Chapter XX – Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience.
- The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the Gospel, consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law;(1) and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan and dominion of sin;(2) from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation;(3) as also, in their free access to God,(4) and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind.(5) All which were common also to believers under the law;(6) but, under the new testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected,(7) and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace,(8) and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.(9) (1) Tit 2:14; 1Th 1:10; Gal 3:13.
(2) Gal 1:4; Col 1:13; Ac 26:18; Ro 6:14.
(3) Ro 8:28; Ps 119:71; 1Co 15:54-57; Ro 8:1.
(4) Ro 5:1,2.
(5) Ro 8:14,15; 1Jn 6:18.
(6) Gal 3:9,14.
(7) Gal 4:1,2,3,6,7; Gal 5:1; Ac 15:10,11.
(8) Heb 4:14,16; Heb 10:19-22.
(9) Jn 7:38,39; 2Co 3:13,17,18.
- God alone is Lord of the conscience,(1) and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to His Word, or beside it, in matters of faith or worship.(2) So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience:(3) and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.(4)
(1) Jas 4:12; Ro 14:4.
(2) Ac 4:19; Ac 5:29; 1Co 7:23; Mt 23:8,9,10; 2Co 1:24; Mt 15:9.
(3) Col 2:20,22,23; Gal 1:10; Gal 2:4,5; Gal 5:1.
(4) Ro 10:17; Ro 14:23; Isa 8:20; Ac 17:11; Jn 4:22; Hos 5:11; Rev 13:12,16,17; Jer 8:9.
iii. They who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, do practice any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty; which is, that, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life.(1)
(1) Gal 5:13; 1Pe 2:16; 2Pe 2:19; Jn 8:34; Lk 1:74,75.
- And because the powers which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another; they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God.(1) And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation), or to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ hath established in the Church, they may lawfully be called to account,(2) and proceeded against, by the censures of the Church.(3)
(1) Mt 12:25; 1Pe 2:13,14,16; Ro 13:1-8; Heb 13:17.
(2) Ro 1:32; 1Co 5:1,5,11,13; 2 Jn 10,11; 2Th 3:14; 1Ti 6:3,4,5; Tit 1:10,11,13; Tit 3:10; Mt 18:15,16,17; 1Ti 1:19,20; Rev 2:2,14,15,20; Rev 3:9.
(3) Dt 13:6-12; Ro 13:3,4; 2 Jn 10,11; Ezr 7:23,25-28; Rev 17:12,16,17; Ne 13:15,17,21,22,25,30; 2Ki 23:5,6,9,20,21; 2Ch 15:12,13,16; Da 3:29; 1Ti 2:2; Isa 49:23; Zec 13:2,3.
Chapter XXI – Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath-day.
- The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is good, and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.(1) But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.(2)
(1) Ro 1:20; Ac 17:24; Ps 119:68; Jer 10:7; Ps 31:23; Ps 18:3; Ro 10:12; Ps 62:8; Josh. 24:14; Mk 12:33.
(2) Dt 12:32; Mt 15:9,10; Dt 15:1-20; Ex 20:4,5,6; Col 2:23.
- Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone:(1) not to angels, saints, or any other creature:(2) and, since the fall, not without a mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.(3)
(1) Mt 4:10; Jn 5:23; 2Co 13:14.
(2) Col 2:18; Rev 19:10; Ro 1:25.
(3) Jn 14:6; 1Ti 2:5; Eph 2:18; Col 3:17.
iii. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship,(1) is by God required of all men;(2) and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son,(3) by the help of His Spirit,(4) according to His will,(5) with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance;(6) and, if vocal, in a known tongue.(7)
(1) Php 4:6.
(2) Ps 65:2.
(3) Jn 14:13,14; 1Pe 2:5.
(4) Ro 8:26.
(5) 1Jn 5:14.
(6) Ps 47:7; Ecc 5:1,2; Heb 12:28; Ge 18:27; Jas 5:16; Jas 1:6,7; Mk 11:24; Mt 6:12,14,15; Col 4:2; Eph 6:18.
(7) 1Co 14:14.
- Prayer is to be made for things lawful,(1) and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter;(2) but not for the dead,(3) not for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.(4)
(1) 1Jn 5:14.
(2) 1Ti 2:1,2; Jn 17:20; 2Sa 7:29; Ruth 4:12.
(3) 2Sa 12:21,22,23; Lk 16:25,26; Rev 14:13. (4)1Jn 5:16.
- The reading of Scriptures with godly fear;(1) the sound preaching,(2) and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence;(3) singing of Psalms with grace in the heart;(4) as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:(5) besides religious oaths,(6) vows,(7) solemn fastings,(8) and thanksgivings upon special occasions,(9) which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.(10) (1) Ac 15:21; Rev 1:3.
(2) 2Ti 4:2.
(3) Jas 1:22; Ac 10:33; Mt 13:19; Heb 4:2; Isa 66:2.
(4) Col 3:16; Eph 5:19; Jas 5:13.
(5) Mt 28:19; 1Co 11:23-29; Ac 2:42.
(6) Dt 6:13; Ne 10:29.
(7) Isa 19:21; Ecc 5:4,5.
(8) Joel 2:12; Esther 4:16; Mt 9:15; 1Co 7:5.
(9) Ps 107; Esther 9:22.
(10) Heb 12:28.
- Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the Gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by, any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed;(1) but God is to be worshipped everywhere(2) in spirit and truth;(3) as, in private families(4) daily,(5) and in secret, each one by himself;(6) so more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calleth thereunto.(7)
(1) Jn 4:21.
(2) Mal 1:11; Tim. 2:8.
(3) Jn 4:23,24.
(4) Jer 10:25; Dt 6:6,7; Job 1:5; 2Sa 6:18,20; 1Pe 3:7; Ac 10:2.
(5) Mt 6:11.
(6) Mt 6:6; Eph 6:18.
(7) Isa 56:6,7; Heb 10:25; Pr 1:20,21,24; Pr 8:34; Ac 13:42; Lk 4:16; Ac 2:42.
vii. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him:(1) which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week,(2) which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day,(3) and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.(4) (1) Ex 20:8,10,11; Isa 56:2,4,6,7.
(2) Ge 2:2,3; 1Co 16:1,2; Ac 20:7.
(3) Rev 1:10.
(4) Ex 20:8,10; Mt 5:17,18.
viii. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations;(1) but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.(2) (1) Ex 20:8; Ex 16:23,25,26,29,30; Ex 31:15; Ne 13:15-19,21,22.
(2) Isa 58:13; Mt 12:1-13.