In And About Bedford, Walking In The Faith And Fellowship Of The Gospel, Your Affectionate Brother And Companion In The Kingdom And Patience Of Jesus Christ, Wisheth All Grace And Mercy By Jesus Christ.
Holy and beloved,
Although I have designed this little treatise for public and common benefit, yet considering that I am to you a debtor not only in common charity; but by reason of special bonds which the Lord hath laid upon me to you-ward, I could do no less, being driven from you in presence, not affection, but first present you with this little book; not for that you are wanting in the things contained herein, but to put you again in remembrance of first things, and to give you occasion to present something to your carnal relations, that may be, if God will, for their awakening and conversion: accept it therefore as a token of my christian remembrance of you.
Next I present it to all those unconverted, old and young, who have been at any time under my preaching, and yet remain in their sins: and I entreat them also that they receive it as a token of my love to their immortal souls; yea, I charge them as they will answer it in the day of terrible judgment, that they read, ponder over, and receive this wholesome medicine prepared for them. Now the God of blessing bless it to the awakening of many sinners, and the salvation of their souls by faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Yours, to serve you by my ministry, when I can, to your edification and consolation,
Quest. How many gods are there?—
Answer To the Christians there is but one God, the Father of whom are all things, and we of him (1Co 8:6).
Q. Why is not the God of the Christians the God of them that are no Christians?—
A. He is their maker and preserver; but they have not chosen him to be their God (Ac 17:24; Ps 36:6; Judges 10:14).
Q. Are there then other gods besides the God of the Christians?—
A. There is none other true God but HE; but because they want the grace of Christians, therefore they choose not him, but such gods as will suit with and countenance their lusts (Joh 8:44).
Q. What gods are they that countenance the lusts of wicked men?—
A. The devil, who is the god of this world; the belly, that god of gluttons, drunkards, and riotous persons; and idle pleasures and vanities, which are, for the most part, the gods of the youth (Job 8:4; 2Co 4:4; Php 3:19; Ex 32:6; 1Co 10:7; 2Ti 2:2; 1Jo 5:21).
Q. Who is a Christian?—
A. One that is born again, a new creature; one that sits at Jesus' feet to hear his word; one that hath his heart purified and sanctified by faith, which is in Christ (Joh 3:3, 5,7; Ac 11:24, 15:9, 26:18; 2Co 5:17).
Q. How do you distinguish the God of the Christians from the gods of other people?—
A. He is a Spirit (Joh 4:24).
Q. Is there no other spirit but the true God?—
A. Yes, there are many spirits (1Jo 4:1).
Q. What spirits are they?—
A. The good angels are spirits; the bad angels are spirits; and the souls of men are spirits (Heb 1:7, 14; 1Ki 22:21, 22; Rev 16:13, 14; Ac 7:59; Heb 12:23).
Q. How then is the true God distinguished from other spirits?—
A. Thus: No Spirit is eternal but HE, no Spirit is almighty but HE, no Spirit is incomprehensible and unsearchable but HE: HE is also most merciful, most just, most holy (De 33:27; Ge 17:1; Ps 145:3; Mic 7:18; Job 34:17; 1Sa 2:2).
Q. Is this God, being a Spirit, to be known?—
A. Yes, and that by his works of creation, by his providences, by the judgments that he executeth, and by his word.
Q. Do you understand him by the works of creation?—
A. 'The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy work' (Ps 19:1). 'For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead' (Ro 1:20).
Q. Do his works of providence also declare him?—
A. They must needs do it, since through his providence the whole creation is kept in such harmony as it is, and that in despite of sin and devils; also, if you consider that from an angel to a sparrow, nothing falls to the ground without the providence of our heavenly Father (Mt 10:29).
Q. Is he known by his judgments?—
A. 'The Lord is known by the judgments which he executeth; the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands' (Ps 9:16).
Q. Is he known by his word?—
A. Yes, most clearly: for by that he revealeth his attributes, his decrees, his promises, his way of worship, and how he is to be pleased by us.
Q. Of what did God make the world?—
A. 'Things which are seen were not made of things which do appear' (Heb 11:3).
Q. How long was he in making the world?—
A. 'In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is' (Ex 20:11). 'And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made' (Ge 2:2).
Q. Of what did God make man?—
A. 'The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul' (Ge 2:7).
Q. Why doth it say, God breathed into him the breath of life; is man's soul of the very nature of the Godhead?—
A. This doth not teach that the soul is of the nature of the Godhead, but sheweth that it is not of the same matter as his body, which is dust (Ge 18:27).
Q. Is not the soul then of the nature of the Godhead?—
A. No, for God cannot sin, but the soul doth; God cannot be destroyed in hell, but the souls of the impenitent shall (Eze 18:4; Mt 10:28).
Q. How did God make man in the day of his first creation?—
A. God made man upright (Eccl 7:29). 'In the image of God created he him' (Ge 1:27).
Q. Did God, when he made man, leave him without a rule to walk by?—
A. No: he gave him a law in his nature, and imposed upon him a positive precept, but he offered violence to them, and brake them both (Ge 3:3, 6).
Q. What was the due desert of that transgression?—
A. Spiritual death in the day he did it, temporal death afterwards, and everlasting death last of all (Ge 2:17, 3:19; Mt 25:46).
Q. What is it to be spiritually dead?—
A. To be alienate from God, and to live without him in the world, through the ignorance that is in man, and through the power of their sins (Eph 4:18, 19).
Q. Wherein doth this alienation from God appear?—
A. In the love they have to their sins, in their being loth to come to him, in their pleading idle excuses for their sins, and in their ignorance of the excellent mysteries of his blessed gospel (Eph 2:2, 3,11, 12, 4:18, 19; Ro 1:28).
Q. What is temporal death?—
A. To have body and soul separated asunder, the body returning to the dust as it was, and the spirit to God that gave it (Ge 3:19; Eccl 12:7).
Q. What is everlasting death?—
A. For body and soul to be separate for ever from God, and to be cast into hell fire (Lu 13:27; Mar 9:43).
Q. Do men go body and soul to hell so soon as they die?—
A. The body abideth in the grave till the sound of the last trump; but the soul, if the man dies wicked, goes presently from the face of God into hell, as into a prison, there to be kept till the day of judgment (1Co 15:52; Isa 24:22; Lu 12:20).