Saturday, December 10, 2005

18th Century Theology with Thomas Boston 7

—•— Ordinances—•—

II. I come now to that question,

“What is required in the second commandment? The second commandment requireth the receiving observing, and keeping pure and entire all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his word.”

In handling this point, I shall show,

I. What is that religious worship, and those ordinances, which God hath appointed in his word.

II. What is our duty with reference to those ordinances.

I. I shall show what is that religious worship, and those ordinances which God hath appointed in his word.
That God has appointed that religious worship, and those ordinances, whereby we are outwardly to glorify him, is evident from this, that God will be so honoured by us, yet has forbidden us to make any thing that way; consequently, they are made by himself in his word.

These ordinances appointed in the word are,

1. Prayer, whereby we tender to him the homage due from a creature to his Creator, acknowledging our dependence on him as the Author of all good. The parts of it are petition, confession, and thanksgiving. And that public in the assemblies, Acts 2:42; private in lesser societies, particularly in families, Jer. 10, ult; and secret, every one by himself, Mat. 6:6; none of them to justle out another. In these we are tied to no form.

2. Praises in singing psalms, whereby we give him the praise due to him. And this is appointed, both publicly, Ps. 149:1, and privately, Jam. 5:13. This is to be done in all simplicity becoming the gospel, singing them with grace in the heart, Col. 3:16; not playing them on musical instruments, of which there is not one word in the New Testament.

3. Reading God's word, and hearing it read, both publicly, Acts 15:21, and privately, John 5:39; whereby we honour God, consulting his oracles.

4. The preaching of the word, and hearing it preached, 2 Tim. 4:2; 2 Kings 4:23. And consequently, the ministry is an ordinance of God, Rom. 10:15; Eph. 4:11, 12, and the maintenance thereof, 1 Cor. 9:14, by an ordinance of God, though there should be no ordinance of the state for it.

5. Administration and receiving of the sacraments, to wit, baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Matt. 28:19, and the Lord's supper, 1 Cor. 11:23, &c.; both which are left us in much gospel-simplicity. By these we solemnly avouch ourselves to be the Lord's and receive the seals of the covenant, getting our faith of covenant-blessings confirmed.

6. Fasting, or extraordinary prayer with fasting, when the Lord by his providence calls for it, as when tokens of his anger do in a special manner appear. And this is public, in the congregation, Joel 2:12, 13, and private too, as in families, 1 Cor. 12:5, and secret, Matt. 6:17, 18. See Zech. 12:12, 13, 14. The same is to be said of extraordinary prayer, with thanksgiving.

7. Church government and discipline. Christ has appointed a government in his church, and has not left it to men to dispose of it, Heb. 3:5, 6; 1 Cor. 12:28. He has appointed his officers, which are pastors and doctors, Eph. 4:11, ruling elders and deacons, 1 Cor. 12:28. And besides these the scripture knows no ordinary church-officers. The three first are, by his appointment, church-rulers. They have the power of discipline, Matt. 18:17, 18, to rebuke scandalous offenders publicly, 1 Tim. 6:20, to excommunicate the contumacious, 1 Cor. 5:4, 5. And amongst these officers of the same kind, there is a parity by divine appointment, excluding both Pope and Prelate, Matt. 20:26. There is also a subordination of judicatories, Acts 15, which is the government we call Presbyterial.

8. Instructing and teaching in the ways of the Lord, not only by ministers, but by masters of families, who are to teach their families, Gen. 18:19; Deut. 6:6, 7.

9. … Spiritual conference, Mal. 3:16; Deut. 6:7, …

[10. Lastly,] and swearing, [Particularly it is a sin against [the third commandment], to refuse an oath touching what is good and just, when duty called thereunto. For in [this case] there is a neglect of the duty of glorifying God's name enjoined in this command. (Works II. 165).]

II. I shall show what is our duty with reference to these ordinances. It is fourfold.

1. We must receive them in our principles and profession. We must carry them as the badge of our subjection to our God, Micah 4:5.

2. We must observe them in our practice, Matt. 18:20. For what end do we receive these ordinances, if we make no conscience of the practice of them? We will be, in that case, as the servant that knew his master's will, but did it not. So here, there is a number of duties laid on us by this command. It requires us also to pray: ministers to pray publicly and the people to join; masters of families to pray in their families, and the family to join with them; and each of us to pray in secret. It requires all of us to sing the Lord's praises, privately and publicly. It requires church-officers to exercise church discipline, and offenders to submit thereunto, &c., &c.

3. We must do our duty to keep them pure, that nothing of men's inventions be added to them, and that whatever others mix with them, we adhere to the purity of ordinances, 1 Cor. 11:2.

4. We must do our duty to keep them entire, that nothing be taken from them, Deut. 12, ult.; for both adding and paring in these matters are abominable to the Lord.

Finally, It requires us, in consequence of this, to disapprove, detest, and oppose, according to our several places and stations, all worship that is not appointed of God, whether superstitious or idolatrous, and, according to our several places and stations, to endeavour the removal of the same, Acts 17:16, 17; Deut. 7:5. (Works II 141-143)