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THE

CHRISTIAN INSTITUTES;

OR, THE SINCERE

WORD OF GOD.

CHAPTER I.

Showing what Religion is, and how the knowledge of

it is to be obtained.

1

UNDER the name of religion is comprehended all that worship and service, which is due from men to God: whatever we ought or are bound to do in obedience to him: whatever he will reward us for doing, or punish us for not doing.

In order, therefore, to worship and serve God as we ought to do; we must, first, believe that he is; that he hath given us laws and commandments to keep; that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and of such as do according to all that he hath commanded them : and, that he taketh vengeance on them that obey him not.

And for the better understanding the nature and extent of our duty in all respects, together with the

2

1 Heb. xi. 6. Heb. xi. 6. John ix. 36.

Exod. xvi. 28. 2 Exod. v. 2.

Exod. xxiv. 12. John xiii, 34. 1 Kings ix. 4. 2 Thess. i. 8. Joshua xxiv. 15.

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grounds and reasons of our obligation, it behoves in the next place, to inform ourselves, as truly and particularly as we can, who the Lord is whom we are to serve: what attributes and perfections belong to him, and what works he hath wrought: as also what manner of beings we ourselves are, who are commanded to serve him; what capacities and inclinations we have; what state and condition we are in; and in what relation we stand to God.

After which it will be necessary for us to inquire, how and in what manner God is to be worshipped, and what those laws and ordinances are which he hath commanded us to observe.

? And then, for our greater encouragement to serve God, in all such things as we shall find to be enjoined us, and to persevere in our obedience to him; it is requisite for us to know what happiness God hath prepared for them that love and obey him, and what misery he hath provided for such as transgress his commandments: how great, how certain, and of what continuance both the joy and the terror of the

Lord are.

THE NECESSITY OF SEARCHING THE

SCRIPTURES.

2 These are the things which every man is concerned to be well instructed in; and the truest and shortest way of attaining such knowledge as this, is, by searching the Scriptures.

* For they are they which testify of God; which show us what is good, and what the Lord doth require of us; which set before us the way of life,

1 1 Cor. ii. 9. 2 Chron. xxiv. 20. Neh. viii. 40, 2 John v. 39.

3 John v. 39.

Micah vi. 8. Acts xvi. 30. 1 Thess. i. 10. Mark x. 17.

2 Cor. v, 11. Jer. xxi. 8.

and the

way of death; and which teach us what we must do to be saved from the wrath to come, and to inherit eternal life.

1 The way of man is not now in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. Though we can by nature do many things contained in the law of God; and though we can, in many cases, even of ourselves, judge what is right, our conscience bearing witness to what is good or evil, either by excusing, or else accusing us accordingly, yet we are not a sufficient law unto ourselves. Notwithstanding, therefore, the law written in our hearts, we shall never come to the full knowledge of that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, which is to direct us in this life, but by his word, which he hath in due times manifested to us, from whence we may be fully instructed in all things which belong unto our peace and salvation, even the salvation of our souls.

* And if any man sin, (as in many things we offend all) there is no other way of being assured that we shall not all likewise perish, but from the Scriptures : which acquaint us that we have an advocate with the Father; and give us an account in what manner, and upon what terms, God is pleased to reconcile us to himself.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that such as desire to serve God truly may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Whatsoever things were written aforetime by

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1 Jer. x. 23. Rom. ii. 14. Luke xii. 57. Rom. ii. 13, 14, 15. Rom. xii. 2. Titus i. 3. Luke xix. 42. 1 Peter i. 9. 2 1 John ii. 1. James iii. 2. Luke xiii. 3. 1 John ii. 1. 2 Cor. v. 18. 3 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.

4 Rom. xv. 4. 2 Peter i. 21. Rom. xv. 4.

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holy men of God, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.

? Unto the Jews first were committed the oracles of God; for God spake with them from heaven, and gave them right judgments and true laws, good statutes and commandments, by the hand of Moses his servant, who showed them the way wherein they were to walk, and the work that they were to do.

And the same God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son; and that which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.

This is the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which is not after man, neither was it received of man, neither was any man taught it but by the revelation of Christ; who taught the way of God truly, and enabled his apostles and ministers to declare unto us all the counsel of God.

* And that we might know the certainty of those things wherein they were instructed, to whom the Gospel was first preached, there is set forth, in order to us, a declaration of those things which were most surely believed among them, even as they were delivered by those which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, and had perfect understanding of all things; who kept back nothing that was profitable unto us.

3

1 Rom. jii. 2. Neh. ix. 13, 14. Exod. xviii. 20.

2 Heb. i. 1, 2. Heb. ii. 3. 3 1 Tim. i. 11. Gal. i. 11, 12 Luke xx. 21. 1 Tim. i. 12. Acts xx. 27. 4 Luke i. 4. 1. Luke i. 1, 2, 3. Acts

xx. 20.

1

We ought therefore to receive with meekness and all readiness of mind the ingrafted word, which is able to save our souls; believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets; and more especially holding fast that form of sound words, and that faith which was once delivered unto the saints in the writings of the New Testament.

? And that we may not err concerning the faith, let us take care that we do not think of men above that which is written; that we are not curious about the times and seasons, which we have no need to know : that we avoid foolish and unlearned questions, profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science, falsely so called; that we do not give heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men that turn from the truth ; and that we strive not about words to no profit; nor suffer ourselves to be misled by philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

: As in the Epistles of St. Paul, so in the other Scriptures also, there are some things hard to be understood; but we must be both unlearned and unstable, if we wrest those to our own destruction; for generally, the holy writers have used great plainness of speech; and they have never handled the Word of God deceitfully; so that whoever will do his will, may know of the doctrine whether it be of God.

* For all that is needful for us to know of the common salvation, is so plainly set forth to us, that he may run that readeth ; but if the Gospel be hid,

1 James i. 21. Acts xvii. 11. Acts xxiv. 14. 2 Tim. i. 13. Jude 3.

2 1 Tim. vi. 21. 1 Cor. iv. 6. 1 Thess. v. 1. 2 Tim. ii. 23. 1 Tim. vi. 20. Titus i. 14. 2 Tim. ii. 14. Col. ii. 8.

3 2 Peter iii. 16. 2 Cor. iii. 12. 2 Cor. iv. 2. John vii. 17. 4 Jude 3 Hab. ii. 2. 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.

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