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THE PRINCIPAL GROUNDS OF CHRISTIAN RELIGION.

Database

THE PRINCIPAL GROUNDS OF CHRISTIAN RELIGION.

James Dodson

 

Briefly and plainly propounded by way of Question and Answer for the instructing of the younger sort.

By that late and Worthy Divine Mr. N. Byfield.

LONDON.

Printed by I. L. for Ralph Rounthwaite, and are to be sold at his shop, at the sign of the Golden Lyon in Paules Church-yard. 1625.


Christian Reader.

I Shall not need to use many words either of commendation of this small Treatise, seeing the bare name of him that was the chief Author thereof, I suppose may be enough to obtain sufficient esteem for it, with those that have known him, either by his learned writings, or powerful Ministry. Nor of Apology for my self in adventuring to cast this little mite into the Lords Treasury from him that hath been able to give such abundance in greater Volumes, seeing it pleased him to commit unto my care both this and other of his labours, earnestly desiring that if there were any thing found among his writings, that might be thought profitable for the public good, I should use my best endeavour to have it published; I have therefore thought it my duty to the living if not to the dead, that the end aimed at by him might not be frustrated: Some of his works have been published since his death, and more have been long since ready for the Press; which I hope shall ere long come forth. I know it was the Authors purpose to have made a more complete and exact Catechism if the Lord had prolonged his life; but he having finished his allotted task, God took him home to rest from all his labours; however it was his desire in the mean time to publish these short grounds, for the benefit of the younger sort, which are very briefly propounded for the help of memory, and most easy and plain for understanding of the most simple; and yet if we mark them, we may perceive very much matter comprehended in a few words. It comes unto thine hands entire for the most part as it was left by him, very little being added or altered; the whole frame I have cast into a short Table at the beginning, to the end the learner may first see and learn the whole method and substance in a few words; as also I have set down the substance (at least) of those special proofs that confirm these Principles; to the end thou mayest save thy labour for searching the places of Scripture quoted, as also that such as learn the Answers, they may by degrees learn also, and know the words of the chief proofs; for by this means they may profit more soundly, when their faith shall be grounded not upon the weak foundation of human Authority; but upon the most perfect and sure words of God; learn them therefore diligently, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

Farewell:

thine in the Lord, W.C.


These grounds respect either

•     1. The Original or Fountain of all Divine Knowledge, viz: the holy Scriptures: where is considered,

•     1. Their Authority.

•     2. Their sufficiency.

•     2. The object of Divine Knowledge, viz: God. Where is considered

•     1. His Nature.

•     2. His works either of

•     1. Creation.

•     2. Providence considered,

•     1. In General,

•     2. In special, as it respects man’s fourfold estate, viz:

•     1, Of Innocency.

•     2. Of misery in respect,

•     1. Of Sin,

•     2. Of Punishment.

•     3. Of Grace where note,

•     1. The means of grace, viz.

•     1. Election in God.

•     2. Redemption by Christ.

•     2. The subject of Grace, viz. the Church.

•     3. The degrees of grace, viz.

•     1. Justification.

•     2. Sanctification.

•     4. The special helps of grace, viz.

•     1. The Word read & preached.

•     2. Prayer.

•     3. The Sacraments.

•     4. Of glory where

•     1. Of the Resurrection of the dead.

•     2. Of the last Judgment.

•     3. Of the glory of Heaven.


THE PRINCIPAL GROUNDS OF CHRISTIAN Religion.


Question.

WHAT ought you to believe concerning the Scriptures, the fountain of all Divine knowledge.

A. That the whole Scriptures were given by the inspiration of God, and so are the very word of God.

Proofs.

2. Tim. 3. 16. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, &c.

2. Pet. 1. 21. For the Prophecy came not in old time, by the will of man, but holy Men of God, spake as they were moved by the holy Ghost.


Q. What else?

A. That they are perfect every way sufficient of themselues, to direct us in all things needful to holiness or salvation.

Proofs.

Psal. 19. 7. The Law of the Lord is perfect, &c.

2. Tim. 3. 16. 17. And is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, &c.

That the man of God may be perfect, &c.


Q. What ought you to believe concerning God, the chief object of divine knowledge?

A. That there is but one God.

Proofs.

1. Cor. 8. 4. We know that an Idol is nothing in the World, and that there is none other God but one.

Ephes. 4. 6. One God and Father of all, &c.


Q. What else do ye believe of God?

A. That he is of a most glorious nature, being an Eternal spirit, infinite in Essence, Knowledge, Goodness, and Power.

Proofs.

Isa. 6. 3. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole Earth is full of his glory.

Exod. 34. 6, 7. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord, God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and power, &c.

Job 42. 2. I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

John 4. 24. God is a spirit, &c.

1. Tim. 1. 17. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, &c.


Q. What else do ye believe of God?

A. That the God-head is distinguished into three persons; the Father, Son, and holy Ghost.

Proofs.

Matth. 28. 19. Go ye therefore and teach all Nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost.

1. John 5. 7. There be three that bear record in Heaven; the Father, the Word, and the holy Ghost, &c.

Thus much of what you are to believe, concerning the nature of God.


Q. What ought you to believe, concerning the works of God, and so first of God’s work of creation?

A. That in the beginning God, by his Word, made all things of nothing very good.

Proofs.

Colos. 1. 16. For by him were all things created, that are in Heaven, or in Earth, &c.

Hebr. 11. 3. Through faith we understand, that the Worlds were framed by the word of God.

Gene. 1. 31. And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good.


Q. What ought you to believe, concerning the work of God’s providence in general.

A. That God upholds, and governs all things by his power, according to his own pleasure.

Proofs.

Psalm. 119. verse 91. They continue this day according to thine ordinances, &c.

Rom. 11. 36. For of him, and through him, and to him are all things, &c.

Psalm. 115. 3. But our God is in the Heavens, he hath done whatsoever he pleased.

Acts 17. 25. He giveth unto all life and breath.


Q. How must you consider of the work of God’s providence, in special towards man?

A. According to his fourfold estate, viz. of Innocency, of Misery, of Grace, and of Glory.

Q. What ought you to believe, concerning man’s estate in his innocency?

A. That God created man in the likenesse of himself, in Knowledge, Holiness, and Righteousness.

Proofs.

Ecclesiast. 7. 29. Lo this only have I found, that God hath made man upright.

Ephes. 4. 24. And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness, and true holiness.

Genesis 1. 26. And God said, let us make man in our Image after our likeness, &c.


Q. What ought you to believe, concerning man’s estate of Misery?

A. That all men by nature, are in a most miserable case, being all deprived of the glory of God.

Proof.

Rom. 3. 23. For all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God.


Q. In what respect are all men now so miserable?

A. In respect of sin, and the just punishment thereof.

Rom. 5. 12. Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the World, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, &c.


Q. What is sin?

A. The transgression of God’s Law.

1. John 3. 4.—For sin is the transgression of the Law.


Q. In what are all men by nature sinful?

A. They are all sinful, in their dispositions, thoughts, affections, words, and deeds.

Proofs.

Psal. 14. 3. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy, &c.

Psal. 51. 5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me, &c.

Job 15. 15.—The Heavens are not clean in his sight.

Verse 16. How much more abominable, and filthy is man, &c.

Genesis 6. 5. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great, &c.

Psalm. 40. 12. Innumerable evils have compassed me about, &c.


Quest. What is the punishment of sin?

A. Loss of man’s first glory, grievous plagues in this life, a miserable death, and everlasting torment in hell.

Proofs.

Rom. 3. 23. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, &c.

Job 31. 3. Is not destruction to the wicked, and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity.

Rom. 6. 23. For the wages of sin is death, &c.

2. Thes. 1. 9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, &c.

Matth. 25. 41. Go ye cursed into everlasting fire, &c.


Q. How came all this misery upon mankind at first?

A. By the willful transgression of our first parents, being seduced by the Devil to eat of the forbidden fruit.

Proofs.

Gen. 2. 17. But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, &c.

Gen. 3. 13. And the woman said, the Serpent beguiled me and I did eat, &c.


Q. What are you to believe concerning the third estate of man, which is the estate of Grace?

A. That God of his free grace, before the foundations of the world hath elected certain men to eternal Salvation.

Proofs.

Ephes. 1. 4, 5, 6. According as he hath chosen us, &c.

Matth. 22. 14. Many are called but few are chosen.

Rom. 8. 30. Whom he predestinated, &c.


Q. What else?

A. That God in the fullness of time, sent his only begotten Son Jesus Christ to Redeem us from our misery.

Proofs.

Gal. 4. 4, 5. When the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son, &c.


Q. What ought you to believe concerning the person of Christ our Saviour.

A. That he is God and man in one person.

Proofs.

Isa. 9. 6. For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, &c.

Rom. 9. 5.—Christ came, who is God over all blessed for ever, &c.

1. Tim. 1. 16.—God manifest in the flesh, &c.

Luke. 1. 35.—That holy thing which shall be borne of thee, shall be called the Son of God, &c.


Q. What is the office of Christ in general?

A. To be the only Mediatour between God and man.

Proof.

1. Tim. 2. 5. For there is one God, and one Mediatour between God & man, &c.


Q. What hath he undertaken to do for our Redemption in particular?

A. Five things.

Q. Which is the first?

A. To reveal unto God’s Elect all truth necessary to their salvation.

Proofs.

John 1. 18.—The only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father he hath declared him.

John 15. 15.—For all things that I have heard of the Father, I have made known unto you.


Q. What is the second?

A. To bring in an everlasting Righteousness, by obeying the Law of God for us.

Proofs.

Rom. 5. 19.—So by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Dan. 9. 24.—And to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, &c.


Q. What is the third?

A. To make satisfaction to the justice of God for our sins, by the sacrifice of himself.

1. Pet. 2. 24. Who his own self bare our sins, in his own body on the tree, &c.

Hebr. 9. 28. So Christ was once offered, to bear the sins of many, &c.

And chap. 7. 27.—For this he did once, when he offered up himself.


Q. What is the fourth?

A. To make Intercession for us, at the right hand of God for ever.

Proofs.

Rom. 8. 34.—Who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh Intercession for us.

Hebr. 7. 25.—Seeing he ever liveth to make Intercession for them.


Q. What is the fifth?

A. To gather, and govern all the Elect in all ages, to the end of the World, and to bring them to everlasting Glory in Heaven.

Psal. 2. 6. Yet have I set my King, upon my holy hill of Sion.

Colos. 1. 18. And he is the head of the body the Church, &c.

Psalm. 45. 4. And in thy Majesty ride prosperously, &c.

And verse 6. Thy Throne O God is for ever and ever, &c.

Isa. 49. 5. to the tenth verse.


Q. Who receive the benefit of this Redemption wrought by Christ?

A. Only the Church, which is a company of men in every age that are God’s Elect, gathered by the power of Christ, & separated from the World, unto the sincere profession of true Religion.

Proofs.

Joh. 17. 9.—I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, &c.

Vers. 14.—They are not of the world, &c.

1. Pet. 2. 9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal Priesthood, an holy Nation, a peculiar People.

John 5. 25. Verily I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead, shall hear the voice of the Son of God, &c.


Quest. What are the principal benefits we receive by Christ in this life?

Ans. Our Justification, and our Sanctification.

Proof.

Romans 8. ver. 30. Moreover whom he predestinated, them he called; and whom he called, them also he justified, &c.


Quest. What is our Justification?

Ans. It is the imputing of the active, and passive obedience of Christ unto us, whereby all our sins are forgiven, and we are made just before God.

Proofs.

2. Cor. 5. 21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, &c.

1. Corin. 1. 30.—Who of God is made unto us, Wisdom, Righteousness, &c.

Romans 5. verse 19.—So by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Jeremiah 23. 6. The Lord our righteousness.

Romans 4. 7. Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, &c.


Quest. To whom is the Righteousness of Christ imputed?

Ans. Only to such as have a true Faith.

Proofs.

Romans 3. verse 28. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by Faith, &c.

Galat. 2. verse 16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by the faith of Jesus Christ.

Rom. 1. 17.—The just shall live by faith.

Hebrews 11. verse 6. But without faith it is impossible to please God &c.

Romans 3. 25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, &c.


Q. Who have a true faith?

Answ. Only such as rely upon the mercies of God, and the merits of Christ for their justification and all happiness.

Proofs.

Rom. 4. 3.—Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.

Acts 16. 31.—Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, &c.

Galat. 2. 20.—And the life which I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, &c.


Q What is our Sanctification?

Answer. It is the work of the Spirit of Christ, by which we repent us of our sins, and lead an holy life.

Proofs.

Tit. 3. 5.—But according to his own mercy he saved us by the washing of Regeneration, and Renewing of the holy Ghost.

Rom. 6. 4. Therefore we are buried with him by Baptism into death, &c.

1 Pet. 2. 24.—That we being dead unto sin, should live unto righteousness.


Question. What is the outward and ordinary means by which God doeth work these two graces of Faith and Repentance in us?

Answ. Hearing of the word of God preached.

Proofs.

Rom. 10. 17. Faith comes by hearing, &c.

Joh. 5. 25.—And they that hear shall live.

1 Cor. 1. 21.—It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save such as believe, &c.

Acts 2. 27. Now when they heard this they were pricked in their hearts, &c.


Q. How is this Faith and Repentance confirmed and increased in us?

A. By three means especially.

Q. Which is the first?

A. A diligent and faithful reading of the holy Scriptures, and hearing of the same word preached, receiving it with all meekness and hearty obedience.

Proofs.

1. Pet. 2. 2. As new borne babes desire the sincere milk, &c.

James 1. 21.—And receive with meekness the ingrafted word, &c.

Rom. 6. 17.—But ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine taught, &c.


Q. Which is the second?

Answ. Fervent and constant prayer unto God in the holy Ghost, both public and private according to his will.

Proofs.

Jude. 20. Praying in the holy Ghost, &c.

Romans 8. verse 26. But the Spirit it self maketh Intercession for us, &c.

Matthew 6. verse 9. After this manner therefore Pray ye. Our Father, &c.


Q. Which is the third?

Answer. A right using and partaking of both the holy Sacraments. viz. Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

Quest. What is a Sacrament?

Answer. It is an outward Sign ordained of God, and is appointed to be unto the worthy receiver, as a Seal, either of our entrance into Christian profession as Baptism, or our continuance therein, as the Lord’s Supper.

Proof.

Romans 4. verse 11. And he received the sign of Circumcision, a Seal of the Righteousness of faith, &c.


Q. How else may it be more briefly defined?

Answer. It is a visible pledge of those invisible benefits of our Salvation which we obtain by Christ.

Quest. How is our faith and Repentance furthered by the Sacrament of Baptism?

Answer. By the outward washing with Water is not only signified, and Sealed the inward washing away of our sins, by the blood of Christ and power of his Spirit, but also our covenant made then unto God, to forsake sin and to lead a new life.

Proofs.

Mark 1. verse 4, 5. John did Baptize in the Wilderness, the Baptism of Repentance for the remission of sins, &c.

Titus 3. 5.—By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the holy Ghost.

1. Peter 3. verse 21. The like figure whereunto Baptism doeth save us, &c.

Acts 22. verse 16.—Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, &c.

Romans 6. verse 3. 4. Know ye not, that as many as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death, &c.


Quest. How is our Faith and Repentance furthered by the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper?

A. By the worthy partaking of the outward Elements of Bread and Wine is signified and Sealed, the giving and receiving of Christ’s Body and Blood by Faith to be our Spiritual nourishment.

Proof.

1. Corinth. 10. vers. 16. The cup of blessing which we blesse, is it not the Communion of the blood of Christ?


Q. How else?

A. By the oft and worthy partaking thereof, we are not only provoked to a more serious examination of our Spiritual estate, but also by renewing our covenant made to God, to bind our selves more firmly to his service for time to come.

Proof.

1. Cor. 11. 26. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat, &c.


Thus far of man’s third estate, viz. the estate of Grace.

Quest. What must you consider of in the last estate of man, viz. the estate of Glory?

Ans. Three things, the Resurrection from the dead, the last Judgment, and the Glory of Heaven.

Quest. What must you believe concerning the Resurrection?

Ans. That the bodies of all men that die shall be raised up from the dead, by the power of Christ at the last day.

Proofs.

John 5. 28.—For the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves, shall hear his voice.

Acts 24. 15.—That there shall be a Resurrection of the dead, both of the just, and unjust.

Revel. 20. 12. And I saw the dead, both great and small, &c.

Verse 13. And the Sea gave up her dead, &c.


Quest. What must you believe, concerning the last Judgment?

Answer That the World must appear before the Tribunal seat of Christ, and every man shall receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Proofs.

2. Corin. 5. ver. 10. For we must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ, &c.

Acts 10. 42.—And to testify that it was he, that was ordained of God to be Judge of quick and dead.

Acts 17. verse 31. Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will Judge the World in Righteousness, &c.


Quest. What must you believe, concerning the Glory of Heaven?

Ans. That all the godly shall reign with Christ in unspeakable Glory, and eternal happiness in Heaven.

Proofs.

Rom. 2. 7. To them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, &c.

Verse 10. But Glory, Honour, and Peace, to every man that worketh good, &c.

Matthew 25. 34. Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, come ye blessed of my Father, &c.

Verse 46. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the Righteous into life Eternal.

1. Peter 1. 4. To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, &c.

1. Cor. 2. 9. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, &c.

FINIS.