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and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Means of Grace. Q. 1. What is meant by the means of grace?
A. Those things of a religious nature, which God has appointed to be used in the instruction, conviction, conversion, and sanctification of mankind.
Q. 2. What are the means of grace?
A. The principal means, are a preached gospel, reading the Holy Scriptures and other religious books, prayer in publick, private, and secret, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, religious conversation and meditation, self-examination, and religious education.(a)
(a) 1 Cor. 1. 18, 21, 23, 24. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks, foolishness. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Eph. 4. 11, 12. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Acts 17. 11. These were more noble, than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures slaily whether these things were so. Matt. 7.7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Matt. 28. 19. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor. 11. 26. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye
Q. 3. How do the means of grace
have an effect? A. By instructing and impressing the minds of
The mind is influenced by the instrumentality of motives. All the Christian graces are put forth in view of truth. Knowledge is absolutely necessary, and antecedent, to love, repentance, faith, and hope. There can be no love to God, without a knowledge of Him;--no repentance for sin, without a knowledge of the law;-no faith in Christ, without a knowledge of Him;-apd no Christian hope, without a knowledge of the blessings to be conferred upon Christians. There is an absolutely necessary connexion between knowledge and grace. Holiness cannot exceed our knowledge. And
— there can be no conversion or sanctification, without religious impression. The mind will not act till instructed and impressed.—The whole use of means, then, is to present truth before the mind, and also motives to induce the mind to act in view of truth.(6)
do 'shows the Lord's death till he com.e. Luke 24. 32. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures? Ps. 1.2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate, day and night. 2 Cor. 13. 5. Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? Deut. 6.6,7. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. Aud thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
(b) Ps. 19. 8. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. Heb). 4. 12. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Jer. 23. 29. Is not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
Q. 4. Will the means of grace, of themselves, ever effect, or ensure the regeneration or sanctification of the soul?
A. They never will. They are to be viewed only as the instrument, 'used by the Holy Spirit in enlightening the understanding, and influencing the conscience;—in occasioning, but not causing, holy affections of heart. Motives or moral suasion, or the exhibition of divine truth will of itself avail nothing, except as a secondary cause, to the renewing and sanctifying of the heart. There must be the agency of the Holy Ghost to give them efficiency. The saving efficacy of means depends upon God's use of them, and not man's use of them.(0)
Q. 5. Is the use of the common means of grace absolutely necessary, in the nature of things, to prepare men for heaven?
A. It is presumed they are not. God could renew and sancify the hearts of those whom he saves, without the use of the common means of grace, if he pleased. He does this in the salvation of infants, and sometimes, no doubt, he does this in the salvation of those, who experience a change of heart, in the last moments of life. Although they cannot put forth religious exercises, but in view of divine truth, yet God doubtless can, and does, make special communications of divine knowledge to them, in view of which they exercise holy affections. It is optional with Jehovah, to work with, or without means. But God's ordinary method in rene:ving and sanctifying the soul is by the instrumentality of means. And he will operate by no means except those of his own appointment. Partic
(c) 1 Cor. 3.6. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 1 Peter, 1.23. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. James 1. 18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.
ular means must be used to obtain particular ends, and not the same means in all cases; and the more powerful the means are,' the greater will be the effect. Therefore, commonly, by Divine constitution or purpose, means become necessary to the renovation and sanctification of the soul. Without the use of them, there will, ordinarily, be no convictions, no conversions, no fruits of the Spirit, no accessions to the Church of Christ; but with the use of them there will, generally, be the ends, in which such means usually issue. Q. 6.
How does this doctrine of means and ends affect the agency and sovereignty of God, and the agency and dependance of man?
A. The connexion of means and ends, however certain, does neither injure, nor destroy the agency or sovereignty of God, nor the agency or dependence of man; but proves and illustrates these doctrines. God acts by the instrumentality of means, and in doing it His agency is as real and sovereign, as though He acted without means. Man acts freely, while he is acted upon by the Holy Spirit, and thus man is really dependant, and still a free agent.(a) Q. 7.
sinners as well as saints, bound to use the means of grace?
A. They are, from the command of God, and the benefit resulting from their use. Saints are sanca tified through the truth and the exercises of holy affections. Sinners are usually converted by the instrumentality of means.
There is no account in Scripture, that any, who had arrived to years of discretion, were converted until the means of grace had been used with them. There is, therefore, a
Are all men,
(d) 1 Cor. 3.7. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Philip. 2. 12, 13. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God, which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.