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Definition of Christian Hope, its Ground, and the Means thereto.

386. What is Christian hope?

The resting of the heart on God, with the full trust that he ever cares for our salvation, and will give us the happiness he has promised.

387. What is the ground of Christian hope?

The Lord Jesus Christ is our hope, or the ground of our hope. 1 Tim. i. 1. Hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter i. 13.

388. What are the means for attaining to a saving hope?

The means to this are, first, prayer; secondly, the true doctrine of blessedness, and its practical application.

On Prayer.

389. Is there any testimony of God's Word to this, that prayer is a mean for attaining to a saving hope?

Jesus Christ himself joins the hope of receiving our desire with prayer: Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John xiv. 13.

390. What is Prayer?

The lifting up of man's mind and heart to God, manifested by devout words.

391. What should the Christian do when he lifts up his mind and heart to God?

First, he should glorify him for his divine perfections; secondly, give thanks to him for his mercies; thirdly, ask him for what he needs. So there are three chief forms of prayer: Praise, Thanksgiving, and Petition.

392. Can a man pray without words?

He can: in mind and heart. An example of this may be seen in Moses before the passage through the Red Sea. Exod. xiv. 15.

393. Has not such prayer a name of its own?

It is called spiritual, or prayer of the heart and mind, in one word, inward prayer; while, on the other hand, prayer expressed in words, and accompanied by other marks of devotion, is called oral or outward prayer.

394. Can there be outward prayer without inward?

There can: if any man utter words of prayer without attention or earnestness.

395. Does outward prayer alone suffice to obtain grace?

So far is it from sufficing to obtain grace, that contrariwise it provokes God to anger.

God has himself declared his displeasure at such prayer: This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: but in vain do they worship me. Matt. xv. 8, 9.

396. Does not inward prayer alone suffice without outward?

This question is as if one should ask whether soul alone might not suffice for man without body. It is idle to ask this, seeing that God has been pleased to make man consist of soul and body; likewise idle it is to ask whether inward prayer alone may not suffice without outward. Since we have both soul and body, we ought to glorify God in our bodies, and in our souls, which are God's: this being besides natural, that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth should speak. Our Lord Jesus Christ was spiritual in the highest degree, but even he expressed his spiritual prayer both by words and by devout gestures of body, sometimes, for instance, lifting up his eyes to heaven, sometimes kneeling, or falling on his face to the ground. 1 Cor. vi. 20; Matt. xii. 34; John xvii. 1; Luke xxii. 41; Matt. xxvi. 39.

On the Lord's Prayer.

397. Is there not a prayer which may be termed the common Christian prayer, and pattern of all prayers?

Such is the Lord's Prayer.

398. What is the Lord's Prayer?

A prayer which our Lord Jesus Christ taught the Apostles, and which they delivered to all believers.

399. Repeat it.

Our father, who art in heaven?

1. Hallowed be thy Name;

2. Thy kingdom come;

3. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth;

4. Give us this day our bread for subsistence;

5. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,

6. And lead us not into temptation;

7. But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen. Matt. vi. 9--13.

400. In order the better to understand the Lord's Prayer, how may we divide it?

Into the invocation, seven petitions, and the doxology.

On the Invocation.

401. How dare we call God Father?

By faith in Jesus Christ, and by the grace of regeneration.

As many as received him, to them, gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John i. 12, 13.

402. Must we say Our Father even when we pray alone?

Certainly we must.

403. Why so?

Because Christian charity requires us to call upon God, and ask good things of him, for all our brethren, no less than for ourselves.

404. Why in the invocation do we say, Who art in heaven?

That, entering upon prayer, we may leave every thing earthly and corruptible, and raise our minds and hearts to what is heavenly, everlasting, and divine.

On the First Petition.

405. Is not God's name holy?

Doubtless it is holy in itself. Holy is his name. Luke i. 49.

406. How, then, can it yet be hallowed?

It may be hallowed in men; that is, his eternal holiness may be manifested in them.

407. How?

First, when we, having in our thoughts and heart the name of God, so live as his holiness requires, and thus glorify God; secondly, when others also, seeing our good lives, glorify God.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matt. v. 16.

On the Second Petition.

408. What is the kingdom of God spoken of in the second petition of the Lord's Prayer?

The kingdom of grace, which, as St. Paul says, is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Rom. xiv. 17.

409. Is not this kingdom come already?

To some it has not yet come in its full sense; while to others it has not yet come at all inasmuch as sin still reigns in their mortal bodies, that they should obey it in the lusts thereof. Rom. vi. 12.

410. How does it come?

Secretly, and inwardly. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke xvii. 20, 21.

411. May not the Christian ask for something further under the name of God's kingdom?

He may ask for the kingdom of glory--that is, for the perfect bliss of the faithful.

Having a desire to depart, and be with Christ. Phil. i. 23.

On the Third Petition.

412. What means the petition, Thy will be done?

Hereby we ask of God that all we do, and all that befalls us, may be ordered not as we will, but as pleases him.

413. Why need we ask this?

Because we often err in our wishes; but God unerringly, and incomparably more than we ourselves, wishes for us all that is good, and is ever ready to bestow it, unless he be prevented by our willfulness and obstinacy.

Unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the Church. Eph. iii. 20, 21.

414. Why do we ask that God's will be done in earth as in heaven?

Because in heaven the holy angels and saints in bliss, all without exception, always, and in all things, do God's will.

On the Fourth Petition.

415. What is bread for subsistence?1


The bread which we need in order to subsist or live.

416. With what thoughts should we ask of God this bread?

Agreeably with the instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should ask no more than bread for subsistence; that is, necessary food, and such clothing and shelter as is likewise necessary for life; but whatever is beyond this, and serves not so much for necessity as for gratification, we should leave to the will of God; and if it be given, return thanks to him; if it be not given, we should be content without it.

417. Why are we directed to ask for bread for subsistence only for this day ?

That we may not be too anxious about the future, but trust for that to God. Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matt. vi. 34. For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. Matt. vi. 32.

418. May we not ask for something farther under the name of bread for subsistence?

Since man is made of both a bodily and a spiritual substance, and the substance of the soul far excels that of the body, we may and should seek for the soul also that bread of subsistence without which the inward man must perish of hunger.

(See Cyril. Hier. Lect, Myst. iv. 15; Orthod. Confess. Pt. II. Q. 19.)

419. What is the bread of subsistence for the soul?

The Word of God, and the Body and Blood of Christ.

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matt. iv. 4. My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. John vi. 55.

On the Fifth Petition.

420. What is meant in the Lord's Prayer by our debts?

Our sins.

421. Why are our sins called debts?

Because we, having received all from God, ought to render all back to him--that is, subject all to his will and law; which if we do not, we are left debtors to his justice.

422. But who are our debtors?

People who have not rendered us that which they owed us by the law of God; as, for instance, have not shown us love, but malice.

423. If God is just, how can we be forgiven our debts?

Through the mediation of Jesus Christ.

For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself a ransom for all. 1 Tim. ii. 5, 6.

424. What will be the consequence, if we ask God to forgive us our sins without ourselves forgiving others?

In that case neither shall we be forgiven.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses. Matt. vi. 14, 15.

425. Why will not God forgive us if we do not forgive others?

Because we hereby show ourselves evil, and so alienate from us God's goodness and

426. What disposition, then, must we have to use aright those words of the Lord's Prayer, As we forgive our debtors?

These words absolutely require that when we pray we should bear no malice nor hatred, but be in peace and charity with all men.

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and, there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way: first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Matt. v. 23, 24.

427. But what am I to do if I can not readily find him who hath aught against me, or if he show himself unwilling to be reconciled?

In such a case it is enough to be reconciled with him in heart, before the eyes of the all-seeing God.

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Rom. xii. 18.

On the Sixth Petition.

428. What is meant in the Lord's Prayer by temptation ?

Any conjuncture of circumstances in which there is imminent danger of losing the faith, or falling into great sin.

429. Whence come such temptations?

From our flesh, from the world, or other people, and from the devil.

430. What do we ask in these words of the prayer, Lead us not into temptation?

First, that God suffer us not to be led into temptation; secondly, that if it be needful for us to be tried and purified through temptation, he give us not up wholly to temptation, nor suffer us to fall.

On the Seventh Petition.

431. What do we ask in these words of the prayer, Deliver as from evil?

We ask for deliverance from all evil that can reach us in the world, which since the fall lieth in wickedness (1 John v. 19): but especially from the evil of sin, and from the evil suggestions and snares of the spirit of evil, which is the devil.

On the Doxology.

432. Why after the Lord's Prayer do we subjoin the Doxology?

First, that when we ask mercies for ourselves from our heavenly Father, we may at the same time render him that honor which is his due; secondly, that by the thought of his everlasting kingdom, power, and glory, we may be more and more established in the hope that he will give us what we ask, because this is in his power, and makes to his glory.

433. What means the word Amen T

It means verily, or so be it.

434. Why is this word added to the Doxology?

To signify that we offer the prayer in faith, and without doubting, as we are taught to do by the Apostle James. James i. 6.

On the Doctrine of Blessedness.

435. What must we join with prayer in order to be grounded in the hope of salvation and blessedness?

Our own exertions for the attainment of blessedness.

Of this point the Lord himself says: Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Luke vi. 46. Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matt. vii. 21.

436. What doctrine may we take as our guide in these exertions?

The doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is briefly set forth in his Beatitudes, or sentences on blessedness.

437. How many such sentences are there? The nine following:

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

2. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

3. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filed.

5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

6. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

7. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

9. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven. Matt. v. 3-12.

438. What is to be observed of all these sentences in order to their right understanding?

This: that the Lord proposed in these sentences a doctrine for the attainment of blessedness, as is expressly said in the Gospel: He opened his mouth, and taught; but, being meek and lowly of heart, he proposed his doctrine not in the form of commandment, but of blessing, to those who should of their own free will receive and fulfill it. Consequently in each sentence or Beatitude we must consider, first, the doctrine or precept; secondly, the blessing or promise of reward.

On the First Beatitude.

439. What is the Lord's first precept of blessedness?

They who would be blessed must be poor in spirit.

440. What is it to be poor in spirit?

It is to have a spiritual conviction that we have nothing of our own, nothing but what God bestows upon us, and that we can do nothing good without God's help and grace, thus counting ourselves as nothing, and in all throwing ourselves upon the mercy of God; in brief, as St. Chrysostom explains it, spiritual poverty is humility. (Hom. in Matt. xv.)

441. Can the rich, too, be poor in spirit?

Doubtless they can: if they consider that visible riches are corruptible and soon pass away, and can never compensate for the want of spiritual goods. What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul for what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matt. xvi. 26.

442. May not bodily poverty serve to the perfection of spiritual?

It may, if the Christian choose it voluntarily, for God's sake. Of this, Jesus Christ himself said to the rich man: If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me. Matt. xix. 21.

443. What does our Lord promise to the poor in spirit?

The kingdom of heaven.

444. How is the kingdom of heaven theirs?

In the present life inwardly, and inchoately,2 by faith and hope; but in the life to come perfectly, by their being made partakers of everlasting blessedness.


On the Second Beatitude.

445. What is the Lord's second precept for blessedness?

They who would be blessed must mourn.

446. What is meant in this precept by the word mourn?

Sorrow and contrition of heart, with unfeigned tears, for that we so imperfectly and unworthily serve the Lord, or even rather deserve big anger by our sins, for godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of this world worketh death. 2 Cor. vii. 10.

447. What special promise does the Lord make to mourners?

That they shall be comforted.

448. What comfort is here to be understood?

That of grace, consisting in the pardon of sin, and in peace of conscience.

449. Why is this promise added to the precept for mourning?

In order that sorrow for sin may not reach to despair.

On the Third Beatitude.

450. What is the Lord's third precept for blessedness?

They who would be blessed must be meek.

451. What is meekness?

A quiet disposition of spirit, joined with care neither to offend any man, nor be offended at any thing one's self.

452. What are the special effects of Christian meekness?

These: that we never murmur against God, nor even against men, when any thing falls out against our wishes, nor give way to anger, nor set ourselves up.

453. What is promised by the Lord to the meek?

That they shall inherit the earth.

454. How are we to understand this promise?

As regards Christ's followers generally it is a prediction which has been literally fulfilled; for the ever-meek Christians, instead of being destroyed by the fury of the heathen, have inherited the universe which the heathen formerly possessed. But the further sense of this promise, as regards Christians both generally and individually, is this, that they shall receive an inheritance, as the Psalmist says, in the land of the living; that is, where men live and never die; in other words, that they shall receive everlasting blessedness. See Psalm xxvii. 13.

On the Fourth Beatitude.

455. What is the Lord's fourth precept for blessedness?

They who would be blessed must hunger and thirst after righteousness.

456. What is meant here by the word righteousness ?

Though this word may well stand for every virtue which the Christian ought to desire even as his meat and drink, yet should we here specially understand that righteousness of which, in the book of Daniel, it is said, An everlasting righteousness shall be brought in; that is, the justification of guilty man through grace and faith in Jesus Christ. Dan. ix. 24.

The Apostle Paul speaks thus: The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God/ being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past. Rom. iii. 22-25.

457. Who are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness?

They who, while they love to do good, yet count not themselves righteous, nor rest on their own good works, but acknowledge themselves sinners, and guilty before God; and who, by the wish and prayer of faith, hunger and thirst after the justification of grace through Jesus Christ, as after spiritual meat and drink.

458. What does the Lord promise to them who hunger and thirst after righteousness?

That they shall be filled.

459. What is meant here by being filled?

As the filling or satisfying of the body produces, first, the cessation of the sense of hunger and thirst; secondly, the strengthening the body by food, so the filling of the soul means, first, the inward peace of the pardoned sinner; secondly, the acquisition of strength to do good, given by justifying grace. The perfect filling, however, of the soul created for the enjoyment of endless good is to follow in the life eternal, according to the words of the Psalmist: When I awake up after thy likeness, I shall be satisfied with it. Psalm xvii. 15.

On the Fifth Beatitude.

460. What is the Lord's fifth precept for blessedness?

They who would be blessed must be merciful.

461. How are we to fulfill this precept?

By works of mercy, corporal and spiritual; for, as St. Chrysostom says, the forms of mercy are manifold, and this commandment is broad. (Hom. in Matt. xv.)

462. Which are the corporal works of mercy t

1. To feed the hungry.

2. To give drink to the thirsty.

3. To clothe the naked, or such as have not necessary and decent clothing.

4. To visit them that are in prison.

5. To visit the sick, minister to them, and forward their recovery, or aid them to a Christian preparation for death.

6. To show hospitality to strangers.

7. To bury them that have died in poverty.

463. Which are the spiritual works of mercy?

1. By exhortation to convert the sinner from the error of his way. James v. 20.

2. To instruct the ignorant in truth and virtue.

3. To give our neighbor good and seasonable advice in difficulty, or in any danger of which he is unaware.

4. To pray for others to God.

5. To comfort the afflicted.

6. Not to return the evil which others may have done us.

7. To forgive injuries from our heart.

464. Is it not contrary to the precept of mercy for civil justice to punish criminals?

Not in the least; if this be done as of duty, and with a good intent, that is, in order to correct them, or to preserve the innocent from their crimes.

465. What does the Lord promise to the merciful?

That they shall obtain mercy.

466. What mercy is here to be understood?

That of being delivered from everlasting condemnation for sin at God's Judgment


On the Sixth Beatitude.

467. What is the Lord's sixth precept for blessedness?

They who would be blessed must be pure in heart.

468. Is not purity of heart the same thing as sincerity?

Sincerity which feigns not any good dispositions foreign to the heart, but shows the really good dispositions of the heart by good deeds, is only the lowest degree of purity of heart. This last a man attains by constant and strict watchfulness over himself, driving away from his heart every unlawful wish and thought, and every affection for earthly things, and ever keeping there the remembrance of God and our Lord Jesus Christ with faith and charity.

469. What does the Lord promise to the pure in heart? That they shall see God.

470. How are we to understand this promise?

The Word of God compares the heart of man to the eye, and ascribes to perfect Christians enlightened, eyes of the heart. Eph. i. 18. As the eye that is clear can see the light, so the heart that is pure can behold God. But since the sight of God's countenance is the very source of everlasting blessedness, the promise of seeing God is the promise of the highest degree of everlasting blessedness.

On the Seventh Beatitude.

471. What is the Lord's seventh precept for blessedness?

They who would be blessed must be peace-makers.

472. How are we to fulfill this commandment?

We must live friendly with all men, and give no occasion for disagreement: if any arise, we must try all possible ways to put a stop to it, even by yielding our own right, unless this be against duty, or hurtful to any other: if others are at enmity, we must do all we can to reconcile them; and if we fail, we must pray to God for their reconciliation.

473. What does the Lord promise to peace-makers?

That they shall be called the Sons of God.

474. What is signified by this promise?

The sublimity both of their office and of their reward. Since in what they do they imitate the only-begotten Son of God, who came upon earth to reconcile fallen man with God's justice, they are for this promised the gracious name of Sons of God, and without doubt a degree of blessedness answering thereto.

On the Eighth Beatitude.

475. What is the Lord's eighth precept for blessedness?

They who would be blessed must be ready to endure persecution for righteousness' sake, without betraying it.

476. What qualities are required by this precept?

Love of righteousness, constancy and firmness in virtue, fortitude and patience, when one is subjected to calamity or danger for refusing to betray truth and virtue.

477. What does the Lord promise to those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake?

The kingdom of heaven, as if in recompense for what they lose through persecution; in like manner as the same is promised to the poor in spirit, to make up for the feeling of want and privation.

On the Ninth Beatitude.

478. What is the Lord's ninth precept for blessedness?

They who would be blessed must be ready to take with joy reproach, persecution, suffering, and death itself, for the name of Christ, and for the true orthodox faith.

479. What is the name for the course required by this precept?

The course of martyrdom.

480. What does the Lord promise for this course?

A great reward in heaven; that is, a special and high degree of blessedness.

1 [The German edition reads: Tägliches Brot, daily bread; the Greek, ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ἐπιούσιος . On the different derivations and interpretations of ἐπιούσιος , see a very learned and able essay by Prof. J. B. Lightfoot, D.D., in an appendix to his work on a Fresh Revision of the English New Testament, 1872, Harper's ed. pp. 163-184.--ED.]

2 [In an incipient degree, in germ. The Greek ed. reads, ἐσωτερικῶς καὶ προκαταρκτικῶς ; the German, innerlich und anfänglich .--Ed.]


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