I. Introduction to the Orthodox Catechism.
I.1. Preliminary Instruction.
1. What is an Orthodox Catechism?
An Orthodox Catechism is an instruction in the orthodox Christian faith, to be taught to every Christian, to enable him to please God and save his own soul.
2. What is the meaning of the word Catechism?
It is a Greek word, signifying instruction, or oral teaching, and has been used ever since the Apostles’ times to denote that primary instruction in the orthodox faith which is needful for every Christian (Luke 1.4; Acts 18.25).
3. What is necessary in order to please God and to save one’s own soul?
In the first place, a knowledge of the true God, and a right faith in him; in the second place, a life according to faith, and good works.
4. Why is faith necessary in the first place?
Because, as the Word of God testifies, Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11.6).
5. Why must a life according to faith, and good works, be inseparable from this faith?
Because, as the Word of God testifies, Faith without works is dead (James. 2.20).
6. What is faith?
According to the definition of St. Paul, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11.1); that is, a trust in the unseen as though it were seen, in that which is hoped and waited for as if it were present.
7. What is the difference between knowledge and faith?
Knowledge has for its object things visible and comprehensible; faith, things which are invisible, and even incomprehensible. Knowledge is founded on experience, on examination of its object; but faith on belief of testimony to truth. Knowledge belongs properly to the intellect, although it may also act on the heart; faith belongs principally to the heart, although it is imparted through the intellect.
8. Why is faith, and not knowledge only, necessary in religious instruction?
Because the chief object of this instruction is God invisible and incomprehensible, and the wisdom of God hidden in a mystery; consequently, many parts of this learning can not be embraced by knowledge, but may be received by faith.
Faith, says St. Cyril of Jerusalem, is the eye which enlighteneth every man’s conscience; it giveth man knowledge (Cat. 5). For, as the prophet says, If ye will not believe, ye shall not understand (Isa. 7.9).
9. Can you illustrate further the necessity of faith?
St. Cyril thus illustrates it:
It is not only amongst us, who hear the name of Christ, that faith is made so great a thing; but every thing which is done in the world, even by men who are unconnected with the Church, is done by faith. Agriculture is founded on faith; for no one who did not believe that he should gather in the increase of the fruits of the earth would undertake the labour of husbandry. Mariners are guided by faith when they intrust their fate to a slight plank, and prefer the agitation of the unstable waters to the more stable element of the earth. They give themselves up to uncertain expectations, and retain for themselves nothing but faith, to which they trust more than to any anchors (Cat. 5).
I.2. On Divine Revelation.
10. Whence is the doctrine of the orthodox faith derived?
From divine revelation.
11. What is meant by the words divine revelation?
That which God himself has revealed to men, in order that they might rightly and savingly believe in him, and worthily honour him.
12. Has God given such a revelation to all men?
He has given it for all, as being necessary for all alike, and capable of bringing salvation to all; but, since not all men are capable of receiving a revelation immediately from God, he has employed special persons as heralds of his revelation, to deliver it to all who are desirous of receiving it.
13. Why are not all men capable of receiving a revelation immediately from God?
Owing to their sinful impurity, and weakness both in soul and body.
14. Who were the heralds of divine revelation?
Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and other Prophets, received and preached the beginnings of divine revelation; but it was the incarnate Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought it to earth, in its fullness and perfection, and spread it over all the world by his Disciples and Apostles.
The Apostle Paul says, in the beginning of his Epistle to the Hebrews:
God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in times past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.
The same Apostle writes as follows to the Corinthians:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden things which God ordained before the world unto our glory, which none of the princes of this world knew. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2.7–8, 10).
The Evangelist John writes in his Gospel:
No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him (John 1.18).
Jesus Christ himself says:
No man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him (Matt. 11.27).
15. Can not man, then, have any knowledge of God without a special revelation from him?
Man may have some knowledge of God by contemplation of those things which he has created; but this knowledge is imperfect and insufficient, and can serve only as a preparation for faith, or as a help towards the knowledge of God from his revelation.
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 (Rom. 1.20).
And he hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth; and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17.26–28).
With regard to faith in God, it is preceded by the idea that God is, which idea we get from the things which have been created. Attentively examining the creation of the world, we perceive that God is wise, powerful, and good; we perceive, also, his invisible properties. By these means we are led to acknowledge him as the Supreme Ruler. Seeing that God is the Creator of the whole world, and we form a part of the world, it follows that God is also our Creator. On this knowledge follows faith, and on faith adoration (St Basil the Great, Ep. mag. 232).
I.3. On Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture.
16. How is divine revelation spread among men and preserved in the true Church?
By two channels–holy tradition and holy Scripture.
17. What is meant by the name holy tradition?
By the name holy tradition is meant the doctrine of the faith, the law of God, the sacraments, and the ritual as handed down by the true believers and worshipers of God by word and example from one to another, and from generation to generation.
18. Is there any sure repository of holy tradition?
All true believers united by the holy tradition of the faith, collectively and successively, by the will of God, compose the Church; and she is the sure repository of holy tradition, or, as St. Paul expresses it, The Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3.15).
St. Irenæus writes thus:
We ought not to seek among others the truth, which we may have for asking from the Church; for in her, as in a rich treasure-house, the Apostles have laid up in its fullness all that pertains to the truth, so that whosoever seeketh may receive from her the food of life. She is the door of life (St Irenaeus, Adv. haer. 3.4).
19. What is that which you call holy Scripture?
Certain books written by the Spirit of God through men sanctified by God, called Prophets and Apostles. These books are commonly termed the Bible.
20. What does the word Bible mean?
It is Greek, and means the books. The name signifies that the sacred books deserve attention before all others.
21. Which is the more ancient, holy tradition or holy Scripture?
The most ancient and original instrument for spreading divine revelation is holy tradition. From Adam to Moses there were no sacred books. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself delivered his divine doctrine and ordinances to his Disciples by word and example, but not by writing. The same method was followed by the Apostles also at first, when they spread abroad the faith and established the Church of Christ. The necessity of tradition is further evident from this, that books can be available only to a small part of mankind, but tradition to all.
22. Why, then, was holy Scripture given?
To this end, that divine revelation might be preserved more exactly and unchangeably. In holy Scripture we read the words of the Prophets and Apostles precisely as if we were living with them and listening to them, although the latest of the sacred books were written a thousand and some hundred years before our time.
23. Must we follow holy tradition, even when we possess holy Scripture?
We must follow that tradition which agrees with the divine revelation and with holy Scripture, as is taught us by holy Scripture itself. The Apostle Paul writes: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle (2 Thes. 2.15).
24. Why is tradition necessary even now?
As a guide to the right understanding of holy Scripture, for the right ministration of the sacraments, and the preservation of sacred rites and ceremonies in the purity of their original institution.
St. Basil the Great says of this as follows:
Of the doctrines and injunctions kept by the Church, some we have from written instruction. but some we have received from, apostolical tradition, by succession in private. Both the former and the latter have one and the same force for piety, and this will be contradicted by no one who has ever so little knowledge in the ordinances of the Church; for were we to dare to reject unwritten customs, as if they had no great importance, we should insensibly mutilate the Gospel, even in the most essential points, or, rather, for the teaching of the Apostles leave but an empty name. For instance, let us mention before all else the very first and commonest act of Christians, that they who trust in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ should sign themselves with the sign of the cross–who hath taught this by writing? To turn to the east in prayer–what Scripture have we for this? The words of invocation in the change of the Eucharistic bread and of the Cup of blessing–by which of the Saints have they been left us in writing? for we are not content with those words which the Apostle or the Gospel records, but both before them and after them, we pronounce others also, which we hold to be of great force for the sacrament, though we have received them from unwritten teaching. By what Scripture is it, in like manner, that we bless the water of baptism, the oil of unction, and the person himself who is baptized? Is it not by a silent and secret tradition? What more? The very practice itself of anointing with oil–what written word have we for it? Whence is the rule of trine immersion? and the rest of the ceremonies at baptism, the renunciation of Satan and his angels?–from what Scripture are they taken? Are they not all from this unpublished and private teaching, which our Fathers kept under a reserve inaccessible to curiosity and profane disquisition, having been taught as a first principle to guard by silence the sanctity of the mysteries? for how were it fit to publish in writing the doctrine of those things, on which the unbaptized may not so much as look? (St Basil the Great, Can. 97; De Spir. Sanct. 27).
I.4. On Holy Scripture in Particular.
25. When were the sacred books written?
At different times: some before the birth of Christ, others after.
26. Have not these two divisions of the sacred books each their own names?
They have. Those written before the birth of Christ are called the books of the Old Testament, while those written after are called the books of the New Testament.
27. What are the Old and New Testaments?
In other words, the old and new Covenants of God with men.
28. In what consisted the Old Testament?
In this, that God promised men a divine Saviour, and prepared them to receive him.
29. How did God prepare men to receive the Saviour?
Through gradual revelations, by prophecies and types.
30. In what consists the New Testament?
In this, that God has actually given men a divine Saviour, his own only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
31. How many are the books of the Old Testament?
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Athanasius the Great, and St. John Damascene reckon them at twenty-two, agreeing therein with the Jews, who so reckon them in the original Hebrew tongue (St Athanasius, Ep. 30, De Test.; St John of Damascus, Theol. 4.17).
32. Why should we attend to the reckoning of the Hebrews?
Because, as the Apostle Paul says, unto them were committed the oracles of God; and the sacred books of the Old Testament have been received from the Hebrew Church of that Testament by the Christian Church of the New (Rom. 3.2).
33. How do St. Cyril and St. Athanasius enumerate the books of the Old Testament?
As follows: 1, The book of Genesis; 2, Exodus; 3, Leviticus; 4, the book of Numbers; 5, Deuteronomy; 6, the book of Jesus the son of Nun; 7, the book of Judges, and with it, as an appendix, the book of Ruth; 8, the first and second books of Kings, as two parts of one book; 9, the third and fourth books of Kings; 10, the first and second books of Paralipomena; 11, the first book of Esdras, and the second, or, as it is entitled in Greek, the book of Nehemiah; 12, the book of Esther; 13, the book of Job; 14, the Psalms; 15, the Proverbs of Solomon; 16, Ecclesiastes, also by Solomon; 17, the Song of Songs, also by Solomon; 18, the book of the Prophet Isaiah; 19, of Jeremiah; 20, of Ezekiel; 21, of Daniel; 22, of the Twelve Prophets.
34. Why is there no notice taken in this enumeration of the books of the Old Testament of the book of the Wisdom of the son of Sirach, and of certain others?
Because they do not exist in the Hebrew.
35. How are we to regard these last-named books?
Athanasius the Great says that they have been appointed of the Fathers to be read by proselytes who are preparing for admission into the Church.
36. Is there any division of the books of the Old Testament by which you can give a more distinct account of their contents?
They may be divided into the four following classes:
Books of the Law, which form the basis of the Old Testament.
Historical books, which contain principally the history of religion.
Doctrinal, which contain the doctrine of religion.
Prophetical, which contain prophecies, or predictions of things future, and especially of Jesus Christ.
37. Which are the books of the Law?
The five books written by Moses–Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Jesus Christ himself gives to these books the general name of the law of Moses (Luke 24.44).
38. What in particular is contained in the book of Genesis?
The account of the creation of the world and of man and afterwards the history and ordinances of religion in the first ages of mankind.
39. What is contained in the other four books of Moses?
The history of religion in the time of the Prophet Moses, and the Law given through him from God.
40. Which are the historical books of the Old Testament?
The books of Jesus the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, Kings, Paralipomena, the book of Esdras, and the books of Nehemiah and Esther.
41. Which are the doctrinal?
The book of Job, the Psalms, and the books of Solomon.
42. What should we remark in particular of the book of Psalms?
This book, together with the doctrine of religion, contains also allusions to its history, and many prophecies of our Saviour Christ. It is a perfect manual of prayer and praise, and on this account is in continual use in the divine service of the Church.
43. Which books are prophetical?
Those of the Prophets–Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve others.
44. How many are the books of the New Testament?
45. Are there among these any which answer to the books of the Law, or form the basis of the New Testament?
Yes. The Gospel, which consists of the four books of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
46. What means the word Gospel?
It is the same as the Greek work Evangely, and means good or joyful tidings.
47. Of what have we good tidings in the books called the Gospel?
Of the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, of his advent and life on earth, of his miracles and saving doctrine, and, finally, of his death upon the cross, his glorious resurrection, and ascension into heaven.
48. Why are these books called the Gospel?
Because man can have no better nor more joyful tidings than these, of a Divine Saviour and everlasting salvation. For the same cause, whenever the Gospel is read in the church, it is prefaced and accompanied by the joyful exclamation, Glory be to thee, O Lord, glory be to thee.
49. Are any of the books of the New Testament historical?
Yes. One: the book of the Acts of the holy Apostles.
50. Of what does it give an account?
Of the descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles, and of the extension through them of Christ’s Church.
51. What is an Apostle?
The word means a messenger. It is the name given to those disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ whom he sent to preach the Gospel.
52. Which books of the New Testament are doctrinal?
The seven general Epistles: namely, one of the Apostle James, two of Peter, three of John, and one of Jude; and fourteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul: namely, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, one to Philemon, and one to the Hebrews.
53. Are there also among the books of the New Testament any prophetical?
Such is the book of the Apocalypse.
54. What means this word Apocalypse?
It is Greek, and means revelation.
55. What are the contents of this book?
A mystical representation of the future destinies of the Christian Church; and of the whole world.
56. What rules must we observe in reading holy Scripture?
First, we must read it devoutly, as the Word of God, and with prayer to understand it aright; secondly, we must read it with a pure desire of instruction in faith, and incitement to good works; thirdly, we must take and understand it in such sense as agrees with the interpretation of the orthodox Church and the holy Fathers.
57. When the Church proposes the doctrine of Divine Revelation and of holy Scripture to people for the first time, what signs does she offer that it is really the Word of God?
Signs of this are the following:
- The sublimity of this doctrine, which witnesses that it can not be any invention of man’s reason.
- The purity of this doctrine, which shows that it is from the all-pure mind of God.
- The mighty effect of this doctrine upon the hearts of men, beyond all but divine power.
58. In what way are prophecies signs of a true revelation from God?
This may be shown by an example. When the Prophet Isaiah foretold the birth of the Saviour Christ from a virgin, a thing which the natural reason of man could not have so much as imagined, and when, some hundred years after this prophecy, our Lord Jesus Christ was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, it was impossible not to see that the prophecy was the word of the Omniscient, and its fulfillment the work of the Almighty God. Wherefore also the holy Evangelist Matthew, when relating the birth of Christ, brings forward the prophecy of Isaiah: But all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying: Behold a Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is, God with us (Matt. 1.22).
59. What are miracles?
Acts which can be done by no power or art of man, but only by the almighty power of God: for example, to raise the dead.
60. How do miracles serve for a sign that the word spoken is from God?
He who does true miracles works by the power of God; consequently he is in favor with God, and partaker of the divine Spirit; but to such it must belong to speak only the pure truth; and so, when such a man speaks in God’s name, we are sure that by his mouth there speaketh really the Word of God.
On this account our Lord Jesus Christ himself owns miracles as a powerful testimony to his divine mission: The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the father hath sent me (John 5.36).
61. Whence may we more particularly see the mighty effect of the doctrine of Christ?
From this: that twelve Apostles, taken from among poor and unlearned people, of the lowest class, by this doctrine overcame and subdued to Christ the mighty, the wise, and the rich, kings and their kingdoms.
I.5. The Composition of the Catechism.
62. What may be a good order for setting forth a catechetical instruction in religion?
For this we may follow the book of the Orthodox Confession, approved by the Eastern Patriarchs, and take as our basis the saying of the Apostle Paul, that the whole energies of a Christian, during this present life, consist in these three: faith, hope, charity. And now abideth faith, hope, charity; these three (1 Cor. 13.13).
And so the Christian needs: First, Doctrine on faith in God, and on the Sacraments which he reveals; Secondly, Doctrine on hope towards God, and on the means of being grounded in it; Thirdly, Doctrine on love to God, and all that he commands us to love.
63. What does the Church use as her instrument to introduce us to the doctrine of faith?
64. What may we take as a guide for the doctrine of hope?
Our Lord’s Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer.
65. Where may we find the elements of the doctrine of charity?
In the Ten Commandments of the Law of God.
II. On Faith.
II.1. On the Creed generally, and on its Origin.
66. What is the Creed?
The Creed is an exposition, in few but precise words, of that doctrine which all Christians are bound to believe.
67. What are the words, of this exposition?
They are as follows:
- I believe in one God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible;
- And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made;
- Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost, and of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
- And was crucified for us, under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried;
- And rose again the third day according to the Scripture;
- And ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
- And he shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.
- And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the Prophets.
- I believe one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
- I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.
- I look for the resurrection of the dead;
- And the life of the world to come. Amen.
68. From whom have we this exposition of the faith?
From the Fathers of the first and second œcumenical Councils.
69. What is an œcumenical Council?
An assembly of the Pastors and Doctors of the Catholic Church of Christ, as far as possible, from the whole world, for the confirmation of true doctrine and holy discipline among Christians.
70. How many œcumenical Councils have there been?
Seven: 1, Of Nicæa; 2, Of Constantinople; 3, Of Ephesus; 4, Of Chalcedon; 5, The second of Constantinople; 6, The third of Constantinople; 7, The second of Nicaea.
71. Whence is the rule for assembling Councils?
From the example of the Apostles, who held a Council in Jerusalem (Acts 15). This is grounded also upon the words of Jesus Christ himself, which give to the decisions of the Church such weight that whosoever disobeys them is left deprived of grace as a heathen. But the mean, by which the œcumenical Church utters her decisions, is an œcumenical Council.
Tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican (Matt. 18.17).
72. What were the particular occasions for assembling the first and second œcumenical Councils, at which the Creed was defined?
The first was held for the confirmation of the true doctrine respecting the Son of God, against the error of Arius, who thought unworthily of the Son of God; the second, for the confirmation of the true doctrine respecting the Holy Ghost, against Macedonius, who thought unworthily of the Holy Ghost.
73. Is it long ago that these Councils were held?
The first was held in the year 325 from the birth of Christ; the second in 381.
II.2. On the Articles of the Creed.
74. What method shall we follow in order the better to understand the œcumenical Creed?
We must notice its division into twelve articles or parts, and consider each article separately.
75. What is spoken of in each several article of the Creed?
The first article of the Creed speaks of God as the prime origin, more particularly of the first Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, and of God as the Creator of the world;
The second article, of the second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
The third article, of the incarnation of the Son of God;
The fourth article, of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ;
The fifth article, of the resurrection of Jesus Christ;
The sixth article, of the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven;
The seventh article, of the second coming of Jesus Christ upon earth;
The eighth article, of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Ghost;
The ninth article, of the Church;
The tenth article, of Baptism, under which are implied the other Sacraments also;
The eleventh article, of the future resurrection of the dead;
The twelfth article, of the life everlasting.
II.3. On the First Article.
76. What is it to believe in God?
To believe in God is to have a lively belief of his being, his attributes, and works; and to receive with all the heart his revealed Word respecting the salvation of men.
77. Can you show from holy Scripture that faith in God must consist in this?
The Apostle Paul writes: Without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them, that diligently seek him (Heb. 11.6).
The same Apostle expresses the effect of faith on Christians in the following prayer for them to God: That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith (Eph. 3.16–17).
78. What must be the immediate and constant effect of a hearty faith in God?
The confession of this same faith.
79. What is the confession of the faith?
It is openly to avow that we hold the orthodox faith, and this with such sincerity and firmness that neither seductions, nor threats, nor tortures, nor death itself may be able to make us deny our faith in the true God and in our Lord Jesus Christ.
80. For what is the confession of the faith necessary?
The Apostle Paul witnesses that it is necessary for salvation. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. 10.10).
81. Why is it necessary to salvation not only to believe, but also to confess the orthodox faith?
Because if any one, to preserve his temporal life or earthly goods, shrink from confessing the orthodox faith, he shows thereby that he has not a true faith in God the Saviour, and the life of happiness to come.
82. Why is it not said in the Creed simply, I believe in God, rather than with the addition, in one God?
In order to contradict the error of the heathen, who, taking the creature for God, thought there were many gods.
83. What does holy Scripture teach us of the unity of God?
The very words of the Creed on this point are taken from the following passage of the Apostle Paul: There is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, as there be gods many, and lords many, but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him (1 Cor. 8.4–6).
84. Can we know the very essence of God?
No. It is above all knowledge, not of men only, but of angels.
85. How does holy Scripture speak on this point?
The Apostle Paul says, that God dwelleth in the light, which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see (1 Tim. 6.16).
86. What idea of the essence and essential attributes of God may be derived from divine revelation?
That God is a Spirit, eternal, all-good, omniscient, all-just, almighty, omnipresent, unchangeable, all-sufficing to himself, all-blessed.
87. Show all this from holy Scripture.
Jesus Christ himself has said that God is a Spirit (John 4.24).
Of the eternity of God David says: Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made, Thou art from everlasting and world without end (Ps. 90.2). In the Apocalypse we read the following doxology to God: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come (Rev. 4.8). The Apostle Paul says that the Gospel was made manifest according to the commandment of the everlasting God (Rom. 16.26).
Of the goodness of God Jesus Christ himself said: There is none good but one, that is God (Matt. 19.17). The Apostle John says: God is Love (1 John 4.16). David sings: The Lord is gracious and merciful, long-suffering, and of great goodness. The Lord is loving unto every man, and his mercies are over all his works (Ps. 145.8–9).
Of the omniscience of God the Apostle John says: God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things (1 John 3.20). The Apostle Paul exclaims: O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out (Rom. 11.33).
Of the justice of God David sings: The righteous Lord loveth righteousness, his countenance will behold the thing that is just (Ps. 11.8). The Apostle Paul says that God will render to every man according to his deeds, and that there is no respect of persons with God (Rom. 2.6, 11).
Of the almighty power of God the Psalmist says: He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast (Ps. 33.9). The archangel says in the Gospel: With God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1.37).
The omnipresence of God David describes thus: Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I go from thy presence? If I climb up into heaven, thou art there; if I go down to hell, thou art there also. If I take the wings of the morning, and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Peradventure the darkness shall cover me; then shall my night be turned to day. Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as the day; the darkness and light to thee are both alike (Ps. 139.6–11).
The Apostle James says that With the Father of lights there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James. 1.17).
The Apostle Paul writes that God receiveth not worship of men’s hands as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things (Acts 17.25). The same Apostle calls God The blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6.15).
88. If God is a Spirit, how does holy Scripture ascribe to him bodily parts, as heart, eyes, ears, hands?
Holy Scripture in this suits itself to the common language of men; but we are to understand such expressions in a higher and spiritual sense. For instance, the heart of God means his goodness or love; eyes and ears mean his omniscience; hands, his almighty power.
89. If God is every where, how do men say that God is in heaven, or in the church?
God is every where; but in heaven he has a special presence manifested in everlasting glory to the blessed spirits; also in churches he has, through grace and sacraments, a special presence devoutly recognized and felt by believers, and manifested sometimes by extraordinary signs.
Jesus Christ says: Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18.20).
90. How are we to understand these words of the Creed, I believe in one God the Father?
This is to be understood with reference to the mystery of the Holy Trinity; because God is one in substance but trine in persons–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost–a Trinity consubstantial and undivided.
91. How does holy Scripture speak of the Blessed Trinity?
The chief texts on this point in the New Testament are the following: Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 28.19). There are three that bear record in heaven–the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one (1 John 5.7).
92. Is the Holy Trinity mentioned in the Old Testament also?
Yes; only not so clearly. For instance: By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the hosts of them by the Breath of his mouth (Ps. 33.6). Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory (Isa. 6.3).
93. How is one God in three Persons?
We can not comprehend this inner mystery of the Godhead; but we believe it on the infallible testimony of the Word of God. The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2.11).
94. What difference is there between the Persons of the Holy Trinity?
God the Father is neither begotten, nor proceeds from any other Person: the Son of God is from all eternity begotten of the Father: the Holy Ghost from all eternity proceeds from the Father.
95. Are the three Hypostases or Persons of the Most Holy Trinity all of equal majesty?
Yes; all of absolutely equal divine majesty. The Father is true God, the Son equally true God, and the Holy Ghost true God; but yet so that in the three Persons there is only one Tri-personal God.
96. Why is God called the Almighty ( Παντοκράτορα )?
Because he upholds all things by his power and his will.
97. What is expressed by the words of the Creed, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible?
This: that all was made by God, and that nothing can be without God.
98. Are not these words taken from holy Scripture?
They are. The book of Genesis begins thus: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The Apostle Paul, speaking of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, says: By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him (Col. 1.16).
99. What is meant in the Creed by the word invisible?
The invisible or spiritual world, to which belong the angels.
100. What are the angels?
Incorporeal spirits, having intelligence, will, and power.
101. What means the name angel?
It means a messenger.
102. Why are they so called?
Because God sends them to announce his will. Thus, for instance, Gabriel was sent to announce to the Most Holy Virgin Mary the conception of the Saviour.
103. Which was created first, the visible world or the invisible?
The invisible was created before the visible, and the angels before men (Orth. Conf. I.18).
104. Can we find any testimony to this in holy Scripture?
In the book of Job God himself speaks of the earth thus: Who laid the corner-stone thereof? When the stars were CREATED, all my angels praised me with a loud voice (Job 38.6–7).
105. Whence is taken the name of guardian angels?
From the following words of holy Scripture: He shall give his angels charge over thee, to guard thee in, all thy ways (Ps. 91.11).
106. Has each one of us his guardian angels?
Without doubt. Of this we may be assured from the following words of Jesus Christ: Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father, which is in heaven (Matt. 18.10).
107. Are all angels good and beneficent?
No. There are also evil angels, otherwise called devils.
108. How came they to be evil?
They were created good, but they swerved from their duty of perfect obedience to God, and so fell away from him into self-will, pride, and malice. According to the words of the Apostle Jude, they are the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation (Jude 6).
109. What means the name devil?
It means slanderer or deceiver.
110. Why Are the evil angels called devils that is, slanderers or deceivers?
Because they are ever laying snares for men, seeking to deceive them, and inspire them with false notions and evil wishes.
Of this Jesus Christ, speaking to the unbelieving Jews, says: 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 (John 8.44).
111. What has holy Scripture revealed to us of the creation of the world?
In the beginning God created from nothing the heaven and the earth; and the earth was without form and void. Afterwards God successively produced: on the first day of the world, light; on the second, the firmament or visible heaven; on the third, the gathering together of waters on the earth, the dry land, and what grows thereupon; on the fourth, the sun, moon, and stars; on the fifth, fishes and birds; on the sixth, four-footed creatures living on the earth, and lastly, man. With man the creation finished; and on the seventh day God rested from all his works. Hence the seventh day was called the sabbath, which in the Hebrew tongue means rest (Gen. 2.2).
112. Were the visible creatures created such as we see them now?
No. At the creation every thing was very good, that is, pure, beautiful, and harmless.
113. Are we not informed of something particular in the creation of man?
God in the Holy Trinity said: Let us make man in our own image, and after our likeness. Gen. i. 26. And God made the body of the first man, Adam, from the earth; breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; brought him into Paradise; gave him for food, beside the other fruits of Paradise, the fruit of the tree of life; and lastly, having taken a rib from Adam while he slept, made from it the first woman, Eve (Gen. 2.22).
114. In what consists the image of God?
It consists, as explained by the Apostle Paul, In righteousness and holiness of truth (Eph. 4.24).
115. What is the breath of life?
The soul, a substance spiritual and immortal.
116. What is Paradise?
The word Paradise means a garden. It is the name given to the fair and blissful abode of the first man, described in the book of Genesis as like a garden.
117. Was the Paradise in which man first lived material or spiritual?
For the body it was material, a visible and blissful abode; but for the soul it was spiritual, a state of communion by grace with God, and spiritual contemplation of the creatures (St Gregory the Theologian, Serm. 38.42; St John of Damascus, Theol. 2.12, §3).
118. What was the tree of life?
A tree, by feeding on whose fruit man would have been, even in the body, free from disease and death.
119. Why was Eve made from a rib of Adam?
To the intent that all mankind might be by origin naturally disposed to love and defend one another.
120. With what design did God create man?
With this, that he should know God, love, and glorify him, and so be happy forever.
121. Has not that will of God, by which man is designed for eternal happiness, its own proper name in theology?
It is called the predestination of God.
122. Does God’s predestination of man to happiness remain unchanged, seeing that now man is not happy?
It remains unchanged; inasmuch as God, of his foreknowledge and infinite mercy, hath predestined to open for man, even after his departure from the way of happiness, a new way to happiness, through his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.
He hath chosen us, in him, before the foundation of the world, are the words of the Apostle Paul (Eph. 1.4).
123. How are we to understand the predestination of God, with respect to men in general, and to each man severally?
God has predestined to give to all men, and has actually given them preparatory grace, and means sufficient for the attainment of happiness.1
124. What is said of this by the Word of God?
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate (Rom. 8.29).
125. How does the orthodox Church speak on this point?
In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs it is said: As he foresaw that some would use well their free will, but others ill, he accordingly predestined the former to glory, while the latter he condemned (Art. iii).
126. What divine energy with respect to the world, and especially to man, follows immediately upon their creation?
II.3.1. Divine Providence.
127. What is divine providence?
Divine providence is the constant energy of the almighty power, wisdom, and goodness of God, by which he preserves the being and faculties of his creatures, directs them to good ends, and assists all that is good; but the evil that springs by departure from good he either cuts off, or corrects it, and turns it to good results.
128. How does holy Scripture speak of God’s providence?
Jesus Christ himself says: Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matt. 6.26). From these words is shown at once God’s general providence over the creatures, and his special providence over man.
The whole of the ninety-first Psalm is a description of God’s special and manifold providence over man.
II.4. On the Second Article.
129. How are we to understand the names Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
Son of God is the name of the second Person of the Holy Trinity in respect of his Godhead: This same Son of God was called Jesus, when he was conceived and born on earth as man; Christ is the name given him by the Prophets, while they were as yet expecting his advent upon earth.
130. What means the name Jesus?
131. By whom was the name Jesus first given?
By the Angel Gabriel.
132. Why was this name given to the Son of God at his conception and birth on earth?
Because he was conceived and born to save men.
133. What means the name Christ?
134. Whence came the name Anointed?
From the anointing with holy ointment, through which are bestowed the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
135. Is it only Jesus, the Son of God, who is called Anointed?
No. Anointed was in old time a title of kings, high-priests, and prophets.
136. Why, then, is Jesus, the Son of God, called The Anointed?
Because to his manhood were imparted without measure all the gifts of the Holy Ghost; and so he possesses in the highest degree the knowledge of a prophet, the holiness of a high-priest, and the power of a king.
137. In what sense is Jesus Christ called Lord?
In this sense: that he is very God; for the name Lord is one of the names of God.
138. What says holy Scripture of the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1.1).
139. Why is Jesus Christ called the Son of God, Only-begotten?
By this is signified that he only is the Son of God begotten of the substance of God the Father; and so is of one substance with the Father; and consequently excels, beyond comparison, all holy angels and holy men, who are called sons of God by grace (John 1.12).
140. Does holy Scripture call Jesus the Only-begotten?
It does. For instance, in the following places of the Evangelist John: The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1.14). No man hath, seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him (John 1.18).
141. Why in the Creed is it said further of the Son of God that he is begotten of the Father?
By this is expressed that personal property by which he is distinguished from the other Persons of the Holy Trinity.
142. Why is it said that he is begotten before all worlds?
That none should think there was ever a time when he was not. In other words, by this is expressed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God from everlasting, even as God the Father is from everlasting.
143. What mean in the Creed the words Light of light?
Under the figure of the visible light they in some manner explain the incomprehensible generation of the Son of God from the Father. When we look at the sun, we see light: from this light is generated the light visible every where beneath; but both the one and the other is one light, indivisible, and of one nature. In like manner, God the Father is the everlasting Light (1 John 1.5). Of him is begotten the Son of God, who also is the everlasting Light; but God the Father and God the Son are one and the same everlasting Light, indivisible, and of one divine nature.
144. What force is there in the words of the Creed, Very God of very God?
This: that the Son of God is called God in the same proper sense as God the Father.
145. Are not these words from holy Scripture?
Yes. They are taken from the following passage of John the Divine: We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us [light and] understanding, that we may know the true God, and be in him that is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5.20).
146. Why is it further added of the Son of God in the Creed that he is begotten, not made?
This was added against Arius, who impiously taught that the Son of God was made.
147. What mean the words, Of one substance with the Father?
They mean that the Son of God is of one and the same divine substance with God the Father.
148. How does holy Scripture speak of this?
Jesus Christ himself speaks of himself and of God the Father thus: I and the Father are one (John 10.30).
149. What is shown by the next words in the Creed, By whom all things were made?
This: that God the Father created all things by his Son, as by his eternal Wisdom and his eternal Word.
All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made which was made (John 1.3).
II.5. On the Third Article.
150. Of whom is it said in the Creed, that he came down from heaven?
Of the Son of God.
151. How came he down from heaven, seeing that as God he is every where?
It is true that he is every where; and so he is always in heaven, and always on earth; but on earth he was before invisible; afterwards he appeared in the flesh. In this sense it is said that he came down from heaven.
152. How does holy Scripture speak of this?
I will repeat Jesus Christ’s own words: No man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven (John 3.13).
153. Wherefore did the Son of God come down from heaven?
For us men, and for our salvation, as it is said in the Creed.
154. In what sense is it said that the Son of God came down from heaven for us men?
In this sense: that he came upon earth not for one nation, nor for some men only, but for us men universally.
155. To save men from what did he come upon earth?
From sin, the curse, and death.
156. What is sin?
Transgression of the law. Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3.4).
157. Whence is sin in men, seeing that they were created in the image of God, and God can not sin?
From the devil. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning (1 John 3.8).
158. How did sin pass from the devil to men?
The devil deceived Eve and Adam, and induced them to transgress God’s commandment.
159. What commandment?
God commanded Adam in Paradise not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and withal told him, that so soon as he ate thereof he should surely die.
160. Why did it bring death to man to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
Because it involved disobedience to God’s will, and so separated man from God and his grace, and alienated him from the life of God.
161. What propriety is there in the name of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
Man through this tree came to know by the act itself what good there is in obeying the will of God, and what evil in disobeying it.
162. How could Adam and Eve listen to the devil against the will of God?
God of his goodness, at the creation of man, gave him a will naturally disposed to love God, but still free; and man used this freedom for evil.
163. How did the devil deceive Adam and Eve?
Eve saw in Paradise a serpent, which assured her that if men ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would know good and evil, and would become as gods. Eve was deceived by this promise, and by the fairness of the fruit, and ate of it. Adam ate after her example.
164. What came of Adam’s sin?
The curse, and death.
165. What is the curse?
The condemnation of sin by God’s just judgment, and the evil which from sin came upon the earth for the punishment of men. God said to Adam, Cursed is the ground for thy sake (Gen. 3.17).
166. What is the death which came from the sin of Adam?
It is twofold: bodily, when the body loses the soul which quickened it; and spiritual, when the soul loses the grace of God, which quickened it with the higher and spiritual life.
167. Can the soul, then, die as well as the body?
It can die, but not so as the body. The body, when it dies, loses sense, and is dissolved; the soul, when it dies by sin, loses spiritual light, joy, and happiness, but is not dissolved nor annihilated, but remains in a state of darkness, anguish, and suffering.
168. Why did not the first man only die, and not all, as now?
Because all have come of Adam since his infection by sin, and all sin themselves. As from an infected source there naturally flows an infected stream, so from a father infected with sin, and consequently mortal, there naturally proceeds a posterity infected like him with sin, and like him mortal.
169. How is this spoken of in holy Scripture?
By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Rom. 5.12).
170. Had man any benefit from the fruit of the tree of life after he had sinned?
After he had sinned, he could no more eat of it, for he was driven out of Paradise.
171. Had men, then, any hope left of salvation?
When our first parents had confessed before God their sin, God, of his mercy, gave them a hope of salvation.
172. In what consisted this hope?
God promised that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpents head. Gen. iii. 15.
173. What did that mean?
This: that Jesus Christ should overcome the devil who had deceived men, and deliver them from sin, the curse, and death.
174. Why is Jesus Christ called the seed of the woman?
Because he was born on earth without man, from the Most Holy Virgin Mary.
175. What benefit was there in this promise?
This: that from the time of the promise men could believe savingly in the Saviour that was to come, even as we now believe in the Saviour that has come.
176. Did people, in fact, in old time believe in the Saviour that was to come?
Some did, but the greater part forgot God’s promise of a Saviour.
177. Did not God repeat this promise?
More than once. For instance, he made to Abraham the promise of a Saviour in the following words: In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed (Gen. 22.18). The same promise he repeated afterwards to David in the following words: I will set up thy seed after thee, and I will establish his throne forever (2 Kings 7.12–13).
178. What do we understand by the word incarnation?
That the Son of God took to himself human flesh without sin, and was made man, without ceasing to be God.
179. Whence is taken the word incarnation?
From the words of the Evangelist John: The Word was made flesh (John 1.14).
180. Why in the Creed, after it has been said of the Son of God that he was incarnate, is it further added that he was made man?
To the end that none should imagine that the Son of God took only flesh or a body, but should acknowledge in him a perfect man consisting of body and soul.
181. Have we for this any testimony of holy Scripture?
The Apostle Paul writes: There is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2.5).
182. And so is there only one nature in Jesus Christ?
No. There are in him, without separation and without confusion, two natures, the divine and the human, and answering to these natures two wills.
183. Are there not, therefore, two persons?
No. One person, God and man together; in one word, a God-man.
184. What says holy Scripture of the incarnation of the Son of God by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary?
The Evangelist Luke relates that when the Virgin Mary had asked the angel, who announced to her the conception of Jesus, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? The angel replied to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1.34–35).
185. Who was the Virgin Mary?
A holy virgin of the lineage of Abraham and David, from whose lineage the Saviour, by God’s promise, was to come; betrothed to Joseph, a man of the same lineage, in order that he might be her guardian; for she was dedicated to God with a vow of perpetual virginity.
186. Did the Most Holy Mary remain, in fact, ever a virgin?
She remained and remains a virgin before the birth, during the birth, and after the birth of the Saviour; and therefore is called ever-virgin.
187. What other great title is there with which the Orthodox Church honours the Most Holy Virgin Mary?
That of Mother of God.
188. Can you show the origin of this title in holy Scripture?
It is taken from the following words of the Prophet Isaiah : Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which, being interpreted, is, God with us (Isa. 7.14; Matt. 1.23).
So, also, the righteous Elisabeth calls the Most Holy Virgin The Mother of the Lord; which title is all one with that of Mother of God. Whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? (Luke 1.43).
189. In what sense is the Most Holy Virgin called Mother of God?
Although Jesus Christ was born of her not after his Godhead, which is eternal, but after the manhood, still she is rightly called the Mother of God; because he that was born of her was, both in the conception itself and in the birth from her, as he ever is, very God.
190. What thoughts should you have of the exalted dignity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary?
As Mother of the Lord she excels in grace and nearness to God, and so also in dignity, every created being; and therefore the Orthodox Church honours her far above the cherubim and seraphim.
191. What is there further to be remarked of the birth of Jesus Christ from the Most Holy Mother of God?
This: that since this birth was perfectly holy and void of sin, it was also without pain; for it was among the penalties of sin that God ordained Eve in sorrows to bring forth children (St John of Damascus, Theol. 4.14.6).
192. What tokens had God’s providence prepared, that men might know the Saviour, when he was born to them?
Many exact predictions of various circumstances of his birth and life on earth. For instance, the Prophet Isaiah foretold that the Saviour should be born of a virgin (Isa. 7.14). The Prophet Micah foretold that the Saviour should be born in Bethlehem; and this prophecy the Jews understood even before they heard of its fulfillment (Matt. 2.4–6). The Prophet Malachi, after the building of the second temple at Jerusalem, foretold that the coming of the Saviour was drawing nigh, that he should come to this temple, and that before him should be sent a forerunner like unto the Prophet Elias, clearly pointing by this to John the Baptist (Mal. 3.1; 4.5). The Prophet Zachariah foretold the triumphal entry of the Saviour into Jerusalem (Zach. 9.9). The Prophet Isaiah, with wonderful clearness, foretold the sufferings of the Saviour (Isa. 53). David, in the twenty-second Psalm, described the sufferings of the Saviour on the cross with as great exactness as if he had written at the foot of the cross itself. And Daniel, 490 years before, foretold the appearance of the Saviour, his death on the cross, and the subsequent destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem, and abolition of the Old Testament sacrifices (Dan. 9).
193. Did men, in fact, recognize Jesus Christ as the Saviour at the time that he was born and lived upon earth?
Many did recognize him by various ways. The wise men of the East recognized him by a star, which before his birth appeared in the East. The shepherds of Bethlehem knew of him from angels, who distinctly told them that the Saviour was born in the City of David. Simeon and Anna, by special revelation of the Holy Ghost, knew him when he was brought, forty days after his birth, into the temple. John the Baptist, at the river Jordan, at his baptism, knew him by revelation, by the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him in the form of a dove, and by a voice from heaven from God the Father: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matt. 3.17). A like voice was heard of him by the Apostles Peter, James, and John, at the time of his transfiguration on the mount: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear him (Mark 9.7). Besides this, very many recognized him by the excellence of his doctrine, and especially by the miracles which he wrought.
194. What miracles did Jesus Christ work?
People suffering under incurable diseases, and possessed by demons, were healed by him in the twinkling of an eye, by a single word, or by the touch of his hand, and even through their touching his garment. Once with five, at another time with seven loaves he fed in the wilderness several thousand men. He walked on the waters, and by a word calmed the storm. He raised the dead: the son of the widow of Nain, the daughter of Jairus, and Lazarus on the fourth day after his death.
195. You said that the Son of God was incarnate for our salvation: in what way did he effect it?
By his doctrine, his life, his death, and resurrection.
196. What was Christ’s doctrine?
The Gospel of the kingdom of God, or, in other words, the doctrine of salvation and eternal happiness, the same that is now taught in the Orthodox Church (Mark. 1.14–15).
197. How have we salvation by Christ’s doctrine?
When we receive it with all our heart, and walk according to it. For, as the lying words of the devil, received by our first parents, became in them the seed of sin and death; so, on the contrary, the true Word of Christ, heartily received by Christians, becomes in them the seed of a holy and immortal life. They are, in the words of the Apostle Peter, born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever (1 Pet. 1.23).
198. How have we salvation by Christ’s life?
When we imitate it. For he says, If any one serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be (John 12.26).
II.6. On the Fourth Article.
199. How came it to pass that Jesus Christ was crucified, when his doctrine and works should have moved all to reverence him?
The elders of the Jews and the scribes hated him, because he rebuked their false doctrine and evil lives, and envied him, because the people, which heard him teach and saw his miracles, esteemed him more than them; and hence they falsely accused him, and condemned him to death.
200. Why is it said that Jesus Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate?
To mark the time when he was crucified.
201. Who was Pontius Pilate?
The Roman governor of Judæa, which had become subject to the Romans.
202. Why is this circumstance worthy of remark?
Because in it we see the fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy: The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come: and He is the desire of the nations (Gen. 49.10).
203. Why is it not only said in the Creed that Jesus Christ was crucified, but also added that he suffered?
To show that his crucifixion was not only a semblance of suffering and death, as some heretics said, but a real suffering and death.
204. Why is it also mentioned that he was buried?
This likewise is to assure us that he really died, and rose again; for his enemies even set a watch at his sepulchre, and sealed it.
205. How could Jesus Christ suffer and die when he was God?
He suffered and died, not in his Godhead, but in his manhood; and this not because he could not avoid it, but because it pleased him to suffer.
He himself had said: I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again (John 10.17–18).
206. In what sense is it said that Jesus Christ was crucified for us?
In this sense: that he, by his death on the cross, delivered us from sin, the curse, and death.
207. How does holy Scripture speak of this deliverance?
Of deliverance from sin: In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Eph. 1.7).
Of deliverance from the curse: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us (Gal. 3.13).
Of deliverance from death: Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb. 2.14–15).
208. How does the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross deliver us from sin, the curse, and death?
That we may the more readily believe this mystery, the Word of God teaches us of it, so much as we may be able to receive, by the comparison of Jesus Christ with Adam. Adam is by nature the head of all mankind, which is one with him by natural descent from him. Jesus Christ, in whom the Godhead is united with manhood, graciously made himself the new almighty Head of men, whom he unites to himself through faith. Therefore as in Adam we had fallen under sin, the curse, and death, so we are delivered from sin, the curse, and death in Jesus Christ. His voluntary suffering and death on the cross for us, being of infinite value and merit, as the death of one sinless, God and man in one person, is both a perfect satisfaction to the justice of God, which had condemned us for sin to death, and a fund of infinite merit, which has obtained him the right, without prejudice to justice, to give us sinners pardon of our sins, and grace to have victory over sin and death.
God hath willed to make known to his saints what is the riches of the glory of this mystery of the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1.26–27).
For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5.17).
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and, death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit (Rom. 8.1–4).
209. Was it for us all, strictly speaking, that Jesus Christ suffered?
For his part, he offered himself as a sacrifice strictly for all, and obtained for all grace and salvation; but this benefits only those of us who, for their parts, of their own free will, have fellowship in his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death (Phil. 3.10).
210. How can we have fellowship in the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ?
We have fellowship in the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ through a lively and hearty faith, through the Sacraments, in which is contained and sealed the virtue of his saving sufferings and death, and, lastly, through the crucifixion of our flesh with its affections and lusts.
I, says the Apostle, through the law, am dead to the law, that I may live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2.19–20).
Know ye not, that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? (Rom. 6.3).
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come (1 Cor. 11.26).
They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Gal. 5.24).
211. How can we crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts?
By bridling the affections and lusts, and by doing what is contrary to them. For instance, when anger prompts us to revile an enemy and to do him harm, but we resist the wish, and, remembering how Jesus Christ on the cross prayed for his enemies, pray likewise for ours; we thus crucify the affection of anger.
II.7. On the Fifth Article.
212. What is the first proof and earnest given by Jesus Christ that his sufferings and death have wrought salvation for us men?
This: that he rose again, and so laid the foundation for our like blessed resurrection.
Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept (1 Cor. 15.20).
213. What should we think of the state in which Jesus Christ was after his death, and before his resurrection?
This is described in the following hymn of the Church: In the grave as to the flesh, in hades with thy soul, as God, in paradise with the thief, and on the throne wert thou, O Christ, together with the Father and the Spirit, filling all things, thyself uncircumscribed.
214. What is hades or hell?
Hades is a Greek word, and means a place void of light. In divinity, by this name is understood a spiritual prison, that is, the state of those spirits which are separated by sin from the sight of God’s countenance, and from the light and blessedness which it confers (Jude 6; Octoechos 5, sticher. 2.4).
215. Wherefore did Jesus Christ descend into hell?
To the end that he might there also preach his victory over death, and deliver the souls which with faith awaited his coming.
216. Does holy Scripture speak of this?
It is referred to in the following passage: For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he may bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit; in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison (1 Pet. 3.18–19).
217. What is there for us to remark on the next words of the Creed: and rose again the third day, according to the Scripture?
These words were put into the Creed from the following passage in the Epistle to the Corinthians: For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scripture; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the Scripture (1 Cor. 15.3–4).
218. What force is there in these words: according to the Scripture?
By this is shown that Jesus Christ died and rose again, precisely as had been written of him prophetically in the books of the Old Testament.
219. Where, for instance, is there any thing written of this?
In the fifty-third chapter of the book of the Prophet Isaiah, for instance, the suffering and death of Jesus Christ is imaged forth with many particular traits: as, He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Isa. 53.5).
Of the resurrection of Christ the Apostle Peter quotes the words of the sixteenth Psalm: For why? thou shalt not leave my soul in hell, neither shalt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption (Acts 2.27).
220. Is this also in the Scripture of the Old Testament, that Jesus Christ should rise again precisely on the third day?
A prophetic type of this was set forth in the Prophet Jonah: And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jonah 1.17).
221. How was it known that Jesus Christ had risen?
The soldiers who watched his sepulchre knew this with terror, because an angel of the Lord rolled away the stone which closed his sepulchre, and at the same time there was a great earthquake. Angels likewise announced the resurrection of Christ to Mary Magdalene and some others. Jesus Christ himself on the very day of his resurrection appeared to many: as to the women bringing spices, to Peter, to the two disciples going to Emmaus, and, lastly, to all the Apostles in the house, the doors being shut. Afterwards he oftentimes showed himself to them during the space of forty days; and one day he was seen of more than five hundred believers at once (1 Cor. 15.6).
222. Why did Jesus Christ after his resurrection show himself to the Apostles during the space of forty days?
During this time he continued to teach them the mysteries of the kingdom of God (Acts 1.3).
II.8. On the Sixth Article.
223. Is the statement of our Lord’s ascension in the sixth article of the Creed taken from holy Scripture?
It is taken from the following passages of holy Scripture: He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things (Eph. 4.10). We have such a High-Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens (Heb. 8.1).
224. Was it in his Godhead or his manhood that Jesus Christ ascended into heaven?
In his manhood. In his Godhead he ever was and is in heaven.
225. How does Jesus Christ sit at the right hand of God the Father, seeing that God is every where?
This must be understood spiritually; that is, Jesus Christ has one and the same majesty and glory with God the Father.
II.9. On the Seventh Article.
226. How does holy Scripture speak of Christ’s coming again?
This Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1.11). This was said to the Apostles by angels at the very time of our Lord’s ascension.
227. How does it speak of his future judgment?
The hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5.28–29). These are the words of Christ himself.
228. How does it speak of his kingdom which is to have no end?
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1.32–33). These are the words of the angel to the Mother of God
229. Will the second coming of Christ be like his first?
No; very different. He came to suffer for us in great humility, but he shall come to judge us in his glory, and all the holy angels with him (Matt. 25.31).
230. Will he judge all men?
Yes. All, without exception.
231. How will he judge them?
The conscience of every man shall be laid open before all, and not only all deeds which he has ever done in his whole life upon earth be revealed, but also all the words he has spoken, and all his secret wishes and thoughts. The Lord shall come, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart: and then shall every man have praise of God (1 Cor. 4.5).
232. Will he then condemn us even for evil words or thoughts?
Without doubt he will, unless we efface them by repentance, faith, and amendment of life. I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matt. 12.36).
233. Will Jesus Christ soon come to judgment?
We know not. Therefore we should live so as to be always ready. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (2 Pet. 3.9–10). Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matt. 25.13).
234. Are there not, however, revealed to us some signs of the nearer approach of Christ’s coming?
In the Word of God certain signs are revealed, as the decrease of faith and love among men, the abounding of iniquity and calamities, the preaching of the Gospel to all nations, and the coming of Antichrist (Matt. 24).
235. What is Antichrist?
An adversary of Christ, who will strive to overthrow Christianity, but instead of doing so shall himself come to a fearful end (2 Thess. 2.8).
236. What is Christ’s kingdom?
Christ’s kingdom is, first, the whole world; secondly, all believers upon earth; thirdly, all the blessed in heaven.
The first is called the kingdom of nature; the second, the kingdom of grace; the third, the kingdom of glory.
237. Which of these is meant when it is said in the Creed that of Christ’s kingdom there shall be no end?
The kingdom of glory.
II.10. On the Eighth Article.
238. In what sense is the Holy Ghost called the Lord?
In the same sense as the Son of God, that is, as very God.
239. Is this witnessed by holy Scripture?
It is plain from the words spoken by the Apostle Peter to rebuke Ananias: Why hath Satan fitted thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? and further on, Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God (Acts 5.3–4).
240. What are we to understand by this, that the Holy Ghost is called the Giver of life?
That he, together with God the Father and the Son, giveth life to all creatures, especially spiritual life to men.
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God (John 3.5).
241. Whence know we that the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father?
This we know from the following words of Jesus Christ himself: But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me (John 15.26).
242. Does the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father admit of any change or supplement?
No. First, because the Orthodox Church, in this doctrine, repeats the very words of Jesus Christ; and his words, without doubt, are an exact and perfect expression of the truth. Secondly, because the second œcumenical Council, whose chief object was to establish the true doctrine respecting the Holy Ghost, has without doubt sufficiently set forth the same in the Creed; and the Catholic Church has acknowledged this so decidedly, that the third œcumenical Council in its seventh canon forbade the composition of any new Creed.
For this cause John Damascene writes: Of the Holy Ghost, we both say that he is from the Father, and call him the Spirit of the Father; while we nowise say that he is from the Son, but only call him the Spirit of the Son (Theol. 1.11; 4.4).
243. Whence does it appear that the Holy Ghost is equally with the Father and the Son, and, together with them, to be worshiped and glorified?
It appears from this, that Jesus Christ commanded to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 28.19).
244. Why is it said in the Creed that the Holy Ghost spake by the prophets?
This is said against certain heretics, who taught that the books of the Old Testament were not written by the Holy Ghost.
245. Does holy Scripture witness that the Holy Ghost really spake by the prophets?
The Apostle Peter writes: For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1.21).
246. Did not the Holy Ghost speak also by the Apostles?
Certainly he did. Unto the prophets, says also the Apostle Peter, it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven (1 Pet. 1.12).
247. Why, then, is there no mention of the Apostles in the Creed?
Because when the Creed was composed none doubted of the inspiration of the Apostles.
248. Was not the Holy Ghost manifested to men in some very special manner?
Yes. He came down upon the Apostles, in the form of fiery tongues, on the fiftieth day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
249. Is the Holy Ghost communicated to men even now likewise?
He is communicated to all true Christians. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor. 3.16).
250. How may we be made partakers of the Holy Ghost?
Through fervent prayer, and through the Sacraments.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11.13).
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour (Tit. 3.4–6).
251. What are the chief gifts of the Holy Ghost?
The chief and more general are, as reckoned by the Prophet Isaiah, the following seven: the spirit of the fear of God, the spirit of knowledge, the spirit of might, the spirit of counsel, the spirit of understanding, the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of the Lord, or the gift of piety and inspiration in the highest degree (Isa. 11.2).
II.11. On the Ninth Article.
252. What is the Church?
The Church is a divinely instituted community of men, united by the orthodox faith, the law of God, the hierarchy, and the Sacraments.
253. What is it to believe in the Church?
It is piously to honour the true Church of Christ, and to obey her doctrine and commandments, from a conviction that grace ever abides in her, and works, teaches, and governs unto salvation, flowing from her one only everlasting Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
254. How can the Church, which is visible, be the object of faith, when faith, as the Apostle says, is the evidence of things not seen?
First, though the Church be visible, the grace of God, which dwells in her, and in those who are sanctified in her, is not so; and this it is which properly constitutes the object of faith in the Church.
Secondly, the Church, though visible so far as she is upon earth, and contains all Orthodox Christians living upon earth, still is at the same time invisible, so far as she is also partially in heaven, and contains all those that have departed hence in true faith and holiness.
255. On what may we ground the idea that the Church is at once upon earth and in heaven?
On the following words of the Apostle Paul, addressed to Christians: Ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus Christ the Mediator of the new covenant (Heb. 12.22–24).
256. How are we assured that the grace of God abides in the true Church?
First, by this: that her Head is Jesus Christ, God and man in one person, full of grace and truth, who fills his body also, that is, the Church, with like grace and truth (John 1.14, 17).
Secondly, by this: that he has promised his disciples the Holy Ghost to abide with them forever, and that, according to this promise, the Holy Ghost appoints the pastors of the Church (John 14.16).
The Apostle Paul says of Jesus Christ, that God the Father gave him to be head over all things to the Church, which is his body. (Eph. 1.22–23). The same Apostle says to the pastors of the Church: Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you Bishops, to feed the Church of our Lord and God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 22.28).
257. How are we further assured that the grace of God abides in the Church even till now, and shall abide in it to the end of the world?
Of this we are assured by the following sayings of Jesus Christ himself and his Apostle: I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16.18). I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matt. 28.20). Unto him, God the Father, be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen (Eph. 3.21).
258. Why is the Church one?
Because she is one spiritual Body, has one Head, Christ, and is animated by one Spirit of God. There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Eph. 4.4–6).
259. Are we still more expressly assured that Jesus Christ is the one only Head of the one Church?
The Apostle Paul writes, that for the Church, as the building of God, other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3.10–11). Wherefore the Church, as the Body of Christ, can have no other Head than Jesus Christ.
The Church, being to abide through all generations of time, needs also an ever-abiding head; and such is Jesus Christ alone.
Wherefore, also, the Apostles take no higher title than that of ministers of the Church (Col. 1.24–25).
260. What duty does the unity of the Church lay on us?
That of endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4.3).
261. How does it agree with the unity of the Church, that there are many separate and independent churches, as those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Russia?
These are particular churches, or parts of the one Catholic Church: the separateness of their visible organization does not hinder them from being all spiritually great members of the one body of the Universal Church, from having one Head, Christ, and one spirit of faith and grace. This unity is expressed outwardly by unity of Creed, and by communion in prayer and Sacraments.
262. Is there likewise unity between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven?
Doubtless there is, both by their common relation to one Head, our Lord Jesus Christ, and by mutual communion with one another.
263. What means of communion has the Church on earth with the Church in heaven?
The prayer of faith and love. The faithful who belong to the Church militant upon earth, in offering their prayers to God, call at the same time to their aid the saints who belong to the Church in heaven; and these, standing on the highest steps of approach to God, by their prayers and intercessions purify, strengthen, and offer before God the prayers of the faithful living upon earth, and by the will of God work graciously and beneficently upon them, either by invisible virtue, or by distinct apparitions, and in divers other ways.
264. On what is grounded the rule of the Church upon earth to invoke in prayer the saints of the Church in heaven?
On a holy tradition, the principle of which is to be seen also in holy Scripture. For instance, when the Prophet David cries out in prayer, O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel our fathers, he makes mention of saints in aid of his prayer, exactly as now the Orthodox Church calls upon Christ our true God, by the prayers of his most pure Mother and all his saints. See 1 Chr. 29.18.
Cyril of Jerusalem, in his explanation of the divine Liturgy, says: We make mention also of those who are before departed, first, of the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs, that by their entreaties and intercession God may receive our prayers (Myst. 5.9).
Basil the Great, in his sermon on the day of the Forty Holy Martyrs, says: Whoever is afflicted has recourse to the Forty, and whoever is joyful runs to the same; the one that he may find relief from his sorrows, the other that he may keep his happiness. Here the pious wife is to be seen praying for her children; another asks the return of her absent husband; another the restoration of health to the sick. Yes; let your petitions be with the Martyrs.
265. Is there any testimony of holy Scripture to the mediatory prayer of the saints in heaven?
The Evangelist John, in the Revelation, saw in heaven an angel, to whom was given much incense, that he should offer it, by the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which was before the throne; and the smoke of the incense ascended up by the prayers of the saints out of the hands of the angel before God (Rev. 8.3–4).
266. Is there any testimony of holy Scripture to beneficent apparitions of saints from heaven?
The Evangelist St. Matthew relates that after the death of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves, after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many (Matt. 27.52–53). And since a miracle so great could not be without some adequate end, we must suppose that the saints which then arose appeared for this, that they might announce the descent of Jesus Christ into hell, and his triumphal resurrection; and so move men born in the Church of the Old Testament to pass over the more readily into that of the New, then opened.
267. What testimonies are there to confirm us in the belief that the saints, after their departure, work miracles through certain earthly means?
The second (fourth in the Greek) book of Kings testifies that by touching the bones of the Prophet Elisha a dead man was raised to life (2 Kings 13.21).
The Apostle Paul not only in his own immediate person wrought healings and miracles, but the same was done also in his absence by handkerchiefs and aprons taken from his body (Acts 19.12). By this example we may understand that the saints, even after their deaths, may in like manner work beneficently through earthly means, which have received from them holy virtue.
Gregory the Theologian, in his first discourse against Julian, says: Thou wast not abashed by the sacrifices offered for Christ, nor didst fear the great athletes, John, Peter, Paul, James, Stephen, Luke, Andrew, Thecla, and the rest, who before and after these suffered for the truth; who withstood both fire and sword, the torturers, and all sufferings present or threatened, as if their bodies were not their own, or they had had no bodies at all. For what? That they might not, so much as by a word, betray their religion. To whom also great honours and triumphs are with just reason awarded: by whom devils are expelled and diseases healed: who appear in visions, and prophecy: whose very bodies, though separate, when touched or reverenced, have like power with their holy souls; and drops of whose blood, those least tokens of their suffering, like power with their bodies.
John Damascene writes thus: The relics of the saints have been given us by our Lord Jesus Christ as salutary springs, from which manifold blessings flow. And as if in explanation of this, he remarks, that through the mind their bodies also were inhabited of God (Theol. 4.15.3–4).
268. Why is the Church holy?
Because she is sanctified by Jesus Christ through his passion, through his doctrine, through his prayer, and through the Sacraments. Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it with the washing of water by the Word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy, and without blemish (Eph. 5.25–27).
In his prayer to God the Father for believers, Jesus Christ said among other things: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is truth. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth (John 17.17, 19).
269. How is the Church holy, when she has in her sinners?
Men, who sin, but purify themselves by true repentance, hinder not the Church from being holy; but impenitent sinners, either by the visible act of Church authority, or by the invisible judgment of God, are cut off from the body of the Church; and so she is, in respect of these, also kept holy.
Put away from among yourselves that wicked person (1 Cor. 5.13). Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal: The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity (2 Tim. 2.19).
270. Why is the Church called Catholic, or, which is the same thing, Universal?
Because she is not limited to any place, nor time, nor people, but contains true believers of all places, times, and peoples.
The Apostle Paul says that the Word of the Gospel is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit (Col. 1.5–6), and that in the Christian Church there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all (Col. 3.11). They which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham (Gal. 3.9).
271. What great privilege has the Catholic Church?
She alone has the sublime promises that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her; that the Lord shall be with her even to the end of the world; that in her shall abide the glory of God in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever; and consequently that she shall never apostatize from the faith, nor sin against the truth of the faith, or fall into error.
We undoubtingly confess, as sure truth, that the Catholic Church can not sin, nor err, nor utter falsehood in place of truth; for the Holy Ghost, ever working through his faithful ministers the fathers and doctors of the Church, preserves her from all error (Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith, Art. 12).
272. If the Catholic Church contains all true believers in the world, must we not acknowledge it to be necessary for salvation that every believer should belong to her?
Exactly so. Since Jesus Christ, in the words of St. Paul, is the Head of the Church, and he is the Saviour of the Body, it follows that, to have part in his salvation, we must necessarily be members of his body, that is, of the Catholic Church (Eph. 5.23).
The Apostle Peter writes that baptism saveth us after the figure of the ark of Noah. All who were saved from the general deluge were saved only in the ark; so all who obtain everlasting salvation obtain it only in the one Catholic Church.
273. What thoughts and remembrances should we associate with the name of the Eastern Church?
In Paradise, planted in the East, was founded the first Church of our parents in innocence; and in the East, after the fall, was laid a new foundation of the Church of the redeemed, in the promise of a Saviour. In the East, in the land of Judæa, our Lord Jesus Christ, having finished the work of our salvation, laid the foundation of his own proper Christian Church: from thence she spread herself over the whole universe; and to this day the orthodox Catholic œcumenical faith, confirmed by the seven œcumenical Councils, is preserved unchanged in its original purity in the ancient Churches of the East, and in such as agree with them, as does by God’s grace the Church of Russia.
274. Why is the Church called Apostolic?
Because she has from the Apostles, without break or change, both her doctrine and the succession of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, through the laying on of consecrated, hands. In the same sense the Church is called also Orthodox, or Rightly-believing.
Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and are built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone (Eph. 2.19–20).
275. What does the Creed teach us, when it calls the Church Apostolic?
It teaches us to hold fast the Apostolical doctrine and tradition, and eschew such doctrine and such teachers as are not warranted by the doctrine of the Apostles.
The Apostle Paul says: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle (2 Thes. 2.15). A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject (Tit. 3.10). For there are many unruly, vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped; who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake (Tit. 1.10–11). But if thy brother neglect to hear the Church, let him be to thee as a heathen man and a publican (Matt. 18.17).
276. What ecclesiastical institution is there through which the succession of the Apostolical ministry is preserved?
The ecclesiastical Hierarchy.
277. Whence originates the Hierarchy of the Orthodox Christian Church?
From Jesus Christ himself, and from the descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles; from which time it is continued, in unbroken succession, through the laying on of hands, in the Sacrament of Orders. And he gave some, Apostles; and some, Prophets; and some, Evangelists; and some, Pastors and Teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4.11–12).
278. What hierarchical authority is there which can extend its sphere of action over the whole Catholic Church?
An œcumenical Council.
279. Under what hierarchical authority are the chief divisions of the Catholic Church?
Under the Orthodox Patriarchs and the Most Holy Synod.
280. Under what ecclesiastical authority are lesser orthodox provinces and cities?
Under Metropolitans, Archbishops, and Bishops.
281. What rank in the Hierarchy is held by the Most Holy Russian Synod?
The same rank with the Most Holy Orthodox Patriarchs. (See the Letters of the M. H. Patriarchs on the institution of the M. H. Synod.)
282. If any one desire to fulfill his duty of obedience to the Church, how may he learn what she requires of her children?
This may be learned from holy Scripture, from the canons of the holy Apostles, the holy œcumenical and provincial Councils, and the holy Fathers, and from the books of Ecclesiastical Rules and Rubrics.
II.12. On the Tenth Article.
283. Why does the Creed mention Baptism?
Because faith is sealed by Baptism, and the other Mysteries or Sacraments.
284. What is a Mystery or Sacrament?
A Mystery or Sacrament is a holy act, through which grace, or, in other words, the saving power of God, works mysteriously upon man.
285. How many are the Sacraments?
Seven: 1. Baptism; 2. Unction with Chrism; 3. Communion; 4. Penitence; 5. Orders; 6. Matrimony; 7. Unction with Oil.
286. What virtue is there in each of these Sacraments?
- In Baptism man is mysteriously born to a spiritual life.
- In Unction with Chrism he receives a grace of spiritual growth and strength.
- In the Communion he is spiritually fed.
- In Penitence he is healed of spiritual diseases, that is, of sin.
- In Orders he receives grace spiritually to regenerate, feed, and nurture others, by doctrine and Sacraments.
- In Matrimony he receives a grace sanctifying the married life, and the natural procreation and nurture of children.
- In Unction with Oil he has medicine even for bodily diseases, in that he is healed of spiritual.
287. But why does not the Creed mention all these Sacraments, instead of mentioning Baptism only?
Because Baptism was the subject of a question, whether some people, as heretics, ought not to be rebaptized; and this required a decision, which so came to be put into the Creed.
II.12.1. On Baptism.
288. What is Baptism?
Baptism is a Sacrament, in which a man who believes, having his body thrice plunged in water in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, dies to the carnal life of sin, and is born again of the Holy Ghost to a life spiritual and holy. Except a, man be born of water and, of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God (John 3.5).
289. When and how began Baptism?
First, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. (Acts 19.4). Afterwards, Jesus Christ, by his own example, sanctified Baptism, when he received it from John. Lastly, after his resurrection, he gave the Apostles this solemn commandment: Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 28.19).
290. What is most essential in the administration of Baptism?
Trine immersion in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
291. What is required of him that seeks to be baptized?
Repentance and faith; for which cause, also, before Baptism the? recite the Creed. Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2.38). He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16.16).
292. But why, then, are children baptized?
For the faith of their parents and sponsors, who are also bound to teach them the faith so soon as they are of sufficient age to learn.
293. How can you show from holy Scripture that we ought to baptize infants?
In the time of the Old Testament, infants were circumcised when eight days old; but Baptism in the New Testament takes the place of circumcision; consequently infants should also be baptized.
294. Whence does it appear that Baptism takes the place of circumcision?
From the following words of the Apostle to believers: Ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in Baptism (Col. 2.11–12).
295. Why are there sponsors at Baptism?
In order that they may stand sureties before the Church for the faith of the baptized, and after Baptism may take him in charge, to confirm him in the faith. (See Dionysius the Areopagite, Eccl. Hier., 2.)
296. Why before baptizing do we use exorcism?
To drive away the devil, who since Adam’s fall has had access to men, and power over them, as his captives and slaves.
The Apostle Paul says, that all men, without grace, walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2.2).
297. Wherein lies the force of exorcism?
In the name of Jesus Christ, invoked with prayer and faith. Jesus Christ gave to believers this promise: In my name shall they cast out devils (Mark 16.17).
298. What force has the sign of the cross used on this and other occasions?
What the name of Jesus Christ crucified is when pronounced with faith by motion of the lips, the very same is also the sign of the cross when made with faith by motion of the hand, or represented in any other way.
Cyril of Jerusalem writes: Let us not be ashamed to confess the Crucified; let us boldly make the sign of the Cross on the forehead, and on every thing; on the bread which we eat; on the cups from which we drink; let us make it at our going out, and coming in; when we lie down to sleep, and when we rise; when we journey, and when we rest: it is a great safeguard, given to the poor without price, to the weak without labour. For this is the grace of God; a token for the faithful, and a terror for evil spirits (Cat. 13.36).
299. Whence have we the use of the sign of the Cross?
From the very times of the Apostles. (See Dionysius the Areopagite, Eccl. hier. 2, 5; also Tertullian, de Cor., 3; de Res., 8.)
300. What means the white garment which is put on after Baptism?
The purity of the soul, and of the Christian life.
301. Why do they hang upon the baptized a Cross?
As a visible expression and continual remembrance of Christ’s command: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matt. 16.24).
302. What means the procession of the baptized round the font with a light?
Spiritual joy, joined with spiritual illumination.
303. How is this to be understood, that in the Creed we are made to confess one Baptism?
In this sense: that Baptism can not be repeated.
304. Why can not Baptism be repeated?
Baptism is spiritual birth: a man is born but once; therefore he is also baptized but once.
305. What is to be thought of those who sin after Baptism?
That they are more guilty in their sins than the unbaptized, since they had from God special help to do well, and have thrown it away.
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning (2 Pet. 2.20).
306. But is there not any way even for such as have sinned after Baptism to obtain pardon?
There is a way, which is penitence.
II.12.2. On Unction with Chrism.
307. What is Unction with Chrism?
Unction with Chrism is a Sacrament, in which the baptized believer, being anointed with holy chrism on certain parts of the body in the name of the Holy Ghost, receives the gifts of the Holy Ghost for growth and strength in spiritual life.
308. Is this Sacrament mentioned in holy Scripture?
The inward grace of this Sacrament is spoken of by the Apostle John, as follows: But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. And the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie; and even as it hath taught you, abide therein (1 John 2.20, 27).
In like manner the Apostle Paul also says: Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Cor. 1.21–22).
Hence are taken the words pronounced at the Unction: The seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost.
309. Is the outward form of Unction with Chrism mentioned in holy Scripture?
It may well be supposed that the words of St. John refer to a visible as well as to an inward unction; but it is more certain that the Apostles, for imparting to the baptized the gifts of the Holy Ghost, used imposition of hands (Acts 8.14, 16). The successors of the Apostles, however, in place of this, introduced unction with chrism, drawing, it may be, their precedent from the unction used in the Old Testament (Exod. 3.25; 1 Kings 1.39; Dionysius the Areopagite, Eccl. hier. 4).
310. What is to be remarked of the holy Chrism?
This: that its consecration is reserved to the heads of the Hierarchy, as successors of the Apostles, who used the laying on of their own hands to communicate the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
311. What is specially signified by anointing the forehead?
The sanctification of the mind, or thoughts.
312. What by anointing the chest?
The sanctification of the heart, or desires.
313. What by anointing the eyes, ears, and lips?
The sanctification of the senses.
314. What by anointing the hands and feet?
The sanctification of the works and whole walk of the Christian.
II.12.3. On the Communion.
315. What is the Communion?
The Communion is a Sacrament, in which the believer, under the forms of bread and wine, partakes of the very Body and Blood of Christ, to everlasting life.
316. How was this Sacrament instituted?
Jesus Christ, immediately before his passion, consecrated it for the first time, exhibiting in it by anticipation a lively image of his sufferings for our salvation; and after having administered it to the Apostles, he gave them at the same time a commandment ever after to perpetuate this Sacrament.
317. What is to be noticed of the Sacrament of the Communion in regard to divine service in the Church?
This: that it forms the chief and most essential part of divine service.
318. What is the name of that service in which the Sacrament of the Communion is consecrated?
319. What means the word Liturgy?
Common service, but the name Liturgy is specially appropriated to that divine service in which the Sacrament of the Communion is consecrated.
320. What is to be noted of the place where the Liturgy is celebrated?
It must always be consecrated in a temple, the table in which, or at least, if there be no such table, the antimense on which the Sacrament is consecrated, must have been consecrated by a Bishop.
321. Why is the temple called a church?
Because the faithful, who compose the Church, meet in it for prayer and Sacraments.
322. Why is the table, on which the Sacrament of the Communion is consecrated, called the throne?
Because on it Jesus Christ, as King, is mystically present.
323. What general order of parts may be remarked in the Liturgy?
This: that first the elements are prepared for the Sacrament; secondly, the faithful are prepared for the Sacrament; lastly, the Sacrament itself is consecrated.
324. What is the name for that part of the Liturgy in which the elements are prepared for the Sacrament?
Proskomide, προσκομιδή .
325. What is the meaning of the word Proskomide?
326. Why is this name given to the first part of the Liturgy?
From the custom of the primitive Christians to offer in the Church bread and wine for the celebration of the Sacrament. On the same account this bread is called prosphora, which means oblation.
327. In what consists the Offertory, as a part of the Liturgy?
In this: that with mention made of the prophecies and types, and partly also of the events themselves, relating to the birth and suffering of Jesus Christ, a portion is taken from the prosphora for use in the Sacrament, and likewise a portion of wine mixed with water is poured off into the holy chalice, while the celebrator makes commemoration of the whole Church, honours the glorified saints, prays for the living and the departed, especially for the ruling powers, and for those who, of their own faith and zeal, have brought prosphoræ, or oblations.
328. Of what kind should be the bread for the Sacrament?
Such as the name itself of bread, the holiness of the Mystery, and the example of Jesus Christ and the Apostles all require; that is, leavened, pure, wheaten bread.
329. What is signified by this, that the bread or loaf which is strictly to be used for the Communion is only one?
It signifies, as the Apostle explains, that we, being many, are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread (1 Cor. 10.17).
330. Why is the bread, when prepared for the Communion, called the Lamb?
Because it is the figure of Jesus Christ suffering, as was in the Old Testament the Paschal Lamb.
331. What was the Paschal Lamb?
The lamb which the Israelites, by God’s command, killed and ate in memory of their deliverance from destruction in Egypt.
332. Why is the wine for the Sacrament of the Communion mixed with water?
Because the whole of this celebration is ordered so as to figure forth the sufferings of Christ; and when he suffered there flowed from his pierced side blood and water.
333. What name has that part of the Liturgy in which the faithful are prepared for the Sacrament?
The ancients called it the Liturgy of the Catechumens; because, besides baptized communicants, the catechumens, also, who are preparing for Baptism, and the penitents, who are not admitted to communion, may be present at it.
334. With what does this part of the Liturgy begin?
With the Blessing, or glorification of the Kingdom of the Most Holy Trinity.
335. In what consists this part of the Liturgy?
In prayers, singing, and reading from the books of the Apostles, and from the Gospel.
336. With what does it end?
With the order given to the catechumens to go out and leave the church.
337. What is the name for that part of the Liturgy in which the Sacrament itself is celebrated and consecrated?
The Liturgy of the Faithful; because the faithful only, that is, the baptized, have the right to be present at this service.
338. What is the most essential act in this part of the Liturgy?
The utterance of the words which Jesus Christ spake in instituting the Sacrament: Take, eat; this is my body. Drink ye all of it; for this is my Blood of the New Testament (Matt. 26.26–28). And after this the invocation of the Holy Ghost, and the blessing the gifts, that is, the bread and wine which have been offered.
339. Why is this so essential?
Because at the moment of this act the bread and wine are changed, or transubstantiated, into the very Body of Christ, and into the very Blood of Christ.
340. How are we to understand the word transubstantiation?
In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs, it is said that the word transubstantiation is not to be taken to define the manner in which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord; for this none can understand but God; but only thus much is signified, that the bread truly, really, and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord. In like manner John Damascene, treating of the Holy and Immaculate Mysteries of the Lord, writes thus: It is truly that Body, united with Godhead, which had its origin from the Holy Virgin; not as though that Body which ascended came down from heaven, but because the bread and wine themselves are changed into the Body and Blood of God. But if thou seekest after the manner how this is, let it suffice thee to be told that it is by the Holy Ghost; in like manner as, by the same Holy Ghost, the Lord formed flesh to himself, and in himself, from the Mother of God; nor know I aught more than this, that the Word of God is true, powerful, and almighty, but its manner of operation unsearchable (John of Damascus, Theol. 4.13, § 7).
341. What is required individually of every one who desires to approach the Sacrament of the Communion?
To examine his conscience before God, and to cleanse it from sin by penitence; for doing which he has helps in fasting and prayer.
Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup; for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s Body (1 Cor. 11.28–29).
342. What benefit does he receive who communicates in the Body and Blood of Christ?
He is in the closest manner united to Jesus Christ himself, and, in him, is made partaker of everlasting life.
He that eateth my Flesh, and drinketh my Blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him (John 6.56). Whoso eateth my Flesh, and drinketh my Blood, hath eternal life (John 6.54).
343. Ought we to communicate often in the holy Mysteries?
The primitive Christians communicated every Lord’s Day; but now few have such purity of life as to be always prepared to approach so great a Mystery. Our Mother the Church calls on all, who would live religiously, to confess before their ghostly Father, and communicate in the Body and Blood of Christ, four times yearly, or even every month, but requires all, without exception, to receive it at the least once in the year. (See Orth. Conf. 1.90.)
344. What part can they have in the divine Liturgy who only hear it without approaching the holy Communion?
They may and should take part in the Liturgy by prayer and faith, and especially by a continual remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ, who expressly has commanded us to do this in remembrance of him (Luke 22.19).
345. What should we remember at that time in the Liturgy when they make the Procession with the Gospel?
Jesus Christ appearing to preach the Gospel. So also while the Gospel is reading, we should have the same attention and reverence as if we saw and heard Jesus Christ himself.
346. What should we remember at that time in the Liturgy when they make the Procession with the gifts from the table of preparation to the altar?
Jesus Christ going to suffer voluntarily, as a victim to the slaughter, while more than twelve legions of angels were ready around to guard him as their King.
The King of kings, and Lord of lords, cometh to be slaughtered (Hymn for the Liturgy on the Great Sabbath).
347. What should we remember at the moment of the consecration of the Sacrament, and while the clergy are communicating within the altar?
The mystical supper of Jesus Christ himself with his Apostles; his suffering, death, and burial.
348. What is set forth after this, by the drawing back of the veil, the opening of the royal doors, and the appearance of the holy gifts?
The appearance of Jesus Christ himself after his resurrection.
349. What is figured by the last showing of the holy gifts to the people, after which they are hid from view?
The ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
350. Will the use of the Sacrament of the holy Communion continue ever in the true Church of Christ?
Assuredly it will ever continue, even to Christ’s coming again, agreeably to the words of the Apostle Paul: For as oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord’s death till he come (1 Cor. 11.26).
II.12.4. On Penitence.
351. What is Penitence?
Penitence is a Sacrament, in which he who confesses his sins is, on the outward declaration of pardon by the priest, inwardly loosed from his sins by Jesus Christ himself.
352. What is the origin of this Sacrament?
They who came to John the Baptist, who preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, confessed their sins. Mark i. 4, 5. The Apostles were promised by Jesus Christ power to forgive sins, when he said, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. 18.18). And after his resurrection he actually gave them this power, saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained (John 20.22–23).
353. What is required of the penitent?
Contrition for his sins, with a full purpose of amendment of life, faith in Jesus Christ, and hope in his mercy.
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of (2 Cor. 7.10). But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby (Ezek. 33.19). To him, that is to Jesus Christ, give all the Prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins (Acts 10.43).
354. Are there not besides certain preparations and aids to Penitence?
Such are fasting and prayer.
355. Is there not besides these a certain special mean used by holy Church for cleansing and giving peace to the conscience of the penitent?
Such a mean is the epitimia, or penance.
356. What is the epitimia?
The word means punishment. (See 2 Cor. 2.6.) Under this name are prescribed to the penitent, according as may be requisite, divers particular exercises of piety, and divers abstinences or privations, serving to efface the unrighteousness of sin, and to subdue sinful habit; as, for instance, fasting beyond what is prescribed for all, or for grievous sins suspension from the holy Communion for a given time.
II.12.5. On Orders.
357. What are Orders
Orders are a Sacrament, in which the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of the Bishop’s hands, ordains them that be rightly chosen to minister sacraments, and to feed the flock of Christ.
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4.1).
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20.28).
358. What is it to feed the Church?
To instruct the people in faith, piety, and good works.
359. How many necessary degrees are there of Orders?
Three: those of Bishop, Priest, and Deacon.
360. What difference is there between them?
The Deacon serves at the Sacraments; the Priest hallows Sacraments in dependence on the Bishop; the Bishop not only hallows the Sacraments himself, but has power also to impart to others, by the laying on of his hands, the gift and grace to hallow them.
Of the Episcopal power the Apostle Paul thus writes to Titus: For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city (Tit. 1.5). And to Timothy: Lay hands suddenly on no man (1 Tim. 5.22).
II.12.6. On Matrimony.
361. What is Matrimony?
Matrimony is a Sacrament, in which, on the free promise of the man and woman before the priest and the Church to be true to each other, their conjugal union is blessed to be an image of Christ’s union with the Church, and grace is asked for them to live together in godly love and honesty, to the procreation and Christian bringing up of children.
362. Whence does it appear that Matrimony is a Sacrament?
From the following words of the Apostle Paul: A man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This Sacrament is great: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church (Eph. 5.31–32).
363. Is it the duty of all to marry?
No. Virginity is better than wedlock, if any have the gift to keep it undefiled.
Of this Jesus Christ has said expressly: All men can not receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (Matt. 19.11–12).
And the Apostle says: I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I; but if they can not contain, let them marry. . . . He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but he that is I married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. . . . He that giveth his virgin in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better (1 Cor. 7.8–9, 32–33, 38).
II.12.7. On Unction with Oil.
364. What is Unction with Oil?
Unction with Oil is a Sacrament, in which, while the body is anointed with oil, God’s grace is invoked on the sick, to heal him of spiritual and bodily infirmities.
365. Whence is the origin of this Sacrament?
From the Apostles, who, having received power from Jesus Christ, anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them (Mark. 6.13).
The Apostles left this Sacrament to the priests of the Church, as is evident from the following words of the Apostle James: Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5.14, 16.)
II.13. On the Eleventh Article.
366. What is the resurrection of the dead, which, in the words of the Creed, we look for or expect?
An act of the almighty power of God, by which all bodies of dead men, being reunited to their souls, shall return to life, and shall thenceforth be spiritual and immortal.
It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15.44). For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (1 Cor. 15.53).
367. How shall the body rise again after it has rotted and perished in the ground?
Since God formed the body from the ground originally, he can equally restore it after it has perished in the ground. The Apostle Paul illustrates this by the analogy of a grain of seed, which rots in the earth, but from which there springs up afterwards a plant, or tree. That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die (1 Cor. 15.36).
368. Shall all, strictly speaking, rise again?
All, without exception, that have died; but they who at the time of the general resurrection shall be still alive shall have their present gross bodies changed in a moment, so as to become spiritual and immortal.
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Cor. 15.51–52).
369. When shall the resurrection of the dead be?
At the end of this visible world?
370. Shall the world then too come to an end?
Yes; this corruptible world shall come to an end, and shall be transformed into another, incorruptible.
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8.21). Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. 3.13).
371. How shall the world be transformed?
By fire. The heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same, that is, by God’s word, are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (2 Pet. 3.7).
372. In what state are the souls of the dead till the general resurrection?
The souls of the righteous are in light and rest, with a foretaste of eternal happiness; but the souls of the wicked are in a state the reverse of this.
373. Why may we not ascribe to the souls of the righteous perfect happiness immediately after death?
Because it is ordained that the perfect retribution according to works shall be received by the perfect man after the resurrection of the body and God’s last judgment.
The Apostle Paul says: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Tim. 4.8). And again: We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor. 5.10).
374. Why do we ascribe to the souls of the righteous a foretaste of bliss before the last judgment?
On the testimony of Jesus Christ himself, who says in the parable that the righteous Lazarus was immediately after death carried into Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16.22).
375. Is this foretaste of bliss joined with a sight of Christ’s own countenance?
It is so more especially with the saints, as we are given to understand by the Apostle Paul, who had a desire to depart, and to be with Christ (Phil. 1.23).
376. What is to be remarked of such souls as have departed with faith, but without having had time to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance?
This: that they may be aided towards the attainment of a blessed resurrection by prayers offered in their behalf, especially such as are offered in union with the oblation of the bloodless sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, and by works of mercy done in faith for their memory.
377. On what is this doctrine grounded?
On the constant tradition of the Catholic Church; the sources of which may be seen even in the Church of the Old Testament. Judas Maccabæus offered sacrifice for his men that had fallen (2 Macc. 12.43). Prayer for the departed has ever formed a fixed part of the divine Liturgy, from the first Liturgy of the Apostle James. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: Very great will be the benefit to those souls for which prayer is offered at the moment when the holy and tremendous Sacrifice is lying in view (Myst. 5.9).
St. Basil the Great, in his prayers for Pentecost, says that the Lord vouchsafes to receive from us propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for those that are kept in Hades, and allows us the hope of obtaining for them peace, relief, and freedom.
II.14. On the Twelfth Article.
378. What is the life of the world to come?
The life that shall be after the resurrection of the dead and the general judgment of Christ.
379. What kind of life shall this be?
For those who believe, who love God, and do what is good, it shall be so happy that we can not now even conceive such happiness. It doth not yet appear what we shall be (1 John 3.2). I knew a man in Christ, says the Apostle Paul, who was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter (2 Cor. 12.2, 4).
380. Whence shall proceed this so great happiness?
From the contemplation of God in light and glory, and from union with him. For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part, but then shall I know, even as also I am known (1 Cor. 13.12).
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13.43). God shall be all in all (1 Cor. 15.28).
381. Shall the body also share in the happiness of the soul?
Yes; it too will be glorified with the light of God, as Christ’s body was at his transfiguration on Mount Tabor.
It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory (1 Cor. 15.43). As we have borne the image of the earthy, that is, of Adam, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly (1 Cor. 15.49).
382. Will all be equally happy?
No. There will be different degrees of happiness, in proportion as every one shall have here endured the fight of faith, love, and good works. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15.41–42).
383. But what will be the lot of unbelievers and transgressors?
They will be given over to everlasting death–that is, to everlasting fire, to everlasting torment, with the devils.
Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20.15). And, That is the second death (Rev. 20.14). Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25.41). And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal (Matt. 25.46). It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9.47–48).
384. Why will such severity be used with sinners?
Not because God willed them to perish; but they of their own will perish, because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved (2 Thes. 2.10).
385. Of what benefit will it be to us to meditate on death, on the resurrection, on the last judgment, on everlasting happiness, and on everlasting torment?
These meditations will assist us to abstain from sin, and to wean our affections from earthly things; they will console ns for the absence or loss of worldly goods, incite us to keep our souls and bodies pure, to live to God and to eternity, and so to attain everlasting salvation.
III. On Hope.
III.1. 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. 1.1). Hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you by the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1.13).
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.
III.2. 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 14.13).
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. 14.15).
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 honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: but in vain do they worship me (Matt. 15.8–9).
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. 6.20; Matt. 12.34; John 17.1; Luke 22.41; Matt. 26.39).
III.2.1. 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?
- Hallowed be thy Name;
- Thy kingdom come;
- Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth;
- Give us this day our bread for subsistence;
- And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,
- And lead us not into temptation;
- But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen (Matt. 6.9–13).
400. In order the better to understand the Lord’s Prayer, how may we divide it?
Into the invocation, seven petitions, and the doxology.
III.2.2. 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 1.12–13).
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.
III.2.3. 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. 14.17).
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. 6.12).
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 17.20–21).
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. 1.23).
III.2.4. 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. 3.20–21).
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.
III.2.5. On the Fourth Petition.
415. What is bread for subsistence?
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. 6.34). For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things (Matt. 6.32).
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 of Jerusalem, Myst. 4.15; Orthodox Confession, 2.19.)
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. 4.4). My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed (John 6.55).
III.2.6. On the Fifth Petition.
420. What is meant in the Lord’s Prayer by our debts?
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. 2.5–6).
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. 6.14–15).
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. 5.23–24).
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. 12.18).
III.2.7. 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.
III.2.8. 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 5.19): but especially from the evil of sin, and from the evil suggestions and snares of the spirit of evil, which is the devil.
III.2.9. 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 honour 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?
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. 1.6).
III.3. 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 6.46). 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. 7.21).
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:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filed.
- Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
- Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- 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. 5.3–12).
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.
III.3.1. 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. 15).
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. 16.26).
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. 19.21).
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.
III.3.2. 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. 7.10).
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.
III.3.3. 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 27.13.
III.3.4. 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. 9.24).
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. 3.22–25).
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 (Ps. 17.15).
III.3.5. 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?
- To feed the hungry.
- To give drink to the thirsty.
- To clothe the naked, or such as have not necessary and decent clothing.
- To visit them that are in prison.
- To visit the sick, minister to them, and forward their recovery, or aid them to a Christian preparation for death.
- To show hospitality to strangers.
- To bury them that have died in poverty.
463. Which are the spiritual works of mercy?
- By exhortation to convert the sinner from the error of his way (James 5.20).
- To instruct the ignorant in truth and virtue.
- To give our neighbour good and seasonable advice in difficulty, or in any danger of which he is unaware.
- To pray for others to God.
- To comfort the afflicted.
- Not to return the evil which others may have done us.
- 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.
III.3.6. 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. 1.18). 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.
III.3.7. 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.
III.3.8. 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.
III.3.9. 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.
IV. On Love.
IV.1. On the Union between Faith and Love.
481. What should be the effect and fruit of true faith in the Christian?
Love, and good works conformable thereto.
In Jesus Christ, says the Apostle Paul, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love (Gal. 5.6).
482. Is not faith alone enough for a Christian, without love and good works ?
No; for faith without love and good works is inactive and dead, and so can not lead to eternal life.
He that loveth not his brother, abideth in death (1 John 3.14). What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2.14, 26).
483. May not a man, on the other hand, be saved by love and good works, without faith?
It is impossible that a man who has not faith in God should really love him; besides, man, being ruined by sin, can not do really good works, unless he receive through faith in Jesus Christ spiritual strength, or grace from God.
Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Heb. 11.6).
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 (Gal. 3.10). For we through the spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith (Gal. 5.5).
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2.8–9).
484. What is to be thought of such love as is not accompanied by good works?
Such love is not real: for true love naturally shows itself by good works. Jesus Christ says: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: if a man love me, he will keep my word (John 14.21, 23).
The Apostle John writes: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments (1 John 5.3). Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3.18).
IV.2. On the Law of God and the Commandments.
485. What means have we to know good works from bad?
The inward law of God, or the witness of our conscience, and the outward law of God, or God’s commandments.
486. Does holy Scripture speak of the inward law of God?
The Apostle Paul says of the heathen: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another (Rom. 2.15).
487. If there is in man’s heart an inward law, why was the outward given?
It was given because men obeyed not the inward law, but led carnal and sinful lives, and stifled within themselves the voice of the spiritual law, so that it was necessary to put them in mind of it outwardly through the Commandments. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions (Gal. 3.19).
488. When and how was God’s outward law given to men?
When the Hebrew people, descended from Abraham, had been miraculously delivered from bondage in Egypt, on their way to the promised land, in the desert, on Mount Sinai, God manifested his presence in fire and clouds, and gave them the law, by the hand of Moses, their leader.
489. Which are the chief and general commandments of this law?
The following ten, which were written on two tables of stone:
- I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt have none other gods beside me.
- Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth: thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord thy God.
- Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and that thy days may be long upon the earth.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, nor his land, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any of his cattle, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s (Exod. 20.1–17; Deut. 5.6–21).
490. You said that these Commandments were given to the people of Israel: must we, then, also walk by them?
We must: for they are in substance the same law which, in the words of St. Paul, has been written in the hearts of all men, that all should walk by it.
491. Did Jesus Christ teach men to walk by the Ten Commandments?
He bade men, if they would attain to everlasting life, to keep the Commandments and taught us to understand and fulfill them more perfectly than had been done before he came (Matt. 19.17; 5).
IV.3. On the Division of the Commandments into Two Tables.
492. What means the division of the Ten Commandments into two tables?
This: that they contain two kinds of love–love to God, and love to our neighbor; and prescribe two corresponding kinds of duties.
493. Has not Jesus Christ said something of this?
When asked, Which is the great commandment in the law? he replied: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matt. 22.36–40).
494. Are all men our neighbours?
Yes, all; because all are the creation of one God, and have come from one man: but our neighbours in faith are doubly neighbours to us, as being children of one heavenly Father by faith in Jesus Christ.
495. But why is there no commandment of love to ourselves?
Because we love ourselves naturally, and without any commandment. No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it (Eph. 5.29).
496. What relative order should there be in our love to God, our neighbour, and ourselves?
We should love ourselves not for our own, but for God’s sake, and partly also for the sake of our neighbours; we should love our neighbour for the sake of God; but we should love God for himself, and above all. Love of self should be sacrificed to the love of our neighbour; but both should be sacrificed to the love of God.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15.13).
He that loveth father or mother more than me, saith Jesus Christ, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me (Matt. 10.37).
497. If the whole law is contained in two commandments, why are they divided into ten?
In order the more clearly to set forth our duties towards God, and towards our neighbour.
498. In which of the Ten Commandments are we taught our duties towards God?
In the first four.
499. What are these duties?
In the first commandment we are taught to know and worship the true God.
In the second, to abstain from false worship.
In the third, not to sin against God’s worship even by word.
In the fourth, to keep a certain order in the time and acts of God’s worship.
500. In which of the Ten Commandments are we taught our duties towards our neighbour?
In the last six.
501. What are these duties?
In the fifth commandment we are taught to love and honour those of our neighbors who are nearest to us, beginning with our parents. In the sixth, not to hurt the life of our neighbor. In the seventh, not to hurt the purity of his morals. In the eighth, not to hurt his property. In the ninth, not to hurt him by word. In the tenth, not to wish to hurt him.
502. Do not the Ten Commandments include also our duties towards ourselves?
Yes; these duties are implied in the commandments of the second table relating to our neighbors; for our duty is to love our neighbor as ourselves.
IV.4. On the First Commandment.
503. What mean these words, I am the Lord thy God?
By these words God, as it were, points himself out to man, and so commands him to know the Lord his God.
504. What particular duties may we deduce from the commandment to know God?
- We must seek to learn the knowledge of God, as being the most essential of all knowledge.
- We must listen attentively to instructions on God and on his works in church, and to religious conversations on the same at home.
- We must read or hear read books of instruction in the knowledge of God; and in the first place, holy Scripture; secondly, the writings of the holy Fathers.
505. What are we taught in the words, Thou shalt have none other gods but me?
We are taught to turn and cleave to the one true God, or, in other words, devoutly to worship him.
506. What duties are there which refer to the inward worship of God?
- To believe in God.
- To walk before God; that is, to be ever mindful of him, and in all things to walk circumspectly, because he seeth not only our actions, but even our most secret thoughts.
- To fear God, or stand in awe of him; that is, to think the anger of our heavenly Father the greatest ill that can befall us, and therefore strive not to offend him.
- To trust in God.
- To love God.
- To obey God; that is, to be ever ready to do what he commands, and not to murmur when he deals with us otherwise than we could desire.
- To adore God, as the Supreme Being.
- To glorify God, as being all-perfect.
- To give thanks to God, as our Creator, Provident Sustainer, and Saviour.
- To call upon God, as our all-good and almighty helper, in every good work which we undertake.
507. What duties are there which refer to the outward worship of God?
- To confess God; that is, to acknowledge that he is our God, and not deny him, although for confessing him we may have to suffer, or even die.
- To take part in the public divine service enjoined by God and appointed by the Orthodox Church.
508. In order the more exactly to understand and keep the first commandment, we must know farther what sins there may be against it.
- Atheism; when men, whom the Psalmist justly calls fools, wishing to rid themselves of the fear of God’s judgment, say in their heart, There is no God (Ps. 14.1).
- Polytheism; when, instead of the one true God, men acknowledge a number of false deities.
- Infidelity; when men, who admit the existence of God, disbelieve his providence and his revelation.
- Heresy; when people mix with the doctrine of the faith opinions contrary to divine truth.
- Schism; that is, willful departure from the unity of divine worship, and from the Orthodox Catholic Church of God.
- Apostasy; when any deny the true faith from fear of man, or for worldly advantage.
- Despair; when men give up all hope of obtaining from God grace and salvation.
- Sorcery; when men, leaving faith in the power of God, put their trust in secret and, for the most part, evil powers of creatures, especially of evil spirits, and seek to work by their means.
- Superstition; when men put faith in any common thing as if it had divine power, and trust in it instead of trusting in God, or fear it instead of fearing God; as, for instance, when they put faith in an old book, and think they can be saved by none other, and must not use a new one, though the new book contain the very same doctrine, and the very same form of divine service.
- Sloth, in respect of learning religion, or in respect of prayer, and the public service of God.
- Love of the creature more than of God.
- Men-pleasing; when they seek to please men, so as for this to be careless of pleasing God.
- Trusting in man; when any one trusts in his own means and strength, or in the means and strength of others, and not in the mercy and help of God,
509. Why must we think that men-pleasing and trusting in man are against the first commandment?
Because the man, whom we please, or in whom we trust, so as to forget God, is in some sort to us another god, in place of the true God.
510. How does holy Scripture speak of men-pleasing?
The Apostle Paul says: For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (Gal. 1.10).
511. How does holy Scripture speak of trusting in man?
Thus saith the Lord: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord (Jer. 17.5).
512. In order to succeed the better in fulfilling his duties to God, how must a man act by himself?
He must deny himself.
Whosoever will come after me, says Jesus Christ, let him deny himself (Mark 8.34).
513. What is it to deny one’s self?
Basil the Great explains it thus: He denies himself who puts off the old man with his deeds, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts; who renounces also all worldly affections, which can hinder his intention of godliness. Perfect self-denial consists in this, that he cease to have any affection even for life itself, and bear the judgment of death in himself, that he may not trust in himself. (Can. Long. 8.)
514. What consolation is there for him who, by denying himself, loses many natural gratifications?
The consolation of grace: a divine consolation, which even sufferings themselves can not impair.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ (2 Cor. 1.5).
515. If the first commandment teaches us to worship religiously God alone, how does it agree with this commandment to honour angels and holy men?
To pay them due and rightful honour is altogether agreeable to this commandment; because in them we honour the grace of God, which dwells and works in them, and through them seek help from God.
IV.5. On the Second Commandment.
516. What is a graven image, as spoken of in the second commandment?
The commandment itself explains that a graven image, or idol, is the likeness of some creature in heaven, or earth, or in the waters, which men bow down to and serve instead of God their Maker.
517. What is forbidden, then, by the second commandment?
We are forbidden to bow down to graven images or idols, as to supposed deities, or as to likenesses of false gods.
518. Are we not hereby forbidden to have any sacred representations whatever?
By no means. This very plainly appears from hence, that the same Moses through whom God gave the commandment against graven images, received at the same time from God an order to place in the tabernacle, or movable temple of the Israelites, sacred representations of Cherubim in gold, and to place them, too, in that inner part of the temple to which the people turned for the worship of God.
519. Why is this example worthy of remark for the Orthodox Christian Church?
Because it illustrates her use of holy icons.
520. What is an icon?
The word is Greek, and means, an image or representation. In the Orthodox Church this name designates sacred representations of our Lord Jesus Christ, God incarnate, his immaculate Mother, and his saints.
521. Is the use of holy icons agreeable to the second commandment?
It would then, and then only, be otherwise, if any one were to make gods of them; but it is not in the least contrary to this commandment to honour icons as sacred representations, and to use them for the religious remembrance of God’s works and of his saints; for when thus used icons are books, written with the forms of persons and things instead of letters. (See Gregory the Great, Letters, vol. 9, Ep. 9, ad Seren. Episc.)
522. What disposition of mind should we have when we reverence the icons?
While we look on them with our eyes, we should mentally look to God and to the saints, who are represented on them.
523. What general name is there for sin against the second commandment?
524. Are there not also other sins against this commandment?
Besides gross idolatry there is yet another sort more subtle, to which belong–
- Belly-service or sensuality, gluttony, and drunkenness.
- Pride, to which belongs likewise vanity.
525. Why is covetousness referred to idolatry?
The Apostle Paul expressly says that covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3.5); because the covetous man serves riches rather than God.
526. If the second commandment forbid the love of gain, what contrary duties does it thereby necessarily enjoin?
Those of contentedness and liberality.
527. Why is belly-service referred to idolatry?
Because belly-servers set sensual gratification above every thing, and therefore the Apostle Paul says that their god is their belly; or, in other words, that the belly is their idol (Phil. 3.19).
528. If the second commandment forbid belly-service, what contrary duties does it thereby enjoin?
Those of temperance and fasting.
529. Why are pride and vanity referred to idolatry?
Because the proud man values above every thing his own abilities and excellences, and so they are his idol; the vain man wishes further that others also should worship the same idol. These proud and vain dispositions were exemplified even sensibly in Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who first set up for himself a golden idol, and then ordered all to worship it (Dan. 3.)
530. Is there not still another vice which is near to idolatry?
Such a vice is hypocrisy; when a man uses the outward acts of religion, as fasting, and the strict observance of ceremonies, in order to obtain respect from the people, without thinking of the inward amendment of his heart (Matt. 6.5–7).
531. If the second commandment forbid pride, vanity, and hypocrisy, what contrary duties does it thereby enjoin?
Those of humility, and doing good in secret.
IV.6. On the Third Commandment.
532. When is God’s name taken in vain?
It is taken or uttered in vain when it is uttered in vain and unprofitable talk, and still more so when it is uttered lyingly or irreverently.
533. What sins are forbidden by the third commandment?
- Blasphemy, or daring words against God.
- Murmuring, or complaining against God’s providence.
- Profaneness; when holy things are jested on, or insulted.
- Inattention in prayer.
- Perjury; when men affirm with an oath what is false.
- Oath-breaking; when men keep not just and lawful oaths.
- Breach of vows made to God.
- Common swearing, or thoughtless oaths in common talk.
534. Are not such oaths specially forbidden in holy Scripture?
The Saviour says: I say unto you, Swear not at all, but let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil (Matt. 5.34, 37).
535. Does not this go to forbid all oaths in civil matters?
The Apostle Paul says: Men swear by the greater; and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath (Heb. 6.16–17). Hence we must conclude, that if God himself for an immutable assurance used an oath, much more may we on grave and necessary occasions, when required by lawful authority, take an oath or vow religiously, with the firm intention of not breaking it.
IV.7. On the Fourth Commandment.
536. Why is it commanded to keep the seventh, rather than any other day, holy to God?
Because God in six days made the world, and on the seventh day rested from the work of creation.
537. Is the Sabbath kept in the Christian Church?
It is not kept, strictly speaking, as a holy day; but still in memory of the creation of the world, and in continuation of its original observance, it is distinguished from the other days of the week by a relaxation of the rule for fasting.
538. How, then, does the Christian Church obey the fourth commandment?
She still to every six days keeps a seventh, only not the last of the seven days, which is the Sabbath, but the first day in every week, which is the Day of the Resurrection, or lord’s Day.
539. Since when do we keep the Day of the Resurrection?
From the very time of Christ’s resurrection.
540. Is there any mention in holy Scripture of keeping the day of the Resurrection?
In the book of the Acts of the Apostles it is mentioned that the disciples–that is, the Christians–came together on the first day after the Sabbath, which was the first day of the week, or Day of the Resurrection, for the breaking of bread, that is to say, for the celebration of the Sacrament of the Communion (Acts 20.7). The Apostle and Evangelist John also in the Apocalypse mentions the Lord’s Day, or the Day of the Resurrection.
541. Is there not yet something more to be understood under the name of the seventh day, or Sabbath?
As in the Church of the Old Testament the name Sabbath was understood to include divers other days appointed like the Sabbath for festivals or fasts, as the festival of the Passover, and the day of Atonement, so likewise are we now in the Christian Church bound to keep, besides the Lord’s Day, certain others also, which have been appointed as festivals to the glory of God and the honour of the Blessed Virgin and other saints, or as days of fasting. (See Orthod. Confess. III.60; I.88.)
542. Which are the chief festivals?
Those appointed in memory of the chief events relating to the Incarnation of the Son of God for our salvation, and to the Manifestation of the Godhead; after these, those appointed in honour of the Most Holy Mother of God, as the instrument of the mystery of the Incarnation. Such, in the order of the events, are the following:
- The day of the birth of the Most Holy Mother of God.
- The day of her being brought to the Temple to be dedicated to God.
- The day of the Annunciation; that is, when the angel announced to the Most Holy Virgin the Incarnation of the Son of God.
- The day of the birth of Jesus Christ.
- The day of the baptism of our Lord, and the Epiphany, or Manifestation of the Most Holy Trinity.
- The day of our Lord’s being met in the Temple by Simeon.
- The day of our Lord’s Transfiguration.
- The day of our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem.
- Pascha, or Easter: the feast of feasts, the anticipation of the everlasting feast of everlasting blessedness.
- The day of our Lord’s Ascension into heaven.
- The feast of Pentecost; in memory of the Descent of the Holy Ghost, and in honour of the Most Holy Trinity.
- The day of the Elevation of the Cross of our Lord, discovered by the Empress Helena.
- The day of the Rest of the Most Holy Mother of God.
543. What is the chief fast?
The great fast; that is, Lent, or Quadragesima.
544. Why is it called Quadragesima?
Because it continues forty days, besides the week of Christ’s Passion.
545. Why has it been appointed that the great fast should continue forty days?
After the example of Jesus Christ himself, who fasted forty days (Matt. 4.2).
546. Why has it been appointed to fast on the Wednesday and the Friday?
On Wednesday, in memory of the betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ to suffer; and on Friday, in memory of his actual suffering and death.
547. For what cause are the fasts before the Nativity, the Rest of the Blessed Virgin and the Day of the Holy Apostles?
The first two as preparatory exercises of abstinence, the better to honour the ensuing feasts of the Nativity, and of the Rest of the Mother of God; the last not only for like reason, but also in imitation of the Apostles, who fasted to prepare themselves for the work of preaching the Gospel (Acts 13.3).
548. How should we spend our time on Sundays, and the other greater holy days, in order to keep the fourth commandment?
First, on these days we should not labour, or do worldly and temporal business; secondly, we should keep them holy, that is, use them for holy and spiritual works, to the glory of God.
549. Why are we forbidden to work on holy days?
That we may with the less hindrance employ them in holy and godly works.
550. What particular things is it fit to do on holy days?
First, to go to church, for the public worship, and for instruction in the Word of God; secondly, when at home, to give ourselves to prayer and reading, or edifying conversation; thirdly, to dedicate to God a portion of our means, expending it on the necessities of the Church and her ministers, and in alms to the poor, to visit the sick and prisoners, and to do other works of Christian charity.
551. But should we not do such things on work-days also?
It is well, if any can; but he whom business prevents should at any rate devote holy days to such works. But as regards prayer, it is certainly our bounden duty to use it every day, morning and evening, before and after both dinner and supper, and, as far as possible, at the beginning and ending of every work.
552. What are we to think of those who on holy days allow themselves to indulge in indecent plays and shows, vulgar songs, and intemperance in meat and drink?
Such people greatly desecrate holy days For if even works innocent and useful for this present life are unfit for holy days, much more such as these, which are unprofitable, carnal, and vicious.
553. When the fourth commandment speaks of working six days, does it not thereby condemn those who do nothing?
Without doubt it condemns all who on common days do not give themselves to works befitting their calling, but spend their time in idleness and dissipation.
IV.8. On the Fifth Commandment.
554. What special duties are prescribed by the fifth commandment in regard to parents, under the general phrase of honouring them?
- To behave respectfully to them.
- To obey them.
- To support and comfort them in sickness and age.
- After their death, as well as during their lives, to pray for the salvation of their souls; and faithfully to fulfill their last wills, so far as they are not contrary to law, divine or civil. (See 2 Macchiato’s. 12.43–44; Jer. 35.18–19; John of Damascus, Serm. de Mort.)
555. What degree of sin is there in undutifulness to parents?
In proportion as it is easy and natural to love and honour parents, to whom we owe our being, the more grievous is the sin of undutifulness towards them: for this cause in the law of Moses he that cursed father or mother was to be put to death (Exod. 21.17).
556. Why has this particular commandment to honour parents a promise added to it of prosperity and long life?
That men by a visible reward might be the more moved to fulfill a commandment on which the good order first of families and afterwards of all social life depends.
557. How is this promise fulfilled?
The examples of the old Patriarchs or Fathers show that God gives special force to the blessing of parents (Gen. 27). The blessing of the father establisheth the houses of the children (Ecclus. 3.9). God of his wise and just providence specially protects the life and promotes the prosperity of such as honour their parents upon earth; but for the perfect reward of the perfect virtue he gives everlasting life and blessedness in the heavenly country.
558. Why in those commandments which teach love to our neighbors is mention made first of all of parents?
Because parents are naturally nearer to us than all others.
559. Are there not others also to be understood in the fifth commandment under the name of parents?
Yes; all who in different relations stand to us in the place of parents.
560. Who stand to us in the place of parents?
- Our sovereign and our country; for an empire is a great family, in which the sovereign is father, and the subjects children of the sovereign and their country.
- Our spiritual pastors and teachers; for they by their doctrine and by the Sacraments beget us to spiritual life, and nurture us up in it.
- Our elders in age.
- Our benefactors.
- Our governors, or superiors, in different relations.
561. How does holy Scripture speak of the honour due to the sovereign?
Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God (Rom. 13.1–2).
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake (Rom. 13.5).
My son, fear God and the king, and oppose neither of them (Prov 24.21).
Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s (Matt. 22.21).
Fear God; honour the king (1 Pet. 2.17).
562. How far should love to our sovereign and country go?
So far as to make us ready to lay down our life for them (John 15.13).
563. How does holy Scripture speak of the duty of honouring spiritual pastors and teachers?
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you (Heb. 13.17).
564. Is there in holy Scripture any particular injunction to honour elders in age as parents?
The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy thus: Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; younger men as brethren; elder women as mothers (1 Tim. 5.1–2).
Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear the Lord thy God (Lev. 19.32).
565. How may we be assured that we ought to honour benefactors as parents?
By the example of Jesus Christ himself, who was subject to Joseph; although Joseph was not his father, but only his guardian (Luke 2.51).
566. Besides these, who are our superiors, whom we must honour after parents, and like them?
They who in place of parents take care of our education, as governors in schools, and masters; they who preserve us from irregularities and disorders in society, as civil magistrates; they who protect us from wrong by the power of the law, as judges; they to whom the sovereign intrusts the guardianship and defense of the public safety against enemies, as military commanders; and, lastly, masters, so far as relates to those who serve them, or belong to them.
567. What does holy Scripture prescribe as to our duty with respect to authorities generally?
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Rom. 13.7).
568. How does holy Scripture speak of the obedience due from servants and serfs to their masters?
Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart (Eph. 6.5–6).
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, out also to the froward (1 Pet. 2.18).
569. If holy Scripture prescribe duties towards parents, does it not likewise prescribe duties towards children?
Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6.4).
570. How does holy Scripture speak of the duty of pastors towards their spiritual flock?
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly, and according to God; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock (1 Pet. 5.2–3).
571. How does holy Scripture speak of the duty of them that are in authority, and of masters?
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven (Col. 4.1).
572. How ought we to act, if it fall out that our parents or governors require of ns any thing contrary to the faith or to the law of God?
In that case we should say to them, as the Apostles said to the rulers of the Jews: Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; and we should be ready, for the sake of the faith and the law of God, to endure the consequences, whatever they may be (Acts 4.19).
573. What is the general name for that quality or virtue which is required by the fifth commandment?
IV.9. On the Sixth Commandment.
574. What is forbidden by the sixth commandment?
Murder; that is, taking away the life of our neighbor in any manner whatever.
575. Is it in all cases murder, and against this commandment, to kill?
No. It is not murder, nor against this commandment, when life is taken in the execution of duty; as, when a criminal is punished with death, by just judgment; nor, again, when an enemy is killed in war, in defense of our sovereign and country.
576. What is to be thought of involuntary homicide, when a man is killed accidentally and unintentionally?
The man who is guilty of involuntary homicide can not be reckoned blameless, unless he took all proper precautions against the accident; at any rate, he needs to have his conscience cleansed according to the Canons of the Church.
577. What cases must be reckoned as murder, and as breaches of this commandment?
Besides direct murder, by whatever means, the same sin may be committed in the following, and in similar cases:
- When a judge condemns a prisoner whom he knows to be innocent.
- When any one conceals or sets free a murderer, and so gives him opportunity for fresh crime.
- When any one can save his neighbor from death, but does not save him; as, when a rich man suffers a poor man to die of hunger.
- When any one by excessive burdens and cruel punishments wears out those under him, and so hastens their death.
- When any one, through intemperance or other vices, shortens his own life.
578. What are we to think of suicide?
That it is the most criminal of all murders. For if it be contrary to nature to kill another man like unto ourselves, much more is it, contrary to nature to kill our own selves. Our life is not our own, but God’s who gave it.
579. What are we to think of duels, to decide private quarrels?
Since the decision of private quarrels belongs to government, while the duelist, instead of having recourse to law, willfully determines on an act which involves manifest danger of death both to himself and his opponent, it is evident that a duel implies three dreadful crimes– rebellion, murder, and suicide.
580. Besides murder of the body, is there not such a thing as spiritual murder?
A kind of spiritual murder is the causing of offense: when any one causes his neighbor to fall into infidelity or into sin, and so subjects his soul to spiritual death.
The Saviour says: Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matt. 18.6).
581. Are there not still some more subtle forms of murder?
To this sin are more or less referable all acts and words against charity; all which unjustly affect the peace and security of our neighbor; and, lastly, all inward malice against him, even though it be not shown openly.
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer (1 John 3.15).
582. When we are forbidden to hurt the life of our neighbor, what positive duty is thereby enjoined?
That of doing all we can to secure his life and well-being.
583. What duties follow from hence?
- Helping the poor;
- Ministering to the sick;
- Comforting the afflicted;
- Alleviating the distress of the unfortunate;
- Behaving in a gentle, affectionate, and edifying manner to all;
- Reconciling ourselves with those that are angry;
- Forgiving injuries, and doing good to our enemies.
IV.10. On the Seventh Commandment.
584. What is forbidden by the seventh commandment?
585. What forms of sin are forbidden under the name of adultery?
The Apostle Paul would have Christians not even to speak of such impurities (Eph. 5.3). It is only of necessity, to forewarn people against such sins, that we shall here name some of them. Such are–
- Fornication; or irregular carnal love between unmarried persons.
- Adultery; when married persons unlawfully give that love which they owe each other to strangers.
- Incest; when near relations enter into a union like that of matrimony.
586. What does our Saviour teach us to think of adultery?
He has said that Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. 5.28).
587. What should we do in order to guard against falling into this subtle inward adultery?
We should avoid every thing that may excite impure feelings in the heart; as wanton songs and dances, lewd conversation, immodest games and jokes, immodest sights, and the reading of books which contain descriptions of impure love. We should strive, according to the Gospel, not even to look on that which may cause us to fall.
If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should he cast into hell (Matt. 5.29).
588. Must we, then, literally pluck out the offending eye?
We must pluck it out, not with the hand, but with the will. He who has firmly resolved not even to look upon that which causes him to offend hath already plucked out the offending eye.
589. When the sin of adultery is forbidden, what contrary virtues are thereby enjoined?
Those of conjugal love and fidelity; and, for such as can receive it, perfect purity and chastity.
590. How does holy Scripture speak of the duties of man and wife?
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it (Eph. 5.25). Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord; for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church; and he is the Saviour of the body (Eph. 5.22–23).
591. What motives does holy Scripture set before us to make us flee fornication and live chastely?
It bids us keep our bodies in purity, because they are the members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Ghost; while, on the other hand, he who committeth fornication sinneth against his own body; that is, corrupts it, infects it with diseases, and, further, hurts his mental faculties, such as imagination and memory. (See 1 Cor. 6.15, 18–19.)
IV.11. On the Eighth Commandment.
592. What is forbidden by the eighth commandment?
To steal, or in any way appropriate to ourselves that which belongs to another.
593. What particular sins are forbidden thereby?
The chief are:
- Robbery, or the taking of any thing that belongs to another openly, by force.
- Theft, or taking what belongs to another privily.
- Fraud, or appropriating to ourselves any thing that is another’s by artifice; as when men pass off counterfeit money for true, or bad wares for good; or use false weights and measures, to give less than they have sold; or conceal their effects to avoid paying their debts; or do not honestly fulfill contracts, or execute wills; when they screen others guilty of dishonesty, and so defraud the injured of justice.
- Sacrilege, or appropriating to ourselves what has been dedicated to God, or belongs to the Church.
- Spiritual sacrilege; when one sinfully gives and another fraudulently obtains any sacred office, not of desert, but for gain.
- Bribery; when men receive a bribe from those under them in office or jurisdiction, and for gain promote the unworthy, acquit the guilty, or oppress the innocent.
- Eating the bread of idleness; when men receive salary for duty, or pay for work, which they neglect, and so in fact steal both their pay and that profit which society, or he whom they served, should have had of their labour; in like manner when they who are able to support themselves by work, instead of so doing live upon alms.
- Extortio; when, under the show of some right, but really against equity and humanity, men make their own advantage of the property, the labours, or even the misfortunes of others; as when creditors oppress their debtors by usury; when masters wear out their dependents by excessive imposts or tasks; when in time of famine men sell bread at an exorbitant price.
594. When these sins are forbidden, what contrary virtues are thereby enjoined?
- Good faith in performing engagements;
- Mercy to the poor.
595. Does he, then, who is not merciful to the poor sin against the eighth commandment?
Certainly he does, if he have the means of assisting them; for all that we have belongs properly to God, and our abundance is given us by his Providence for the assistance of the poor; wherefore, if we do not impart to them of our abundance, we do in fact thereby rob and defraud them of their right, and the gift of God.
596. Is there not yet a higher virtue contrary to sins against the eighth commandment?
Such a virtue is absolute poverty, or the renunciation of all property; which is proposed by the Gospel not as a duty for all, but as a counsel for them that would be perfect.
If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor; and thou shalt hare treasure in heaven (Matt. 19.21).
IV.12. On the Ninth Commandment.
597. What is forbidden by the ninth commandment?
False witness against our neighbor, and all lying.
598. What is forbidden under the words false witness?
- False witness in a court of justice; when men bear witness, inform, or complain falsely against any one.
- False witness out of court, when men slander any one behind his back, or blame him to his face unjustly.
599. But is it allowable to censure others when they are really to blame?
No; the Gospel does not allow us to judge even of the real vices or faults of our neighbors, unless we are called by any special office to do so, for their punishment or amendment.
Judge not, that ye be not judged (Matt. 7.1).
600. Are not such lies allowable as involve no purpose of hurting our neighbor?
No; for they are inconsistent with love and respect for our neighbor, and unworthy of a man, much more of a Christian, who has been created for truth and love.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor; for we are members one of another (Eph. 4.25).
601. If we would avoid sins against the ninth commandment, what rule must we follow?
We must bridle our tongue. He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak, no guile (1 Pet. 3.10). If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain (James 1.26).
IV.13. On the Tenth Commandment.
602. What is forbidden by the tenth commandment?
All wishes inconsistent with charity to our neighbor, and thoughts which are inseparable from such wishes.
603. Why are we forbidden not only evil deeds, but also evil wishes and thoughts?
First, because when the soul entertains any evil wishes or thoughts, it is already impure in God’s sight, and unworthy of him; as Solomon says: The unjust thought is an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 15.26). And therefore we must needs cleanse ourselves also from these inward impurities also, as the Apostle teaches: Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord (2 Cor. 7.1).
Secondly, because, to prevent sinful acts, it is necessary to crush sinful wishes and thoughts, from which, as from seeds, such actions spring; as it is said: For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matt. 15.19). Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1.14–15).
604. When we are forbidden to desire any thing of our neighbor’s, what passion is thereby
605. What is forbidden by the words, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife?
All lustful thoughts and wishes, or inward adultery.
606. What is forbidden by the words, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, nor his land, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any of his cattle, nor any thing that is his?
All thoughts of avarice and ambition.
607. What positive duties, corresponding to these prohibitions, are prescribed by the tenth commandment?
First, to keep purity of heart; and, secondly, to be content with our lot.
608. What is indispensable for the cleansing of the heart?
The frequent and earnest invocation of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
IV.14. Conclusion: Application of the Doctrine of Faith and Piety.
609. How must we apply the doctrine of faith and piety?
We must act according to our knowledge, and keep before our eyes the fearful judgment threatened for disobedience.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them (John 13.17). That servant which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes (Luke 12.47).
610. What must a man do when he is conscious of any sin?
Not only should lie immediately repent, and firmly resolve to avoid the same sin for the future, but also strive, as far as possible, to repair the scandal or injury that he has wrought by contrary good deeds.
Thus it was that Zaccheus the Publican acted, when he said to the lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing away from any one by false accusation, I restore him fourfold (Luke 19.8).
611. What caution do we need when we seem to ourselves to have fulfilled any commandment?
We must then dispose our hearts according to the words of Jesus Christ: When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do (Luke 17.10).