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against my potent and malicious Enemies; and that the short Time I have to work, may make me careful to improve it to the best Purposes; and the Uncertainty of all Things here below may call off my Mind from the Objects of secular Happiness; that applying myself entirely to Devotion and Charity, Justice and Sobriety, I may be prepared in the Temper and Disposition of my Mind, for that Happiness which thou hast promised through the Merits of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
IV. ALMIGHTY God, who art the first and chiefest for the Good, engage all the Powers and Faculties of my right Soul to love and delight in thee; and to place all of Zeal. Affiance, Trust, and Confidence in thee. Teach me to proportion my Zeal to the Value of Things, that I may love thee, the Lord my God, with all my Heart, with all my Soul, and with all my Strength; and in the first Place seek the Kingdom of Heaven. Let my Zeal have a Respect unto all thy Commandments, that it may never degenerate into Hypocrisy and Faction: but that I may always pursue it by just and proper Means, and may never think to promote thy Honour, and the Safety of thy Church, by Ways offensive to thee, and which thou hast forbid. Let not a good End prevail upon me to use any unlawful Means that may advance it, but that trusting in thy Providence, and depending upon thy Care of our most holy Faith, I may never start from the Way of my Duty, in all those Methods I shall at any Time pursue, in order to preserve it. Grant this, O Lord, for Jesus Christ his Sake. Amen.
CHA P. XXXIV.
Rom, xvi. 15.
Q. What do you mean by a Saint?
A. In the Beginning of Christianity, the Word
Saint was applied to all Believers, as is plain by the Acts ix. 13. Use St. Paul and St. Luke make of it; afterwards
none were called so but such as eminently excelled in all Christian Virtues; and though that Sense still continues in the Church Militant, yet it now generally signifies such good Men, as (whose
earthly Tabernacle being dissolved) have a House Cor. v. 1. not made with Hands, eternal in the Heavens, and so
are become a Part of the Church Triumphant.
Q. What Persons may be denominated Saints in the Church Militant?
A. Such who not only believe the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, but conform their whole Lives to the Precepts of it; such who not only have a holy Faith, but are purified thereby, who have a sincere Regard to God and another World in all their Actions, and are constant and uniform in
the Discharge of their Duty; who abstain from all Cor. vii. Kind of Evil
, perfecting Holiness in the Fear of God. Q. What seems to be the Design of the Church in instituting this Festival?
A. To honour God in his Saints. through the Assistance of his Grace that they were made conformable to his Will in this Life, and through the Bounty of the same gracious Lord, that his free Gifts are crowned with Happiness in the other.
Q. What farther End doth the Church aim at?
A. To encourage us here below to run the Race that is set before us with Patience, seeing we are
encompassed with so great a Cloud of Witnesses to Heb. xii. 1. work in us Firmness and Resolution of Mind, by
propounding the Examples and Patterns of Holy Men gone before us, who, in their respective Ages, have given remarkable Testimony of their Faith in God, and constant Adherence to his Truth.
Q. By what Means did the Saints in Heaven attain that Happiness they now enjoy?
It being A. It was purchased for them by the Death and Sacrifice of our Saviour Jesus Christ; the Benefits whereof they were made capable of receiving by the Purity of their Faith, by the Uncorruptedness of their Morals, by their Constancy and Perseverance in Despite of all Sufferings and Persecutions, and by fighting manfülly under Christ's Banner to their Lives' End.
Q.Wherein corsists the Happiness of the next Life?
A. In this Life we are not able to conceive the Happiness God hath prepared for those that love him. It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but 1 John iji. the Scripture in general hath assured us, that God will reward those that diligently seek him, not according to our narrow and limited Conceptions, but according to the exceeding Greatness of his Power and Goodness. So that God having promised to Eph. i. 19. make us happy in the next World, we have all the Reason imaginable to put our Trust and Confidence in him as to the Way and Manner of effecting it.
Q. What Light have the Scriptures given us in this Matter?
A. The Wisdom of God is pleased sometimes to condescend to our low Apprehensions, and to reveal his sublime Rewards by such things as we are most apt to value and admire: and therefore it is represented io some Places under the Metaphor of a Kingdom, a Crown, and a Treasure, it being expressly call-Mat
. xiii. ed the Kingdom of the Father, a Crown of Righteous tim. iv. ness, a Crown of Life, and a Crown of Glory, a Tren-8. sure in Heaven, and a Treasure that faileth not, though Rev. ii. 10. the greatest Kingdoms and Treasures of this World 1 Pet. v. 4. bear no Proportion to the least Degree of Heavenly 21. Glory. But the Excellency of this Happiness is Luke xii. more particularly set forth to us by everlasting Life, Rom. vi. by the Vision of God, and by a Likeness to him, and 22. by being with Christ. All which implies that we i John ii. sħall in the next Life live free from Sin, the great Phil
. i. 23. Torment and Affliction of devout Souls, in this ; that we shall be exempted from all those Evils and Miseries which are the Consequence of it, and which
Mat. v. 8.
attend us through this earthly Pilgrimage ; a Sort of Happiness that the most sensual are affected with. And not only Sin and Sorrow shall cease to be, but we shall enter upon the Possession of all those Pleasures we are made capable of enjoying: For when the Spirits of just Men are made perfect, there shall be nothing to hinder the constant Influences of infinite Goodness; so that our Understandings shall be entertained with the Knowledge of God, the most perfect and excellent Being, the Source and Fountain of all Truth, and our Wills vigorously employed in chusing and embracing the most desirable Goods, and our Affections determined to the most delightful Objects; for our Minds, being then enlarged to their utmost Capacities, shall have a more perfect, certain, and clearer Knowledge of God than we can attain to in this Life; and from the Sight of his Glory, the Love of his Goodness, and the Admiration of all his Excellencies, we shall be transformed into his Likeness, both in the Purity and Spirituality of our Souls; whence must result infinite Pleasure and Satisfaction, incessantly expressing itself in Hymns of Praise and Thanksgiving. Besides, it must needs raise in us fresh Transports of Joy and Rapture, to see our glorified Redeemer exalted to the Right Hand of God! and all the blessed Inhabitants of this heavenly Jerusalem will, in a Degree, contribute to our Happiness, by their profitable and delightful Conversation. And, to complete our Bliss, it shall never change por have an End, but we shall pass Eternity in knowing and loving, in praising and cheerfully obeying the blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Q. How is the Pattern of the Saints accom: modated to our Imitation ?
A. In that they were mere Men, cloathed with Flesh and Blood, and an imperfect Nature, liable to Sin as well as we, and once strove with the same unruly Passions, and were exposed to the same Difficulties as we are now surrounded with ; and that we have the same holy Precepts to direct us, the same Grace to assist us, the same Promises to encourage us, the same Holy Table for ourspiritual Nourishment. So that what was attainable by them, may be acquired by us, if we are not wanting to ourselves,
Q. What Obligations lie upon all Christians, to Holiness of Life?
A. They are obliged to it by the Precepts of the Gospel, which strictly command Holiness; by the Promises, which are so many Encouragements to a holy Life; by the Threatenings, which are so many powerful Arguments against Sin; add to this the Engagements of the Baptismal Vow made in their Infancy, and which they since took upon themselves in Confirmation, and have frequently renewed at the Lord's Table.
Q. What do you mean by the Communion of Saints ?
A. That the Saints have in common one God, one Christ, one Spirit, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one Hope; and that they communicate with one another in all Duties of Piety and Charity, by mutual Help and Assistance in Times of Persecution, by mutual Beneficence and Liberality in Time of Want, and by mutual Participation of one another's Prayers.
Q. What Communion have the Saints here below with the Saints abover
A. Those upon Earth are called Fellow Citizens Eph. fi. with the Saints, and of the Household of God, of the %. iii. 15. same Family with those in Heaven. We bless God for them, rejoice at their Bliss, give Thanks for their Labours of Love, and pray that with them we may be Partakers of the heavenly Kingdom. They pray for us, for our Consummation and Bliss, rejoice at our Conversion; but what farther the Saints of Heaven do particularly in Relation to us, or what we ought to perform in Reference to them, is not revealed in Scripture, nor can be concluded from any Principle of Christianity.
Q. What Duties result from the Belief of this Article of our Creed?