I. Of Faith;
Or what a Chriſtian ſhould BELIEVE.
Question. You are required, you ſee, both to believe and live as a chriſtian ought to do; what are you then required firſt to believe?
Answer. I muſt believe in God—that he is a Being of infinite juſtice, power, wiſdom, and goodneſs.
Q. When you ſay you believe God is a Being of infinite juſtice, what do you mean?
A. I mean, that God is juſt to all his creatures; and particularly that he will reward and puniſh us in the next world, according to our behaviour in this.
Q. What do you mean when you ſay he is a Being of infinite power?
A. I mean, that God can do every thing; and that every thing, that is done, is done by him.
Q. But why do you believe that; when you know many things are done by men?
A. Becauſe it is through God, that men are enabled to do any thing. Beſides, God makes the ſtone, the iron, the wood, and all other things, which men uſe.
Q. What do you mean, when you ſay God is a Being of infinite wiſdom?
A. I mean, that God knows every thing; and particularly what is beſt for us all.
Q. And when you ſay, God is a Being of infinite goodneſs, what do you mean?
A. I mean, that his goodneſs is unbounded, and that all the good we receive of every kind, comes from him.
Q. But you receive good ſometimes from men?
A. Yes▪ but God enables them to do it, by putting it into their hearts—by affording them opportunities—and by giving them the means. So that all the good men do, may properly be ſaid to come from God.
Q. You ſay farther you believe that God created and preſerves every thing; why do you believe that God created every thing?
A. Becauſe I ſee every where the marks of deſign,
Q. What do do you mean by the marks of deſign?
A. I mean that when one part anſwers to another in any thing, and an end is produced, there are the marks of deſign, or contrivance, in that thing.
Q. But you ſee theſe marks of deſign and contrivance in the works of men—you ſee in a houſe, for inſtance, the roof, the door, the windows, and all the other parts related to each other—and an end produced by its affording a convenient ſhelter from the weather: but you do not believe in God, becauſe you ſee the marks of deſign in a houſe?
A. No: but as the marks of deſign in a houſe ſhew me that it has been made by the ſkill, and contrivance of men, and not by chance; ſo when I ſee ſuperior marks of deſign in things which men cannot make—as in the ſun—in plants—in beaſts—in birds—in fiſhes—and numberleſs other things, I conclude they are created by God.
Q. Tell me then what relation there is between the ſun and the earth, for inſtance, and what ends are produced by it?
A. The ſun draws vapours, or particles of water, both from the ſea and land, juſt in the ſame way as particles of water are formed by
heat on the lid of a boiling pot. Theſe vapours, which the ſun draws up, become clouds; and are driven about by winds to different parts of the earth; and when they fall in rain, the end they produce, is food for man and beaſt.—The ſun alſo gives light to the earth; and warms it, ſo as to make it fruitful.
Q. How do you obſerve this relation of parts, and end produced, in plants?
A. The root is related to the earth, and draws nouriſhment from it—the ſtem is related to the root, and carries that nouriſhment up to the flower; from which the end produced is the ſeed, or fruit.
Q. What marks of deſign do you ſee in animals?
A. They are all fitted to their ſeveral ſtations: and the end produced is to fill every part of the world with living creatures; all of which have their uſe, tho we cannot find out the uſe of all.
Q. How is the bird fitted for its ſtation?
A. It has wings to fly with—it is made light—and ſharp-pointed, ſo as to paſs eaſily through the air.
Q. How is the fiſh fitted for its ſtation?
A. It has fins to ſwim with; and when it wants to go to the top of the water, or to the bottom, it has a little bladder, which it can
fill with air, and empty, as it chuſes. When the bladder is filled, the fiſh is lighter than the water, and riſes to the top: when the bladder is emptied, the fiſh is heavier, and ſinks to the bottom.—Some fiſh keep conſtantly at the bottom, becauſe they find their food there.
Q. How is the mole fitted for its way of life?
A. It has ſhort broad feet, with which it ſcrapes away the earth: and as it has no buſineſs out of the ground, its eyes are very ſmall, and juſt ſerve to ſhew it that it has loſt its way when it gets into the light.
Q. Thus then, in the ſame manner, every creature is fitted for the ſtation it lives in; which ſhews they are all created by an Almighty power, and not by chance.—But you ſay you believe God preſerves the world, as well as created it; what do you mean by God's preſerving the world?
A. I mean that he keeps it in the ſame order, in which he at firſt created it.
Q. Why do you believe that?
A. Becauſe if God did not keep it in order, it would fall to decay; juſt as a houſe would fall to decay, if it were not kept in order. It is through a belief that God preſerves the world, that all the affairs of life are carried on. We eat, and drink, becauſe we
believe the life of man will be nouriſhed by food, as it always has been. We plant trees▪ and ſow corn, becauſe we believe they will grow as they have ever done, for our uſe, and ſuſtenance. If God did not preſerve the world in its regular order, corn might produce weeds.
Q. You ſay, you believe farther, tha [...] God is preſent every where. But how doe that differ from your being preſent every where? You can be in this place, and in tha [...] place, and in many different places?
A. I can only be in one place at one time but God is in all places at the ſame inſtant o [...] time.
Q. Why do you believe that?
A. It follows from God's preſerving th [...] world. As he preſerves every part of it at once he muſt be preſent in every part at once.—Beſides, if God was not in all places at once, h [...] would order the people of one country to pray to him at one time, and the people o [...] another country to pray to him at another But as they may pray to him all at once, it i [...] plain he can hear them all at once.
Q. You ſay you believe God knows a [...] the thoughts and intentions of your hear [...]
Why do you believe that?
A. Becauſe as God made me, he mu [...] know every part about me; juſt as a man th [...]
makes a houſe, muſt be acquainted with the inſide, as well as the outſide, and all the parts about it.
Q. You next ſay, you believe the holy ſcriptures to be the word of God. What do you mean by the holy ſcriptures?
A. The Bible and Teſtament.
Q. Why are they called the word of God?
A. Becauſe holy men wrote them by God's order.
Q. What do you mean when you ſay, they contain all things neceſſary to ſalvation?
A. I mean, that they contain all things neceſſary for us to know, and do, in order to gain God's [...]avour, and everlaſting happineſs.
Q. But there are many difficulties in the ſcriptures, both in the old and new Teſtament; and many things which we do not underſtand; how then can they be of uſe to us?
A. There is enough in them which we do underſtand, that is ſufficient to lead us right.
Q. But why ſhould there be any difficulties in books meant to be of ſuch uſe to us?
A. In the old Teſtament many difficulties ariſe from our not conſidering, that God acted
in a different manner in the early ages of the world, and particularly towards the Jews, from that, in which he acts now.—Beſides, we make difficulties ourſelves by ſuppoſing, that many actions are allowable, becauſe they are done by good men. Whereas, in fact, many of theſe actions were never intended for our imitation. Some of them were bad in themſelves; and many things, tho allowed under the law of Moſes, are not permitted by the goſpel.— Laſtly, as the Bible is the oldeſt book, that ever was written, it may be ſuppoſed, that many things may have become obſcure, and difficult through length of time.
Q. But we find difficulties alſo in the new Teſtament?
A. It is generally ſuppoſed there are much fewer, than might have been expected from its ancient date; and from the Jewiſh ways of ſpeaking, and Jewiſh cuſtoms, which we find in it, and which are ſo different from ours.
Q. Give me an inſtance of ſome way of ſpeaking among the Jews, that is different from ours.
A. Our Saviour ſays, He that hateth not his father, and mother, cannot be my diſciple: but he means only, that we ſhould love God better than we do our fathers and mothers—and the Jews underſtood it in that ſenſe.—
Again, where it is ſaid Jacob have I loved, and Eſau have I hated; nothing is meant but that God intended to raiſe the Jewiſh nation from Jacob.
Q. What inſtances can you give me of difficulties ariſing from Jewiſh cuſtoms?
A. We are told that a man was let down through the tiling of a houſe before Jeſus. This would be difficult in our houſes; but was very eaſy in a Jewiſh houſe, which was often only one ſtory high—had a flat roof— and ſometimes a trap door through the roof, into the chamber below; with ſtairs on the outſide. So that nothing was eaſier, than to carry the man to the top of the houſe, and let him down through the roof.—To ſuch houſes our Saviour alludes, when he ſays, He that is on the houſe-top, let him not come down into the houſe. And, What ye hear in the ear, that preach ye from the houſe-top; which was the moſt convenient way of ſpeaking to the people; becauſe the windows were high, and latticed.—When we are told alſo, that new wine will burſt old bottles, it is eaſy to conceive it, when we know that the Jewiſh bottles were made of leather.—Again, we read in the ſtory of the good Samaritan, that he pulled out two-pence and gave it to the hoſt; which appears to us a very trifling ſum. But the penny that paſſed in Judea, was ſomewhat
more than ſeven pence of our money; ſo that two-pence was as much as fifteen or ſixteen pence with us; and as things were cheaper in Judea than they are here, fifteen or ſixteen pence would buy as much as four or five ſhillings could buy now.
Q. But ſtill the ſcripture may be falſe; what reaſon have you for believing it is true?
A. Becauſe there were people alive, when it was written, who could remember the miracles, and other things mentioned; and could compare the things done, with the things that were written: and if it had been found to mention things that had never been done, it would not have been ſuffered to come down to us as true.—Learned men alſo can even trace up the new Teſtament from its being mentioned in different books, to the very time, when it was written.
Q. As you believe the ſcripture therefore to be true, you believe next in Jeſus Chriſt, the ſon of God—and in the hiſtory of him, as contained in the new Teſtament; let me hear you repeat the hiſtory of Jeſus Chriſt, as it is drawn up in the Creed.
A. I believe, that he was born of the Virgin Mary—ſuffered under Pontius Pilate— was crucified—dead—and buried—he deſcended into hell—the third day he roſe again from the dead—he aſcended into heaven; and ſitteth on the right hand of God, the father Almighty; from whence he ſhall come to judge the quick and the dead.
Q. What do you mean by Chriſt's deſcending into hell?
A. Only that his ſoul and body were ſeparated—that is, that he really died. Hell means only the grave.
Q. What is the great article that you believe, with regard to Jeſus Chriſt?
A. That he ſuffered death for the ſins of mankind.
Q. But how came mankind to want a Saviour to ſuffer death for their ſins?
A. Becauſe, on Adam's tranſgreſſion, all his poſterity became corrupt, and ſubject to God's diſpleaſure.
Q. In what did Adam's tranſgreſſion conſiſt?
A. In eating the forbidden fruit.
Q. But does it not appear very hard that God Almighty ſhould puniſh Adam ſo much merely for eating an apple; or whatever the forbidden fruit was?
A. The ſin did not conſiſt in eating the fruit, but in diſobeying God. God placed
Adam in a ſtate of trial, as he places us; but as it was before the world had any people in it, his trial muſt have been in ſome very eaſy thing. He could not be guilty of theft, or envy, or covetouſneſs, or bearing falſe witneſs, or almoſt any of the crimes, which are now forbidden, becauſe there were then no inhabitants in the world. Nor could he practice many of the duties, which men now practice. He could not be charitable, nor forgive injuries; nor honour his father and mother. And as he lived in a garden, nothing could be more natural, than to put his obedience to the teſt of refraining from a certain tree.
Q. But does it not ſeem hard that Adam's poſterity ſhould ſuffer through his fault?
A. It does not appear that he had any poſterity at the time of the fall; ſo that his children could not properly be ſaid to loſe what they never poſſeſſed.
Q. As Chriſt redeemed us then from the miſchiefs of the fall of Adam, let me know, in what way his ſufferings atoned for the ſins of mankind?
A. It is impoſſible for any body to anſwer that queſtion: but as I believe the ſcripture to be true, I believe in the atonement of Chriſt, which is the plain doctrine of ſcripture, tho I do not underſtand it. I believe the fact, tho I cannot explain it.
Q. But why ſhould not the ſcripture explain it?
A. Becauſe if they did, we ſhould not be able to underſtand them. There are ſome things in the ſcriptures, which relate to God; and other things which relate to man. Secret things, we are told, belong unto the Lord. We may however believe theſe things, tho we do not underſtand them. It is enough, if we have ſufficient proof that the ſcriptures are true, and that what relates to ourſelves is plain, and eaſy.
Q. What then are the thoughts, which the ſufferings of Jeſus Chriſt ſhould raiſe in our minds?
A. We ſhould reflect with the higheſt gratitude on his great kindneſs in laying down his life for our ſake; we ſhould think with the deepeſt humility on our ſinful nature which occaſioned it; and always have in our minds how ungrateful we are, if we do not leave off our ſins, and lead good lives, which is all the return he requires.
Q. You ſay, you next believe, that God will aſſiſt you with his holy ſpirit: what makes the aſſiſtance of God's holy ſpirit neceſſary?
A. Mankind's corrupt and ſinful nature, ſince the fall of Adam. The ſcriptures tell us we can do no good thing without the aſſiſtance of the ſpirit of God.
Q. If that be the caſe, and we can do nothing good without the aſſiſtance of the ſpirit of God, what good is there in any thing we can do, for the ſpirit of God does it for us?
A. We have a choice, either to liſten to the holy ſpirit of God, or to the temptations of the world: and our goodneſs depends on little more than that choice. God alſo gives us opportunities of being good, and we may improve them, or throw them behind us, as we chuſe. If we improve them, his holy ſpirit will farther aſſiſt us.
Q. But what reaſon have you to believe the holy ſpirit of God will aſſiſt you, or acts within you, as you cannot feel it?
A. My not feeling it, is no more a reaſon for my diſbelieving it, than my not feeling my ſoul is a reaſon for my diſbelieving I have one. As the ſcriptures therefore aſſure me I ſhall be aſſiſted by the holy ſpirit of God, and as it is not in the leaſt more difficult to believe, than the union of my ſoul, and body, I believe it.
Q. You ſay you next believe in a future
ſtate. What do you believe about a future ſtate?
A. I believe that when I die, I ſhall not periſh; but ſhall live hereafter in a ſtate of happineſs or of miſery.
Q. And when you ſay you believe in the reſurrection of the dead, what do you mean?
A. I mean that my body ſhall riſe from the grave, and be united again to my ſoul.
Q. Do you mean, that the duſt, into which your body will be crumbled, ſhall become again a living body?
A. Yes. There is no more reaſon for my diſbelieving, that God will raiſe my body again from the duſt, than that God created man at firſt out of duſt. So I believe the ſcripture account of both.—Beſides, I ſee many things in the world like ſuch a reſurrection. I ſee trees dying in winter, and reviving in ſummer; I ſee corn buried in the earth; and ſhooting up again in the ſpring.
Q. Do you believe it will be the ſame body?
A. What kind of body it will be, I do not know. We have reaſon to believe from ſcripture, that in ſome way, it will be the ſame body; and yet that the bleſſed will, in ſome way, receive glorified bodies.
Q. You ſay farther you believe in a laſt
judgment: what do you believe with regard to a laſt judgment?
A. I believe, that at the end of this world, we ſhall be called into judgment for what we have done, while we lived upon earth: and that we ſhall be rewarded, or puniſhed, as we have obeyed, or diſobeyed the commandments of God.
Q. By whom ſhall we be judged?
A. By Jeſus Chriſt.
Q. The ſcriptures, no doubt, ſpeak frequently of a future judgment: but are there any appearances in this world, which tend to confirm the ſcripture account?
A. Yes, many: This world has every where the appearance of a ſtate of trial—rather than of a ſtate of full reward and puniſhment. We ſee many inequalities in it—virtue often afflicted—and vice in proſperity. Theſe things in a ſtate of trial are eaſily accounted for; but certainly ſhew that ſome future ſtate is to be expected, when rewards and puniſhments ſhall in exact proportion be diſtributed.
Of Practice; Or, a GOOD LIFE.
Q. Thus far relates to your faith; or to what you believe: but is that all that is required of a chriſtian?
A. No: his faith is of no value, if his life be not conſiſtent with it. His faith muſt govern his actions; and produce good works, as a good tree produces good fruit.
Q. You ſay then you believe in the juſtice, and power of God: that is, you believe he will render exact juſtice to you hereafter; and treat you in the next world, as you have lived in this; and likewiſe that he has the power to reward you with the greateſt happineſs, or puniſh you with the greateſt miſery.—Now if you really believe theſe things, what effect ſhould they have upon you?
A. They ſhould make me reverence God's laws; and afraid of offending him.
Q. You ſay you believe in the infinite wiſdom
of God: that is, that God knows every thing: and particularly what is beſt for us all. If you really do believe this, what effect ſhould it have upon you?
A. It ſhould make me ſatisfied with my ſtation in life; and give me patience, and reſignation in all the afflictions God is pleaſed to lay upon me.
Q. You ſay, you believe in the goodneſs of God; that is, that all the good you receive of every kind comes from God. What is the good you receive from God?
A. My life—food—raiment—every thing I have. Yet as God lays no ſtreſs either on riches or poverty, but conſiders them both as the means of trial only; the great good I hope from God, is the happineſs of the next world; in compariſon with which, the riches of this world are nothing.
Q. In what does the happineſs of the next world conſiſt?
A. We can know only what the ſcriptures tell us. They do not explain the happineſs of the next world, but juſt inform us that it will be very great. And God Almighty expects we ſhould believe and truſt in him for the completion of his promiſes—that is, he expects we ſhould rely upon his word.
A. If then you really believe you are indebted to God for all this goodneſs, both
here and hereafter, what effect ſhould it have upon you?
A. It ſhould excite me to love him; and to ſhew that love by keeping his commandments, and feeling my chief pleaſure in obeying him. It ſhould leſſen alſo my love for this world; and increaſe my faith in the promiſes of the next.
Q. You ſay farther, that you believe God is every where preſent; and knows all the thoughts and intentions of your heart. If you really believe this, what effect ſhould it have upon you?
A. It ſhould be a check on the badneſs of my thoughts, words, and actions. If a bad thought ſhould ever come into mind, I ſhould immediately turn it out, when I conſider that God ſees it.
Q. If then you truly and ſincerely believe in the infinite power, the wiſdom, and goodneſs of God—that every thing you have, or hope for, comes from him—that he is preſent every where, and knows all your thoughts— your faith in this beneficent Being will naturally give you ſuch a dependence on him, as will incline you to pray to him. What ought to be the ſubject of your prayers?
A. I ought to praiſe God for his mercies —to beg his pardon for my ſins through the atonement of Chriſt—to pray for the aſſiſtance
of his holy ſpirit in all my religious duties —and for his bleſſing on all my worldly concerns.
Q. But is it ſufficient to pray to God in private?
A. No: family prayer is highly proper, and may be uſed in moſt families: but public worſhip at church ſhould be omitted by none.
Q. How does it appear to be a duty to go to church?
A. We have our Saviour's example, who uſed, on the ſabbath-day to go to the ſynagogue, which was the Jewiſh church.—Public worſhip alſo is frequently recommended in different parts of ſcripture. Indeed all people want either to have their duty explained, or to be reminded of it.
Q. The next thing you ſay you believe is, that the holy ſcriptures are the word of God. If you really believe they are the word of God, how ſhould you read them?
A. With an intention to improve my heart, by believing the doctrines, and obeying the precepts contained in them.
Q. What do you mean by the doctrines of ſcripture?
A. I mean particularly the divinity of our bleſſed Saviour—his atonement for the ſins of mankind—the aſſiſtance of the holy ſpirit— the reſurrection of the dead—and a laſt judgment.
Q. And what is the great end of the precepts you find in the ſcriptures?
A. To teach us to avoid wickedneſs, and practice goodneſs.
Q. As wickedneſs ſurrounds you on every ſide, it is always right to have an eye upon ſuch ſins as moſt eaſily beſet you. What ſins ſhould you particularly avoid?
A. A diſregard to God, and religion— ſabbath-breaking—ſwearing—lying—cheating —envy—malice—hatred—lewd diſcourſe and actions. The catechiſm comprehends all ſin under the world—the fleſh—and the devil. —The world affords temptations—the fleſh, or our own bad deſires, are ſuited to thoſe temptations—and the devil we are told, is continually drawing us into them.
Q. What does the ſcripture require, if you have been unhappily drawn into ſin?
A. It requires us to repent of it, that it may not become habitual.
Q. What do you mean by habitual ſin?
A. A ſin that is committed over and over, without any check of conſcience. As ſome wicked people, for inſtance, have gotten ſo
vile a cuſtom of ſwearing, that they will ſometimes ſwear, and hardly know when they ſwear.
Q. And is their not knowing when they ſwear, an excuſe for them?
A. No: becauſe they have brought themſelves into that condition through their own fault.
Q. So again when people get drunk, and commit miſchief, is their drunkenneſs an excuſe for them?
A. No: the ſame reaſon holds againſt them in this caſe alſo. They were drunk through their own fault.
Q. What do you mean by repenting?
A. I mean not only being ſorry for what I have done amiſs, and changing my life; but changing alſo my very thoughts and wiſhes.
Q. Suppoſe you had told a lye, and had been puniſhed for it, and therefore were afraid of telling a lie again; is that repenting of it?
A. No: it is only being afraid of puniſhment.
Q. But ſuppoſe you had told a lie, and yet would not tell another, tho you were ſure nobody could find you out; is that repenting of it?
A. Yes: becauſe in that caſe, I am not
afraid of puniſhment; but of doing a wrong thing.
Q. And on a ſuppoſition, that you truly repent of your ſins, what do you hope from God?
A. I humbly hope, that my ſins will be blotted out through the merits of Chriſt—that my own endeavours will be aſſiſted by God's holy ſpirit—and that I ſhall be reconciled to God, and reſtored to his favour.
Q. But you learn from the holy ſcriptures, you ſay, to practice goodneſs, as well as to avoid wickedneſs,—to love your neighbour, in the firſt place, as yourſelf: What do you mean by loving your Neighbour as yourſelf?
A. I mean being as ready to do good to him, as to receive good from him.
Q. Whom do you mean by your neighbour?
A. All mankind, as appears from many parts of ſcripture; but eſpecially from our Saviour's parable of the good Samaritan. The Jews conſidered the Samaritans as enemies; and as we learn from the parable to do good to our enemies, it ſurely follows, that we ſhould do good to all mankind.
Q. How are you to act in order to do to others, as you might reaſonably deſire them to do to you?
A. Whenever I am going to do any thing to another, and am doubtful whether it be right, I ſhould aſk myſelf, whether, in the ſame caſe, I ſhould like to have it done to me; and if I ſhould not, I may be ſure, it is not right that I ſhould do it to another.
Q. What do you mean by doing your duty faithfully, whatever your ſtation is, as to the Lord, and not unto man?
A. I mean, that I ſhould conſider myſelf as a part of God's great family, which conſiſts of all mankind. In this great family, God places ſome high, and others low. But every perſon has his ſtation to fill; which he ſhould endeavour to fill faithfully. And as God is our great maſter, our firſt reaſon for doing our duty ſhould be to pleaſe him.
Q. How ſhould the rich fill their ſtations?
A. They ſhould conſider them as truſts intended for the general good. Different ſtations are neceſſary for the good of all. Every one at ſight muſt acknowledge, that neither the government of a family, a pariſh, or a country could ſubſiſt, if all were on an equality. Tho the rich therefore muſt live in a degree ſuitable to their ſeveral ſtations, they muſt have an eſpecial care not to ſuffer that notion to carry them into extravagance, or the neglect of the great duty of diſtributing from their abundance among their poorer
neighbours. If they are ſo abſurd, as to conceive, that God Almighty has placed them in ſuperior ſtations, out of any particular regard, which he has for them; and ſo leaves them at liberty to ſpend all they have upon themſelves, they will in the end find themſelves ſadly miſtaken; and will have a ſtrict account to give (as our bleſſed Saviour tells them) of the talents, with which they have been intruſted.
Q. How ſhould the poor perſon fill his ſtation ſo as to pleaſe God?
A. He ſhould do all the good in his power with his little; and be content alſo, and ſatisfied with his ſtation. He may aſſure himſelf that if he be religious, frugal, and industrious, he may enjoy all the real happineſs, which this world is capable of giving. His induſtry and frugality will ſupply him with the neceſſaries of life; and his religion will teach him, that a man's life, (that is, his happineſs) conſiſteth not in the abundance of the things which he poſſeſſeth.
Q. On a ſuppoſition that ſhe rich and poor fill their ſtations equally well, how will God reward them?
A. Juſt alike; as appears from different parts of ſcripture; but particularly from the widow's mite. She could do very little in compariſon with the rich; and yet Chriſt
ſays, ſhe did more than they all—that is, ſhe had a better diſpoſition.
Q. What do you mean by increaſing in goodneſs?
A. Getting more and more the better of my bad habits.
Q. How are you to know you are in earneſt?
A. When I feel more pleaſure in obeying God, than in committing ſin.
Q. Why ſhould a chriſtian be advancing always towards perfection?
A. Becauſe if he do not always endeavour to be better than he is, it is much to be feared, he is growing worſe. True religion always makes a man wiſh to be better.
Q. You ſay, you next believe in Jeſus Chriſt, the Son of God; and particularly in that great article of his ſuffering death for the ſins of mankind. If you really believe this what do you truſt in for ſalvation?
A. In the merits of Jeſus Chriſt; not in any thing I can do for myſelf.
Q. Will the merits then of Jeſus Chriſt ſave you, if you are wicked?
A. Not unleſs I repent.
Q. But if you are good, can you be ſaved without the merits of Jeſus Chriſt?
A. I can never be ſo good, as to deſerve the happineſs of everlaſting life. My ſins will deſerve puniſhment, and I ſhall ſtill want ſomething to ſave me from their effects.
Q. How then do the merits of Jeſus Chriſt ſave you?
A. I muſt endeavour ſincerely to be good; and then the merits of Jeſus Chriſt will procure me pardon for my repented ſins; and make up what I cannot do myſelf.
Q. But can you do any thing yourſelf towards obtaining ſalvation?
A. I am aſſured, that after all I am an unprofitable ſervant: but God is pleaſed to accept my imperfect ſervices, through the merits of Jeſus Chriſt.
Q. But now beſides the religious duties, which the goſpel points out, our bleſſed Saviour hath ordained the two ſacraments of baptiſm and the Lord's Supper, which in themſelves are things indifferent, but are rendered binding from their being appointed by him. What is the intention of theſe two ceremonies?
A. In general
they are the ſigus of our receiving chriſtianity; and of God's giving us the privileges of it.
Q. But what is the particular intention of each?
A. Baptiſm is intended by our bleſſed Saviour as the introduction, or entrance into his religion—and the Lord's Supper is intended to preſerve in our minds the devout remembrance of his death, and atonement.
Q. The ſacraments you ſee then are not only the ſigns of our receiving the privileges of chriſtianity; but they hold out to us, the two greateſt truths of our religion. What are thoſe truths?
A. Baptiſm holds out to us, that we are fallen ſinners, by ſhewing us, through the ſign of water, that we muſt be purified by the grace of the goſpel.—And the Lord's Supper ſhews us by the ſigns of bread and wine, that we can only be pardoned through the atoneing blood of Chriſt.
Q. But now as Chriſt hath ordained both theſe ſacraments, why do not all chriſtians think it as neceſſary to receive the ſacrament of the Lord's Supper, as to bring their children to be baptized?
A. They ought; but ſome neglect it, as they do other good things: and ſome are afraid of texts of ſcripture, which they do not underſtand.
Q. What texts of ſcripture are they afraid of?
A. Chiefly of a paſſage in St. Paul, where he ſays, He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himſelf.
Q. To whom is the expreſſion of eating and drinking unworthily applied?
A. It is applied chiefly to the Corinthians, who were guilty of drunkenneſs, and other crimes, when they received the Lord's ſupper, which was adminiſtered then in private houſes; and often at the time of feaſting. Whereas we, who receive it in churches, where there is no feaſting, cannot be guilty of the ſame wicked practices, of which the Corinthians were guilty: tho at the ſame time, we may receive the ſacrament unworthily, if we do not piouſly remember the death and atonement of Chriſt, when we receive it; and reſolve as far as we can, to forſake our ſins, which were the cauſe of his death
Q. What do mean by eating and drinking damnation to yourſelf?
A. This is ſtill applied to the unworthy manner in which the Corinthians received the Lord's ſupper: tho the word damnation means only, that God will condemn us, or be angry with us, for eating and drinking unworthily, as he is for all other wicked things: but it does not mean, that we ſhall certainly be damned for it.
Q. What reaſon is there for your receiving the ſacrament of baptiſm only once; and the ſacrament of the Lord's ſupper frequently?
A. Becauſe we can only once enter into the chriſtian religion; but we are required frequently to ſhew, that we are members of it, by remembring the death and atonement of our bleſſed Saviour, and by renewing the engagements, which we made, when we became members of his holy religion.
Q. You ſaid you believed, that God would aſſiſt you by his holy ſpirit, as you could do nothing to pleaſe God without his aſſiſtance: how is the aſſiſtance of his holy ſpirit to be obtained?
A. I muſt firſt pray to God through the mediation of Chriſt, for this holy aſſiſtance; and at the ſame time I muſt uſe my own beſt endeavours in doing what I can myſelf; truſting in God, that he will enable me to overcome ſuch temptations, as I could not overcome without his aſſiſtance.
Q. Laſtly, you ſay, you believe in a future ſtate, and in the reſurrection of the dead—that
is, you ſay, you believe you ſhall live in another world, after you leave this: and that even your body will not remain in the grave; but will riſe again, and be joined to your ſoul: if then you really and ſincerely believe all this, what effect ſhould it have upon you?
A. It ſhould raiſe my thoughts above this mortal life. I ſhould not think intirely about this world; but conſider that I am to live in another world after this. And tho, while I live in this world, it is neceſſary for me to think about its concerns, yet when I conſider, that in the next world I am to live for ever; and in this world only a few years, it is certainly right, that I ſhould think more about the next world, than about this.
Q. You ſay likewiſe that you believe in a laſt judgment—that is, you ſay, you believe that hereafter you ſhall be called to account for every thing you have done in this world; and that you ſhall be rewarded, or puniſhed, according to what you have done: Now if you really believe this great truth, how ſhould you be affected by it?
A. I ſhould be in earneſt careful to prepare my ſelf for this awful judgment by ſincerely endeavouring to do my duty to God, and man; or in other words, by believing and living as a chriſtian ought to do.