaching of it: Which to me seems one of the chief Reasons, why so many Sermons in our Days are preached to no purpose, except it be to aggravate the Faults of those that hear them; whereas if the principles of our Holy Religion were first instilled into those which are young, as they grow in Years, they would grow in Grace too, and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and so by degrees would be rightly disposed and qualified both to understand, and to receive the Word with all readiness of Mind, and would profit more by any one Sermon they hear, than others do by all, how many soever they be.
Upon these, among many other accounts, it is to be earnestly wished by all that love Christ and his Religion, that the Rubricks and Canons of our Church concerning Catechising, could be generally and duly observed. The Church of Christ would then put on another Face, and true Primitive Christianity would soon be revived among us. For in the Book of Common-Prayer, first composed and established by our Church, and then confirmed by the Civil Power in the last Act of Uniformity, immediately after the Catechism, we have these two Rubricks, that is, directions or rules to be observed.
The Curate of every Parish shall diligently upon Sundays and Holy-days, after the Second Lesson at Evening Prayer, openly in the Church, instruct and examine so many of his Parish, sent unto him, as he shall think convenient, in some part of this Catechism.
And all Fathers, Mothers, Masters, and Dames, shall cause their Children, Servants, and Apprentices (which have not learned their Catechism) to come to the Church at the time appointed, and obediently to hear and be ordered by the Curate, until such time as they have learned all that is here appointed for them to learn.
Here we may likewise observe, that every Curate or Minister of every Parish in England, is obliged by this Law not carelessly but diligently, not privately but openly, to examine and instruct some of his Parish in some part of the Catechism every Sunday and Holy-day throughout the Year: So that none can ever neglect or omit it upon those Days, without manifest and wilful Disobedience to the Laws both of the Church and State under which they live, and that too in a thing which they are bound to do, out of Duty to God, and to the People committed to their Charge, although there was no such positive Law for it. But howsoever, lest any should be so stupid and insensible of their Duty herein, as, notwithstanding all this, still to continue in the Neglect of it, our Church in the foresaid Canon hath enforced it with the greatest Penalty that she can inflict: For her Words are these, And if any Minister shall neglect his Duty herein, let him be sharply reproved upon the first Complaint, and true Notice thereof given to the Bishop or Ordinary of the Place. If after submitting himself, he shall willingly offend therein again, let him be suspended. If so the third time, there being little hope that he will be therein reformed, then excommunicated, and so remain until he be reformed, Can. 59.
But then we must observe withal, that as all Ministers are bound to Catechise every Lord’s-Day and Holy-Day in their respective Parish Churches, so all Fathers, Mothers, Masters, and Dames, even every Head of a Family in every Parish, are bound by the same Law, to cause all in their respective Families that have not yet learned the Catechism, whether Children, Servants, or Apprentices, to come to Church at all such times, and there obediently submit themselves to be examined, instructed and ordered by their Minister, not only now and then, but constantly, until they have learned all that is here appointed. And to make them more careful to perform their Duty herein, I wish they would consider the Punishments which the Church hath declared to be due, and therefore decreed to be inflicted upon those who neglect it, in these Words, And likewise if any of the said Fathers, Mothers, Masters, or Mistresses, Children, Servants, or Apprentices, shall neglect their Duties, as the one sort in not causing them to come, and the other in refusing to learn, as aforesaid, let them be suspended by their Ordinaries (if they be not Children) and if they so persist by the space of a Month, let them be excommunicated, Can. 59.
Now if all this was duly and generally observed all the Kingdom over, what an excellent Church and People should we then become? Then the Promise which God hath made to his Church in general would be fulfilled to ours particularly. For we should all know him from the least to the greatest of us, Jer. xxxi. 34. And if we knew him aright we could not but serve, honour, and obey him as we ought, and so live as becometh Christians, shining as Lights in the World.
But this we can never expect, until it please God to open the Eyes of Parents and others, that they may see it to be both their Duty and their Interest, to teach their Children their Catechism as well as they can at Home, and then to send them, together with their Servants and Apprentices, to be further instructed in it by the Minister of their Parish, not only while they are Six or Seven Years Old, as the Custom of late hath been, but till they come to Years of Discretion, so as to be able fully to understand all that is necessary for them to know, in order to their living in the true Faith and Fear of God all the while they are upon Earth, and so to their obtaining Forgiveness of their Sins, and Inheritance among them which are sanctified by Faith, that is, in Jesus Christ. Whatsoever they may think, I am sure they can do nothing more pleasing to God, or of greater Advantage to themselves: For by this means they may upon good Grounds promise themselves a great deal of Comfort in their Children and Families, together with God’s Blessing upon them; which otherwise they can never expect: in that they live in such a Sin, for which the Church hath declared them worthy to be excommunicated, and requireth them to be so, if they continue in it.
And as for such ( of which there are too many all over the Kingdom ) who never having learned the Catechism themselves, cannot teach it their Children, they have more need to attend constantly when it is repeated and explained openly in the Church, and must take the more care to send their Children to the Minister of their Parish, that he may teach them, and instruct them in it, whose Duty it is to do it.
And it is indeed a very hard and difficult Duty, to do it effectually. It is easy enough, I confess, to hear Children or others say their Catechism by rote: But that signifies very little, unless they understand what they say. But to make them understand every Word and Expression, as it is necessary they should, in order to their being fully instructed in it: This I think is one of the hardest Duties belonging to the Ministerial Office. For it requires great Presence of Mind, and Quickness of Invention, to explain every thing so, as the weakest Capacities may apprehend it. But how hard soever it is, it is necessary to be done. And therefore every Minister should study and strive all he can to do it so, as that it may answer the End for which it is appointed, and that he may give a good Account of it at the last Day.
For which Purpose many have taken great and worthy Pains in sub-dividing the Catechism into lesser Questions and Answers, to be got without Book, and repeated by those who come to be examined and instructed in it. And that doubtless is of great use, if due Care be taken that they do not make such Answers, as they are apt to repeat the Catechism, only by rote, without understanding what is meant by them. But herein lies the main Difficulty, even how to possess young and ignorant People with a clear Understanding, right Apprehensions, and a due Sense of all that is contained in the Catechism; that they may become wise unto Salvation. Which every one should endeavour by all such Ways and Means which he finds or thinks will conduce most towards it, due Consideration being had of the Place where he lives, and of the Circumstances of the Persons that come to be examined and instructed by him.
The Course that to me seems the most effectual to this Purpose is, by giving them first a short, plain and easy Exposition of some one part of the Catechism, and then examining whether they understood what was said, by propounding such Questions to them as had been resolved in the foregoing Exposition. And where we find their Understanding or their Memory, or both to fail them, then to tell them the same thing over again in other Words, such as we think most easy and familiar to them. And this not only at that time, but when they come next to be examined again; by which time their Parents, or some other that were present, may have helped them by repeating the same things so often to them, that they may be able to give some tolerable Account of them, considering each one’s Capacity and Age. And if this Course be continued so as to go over the whole Catechism in this manner once or twice a Year to the same Persons, tho’ they began young and ignorant, yet I doubt not but by the Blessing of God, they will at last come to have a right Understanding in all things necessary to their Salvation, and to be fit to be Confirmed by the Bishop, and then admitted to the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ our Saviour.
This therefore being the best way that I could ever yet find out whereby to Catechize to good purpose, so as to attain the End of its Institution, I have here given a Specimen of it. I have drawn up a Short Exposition of the several Parts of the Catechism, in the plainest and easiest Terms that (considering the Nature of each Subject) I could think of, still keeping to such Words and Phrases as are used in the Holy Scriptures, and by the Catholick Church in the interpretation of them, and explaining them if there was occasion, so that all may understand the meaning of them. I have, according to the wise and pious Design of the Catechism, waved all manner of Disputes and Controversies, insisting only upon such Things which are there propounded as necessary for all Christians to believe and know. As our whole Religion, summarily contain’d in this Catechism, is grounded upon God’s Word, so I have all along shewed what Places of his said Word each part of it is grounded upon, Regard being had to the Original Text. I have divided the whole into so few Parts, and made every Part so short, that as the Substance of all that is delivered in every Part may be easily remembred, so the whole may be gone over in so short a time, that both they who are Catechised, and all the People there present, may be often put in mind of all the Principles of our Holy Religion, many whereof are seldom touch’d upon in our ordinary way of Preaching. Lastly, to every Part I have subjoined such Questions as are proper to be asked, and may be generally resolved from something that was before delivered in the Exposition, if they to whom they are propounded did but attend to what they heard, and by the help of the Catechist understand it; which they will strive to do when they know that they shall be afterwards examined about it. By which means they will learn also by degrees to be more attentive at our Prayers and Sermons, as well as more affected with them, than People commonly are.
That is to say,
An Instruction to be learned of every Person before he be brought to be Confirmed by the .
WHat is your Name?
. N. or M.
As there is no National Church upon Earth but admitteth the Children of Believing Parents to Holy Baptism, so there is none we know of but hath some Publick Catechism or Summary of Christian Doctrine for such Children, so soon as they are able to Learn: But there is no such Catechism set forth by any Church (much less by any private Person) that doth or can exceed this of ours. Which is so short, that the youngest Children that can learn any thing at all, may learn and say it by heart: And yet so full, that the oldest Christians that are, need know no more than what they are there taught to believe and do that they may be saved. For it contains all things necessary to Salvation, and nothing else.
And in this it seems to excel most other, that as all Persons are (or ought to be) Baptized, not into any particular, but into Christ’s Catholick Church; so here they are not taught the Opinions of this or any other particular Church or People, but the Doctrine only of the Catholick Church; nothing but what the whole Body of Christians all the World over agrees in. If it may any-where seem to be otherwise, it is in the Doctrine of the Sacraments. But that also is here worded with so great Wisdom, Caution, and Temper, as not to contradict any other particular Church, but that all sorts of Christians, when they have duly considered it, may subscribe to every thing that is here taught.
From hence appears the Excellency of this which our Church hath set forth, and calls A Catechism, that is to say, An Instruction to be learned of every Person before he be brought to be Confirmed by the Bishop. For when any are brought to be Confirmed by the Bishop, they must, in the Presence of God and of the Congregation there present, renew the solemn Promise and Vow that was made in their Names at their Baptism, ratifying and confirming the same in their own Persons, and acknowledging themselves bound to believe and do all those things which their Godfathers and Godmothers then undertook for them, which they can never do with that Judgment and Discretion that is necessary to so solemn a Work, unless they first know what those things are; and for that purpose have learned this Catechism consisting of Five Parts, every one of which is necessary for every Christian to be instructed in.
First therefore, this Catechism being designed for such as are Baptized in their Infancy, as well as for other, that they may be taught so soon as they are able to learn, what a solemn Vow, Promise and Profession they made then by their Sureties, it was very proper to begin it with this Question, What is your Name? Not only because their Name being the first thing that Children usually know, this is the easiest Question that can be put to them, and therefore the fittest to be put first; but chiefly because it is a very proper Introduction to the foresaid Vow, which they made when they were baptized, and leads them directly to the Articles of the Christian Faith, and to the Rules of Holy Life, which they then promised to believe and observe.
For whereas they have every one Two Names, a Christian and a Sir-name; the latter they have from their Natural Parents of whom they were at first born, which is therefore properly the Name of their Family. But the other was given them by their Spiritual Parents, their Godfathers and Godmothers, when they were born again of Water and of the Holy Spirit, and so were made Christians. Which therefore is called their Christian Name, and is proper to every Christian Person as such, as he is a Christian, that is to say, a Disciple, or a Scholar of Jesus Christ, Acts xi. 26. one who professeth to learn of him, and to believe and live as he hath taught in his Holy Word. This every one undertaketh and promiseth when he is Baptized, or Christened; that is, made a Christian, and therefore hath this his Christian Name given him.
Wherefore, as this is the only Name we mean, when we ask this Question, What is your Name? meaning your Christian Name: So their Answer to this Question, by declaring their Christian Name, naturally brings in all they promised in their Baptism, when this Name was given to them. And therefore this is the most proper Question that could be thought of to be first propounded to them.
From whence we may also observe, That every one’s Christian Name, as it is the proper Name of his Person, it distinguisheth him from other Christians; and as it is a Christian Name, it distinguisheth him from all other sorts of People, and so puts you in mind, that you are not Jews, or Turks, or Heathens, but Christians: That you are of that Religion which Jesus Christ hath revealed and settled in the World; which being not only the best, but the only good and true Religion professed upon the Earth, you, who profess it, should be the best of Men. So far exceeding all other in Vertue and Goodness, that no other People may so much as seem to be good and vertuous in Comparison of you: You name the Name of Christ, and therefore you should depart from all Iniquity, 2 Tim. ii. 19. You are called by him out of Darkness into his marvellous Light, 1 Pet. ii. 9. and therefore you should shine as Lights in the World, Phil. ii. 15. This your Christian Name, whensoever you write, or read, or speak, or hear it mentioned, should put you in mind of.
Who gave you this Name.
My Godfathers and Godmothers in my Baptism, wherein I was made a Member of Christ, the Child of God, and an Inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven.
They who bring a Child to Holy Baptism, are called his Godfathers and Godmothers, because they are the means of his being there regenerate, or born again of God. They also give him his Christian Name, because that belongs to him only as he is a Christian, and so the Child of God. And they give him this Name in his Baptism or at the same time that he is baptized, because it is then that he is brought into this Relation to God; so as to be made his Child according to the Tenor of the New Covenant, which God hath made with Mankind in Jesus Christ, promising Pardon, and Peace, and Grace, and his own fatherly Care of, and Provision for, all those who repent and believe in him, Jer. xxxi. 33, 34. Heb. viii. 10, 11, 12.
And that this is the most proper Time for it, appears also, in that Abram had his Name Abraham given him by God himself, at the same time that he entred into Covenant with him, and ordained Circumcision to be the outward Sign or Way whereby he and his Posterity should be admitted into it, Gen. xvii. 4, 5,— 23. So that he had this new Name given him the same Day that he was Circumcised, and that too by God’s own Appointment. From whence his Church could not but conclude, That it was his Divine Will, that when any were Circumcised, and so admitted into his Covenant, they should at the same time have the Name given them by which they should ever after be called, to put them always in mind of the Conditions of that Covenant, which they were then admitted into.
He is in Baptism made a Member of Christ, because he is made a Member of his Church. For Christ and his Church, or the Congregation of all Christian People, are one Body, of which Christ is the Head, and all Christians are the Members, every one in his Place and Station, 1 Cor. vi. 15. c. xii. 12, 13, — 27. Col. i. 18. Therefore we are said to be baptized into Christ, Gal. iii. 27. Rom. vi. 3. and by one Spirit we are all baptized into one Body, 1 Cor. xii. 13. even into the Body of Christ, and by that means are made the Members of Christ; so as to be moved, influenced and actuated by that Holy Spirit which proceeds from him, as the Members of our Natural Bodies are by the Spirits which flow originally from the Head.
He is therein also made the Child of God, because at the same time that he is baptized, or born again of Water, he is born also of God the Spirit, John iii. 5. and therefore is his Child, as having received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father, that is, call God our Father, Rom. viii. 15. Gal. iv. 6. And besides, he that is the Member of Christ, is therefore also the Child of God: For Christ being the Son of God, all his Members must needs stand in the same Relation to God that he doth, tho’ in a lower Degree, according to their Capacities. Hence it is, that as it is he that gives them Power to become the sons of God, John i. 12. so he is not ashamed to call them Brethren, Heb. ii. 11. as he doth Matt. xxv. 40. c. xxviii. 10. because his Father is their Father also, John xx. 17. and therefore theirs, because his.
And as every Member of Christ is a Child of God, so every Child of God is an Inheritor, that is, an Heir of the Kingdom of Heaven. So as to have a just Title to it, as an Heir at Law has to an Estate upon Earth: For if Children, then Heirs; Heirs of God, and Joint-heirs with Christ, Rom. viii. 17. Gal. iv. 7. They are Joint-heirs, or, as we may say, Co-heirs, not with one another, as if the Inheritance was to be divided among them; For here every Child is an Heir to the whole, having the same Right and Title to all the Inheritance, as if he was the sole Heir. But they are all and every one Joint-heirs with Christ, who is Heir of all Things, Heb. i. 2. And therefore in him they shall also every one inherit all Things, Rev. xxi. 7.
This is that which is here called the Kingdom of Heaven, of which every Child of God is the Inheritor; which therefore consisteth not in the Enjoyment of any one or more particular Things, but of all Things that God hath made, and of him too that made them. And yet, to our unspeakable Comfort, all that are duly baptized according to Christ’s Institution, are thereby made Heirs or Inheritors of this Kingdom. It is settled upon them in their Baptism: And they shall hereafter have the full Possession and Enjoyment of it, unless while they are in this World they provoke their Heavenly Father to disinherit and cast them off, by not doing what they promised when they were baptized. What that is we shall see in the Answer to the next Question, and thereby know how to prevent our being disinherited.
What did your Godfathers and Godmothers then for you?
They did promise and vow three things in my Name. First, That I should renounce the Devil and all his works, the pomps and vanity of this wicked World, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh. Secondly, that I should believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith. And Thirdly, that I should keep God’s holy Will and Commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my Life.
All that naturally proceed from the first Man being born in Sin, are by Nature the Children of Wrath, obnoxious to the Displeasure of the Almighty God, with all the dismal Effects and Consequences of it, Eph. ii. 3. But when any of them are baptized, they are taken off from the old Stock, the first Adam, and are grafted into, and so made Members of Christ, the last Adam, 1 Cor. xv. 45. And in him they are received into the Favour of God, made his Children, and entitled to all the great Blessings that he hath promised both in this World and the next. Which promise he for his part will be sure to perform to them, if they do but continue to live as becometh his Children, and according to the Laws of that new State into which they are admitted.
Which that they may, altho’ they are bound to do it by the very nature of the State it self, and are admitted into it only upon that Condition, yet to tie them more strictly to it, they must solemnly vow and promise it, before they can (except in some extraordinary Cases) be baptized. If they be of riper Years, they must make this Promise every one for himself in his own Person. But if they be Children, not yet come to the use of their Reason, they are allowed and required to do it by their Godfathers and Godmothers, who accordingly make this Promise in the Name of the Child which they bring to be Baptized.
They do not then make the Promise for themselves, for that was done at their own Baptism: neither do they promise, that the Child shall do it; for that is not in their Power, and therefore more than they can promise. But they make the Promise in the Child’s Name, as his Proxies, so that the Child doth it by them. The Minister saith to each of them, Dost thou in the Name of this Child renounce the Devil and all his Works, &c. To which the Child answers by them, I renounce them all. The Minister saith, Dost thou believe in God the Father Almighty? The Child answers by them, All this I stedfastly believe. Again the Minister saith, Wilt thou be Baptized in this Faith? To which the Child answers by them, That is my Desire. They speak the Words, but they speak them only in the Name of the Child: so that he makes the Answer in and by them.
The Promise which his Godfathers and Godmothers thus make in the Child’s name, consisteth of Three Parts, or, as the Child is here taught to answer, They did promise and vow Three Things in his Name: whereof the first is, that he should renounce the Devil and all his Works, the Pomps and Vanity of this wicked World, and all the sinful Lusts of the Flesh.
By the Devil we are here to understand that subtle Serpent, who having tempted our first Parents to eat of the forbidden Fruit; and so brought them and their whole Posterity into the same State of Sin and Misery with himself: he hath ever since domineer’d over all Mankind, carrying them Captive as he will, 2 Tim. ii. 26. so long as they continue in their Natural State. Now when any one is to change this State of Nature for that of Grace, wherein he will have Power to overcome the Devil, he then promiseth to renounce him, to disclaim his Dominion, resist his Temptations, and leave off all his Works, such as he doth himself, and tempts Men to do, such as Pride, Rebellion, Apostasy, Hatred, Malice, Murder, Lying, Slandering, Backbiting, Hypocrisy, and all Uncharitableness. These are properly the Lusts of the Devil, which our Saviour speaks of, John viii. 44. and those Works of the Devil which he came to destroy, 1 John iii. 8. which all therefore that would be his Disciples must renounce, that is, avoid, forsake, and leave off; so as not to do them any more. And so they must renounce too the Pomps and Vanity of this wicked World, that is, all Things that are apt to draw off Mens Minds from the other World, and fix them upon this. Therefore call’d Pomps, because they make a great Shew, as the Word imports, and appear great in the Eyes of sinful Men, hut they have nothing in them of real Goodness or Satisfaction, and therefore called also Vanity, or Emptiness. Such are the Riches, and Honors, as they are call’d, of this World; which every one therefore that would be a Christian must renounce, so as not to be covetous of the former, nor ambitious of the latter. He must not love the World, nor the Things that are in the World, 1 John ii. 15.
He must also renounce, subdue, and avoid all the sinful Lusts of the Flesh; what they are, the Apostle tells us, saying, Now the Works of the Flesh are manifest: which are these, Adultery, Fornication, Uncleanness, Lasciviousness, Idolatry, Witchcraft, Hatred, Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Heresies, Envyings, Murders, Drunkenness, Revellings, and such like, Gal. v. 19, 20, 21. the renouncing of all which is the first thing that is here promised.
The second thing is, that he will believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith: that is, all such Doctrines as are revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures, written by the Inspiration of God, 2 Tim. iii. 16. and are briefly contain’d in the following Creed.
The Third is, that he will keep God’s holy Will and Commandments, and walk in the same all the Days of his Life. What they are we shall see, God willing, when we come to the Ten Commandments, wherein they are all comprised.
Dost thou not think that thou art bound to believe and to do as they have promised for thee?
Yes, Verily; and by God’s help, so I will. And I heartily thank our Heavenly Father, that he hath called me to this state of Salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. And I pray unto God to give me his grace, that I may continue in the same unto my lives end.
After this, to possess his Mind with a due sense of God’s Mercy in admitting him into the Church of Christ; and that he may learn betime to give God thanks for the same from the bottom of his heart; he is taught farther to say, And I heartily thank our Heavenly Father, that he hath brought me to this state of Salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. He looks upon himself now as in the Number of God’s Children, and therefore calls him, Our Heavenly Father: and returns him his most hearty thanks for bringing him into this state of Salvation, that is, into such a State and Condition of Life wherein he may be saved, and shall certainly be so, if he doth but perform what he promised, when he was by Baptism admitted or brought into it, and what he hath now promised again.
For seeing God addeth to the Church daily such as shall be saved, Acts ii. 47. He being now added to the Church, is in the ready way to be saved, and therefore is properly in a state of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour: which he therefore adds, both because it is only through Jesus Christ that he is brought into this State, and because it is a State of Salvation also only through Jesus Christ; whom he therefore calls Our Saviour, because he is the only Saviour of Mankind: without whom no Man ever was or ever can be saved, Acts iv. 12.
But though he be now in a State of Salvation, unless he continue in it he cannot be saved. As they who were with Noah in the Ark, the Type of Christ’s Church, were safe so long as they stayed there, but if any of them had thrown themselves over-board, they would certainly have perished. Wherefore the Child is here taught to pray unto God for Grace to continue in the same State, not only for some time, but to his lives end: without which he cannot be saved, Mark xiii. 13. Heb. iii. 4. Rev. ii. 26. But he cannot do that, nor any thing that is good of himself, 2 Cor. iii. 5. nor any other way than by the Grace of God thro’ Faith in Christ, Eph. ii. 7, 8. And therefore he prays God to give him his grace, to keep him stedfast in his true Faith and Fear, as long as he lives, through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 2 Cor. xii. 9. Phil. iv. 13.
Rehearse the Articles of thy Belief.
I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.
Of the Three Things that are promised by every one that is Baptized, the First, as we have seen, is that he should renounce the Devil, the World, and the Flesh: which he accordingly doth at the same time. Now the second is, that he should believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith: which were therefore read to him before he was Baptized; and he was asked, whether he believed every one of them? And he then Answered, All this I stedfastly believe. He then profess’d to believe them all in his own Person, if he was of riper Years; or if an Infant, by his Sureties. Wherefore the Catechist, or he that instructeth the child in his Catechism, doth not here ask him, What are the Articles of the Christian Faith, nor whether he believeth them or no; but taking it for granted that he both knoweth and believeth them as he had professed at his Baptism, he only bids him rehearse, or say them over again, saying, Rehearse the Articles of thy Belief; those which thou didst profess stedfastly to believe, when thou wast Baptized, and which thou dost still believe according to that Profession. Upon which he repeats the same Creed to which he then gave his Assent, and in which all the Fundamental Articles of the Christian Faith, are briefly contained, to the end that he may now be more fully instructed in them. Which that he may, it will be necessary to explain every Word and Expression in the said Creed.
The first Words, I believe, respect every one of the Articles or Parts of the Creed, as well as those Two to which they are prefix’d. And this every one saith for himself, in his own Person, I believe: not only I think, I suppose, I hope, or the like; but, I believe, that is to say, I heartily assent and consent, being fully persuaded of it upon the Testimony of God himself, and therefore in the highest manner that I can be persuaded of any thing in the World. For though all Creatures may deceive me, God neither will nor can. Tit. i. 2. Wherefore having his Word for every thing contained in this Creed, although my finite and corrupt understanding cannot reach or comprehend it, yet I verily believe, I am fully persuaded of the truth and certainty of it, as I am that there is a Sun in the Firmament, altho’ I know not what it is.
This is that true Christian Belief, or Faith which the Apostle saith, is the Substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, Heb. xi. 1. So that by it, I doubt no more of what God hath promised, and I therefore hope for, than as if I was already possessed of it: and the great things that he hath revealed, tho’ I never saw, nor am able to comprehend them, yet they are as clear and evident to me, as if I did. This being the way whereby God is pleased to convey such things into our minds, and whereby he doth it in the most powerful manner that can be, even by his own Infallible, Almighty Word.
He hath given us Senses whereby to discern the Figures and Colours, and other Circumstances of Bodies. And he hath given us Reason, whereby to govern our selves in the Affairs of this Life. But as for the things that concern himself and belong to our everlasting Peace, for them he hath given us his own Word, as the Ground of our Belief; that there may be no place left for Diffidence or Doubting, but that we may rest fully satisfied in our minds about them; which we cannot always be about what our Senses seem to discover, and our Reason to dictate to us. For we find by Experience that they often fail us: But God’s Word can never fail us.
Wherefore as we make no doubt of such things as we see and hear every day; nor of such things as appear self-evident to our Reason, as that the whole is greater than any Part: nor yet of such things for which we have the concurrent Testimony of many Men, as that there are such Places as France, and Spain, and India, though we never saw them: much less can we doubt of any of the Articles of the Christian Faith; as, that God made and governs the World; that his Son became Man, and died for the Sins of Mankind; that he is now in Heaven continually making Intercession for us: and that he will come hither again at the last Day, to raise the Dead and judge the World. For these and such like Divine Truths being reveal’d to us in the Holy Scriptures, we have the Testimony of God for them, the Word of Truth it self; by which, when duly considered and fixed upon our Minds, we are possessed with so strong a Persuasion, so firm and constant a belief of them, that all the Faculties of our Souls are thereby influenced, and inclined to act accordingly: So that he that believes in God cannot but love him, and fear him, and trust on his Word and Promise.
I thus first believe in God: for he that cometh to God, as I desire to do, must believe that he is, Heb. xi. 6. And I accordingly believe there is such an invisible Being in and over the World, which we call , who is a Spirit, John iv. 24. and therefore without Body, Parts, or Passions, Luke xxiv. 39. but a most pure, simple, immutable, Eternal Being, Jehovah, the Lord, the Lord of Sabaoth, that is, of the World, or of all things that are, existing in and of Himself, Ex. iii. 14. in all things, above all things, every where the same, Psal. cxxxix. 7, 8, 9, 10. Of infinite Wisdom, Knowledge, Goodness, and all other Perfections; and in whom every Perfection is Infinite, and Himself, Such Knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is high, I cannot attain unto it, Ps. cxxxix. 6. But I believe it, because it is agreeable to the Revelations which he hath made of himself to me in his holy Word.
Thus I believe in one Living and True God; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I first believe in God the Father, 1 Thess. i. 1. because he hath a Son, an only Son; begotten of himself, therefore called the only begotten of the Father, John i. 14. without which he could not properly be a Father: so that I cannot believe in God the Father, but I must believe in his Son too. And so I do, as you will see in the next Article.
I believe also that this , the Father, is Almighty, that is, I believe that he can do whatsoever he will, Psal cxv. 3. Psal. cxxxv. 6. For who hath resisted his Will, Rom. ix. 19. Wherefore with God all things are possible, Matt. xix. 26. But only such things as he will not do. As he cannot lye, Tit. i. 2. It is impossible for God to lye, Heb. vi. 18. So he cannot deny himself, he cannot die. He cannot do such things, because he will not; and he will not, because if he did, he would cease to be God. The doing of such things proceeding from Weakness and Impotence. Neither is it indeed doing any thing, but suffering; which is contrary to his Divine Nature. So that he is not the less Almighty, because he cannot do such things, but he therefore cannot do them because he is Almighty, and cannot but always be so. It being impossible that anything should be ever impossible to him, who can do what he will only by willing it should be done.
For I believe further, that this the Father Almighty, is the Maker of Heaven and Earth. For it is written, In the Beginning God created Heaven and Earth, Gen. i. 1. That is, the whole World: all things that are made, visible and invisible. He created them all in the Beginning, and therefore out of nothing. And he thus made all things as he would have them to be, only by signifying it to be his Will they should be so. He only said, Let there be Light, and there was Light, Gen. i. 3. Thus by the word of the Lord were the Heavens made, and all the host of them, that is, all things in them, by the breath of his mouth, Psal. xxxiii. 6.
Neither did he only make all things at first, but he is still the Maker of them, by preserving and upholding all things in their Being, by the same Power, Will, or Word by which he at first made them, Heb. i. 3. So that it is in him we live, and move, and have our being, Acts xvii. 28.
And seeing Almighty God made and preserveth, I cannot but believe that he governeth and disposeth of all and every thing, that is, according to his own Will, the least thing as well as the greatest, and every thing in particular, as well as all things in general, Matth. x. 29, 30. Insomuch that nothing can stir or happen in the World without his special Providence: by which he ordereth every thing after such a manner as to make it tend to the Advancement of his own Glory, to the Good of the whole Creation, and to the Benefit of every particular Person in it, who duly acknowledgeth, admires, and adores his Infinite Wisdom, Power, and Goodness in the first Establishment, and continual Government of the World; which God grant I may always do.
For of him, and through him, and to him are all things. To whom be glory for ever. Amen. Rom. xi. 36.
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
As I believe in God, I believe also in Jesus Christ, according to his Command, John xiv. 1. I believe in him who is called Jesus, that is to say, the Saviour, because he saveth his People from their Sins, Matt. i. 21. and Christ, that is, the Anointed, because he was Anointed with the Holy Ghost, and with Power, Acts x. 38. to be a Prophet, a Priest, and a King, in order to his perfecting our Salvation.
He is first that great Prophet spoken of by Moses, Deut. xviii. 15, 18. Acts iii. 22. who hath all along revealed the Will of God to Mankind, and foretold all things that were necessary for them to know, first by his Spirit in the Prophets, 1 Pet. i. 11. then in his own Person, Heb. i. 1, 2. and afterwards by his Apostles and Evangelists, John xiv. 26. Ch. 16. 13. All which his Prophecies and Divine Revelations are recorded in the Books of the Old and New Testament, which therefore contain all things necessary to our Salvation, 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.
He is also a Priest, an High-Priest, Heb. iii. 1. Ch. viii. 1. the only true Priest that ever was in the World; who could offer up a Sacrifice acceptable in its self to God for the Sins of Mankind. The Levitical Priesthood with all its Sacrifices being only a Type and Shadow of his, Heb. x. 1. who now once in the end of the World hath appeared to put away Sin by the Sacrifice of himself, Heb. ix. 26. that is, by offering up himself upon the Altar of the Cross, as a Sacrifice and Propitiation for the Sins of the whole World, 1 John ii. 2. by vertue whereof he continually maketh Atonement, Reconciliation and Intercession for us in Heaven, as our true High Priest, and therefore is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, Heb. vii. 25.
He is likewise a King, an Almighty King, the Universal Monarch of the World, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, 1 Tim. vi. 15. Rev. xvii. 14. Ch. xix. 16. For the Father judgeth no Man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son, John v. 22. and hath given him all power both in heaven and earth, Matt. xxviii. 18. and that too, not only for a long time, but for ever: For of His kingdom there shall be no end, Luke . 33. These are the three great Offices to which Jesus was anointed for the perfecting of Man’s Salvation, and therefore was called Christ, or the Anointed.
And as I believe in God the Father, so I believe that this Jesus Christ is his only Son, that Son of whom he is there said to be the Father, as being truly begotten of him, and therefore called his only begotten Son, John i. 14, 18. Ch. iii. 16, 18. 1 John iv. 9. And seeing He was begotten of the Father, I believe he is another or a distinct Person from the Father, as a Son must needs be from his Father: But I believe withal, that he was so begotten of him, that he is of one and the same Divine Nature, Essence, or Substance with the Father, one and the same God.
For this he himself hath revealed to me, where, speaking of his eternal generation from the Father, he saith, For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself, John v. 26. For none hath life in himself as the Father hath, but only the one living and true God. And therefore seeing the Son hath life in himself as the Father hath, although it was communicated or given to him of the Father, yet I cannot but believe it was so given him, that he is that one living and true God that the Father is.
Especially having his own word for it, saying, I and the Father are one, John x. 30. not one Person; but as the Word in the Original importeth, one Thing, one Being, Jehovah, the Lord, as it is expressed, Deut. vi. 4. By which Name, Jehovah, proper only to the true God, the Son as well as the Father is often also called in the Old Testament, Gen. xix. 24. Hos. i. 7, &c. and all along in the New, he is called the Lord, as being the true God, 1 John v. 20. who is over all, God blessed for ever, Rom. ix. 5. and who demonstrated himself to be so, by the wonderful Works which he did when he was upon Earth. Such as none could do, as he did them, but only Almighty God; doing what he pleas’d; as God made the World, only with his Word, Mat. viii. 3 — 16, &c. who therefore also did them, and caused them likewise to be recorded, that we might believe that he is the Christ, the Son of God, John xx. 31. And if the Son of God, then equal to God, and God himself. For so the Jews, whose Language he spoke, understood him; insomuch that they accused him of blasphemy for saying that he was the Son of God, or that God was his Father; and so making himself God, John v. 18. Ch. x. 33. which they could not have done, if it had not been the received Opinion among them, that the Son of God was the self-same with God himself.
Neither is this contrary but agreeable to Reason it self. For seeing God hath given Power to his Creatures to beget Sons in their own likeness, every one of the same specific Nature with his Father; when God himself begets a Son, his Son must needs be of the same Nature with the Father, in a more eminent and divine manner. Not only so as to be a God as well as the Father, for that is no more than what is common among Men; the Son of a Man being in that Sense a Man as well as his Father.
But when the Scripture, and we from thence, speak of God’s begetting a Son, we cannot but believe it to be in a much higher Sense, the highest that can be. But we cannot by all our Reason imagine any higher, nor any other becoming his Divine and indivisible Essence, than that his Son is of the same Individual Nature or Essence with the Father, one and the same God that the Father is, according as he is declared to be in the Holy Scriptures.
Wherefore when I say that I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son, or the only Son of God the Father, I thereby profess that I believe the said Jesus Christ to be truly God, of one Substance with the Father. Which I must necessarily believe, as ever I desire to be saved. For I can never believe that any one can save me, but he that made me; the Salvation of Mankind being certainly as Divine a Work as the Creation of the World. And therefore I must of necessity believe Christ to be God, for otherwise I cannot believe in him as my Saviour, or that he is able to save me, that being more than any one, or all the Creatures in the World can do. But blessed be his Name for it, there is no one Article of our Faith more clearly revealed to us than this is. And therefore I hope he will always keep me stedfast in the Belief of it to my Life’s end, that believing and trusting on him for all things needful to my Salvation; I may then receive the end of my Faith, even the Salvation of my Soul, by the same God my Saviour, Luke i. 47.
And I further believe that this Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, is our Lord. He is our Lord, as he is the Son of God our Maker; as he is Jesus our Saviour; and as he is Christ our King. He hath absolute Dominion over the whole Creation; but is in a peculiar manner the Lord of all those whom he hath redeemed and purchased to himself, Tit. ii. 14. To whom he therefore saith, Ye call me Lord and Master, and ye say well, for so I am, John xiii. 13. And I now looking upon myself as in the Number of them, call him not only my, but our Lord, and desire accordingly to serve and glorify him both in my Body and in my Spirit, which are his, 1 Cor. vi. 20.
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.
Although Jesus Christ was from all Eternity begotten of God the Father in so wonderful and divine a manner, that he himself is one and the same God with the Father, yet in time he was pleased to become Man too, like unto us, by being conceived and born into the World as other Men are, but in a manner quite different from all other: As it was necessary he should be, that so he might be free from that Original Sin that all are subject to, who are conceived and born the ordinary way. Wherefore, altho’ he was conceived, it was not as other Men are, by the help of Man, but by the Holy Ghost: And tho’ he was born of a Woman; that Woman was not like other Women that bear Children, but a Virgin, the Virgin Mary.
I believe he was conceived by the Holy Ghost, because of the Angel’s Word sent from God to acquaint the said Virgin with it. For when he had said to her, Behold thou shalt conceive in thy Womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call his Name Jesus: The Blessed Virgin wondring how that should be, seeing she knew not a Man; he answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall over-shadow thee, therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God, Luke i. 35. To which she having given her Consent, by saying, Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word, ver. 38. I believe as the Angel then departed from her, so the Holy Ghost came accordingly upon her, and by his Almighty Power, that Holy Thing was then conceived in her. As the Angel told Joseph also, to whom the said Virgin was espoused. For he finding her after this to be with Child, and therefore thinking to put her away privily, the Angel said to him, Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy Wife: for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost, Mat. i. 20.
And as he was thus conceived by the Holy Ghost, so I believe he was born of the Virgin Mary. For it being in her Womb that he was conceived, he could be born of no other but of her, and she must needs be a Virgin still, in that she had conceived no otherwise than by the immediate Power of God. For which reason also the Son of God is said to be made of a Woman; Gal. iv. 4. in that he, the Second, or last Adam, was formed out of her Substance, as the First Adam, was of the Dust of the Ground by God himself, Gen. ii. 7.
Now seeing the only Son of God, or which is the same, God the Son, was thus conceived and born of a Woman; I believe that he thereby became the Son of Man too, or really and truly Man. As St. John saith, the Word, or Son of God, was made flesh, and dwelt among us, Joh i. 14. And St. Paul, Jesus Christ being or subsisting in the form or nature of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a Servant, being made in the likeness of Men, Phil. ii. 5, 6, 7. that is, of the same Nature that all men are of, consisting of a reasonable Soul and human Flesh, with all the Faculties, Members and Qualities that are proper and essential to either of them singly, or to both as united together; as likewise with all the Infirmities incident to Mankind in general. He eat, he drank, he slept, he was hungry, and thirsty, and weary, and the like, but all without Sin, and such Effects or Consequences of it, as particular Men are subject to. So that as he was truly God, he was now as truly the Man Christ Jesus, 1 Tim. ii. 5. The Man, Man in general, and the second Man, 1 Cor. xv. 47. the whole Nature of Man being as fully in him, as it was in the first Man Adam.
But this the whole Nature of Man, thus assumed by the Son of God, having never subsisted of itself out of his Divine Person; but being taken into it at its first Formation, or Conception in the Womb, it could not make a Person of itself, distinct from the Divine, no more than the Body, that is formed together with the Soul of a Man, can make an Human Person without it. Wherefore, altho’ I believe that Jesus Christ being begotten from all Eternity of the Father, is truly God; and being born in time of a Woman is truly Man; yet I do not believe that he is one Person as God, and another Person as Man, but that he is both God and Man, in one and the same Person: According, as I am taught in the Profession of Faith, commonly called the Creed of St. Athanasius, where it is said, that Jesus Christ, altho’ he be God and Man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; One, not by Conversion of the Godhead into Flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God; One altogether, not by Confusion of Substance, but by Unity of Person. For as the reasonable Soul and Flesh is one Man, so God and Man is one Christ.
And I further believe that it is necessary for me to believe this, even that Jesus Christ is thus God and Man in one Person, or that he is but one Person both as God and Man; because it is upon this that the Vertue and Efficacy of his Sufferings for me chiefly depends. For if he had been one Person as God and another as Man, then all his Sufferings as Man would have been the Sufferings only of an human, a finite Person, and so would have terminated in himself, without affecting any, much less all other Men. Neither would they have been any way proportionable to, or satisfactory for Sins committed against the Infinite and Eternal God.
Whereas he being both God and Man in one Person, tho’ he suffer’d only in his Manhood, yet his Sufferings were of infinite Value and Merit for all Men, because they were the Sufferings of an infinite, a divine Person: Insomuch that when they killed him, they killed the Prince of life, Acts iii. 15. They crucified the Lord of glory, 1 Cor. ii. 8. and his Blood was the Blood of God, Acts xx. 28. and therefore must needs be of sufficient Worth and Vertue to wash away all our Sins; Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us, Joh. iii. 16. This I am taught to believe also in the Creed itself; for seeing the same Person who is here called the only Son of God, the same was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary, he must needs be still one and the same Divine Person after he was conceived and born, that he was before.
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into Hell.
When Jesus Christ, the only Son of God was thus miraculously conceived and born into the World, he afterwards grew up by degrees, as other Men do, to the ordinary Stature of a Man; living all the while in a private Condition, ’till he was about Thirty Years of Age. But then being baptized by John the Baptist, and anointed by the Holy Ghost, Luke iii. 21, 22. Matt. iii. 16, 17. He after that appear’d publickly in the Land of Judea, in the Time that Tiberius Caesar was Emperor of Rome, and Pontius Pilate was under him, Governour of Judea, Luke iii. 1. whose Name was therefore put into the Creed, that Mankind may always know in what Age of the World Jesus Christ lived, and how he came to die upon a Cross: that being a kind of Death that was never inflicted upon any by the Jews, but only by Roman Governors, such as Pontius Pilate was.
Under this Pontius Pilate, Jesus Christ the Son of God, being now also a Man, as such he lived a most Holy Life, and went about doing good and working Miracles, to shew forth his Divine Power and Godhead: yet nevertheless he Suffered, that is, he underwent a great deal of Trouble and Sorrow in the World; not for himself, for he never sinned, 1 Pet. ii. 22. and therefore could never suffer for any thing that he himself did. But having taken our Nature upon him, he suffered for us, and for our Sins which were laid upon him, Isai. liii. 5, 6. 1 Pet. ii. 21. Ch. iii. 18. iv. 1. He suffered Reproach in his Name, Grief in his Heart, Pain in his Body, and all manner of Affronts and Indignities that were offered him. He was apprehended, arraigned, accused, and condemned as a Malefactor. He was scourged, he was stripped, he was mocked, he had a Crown of Thorns put upon his bare Head, he was spit upon and abused, as if he had been the worst of Men, Mat. xxvii. 26, &c.
All this he suffered under Pontius Pilate; by whose Order he was also Crucified: that is, a straight piece of Timber being set fast in the ground with a cross Beam towards the upper end of it, his Hands were fastened with Nails, the one to the one side, and the other to the other side of the said cross Beam, and his Feet to the straight Timber that stood in the Ground, his Body being sustained or held up by a little piece of Wood that jetted out for that purpose about the middle of the said Timber. In this most painful and Ignominious Posture, he hung for several Hours together; and all for us, that he might redeem us from the Curse of the Law, by being made a Curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a Tree, Gal. iii. 13. From whence I believe it was necessary to our Redemption, that he should not only suffer in general, but that he should also suffer upon the Cross, or be Crucified, that so he might, in our stead, undergo that Curse which God had denounced against every one that continueth not in all things written in his law, and therefore against every one of us, Gal. iii. 10. Deut. xxvii. 26.
But for that end it was necessary, that he should not only be Crucified or Nailed to the Cross, but that he should Die too: For God hath said, that he will punish every Sin or Transgression of his Law with Death, Gen. ii. 17. Rom. vi. 23. But all Men are guilty of Sin, and therefore, as such, are bound over by God‘s own Word to suffer Death. Neither do I see, how it can be possible, according to the Revelations that God hath made of himself, and his Will to us, that any one should escape this Death which God himself hath threatned, unless some other hath undergone it in his stead. But this none was ever capable of doing for us, but only Jesus Christ: He being the only Man that never sinned himself; the only Man in general who had the whole Nature of Man in him, and so could suffer for any, or for all that are of that Nature; and the only Man too, who was God as well as Man, and so could suffer as much, yea, more, in their Nature, than all the Men in the World could ever do in their own Persons: And so was every way qualified to undergo the Death which God hath threatned, in our stead, and so to make Satisfaction to the Law, to the Justice to the Word, and to the Truth of God for us that we, by him, may not only escape Death but likewise attain Eternal Life.
For this purpose therefore he was not only Crucified, but Dead too, that is, he hung upon the Cross so long, till at length he gave up the Ghost, or Died, Matth. xxvii. 50. Luke xxiii. 46. and so offered up himself as a Sacrifice to God, for the Sins, and in the stead of all Mankind: For he died for our Sins, 1 Cor. xv. 3. He was a Propitiation for our Sins, and not for ours only, but also for the Sins of the whole World, 1 John ii. 1, 2. He gave himself a ransom for all, or instead of all, 1 Tim. ii. 6. He tasted Death for every Man, Heb. ii. 9. For he took not on him the Person, or the Nature of any one or more particular Men only, but the Nature of Man in general, that which all and every Man is of. And therefore the Death which he suffered in that Nature must needs be for every one that is of that Nature; so that there is no Man but may be saved by it, if he will but believe in him as he ought, John iii. 16.
Jesus Christ being thus dead, I believe further that he was buried, 1 Cor. xv. 4. that is, his Body being now bereaved of its Soul, it was laid in a Grave, Tomb, or Sepulchre, in the Ground by Joseph of Arimathea, Matth. xxvii. 60. and Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews, John xix. 39. But in his Soul he descended into hell. For tho’ as he was God, the Penitent Thief was to be with him in Paradise the same Day he died, Luke xxiii. 43. Yet as Man he did not yet ascend unto the Father, John xx. 17. But he himself in David said unto the Father, Thou wilt not leave my Soul in Hell, Psal. xvi. 10. Acts ii. 27. From whence I cannot but believe also that he went to Hell, altho’ the End for which he went thither be not clearly reveal’d by God, and therefore not necessary to be known or determin’d by us. Be sure he suffer’d nothing there: For he had suffer’d enough before our Redemption: As he shewed also, in that all the Power of Hell was not able to keep him there; which might be one great End of his going thither. Even to shew, that he had suffer’d the Extremity of the Law, paid the uttermost Farthing, and so made complete Satisfaction for us.
The Third Day He rose again from the Dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty.
Altho‘ Jesus Christ died, was buried, and descended into Hell, and so was truly in the Number of the Dead for some Time, yet he afterwards rose again from the Dead, that is, the same Soul that departed from his Body upon the Cross, was again united to the same Body, so that he revived and became alive again, as he was before he died. For this is attested by all the Evangelists, and many other who saw him and conversed with him after he was risen again, Acts xiii. 30, 31. 1 Cor. xv. 4, 5, &c. yea, and saw the Prints of the Wounds which the Nails, wherewith he was fastned to the Cross, had made in his Hands and Feet, Luke xxiv. 39. and which the Spear, wherewith he was pierced, John xix. 34. had made in his Side, John xx. 27. whereby they were fully assured that it was the very same Body which they had seen before upon the Cross.
Neither do I only believe that Christ rose again from the Dead, but that he rose again the Third Day, that is, the Third Day from, or after, his Death inclusively, the Day on which he died being reckon’d for one, and the Day on which he rose for another, according to the common way of speaking among all People, and particularly the Jews, 1 Cor. xv. 4. And I further believe, that as he died for us, so he likewise rose again for us. For he was delivered for our Offences, and raised again for our Justification, Rom. iv. 25.
But for that Purpose, after he was risen from the Dead, he continu’d only 40 Days upon Earth, Acts i. 3. and then he ascended into Heaven, that is, he in that Soul and Body which he had assumed, and in which he died and rose again, he in the same Soul and Body, and so in the whole Nature of Man united to his Divine Person, was taken from the Earth, and carried up to that high and holy Place which we call Heaven, where the glorified Saints and Angels live and enjoy God, Luke xxiv. 51. Acts i. 9, 10, 11. And he was no sooner there but he was set at the Right Hand of God, Mark xvi. 19. that is, he was made much better than the Angels, Heb. i. 3, 4. Angels, and Authorities, and Powers, being made subject to him, 1 Pet. iii. 22. For God hath there highly exalted him, and given him a Name that is above every Name, that at the Name of Jesus every Knee should bow, of Things in Heaven, and Things in Earth, and Things under the Earth, and that every Tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father, Phil. ii. 9, 10, 11. Yea, God hath now set him at his own Right Hand, in the heavenly Places far above all Principality, and Power, and Might, and Dominion, and every Name that is named, not only in this World, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all Things under his Feet, and gave him to be Head over all Things to the Church, Eph. i. 20, 21, 22.
Thus the Man Christ Jesus, immediately upon his Ascension into Heaven, was set at the Right Hand of God, advanc’d to the highest Degree of Honour in the World, and vested with absolute and supream Authority over all things in it. All power is given to him both in heaven and earth, Matth. xxviii. 18. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgement to the Son; that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father, John v. 22, 23. So that he is now Lord of Lords, and King of Kings, the only Potentate, 1 Tim. vi. 15. The universal Monarch of Heaven and Earth; the Governour of all the Creatures in the World. They are all and every one not only in his Hand, but under his Feet, that he may do and deal with them as he pleaseth: For he is head over all things; and that also to the Church; For the good and benefit of the Church, which he hath purchased with his own Blood: and therefore we may be sure he takes care, that, according to his Promise, the gates of Hell shall never prevail against it, Matth. xvi. 18. which they would certainly do if he had not such absolute Dominion over them, and all things else; that as the Father ordereth all things for the good of the World in general, so Christ the Son doth the same for his Church in particular, that all things may work together for the good of that, and of every sound Member in it, Rom. viii. 28.
And as Jesus Christ being set at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, is himself also an Almighty King, and can do whatsoever he will. So he sits there likewise as a Priest, a Priest for ever, Psal. cx. 4. Heb. vii. 17. He hath an unchangeable Priesthood, ever living to make intercession for them who come unto God by him, ver. 24, 25. For them he intercedeth, but for none else. Tho’ we often read that he died for all: it is no-where written, that he maketh Intercession for all. But he himself saith, He doth not: where, speaking to his Father of such as believe in him, he saith, I pray for them, I pray not for the World, Joh. xvii. 9. See also Mat. x. 32, 33. And that is the reason, why tho’ he died for all, yet all are not saved by his Death, because they will not believe in him, nor come unto God by him, and therefore he doth not apply the Merits of his Death to them, by making Intercession for them: but for all true Believers he intercedes with the Father, that they may be justified and saved by virtue of that great Propitiation, which he hath made, for the Sins of the World. And the Father always hearing him, John xi. 42. they are all accordingly justified and saved by him, or through his Mediation and Intercession for them, who is the only Mediator between God and Men, 1 Tim. ii. 5.
Where, by his Mediation or Intercession, I do not understand any formal Request or Supplication that he maketh to the Father for us, but his appearing before him in our Nature, and in our behalf. As it was typified in the Old Law, when the High-Priest went on the Day of Expiation into the most Holy Place, he only carried some of the Blood of his Sacrifice with him, and sprinkling it about, he thereby made Attonement and Reconciliation for himself and the People, Lev. xvi. 15, 17. So Christ having offered up himself in our Nature for the Sins of the World, he in the same Nature enter’d into Heaven, and in it appeareth there in the presence of God for us, Heb. ix. 24. and thereby maketh Attonement, Reconciliation and Intercession for us, his Body being there a standing Monument of the great Propitiation that he hath made for our Sins. So that God the Father having that always in his Eye, is pleased to receive us into his Grace and Favour, only upon his Son’s appearing so before him in our behalf, and willing to have the Merits of his Death applied to us for our Pardon and Salvation. According as he prayed also when he was upon Earth, Father, I will, that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, John xvii. 24.
This Intercession, I believe, Jesus Christ is continually making in Heaven for all his faithful People upon Earth. For he was not only set there at first, but, as it is in the Creed, He sitteth at the right hand of God: He sitteth there at this time and at all times continually: and so never ceaseth to make Intercession for us, but we may always say, He now appeareth in the presence of God for us, Heb. ix. 24. Hence it is, that altho’ the Almighty Creator and Governor of the World be continually offended by all Men upon Earth; yet he is good and kind unto them all: But infinitely gracious and merciful to such as repent, and believe the Gospel, because thay have a Mediator or Advocate sitting continually at his right hand, and interceding there so effectually for them, that their Sins are all pardoned, and God is perfectly reconciled to them Acts v. 31. 2 Cor. v. 18, 19. They are justified or accounted righteous in his sight, Rom. iv. 25. Ch. viii. 33, 34. Their Prayers are heard, and whatsoever they ask in his Name, if it be good, it is certainly done for them, John xiv. 13, 14. Ch. xvi. 23. They are continually sanctified, directed, and assisted by his Holy Spirit; so that they can do all things thro’ Christ which strengtheneth them, Phil. iv. 13. And all the good Works they do, tho’ imperfect in themselves, yet are acceptable to God thro’ Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. ii. 5. Who therefore is able to save to the uttermost them who come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make Intercession for them, Heb. vii. 25. and is preparing a place for them in his Father’s house, John xiv. 2. where they will all join together in praising him for bringing them thither, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, Rev. vii. 10. The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the World, John i. 29.
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
It is now about 1670 Years since Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven, where he hath been ever since, and is now, sitting at the right Hand of God the Father Almighty. But he shall one Day come from thence, that is, He shall come from Heaven to Earth again. As the Two Angels acquainted his Apostles at his Ascension, saying, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into Heaven, Acts i. 11. He went to Heaven in a Cloud, v. 9. with an innumerable Company of Holy Angels surrounding and attending upon him. And so he will come again from thence in great glory. For all the Holy Angels shall come along with him, Matth. xxv. 31. He shall come again with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God, 1 Thess. iv. 16. For he shall send his Angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his Elect from the four winds, from one end of Heaven to the other, Matth. xxiv. 31. Then the dead shall be raised, and all Mankind shall see the Son of Man thus coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory, ver. 30. What a glorious Sight will that be!
But of that day and hour knoweth no Man, no, not the Angels of Heaven, but the Father only, Mat. xxiv. 36. God hath been pleased to conceal it from all the World, that all the World may be in daily Expectation of it. But this we know, that it shall be at the end of the World, Matth. xxiv. 3. It shall be the last Day that the World shall continue in that state and form it is now in. For the heaven and the earth which now are by the same word, whereby they were made, are kept in store reserved unto fire against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men, 2 Peter iii. 7. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up, ver. 10.
At that Day the Lord Jesus shall come from Heaven to judge the World, as he came at first to save it. For the Father judgeth no Man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son, John v. 22. and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man, v. 27. Yea, he hath appointed the day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead, Acts xvii. 31. It is God therefore that will judge the World, but he will do it by the Man Christ Jesus, who, as Man, now sitteth at the right Hand of the Father, above all the Creatures in the World; and as Man too, at the last Day, will execute his Authority over them, by passing judgment upon them. So that we shall then see our Judge in our own Nature, and hear him pronouncing Sentence upon us, which we may be confident, shall be most perfectly just and righteous, in that altho’ he doth it as Man, yet he that doth it being God too, as such he is perfectly acquainted with every thing that we, or any Creature in the World, ever thought, or spake, or did.
Thus therefore the Lord Jesus shall judge the world, that is, He shall review and examine all Men’s Lives, and call every one to account for all his Actions from first to last, whether secret or open: For God will bring every work to judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil, Eccles. xii. 14. And will judge the secrets of Men by Jesus Christ, Rom. ii. 16. And he himself hath told us, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof at the day of judgment, Matth. xii. 36. and so they shall of their not doing what they ought, as well as of their doing what they ought not, Matth. xxv. 32, &c. All this he will then Examine; not as if he did not know it before, but that all other Men may know that he knew it, and so their own Conscience likewise may witness for or against them. After which he will pronounce Judgment upon all; justifying the Righteous, and condemning the Wicked. And these shall go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal, Matth. xxv. 46.
He shall thus judge both the quick and the dead, Acts x. 42. 2 Tim. iv. 1. 1 Peter iv. 5. that is, both those who shall be quick or alive at the time of his coming, and those who died before, and so shall be then dead. There will be doubtless many then living upon Earth, perhaps as many if not more, than there are now: These therefore shall not sleep, or die, but they shall all be changed, 1 Cor. xv. 51. The Righteous which shall then remain alive, shall, together with those who died before in Christ, be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, 1 Thes. iv. 17. And all other shall be changed too; for they shall be summoned to appear before his Judgment-seat, and be there adjudged by him to their Eternal State. And so shall the Apostate Angels too, for they also are reserved unto the judgment of the great day, 2 Pet. ii. 4. Jude 6. This they themselves know, and that Jesus Christ also shall be their Judge. As appears from their saying to him, Art thou come to torment us before the time, Matth. viii. 29.
And as all that shall be then alive, so the dead too shall be then judged: For they shall all be raised up to Life again. Adam himself and his whole Posterity; every one that ever lived upon the Face of the Earth, or ever shall. We shall all then meet together in a body. For we must all appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad, 2 Cor. v. 10.
I believe in the Holy Ghost.
The first Words of the Creed, I believe, which have hitherto served to all the Articles concerning God the Father, and God the Son, are here repeated concerning God the Holy Ghost: that we may the more clearly and expressly declare our belief in him, in the same way and manner as in the other Two Divine Persons. And accordingly I believe in the Holy Ghost, as a distinct Person from the Father and the Son, but of one Divine Essence or Substance with them.
I believe first, That he who in the Scriptures is called the Holy Ghost, that is, the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, is not the same Person that is called the Father, nor the same that is called the Son, but that he is a Person in himself, distinct from both of them. This I believe, not only because they are all Three, and he among them, often named together, as Three distinct Persons, Matth. xxviii. 19. 2 Cor. xiii. 14. 1 John v. 7. but likewise because he is said to be sent in the same Sense, after the same manner, and at the same time, both by the Father and the Son, John xiv. 26. ch. xv. 26. ch. xvi. 7. Which plainly shews that he is a distinct Person from both; and also that he comes or proceeds from both, from the Son as well as from the Father, as appears also from his being called the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of the Son as well as of the Father, Rom. viii. 9. 1 Pet. i. 11. Gal. iv. 6. and from his being said to receive of the Son, John xvi. 14, 15. all which is the same thing in effect, which we otherwise call his proceeding from him.
Wherefore although he be no-where in the Scripture expressly said to proceed from the Son, as he is said to proceed from the Father, John xv. 26. Yet it is so plainly implied, and so necessarily inferr’d from those other Expressions, that I cannot but believe that he proceedeth both from the Father and the Son; only with this distinction, that the Father hath the Spirit proceeding from him, in and of himself; whereas the Son hath it not in himself but of the Father, of whom he was begotten and so received all he is, or hath as God, and therefore this too, even the Spirit’s proceeding from him: As he himself also intimates, where he saith, All things that the Father hath are mine: Therefore said I, he the Holy Spirit, shall take of mine and shall shew it unto you, John xvi. 14.
But as the Son was so begotten of the Father, as to be one God with him, the Holy Ghost so proceedeth from the Father and the Son, that he is one and the same God that they are. For there is but one God, and the Holy Ghost is often declared to be that one God, as well as the Father and the Son. When St. Peter had said that Ananias had lied to the Holy Ghost, in the next verse he saith, that he had lied to God, Acts 5. 3, 4. St. Paul saith, Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you, 1 Cor. iii. 16. and again, elsewhere he saith, that the Bodies of the Saints are the Temples of the Holy Ghost, ch. vi. 19. which could not be unless the Holy Ghost be God: for it is God’s inhabitation only that makes a Place to be a Temple: at least, to be a Temple of God.
The same thing appears also from our Saviour’s saying, that the Sin against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven. What that is, we may learn from the occasion of his Speaking it, He had cast out a Devil by the Spirit of God, Mat. xii. 22, 28. The Pharisees said, he did it by Beelzebub, the Prince of the Devils, ver. 24. upon which our Lord saith. All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto Men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto Men, ver. 31. and the reason why he said so was, because they said, he had an unclean Spirit, Mark iii. 30. From whence it appears, that the Sin against the Holy Ghost, is properly that kind of Blasphemy, when a Man saith, that the Works which Christ did by the Spirit of God, were done by the Devil, and so in effect calls the Spirit of God, a Devil, an unclean Spirit; and by consequence Christ himself, an Impostor: which, if true, no Sin could be forgiven: And then it is no wonder if that shall never be so; at least to those who living at that time, saw Christ do his wonderful Works, and yet had the Impudence to blaspheme that Holy Spirit by which he did them.
Whether any in this Age can be guilty of this Sin as they were, I shall not determine: but am sure it behoveth all Men to keep as far from it as they can, and for that purpose never to blaspheme, or say any thing against God’s Holy Spirit, that so they may be sure never to fall into the unpardonable Sin: Which, altho’ it be not therefore unpardonable because he is God, yet unless he was God, it could not be unpardonable. And therefore this is an undeniable Argument of his Godhead. And all had best take care how they deny it, and so blaspheme the Holy Ghost.
There are many other Places all over the Bible, where the Holy Ghost is expressly called God, and Jehovah, the Lord: and where the Works and Properties of God, such also as are incommunicable to any Creature, are attributed unto him: and which, by consequence, demonstrate the Holy Ghost to be the one living and true God, so clearly, that I cannot but believe this as firmly as any Article of our Christian Faith.
Neither can any doubt of it, who believe the Holy Scripture to be the Word of God, or to be given by inspiration of God, 2 Tim. iii. 16. For the God whose Word it is, and by whose Inspiration it was given, is the Holy Ghost. It was he that spake in and by the Prophets, or they by him, by his Direction and Inspiration. David said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said unto my Lord, Mark xii. 36. Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the Prophet, Acts xxviii. 25. As the Holy Ghost saith, to day if ye will hear his voice, Heb. iii. 7. So also, Heb. ix. 8. ch. x. 15, 16. 1 Pet. i. 11. 2 Pet. i. 21. Wherefore when the Prophets say, Thus saith the Lord, their meaning is, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, as the Prophet Agabus expressed it. Acts xxi. 11. which is so full a Demonstration of his Godhead, that I see no place left to doubt of it.
Hence therefore I believe, according as this Article is explain’d in the Nicene Creed, I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, or rather according to the Greek, the Lord and the giver of life. For he is not here said to be the Lord of Life, as he is the giver of it, (as our English Translation may be misconstrued) but the Lord in general, Jehovah, the Almighty God; and the Giver, and Maker, and Author of Life, John vi. 63. of all Life both natural and spiritual. Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son: who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, as being of one substance, power, and glory with them: Who spake by the Prophets. To whom we are therefore obliged for all the revelations that God hath made of himself and his Will to Mankind, by any of the Prophets since the World began. For the Prophecy came not in old time by the will of Men, but holy Men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Pet. i. 21. According as our Saviour said to his Apostles, It is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you, Matth. x. 20.
The Holy Catholick Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of Sins.
By the word Church, I here understand the Company or Congregation of all such People as profess to believe in the True God, and to Worship and Serve Him, according to the Revelations that he hath made of himself, and of his Will to them. Some such People I believe there always have been in the World; and therefore a Church in all Ages, since the beginning of it. In the middle Age, between the first and last Adam, God was pleased to reveal himself in a more especial manner to Abraham; and to promise that Christ, the last Adam and Saviour of the World (as the first was the destroyer of it) should be born of his Seed. And from that time forward, his Family and Posterity, the Jews or Israelites were the Church of God, all along until Christ was accordingly born and appeared among them. So that Wheresoever they were, there was the Church. Which is therefore said to be in the Wilderness, when they were there, Acts vii. 38.
But now I believe the Church is not confined to that or any one Nation, or People, but is Catholick, that is to say, general, or universal, spread over the face of the whole Earth: There being no Nation or People but what either are or may be of it. For Our Saviour commanded his Apostles to make all Nations his Disciples, and bring them into his Church by Baptism, Mat. xxviii. 19. And accordingly we find that the Gentiles were soon after brought into it as well as the Jews. Since which time there always hath been and still is a Catholick Church; that is to say, a Congregation of all Christian People dispersed throughout the World, even of all that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours, 1 Cor. i. 2. For all that do so, are neither Jews nor Gentiles, but the Church of God, 1 Cor. x. 32. that Church, without which there is no Salvation: Forasmuch as there is no Name given under heaven among men, whereby we must be saved, but the Name of Jesus Christ, Acts iv. 12. But his Name is made known, and professed only in his Church. And therefore the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved, Acts ii. 47. And that is also the reason, why there always was, and always will be a Church upon Earth, Matth. xvi. 18. and likewise why it is now so necessary for all to believe the Church to be Catholick; that every one may look upon it to be as free for him as for any other to be added to it, that he may be saved.
I believe further, that this Catholick Church is Holy. Not but that there are many unholy Persons in it; many who profess the Name of Christ, but will not observe his Laws: As He himself foreshewed, by comparing his Church to a Field, wherein there are Tares, as well as Wheat, Matth. xiii. 24, 25. and to a Net, that gathereth of the kind, good and bad, ver. 47. yet nevertheless the whole Church, as such, is holy, in respect of the holy Doctrine which it teacheth, the holy Discipline which it exerciseth, the holy Laws which it publisheth, the holy Worship which it performeth, the holy Sacraments which it administereth, and especially in respect of its most Holy Head, Jesus Christ, Eph. v. 23, 27. Col. i. 18.
For He having purchased his Church with his own blood, Acts xx. 28. he looks upon it as his own Body, which He, as the Head, actuates and influences by his Holy Spirit, moving and working in his Word and Sacraments as there administred, by Officers constituted and appointed by himself for that purpose, Eph. iv. 11, 12. 1 Cor. xii. 28. By which means all that are admitted into his Church, may be sanctified or made holy. If any be not, it is their own fault. But none can ever become truly Holy, but only in the Catholick Church. Which therefore may well be called Holy, as the particular Church or People of the Jews often is in the Old Testament, Deut. vii. 6. cap. xxviii. 9.
But though there be none elsewhere, I believe that in Christ’s Holy Catholick Church there is a Communion of Saints; that is to say, a Company or Society of holy Persons, who are called to be Saints, 1 Cor. i. 2. and are accordingly sanctified by faith that is in Christ Jesus, Acts xxvi. 18. so as to be holy, as he who hath called them is holy in all manner of conversation, 1 Pet i. 15. These are truly the Servants of the Most High God, his Children, his Elect. A chosen Generation, a royal Priesthood, an holy Nation, a peculiar People; that they should shew forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light, 1 Pet. ii. 9. They as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, ver. 5. which they strive to do with all their might: making it their constant care and study to serve and please God, by doing all such good works as he hath set them. And God is graciously pleased to accept of what they do, through the Merits of Jesus Christ their Mediator and Advocate with him. In whom they have likewise the Almighty Governour of the World always reconciled unto them, and well pleased with them: They have his holy Spirit to direct and assist them in all their Actions: They have his holy Angels to keep them in all their ways, Psal. xci. 11. They have all things working together for their good, Rom. viii. 28. And therefore whatsoever their Outward Condition may seem to be, they are always happy, and the only happy People in the World.
That is that which we call the Invisible Church, a distinct Society from the rest of Mankind, having a peculiar Fellowship or Communion hoth with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, 1 John i. 3. and likewise with one another, or among themselves, as being fellow-citizens together, and of the Houshold of God, Eph. ii. 19. Fellow-members in the same Body, the Body of Christ: For by one spirit they are all baptized into one Body, 1 Cor. xii. 13. Therefore, as we have many Members in one Body, and all Members have not the same office: So the Saints, being many, are one Body in Christ, and every one members one of another, Rom. xii. 4, 5. By which means, all the true Saints of God, in what Part of the World soever they live, they have the same fellowship as the Members of the same Body have with one another; being all actuated, influenced, and governed by one and the same Spirit: For through him in whom they are, they have all access by one Spirit unto the Father, Eph. ii. 18. And how far soever they live asunder, among them all there is one Body, one Spirit, even as they are all called in one hope of their calling: one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in them all, Eph. iv. 4, 5, 6.
From whence ariseth that strict Union, and Communion of Saints, that they all think the same thing; they are all of one mind, in all things necessary to Salvation: They love as Brethren; and strive about nothing but which should serve God best, and do most good in the World; every one pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ, Phil. iii. 14. ’till they all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, Eph. iv. 13. and so are mete to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, Col. i. 12. God grant that I may be of this holy Communion; that I may be numbred with the Saints in glory everlasting.
But there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not, Eccles. vii. 20. that is, transgresseth not the Law of God: For Sin is the transgression of the Law, 1 John iii. 4. And every transgression of the Law, in Thought, Word, or Deed, is Sin. But every Sin deserveth Death, and is threatned with it by God himself, Rom. vi. 23. Gen. ii. 17. Gal. iii. 10. And therefore all having sinned, there are none but who want to have their Sins forgiven, before they can be saved. But I believe, that in the Holy Catholick Church Forgiveness of Sins may be had; and that all that are of the Communion of Saints, have it by Christ.
For in him they have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of Sins, Eph. i. 7. Col. i. 14. That is, whereas they as well as all other People have sinned, or transgressed the Law of God, and are therefore bound over to suffer the Punishments which he hath threaten’d against those who do so: They, upon their Repentance and Faith in Christ are discharged from their Obligation to suffer the said Punishments, being redeemed or bought off by the Blood of Christ, which was shed for many, for the remission of Sins, Matth. xxvi. 28. It was shed for All; but so, that none have Remission of Sins by it except they believe. But how many soever believe in him as all the Saints do, their Sins are actually remitted, and all their Obligations to Punishment for them cancell’d and made void by it. For as he once shed his Blood; so by virtue of that, he is always making Intercession for them: and doth it so effectually that his Death being accepted of instead of theirs, they are no longer obnoxious to the Punishments that were due unto their Sins; but are as perfectly absolved and acquitted from them, as if they had never sinned.
Neither is that all: For their Sins being so forgiven, they are also justified; that is (as our Church explains it in the Article of Justification,) they are accounted righteous before God, only for the Merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by Faith, not for their own Works or Deservings. Whatsoever good Works they do, as be sure they do all they can, they cannot deserve or merit any thing at all from God by them, much less so much as that they should be accounted righteous before him, notwithstanding that they are not perfectly so in themselves. But Christ having been made Sin or a Sin-offering for them, to that end and purpose, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Cor. v. 21. therefore what is wanting in themselves, they have it abundantly in him.
For being by Faith engrafted into him, the true Vine, and so made Members of his Body, they partake of his Merits and Righteousness. They are found in him not having their own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 9. And having such perfect Righteousness as that is in Christ, they are thereby justified, as they well may, or accounted righteous before God. By which means the great Loss which Mankind sustained in their first Parent, is now fully repaired in so wonderful a manner, that as by one Man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many are made righteous, Rom. v. 19. As righteous in him the Second Adam, as they were made Sinners by the First. And being thus justified by faith, they have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Rom. v. 1. This Honour have all his Saints.
The Resurrection of the Body, and the Life Everlasting.
By the Resurrection of the Body, I here understand and believe, that every Body that ever was informed or endued with a reasonable Soul and is afterwards parted from it by Death, although it be then reduced to Earth again, or eaten up of Worms, or Beasts, or Fishes, or any other way consumed, and the Parts of it scattered abroad and dispersed all over the Earth, yet at the last Day all the Parts and Particles of it shall come together again, every one into its proper Place where it was before, so as to make up again the same individual Body; to which the same Soul that before departed from it, being again united, the same Person that before died, shall revive, or rise to life again. So that every Humane Person that ever did, or ever shall die, from the beginning to the end of the World, shall then rise again and live as really as ever he did before.
That this is possible I cannot doubt, who believe that God is Almighty and can do what he will. And that he will thus raise up our Bodies to Life again, I believe, because he himself hath said he will. We have his own Word for it, not only in the New, but likewise in the Old Testament. For there also he hath declared this to be his Will so plainly, that they who believed Moses and the Prophets, believed also the Resurrection of the Dead. As appears in that this was generally believed by all the Jews in our Saviour’s time, except some few among them called Sadduces, who denied it, Matth. xxii. 23. Acts xxiii. 8.
But what little reason they had to deny it, appears from the weak Question they propounded to our Lord about it, Matth. xxii. 24, 28. Who also convinced them of their Error by an Argument drawn from Moses himself, so as that they had not one Word to say for it. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, said he, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, Matt. xxii. 31, 32. Mark xii. 26, 27. For all live unto him, Luke xx. 28. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were then dead, and yet God said to Moses, Exod. iii. 6, 15. That he was their God: Which could not be, if they should always continue in a state of Death. For he is not the God of the dead, but of the living. The dead are not in being as Men. And then he could not possibly be their God. He could not be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when there were no such Persons in the World, nor ever would be, unless they rise again. And therefore his calling himself their God, was an undeniable Argument that he would raise them up again from Death to Life. And if he would raise them, then by necessary consequence all other too.
Especially considering, that all live to God, They also who are dead to us, live to him; to whom all things are present, and therefore the Resurrection, which being certainly determined by God, he looks upon the Dead as if they were already raised and now living. As he plainly shewed in calling himself their God. But if the Dead should never rise again, they could not live to him: For they would never live again at all; and so would be utterly incapable of having God to be their God.
Wherefore God, by saying that He was their God, plainly declared that He would raise them up to Life again. Which therefore is so clear and evident a Proof of the Resurrection, that I do not wonder that the Sadduces were put to silence at their first hearing it, Matth. xxii. 34.
There are many other Places in the Old Testament, where this great Truth is revealed to us. But in the New it is so fully explained and proved, that no Christian can doubt of it, 1 Cor. xv. 20, &c. Rev. xx. 12, 13, &c. Insomuch that I believe, That as really as I am now Alive, and as certainly as I shall ever Die, I shall be raised again to Life at the Last Day: And not only I, but all Mankind that ever did or shall die, both Just and Unjust, Acts xxiv. 15. For as Our Lord Himself hath taught us, The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation, John v. 28, 29.
And as I thus Believe the Resurrection of the Dead, I believe also the Life Everlasting, that shall follow upon it. For I Believe, that when the Dead shall be raised up to Life again at the Last Day, they shall never die any more, but from that day forward they shall live for ever. For they shall be no sooner raised, but they shall all appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ, who shall adjudge them all to their Everlasting state; the Wicked to Everlasting Punishment, and the Righteous to Everlasting Life, Mat. xxv. 46.
To the Wicked, He will then say, as He himself hath told us before-hand, Depart from Me, ye Cursed, into Everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels, Matth. xxv. 41. So that He will then take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his Power, 2 Thess. i. 8, 9. They shall be cast into outer darkness where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, Matth. viii. 12. where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, Mark ix. 44. where they shall live with the Fiends of Hell, and suffer the same inexpressible Pains and Torments which were at first prepared for them, not only for some Ages, but to all Eternity.
But the Saints, or Righteous shall then shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father, Matth. xiii. 43. For the Judge shall say to them, at that Day, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the World, Matth. xxv. 34. Every one of them being a Son, and therefore an Heir of God, shall inherit a Kingdom: a Kingdom not newly erected, but prepared for them from the Foundation of the World, of all things that were then made: For they shall every one inherit all things, Rev. xxi. 7. A Kingdom where there is no Night, nor any need of the Sun or Moon to shine in it; for the Glory of the Lord shall lighten it, Rev. xxi. 23. chap. xxii. 5. Under the Light of whose Countenance shining continually upon them, they being made equal to the Holy Angels, shall live with them in perfect Love, and Peace, and Joy, and Glory, and Happiness, for ever. This is that which in the Holy Scriptures is call’d Everlasting Life, and which I therefore believe shall be conferred upon all that believe in the only begotten Son of God, John iii. 16.
To Whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all Honour and Glory, now and for ever.
What dost thou chiefly learn in these Articles of thy Belief.
First, I learn to believe in God the Father, who hath made me and all the World.
Secondly, In God the Son, who hath redeemed me and all Mankind.
Thirdly, In God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me and all the Elect People of God.
Our Blessed Saviour, a little before his Ascension, commanded and empowered His Apostles to go and teach, or (as the original word signifies) make all Nations his Disciples, by Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Matth. xxviii. 19. Which was perfectly a New Institution. For though Baptizing, that is, Dipping, or Washing, or Sprinkling with Water, was commonly used in admitting Proselytes, and upon other Occasions among the Jews before; yet never in this Form in the Name of the Three Divine Persons, as our Saviour here commandeth it to be done: And thereby hath given us reason to believe, that the Jews understood what was meant by these Terms, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. For otherwise our Saviour would have spoken unintelligibly to them: Which we cannot imagine He would, in the Institution of a Sacrament. But they being conversant in the Writings of Moses and the Prophets, had often read, as of the Father, so of the Son, or Word of God; and likewise of the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God. And they knew well enough, that these are not Creatures, but that each of them is God: as appears particularly concerning the Son, from their saying, That Jesus Christ, by calling himself the Son of God, or saying that God was his Father, made himself Equal with God, John v. 18. and, which is the same, made himself God, John x. 33. For this plainly shews, that altho’ they would not own Jesus to be the Person, yet they believed that God hath a Son, and that this Son is Equal with God, or that he is God himself, of the same Essence with the Father.
But this Fundamental Article of our Belief, the Trinity in Unity, even that these Three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are One God, is now so plainly revealed in the Holy Scripture, given by his Inspiration, that none can doubt of it who believe what is there written; and so necessary to be believed, that we can believe none of the Articles that belong to our Salvation, unless we first believe this. We cannot believe in God the Father, unless we believe that he hath a Son begotten of himself: for otherwise He would not be truly a Father. We cannot believe in One God, unless we believe the Father and the Son to be One. We cannot believe in the Son, for our Redemption, unless we believe Him to be God. Forasmuch as it cost more to Redeem us than any could give but God himself. We cannot believe in the Holy Ghost, to Sanctifie us, unless we believe Him to be God. For none, be sure, can Sanctifie us, or make us Holy and New Creatures but He who at first Created us: which None did or could do but God.
And yet we cannot believe that these Three are so many several Gods: For then there would be more Gods than One. Which is contrary to Reason, as well as Scripture, where every one of these Divine Persons being call’d Jehovah, the most proper and incommunicable Name of God, lest People should be thereby tempted to think that there are more Gods than One, they had this remarkable caution given them, Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, (as our Translation hath it,) or one Jehovah, Deut. vi. 4. which there would have been no occasion for, if no more than One Person be Jehovah; or it had not been necessary to believe that the Three who are so called, are all One Jehovah, or Being in general, (as the word signifies,) which can be but One.
But according to the Idiom and Usage of the Hebrew Tongue, wherein the great and incommunicable Name of God, which we read Jehovah, and translate the Lord, seldom if ever hath an Adjective joined with it; those remarkable words, which are usher’d in with, Hear, O Israel, and concluded, in the Original, with a Letter greater than ordinary, as the first word also is, to shew some extraordinary Mystery to be contained in them, may and ought to be thus translated, The Lord, our God, the Lord, is One. Whereby the Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, is still more clearly revealed to us, as clearly as it well can be in that Language. For here is first God the Father called Jehovah, the Lord; then God the Son called, as He usually is in Holy Scripture, Our God; and God the Holy Ghost, called also Jehovah, the Lord; and these Three are expressly said to be One.
It is true, this is a great Mystery; far above our Comprehension: But so are all the Perfections of the Godhead, as well as this. And therefore we are not required to comprehend it, but only to believe it: And to believe it upon His Word, who hath revealed it to us, and so hath made it necessary for us to believe it. Which therefore we must be sure to do, so as to continue firm and stedfast in this Faith, as ever we desire to believe aright in Almighty God, or hope to be saved by him.
Especially considering that God our Saviour, in that He commanded that every one of these Divine Persons should be distinctly named in the very Act of making his Disciples, hath thereby given us to understand, that He will own None for his Disciples or true Members of his Church, but only such as believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as Three Divine Persons, but One God. Where He here also gives us firm ground to believe, in that He ordained this Sacrament to be administred (not in the Names, but) in the Name of these Three Persons; and so hath signified his pleasure, that the same Honour and Worship should be given to All and Every One of them alike: And by necessary Consequence, that we should believe All and Each of them to be of one Essence or Substance; or, as he expresseth it by his Apostle, that the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, these Three are one. Three in the Masculine Gender, and therefore Three Persons: One in the Neuter, and therefore One Thing, as the word signifies, 1 John v. 7. Which I therefore believe upon his Word: And so all must do, that desire to be His true and faithful Disciples; so as to have the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost always with them, 2 Cor. xiii. 14.
Hence it is that the Church hath all along required, that they who desire to be admitted by Baptism into it, should first profess to believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: which is the Sum of the whole Creed, and that which we chiefly learn in it, as our Church hath here taught us: even, that we believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; putting the Word God before every Person, the better to express and declare our Belief, That every one of these Three Persons, is the One Living and True God.
But that we may understand something also how these Three Divine Persons subsisting in the One Divine Essence, are pleased to manifest and distinguish themselves in their Operations towards us, and the rest of the Creation, Every One that is Catechised, is here taught to say, as I now do from my Heart, That, I first believe in God the Father, who hath made me and all the World? that is, all Things that were ever made, visible and invisible: which in the beginning of the Creed, as all along in the Holy Scriptures, are all comprehended under these two words, Heaven and Earth.
Secondly, I believe in God the Son, who hath redeemed me and all Mankind. I believe that he redeem’d me particularly, or as St. Paul expresseth it, that he loved me and gave himself for me, Gal. ii. 20. And not only me, but all Mankind: For he gave himself a ransom for all, 1 Tim. ii. 6. He was a Propitiation for the Sins of the whole world, 1 John ii. 2. And tasted death for every man, Heb. ii. 9. For every Man being of that Nature in which he died, and so paid the Price of Man’s Redemption, every Man was redeemed by it, even they also who do not accept of his Redemption, nor believe in him for it, and so receive no Advantage by it, Rom. xiv. 15. 1 Cor. viii. 11. As our Queen, suppose, having many of her Subjects made Slaves in Barbary, if she agrees with the King of the Country for the Redemption of them all, and accordingly pays the Price agreed upon, they are all now equally redeemed: although some perhaps living in remote or obscure Places of the Country never hear of it, or will not believe it; and others having been long accustomed to it, prefer their Slavery before Liberty, and chuse to continue there rather than return into their own Country, and so lose the benefit of their Redemption.
Thirdly, I believe in the Holy Ghost who sanctifieth me and all the elect People of God. Who sanctifieth, not who hath sanctified, as the Father hath made, and the Son hath redeemed me heretofore, but doth sanctifie me at present, and continually; this being a Work that is always in doing, while we are in this World. And as the Son did not redeem all the World which the Father made, but only all Mankind, so the Holy Ghost doth not sanctifie all Mankind which the Son Redeemed, but only all the elect People of God; such as they only are, who truly believe in his Son Jesus Christ, and so have him to intercede for them, that they may have his Holy Spirit to abide with them, and to sanctifie them, John xiv. 16. chap. xvii. 17. which therefore is accordingly shed on them abundantly, and renews or sanctifies them through the same Jesus Christ our Saviour, Tit. iii. 5, 6. He sanctifieth them, that is, He makes them holy and new Creatures, he mortifieth all their Sins purifieth all their Hearts, and is a Principle of new Life in them: He openeth their eyes, and turneth them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of Sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by Faith that is in Jesus Christ, Acts xxvi. 18.
You said that your God-fathers and God-mothers did promise for you, that you should keep God’s Commandments. Tell me how many there be ?
Which be they ?
The same which God spake in the Twentieth Chapter of Exodus, saying, I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, out of the House of Bondage.
I. Thou shalt have none other Gods but me.
Of the Three Things which God-fathers and God-mothers promise in the Name of the Child, or the Child by them, the last is, That he will keep God’s holy Will and Commandments, and walk in the same all the days of his Life. Wherefore the Catechist having examined and instructed him in the true Faith, without which it is impossible to please God, or keep his Commandments, Heb. xi. 6. he now puts him in mind of the Commandments which he promised to keep:
And the first Question he asketh the Child about them, is, How many there be? To which he answereth, Ten. That being the Number of them, according to the Scriptures, Deut. iv. 13. chap. x. 4. For though there be many more particular Precepts, they are all reducible to those Ten general Commandments which God was pleased solemnly to proclaim with Thunder and Lightning and with the Voice of a Trumpet, upon Mount Sinai, Exod. xix. 16. ch. xx. 1, &c. and which he afterwards wrote upon Two Tables of Stone, with his own Finger, Exod. xxxi. 18. ch. xxxii. 16. Deut. ix. 10. ch. x. 4. to signifie their perpetual Force and Obligation to the End of the World, when every Man shall be judged, according as he hath or hath not observed them. For which reason also they are directed every one to every Man singly, or by himself; Thou shalt, or Thou shalt not, &c. that every Man may look upon them as spoken particularly to him, and accordingly take care to do what is there commanded, and to avoid what is there forbidden, either expressly or implicitly.
For where any thing is forbidden, the contrary Duty is implicitly commanded: and so where any thing is commanded, every thing contrary or different from that is forbidden. Which that we may the better understand, God Himself hath been graciously pleased to signifie his pleasure herein more particularly in other places of his Holy Word. Out of which I shall therefore, by his assistance, shew you how you ought to keep all and every one of these his Commandments, according to the promise which ye made when ye were Baptized.
The next Question therefore concerning the Commandments, is, which be they? To which it is answered, The same which God spake in the Twentieth Chapter of Exodus, that is, which He is there recorded to have spoken, saying, I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, out of the House of Bondage. For this is not any of the Commandments, but a general Preface to them all, which He was pleased to put before them, to shew the indispensable Obligation that lies upon all Men to observe all these Laws; seeing He that commanded them, is the Lord, the Supreme Governor and Law-giver of the World, whom all the Creatures in it are bound to obey, at their utmost Peril. I, saith he, am the Lord: I, who make and publish these Laws, am Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of the whole Creation, who give Essence and Existence to, and have absolute Dominion over all Things in it.
And then to enforce them more particularly upon his People, for whom he had a special Kindness, He adds, I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, out of the House of Bondage. His People, at that time, were the Children of Israel, whom He had lately delivered from the Egyptian Bondage; and therefore he speaks more immediately unto them: but, in them, to all the true Israel of God; to all that follow the Faith of their Father Abraham, in all Ages; to all his Elect and peculiar People, which he hath redeemed from the Slavery of Sin and Satan, of which the Deliverance out of Egypt, was a Type and Figure. So that this is the same, in effect, as if He had said, I, who give thee these Laws, am the Lord thy God, who have Redeemed thee from all Iniquity, to be my own, and therefore expect and require, that thou, above all People, take special Care to observe all these my Commandments, whereof the First is,
Thou shalt have none other Gods but Me, or, before Me.
Although there be really no other but One God, the Creator and Governor of All Things; yet there be many which are called Gods, 1 Cor. viii. 5. and esteemed so by Men: who having, by the Fall of our First Parents, lost the right Sense and Knowledge of the true God, and retaining only some general Notions of such a Being in the World, they have been apt, in all Ages, to imagine one Creature or other to be God. Some have thought the Sun, Moon and Stars; others Ancient and Famous Men, to be Gods. Some one thing, some another. Insomuch, that there is scarce any Creature in Heaven or Earth, but what hath been reputed as a God, by some or other. Hence it is that we read of so many, and such various Gods, in all Ages. The Jews themselves, to whom this Law was given, had at one time as many Gods as Cities, Jer. ii. 28. chap. xi. 13. So it was for many Ages with all the rest of Mankind; and so it is with many at this Day. And all People naturally conceiving God to be of Supreme Excellency, Justice, Goodness and Power over them, whatsoever it is that they imagine to be God, they honour, and fear, and love, and trust on it, as if it was really so. And therefore altho’ it be not so in its self, it is as a God to them.
This therefore is that which the Almighty Creator of the World, the one Living and True God, doth here expressly forbid; Thou shalt have no other Gods but me: or according to the Letter of the Law, There shall be no others Gods to thee before me: that is, Thou shalt not think, believe, or own any thing to be God but me: Thou shalt not ascribe Supreme Authority, Power, or Goodness, or any other Divine Perfection to any but Me. Thou shalt not fear any Thing visible or invisible but only Me. Thou shalt not regard them that have familiar Spirits, nor seek after Witches or Wizards, nor use Divinations or Enchantments, or any such like Abominations, Lev. xix. 31. Deut. xviii. 10, 11. Thou shalt not put any Trust or Confidence in any Creature that is in Heaven or Earth. Thou shalt not love, nor respect, nor value, nor desire any thing in Comparison of me. If thou dost any of these things, thou hast other Gods before me, or in my Sight, who am the Searcher of Hearts, and see and know it.
By this therefore you may see what it is which Almighty God here commands every one to do, according as he hath elsewhere also signified his Divine Will. He commands thee to Believe in him the Lord thy God, the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, one God, the only Wise, Almighty, Immortal God; and in Jesus Christ, thy God, thy gracious and most merciful God, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, John xiv. 1. Exod. xxxiv. 6. He commands thee to acknowledge him in all thy ways, Prov. iii. 6. and to own thyself obliged to him, and to thank him for all thou hast, 1 Thess. v. 18. Eph. v. 20. He commands thee to sanctify him, the Lord of Hosts, and to make him thy only fear, and thy only dread, Esai. viii. 13. so as to be in the fear of the Lord all the day long, Prov. xxiii. 17. He commands thee to trust on him with all thy heart, Prov. iii. 5. to desire him above all things, Psal. lxxiii. 25. and to rejoyce in him always, Phil. iv. 4. and that thou love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind: for this is the First and Great Commandment, Matth. xxii. 37, 38.
Thou shalt not make to thy self any graven Image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in Heaven above, or in the Earth beneath, or in the Water under the Earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and visit the Iniquities of the Fathers upon the Children, unto the third and fourth Generation of them that hate me: and shew mercy unto thousands in them that love me, and keep my Commandments.
As the made all things for himself, Prov. xvi. 4. so he still upholdeth and governeth all things for Himself, to shew forth his Glory, that all such Creatures, as he for that purpose hath made capable of it, may see his wonderful Works, and accordingly praise and glorify him for them. Which being his great end in what he hath done and still doth, he will not suffer this his Glory to be given to another, I am the Lord, saith he, that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven Images, Isa. xlii. 8. Hence it is, that as the first thing he commands, is, That we shall have no other Gods but him, no, not in our Thoughts; That we shall not think or believe there is any other God that made and governeth the World but only He the Lord our God. So in the next place, he forbids all such outward Acts, whereby we may seem to own any other God, and so to give his Glory to another: Which being plainly the great End and Design of this Law in general, we shall easily see into the true Meaning of each particular Branch of it.
First, (saith He) Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven Image, nor the Likeness of any thing that is in Heaven above, or in the Earth beneath, or in the Water under the Earth: That is, Thou shalt not make any such thing to thyself, for thee to perform any such Acts to it, whereby thou mayest seem to think it to be God, whether thou really think so or no.
He doth not here simply forbid the making of the Picture, Image, or Likeness of any Creature: for He himself appointed some such to be made in the Old Law, particularly the Cherubim in the most Holy Place. Neither doth he expressly forbid the making any Image or Likeness of Himself: for that, He knows, is altogether impossible.
But He forbids the making the Likeness of any Creature in Heaven or Earth, or under the Earth, to represent Him our Creator to us, so as to look upon it as God, or his Image, and to carry ourselves accordingly towards it, as if it was indeed the True God. Such was the Calf which Aaron made, soon after this Law was given, which God Himself intimates to he a breach of it, Exod. xxxii. 8. The People looked upon it as their Gods, or the Divine Persons that brought them out of Egypt, ver. 4. and as Jehovah the Lord, ver. 5. and so as the Lord their God. This was their Sin, (as it was Jeroboam‘s afterwards, 1 Kings xii. 28.) As appears also from Moses‘s putting them in mind, that they saw no Similitude, when the Lord spoke to them in Horeb, as an Argument why they should not make any graven Image, Deut. iv. 15, 16.
Which clearly shews the Meaning of this Law to be, That we must not make the Image or Likeness of any thing whereby to represent Almighty God to us; who is so infinitely above all things, that it is impossible any thing should be like Him, Isai. xl. 18. Acts xvii. 29. and therefore it is a great Disparagement, and Diminishing of his Glory, to offer at representing him by any Picture or Image. Wherefore he here expressly forbids both the Making any such Image, and the Worshipping it when it is made. For it follows;
Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them: Or, (as it is in the Original Text) Thou shalt not worship them, nor serve them. For here are Two things forbidden to be done to an Image or Likeness of any thing, that it may not become an Idol, or reputed as a God, Worship and Service.
First, Thou shalt not worship them; or Thou shalt not bow down to them, as the word here used signifies. Neither is there any word in all the Holy Scriptures, that is commonly translated worshipping, but what properly signifies, to bow, or fall down, or use some such outward Gesture. Which being a sign of great Subjection, he that doth it to an Image, doth thereby signifie his subjection to it; and whatsoever he may think or intend in himself, as to all outward appearance, he seems to acknowledge and believe it to be God. And therefore the three Children chose rather to be cast into a Furnace of Fire, than to fall down to the Image which Nebuchadnezzar had set up; lest they should break this Commandment, and sin against God, by owning that Image to be God, Dan. iii. 6,—18.
And then it follows in the Text, nor serve them: That is, as thou shalt not actually bow down unto, and so worship the Image or Likeness of any thing; so neither shalt thou do any thing for it, or about it: Thou shalt not assist in the making or maintaining it; thou shalt not build any Temple or Altar for it; thou shalt not offer Sacrifice, nor burn Incense, nor pray to it, nor contribute any thing towards its having any signs of Religious Honour or Worship perform’d to it. He that doth any such thing to or for an Image, or any Creature whatsoever, he thereby serves it as God, and so makes it an Idol, and is guilty of Idolatry; that is, of serving an Idol, as the Word properly signifies.
For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the Iniquities of the Fathers upon the Children, &c. Here it hath pleased God to back and enforce this Law with several Reasons and Arguments, to make us the more careful of observing it.
First, Because He is a jealous God: that is, speaking after the manner of Men, He is jealous that they who perform any External Acts of Religious Worship and Service to any Image or Creature, whatsoever they may pretend to the contrary, they do really worship and serve it as God, and so give it that Honour and Glory which is due only to Him.
Secondly, Because He will punish those who break this Law most severely, not only in their own Persons, but in their Posterity also, to the third and fourth Generation.
And, Lastly, Because of the infinite Goodness and Mercy that He will shew to thousands, even to All that Love and Honour Him, so as to keep this and his other Commandments, throughout all Generations even for Ever and Ever.
Now by this we may learn what the Lord Our God doth here positively require of every Man: For in that he forbids you to do it to an Image or Idol, he as plainly requires and commands every one of you to bow your head or knees before Him; and so to worship Him, whensoever you come into his special Presence, or speak to Him, or hear him speaking to you.
As when Abraham‘s Servant Blessed the Lord for his Success, he bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord, Gen. xxiv. 26. When Moses heard God speaking, He bowed his head towards the earth and worshipped, Exod. xxxiv. 8. When Ezra Blessed the Lord, the Great God in the midst of the Congregation, All the People answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands, and they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the Ground, Neh. viii. 6. Thus the Saints of Old constantly Worshipped God, Exod. iv. 31. 1 Chron. xxix. 20. 2 Chron. xx. 13. chap. xxix. 30, &c. and so did our Blessed Lord Himself in the Garden, Matth. xxvi. 39. Luke xxii. 41. and upon the Cross, John xix. 30. And so did his Apostles and Disciples after Him, Acts vii. 60. ch. ix. 40. ch. xx. 36. ch xxi. 5, &c.
But then you must take care to Worship Him at the same time, as they did, in the Spirit too, by using such bodily Gestures and Adorations before Him, out of a deep Sense and holy Fear of his Divine Majesty, and Supreme Authority over you, John iv. 24.
He commands you also to serve him, that is, to do what ye can to promote his Honour and Glory in the World. For in that his own Glory is the great end that he aims at, and carrieth on in all things he doth, Prov. xvi. 4. So far as you do any thing that conduceth to that end, so far ye serve him. Which ye are all therefore bound to do, according to your several abilities, by defending and enlarging his Church, where only he is known and worshipped upon Earth; by making all your Prayers and solemn Addresses to him, as the giver of all good Gifts; by praising and magnifying his Name together: by building and adorning places where to do it; by observing the times that he hath set apart for his own Worship and Service; by celebrating the Sacraments that He hath ordained; by keeping his Laws yourselves, and persuading others to do it; by relieving his poor Servants; and by walking in Holiness and Righteousness before him all the Days of your Life, and doing all things to his Glory, 1 Cor. x. 31. That your light may so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven, Matth. v. 16. Thus thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve, ch. iv. 10.
Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain.
This Commandment is designed for the same End with the Two former, even to keep up the Honour of Almighty God, and his Glory shining in the World. For which purpose having first commanded you to have or own no other Gods but him, and then not so much as to seem to do so by performing any external Acts of religious Honour and Worship to any but Himself: He here commandeth you not to take his Name in vain, but to give him that Honour which is due to Him, Whensoever you make any Mention of Him.
He doth not here forbid you to take his Name into your Mouths at all, but not to do it in vain. But rather, on the contrary by forbidding you to do it in vain, he requires you to do it upon solemn Occasions, when it may tend to his Honour; as it always doth, when you are lawfully required to Swear by it, and accordingly do so in a lawful and religious manner. For hereby you publickly own Him to be the Searcher of Hearts, Omniscient, in knowing whether you really think as you say: and to be Just in punishing you if you do not. Hence He forbad his People to make mention of the names of False Gods, or cause to swear by them, Josh. xxiii. 7. but commanded them to Swear by his Name: Thou shall fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his Name: Deut. vi. 13. Ch. x. 20. and gave them Directions how to do it aright, saying, Thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness, Jer. iv. 2.
And accordingly we find His people in all Ages, were wont to swear by His Name or call upon Him to Witness what they said, where there was need of it, not only in the Old Testament, but likewise in the New. 2 Cor. i. 23. Gal. i. 20. Phil. i. 8. And therefore you not only may, but ought to Swear by his Name, when you are required to do it by the Governours which He hath set over you in Church or State. An Oath for Confirmation putting an end to all Strife, Heb. vi. 16.
But that which He here forbids, is, the taking his Name in vain; that is, when ye have no just or necessary Occasion for it, as He himself explains it, where He saith, Ye shall not swear by my Name falsly, neither shalt thou prophane the Name of thy God: I am the Lord, Lev. xix. 12. Ye must not swear falsly by his Name; that is, Ye must never use his Name, nor call upon Him to attest any thing but what is really just and true, or what you know or verily believe to be so: And if ye promise any thing upon Oath, or in his Name, ye must be sure to perform it, Numb. xxx. 2. Otherwise ye swear falsly and deceitfully, Psal. xxiv. 4. and so take his Name in vain, to the highest Degree that can be.
And as ye must not Swear falsly by it, so neither must ye profane the Name of the Lord; that is, ye must not use it upon every impertinent Occasion, in your common Discourse, as if it was not a Sacred, but a profane or common Name: for that also is taking it in vain, and to no purpose. This is that which our Saviour means, where he saith, Swear not at all, Matth. v. 34. that is, in your Communication, or familiar Discoursing with one another, as He himself explains it, ver. 37. To the same Purpose is that of St. James; Above all things swear not, neither by heaven, neither by earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into condemnation, Jam. v. 12. That is, In your ordinary Conversation, never Swear to what you say, but only affirm or deny, as the Matter requireth, without calling upon God, or using his Name either directly or indirectly, as a Witness to it: for this is profaning the Name of God, for which ye may justly be condemned.
And verily ye can expect no other: for the Lord, the Almighty God, here saith, That He will not hold that Man guiltless that taketh his Name in vain; that is, he will most certainly and most severely punish those who break this Law, to which this Threatning is in a peculiar manner annexed, above all others, in that they are so far from honouring and glorifying him the Great Creator and Governour of all things, as they ought, that they dishonour and disparage Him all they can, by putting no Difference betwixt Him and his Creatures, betwixt his Name and theirs, but using his great and glorious Name upon all Occasions, as if He was one of the common Subjects they talk of every day. Which is so great a Sin, so highly offensive to his Divine Majesty, that He will never suffer it to go unpunished, but will inflict some extraordinary Judgment, not only upon the Person that commits it, but upon the Land too where it is usually committed and tolerated, Hos. iv. 1, 2. Yea, it is one of those Sins, for which He sendeth his Curse upon the whole Earth, Zech. v. 2, 3.
And to shew His extreme Displeasure against this Sin, when a Man had blasphemed his Holy Name, although it was in his Passion, while he was striving with another Man, the Lord Himself commanded him to be stoned by the whole Congregation, Lev. xxiv. 14. And then to explain and confirm what He had Enacted in this Third Commandment, He made this Law; Whosoever curseth his God, shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the Name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the Name of the Lord, shall be put to Death, Ver. 15, 16.
Wherefore ye had need to take special Care, that ye never Swear, nor Curse, nor Blaspheme, or profane the Name of the Lord, the Most high God; but keep as far as possibly you can from it, lest ye fall into Condemnation. And for that purpose, ye must carefully observe what He here commandeth: For, in that He forbids you to profane, or take his Name in vain, He commands you to Hallow, or Sanctifie it: Neither shall ye (saith He) profane my Holy Name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel, Lev. xxii. 32. That is, Whensoever ye speak of Almighty God, ye must make a Distinction between his and other Names, ye must use it as an Holy, a most Sacred Name, with Reverence and godly Fear: That thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful Name, the Lord thy God, Deut. xxviii. 58.
This is that which we are commanded to Pray that it may be done, before all things else, saying, Hallowed be thy Name: And which we should therefore take care to do, before all things upon Earth, as the Holy Angels do it in Heaven, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole Earth is full of his glory, Isai. vi. 3. Rev. iv. 8.
Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all that thou hast to do; but the Seventh Day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of work, thou, and thy Son, and thy Daughter, thy Man-servant, and thy Maid-servant, thy Cattle, and the Stranger that is within thy Gates. For in Six Days the Lord made Heaven and Earth, the Sea and all that in them is, and rested the Seventh Day, wherefore the Lord Blessed the Sabbath-Day, and hallowed it.
This is the only Commandment that we are particularly required to remember. The Reason is, because all the other were Written at first upon the Table of our Hearts, engraven in our very Nature, so that we have a connatural Sense of them upon our Minds; and therefore cannot properly be said to remember them, but rather to feel them, being sensible and conscious to our selves of our Duty and Obligation to observe them. But this is a positive Precept, given to Man after he was made, and therefore not Imprinted in his Heart, but conveyed through his Ears into it, by the External Revelation or Word of God; who therefore Commands us to remember it, to keep it in our hearts, so as to call it to mind upon all Occasions, or at the Return of every Sabbath-day, that we must keep that Holy. Remember (saith he) that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day: Or rather, as it is in the Original, Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. Remember both the Day it self, and to keep it holy, when it comes.
What Day He here means by the Sabbath, we may learn from the Reasons which He is pleased to give us for the Observation of it, which are Two; one at the Delivery of the Law in Exodus, the other at the Repetition of it in Deuteronomy. The Reason that he gives in Exodus, is because in Six Days the Lord made all Things, and rested upon the Seventh Day; Wherefore, saith He, the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, (as it is in the Original; not the Seventh, as it is in some Translations,) and hallowed it. From whence it appears, that the Reason why He Blessed this Day, was, because He having made all Things in Six Days, He then rested, or ceased to make any thing anew upon the Seventh day; and therefore He Blessed and Sanctified that Day, as he here saith he had done, before the giving of the Law upon Mount Sinai. And so we find He did at the beginning of the World, Gen. ii. 3. where it is said, That He blessed the Seventh Day, and sanctified it. Which was no express Command that Men should keep it Holy: But, howsoever, it was so clear a Declaration of his Will they should, that I do not doubt but his faithful People kept it in some measure all along, (except perhaps in Egypt, where their Bondage might make it impracticable, if not forgotten) though we have no certain footsteps of it ’till about a Month after the Children of Israel were come out of Egypt, Exod. xvi. 22,—26. no more than we have of its being kept after they came into Canaan, by Joshua, by the Judges, by Samuel, by David himself, or by any of the Kings of Judah or Israel, or by any that lived under them, till the Time of Elisha the Prophet, 2 Kings iv. 23.
But although there be no mention made of it in all that Time between Moses and Elisha, yet notwithstanding none ever doubted but that the Sabbath was kept in those Days. There is as little reason to doubt but that the Patriarchs before Moses kept One Day in Seven, although there be no Records left of it, from whence we can be certain after what manner they kept it, and whether it was the same Seventh Day which the Jews were afterwards commanded to observe, or that which we now keep, as some have thought.
Be sure when Almighty God inserted this into the Body of his Laws which should be always observed; He spake not a Word of their keeping always just the Seventh Day from the Creation, but commanded them to remember the Sabbath-Day to keep it holy, and told them, that because he rested upon the Seventh Day, therefore he Blessed the Sabbath-Day, and Hallowed it. He did not say, that he Blessed the Seventh Day, lest they should mistake his meaning and think that he would have them always keep the same Seventh Day. But he alter’d the Phrase, and said, He Blessed the Sabbath-day and hallowed it, to shew, that he would always have them keep a Sabbath or a Day of Rest, once in Seven Days, or one Day in every Seven. But which of the Seven Days was to be observed, that he reserved in his own Power to determine when he pleased. Only they must keep that which he then appointed, till he should see good to alter it.
From whence we may gather, that by the Sabbath-Day, we are here to understand that Day in every Week or Seven Days which he did then, or afterwards should appoint to be a Day of Rest, or Holy to himself.
But, where this amongst the rest of the Commandments is afterwards repeated, the aforesaid reason is quite left out, and another given of it, which cannot be supposed to be done but for some great End and Purpose. For there, after the Words of Command, it is said, And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand, and by a stretch’d-out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath-Day, Deut. v. 15. Here the redemption of the Children of Israel, out of Egypt, is given as the reason why God commanded them to keep the Sabbath-day, and to keep it in memory of that Redemption. Which makes it very probable, that they came out of Egypt upon the Sabbath-day, or upon that Day which from thence forward they kept as the Sabbath or Day of Rest, in memory of their beginning that Day to rest from their Bondage.
Howsoever, it is evident from hence, that the Sabbath was to be kept for another Reason besides that of the Creation, even because God redeemed his People out of Egypt; which being a Type of our Redemption by Christ, it was plainly hereby signified, that when our Redemption should be accomplished by Him, the Sabbath should be kept in memory of that: and therefore upon the Day on which our Redeemer rose again, and so rested from the Death which He Suffered for our Redemption, and thereby demonstrated it to be accomplished.
Now our Redeemer rose upon the first day of the Jewish Week: though it might be, for ought we know, really the Seventh Day from the Creation; so that God Rested from his Works both of creation and redemption the same Day. Be sure they are both commemorated upon this Day, the creation as it is one Day in Seven, and the redemption as it is that Day of the Seven, whereon our Redeemer rose from the Dead: Who being the Supreme Law-giver, and particularly the Lord of the Sabbath, Mark ii. 28. He altered the Day from that which his People had hitherto kept at least since their coming out of Egypt, to that on which He rose again, even the First Day of their Week. Not by any express Command.
But as God at first only Blessed the Seventh Day, and Sanctified it, and so set it a-part for a Day of Rest, without any Word of Command; So our Lord, the same God, Blessed the First Day of the Week and Sanctified it, by Rising from the Dead upon it, by appearing to his Disciples upon it, both the Day he Rose, and the next First Day of the Week after, John xx. 19,—26. and by sending down the Holy Ghost upon it, Acts ii. 1. which though it was not a verbal, yet it was a real, an actual Sanctification of it, and a sufficient Declaration of His Will, that this Day should ever after be kept holy. Insomuch that the Apostles, who perfectly knew His Will, from that time forward, accordingly had their Holy Exercises upon this Day, Acts xx. 7. 1 Cor. xvi. 2. and called it, the Lord’s Day, as being Sanctified by Him, and set apart for his Service, Rev. i. 10. And the whole Catholick Church hath ever since kept this Day holy, according to this Commandment, Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it Holy.
Keep it Holy, not according to the Ceremonial or the Bye-Laws which were given only to the Children of Israel about it: but according to what is required in this Moral Commandment of Universal and Perpetual Obligation: That is, Upon the Six Days ye must do all your own Works, all the Worldly Business that ye have to do in the whole Week, you must do none of that Upon the Sabbath or the Lord’s Day; but ye must keep it wholly as holy to the Lord, whose Day it is, in commemorating and celebrating His Creation of the World, and His Redemption of Mankind; and in performing all such works of Piety and Charity, as tend more immediately to the setting forth His Honour and Glory for the same: That is, as our Church hath determined, in hearing the Word of God read and taught; in private and publick Prayers; in acknowledging your Offences to God, and amendment of the same; in reconciling yourselves charitably to one another, where displeasure hath been; in oftentimes Receiving the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ; in Visiting the Poor and Sick, using all godly and sober Conversation, Can. XIII.
Honour thy Father and thy Mother, that thy Days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
ALthough Almighty God was pleased to proclaim all the Ten Commandments together upon Mount Sinai, yet he wrote them afterwards upon Two Tables of Stone, Deut. ix. 10. The Four First, which have an immediate respect unto himself, He wrote upon One, which is therefore called the First Table. Upon the other, therefore called the Second Table, He wrote the other Six Commandments; wherein He hath revealed his Divine Will, how we should carry ourselves to one another while we live together upon Earth, in the several Places, Stations, and Relations that He is pleased to set us in; so as that we may always better join together in promoting the End of our Creation, by Serving and Glorifying Him our Almighty Creator.
The First of the Second Table, is, concerning the Respect and Honour which is due to Parents, whether Natural, Spiritual, or Civil. First, Honour thy Father and thy Mother, thy Natural Parents of whom thou wast Born and brought up, Honour them; that is, Have a good Opinion of them, and esteem them highly, for their Love and Care of thee, and carry thyself accordingly with all Lowliness, Meekness, and Reverence towards them, and obey them in all things, Col. iii. 20. Eph. vi. 1. Wherefore you must hearken to their Instructions, and do whatsoever they, or either of them, bid you. You must study all you can to requite the Care and Pains they have taken for you, 1 Tim. v. 4. If there be Occasion, you must succour and relieve them, and never suffer them to want any thing that you can help them to. As our Blessed Saviour when he was upon the Cross, shewed his great respect unto his Mother, by committing her to the Care of his beloved Disciple, John xix. 26, 27. Whereby He hath taught you to take care of your Parents, not only while you Live, but when you Die.
On the other side; Parents must not provoke their Children, lest they be discouraged, Col. iii. 21. but must bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, Eph. vi. 4. that they may understand the Principles of the Christian Religion, and the Laws by which they must govern themselves through the whole Course of their Lives, Deut. vi. 7. As Abraham taught and commanded his Children to keep the way of the Lord; and is commended by God Himself for it, Gen. xviii. 19.
And as Parents are thus to be Spiritual Guides to their Children, so all Spiritual Guides are to be reckoned and respected as Parents. Elisha called the Prophet Elijah Father, 2 Kings ii. 12. So did King Joash call the Prophet Elisha, Chap. xiii. 14. And St. Paul tells the Corinthians, that he had begotten them in Christ, and so was their Father, 1 Cor. iv. 15. and, for the same Reason, he calleth Onesimus his Son, Philem. Ver. 10. as St. John often doth those that were converted to the Faith by His Means, 1 John ii.
Wherefore the Ministers of the Gospel, by whose Means you are born again, and afterwards fed with the bread of Life, are properly your Ghostly; that is, your Spiritual Fathers, and you must honour them as such: You must know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you, and you must esteem them very highly in love for their works sake, 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. You must obey them, and submit yourselves to them, for they watch for your souls, Heb. xiii. 17. You must account them worthy of double honour, 1 Tim. v. 17. and communicate to them in all good things, Gal. vi. 6. For so hath the Lord ordained, that they who preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel, 1 Cor. ix. 14.
The same Duties are owing also by God‘s Commandment, to your Civil Father, to the King or Queen, the Father or Mother of the Country where ye live: Ye must not curse the Ruler of thy People, Exod. xxii. 28. No, not so much as in thy thought, Eccles. x. 20. You must not despise Dominion, nor speak evil of Dignities, Jude Ver. 8. but you must honour the King, 1 Pet. ii. 17. You must submit your selves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the King, as Supreme; or unto Governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well, I Pet. ii. 13, 14. You must obey Magistrates, Tit. iii. 1. You must not rebel, nor resist, but be subject to the Higher Powers, Rom. xiii. 1, 2. and that too, not only for wrath, but likewise for conscience-sake, Ver. 5. That is, You must be Subject and Obedient to them, not only for fear of the Punishment which they may otherwise inflict upon you, but out of a Sense of your Duty, and in Obedience to the Command of God. For the same Reason, you must also pray for Kings, and for all that are in Authority, 1 Tim. ii. 2. And as you must fear the Lord, for his sake ye must fear the King, and not meddle nor mingle your selves with them that are given to change, Prov. xxiv. 21. These are the express Commands of the Most High God: so that no Man can rebel against his Lawful Prince, without rebelling against Him, the Universal Monarch of the World.
But every Master of a Family is likewise the Father of that Family; and therefore his Servants are all obliged, by this Law, to honour and obey him. They must count their own Masters worthy of all honour, 1 Tim. vi. 1. They must be obedient to them with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ: Not with Eye-service, as Men pleasers, but as the Servants of Christ, doing the Will of God from the Heart; with good will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not to Men, Eph. vi. 5, 6, 7. Col. iii. 22. They must strive to please them in all things; not answering again, not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity, Tit. ii. 9, 10. and must be subject to them with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward, 1 Peter ii. 18. Masters also must give unto their Servants that which is just and equal, Col. iv. 1. and forbear threatning, knowing that they also have a Master in Heaven, Eph. vi. 9.
This is the Sum of that which the Apostle observes to be the First Commandment with Promise, Eph. vi. 2. from those Words annexed to it, That thy days may be long; Or, That it may go well with thee in the Land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, Deut. v. 16. Whereby Almighty God promiseth Life, Prosperity, and Happiness to all that sincerely keep this Commandment. But as for such as smite, or curse their Father or Mother, and will not obey their Voice, them He himself commanded to be put to death, Exod. xxi. 15, 17. Deut. xxi. 18, 20. And accordingly we find the Breach of this Law usually Punished, and the Observation of it Rewarded even in this Life.
Thou shalt do no Murther.
IT having pleased God to make Man in his own Image, and so capable of living in the other World, as well as this; although He hath given him Power over all other Creatures that live only upon Earth, and no where else, so that he may at any time take away their Life: yet He doth not suffer one Man to take away the Life of another, and so dispatch him out of this into the other World, till He himself is pleased to send for him. For He sends no Man hither but upon Business, and gives him Time to do it in, so much as He sees good: But that He reserves wholly to himself; and will not have any Man shorten the Time that He hath given another, wherein to do his Work. And He hath signified his Will in this Commandment, Thou shalt do no Murder; Or, Thou shalt not take away the Life of another Man.
Not that this was the first time that He had revealed this to be his Will: For this, as well as the rest of these Commandments, was from the Beginning. But by reason of the indispensable Necessity of having this universally observed, that Men might live and follow His Business peaceably and quietly together, without being in continual Fear of one another, He repeated this to Noah, with this severe Sanction; Whoso shedeth Man’s blood, by Man shall his blood be shed; for in the Image of God made he Man, Gen. ix. 6. Where we may likewise observe, that Man’s being made in the Image of God, is given for the Reason of this Law, as I intimated before.
And here he publisheth it again, together with the rest of his Laws that are of perpetual and universal Obligation, that all Men may take Notice of it. But lest any should mistake his Meaning he himself was pleased afterwards to explain it, saying, that if any Man smite another with an Instrument of Iron, by throwing a Stone, or with his Hand, or any other way, out of hatred or enmity so that he dieth, that Man is a Murderer, he breaks this Law, and therefore shall surely be put to Death, Numb. xxxv. 16, &c.
But if one Man happens to Kill another, as we say, by chance medley, without having any enmity against him, or design to do him any harm, in that Case God appointed Cities of Refuge for such a Man to fly to, that he might not die, Ver. 11, 12, 26. Deut. xix. 2, 3, 4. which shews, that in that Case the Man had not broken this Law: he was not properly guilty of Murder. And the Reason is given by God himself, saying, He that smiteth a Man so that he die, shall be surely put to death. But if a Man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand, then I will appoint him a place whither he shall flee, Exod. xxi. 12, 13. For from hence it appears, that in this Case God himself delivered him that was killed into the hands of him that killed him, who was therefore only the Instrument in it, executing the Will of God, who hath Absolute Dominion over all Mens Lives, and who therefore allowed such a Man the Benefit of the Sanctuary or City of Refuge. But he must continue in the Nature of a Prisoner, and not have his perfect Liberty till the Death of the High Priest, Num. xxxv. 25, 28. to put him in Mind, that though he was not guilty of Murder, yet he had contracted so much Guilt by being accessary to another Man’s Death, tho’ it was only for want of due Care and Consideration in him, that he could not be fully pardoned but by the Death of Jesus Christ the true High-Priest.
For the same Reason also, when a Man is Condemn’d by the Law to Die, they who pronounce, or execute the Sentence, and accordingly put him to Death, do not transgress this Law. There were many Offences which God himself, in Moses, commanded to be punish’d with Death; particularly this of Murther. Wherefore they who put such Offenders to Death, did not break, but execute, the Command of God. So it is still: The Magistrate is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil, Rom. xiii. 4. and therefore when he Condemneth a Man according to Law, he doth it only as God‘s Minister. And they who put the Man to Death, do it not out of Malice or Hatred, but in Obedience to those whom God hath set over them, and employed to send such a Person to give Account to him of all his Actions: wherefore they are no way guilty of breaking this Law, which was made for Men to observe, not for God, who may take away any Man’s Life when he pleaseth.
But we must not think that nothing is here forbidden but actual Murthering, or killing a Man out of Malice and Design. For the Law-giver himself hath taught us otherwise, saying, Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill: and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his Brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire. Wherefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest, that thy brother hath ought against thee, &c. Matth. v. 21, 22, 23. Whereby He hath given us to understand, that when he said, Thou shalt not kill, he did not forbid only the very Act of one Man’s killing another, but every thing that tends towards it, or may be any way the Occasion of his doing or attempting it. Wherefore all Anger, Hatred and Malice, all reproachful and provoking Language, all Strife and Contention, all Pride, Ambition, Lust, Jealousy, and Revenge, and whatsoever usually doth, or ever may, set one Man against another, so as to kill, or maim, or any way hurt his Body, is here forbidden under the Name of Murther. And therefore St. John saith, whosoever hateth his brother, is a murderer, I John iii. 15.
And by necessary Consequence, you are all here commanded to be meek and patient, and gentle to one another: to put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man hath a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so must ye do. And above all these things to put on Charity, which is the bond of perfectness, Col. iii. 12, 13, 14. so as to love your enemies, to bless them that curse you, to do good to them that hate you, and to pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you, Matth. v. 44. If ye do these things, ye can never fall into that horrid Sin, which is here forbidden.
Thou shalt not commit Adultery.
When God at first made Mankind, He made them Male and Female, and called them both Adam, Gen. v. 2. they being both but one Flesh, as he ordained them Two to be; and not only them, but every Man and Woman that should afterwards be joined together in Marriage. They are thereby so united as to become one flesh, Gen. ii. 24. Matth. xix. 5. and should therefore live together, as to all Conjugal Affections, as if there was never another Man or Woman in the World but themselves. And so they would most certainly have lived, if Man had continued in his first Estate.
But by the Fall of our First Parents, our Nature is so corrupted, that notwithstanding this union into one Flesh, one or other, if not both Parties, so join’d together are often prone to run after strange flesh, which is not their own, and perhaps anothers. Which if it should be permitted and generally practised, would not only frustrate the end of this Holy Institution, but it would breed such Confusion and Disorder in the World, that a great part, if not all Mankind, would degenerate so far, as to become little better, in this respect, than Brute Beasts, if not much worse; Brutes themselves generally observing the Laws and Rules which God hath set them, much better than such Men do it.
By this we may see into the necessity of making, and likewise into the true meaning, of this Law, Thou shalt not commit Adultery. For hereby Almighty God Commandeth, That no Man use any Woman in a Conjugal way, but one that is really his Wife, and so his own Flesh: And that no Woman use any Man so, but one that is joined to her in Marriage, so as to become one flesh with her. And therefore, that he who hath not a Wife, and she who hath not a Husband, must use none at all, as such, until they have. And they who have not the Gift of Continency, nor Power over their own Wills, must Marry; as God requires by His Apostle, saying, To avoid Fornication, let every Man have his own Wife, and let every Woman have her own Husband, 1 Cor. vii. 2. For it is better to marry than to burn, ver. 9.
But that is not all: For He that made this Law, and therefore best knows the true meaning and extent of it, hath been pleased to interpret it of Adultery and Fornication, not only in the Act, but likewise in the very Thought: Ye have heard (saith He) that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit Adultery. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a Woman to lust after her, hath committed Adultery with her already in his heart, Matth. v. 27, 28. From whence it appears, that every Motion or Inclination of a Man’s Mind to Lust after strange Flesh, is a breach of this Law, although it never break forth into Act, nor go any further than the Heart. Which should make all People set a strict watch and guard over their Hearts, seeing that Adulteries and Fornications do not only proceed from thence, as Our Lord hath taught us, Matth. xv. 19. but (as He here teacheth) they may be also committed there, and so expose a Man to all the Judgments that God hath threatned against this Sin, as well as the outward Commission of it.
And verily the Judgments which God hath threatned against the breach of this Law are very severe and terrible. For, not to insist upon the Punishments He appointed for it in the Old Testament, in the New we read, That Marriage is honourable, and the bed undefiled: but Whoremongers and Adulterers God will judge, Heb. xiii. 4. For this you know, that no Whoremonger nor Unclean Person hath any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ, and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience, Eph. v. 5, 6. Col. iii. 6. Wherefore, All had need beware of this Sin; especially Christians, to whom the Apostle saith, Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the member of Christ, and make it the member of an harlot? God forbid, 1 Cor. vi. 15, 16, 18. For this is the Will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from Fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour: not in the lust of concupisence, even as the Gentiles that know not God, 1 Thess. iv. 3, 4, 5. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh Saints, Eph. v. 3.
Neither is it enough to avoid what is here expressly forbidden; but every one must do what is implied here to be commanded by God, even, That every Husband and Wife being but one flesh, should have but one heart and one mind between them: That they do not defraud one another, 1 Cor vii. 5. That the Husband love his Wife as himself, and the Wife her Husband as her self, Eph. v. 33. And as the Husband must give honour to the Wife, 1 Pet. iii. 7. so must the Wife submit unto and reverence her Husband, Eph. v. 22,—33. And both must not only be true and faithful to one another, but must strive all they can to promote one anothers Good both Temporal and Spiritual. And both they that are, and they that are not Married, must be Sober, Chaste, and Modest in their Dress, Discourse and Behaviour, so as not to excite, but suppress, as much as in them lies, all unclean Thoughts both in themselves and others.
And as for them who have heretofore Transgressed this holy Commandment, in Thought, Word, or Deed, they must Repent of their Sin, and turn sincerely from it, while they may, and as soon as possibly they can. For which purpose, they must crucifie the flesh, with the affections and lusts, Gal. v. 24. They must mortifie their members that are upon the Earth, Col. iii. 5. They must not come near such Places or Company as are apt to raise in them any Lustful or Lascivious Thoughts, and so incline them to this horrid Sin. They must avoid Drunkenness and Gluttony, as deadly Poison. They must be Temperate in all things. 1 Cor. ix. 25. They must fast, and watch, and pray, that they may not enter into Temptation. They must not make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, Rom. xiii. 14. but must follow the Example of the Holy Apostle, who said, I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest by any means when I have preached unto others, I myself should be a cast-away, 1 Cor. ix. 27.
Thou shalt not Steal.
Seeing Almighty , by the Word of his Power, at first created, and still preserveth and upholdeth All Things that are; All Things that are, must needs be his, and he may dispose of them as he pleaseth. And so he doth: He disposeth of all and every thing that is in Heaven or Earth; particularly all the Houses, Lands, Cattel, Monies, Goods, or the Riches, as Men call them, of this Life, they are all his, and wholly at his Disposal; and He accordingly gives them, how, and when, and to whom he will. So that whatsoever any Man hath, and howsoever he came by it, whether by Inheritance, Gift or Purchase, by his Wit or Valour, by any Office or Calling, by his Care and Industry, or any other lawful Way, it still comes Originally from God; who distributeth the Necessaries, the Accommodations, and the other Conveniences of this Life to all Men, to some more, to some less, as He himself sees good. And whatsoever He gives, or puts into the Hands of any Man, although he still reserveth to himself his own Propriety in it, so that he may take it away again when he pleaseth; yet he thereby gives that Man so much Right and Title to it, that it is his own, in respect of all other Men: No other Man hath any thing to do with it, but only he; and he alone must give Account of the Use of it to God, from Whom he received, and under Whom he holds it. Which he could not do, if another Man should take it from him.
Wherefore, to secure and confirm to every Man both the Civil Right, and the Use of what He sees good to put into his Hands, God was pleased to make and publish this Law, for all Mankind to observe, Thou shalt not Steal: that is to say, Thou shalt not take from another Man any thing that is his, or that God hath given him: Thou shalt not take it by Force, or by Fraud, neither openly nor secretly: Thou shalt not take it out of his House, or Shop, or Fields, or Barns, or Pockets, nor upon the High-way, nor anywise whatsoever, without his Consent and Will.
For we must not understand this Law, only of that which we commonly call Theft, or Robbery, but of every Unlawful or Indirect Way, whereby it is possible for one Man to come at that which God hath given to another: whether it be by Forgery, Perjury, or Suborning Witnesses in Courts of Judicature; by Lying, Dissembling, or Concealing the Truth; by False Measures, False Weights, or False Lights; by Extortion, Oppression, or False Accusation; by Defrauding, Cheating, or Over-reaching in any Contract or Bargain, or any otherwise than such as God allows and approves of, for the transferring the Things of this World from one Man to another: so that he himself may be truly said to do it. For whosoever getteth the Possession of what belongs to another, any otherwise than what is agreeable to the Revealed Will and Word of God, he breaketh this Commandment; he Stealeth.
But that no Man certainly would do, if he would but first consider what he doth. For this is to Usurp upon the Prerogative of God himself; to take that away which he gives, and which he gives for his own Use, to be employed in his Service, and for his Honour. And therefore he will be sure to revenge himself of such as shall presume to deprive that Man of it, to whom he was pleased to give it: as He hath assured us, by his Apostle, requiring, That no man go beyond or defraud his brother in any matter, because that the Lord is the revenger of all such, 1 Thes. iv. 6.
Wherefore this is one of the two Sins for which He sends his Curse upon the Earth, which enters into the house of the Thief, remains there, and consumes it with the very timber and stones thereof, Zech. v. 3, 4. And accordingly we commonly see, that what is unjustly gotten, brings a Curse upon that which also is gotten justly, and upon him too that got it: For, As the Partridge sitteth upon Eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth Riches and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at the end shall be a fool, Jer. xvii. 11. And that which is worst of all, Thieves and Extortioners are reckoned among those who shall not Inherit the Kingdom of God, 1 Cor. vi. 10.
But what then must they do, who have transgressed this holy Commandment, that they may escape the Vengeance and Judgment of God? They must first follow the Advice of St. Paul, or rather the Command of God by him, Let him that stole, steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth, Eph. iv. 28. And then they must follow the Example of Zaccheus, Luke xix. 8. They must restore what they have unjustly gotten, if not four-fold, as he did, at least the Thing it self, or the full Value of it, with Interest for all the time they have had and used it: For till they do that, they still live in the breach of this Law; and can never be said to keep it, till they have made full Restitution of whatsoever they have gotten by breaking it. And if they cannot find the Persons themselves to whom they ought to restore it, they must restore it to God, the Head Landlord or Supreme Proprietor of all things in the World, by giving it to some Pious or Charitable Use. They must, in that case, restore to Him what they have Stollen from Men, as well as what they have Stollen from God Himself, by taking or converting to their own Use, any thing that hath been Given, Consecrated or Dedicated to Him: which is the worst sort of Stealing; the Stealing that which is Sacred, therefore called Sacrilege, Rom. ii. 22. and the devouring that which is holy, which unless vomited up again, will certainly be a snare to them, Prov. xx. 25.
From hence you may easily observe, that you are all here positively commanded, to be true and just in all your Dealings: to render unto all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour: to owe no man any thing, but to love one another, Rom. xiii. 7, 8. to promote, as much as you can, one another’s Good and Welfare: to do to all men as ye would they should do to you, Mat. vii. 12. to take care to Pay whatsoever any Man can justly Demand of you, and to Give what you are Able to the Relief of those who want it: For that is a Debt which God hath charged upon your Estates which unless you Discharge and Pay, you wrong the Poor, and so break this Commandment.
Thou shalt not bear False Witness against thy Neighbour.
There is nothing in the make or frame of Man, but what is an admirable Instance of the infinite Wisdom and Power of his Maker: particularly, that He hath so contriv’d it, that we can discover the thoughts and affections of our Souls, only by moving our Tongues several ways, which we call Speaking; without which we could have no Society together, no more than brute Beasts have. Whereas by this means we can communicate to one another all our opinions, desires, hopes, fears, designs, and whatsoever else can come into our minds. Insomuch that although we cannot look into one another’s hearts, yet one Man may know what another thinks there, as well as he that thinks it.
But for that purpose it is necessary, that every Man should always speak as he thinks: otherwise we can never certainly know one another’s thoughts, no more than as if we did not speak at all; and so God would lose his end in giving us this Power, and we the great benefit and use of it. For the prevention of which, with many other mischiefs, which the Tongue, as it is now become an unruly evil, Jam. iii. 8. is apt to betray Men into, Almighty God our Maker hath been pleased to give us Rules how to use it aright. He before taught us how to speak of Himself, or to use his Name: And here he teacheth us how to speak or use our Tongues, in respect of one another.
This therefore is the general Rule or Law that he hath given for every Man to observe whensoever he speaks to or of another Man, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy Neighbour: or rather as the Words in the Original Text may be Interpreted, Thou shalt not bear false witness of thy Neighbour: that is, Thou shalt never speak any thing of thy Neighbour but what is true, either for him or against him. So our Lord, the Law-giver Himself, and his Apostle after Him, Interpret the Words in general Thou shalt not bear false Witness, Matth. xix. 18. Rom. xiii. 9. And therefore all false witness, or speaking that which is false of or concerning our Neighbour, that is, concerning any man whatsoever, is here forbidden.
And so is all Lying too: or speaking that which is not true to him, as well as of him. According to that other Law, where the next before and this are put and explained together, Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsly, neither lye one to another, Lev. xix. 11. Wherefore the Apostle requires all Men to put away lying, and to speak every man truth with his Neighbour, Eph. iv. 25. Col. iii. 9. And by consequence, all slandering, false-accusing and back-biting one another is here forbidden. for that is all lying: And so is judging or censuring one another too. For no Man perfectly knowing another’s Heart or State, can possibly pass a true and certain judgment upon him, And therefore every Man is expressly forbidden to do it, Matth. vii. 1. For the same reason also we are commanded to speak evil of no man, Tit. iii. 2. lest what we say of him should happen to be false, as we do not know but it may, and so break this Commandment, which requireth us not to bear false witness either for or against our Neighbour.
And verily, although the general practice of the World seems to argue as if this Commandment was repealed or out of date, it is certainly of the same force with the rest, and as necessary to be observed as any Commandment whatsoever. Let us hear what the Judge of the World hath told us beforehand, concerning his Proceeding at the Last Day, in this Matter: But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof at the Day of Judgment: For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned, Matth. xii. 36, 37.
And if Men must give Account of every idle Word; What Account must they give of Lying, and Slandering one another? What can they who live in this Sin expect, but to be condemned to that Everlasting Fire which is prepared for the Father of Lyes? Matth. xxv. 41. They are of their Father the Devil, and the lusts of their Father they do, and therefore must be punished equally with them, John viii. 44. He is the Father of Lyes, and is called the Devil; that is, the Accuser, from his false-accusing and slandring the Brethren, Rev. xii. 10. and so from the Breach of this Commandment.
Which therefore All must keep, as ever they desire not to be like him, the Devil, both in what he doth, and in what he suffereth: and as they desire too, not to be Thieves and Murtherers. It being usual for Mens whole Estates, and their lives also, to be taken away by Lying and bearing False-Witness against them. For they who allow themselves in this Sin, are usually left to themselves, as they give themselves to tell Lyes, God gives them up to believe Lyes, and suffers them to fall into all manner of Vice and Wickedness: every Lye and Lyar, being an abomination to Him who is Truth itself, Prov. vi. 16, 17. ch. xii. 22. And then it is no wonder, that whosoever loveth and maketh a Lye, shall be shut out of Heaven, Rev. xxii. 15. And that all Lyars shall have their portion in the Lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, xxi. 8.
Wherefore it behoves you All to take special care of observing what is here commanded. As God hath given you the Power of expressing your Minds to one another, for your mutual benefit and comfort, beware of frustrating his Holy End in giving it, by abusing it to one another’s prejudice and wrong. For which purpose, you must lay aside that wicked Custom of talking of other People: Or if you must needs be doing it, at least talk of their Vertues only behind their backs, and of their Vices never but before their faces; so as to reprove and restore them in the Spirit of meekness, Gal. vi. 1. But rather, instead of speaking of one Man’s faults to another, you must strive all you can to conceal other Mens as well as your own.
Above all, ye must beware of Lying, or speaking falsely to one another, upon any account whatsoever, although it was possible for you to get never so much by it: For you can never get so much as you lose by it. By it, you lose the Favour of Almighty God, which is worth more than all the World besides. Wherefore, as you tender His Love, and your own Welfare, you must make it your constant care and study to speak the Truth from your hearts, as becometh honest and good Men, Psal. xv. 2. and never to say any thing but what you believe to be not only true, but some way or other beneficial to those who hear it; according to that excellent Rule which God hath given you, as a full Interpretation of this Law, by his Apostle, saying, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers, Eph. iv. 29. Remember the Words of St. James; if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body, Jam. iii. 2.
Thou shalt not covet thy Neighbour’s House, thou shalt not covet thy Neighbour’s Wife, nor his Servant, nor his Maid, nor his Ox, nor his Ass, nor any thing that is his.
IT being impossible that any State or Society of Men should subsist without some Government, or that Government without Laws: as we find no Place where any considerable number of Men live together, but they have some sort of Government or other among them, so all sorts of Governours have always found it necessary to make some Laws or other, to be observed by those that live under their respective Governments. But all the Laws that were ever made by any Governors upon Earth, respected only the Words and Actions, or the outward Carriage and Behaviour of their Subjects. None ever offered to give Laws to the Minds, or Hearts of Men, what they should think, or love, or desire, or the like: And it would have been ridiculous and absurd to have done it; because they could never have known whether such laws were observed, or no: Forasmuch as it is impossible for one Man to know what another Thinks, or how he stands affected in his Heart, unless he himself discover it by Words, or some Overt Act. And if it doth that, it is not his Thoughts and Affections, but his Words or Actions, that come under the cognizance of other Men.
Herein therefore, as well as in all other respects, the Laws of God infinitely exceed all other, in that they are prescribed to the very Minds of Men, to their Thoughts, and the most secret Motions of their Hearts, as well as to their Outward Actions. Which is also a most clear and undeniable Argument, that these Laws were made by the All-wise God, and by none else. For none but He knows the Hearts of Men; and therefore none but He can give any Laws to them.
As we see He doth in this Commandment, requiring us not to covet or desire any thing that is another’s. He had before tied up our Hands from Stealing any thing from one another: but here he ties up our Hearts too, from having any Desires or Inclinations to it, saying, Thou shall not covet; Or, thou shalt not Desire thy Neighbour’s House, or Wife, or Man, or Maid, or Ox, or Ass, or any Thing that is his. That is, what God hath given to another Man, from the greatest to the least thing that is, thou shalt not so much as desire to have it from him, unless he be willing to part with it, and hath full Satisfaction made unto him for it.
This is a Law much to be observed, for the Nature, as well as for the great Force and Obligation of it. For, as St. Paul saith, I had not known Sin but by the Law: For I had not known Lust, except the Law had said, Thou shalt not Covet, Rom. vii. 7. We had not known that meer Lust, Desire, or Coveting, that goes no farther than the Heart, had been a Sin, if it had not been here forbidden. But here we see that it is as great a Sin to Covet or Desire, as it is to Steal a Man’s Goods: That Covetousness is as bad as Theft: for the same Law forbids both. And therefore all the disorders and irregularities of a Man’s Heart, as well as the enormities of his Life; as, all high and proud thoughts of a Man’s self, Rom. xii. 3. all foolish and vain thoughts, Psal. xciv. 11. 1 John ii. 15. Col. iii. 2. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, Jer. iv. 14. All love of this World, 1 John ii. 16. These and such like disorderly motions of the Heart, altho’ they never break forth into Act, are, notwithstanding, evil or sinful; in that God hath forbidden them, and therefore takes as much notice of them as he doth of Sinful Words or Deeds: For it is Written, God saw that the wickedness of Man was great upon the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, Gen. vi. 5.
And it may not be amiss to observe, that this Law is placed last, to be a defence, as it were, and safeguard to all the rest. For no Man can keep any of the other, except he keeps this. But he that fully keeps this, will easily keep all the rest. For it is the lust or desire of a Man’s corrupted Heart, that puts him upon the neglecting or transgressing any of God‘s Laws. As St. James observeth, Every Man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed: Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, Jam. i. 14, 15. And our Lord himself saith, that out of the Heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, theft, false witness, blasphemies, Mat. xv. 19. So that all manner of Sin begins in the Heart, and from thence comes forth into the life, and all for want of avoiding or suppressing those desires or lusts of the heart, which are here forbidden.
Wherefore, as ever ye desire to keep any of God‘s Laws, you must be sure to keep this to the utmost of your Power. And for that Purpose, you must constantly observe and follow the wise Man’s Councel, keep thy heart with all diligence, or above all keeping, for out of it are the issues of life, Prov. iv. 23. that is, all that a Man speaks or doth in his Life, whether good or bad, come forth out of his Heart. As not only our own Experience, but Wisdom itself hath taught us, saying, A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil. For of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh, Luke vi. 45.
And therefore you had need take special care to keep your hearts always right with God, inclined wholly to him, and fully content and satisfied with what he in his infinite Wisdom sees good to bestow upon you. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have, Heb. xiii. 5. and then you’ll find it easie (by God’s assistance) to walk in all these Commandments and Ordinances of the Lord blameless, as Zacharias and Elizabeth did, Luke i. 6.
These are those Ten Commandments which Almighty God, the Maker and Governour of the whole World, positively requireth all Mankind to keep, and which you promised to keep when you were Baptized: and so are doubly bound to do It, both by God‘s Command and your own Promise. And that ye may the better know how to do it, our Blessed Saviour, into whom ye were Baptized, hath reduced them All to Two General Heads: For being ask’d which is the great Commandment, in the Law, he said, Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great Commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shall love thy Neighbour as thyself. Upon these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets, Matth. xxii. 36, 37, 40. that is, the due observation of all that God hath commanded, either in his Law or by his Prophets that explain’d it, depends upon our sincere Love to God, and to our Neighbour.
He that loves God with all his Soul, cannot but keep all the Commandments of the First Table, that have an immediate respect to God, whom his Soul loveth. And he that loves his Neighbour as himself, will do him no more hurt than he would have done unto himself, and therefore will keep all the Commandments of the Second Table that respect his Neighbour, as he desires his Neighbours should keep them towards him. So that he who keeps his Heart a-right towards God and towards Men, according to the purport of this last Commandment, can never wilfully break any of the Ten, but will strive all he can, by the grace of God, not only to keep them all, but to do it out of pure love and obedience to him.
Now from what you have heard upon them, you may easily observe, That there are Two Things which you chiefly learn from these Commandments; your Duty towards God, and your Duty towards your Neighbour. That your Duty towards God is, to believe in him, to fear him, and to love him, with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength; to worship him, to give him thanks, to put your whole trust in him, to call upon him, to honour his holy Name and Word, and to serve him truly all the days of your life. And that your Duty towards your Neighbour, is, to love him as yourself, and to do unto all men as ye would they should do unto you: to honour and obey the King, and all that are put in Authority under him: to submit yourselves to all your Governors, Teachers, Spiritual Pastors, and Masters: to order yourselves lowly and reverently to all your Betters: to hurt no body by word or deed: to be true and just in all your dealings, to bear no malice nor hatred in your hearts: to keep your hands from picking and stealing, and your tongues from evil-speaking, lying and slandering: to keep your bodies in temperance, soberness, and chastity: not to covet nor desire other mens goods, but to learn and labour truly to get your own living, and to do your duty in that state of life unto which it shall please God to call you.
My good Child, know this, that thou art not able to do these things of thy self, nor to walk in the Commandments of God, and to serve him, without his special Grace, which thou must learn at all times to call for by diligent Prayer. Let me hear therefore if thou canst say the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father which art in Heaven; Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done in Earth, As it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.
He that is not sensible of his own weakness, will never look out for help. Wherefore it is necessary for all to know this, That they are not able of themselves, or by their own natural power, to keep God’s Commandments: For, we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God, 2 Cor. iii. 5. And although He giveth all Men so much Grace or Power to do his Will, as makes them inexcusable before Him, if they do it not: yet notwithstanding, None do all that is required of them, without something more than what is common to all Men, therefore called his special Grace, which he giveth in a special manner to those who Believing in Jesus Christ the one Mediator between God and Men, have him to intercede for them, that they may have it, who therefore saith, without Me ye can do nothing, John xv. 5. But, as his Apostle said, I can do all things, through Christ that strengtheneth me, Phil. iv. 13.
This special Grace therefore we must learn at all times to call for by diligent Prayer. For, as we read in the Epistle of St. James: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him, Jam. i. 5. And our Saviour himself saith, If ye then being evil know how to give good things unto your Children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask him, Luke xi. 13.
And if His holy Spirit, then His special Grace; it being by His holy Spirit that we are sanctified and specially enabled to keep His holy Commandments. This therefore we must learn to call for, not only now and then, but at all times, every day at least twice or thrice, if not oftner, either at Church or in our Closets; and that too, not in a careless, indifferent manner, but by diligent, hearty and earnest Prayer.
But we not knowing what to Pray for as we ought, the Lord, even our Lord Jesus Christ himself, was graciously pleased to compose a Prayer for us, and commanded, that when we Pray, we should say that: When ye Pray, (saith He) say, Our Father which art in Heaven, &c. Luke xi. 2. Not but that we may say other Prayers too; but we must say that, whensoever we Pray, both because He hath Commanded it, and because it is the only Prayer, that we are sure is perfectly agreeable to the Will of God, as being made by himself; and most acceptable to him, as being given us by him, by whom alone any of our Prayers or Duties are accepted of him.
So that when we Pray in the very Words, as well as in the Name of our Mediator, we have no reason to doubt but our Prayers shall be heard, and all the Good Things we asked shall be granted to us through His Merits and Mediation; that is to say, for the sake, or upon the account of his Death, whereby he merited, or deserved and purchased for us, all the Good Things we can desire: and by the Power of that Mediation or Intercession, which He, by Virtue of his said Death, is continually making at the Right-hand of God the Father, for us.
Hence it is that the Church, in his Name, requires every one of her Members, to learn this Prayer; and here asketh, by her Catechist, or him that Catechiseth them, whether they can say it. Not doubting, but if they can say this Prayer a-right, they may obtain God‘s special Grace to keep his Commandments, and to serve him faithfully all the days of their life. But for that Purpose, it is necessary, that they should understand the true Meaning and Extent of every Expression in it.
First, therefore, We here call Almighty God, Our Father, and so Address ourselves and our Prayers to Him, not as He is only the Supreme Governour of the World, absolutely in himself considered, but as He is related to us so as to be our Father; But He is our Father only in Jesus Christ, John i. 12. And therefore it is in his Name only that we say this Prayer: And none can truly say it, but such as are baptized into him, and made Members of his Body, and so are become the Children of God in him. And every one that is thus made a Child of God, although he saith this Prayer only by himself, as well as together with others; yet notwithstanding, he doth not say, My Father, but Our Father: because he saith this Prayer only as he is a Member of Christ, and so in Communion and Conjunction with all the Members of his Body, Children of the same Father, Which is in Heaven; that is, who Rules and Reigns on High over the whole World, and therefore can give us whatsoever we ask.
Hallowed be thy Name: That is, as if we should say, Holyed, or Sanctified be thy Name; let it be acknowledged and accounted Holy, infinitely above all other Names, and accordingly admired, celebrated, glorified, and praised by all the Creatures in the World. So that in this we both Pray that his Name may be sanctified by all others, and we do it ourselves: For hereby we join in effect, with the holy Angels, in singing Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts: the whole Earth is full of his glory, Isai. vi. 3. Rev. iv. 8. which is the first thing that we here desire and do, because it is the first and chief End of all things.
Thy Kingdom come. That is, Let the Kingdom and Power of thy Grace come into our Hearts: Let thy Holy Spirit rule there, subdue us to Thy Self, and rest continually upon us: That by thy special Grace preventing, exciting, assisting, and strengthtning us, we may Serve and Honour Thee, our Almighty King and Governour all the days of our Life. And let the Kingdom of thy Glory come, let it come quickly, that we may all Glorifie and enjoy thee together.
Thy will be done in Earth, as it is in Heaven. That is, Grant we beseech Thee, that we, and all Mankind, may, by thy Assistance and Grace perfectly submit to, obey, and do thy Will on Earth; as the holy Angels, and the Spirits of just Men made perfect, do it continually in Heaven: That we may be Perfect as they are, and fulfil Thy holy Will perfectly as they do.
Give us this Day our daily Bread. That is; Give us, we humbly beseech Thee, the Author and Giver of all good Gifts, Give us this, and so every Day, all Things necessary both for Life and Godliness, both for our Souls and Bodies. Feed us with Food convenient for us, Prov. xxx. 8. and supply us continually, of Thy infinite Goodness, with all such Things as Thou knowest to be any-wise needful for us in this mortal State.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. That is, As we, from the bottom of our Hearts, forgive all the Wrongs and Injuries that other Men have done us; so be Thou graciously pleased, of Thy infinite Mercy in Jesus Christ, to forgive all the Trespasses, Transgressions or Sins that we have ever committed against Thee, so as never to punish us for any of them, either in this World or that which is to come.
Here endeth this Divine Prayer, as it was once delivered by our Lord, Luke xi. 2. But at the Delivery of it another time, He added, For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory, for ever, Amen, Matth. vi. 13. And therefore our Church, following his Example, in her Liturgy sometimes accordingly omits, and sometimes adds those Words, called the Doxology, or giving Glory, as setting forth the Glory of God in the Reasons wherefore we ask these Things of him; even because His is the Kingdom, or Empire of the World; He Rules over All, and hath All Things at his Command: And His is the Power; He can do what he will, and therefore can give us whatsoever we ask, if he please: And His is the Glory; it is for his Glory that we ask these Things, that the Glory of his Divine Perfections may shine forth more clearly among us; the Glory of his Mercy and Truth, in granting them to us; and the Glory of his Power, and Supreme Authority, in effecting them for us. And all the Glory that shall arise from our having, using, and improving of them, will redound wholly to him, and be for ever his.
And then we conclude with saying, Amen; which, in Hebrew, signifies both So be it, and So it is; whereby we therefore both repeat or renew our Desires of what we have asked; and likewise express our Trust and Confidence, that our Heavenly Father will accept of what we have done, and grant all that we have desired of him, for the Glory of his Great Name, in Jesus Christ our Lord.
What then desirest thou of God in this Prayer?
I desire my Lord God our heavenly Father, who is the Giver of all Goodness, to send his Grace unto me, and to all People, that we may worship him, serve him, and obey him as we ought to do. And I pray unto God, that he will send us all Things that be needful both for our Souls and Bodies; and that he will be merciful unto us, and Forgive us our Sins: and that it will please him to save and defend us in all Dangers, ghostly and bodily; And that he will keep us from all Sin and Wickedness, and from our ghostly Enemy, and from everlasting Death. And this I trust he will do of his Mercy and Goodness, through our Lord Jesus Christ. And therefore I say, Amen. So be it.
Of the in General.
How many Sacraments hath Christ ordained in his Church?
Two only, as generally necessary to Salvation, that is to say, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
What meanest thou by this Word Sacrament?
I mean an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual Grace, given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.
How many Parts are there in a Sacrament?
Two, the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace.
The Word Sacrament was used by the Ancient Writers of the Church, for any sacred or holy Mystery, Rite, or Ceremony; every one calling what Holy Thing he pleased, a Sacrament. By which means the number of Things that have been called by this Name is very great and uncertain. Wherefore the Question here, is not, How many Sacraments there are in general, or how many Things have been, or may be called Sacraments; but How many Sacraments hath Christ ordained, and that too, in his Church to be always observed there.
Of such Sacraments there be Two; and Two only as generally necessary to Salvation. There may be other things ordained, but not as necessary to Salvation: Some as necessary to Salvation, but not generally; As the Ordination or Consecration of Persons to Holy Offices. This is necessary to Salvation, because it is necessary to the right Administration of the means of Grace and Salvation. But it is not generally necessary: it is not necessary for all Men; as if none could be saved except they be in Holy Orders. And therefore neither can that be said to be ordained by Christ as generally necessary to Salvation; nor any other Sacred Rites but only Two; that is to say, Baptism, and the Lord’s-Supper.
Baptism was ordained by Him to be the Sacrament, or Sacred Rite of making Disciples, or admitting Persons into the Congregation and Society of all Christian People, call’d his Church. For a little before his Ascension into Heaven, He said to his Apostles, as it is in the Original, Go ye therefore and make all Nations Disciples, Baptizing (or, by Baptizing) them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Matth. xxviii. 19. So that, as before that Time, Persons used to be admitted into the Church, by being Circumcised, according to God‘s Institution.
From that Time forward, by the Institution of the same God our Saviour, not only Jews, but People of all Nations are to be made his Disciples, and brought into his Church, by being Baptized; that is, as the Word signifies, either Dipped, or Washed, or Sprinkled with Water, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And as this was thus Ordained or Instituted by Christ Our Saviour, it must needs be not only necessary, but generally necessary to Salvation, seeing it is the only Way or Means Ordained by him, whereby to be admitted into his Church, out of which there is no Salvation. Acts ii. 47.
The Sacrament of the Lord’s-Supper was Ordained by him, the same Night in which he was betrayed. For being then at Supper with his Disciples, He took Bread; and when he had given Thanks, he brake it, and gave it to them, and said, Take, eat; this is my Body, which is broken for you; This do in remembrance of me. After the same manner, he took the Cup, when he had supped, saying, This Cup is the New Testament in my Blood: This do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me, 1 Cor. xi. 23, 24. Matth. xxvi. 26. Where we see, that what our Lord himself then did, He Ordained and Commanded the same to be continued in his Church, and to be always done in remembrance of him, until his coming again, to Judge the World, 1 Cor. xi. 26. And that must needs be generally necessary to the Salvation of Mankind, which is Ordained by the Authority, and in Remembrance of the Only Saviour we have in all the World, and so for the Exercise and Confirmation of our Faith in him, without which we can never be Saved by him.
But that we may rightly understand the Nature and Design of these Two Sacraments, ordain’d by Christ in his Church, we must farther consider, what is properly meant by this Word Sacrament, which is therefore here described by the general Nature, by the Author, and by the Ends of it. As to the general Nature, It is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us. So that in every Sacrament, properly so called, there must be some invisible spiritual Grace or Favour given unto us by God, and there must be also some outward and visible sign, whereby the said Grace is signified or represented to us. Where either of these is wanting, there is no Sacrament. Where they both are, there is a Sacrament in general.
But to make it such a Sacrament as is here spoken of, it must be ordained by Christ himself, as the Author; not by Moses or the Prophets before him, nor by his Apostles or his Church after him, but by Christ himself in his own Person, with his own Mouth, as we see Baptism and the Lord’s-Supper were.
And as for the end of such a Sacrament, it is two-fold, first to be the Means whereby we may receive the spiritual Grace there signified. For whatsoever Grace God is pleased to give us, he ordinarily gives it not immediately from himself, but in the use of some Means, which he hath appointed for that purpose, and which therefore operate or work upon us, not by any Power in themselves, but by vertue of his Institution and Appointment, and by the Power of his Holy Spirit moving and working in them, upon all such as use them a-right. And each of the Sacraments is such a Means ordained and appointed by God our Saviour, whereby to bestow his Grace upon us, that is there signified.
The other end is, to be a Pledge to assure us thereof: For by admitting us to the Sacrament, and so applying the outward Sign to us, he thereby certifies and assures us of his Favour and Readiness to give us the spiritual Grace signified thereby, and we ought accordingly to believe, depend and trust upon him for it. And if we do that, He will certainly bestow it upon us.
From all which it appears, that in every Sacrament, properly so called, there are Two Parts, an outward visible Sign, and an inward spiritual Grace.
Of the of Baptism.
What is the outward visible sign, or form in Baptism?
Water, wherein the Person is Baptized, in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
What is the inward and spiritual Grace?
A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness: for being by Nature born in sin, and the Children of wrath, we are thereby made the Children of Grace?
What is required of Persons to be Baptized?
Repentance, whereby they forsake sin; and Faith, whereby they stedfastly believe the promises of God, made to them in that Sacrament.
Why then are Infants baptized, when by reason of their tender Age, they cannot perform them?
Because they promise them both by their Sureties; which promise, when they come to age, themselves are bound to perform.
There are Two Parts, as we have heard, in every Sacrament, as such, an outward visible Sign, and an inward spiritual Grace. Which being the integral or essential Parts of a Sacrament, without either of which it is no Sacrament at all, properly so called. Therefore to understand the true nature of either of the Sacraments, it will be necessary to consider distinctly both these Parts in it.
First, For the Sacrament of Baptism, the outward visible sign or form of that, whereby it is distinguished from the other Sacrament, is, Water, not simply in or by it self, but Water wherein the Person is baptized, in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, according to the first Institution of it, Matth. xxviii. 19. For although a Person be baptized, that is, dipped, sprinkled or washed with Water, unless it he done in the Name of these Three Divine Persons, severally and distinctly pronounced, it is not the Sacrament of Baptism. Neither is it so, although these Divine Persons be distinctly named, unless the Person be at the same time Baptized with Water. And therefore it is not either of these singly by itself, but both together, and so the whole Action of using or applying Water to a Person in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, that is the outward visible sign of this Sacrament, as Instituted by our Lord and Saviour.
And it is observable, that as there is no Language, wherein those words may not he easily pronounced, so there is no habitable Place where Water may not be easily had: it being the most common thing upon Earth. Which shews, that our Lord, considering the great necessity of all Mens being within the Pale of his Church, instead of the painful and troublesome Sacrament of Circumcision, whereby Persons were before admitted into it, was graciously pleased to institute and ordain the most easie and obvious Sign that could be invented for it; that no Man might pretend any trouble or difficulty in it. But all must acknowledge, that in this, as well as in other respects, His yoke is easy, and his burden is light, Mat. xi. 30.
As that is the outward and visible sign in this Sacrament, so the inward and spiritual grace signified by that sign, is a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness. That both these are signified in the Sacrament of Baptism, we learn from the Apostle, saying, Therefore we are buried with him by Baptism unto death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life, Rom. vi. 4. For here death is plainly taken in a spiritual sense for death unto sin; that is, for our ceasing to live any longer in it, Rom. vi. 2. But the Apostle saith, that we are baptized unto this death. And therefore this death must needs be signified in Baptism; wherein as our Bodies are washed with Water from their filth, so our Souls are washed by the Blood of Christ from Sin: not only from the guilt of Sin; for its pardon or remission, Acts ii. 38. chap. xxii. 16. but likewise from the strength and power of it, for its mortification, that sin may not have dominion over us, who being Baptized, are not under the law, but under grace, Rom. vi. 14.
Which Death unto sin, is necessarily accompanied with, or rather, it is effected by a new Birth unto righteousness; that we may walk, for the future in newness of Life, as the Apostle speaks in the words above-mentioned. And that this great spiritual Grace or Favour is bestowed upon us, and therefore is signified in Baptism, appears also from its being the washing of Regeneration, Tit. iii. 5. wherein, as our Lord himself, who Ordained it, speaks, we are Regenerated, or, Born again of Water and the Holy Ghost, John iii. 5.
For by Nature we are all Born in Sin: Every One may say with David, Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my Mother conceive me, Psal. li. 5. For seeing we all proceed from the Loins of our First Parents, and were then contained in them, when they fell into Sin, and by consequence, under God‘s Displeasure, we fell in them, and with them, and so come into the World both guilty of, and defiled with, Original Sin: Which therefore (as the Church hath declared) standeth not in the following of Adam, but is the fault and corruption of every Man, that naturally is ingendred of the Off-spring of Adam, whereby a Man is far gone from Original Righteousness, and is of his own Nature inclined to Evil. And therefore it is called Original Sin; because our Nature, from its Original or First Conception, was corrupted with it. So that we are All by Nature the Children of Wrath, continually subject and obnoxious to the Wrath and Indignation of the Almighty Creator of the World, with all the dismal Consequences and Effects of it, Eph. ii. 3. But by Baptism, we are made, as we have seen already, The Members of Christ, the Children of God, and Inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven. And so the Children of Grace: And because Children, therefore Heirs also of the Grace of Life, 1 Pet. iii. 7.
Now there are Two Things required of all Persons, in order to their being thus Baptized:
First, Repentance, whereby they forsake Sin: according to that Saying of St. Peter, Repent, and be Baptized, Acts ii. 38. Wherefore when a Person is to be Baptized, he is first asked in the Name of God, and in the Presence of the Congregation, as Witnesses of it, whether he doth renounce, and will forsake all manner of Sins? To which he Answereth, I renounce them all. And if he makes this Answer heartily, sincerely, and with a good Conscience, so as afterwards to perform what he then promised he partakes of the Grace signified in this Sacrament, and is certainly saved by it; according to that of the same Apostle, where he saith, That Baptism doth now save us. Not (the Outward Sign) the putting away the filth of the flesh, but (the Inward Grace) the answer of a good Conscience towards God, by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. iii. 21.
The other Condition required, is Faith, whereby they stedfastly Believe in Jesus Christ, and the Promises which God, in Him, hath made and confirmed to them in that Sacrament. That this is required, appears from what is recorded concerning Philip‘s Baptizing of the Eunuch: For when the Eunuch said, See, here is Water; what doth hinder me to be Baptized? Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And when the Eunuch had said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; Philip immediately Baptized him, Acts viii. 36,38. And accordingly, when any one comes or is brought to Holy Baptism, he must first make Profession of his Faith, before the Sacrament can be administred to him: unless it be in some extraordinary Cases, wherein he is allowed and required to do it afterwards, when he is publickly received into the Church.
But, Why then are Infants Baptized, when by reason of their tender Age they cannot perform these Conditions? The Reason is, Not only because they have the Seeds of Repentance and Faith in them, which may afterwards grow up to Perfection; but chiefly, because they then promise to perform them; Which is as much as we know Adult Persons, or those of riper Years do. They only profess and promise to Repent and Believe: but whether they really do so, or ever will, is known only to God. So Infants make the same Profession and Promise, though not in their own Persons, yet by their Surieties or Guardians, which do it in their Name and Stead: And when they come to Age, they are as much bound to perform what they so promised, as if they had done it themselves, in their own Person, (as was observed and more fully shewn in the Beginning of the Catechism.)
Of the Sacrament of the .
Why was the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper ordained?
For the continual remembrance of the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ, and of the Benefits which we receive thereby.
What is the outward Part or Sign of the Lord’s Supper?
Bread and Wine, which the Lord commanded to be received.
What is the inward Part or thing signified?
The Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the Faithful in the Lord’s Supper.
What are the Benefits whereof we are Partakers thereby?
The strengthning and refreshing of our Souls by the Body and Blood of Christ, as our Bodies are by the Bread and Wine.
When our Ever-blessed Redeemer instituted the Sacrament of his Last Supper, he said, This do in remembrance of Me, Luke xxii. 19. 1 Cor. xi. 24. Whereby he laid his Command upon his Apostles there present, and, in them, upon his Church in all Ages, That they should continue this his Holy Institution in remembrance of him, or of that Death which he was the next Day to suffer for the Sins of the World; and that they should do it all along until his coming again. As we learn also from his Apostles, saying, As often as ye eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, ye do shew the Lord’s Death till he come, 1 Cor. xi. 26.
This therefore is to be always done, for the continual Remembrance of his Death, as it was a Sacrifice for the Sins of the World; therefore called here, the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ. For, as the Apostle informs us from him, He once in the end of the World appeared to put away Sin by the Sacrifice of himself, Heb. ix. 26. who needed not daily, as the Priest under the Law, to offer up Sacrifice first for his own Sins, and then for the Peoples: for this he did once, when he offered up himself, chap. vii. 27. He then offered up himself as a Propitiation, or Propitiatory Sacrifice, for the Sins of the whole World, 1 John ii. 1, 2.
And therefore his Death was not only a true and proper Sacrifice, but the only true and proper Sacrifice for Sin that was ever offered up in the World. For his being offered up for the Sins of the whole World there was no Sin for which any other need or could be offered up. Or if there had been, no other could have taken it away: For it is not possible that the Blood of Bulls and Goats should take away Sins, Heb. x. 4. Yet such only were all the Sacrifices, as they were called, under the Law. Which therefore were not real Expiatory Sacrifices in themselves, but only Types and Shadows, appointed by God to foreshew, typifie, and represent the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ, then to come.
And in like manner the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is now Ordained by him, to set forth and commemorate the same Sacrifice as now already offered up for the Sins of Mankind. Which therefore is necessary to be continued to the End, as the Typical Sacrifices were from the Beginning of the World.
For this Purpose therefore was this Sacrament Ordained, even for the continual Remembrance of the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ, and by Consequence, of the Benefits which we receive thereby. Which are so many and so great, that they can neither be numbred nor weighed. For it is by it, that we receive the Pardon of our Sins, Attonement and Reconciliation to the Almighty Creator of the World, the Gifts and Graces of his Holy Spirit, and all the Blessings that we ever had, or have, or can have, or are or can be made capable of having, both in this World and the next. They were all merited for us, by the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ; and are bestowed upon us, by Means of that Intercession which he continually maketh for us in Heaven, by Virtue of the said Sacrifice which he once offered up to God for us, when he was upon Earth.
The Outward Part or Sign in this Sacrament, is only Bread and Wine, which the Lord commanded to be received; that is, to be received into our Bodies. For in the Institution of this Sacrament, when he had Blessed the Bread, he said, Take, eat: When he had Blessed the Wine, he said, Drink ye all of this, Mat. xxvi. 26, 27. The one is to be eaten, the other drank, and so both received into our Bodies. And therefore Bread and Wine, thus received according to Christ‘s Institution and Commandment, is the Outward Part or Sign in this Holy Sacrament.
But the Inward Part, or Thing signified by that Sign in the Lord’s-Supper, is, the Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the Faithful in the Lord’s Supper. For when the Lord at his Last Supper had taken Bread, and blessed it, and given it to his Disciples, saying, Take, eat, he presently said, This is my Body, which was broken for you. Likewise, when he had taken the Cup, and blessed it, and had given it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this; he said, For this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the Remission of Sins, 1 Cor. xi. 24. Matth. xxvi. 28. Whereby he plainly signified, That what he now gave them to eat and drink, he would have them look upon it, and receive it, not as common Bread and Wine, but as His Body and Blood; the one as broken, the other as shed, for their Sins.
Which therefore are not in Shew and Appearance, but verily and indeed, (according to the Sense wherein the Lord Instituting the Sacrament, spoke those Words) taken and received by the Faithful in the Lord’s-Supper: By the Faithful, even by all such, and only such as believe the Gospel and what our Lord said, and accordingly receive what he now gives them with a true Faith. Which being the Substance of things hoped for, as well as the Evidence of Things not seen, Heb. xi. 1. It causeth that which our Lord said, and what they therefore hope for and receive upon his Word, to subsist really and effectually in them, to all Intents and Purposes, to which the Body and Blood of Christ can possibly be communicated and received; according to that remarkable saying of his Apostle to the same purpose, The Cup of Blessing which we bless, is it not the Communion of the Blood of Christ? The Bread which we break, is it not the Communion of the Body of Christ, 1 Cor. x. 16.
And doubtless the Benefits that we receive by this Sacrament, are suitable and proportionable to the Expressions which our Lord used in the Institution of it, when he said, This is my Body, and This is my Blood. Which being the highest Expressions that could be used about it, we ought accordingly to have the highest Opinion of it, and the greatest Expectation that can be from it.
And so we well may: For whereas the only begotten Son of God having assumed an Humane Body, gave it to be broken, and the Blood in it to be shed, and so offered it up as a Sacrifice for the Sins of Mankind in general; in this Sacrament he communicates and applies it particularly to his faithful People, saying to them, This is my Body which is broken for you, and This is my Blood which is shed for you. So that all who rightly receive this Sacrament, do thereby actually partake of that great Sacrifice which he offered, and of all the Benefits which he thereby merited for Mankind, in order to the sanctifying and saving of their Souls.
For though the thing signified in the Sacrament of the Lord’s-Supper be the Body and Blood of Christ, yet it is not received as the Sign is, into our Bodies only, but into our Souls. It is the inward and spiritual Part in the Sacrament, and therefore hath respect only to the inward and spiritual Part of him that receives it. As our Lord saith upon another Occasion, My Flesh is Meat indeed, and my Blood is Drink indeed, John vi. 55. but he adds soon after, The Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life, ver. 63. So when he saith of that which he gives us in this Sacrament to eat and drink, This is my Body, and this is my Blood he means it in a spiritual Sense, not as Food for our Bodies, but for our Souls, which are strengthned and refreshed by the Body and Blood of Christ, the inward and spiritual Grace, as our Bodies are strengthned and refreshed by Bread and Wine, the outward and visible Sign in this Sacrament.
Our Souls are strengthned by the Body and Blood of Christ, received by Faith in this Sacrament, because by this means we have Christ himself to dwell in our Hearts by Faith, as the Apostle speaks, Eph. iii. 17. For he himself saith, He that eateth my Flesh and drinketh my Blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him, Joh. vi. 56. And seeing he that is the Fountain of all Grace and Strength, dwelleth in us and we in him, his grace is always sufficient for us, his strength is made perfect in our weakness; and his Power resteth continually upon us, 2 Cor. xii. 9. So that we can do all things through Christ which strengthneth us, Phil. iv. 13.
Many who have been accustomed to the frequent Receiving of this Holy Sacrament, have thus, by their own Experience, found it to be the Means whereby to receive the Grace of God, to strengthen their Souls, and make them stedfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Whereas they who seldom Receive it, as perhaps twice or thrice a Year, they never knowing how to do it as they ought, for want of Use, find themselves but little the better for it. But such as live in the wilful Neglect of it (as too many do) starve their own Souls, and have no Ground to expect that Christ should save them, seeing they live in a known Sin, even in the breach of that positive Command which he laid upon his Disciples: Do this in remembrance of me: which he would never have commanded, if it had not been necessary to be done, in order to our being saved by him.
Neither are our Souls only strengthned, but likewise refreshed by this Holy Sacrament, as it is a Pledge whereby we are assured of the Grace of God, as well as a Means whereby to receive it. For seeing our Blessed Saviour Himself is pleased to tell us in this Sacrament, that his Body was broken and his Blood shed for us, and for the Remission of our Sins, if we really believe his Word, and accordingly receive his said Body and Blood there offered to us, with a quick and lively Faith, we cannot but rejoyce with Joy unspeakable and full of Glory, 1 Pet. i. 8.
For hereby we do not only receive, to our great comfort, the Pardon of all our Sins, Signed with the Blood of the Lamb of God, that taketh away the Sins of the World, but as our Church expresseth it in the Prayer after the Communion, God himself doth hereby assure us of his favour and goodness towards us, and that we are very Members incorporate in the mystical Body of his Son, which is the blessed Company of all faithful People, and are Heirs through hope of his Everlasting Kingdom by the merits of the most precious Death and Passion of his dear Son. Which is certainly the greatest Refreshment and Comfort to our Souls on this side Heaven; enough to make us run, not only with Patience, but with Pleasure, the Race that is set before us.
From hence we may see, that as in the Sacrament of Baptism, we being Born again of Water and of the Spirit, are quickned with a new and Spiritual Life: So in the Sacrament of the Lord’s-Supper, this new and Spiritual Life is supported and nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, as our natural Life is by Meat and Drink. And therefore as we eat and drink something or other every Day to keep up our Bodies in Life and Health: so we must take all Opportunities that we can get of feeding upon this Spiritual Food, the Bread and Water of Life, to keep our Souls in Health and Strength as to their Spiritual State; and must look upon ourselves as bound by our own Interest, as well as Duty, to do it as often as we can. This being the best Means that we can ever use, whereby not only to live, but to grow in Grace, and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: To him be Glory now and for ever, 2 Pet. iii. 18.
What is required of them who come to the Lord’s Supper?
To examine themselves, whether they repent them truly of their former sins, stedfastly purposing to lead a new life; have a lively Faith in God’s Mercies through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of his Death, and be in Charity with all Men.
Although our Lord used such Expressions and Terms in the Institution of the Sacrament of his Last Supper, as, if duly considered, would deter all People from approaching to it without reverence and godly fear: yet nevertheless, there were some at first, especially at Corinth, who not rightly understanding, or else not duly considering it, ventured to come to it as to an ordinary Meal; and to eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ, like common Meat and Drink. Which St. Paul hearing of, he rebuked them sharply for it, telling them in plain terms, That, this was not to eat the Lord’s-Supper, 1 Cor. xi. 20, 21, 22. But looking upon it as proceeding chiefly from their Ignorance of the Institution, he acquaints them particularly with all the Circumstances of it, as he had received it from the Lord himself, ver. 23, 24, 25. and likewise with the great End and Design of it, even to shew forth the Lord’s Death till he come, ver. 26.
And then to convince them of their former Error, and to make them more careful for the future to avoid it, he adds, Wherefore whosoever shall eat this Bread, and drink this Cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord, ver. 27. As if he had said; Seeing this which I have now declared, is the Nature and the End of this holy Institution; therefore, whosoever shall eat this Bread and drink this Cup of the Lord unworthily, as you have hitherto done, shall be guilty of a great Sin, in Profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord. And that they might better understand his Meaning, he repeats the same thing again in other and plainer Words, saying in the next Verse but one, For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation (or judgment) to himself, not discerning the Lord’s Body, ver. 29.
He doth not say, He that being unworthy, (for so all Men are) shall, notwithstanding, presume to eat this Bread, and drink this Cup: but, he that doth it unworthily, in an unworthy, irreverent and unseemly manner, not becoming so Holy an Institution, as the Corinthians he speaks of did it, such a one eateth and drinketh, not the Body and Blood of Christ, but damnation (or rather, as the word signifies, judgment) to himself; at least some Temporal Judgment, as he explains it in the next Verse, saying, For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep, ver. 30.
But to shew more fully what kind of unworthy Receiving he here means, having said, He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself: He adds, not discerning the Lord’s Body: That is, not duly considering that it is the Lord’s Body, and therefore making no difference between that and common Food; but eating this Bread, and drinking this Cup, after the same manner as they do their ordinary Meat and Drink. This is the Sin which the Apostle here reproves, and corrects, and labours for the future to prevent.
For which purpose he lays down this general Rule to be observed by all that come, as all Christians ought to do, to the Lord’s-Supper; But let a Man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup, ver. 28. He only saith in general, Let a Man examine himself; without telling us particularly what he should examine himself about, supposing that to appear sufficiently from the Nature of the Sacrament itself; and the End of its Institution, which he had now declared to them. Howsoever, from these words of the Apostle, many, of late years, have taken occasion to write whole Books, some, large Volumes, concerning the Preparation required to the due Receiving of the Lord’s-Supper. But all that hath been, or need, or can be said to any purpose about it, is here delivered and taught by our Church, in few Words, even, That they who come to the Lord’s-Supper, are required to examine themselves about their Repentance, their Faith, and their Charity.
They must first Examine themselves, whether they repent them truly of their former Sins, stedfastly purposing to lead a new Life. For, unless they be sensible of, and truly penitent for their former Sins, they cannot have that Respect and Value for the Body and Blood of Christ, that was broken and shed for them, which is necessary to their due, reverent and worthy Receiving of them, when offered in this Holy Sacrament. Neither are they qualified for that Pardon or Remission which is there offered to them: For that being promised only to the Penitent, none else are capable of it, and therefore cannot possibly receive it in that Sacrament.
Neither is it sufficient that they be grieved and troubled for their former Sins; but they must repent them truly of them, so as stedfastly to purpose and resolve, by the Grace of God, to lead, for the future, a new Life: For otherwise, it is no true Repentance. And besides, Our Souls are here strengthned and refreshed only as to their new and spiritual Life, as we have shewn already. And therefore, they who do not lead such a new and spiritual Life, or at least do not stedfastly purpose to do so, having no Subject-Matter for the Body and Blood of Christ to work upon, cannot Receive it worthily, for they cannot Receive it to any Purpose or Effect.
Wherefore, They who come to the Lord’s-Supper, must search very diligently into their Hearts and Lives, and impartially examine themselves and consider, whether they have not hitherto lived in some known Sin, or in the neglect of some known Duty: And if they have, they must resolve, by God‘s Assistance, to do so no longer; but to live, for the future, a truly Pious and Good Life, as becometh the Gospel of Christ. And if they have done any wrong to any Man, they must make him Restitution, and all the Satisfaction that they are able, as ever they desire to be Worthy Communicants in those Holy Mysteries, or to receive any Benefit or Comfort from them. In short, They must seriously consider wherein they have broken that solemn Vow which they made to God in the Sacrament of Baptism: And whensoever they come to that of the Lord’s-Supper, they must renew and ratifie the said Vow, and resolve in good earnest to keep it in all Points more exactly for the future.
Having thus Examined their Repentance, They must, in the next place, Examine, whether they have a lively Faith in God’s Mercies through Christ, with a thankful Remembrance of his Death. For without Faith, as hath been shewn, they cannot Receive the Body and Blood of Christ at all, and therefore not worthily. Without Faith also, they cannot rightly discern the Body and Blood of Christ from the Bread and Wine; and therefore must needs eat that Bread, and drink that Cup of the Lord unworthily.
Now this Faith necessarily supposeth our Knowledge of the Fundamental Articles of the Christian Faith, the Nature of this Holy Institution, and likewise the Mercies which God hath promised in Jesus Christ, upon which it must be in this Case particularly exercised, with a thankful remembrance of that Death, by which He merited, and upon the sole Account whereof God hath promised the said Mercies to us.
So that when, upon Examination, we find, that we truly repent of our former Sins, stedfasily purposing to lead a new life; we must come to the Lord’s-Supper with a lively Faith, firmly Believing, that as really as we there eat and drink the Outward Elements of Bread and Wine, we do at the same time receive the full Pardon of all our Sins, by means of the Body and Blood of Christ then and there communicated to us, as broken and shed for us: And not only the Pardon of our former Sins, of God’s infinite Mercy in Christ, but likewise Grace and Strength to perform our holy purposes and resolutions, so as to live for the future in newness of life. He that comes to the Lord‘s Table with such a well-grounded Faith, can never return without the Blessings he came for, but will find his Soul more strengthned and refreshed by the Body and Blood of Christ his Saviour, than any can imagine but he that feels it.
Wherefore it being requisite that no Man should come to the Lord’s-Supper but with such a full Trust and Confidence in God‘s Mercies through Christ, if any Man by looking carefully into his Heart, finds his conscience touched with so quick a Sense of his former Sins, that he knows not what to do, nor can satisfy his own mind, so as to be able to come to the Holy Communion with a lively Faith and quiet Conscience, he should then go to some discreet and able Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief, that by the Ministry of God’s Holy Word he may receive the benefit of Absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his Conscience, and avoiding all scruples and doubtfulness. As our Church directeth in the Exhortation, when the Minister giveth warning of the Celebration of the Holy Communion.
The last thing which they who come to the Lord’s-Supper must Examine themselves about, is, whether they be in Charity with all Men: So as not to bear any grudge, malice, or hatred against any Person whatsoever. For the Lord Himself having said, If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses, Mat. vi. 15. Unless we forgive all the wrongs or injuries that other Men have done us, we cannot go to this Sacrament with any true Faith and Trust in God‘s Mercies for the pardon of our Sins. For he hath told us before-hand, that he will not pardon them. Therefore, saith he, if thou bring thy gift to the Altar, and there rememberest that thy Brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the Altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy Brother, and then come and offer thy gift, Matt. v. 23, 24. Whereby He hath plainly given us to understand, that he will not accept of the Offering that we make, nor of any thing we do at his own Table, except we be in Charity with all Men.
And therefore where there hath been any hatred, malice, or variance betwixt Parties, they must of necessity first be reconciled to one another, before they can be reconciled to God, so as truly to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ for the pardon of their Sins. But if one of the Parties hath a mind to be reconciled, and the other not, the Church hath given Directions what is to be done in that case, in the Rubrick before the Communion.
He who upon due Examination finds, that he thus truly repenteth of his former sins, hath a lively faith in God’s mercies through Christ, and is in Charity with all Men, may well come to the Lord’s-Supper, without fear of eating that Bread, and drinking that Cup of the Lord unworthily. For coming with a deep sense of his former Sins upon his Mind, he cannot but carry himself there with all humility, reverence, and godly fear that is due unto, and becoming those holy Mysteries: Coming with a quick and lively Faith, he must needs discern the Lord’s Body: And coming likewise with a true Christian Charity, he is every way qualified to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and to partake of the great benefits and blessings which are offered and exhibited to the Faithful in the Lord’s-Supper.
And if he finds moreover, that he doth not only act these Christian Graces at present, but hath exercised himself so long in them, that they are now become habitual to him, then he will not always need so much actual Preparation, but being thus always habitually disposed for it, he may, to his unspeakable Comfort, receive the blessed Body and Blood of his Saviour, whensoever it is administred, though it be every Lord’s Day in the Year, as it was in the Primitive Times, or every Day in the Week, as it was some time in the Days of the Apostles, and may be so still according to the Liturgy of the Church of England.
After this short Exposition of the Catechism was drawn up, looking it over again, I saw it expedient to add something here to what is said in the Preface concerning it: For some I believe will be apt to think it too short. And it might, I confess, have been made much longer, and perhaps with more Ease: but I confin’d myself to this narrow Compass on purpose that I might not have room to bring in any thing but what I thought necessary, and that the Whole might be sooner comprehended. There are necessary things enough for People to learn, without being troubled with things unnecessary. If here be all that they need to know of what they ought to believe and do as Christians, it is enough: more would but confound them, especially the younger and weaker Sort, for which this is chiefly designed.
For whose sake also I have added the Questions at the end of each Discourse, such as may be put to those who are Catechised, whereby to know whether they fully understand it. For if they do they may readily return an Answer to such Questions out of what was there treated of, or out of some Expressions used in treating of it.
And if they stick at any thing, the Catechist may help them out, by varying the Words and Phrases, till he light upon such as they can best apprehend; and by shewing them how to resolve such (if there be any such) Questions, to which they cannot find a direct Answer: and if there be occasion, he may ask them any other Questions, and likewise talk familiarly to them upon these or such other plain Catechetical Heads, without using any premeditated or set Discourse, ’till he find, that they understand all that is necessary for them to know, in that Part of the Catechism which he instructs them in.
But I am very sensible, that although this or any other way of Catechising to good purpose, may seem easie in the Theory, it will he difficult to bring it every where into Practice. For there are several Parishes in the Country, where there are few or none of the Parishioners that can read or say the Catechism themselves, much less, that will teach others to read or say it. And what can a Minister do in that case? Is he bound to teach Children or others to Read? That is no part of the Ministerial Office. Neither is there any Necessity for it. In the first Ages of the Church there were few that could read, yet many were so well instructed in the Faith of Christ, that they chearfully suffered Martyrdom for it. For being taught only necessary things, such as those few contained in our Church-Catechism, they soon learned them so as to be deeply affected with them, and retain them in their Hearts as well as Heads; but they were generally People of Riper Years. To make Children understand the Catechism, who cannot read nor were taught it before will require more Time and Patience; but it may be done: And the Law requires that they be Instructed and Examined every Lord’s-Day in some part of the Catechism, without taking notice whether they can read, or had learned any thing of it before. And commandeth all Parents, Masters and Dames, to cause their Children, Servants and Apprentices (which have not learned their Catechism) to come and be ordered by the Curate till they can say all that is appointed for them to learn. All that are concerned, would do well to consider how this Law, which tends so much to the good of those which are committed to their Charge, may be best observed, and the end of it attained.
But there are other Parishes, both about London and in the Country, so very large and populous, that it is morally impossible for their respective Ministers to Instruct all the Children and ignorant Persons that are in them. This seems to be foreseen in making the Law: For it is there provided, that the Curate of every Parish shall every Lord’s-Day Instruct and Examine so many of the Children of the Parish as he shall think convenient. And therefore he satisfies the Law, who Instructs some at one time, and some at another, so many as he conveniently can. But by this Means the Curate in some Parishes can scarce go through all in a whole Year; and so can Instruct none so fully as they ought to be Instructed, unless he always takes the same; and then all the other will be neglected, and suffered to continue in their Ignorance.
Neither do I see how this can be prevented in such great Parishes any other way than by Erecting Catechetical Schools, such as were usual in the Primitive Times, and contributed very much to the Propagation of the Gospel. There was such a School at Alexandria, so Ancient, that it was thought to be begun by St. Mark the Evangelist; of which the Two Famous Men, Pantaenus and Clemens Alexandrinus were successively Masters. Origen also taught in the same School, and afterwards in such another at Caesarea; and so did St. Cyril at Hierusalem, who was afterwards Bishop of the Place; whose Expositions of the Principles of our Holy Religion, which he made, as it is supposed, when he was only a Deacon and Catechist, are still extant, and highly esteemed, as they deserve.
And indeed, this seems to have been a great part of the Deacon’s Office in those Days. They were not only to take care of the Poor, but to Instruct the Ignorant, or at least assist the Priests in doing it. And so it is, or ought to be at this Day among us, by the Orders and Constitutions of our Church, which in this, as in all other Particulars, keeps close to the Pattern of the Primitive and Apostolical. As appears from the Form of Ordaining a Deacon: For there the Bishop tells him who is to be Ordained, that it appertains to the Office of a Deacon, in the Church where he shall be appointed to serve, among other Things, to instruct the Youth in the Catechism. And he then solemnly promiseth, that he will do so, by the help of God. Whereby the Church layeth as great an Obligation as can be well made, upon every one that is so Ordained, to Instruct the Youth of the Parish where he is to serve. And none can be admitted to the Office, unless he have a Title to some Place where he may serve God and the Church in the Execution of it.
Now if this was duly observed, it would conduce very much to the furtherance of this Great Work: For Deacons being obliged by the Law, to continue one whole Year at least in that, before they are advanced to the higher Order. If they all Catechised the Youth of the Places where they serve all that time, the Youth of such Places would, at least for that time, be taken care of: And they themselves by teaching others would learn more, and be better fitted for the Priesthood, than by any other Studies which they can follow in the mean while. And if none could be Ordained Priest without Letters Testimonial, that they have faithfully Executed this, as well as the other Parts, of the Deacon’s Office, it would make them more diligent and careful to perform what they promised at their Ordination.
This therefore being an Office which Deacons, as well as those in higher Orders, may and ought to execute; and there being so many Deacons every Year Ordained in our Church out of them, together with those who are already admitted to the Priesthood, and are out of Place (of which there are too many) all the Great Parishes may be supplied with as many as are needful to the Instructing of all the Children and Ignorant People in them, so as that the Incumbents may have no more to do in this Business than what they may easily compass. For they being all before Instructed in one or more private Schools, according to the Extent of the Parish, the Minister upon the Lord’s-Day need only Examine in the Church as many as he thinks convenient at one time, to see whether they be fully and rightly Instructed, and at another time as many more, and so by degrees go through the whole Parish, and then begin again with those which he first Examined: For by this means there will not be that Necessity of Examining the same Persons publickly every Lord’s-Day: For they all continuing to be Instructed in the Schools, they will not lose what they have learned, as they otherwise would, but rather learn more then perhaps they could at Church. And if they be at Church too, as they ought to be, while the other are Instructed and Examined, they may receive the same Benefit there, as if they themselves also were so.
This I the rather observe here, lest any should think that these private Catechetical Schools might supersede the Minister’s Duty in Catechising publickly in the Church. For this is what the Law requires, and the private Instructions are only in order to the having so good a Law better observed. And besides, as the Minister to whom the Care of the Youth is committed, must have an Eye to the private Schools, to see whether they be rightly Instructed there; so it is requisite that he should Instruct and Examine them in Publick, that his Parishioners likewise may be satisfied as well as he, that they are so, and may be thereby also put in mind of many Things which otherwise they might not think of.
And I hope there is never a Pastor in the Church that will think this below him, upon which depends the Safety of so great a part of his Flock as the Lambs are, which he is expressly also commanded to feed as well as the Sheep, and that too in the first place, John xxi. 15, 16, 17. I am sure the great Apostle did not think so when he solemnly professed, that although he spake with Tongues more than all those he Wrote to: Yet in the Church he had rather speak five Words with his Understanding that he might Catechise others also (so it is in the Original) than ten thousand Words in an unknown tongue, 1 Cor. xiv. 18, 19.
But the main Difficulty will be in getting such Schools for the Children and Servants of the Rich, as well as Poor (for whom there are Charity-Schools already in some Places) set up in all Parishes that have occasion for them, besides the Grammar and other Schools, if there be any, where the Masters ought to Instruct their Scholars in the Church-Catechism, as well as in any other Science, Art, or Language. In many such Parishes the Maintenance of the Minister is so small, that it cannot be expected that he should do it himself: Where it is otherwise, I doubt not but that he who is entrusted with the Care of all the Souls in the Parish, will do what he can towards it; as many do already. But as the Case now stands with us, I do not see how it can be universally practised as it ought to be, without the liberal Contribution of Pious and well-disposed Christians.