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writing in the books of the Old and New Teftament; which though it be ministered by men, yet is no other than the very word of God, and as fuch to be received; Thess. ii. 13. For this caufe alfo thank we God without ceafing, because when ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men; but (as it is in truth) the word of God, &c.
Q, 2. Whence is the efficacy of this word?
A. It is wholly from the Spirit of God that it becomes effectual to any man's falvation; 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7. I have planted, and Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Q3. Is the reading of the fcripture an ordinance of God for men's falvation ?
A. Yes, it is; Deut. xvii. 19. And it shall be with him, and he fhall feed therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law, and these statutes to do them. And in reading of it, God fometimes comes in by his Spirit to mens converfion; Acts viii. 27, 28, 29. And he arofe and went, and behold a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treafure, and had come to Jerufalem for to worship, was returning, and fitting in his chariot, read Ifaias the prophet. Then the Spirit faid to Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot, &c.
Q. 4. Is the hearing of the word a means of falvation?
A. Yes, it is; Ifa. lv. 3. Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your foul fhall live, &c. 1 Cor. i. 21. It pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to fave them that believe. Q5. To what end is the word ufeful to men?
A. The firft end and ufe of the word is to convince men of their fin and mifery out of Chrift; 1 Cor. xiv, 24, 25. But if all prophefy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all. And thus are the fecrets of his heart made manifeft, &c.
Q. 6. What is it useful for, befides conviction ?
A. It is useful for converfion, as well as conviction; Pfalm xix. 7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the foul, bc. Acts xxvi. 18. To turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, &c.
Q. 7. Doth the word convince and convert all that hear it? A. No, but those only that are ordained to eternal life; Acts xiii, 48. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Q. 8. What elfe is the word useful for?
A. To build up the faints to perfection in Chrift; Eph. ir. 11, 12, 13. And he gave fome apostles, and some prophets, and fome evangelifts, and fome paftors and teachers; for the perfecting of the faints, for the work of the miniftry, for the edifying of the body of Chrift: till we 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 ftature of the fulness of Chrift. Acts xx. 32. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and give yon an inheritance among all them that are fanctified.
Q. 9. May the common people read the scriptures?
A. Yes, it is a duty commanded by Chrift; John v. 39. Search the fcriptures, &c. And commended by the apoftle; Acts xvii. 11. These were more noble than those in Theffalonica, in that they received the word with all readinefs of mind, and fearched the fcriptures daily, whether those things were fo.
Q 10. Is it their duty or liberty alfo to preach it?
A. No, it is not; for befides abilities for that work, there must be a call; Rom. x. 14, 15. How shall they hear without a preacher? and how fhall they preach, except they be fent, &c.
Q. What is the first instruction from hence?
A. That the enjoyments of the fcriptures, and an able faithful miniftry to expound and apply them, is a special mercy to any people; Pfalm cxlvii. 19, 20. He fheweth his word unto Jacob, his ftatutes and judgments unto Ifrael; he hath not dealt fo with any nation; and as for his judgments they have not known them.
Q12. What is the fecond instruction ?
A. That men cannot expect special and spiritual bleffings from God in the wilful neglect of the ordinances; Prov. xxviii. 9. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer fhall be abomination.
Q. 13. What is the third inference ?
A. That fad is their condition, who fit all their day's under the word to no purpofe at all; 2 Cor. iv. 3. 4. If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are loft: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, left the light of the glorious gofpel of Chrift, who is the image of God, should shine into them.
Q. 14. What is the laft inference?
A, That Chrift's ordinances and minifters fhould be most welcome to the people to whom God fends them; Ifa. lii. 7. How
beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publifbeth peace, that publifheth falvation, that faith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.
Of the Manner of Hearing.
Queft. 96. H
OW is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to falvation? A. That the word may become effectual to falvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer, receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and prac tife it in our lives.
Q. I. If the matter we read or hear be good, is not that enough for our falvation?
A. No, God requires that the word be read and heard in a due manner, and the manner of hearing is of special regard with God; Luke viii. 18. Take heed therefore how ye hear, &c. Q. 2. How many things belong to the due manner of hearing?
A. Three forts of duties belong to it; fome antecedent, as preparation and prayer; fome concomitant, as due diligence and retention; and fome fubfequent, as practice.
Q3. What is due preparation for hearing?
A. It confifts in ferious confideration of the greatnefs and holiness of that God whom we approach in hearing the word Acts x. 33. Now therefore we are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. And awing the heart even to a degree of holy trembling thereby; Ifa. lxvi. 2. To him will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite fpirit, and trembleth at my word.
Q4. What is the principal confideration thus to awe the heart?
A. The word is in its own nature an heart fearching word; Heb. iv. 12. For the word of God is quick and powerful, and fharper than any two-edged fword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of foul and fpirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a difcerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And that eventually it will be the favour of life or death to us; 2 Cor. ii. 16. To the one we are the favour of death unto death; and to the other the favour of life unto life, &c.
Q. 5. What else belongs to due preparation to hear?
A. The difcharging of the heart from worldly cares; Matth. xiii. 7. And fome fell among thorns, and the thorns fprang up and choaked them. And carnal lufts; James i. 21. Where
fore lay apart all filthiness and fuperfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meeknefs the ingrafted word, which is able to fave your fouls.
Q. 6. What is the third act of due preparation?
A. Longing after the word for further communications of grace by it; Pet. ii. 2. As new-born babes defire the fin cere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. Isa. ii. 3. And many people fhall go and fay, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion fhall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerufalem.
Q7. What is the second antecedent duty of hearing?
A. Prayer is an antecedent duty to hearing the word, and that both for the affiftance of the minifter; 2 Theff. iii. 1. Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you. And our own illumination; Pfalm cxix. 18. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law..
Q. 8. What elfe fhould we pray for?
A. That God would pour out his Spirit with the word, according to that promife, Prov. i. 23. I will pour out my Spirit upon you, I will make known my words unto you
Q9. Doth unpreparedness for the word always hinder its efficacy on the heart?
A. No, God fometimes is found of them that fought him not; Ifa. lxv. 1. I was found of them that fought me not, &c. But it is a fin to neglect it, and needs a pardon of God.
Q. 10. What is the first motive to prepare for folemn duties? A. That it argues the fincerity of the heart, and in that cafe God will be merciful to infirmities; 2 Chron. xxx. 18, 19. For a multitude of the people, even a multitude of Ephraim and Manaffeh, Iffachar and Zebulun, had not cleanfed themselves, yet did eat the paffover, but not as it is written.; wherefore Hezekiah prayed for them, faying, The good Lord be merciful towards him that prepareth his whole heart to feek the Lord God, the God of his fathers, though he be not cleanfed according to the purification of the fanctuary.
Q. II. What is the fecond motive?
A. It is a fweet fign that God will make that duty successful for which the heart is prepared; Pfalm x. 17. Thou preparest their heart; thou bendest thine ear to them.
Q12. What is the third motive to preparation?
obliges us to folemn perparation; Heb. xii. 28, 29. Whereby we may ferve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a confuming fire.
Q. 13. But muft a man neglect the duty, if his heart be not duly prepared for it?
A. No; for that would be to add a new fin to a former, and aggravate it the more.
Q. 14. In what manner must the prepared heart go to the word?
A. Not in dependance on its own preparations, but upon the Spirit's affiftance; Pfalm lxxi. 16. I will go forward in the ftrength of the Lord God, &c.
Q. 15. What is the first act of faith due to the word?
A. The affenting act of faith is required to the word read or preached, whereby we acknowledge it to be of divine authority; 2 Tim. iii. 16. All fcripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for inftruction in righteousness; 2 Peter i. 21. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God fpake as they were moved by the holy Ghost.
Q. 16. What is the fecond act of faith required of us?
A. An applying act of faith is also required of us; Rom. xv. 4. For whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the fcriptures might have hope.
Q. 17. What is the first end in applying the word?
A. It is first to be applied to our conviction both of fin and mifery; Acts ii. 37. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and faid unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what fhall we do?
Q. 18. What is the fecond end, or use of applying it?
A. It must be applied for our guidance and direction to Christ; John vi. 45. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me.
Q: 19. What is the third ufe to which it must be applied? A. We must apply it for our direction through the whole course of Christian duties; 2 Pet. i. 19. We have also a more fure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that fhineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-ftar arife in your hearts.
Q. 20. What other use must we apply it to?
A. It must be applied for our comfort in all inward and outward troubles; Rom. xv. 4. For whatsoever things were writ