The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/paul-baynes-brief-directions-onto-a-godly-life-chapter-nine/
PART TWO: THE MEANS AND HELPS TO A GODLY LIFE
The Christian’s life being thus described, now because it is upheld by means, it is fit to know what these means are, and how they may be used aright:
These means are such religious exercises, whereby Christians may be made fit to practice a godly life. They are partly ordinary, and partly extraordinary; and both of these either public or private. The public are such as be used in our open assemblies. Ordinarily these are three. First, the ministry of the Word. We will second, the administration of the sacraments. Third, the exercise of prayer, with thanksgiving and singing of psalms.
CHAPTER TEN: PUBLIC DISCIPLINES
Of private, some are to be used alone by ourselves, as watchfulness, meditation, and the armor of a Christian. Some are to be used with others, as society of conference and family exercises. Some are common to both, as prayer and reading.
The Word of God
The first and principal is the Word of God read, preached, and heard, as the Lord prescribes. That this is a singular help, we may see if we consider the truth, authority, sufficiency, and plainness (through the ministry [of preaching and teaching] and translations) which is in the Scripture.
To speak therefore nothing of the benefit which brings on to the unregenerate, under whom it is of might to convert them [the Word of God has the power to convert an unbeliever]. The uses are many and daily which the regenerate people of God have by it.
First, by it they are cleared from error and darkness about religion [Christianity] and manners [how to conduct oneself], and are made more sound in the knowledge of the truth, and see more particularly the into way the whole course of Christianity.
Second, they grow settled and established in their knowledge from day to day.
Third, they are by this quickened [enlivened] in their drowsiness, cheered in their heaviness, called back from their wanderings, raised up when they are fallen down, and counseled in their doubtful cases of advice.
Fourth, they are by it settled in a godly course, and taught to keep well when they are well, rather than to be fickle and inconstant in good carriage of themselves, as many are. For by it, as by a sun that gives light in all places, they see their weakness, and how they are held back when they fall, which is the right way of proceeding. By it, as by rule, they are taught to frame all their actions.
Fifth, they are brought to bestow some time in profitable reading.
Sixth, they are framed so as they become lights and examples to others. So that we may boldly conclude that the ordinary preaching of the Word is a singular means provided for the perfecting of God’s elect, and further growing in a Christian life. And whosoever lives where there is a good order of teaching with diligence, skill, love, and plainness; if he find not this fruit by it, is because he is not attentive reverent in hearing, or else not prepared to hear, or else does not apply unto himself, nor willingly digest that which he has heard; but it is surfeited in some dangerous qualities in his life, or corruptions in his heart. Among which, this is a special one among the people that they think of the person that teaches, so they do with of his doctrine, and not otherwise.
As for the sacraments, they are helps necessarily added joined onto the former. For they do visibly confirm and ratify that which the Word does teach, and the covenant between God and the believer made, is most surely sealed up and effectually on both parties by them.
First, the Lord for his part has granted to every faithful person that he will never call his sins to a reckoning, but will be his God, and love him to the end through Christ. For the ratifying whereof he has put to his seal, so that the sacrament must needs remain effectual to the faithful, both for the strengthening of his faith in the promise, but also for the removing of all contrary doubts which through weakness might arise. Some on the other part, every believer for his own part has covenant, to trust in God always, to endeavor to walk before him conscionably, in righteousness of the heart and innocency of hands.
Now for the truth of his heart, the sacrament is a sign, which he having received has openly professed thereby he has given and consecrated himself on to the Lord and is now no more his own to live as his carnal will would desire. So that either the present preceding or the fresh remembrance of this does spur him forward to keep his covenant, and encourage them against temptations, wearisomeness, and all hindrances; especially by believing that strength in measure shall be given to him from God to perform that which he has promised and sealed. By all which we may see (that howsoever the sacraments be unto unbelievers, even as a mystery and a hidden thing) that the believer having been soundly instruct therein beholds much, both for the strengthening of his faith, and his encouragement and a godly life.
The Two Sacraments
First, this may be seen particularly in the two sacraments. For the faithful Christian which has been baptized as he by his in-grafting into Christ is one with him, and therefore while Christ lives [the believer] must live also. So he having thereby prepared union and fellowship with them, as drawing strength and grace from him, even as the branch from the vine. By this we mean that the power of his death for the mortifying of sin and virtue of his resurrection and raising them up to newness of life. So that baptism throughout his life must needs be a forcible means to help him forward in a Christian course, as often as he does duly consider it.
The Lord’s Supper
Second, likewise but the Lord’s Supper is an excellent help, we may see in three particulars:
A. In preparation to it.
B. In the present use of it.
C. In the time which follows after.
Preparing for the Lord’s Supper
The first consists in the trial that every man ought to take of himself, concerning his knowledge both in general and particular; his faith in God’s promises; his diligent endeavor for the removing and subduing of all sin; and for readiness in any duty, his love toward all men; and lastly, concerning his hungering after the sacrament, and the benefit which God offers by it.
These properties if he finds to be in himself, he is a fit and welcome guest to the Lord’s Table. But if through sloth, forgetfulness, darkness, corruption and weakness, these graces be weakened, dimmed and decayed, he may not rashly put forth himself in that case, but speedily seek to recover himself again, by searching the ground in serious renewing of his faith and repentance. Which things being so, it cannot be but that this kind of preparation must be a singular help to those that enjoy it.
Receiving the Lord’s Supper
So likewise at the supper itself, where he may, and ought to meditate on the dainties of the banquet, and the love of him that ordained it; on the communion which he has with Christ and his graces; and on the outward signs what they assure him of; and on the Word preached, which shows him all this. When as by the applying of these things he comes to be comforted and make glade, or rather to be relieved quickened in his soul with the spiritual dainties which by true faith he feeds upon; how can he but praise and bless the author of this banquet? How can he but be much heartened and set toward Christ and a Christian course?
After the Lord’s Supper
It is also the same force after the receiving of it (where right use is made of it according to God’s appointment) to the remembrance in due consideration of the kindness of God therein offered and reaped, easily to carry on the servant of God and a fervent desire of all well doing, be heartened and strengthen thereunto, even as a man well refreshed with his meat is made strong to labor: so that he which is not made more able to conquer his lusts and weaken the strength of sin, and is not more hardened to the life of godliness by these sacraments, does abuse them, and sees not God’s purpose in ordaining them.
The public prayers solemnly offered to God and the congregation and praising of him with Psalms is another of these public helps. For when beside our own private supplication and thanksgiving, we have by the Lord himself appointed these also in public, and that in so solemn [serious, not glum] a manner, the whole assembly consenting with us in the same, and God present among us to assist us, as he will, because the very ordinance of God does promise a special blessing thereto, as often as we are partakers of them, so that if we come with reverence, feeling our desires, earnestly desiring and trusting to obtain the things we pray for, together with true repentance, we shall receive fruit of them accordingly, even that good refreshing, whereby in private we shall be more cheerfully bent to serve him.
So that neither any prejudicate opinion concerning the minister’s person (though he be dumb [unspeaking], or otherwise offensive) nor yet any rash judgment of reading a set form of prayer, or anything of this like kind, ought to hinder us from these public duties; neither ought the private helps to be neglected of us upon any pretense, without which the public are but cold.