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THE YOUNG ONES
ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT ANSWER THIS EXPLICATORY
CATECHISM IN OUR PUBLIC ASSEMBLY.
SHOULD I leave you out of my dedication of this book, I might seem both injurious unto you, for whose sake chiefly the book itself was composed, and injurious to my own love which I have for you, so many ways endeared, whereby also I am strongly obliged to do all the service I can for your souls. Your reciprocal love is a great tie: but the chief obligation of all, is the near relation between us, when I can write to you, not as my hearers only, but to many of you as my children, and that I may say in the words of the apostle, 1 Cor. iv. 15. (which I desire to speak not to my own, but to the praise and glory of God, through whose blessing alone it is, that my ministry, so is mean comparatively, hath had this effect.) Though you should have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers : For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. My endeavours are (as a father to his children) to feed you with knowledge and understanding, and that of incomparably the most excellent things. Had you as large understanding in the secrets and mysteries of nature, as the greatest and most wise philosopher, Solomon himself not excepted; had you skill in all languages under heaven, and could speak with the tongues of men and angels, yet all human knowledge in the greatest height and improvement of it, would not be worthy to be compared and named the same day with the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and the mysteries of salvation, with which I would acquaint you. You have seen the light of the moon, and some brightness in the stars, when the curtains of the night have been drawn over the heavens, all which luminaries, upon the rising of the sun with its most glorious light, have disappeared and
shrunk out of light into darkness; sucii is the light of human knowledge compared with the beams of divine light, which doth issue forth from the sun of righteousness. It is the light of the knowledge of the will, and ways, and glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, that I desire to hold forth unto you. The whole scripture is full of this light: but as in the moon, some parts are clearer than other, so in the holy scriptures, some parts are more full of this light : guch are those parts which contain the chief things to be known and believed, to be done and practised in order unto salvation. These things are excel. lently reduced by the late reverend Assembly, into Questions and Answers in their Shorter Catechism. In this Catechism, I have been some years instructing some of you ; and that you might the better understand what you there learn, I did above four years ago begin the explanation of it, which at first you had in writing, and upon your desire afterwards, I put it sheet after sheet, as you learned it, in the press for you. The often failure of the printer hath caused many interruptions, and intermissions in our work; therefore having finished the whole, I have now printed the whole together, that we be not broken off upon that account any more ; which as the fruit of much study, and as a token of most dear love, I present unto you. And now (dear young ones) think not much in taking pains in learning that which hath cost me so much pains in composing for you. Such of you as have no time, or strength of memory for the learning of it, I vise to frequent the reading of it: And where it is not read in your families, that you ofien read it over alone. How profitable this will prove, experience (through God's blessing) in a short time will show. Whereby you may be able to look over the heads of the most of your years in knowledge: which that you may be filled with, as with every grace, is the prayer for you to the Father of Lights, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, of,
Yours in the sincerest bonds,
Assembly's Shorter Catechism.
I. QUESTION WHAT is the chief end of man?
Answer. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.
Q. !. What is meant by the chief end of man?
A. The chief end of man is that which man ought chiefly to aim at, or design, to desire, to seek after, and endeavour to obtain, as his chief good and happiness : unto which his life and his actions ought to be referred and directed; which is the glorifying of God, and the enjoyment of God for ever,
Q. 2. May men have no other chief end, than the glorifying and enjoying of God?
A. Men ought to have no other chief end, than the glorifying of God; but they may have subordinate ends. For 1. Men ought to be diligent in their particular callings for this end, that they may provide for themselves and their families. 1 Thess. iv. 11, 12, Do your own business and work with your hands, that ye may have lack of nothing. 2. Men may eat and drink, and sleep, for this end, that they may nourish, and refresh their bodies : It is lawful to design, and desire, and seek these in such actions, subordinately or less principally : but in these and all actions men ought principally and chiefly to design and seek the glory of God. 1 Cor. x. 31, Whether therefore yè eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God. 3. Men may moderately desire and endeavour after the enjoyment of such a portion of the good things of the world as are needful and useful : but they ought to make choice of God for their chief good, and desire the eternal enjoyment of him as their chief portion. Psalm 1xxiii. 25, 26, Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon the earth that I desire besides thee, or in comparison with thee. My fleshi and my heart faileth : but God is the strength of my heart, and my porti.n for ever.
Q. 3. What is it to glorify God? A. 1. Negatively, to glorify God is not to give any additional glory to God; it is not to make God more glorious than he is : for God is incapable of receiving the least addition to his essential glory, he being eternally and infinitely perfect and glorious. Matt. v. 48, Your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Psal. xvi. 2, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee.
2. Affirmatively, to glorify God, is to manifest God's glory, not only passively, as all creatures do which have neither religion nor reason, but also actively.
Men glorify God, when the design of their life and actions is ihe glory and honour of God, i Pet. ii. 9. That he should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you, &c. 1, When inwardly they have the highest estimation of him, the greatest confidence in him, and the strongest affections to him, this is glorifying of God in spirit. 1 Cor. vi. 20, Glorify God in your spirit, which is God's. 2. When outwardly they acknowledge God according to the revelations he hath made of himself, when with their lips they show forth God's praise. Psalm l. 23, He that offereth praise, glorifieth me.
When they sincerely endeavour in their actions, the exalting of God's name, the promotion of the interest of his kingdom in the world, and to yield that worship and obedience to him wbich he hath prescribed in his word. Psalm xxxiv. 3, O magnify the Lord with me: and let us exalt his name together. Rev. xiv. 7, Fear God and give glory to him, and worship him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
Q. 4. What is it to enjoy God?
A. To enjoy God, is to acquiesce or rest in God, as the chief good, with complacency and delight. Psalm cxvi. 7, Return unto thy rest, O my soul.
Q. 5. How is God enjoyed here?
A. 1. God is enjoyed here, when people do settlo themselves upon and cleave to the Lord by faith. Joshua xxiü. 8, But cleave to the Lord your God. 2. When they taste the Lord's goodness, and delight themselves in the gracious presence, and sensible manifestations of God's special love unto them. Psalm xxxiv. 8, O taste and see that the Lord is good. Rom. v. 5, Because the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Ghost.
Q. 6. How will God be enjoyed by his people hereafter?
A. God will be enjoyed hereafter by his people, when they shall be admitted into his glorious presence, have an immediate sight of his face, and full sense of his love in heaven, and there fully and eternally acquiesce and rest in him, with perfect and inconceivable delight and joy. I Cor. xiii. 12, Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face. Heb. iv. 9, There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. Psalm xvi. 11, In thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right are pleasures for evermore.
Q.'7. Why is the glorifying of God and the enjoying of God joined together as one chief end of man?
A. Because God hath inseparably joined them together, so that men cannot truly design and seek the one without the other ; they which enjoy God most in his honse on earth do most glorify and enjoy him. Psalm 1xxxvi. 4, Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they will be still praising thee. And when God shall be most fully enjoyed by the saints in heaven, he shall be most highly glorified. 2 Thess. i. 10, He shall come to be glorified in his saints.
Q. 8. Why ought men chiefly to design the glorifying of God in all their actions ?
A. l. Because God hath made them, and made them