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02 June, 2014

The Way for Christians to Be Settled—Is to be Well Grounded Part 2

By Watson 


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The second proposition is, that the way for Christians to be settled—is to be well grounded. "If you continue grounded and settled." The Greek word for grounded is a metaphor which alludes to a building that has the foundation well laid. So Christians should be grounded in the essential points of true religion, and have their foundation well laid.
Here let me speak to two things:

[1] That we should be grounded in the knowledge of fundamentals. The apostle speaks of "the first principles of the oracles of God." In all arts and sciences, logic, physics, mathematics, there are some rules and principles which must necessarily be known for the practice of those arts; so, in divinity, there must be the first principles laid down. The knowledge of the grounds and principles of true religion is exceedingly useful.

(1.) Else we cannot serve God aright. We can never worship God acceptably, unless we worship him regularly; and how can we do that, if we are ignorant of the rules and elements of true religion? We are to give God a "reasonable service." If we understand not the grounds of true religion, how can it be a reasonable service?

(2.) Knowledge of the grounds of true religion much enriches the mind. It is a lamp to our feet; it directs us in the whole course of Christianity, as the eye directs the body. Knowledge of fundamentals, is the golden key which opens the chief mysteries of true religion; it gives us a whole system and body of divinity, exactly drawn in all its lineaments and lively colors; it helps us to understand many of those difficult things which occur in the reading of the word; it helps to untie many Scripture knots.

(3.) It furnishes us with unshakable armor; and weapons to fight against the adversaries of the truth.

(4.) It is the holy seed of which grace is formed. It is the seed of faith. Psalm 9:10. It is the root of love. "Being rooted and grounded in love." The knowledge of the fundamental principles conduces to the making of a complete Christian.

[2] This grounding is the best way to being settled: "grounded and settled." A tree, that it may be well settled, must be well rooted; so, if you would be well settled in true religion, you must be rooted in its principles. We read in Plutarch of one who set up a dead man, and he would not stand. "Oh," said he, "there must be something within." So, that we may stand in shaking times, there must be a principle of knowledge within; first grounded, and then settled. That the ship may be kept from overturning, it must have its anchor fastened. Knowledge of principles is to the soul—as the anchor to the ship, which holds it steady in the midst of the rolling waves of error, or the violent winds of persecution. First grounded and then settled.

Use one: See the reason why so many people are unsettled, ready to embrace every novel opinion, and dress themselves in as many religions as fashions; it is because they are ungrounded. See how the apostle joins these two together, "unlearned and unstable." Such as are unlearned in the main points of divinity, are unstable. As the body cannot be strong which has the sinews shrunk; so neither can that Christian be strong in true religion, who lacks the grounds of knowledge, which are the sinews to strengthen and establish him.

Use two: See what great necessity there is of laying down the main grounds of true religion in a way of catechizing, that the weakest judgement may be instructed in the knowledge of the truth, and strengthened in the love of it. Catechizing is the best expedient for the grounding and settling of people. I fear one reason why there has been no more good done by preaching, has been because the chief heads and articles in true religion have not been explained in a catechetical way. Catechizing is laying the foundation. To preach and not to catechize, is to build without foundation. This way of catechizing is not novel, it is apostolic. The primitive church had their forms of catechism, as those phrases imply, a "form of sound doctrine," and "the first principles of the oracles of God." God has given great success to catechizing. By thus laying down the grounds of true religion catechistically, Christians have been clearly instructed and wondrously built up in the Christian faith.

It is my design, therefore (with the blessing of God); to begin this work of catechizing the next Sabbath day; and I intend every other Sabbath, in the afternoon, to make it my whole work to lay down the grounds and fundamentals of true religion in a catechetical way. If I am hindered in this work by men, or taken away by death, I hope God will raise up some other laborer in the vineyard among you, who may perfect the work which I am now beginning