תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

to the gospel, and demonstrate the whole to be false; and, therefore, by the last two rules, it was as impossible to have imposed upon mankind in this matter, by inventing it in after-ages, as at the time when those things were said to be done.

Q. How does the intrinsic evidence of the Christian revelation confirm the external evidence that was given to it?

A. In that it excels all other institutions of religion that ever appeared in the world. It is every way worthy of God, and entirely beneficial to his creatures, and agreeable to the best reason and sense of mankind. And where any doctrine is superadded, which natural reason could not discover, it is so far from contradicting the plain and evident sense of mankind, that upon consideration it appears highly useful to us in the state in which we now are. The great fears and doubts of mankind, concerning the way of appeasing the offended justice of God, are removed and satisfied; and the wisdom of God did so dispose the method of our salvation, that by the sacrifice of the cross, both the dishonour that was done to his justice and holiness was satisfied, and the guilty fears of men relieved. The reward the Christian religion proposes is excellent in itself, and lasting in its duration; and clearly and plainly revealed. The precepts laid down for the direction of our lives, comprehend all sorts of virtue that relate either to God, our neighbour, or ourselves; they have cleared what was doubtful by the light of nature, and have made the improvements of it necessary parts of our duty. It supplies us with powerful assistance for the performance of our obedience; light for our dark minds, strength for our weak resolutions, and courage for all our difficulties; and above all, sets before us an exact and perfect pattern

M m

for our instruction and encouragement.

So that the Christian revelation itself, as well as the external evidence, proves its original to be from above.

Q. Wherein appears the great guilt of those that reject the Christian revelation?

A. In that they resist the utmost evidence that any religion is capable of receiving, both from its intrinsic value, and from that external attestation that God has been pleased to give it by miracles and prophecies; and, consequently, by this act of theirs they condemned themselves, because they reject the only means of their salvation.

Q. What may we learn from the Christian rere. lation in general ?

A. The infinite goodness of God, who was pleased to take the case of miserable fallen man into copsideration, and to provide such a wonderful remedy as his only. begotten Son, that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life; the inexcusableness of mankind in persisting in their folly, after such a loud call to repentance, after such encouragements to return to their duty, and such plain discoveries of true happiness, and of the surest methods to obtain it: the perverseness of unbelievers, who resist the force of such clear evidence as the gospel received in those miraculous gifts and graces, which at this time were bestowed upon the Apostles, of which we have all the assurance that a matter of that nature is capable of; the sufficiency of the standing revelation of the gospel: so that since the canon of Scripture is sealed, the necessity of supernatural dreams, visions, and miracles, seems to be vacated; and we ought rather to suspect delusion in them, than direction from them: the reasonableness of believing, that in cases of necessity God may still communicate

himself to his creatures by supernatural manifestations ; for though he has tied us up to his written word, as the perpetual rule of our faith and practice, yet he has no where abridged himself of that power and liberty, if at any time either the propagation of the gospel among infidels, the want of ordinary means of grace, the word, sacraments, and priesthood, the necessities of his church, or some part thereof, should make it expedient in his sight. Though he hath prescribed to us, he hath not limited himself.

THE PRAYERS.

FOR THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

O GOD, who, as at this time, didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit, grant me by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort, through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

THANKSGIVING FOR THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY GHOST.

IT is

very meet, right, and my bounden duty, that I should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Everlasting God, through Jesus Christ our Lord; according to whose most true promise, the Holy Ghost came down as at this time from heaven, with a sudden great sound, as it had been a mighty wind, in the likeness of fiery tongues, lighting upon the Apostles, to teach them and to lead them into all truth; giving them both the gift of divers languages, and also boldness, with fervent zeal, constantly

to preach the gospel unto all nations, whereby we have been brought out of darkness and error, into the clear light and true knowledge of thee, and thy Son Jesus Christ: therefore with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, I laud and magnify thy glorious name, evermore praising thee, and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord most high. Amen.

FOR AN EFFECTUAL BELIEF OF THE CHRISTIAN

RELIGION.

MOST gracious God, with all joy and thankfulness I adore thy infinite goodness, manifested to the children of nien in the revelation of the holy gospel. Blessed be thy great love and compassion, which took pity upon us, when by wilful transgressions we had lost ourselves, and didst send thy only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

I believe, O God, that the blessed Jesus condescended to take upon him human nature, with all the infirmities and frailties of it, sin only excepted. I believe, O God, that he was the great Prophet sent from thee to instruct us in all the particulars of our duty, to give us right apprehensions of thy divine majesty, and to improve our natures to the greatest perfection they were capable of. I believe, O God, that he confirmed his divine mission by greater miracles than any

other man ever did, and by prophecies which lay beyond the reach of any created understanding, the fulfilling of which convince me beyond doubt that he was sent by thee. I believe, O God, that thou didst, by a voice from heaven, declare him to be thy beloved Son, in

whom thou wert well pleased, and that all the prophecies concerning the Messias were fulfilled in him. I believe, O God, that he suffered death upon the cross for our redemption, and made there a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; that he has satisfied thy justice, and made reconciliation for us. I believe, O God, that he rose from the dead the third day, according to his own infallible prediction, that he conversed forty days with his disciples, that in their sight he ascended up into heaven, where he sits at thy right hand interceding for sinners. I believe, O God, that he has fulfilled his promise to his disciples of sending to them his Holy Spirit, and that the miraculous gift, we now commemorate, as bestowed upon the Apostles, proved his exaltation, at the same time that they enabled them to propagate his religion throughout the world.

Lord, I beseech, increase my faith, and strengthen it against the weakness and frailty of my own mind, against the false reasonings of sceptics and infidels, and against the pride and presumption of libertines. Let no unreasonable prejudice cloud the light of my understanding; let no pride and vanity obscure the proofs of thy holy revelations ; let no partiality pervert my judgment in matters of such great consequence; but above all, let no unreasonable passion or sinful lust, corrupt my will, and indispose me to entertain thy holy and excellent laws.

Make my faith lively and effectual, and let the fruits of it

appear my life and conversation ; extend it to all the circumstances of thy holy obedience, that it may not only enlighten my mind, but purify my heart, conquer my passions, and correct all those false maxims concerning riches, and honours, and pleasures, which

in

« הקודםהמשך »