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Questions 9-11 Requirements of the law #48703
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Question 9. Does not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform?

Answer: Not at all; (a) for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, (b) and his own wilful disobedience, (c) deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts.

(a) Eph.4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Eccl.7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

(b) John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

2 Cor.11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Gen.3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

(c) Gen.3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Rom.5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Gen.3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

1 Tim.2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

1 Tim.2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Re: Lord's Day 4—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48704
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Exposition

There is here in this portion of the Catechism, an objection on the part of human reason against what is said in the preceding question: If man is so corrupt that he cannot do any thing that is good before his regeneration, then God seems unjustly and in vain to require from him, in his law, perfect obedience. The objection may be more fully stated thus: He who requires or commands that which is impossible, is unjust. God requires of man in his law perfect obedience, which it is impossible for him to perform. Therefore, God seems to be unjust. To this objection we reply as follows:

He who requires what is impossible is unjust, unless he first gave the ability to perform what he requires; secondly, unless man covet, and has of his own accord brought this inability upon himself; and, lastly, unless the requirement, which it is not possible for man to comply with, he of such a nature as is calculated to lead him to acknowledge, and deplore his inability. But God, by creating man in his own image, gave him the ability to render that obedience which he justly requires from him in his law. Wherefore if man, by his own fault and free will, cast away this ability with which he was endowed, and brought himself into a state in which he can no longer render full obedience to the divine law, God has not for this reason lost his right to exact the obedience which man is in duty bound to render him. God therefore justly punishes us, because we have cast away this good by transgressing his commandments, and because he threatened punishment in case his law were violated.

Obj. 1. But we did not bring this sin upon ourselves. Ans. Our first parents, when they fell, lost this ability both for themselves, and all their posterity; just as they also received it for themselves and their posterity.

If a prince were to give a nobleman a fee and he were to rebel against him, he would lose it not only for himself, but for his posterity also; and the prince would do no injustice to his children by not restoring to them that which was lost by the rebellion of their father. And if he does restore it, it is because of his goodness and mercy.

Obj. 2. He that commands impossibilities, commands in vain. God commands that which it is impossible for man to perform since the fall. Therefore he commands in vain. Ans. 1. God does not command in vain, even though we do not perform what he enjoins upon us, because his commandments have other ends in view, both as it respects the righteous and the wicked. The righteous are required to obey the commands of God,
1. That they may acknowledge their own weakness and inability. "By the law is the knowledge of sin."
2. That they may know what they were before the fall.
3. That they may know what they ought most especially to ask of God, viz, the renewal of their nature.
4. That they may understand what Christ has done in our behalf--that he has made satisfaction for us, and regenerates us.
5. That we may commence new obedience to God, because the law teaches us how we ought to act towards God, in view of the benefits of redemption; and what God, in return, requires of us. Obedience is required from the wicked,
1. That the justice of God may be manifest in their condemnation: because if they know what they ought to do, and yet do it not, they are justly condemned. "That servant which knew his Lord's will, and did not according to it, shall be beaten with many stripes." (Luke 12:47.)
2. That external propriety, and discipline may be preserved.
3. That those whom God designs to save may be converted. We reply, in the second place, to the major proposition of this syllogism by making the following distinction:

He who commands impossibilities, does indeed command in vain, unless he at the same time gives the ability. But God, in commanding the elect, gives them the power also to obey, and commences obedience in them by the gospel, and ultimately perfects it. Augustine says: "Lord, give what thou dost command, and command what thou wilt, and thou shalt not command in vain." (De bono persever. cap. 10.) This impossible demand is, therefore, the greatest benefit; because it leads us to the attainment of the power through which we may comply with what is required of us.

Question 10 [Re: chestnutmare] #48705
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Question 10. Will God suffer such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?

Answer: By no means; but is terribly displeased (a) with our original as well as actual sins; and will punish them in his just judgment temporally and eternally, as he has declared, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them."

Gen.2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Rom.5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

(b) Ps.5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Ps.50:21 These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

Nah.1:2 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.

Exod.20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Exod.34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Rom.1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Eph.5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

Heb.9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

(c) Deut.27:26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

Gal.3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Re: Lord's Day 4—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48706
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Exposition

In the exposition of this Question, we must consider the evil of punishment, which is the other part of the misery of man. In relation to this we are taught that God punishes sin most severely, justly, and certainly. He punishes it most severely, that is, with present and eternal punishment, on account of its enormity and greatness, because it is an offence against the infinite good. Most justly, because every sin, even the smallest transgression, is in violation of the law of God; and, therefore, according to the order of divine justice, deserves eternal punishment and banishment from God. Most certainly, because God is true, and does not change the sentence which the law denounces: "Cursed is he that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal. 3:6.)

Obj. 1. But the wicked often prosper in this life, and do many things with impunity. Therefore all sins are not punished. Ans. They will at length be punished: yea they are even in this life punished, 1. In the conscience, by whose stings the wicked are tortured. 2. Also, in those things which they use with the greatest eagerness and delight; and the less they know, and acknowledge themselves to be punished, so much the heavier it is. 3. They are also often afflicted with other grievous punishments. And yet their punishment will be still more dreadful in the life to come, where it will be everlasting death.

Obj. 2. God did not create evil, and death. Therefore he will not punish sin so severely. Ans. He did not, indeed, create them in the beginning; yet when sin was committed he inflicted death, in his just judgment, upon sinners, according to the threatening: " Thou shalt surely die!" (Gen. 2:17.) Wherefore it is likewise said: " Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos 3:6.)

Obj. 3. If God punish sin with present, and everlasting punishment, he punishes the same offence twice, and is unjust. But he is not unjust; neither does he punish the same offence twice. Therefore he will not punish with present and everlasting punishment. Ans. We deny the major proposition; for the punishment which God inflicts upon the wicked in this, and in the life to come, is but one punishment, although it consists of several parts. Present punishment is but the beginning of everlasting punishment. Neither is it separate, or complete in itself, because it is not sufficient to satisfy the justice of God.

Obj. 4. Sins which are different in their character are not punished with an equal punishment. Therefore all sins are not punished with eternal punishment. Ans. There is more in the conclusion than in the premises. This is all that legitimately follows; therefore all sins are not punished with equal punishment, which is true. But all sins, even the smallest, deserve eternal punishment, because all offend the infinite and eternal good. Hence all sins are punished equally as to duration, but not as to the degrees of punishment. Great sins will be punished eternally, with severe punishment, whilst smaller ones will be punished eternally, with lighter punishment.

Obj. 5. But if God punish sin with eternal punishment, then all of us must either perish, or else the justice of God is not satisfied. Ans. It is true, indeed, that if God were to punish sin in us, we would all necessarily perish for ever. But he does not punish sin in us with eternal punishment; and yet his justice does not suffer on this account, because he has made a satisfaction for our sins in Christ, by inflicting upon him a punishment equivalent to that which is eternal. It is in this way that the Gospel satisfies the demands of the law.

Obj. 6. But if God has punished our sins in Christ, he ought not, if he is just, to inflict further punishment upon us; so that the afflictions of the righteous in this life are unjust. Ans. The afflictions of the righteous are not to be regarded as a punishment or satisfaction for sin; but they are merely the chastisement of a father, sent for the purpose of humbling them. Hence it becomes necessary for us, after we shall have given an exposition of the following question of the catechism, to speak of afflictions.

Question 11 [Re: chestnutmare] #48707
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Question 11. Is not God then also merciful?

Answer: God is indeed merciful, but also just; therefore his justice requires, that sin which is committed against the most high majesty of God, be also punished with extreme, that is, with everlasting punishment of body and soul.

(a) Exod.34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Exod.34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Exod.20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

(b) Ps.7:9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.

Exod.20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Exod.23:7 Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.

Exod.34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Ps.5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Ps.5:6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

Nah.1:2 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.

Nah.1:3 The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

Re: Lord's Day 4—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48708
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Exposition

There is here an objection to what is taught in the preceding question, which affirms, that God punishes every sin with eternal punishment. The objection is this: It belongs to him, who is in the highest degree merciful, not to be too rigorous in the demands of his justice. God is in the highest degree merciful; therefore he will not exact all that his extreme justice demands, and so will not punish sin with eternal punishment. To the major proposition we thus reply: It does indeed belong to him, who is merciful, to be lenient in his demands, but not so as to wrong his justice, if he be at the same time extremely just. But God is exceedingly merciful in such a way, that he is also exceedingly just. Hence he will exercise his mercy in such a manner as not to do any violence to his justice. Now, the justice of God demands that sin, which is committed against his most high Majesty, be punished with extreme, that is, with everlasting punishment, both of body and soul, that there may be a proportion between the offence and its punishment. Every crime is great, and deserving of punishment in proportion to the majesty of him against whom it is committed. The following objection demands a passing notice:

Obj. He who rigorously exacts his right, shuts out every expectation of clemency. God rigorously exacts his right. Therefore with him there is no clemency. Or the objection may be thus stated: He who does not yield any thing in relation to his rights, is not merciful, but only just. God does not yield any thing as it respects his rights, because he punishes every sin with a punishment that corresponds with its just desert. Ans. We deny the minor proposition, because God, although he punishes sin with eternal punishment, does nevertheless yield much as it respects his right. He exhibits great clemency, for instance, towards the reprobate, for he defers the punishment which they deserve, and invites them to repentance by strong and powerful motives. And as to the punishment which he will inflict upon them in the world to come, it will be lighter than they deserved. So he also exercises great mercy towards the faithful, for he has, from his mercy alone, without being bound by any law or merit on our part, given his son, and subjected him to punishment for our sake. We also deny the major proposition, if applied either to him who is endowed with such wisdom that he can discover a method of exercising mercy without violating his justice, or when applied to him who, whilst he executes his justice, does not rejoice in the destruction of man, but would rather that he be saved. As a judge, when he passes the sentence upon a robber that he deserves to be put to the torture, and yet does not take pleasure in his punishment, exhibits great equity and clemency, even though he seems to exact the most rigorous demand of the law, so God is far more equitable and clement, although, in his just judgment, he punishes sin, for he does not delight in the destruction of the wicked, (Ez. 18:23; 33:11.) and has also shown his mercy and compassion towards us, by laying the punishment which we deserved upon his own Son.

Concerning afflictions There are three questions which particularly claim our attention in regard to afflictions:
How many kinds of afflictions are there?
What are the causes of them?
What comforts may be opposed to them?

How many kinds of afflictions are there? [Re: chestnutmare] #48709
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I. How many kinds of afflictions are there?

There are two kinds of afflictions, such as are temporal and such as are eternal. Eternal, are those everlasting torments of body and soul which constitute the final portion of devils, and of the wicked who in this life are not converted to God. They are called in the Scriptures, hell, torments, unquenchable fire, a worm that dieth not, and everlasting death, because they are torments which will be everlasting, and such as are experienced by the dying, who, although they are always dying, will never be dead. This now will be the character of eternal death, always to die, and never to be dead; or it will be a continuation of death, with an infinite increase of hellish agonies and torments. The following are some of the declarations of Scripture which refer to everlasting punishment: "Their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched." "It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear." (Is. 66:24. Mark 9:43-44. Matt. 25:41. 1 Pet. 4:18.) The reason which makes this form of punishment necessary is evident from this: that sin which is committed against God, who is infinitely good, demands an infinite punishment and satisfaction, which could not be rendered by the afflictions which are incident merely to this life. This would not satisfy the infinite and eternal justice of God.

That eternal punishment includes both the soul and body, is clearly affirmed by Christ himself, when he says: "Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10:28.) The soul is the fountain of sin; whilst the body, as a thing destitute of reason, executes what the soul directs. As the soul and body are, therefore, both involved in the commission of sin, the one being the author and the other the instrument, they will both be included in the punishment thereof.

Obj. He who is most merciful cannot behold the eternal torments of his creatures, much less inflict them. God's mercy is infinitely great, and exceeds our sins; therefore he can neither inflict nor behold eternal torments in his creatures.
Ans. This objection is true if it refers merely to a being who is infinitely merciful, without being at the same time infinitely just. But as both of these attributes meet in the character of God, the objection loses its force when applied to him, as we have already shown, in our remarks upon the 11th Question of the Catechism.

Temporal afflictions, such as sickness, poverty, reproach, calumny, oppression, banishment, wars, and the other miseries of this life, together with temporal death itself, are Common both to the righteous and the wicked. These afflictions are either punishments, or the cross.

The punishments which are a part of the afflictions of this life, Consist in the destruction and sufferings which are inflicted upon those who are guilty of sin. These are peculiar to the reprobate, because they are inflicted upon them for the purpose of making satisfaction to the justice of God. For the law binds all men either to obedience or punishment.

Obj. But the evils which are inflicted upon the wicked in this life, are not sufficient to satisfy the justice of God. Ans. They do not constitute the whole punishment of the wicked. They are only a part of it, and a beginning of that full satisfaction which will be exacted from them through all eternity. Just as every part of the air is called air, so every part of punishment is called punishment.

There are, however, degrees of punishment. The first degree is that which pertains to this life; for here already, when conscience chides and reproves, there is a commencement of the gnawings of the worm which shall never die. The second degree of punishment is that which is experienced in temporal death, when the wicked begin to feel the wrath of God, as the soul is separated from the body and plunged into the place of hopeless torment. The third degree of punishment is that which will be inflicted in the last judgment, when the soul and body will be cast into hell, and everlasting agonies will rush in from every side, as if in torrents, upon the wicked.

The cross comprises those afflictions which are peculiar to the godly, which are not properly punishments, because they are not inflicted for the purpose of making satisfaction to the justice of God. There are four kinds of afflictions included in the cross, and distinguished from each other by their ends.

The first comprises those chastisements which God inflicts upon the righteous for their sins, but which are inflicted according to his mercy, as a father corrects his son with much gentleness and toleration. They are, therefore, not properly punishments, but fatherly chastisements, by which the godly are admonished of their impurity, and of their peculiar sins and backslidings—are stirred up to repentance, and so brought back to the path of duty and holiness. Thus David was driven from his kingdom, and banished, on account of his fall: for peculiar sins are followed by peculiar and severe chastisements, even in the saints. These chastisements, however, are not to be regarded as a recompense for sin; but they are the effects of divine justice, through which God designs that we and others should be made acquainted with the rectitude of his character; that he is greatly displeased with sin, and will punish it with death, not only in this, but also in the life to come, unless we repent and return to him.

The second form or species of the cross includes the proofs or trials which are made of the faith, hope, patience, &c., of the saints, in order that these virtues may be strengthened and confirmed in them; and also, that their infirmity may be made manifest to themselves and others. Such was the nature of Job's affliction.

The third form of the cross is martyrdom, which includes the testimony and witness of the saints concerning the doctrine of the gospel, when they confirm and seal with their blood the doctrine which they professed, by which they declare that it is true--that they themselves experience in death the comfort which they promised to others in their teachings, and that there remains another life, and another judgment after this life.

The cross, in the last place, includes ransom, or the obedience of Christ; which is a satisfaction for our sins, and includes the entire humiliation of Christ, from the very moment of his conception to his last agony upon the cross.

What are the causes of afflictions? [Re: chestnutmare] #48710
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II. What are the causes of afflictions?

The causes of the punishments of the wicked are:
1. Sin, which is the impelling cause. They are made to suffer, that satisfaction may thus be made by a just punishment for their sins.
2. The justice of God, which is the chief efficient cause which inflicts punishment for sin.
3. The instrumental causes are various: they are such as angels and men, both good and bad, and other creatures, all of whom are armed against the sinner, and fight under God's banner.

The causes of the cross which is peculiar to the godly, are:

1. Sin, which, however, is to be viewed differently in the godly from what it is in the wicked. The godly are afflicted on account of sin, not for the purpose of making satisfaction to the justice of God, but that sin may be acknowledged by them, and removed, through the cross. They are paternally chastised, that they may be led to a knowledge of their faults. These chastisements are to them sermons, and call to repentance. "When we are judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." God, however, gives loose reigns to the wicked, that they may rush into destruction, lie confers upon them the blessings of this life, with a short season of repose and rejoicing, because they are his creatures, that their ingratitude may become apparent, and that he may render them inexcusable. But he corrects and improves the character of the godly through the cross.

2. That we may learn to hate sin, the devil, and the world. "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own." " We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers." "Love not the world." (John 15:19. Eph. 6:12. 1 John 2:15.)

3. That we may be exercised and tried, that thus our faith, hope, patience, prayer, and obedience, may be strengthened and confirmed; or that we may have matter and occasion for exercising and proving ourselves, and that our faith, hope, and patience, may be made manifest both to ourselves and others. When all things go well, it is an easy thing for us to glory in regard to our faith; but in adversity, the grace or beauty of virtue becomes apparent. He that has not been tempted, what knoweth he? "Experience worketh hope." (Rom. 5:4.)

4. The peculiar faults and slidings of the saints. Manasseh had his peculiar faults; Jehoshaphat had his; and other saints have other failings and sins peculiar to themselves. Hence the chastisements by which God shows that he is also displeased with the sins of the saints, and will avenge them more severely, unless they repent, are various and different. "That servant which knew his Lord's will, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes." (Luke 12:47.)

5. The exhibition and manifestation of the glory of God in the deliverance of the church, and of the godly. God often brings his church and people into extreme danger, that the deliverance which he effects may be the more glorious, as was the case with the oppression of the children of Israel in Egypt, and their captivity in Babylon, &c. In these instances the deliverance which God wrought was truly glorious, and gave evidence of his wisdom in discovering a way of escape where no creature could hope for it. "The Lord bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up." (1 Sam. 2:6.)

6. The conformity of the members to Christ, their head in affliction and glory. "If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him." "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." "The servant is not greater than his Lord, nor the disciple above his master." (2 Tim. 2:12. Rom. 8:29. Matt. 10:24.)

7. That the saints, by their sufferings and death, may bear witness to the truth of the doctrine of the gospel: for when the faithful endure every form of suffering, and even death itself for the sake of their profession of Christianity, they give the most satisfactory testimony that they themselves are fully persuaded of its truth, and that they cannot from any consideration be induced to renounce it; and also that it affords them real and solid consolation, even in death itself, and must therefore necessarily be true. It was foretold to Peter by what death he should glorify God. (John 21:19.

8. The afflictions of the godly are evidences of a judgment to come and of eternal life. The truth and justice of God both require that it should at length go well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked. This however is not fully the case in this life. Therefore there must be another life after this, in which God will render to every one according to his just deserts. "Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer." (2 Thes. 1:5.)

Having made these remarks in relation to the afflictions of the godly, we may easily reply to the objection which the men of the world are wont to bring against the providence of God. The church, say they, is oppressed throughout the whole world, and trodden under foot by all men. Therefore it is not the true church, and is not cared for on the part of God. But this, instead of proving any thing against the church, is rather an argument in its favor: for if the church were of the world, then this opposition and persecution would cease, for the world loves its own. The reasons of the afflictions of the church are therefore manifest; and the end of things will convict and condemn the world.

Re: Lord's Day 4—Heidelberg Catechism [Re: chestnutmare] #48711
Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:28 PM
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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
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III. What are the comforts which we may oppose to our affliction?

There are some comforts under afflictions which are peculiar to the church, whilst there are others that are common both to the church and philosophy. The first, in connection with the ninth and tenth, which we shall now present are peculiar to the church, whilst the rest are common both to it, and philosophy; and yet whilst it may be said that they are common, it is only as it respects the outward appearance, and not as it regards the matter, or substance of the thing spoken of. These comforts we shall present in the following order

1. Remission of sin. TInS is the first in order and lies at the bottom of all the rest: because if we have no assurance of the forgiveness of sin, and reconciliation with God, all the other comforts are of no account; for we should then always be in doubt whether the promise of grace belongs to us or not. But if thus comfort be well grounded and fixed, all the others will naturally follow; for if God be our father, we may rest assured that he will not only not send any tIming that will be an injury to us, but he will also defend us against all the evils of this life. " If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31.) The reason of all this is, that where the cause is taken away thie effect is also removed. Therefore where sin is taken away, punishments and death are also done away with.

2. The will and providence of God, or the necessity of obeying God both in adversity and prosperity, because he wills and directs all things. The reason of this consequence of obedience is not only because we are not able to resist him, but more especially,
1. Because he is our Father.

2. Because he is deserving of this obedience from us to such an extent, that we ought to be willing to endure the greatest evils for his sake. 3. Because the evils which he sends are fatherly chastisements. This comfort quiets the mind, inasmuch as it assures us that it is our heavenly Father's will that we should suffer these things. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." " The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 13:15; 1:21.) Philosophers tell us that we ought to endure patiently what we cannot alter and avoid. They establish a fatal necessity, and then count it foolish to resist it. But in their calamities they do not submit themselves to God, nor acknowledge his displeasure, nor endure adversity with the design of obeying God; but because they cannot avoid these things. This is miserable comfort.

3. The excellency of virtue, or obedience to God, which is true virtue, on account of which the mind should not be cast down under the cross. The temporal blessings which God confers upon mis are great benefits; but obedience, faith, hope, &c., are far greater. Therefore it becomes us not to prefer less benefits to those which are greater, nor to cast away the greater for the sake of redeeming the loss of those which are less. "he that loveth father, or mother, more than me, is not worthy of me." "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it." (Matt. 10:37; 16:25.) Philosophers make much account of the dignity of virtue, but it is with poor grace, inasmuch as they themselves are destitute of true virtue.

4. A good conscience, which exists only in the godly, who know that God is at peace with them by, and for the sake of Christ, the mediator. Now, if God be favorable to us, we cannot but enjoy tranquillity of mind. Philosophers, however, do not comfort their followers in this manner; for when they are afflicted they ask, Why doth not good fortune, or prosperity, follow a good conscience? And hence they complain and murmur, as Cato and others have done.

5. The final causes, or ends, which are--1. The glory of God, which is apparent in our deliverance. 2. Our salvation. "We are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." 3. The conversion of others, together with the enlargement of the church. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus, that thus others might be converted, and confirmed in the faith. Philosophers tell us, it is a good end, when any one suffers for the purpose of saving his country, and obtaining everlasting glory and renown. But in the mean time, miserable men! they are led to ask, What will these things profit us when we die?

6. A comparison of events. It is better to be chastened of the Lord for a short season, than to live in the greatest abundance, and at last be driven from God, and be cast into everlasting destruction. Philosophers, comparing evils with each other, find but little good arising from this comparison, whilst they are ignorant of the chief good, to obtain which we ought to be willing to suffer all the varied ills of life.

7. The hope of recompense, or of reward, in this and in another life. "Great is your reward in heaven." (Matt. 5:12.) We know that there are other blessings in reversion for us, with which the afflictions of this life are not to be compared. And even in this life the godly enjoy greater blessings than other men; for they have peace with God, and all other spiritual gifts. Temporal blessings, even though they are small as far as it respects the righteous, yet they are profitable to them. "There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters," &c., "but he shall receive an hundred-fold now in this time, and in the world to come eternal life." "A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked." "We glory in tribulations." (Mark 10:29, 23. Ps. 37:16. Rom. 5:3.) The hope of reward may administer some little comfort to philosophers in light afflictions, but not in those which are grievous; because they think it better to be without this reward than to endure great sufferings for the sake of obtaining it; and also because they regard it as uncertain, small, and transient.

8. The example of Christ and of his saints. "The servant is not above his Lord." (Matt. 10:24.) God also desires that we should be conformed to the image of his Son. We then follow Christ in reproach, and glory. Gratitude requires this; because Christ died for our salvation. Holy martyrs have suffered, nor did they perish under their afflictions. We ought not to ask for ourselves a better lot than theirs, since we are not better than they, but much worse. They have suffered and have been delivered by God. Let us therefore look for a similar event, because the love of God towards his people is unchangeable. " So persecuted they the prophets, which were before you." "Resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." (Matt. 5:12. 1 Pet. 5:9.)

9. The presence and help of God in our afflictions. God is present with us, by his Spirit, strengthening and comforting us under the cross. He does not permit us to be tempted above that which we are able to bear; and also, with every temptation, opens a way of escape, and always proportions our afflictions to our strength, that we may not be overcome. "We have the first fruits of the Spirit." "I will be with him in trouble." "He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever." "If a man love me, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." "I will not leave you comfortless." " Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." (Rom. 8:23. Ps. 91:15. John 14:13; 23:18. Is. 49:15.)

10. Complete and final deliverance, is the crowning point of all the rest. The first is the chief comfort, and foundation of all the others; this is the perfection and consummation of all. For as there are degrees of punishment, so there are also degrees of deliverance. The first degree is in this life, where we have the beginning of eternal life. The second is in temporal death, when the soul is carried into Abraham's bosom. The third will be in the resurrection of the dead, and their glorification, when we shall be perfectly happy, both in body and soul. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Rev. 21:4.)


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