Last week we looked at Samuel Best’s catechism on the Collect for the first Sunday in Advent from the Book of Common Prayer. In this post, we turn to the second.
First, the prayer:
“Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.”
(We noted last week the general structure of a Collect, which I reproduce here for convenience:
- Reason on which the petition is to be founded.
- Benefit hoped for.
- Mention of Christ’s Mediation, or Ascription of praise: or both.)
Here, then, are Best’s questions and answers on the prayer. Particularly noteworthy is (1) the connection made to the prayer from the previous week, viz., that Holy Scripture is the means by which the cleansing mentioned in the prayer is carried out; (2) the focus on the Second Advent, reminding us that the ecclesiastical custom in keeping the season is fundamentally eschatological; and (3) the radical centrality of Christ for our thinking about the Bible: the Scriptures are a means to the “blessed hope of everlasting life,” a life that is “in our Saviour Jesus Christ,” and in him only. “[Y]ou are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…” (1 Cor. 1.30, ESV).
- On what truth does the Collect found its prayer?–That God has “caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning.”–2 Tim. iii. 16; Rom. xv. 4.
- What is the prayer?–That God would enable us rightly to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.
- What does a right hearing of Scripture necessarily include?–That we not only hear, but understand and apply, it.–Mark iv. 23 and 33; Matt. xiii. 23.
- Do some, then, hear and yet not understand?–Yes.–Luke viii. 10; Mark iv. 24; Matt. xiii. 19.
- In what other way are we to use the Scriptures?–By reading them.–John v. 39; 1 Tim. iv. 13.
- What are to be the fruits of hearing and reading?–Our marking, (giving earnest attention to them,) learning and inwardly digesting them.–Deut. xxxii. 46, 47; Jos. i. 8; Acts xvii. 11.
- How is God’s Word to work in us?–“By patience and comfort.”
- To what end is it to work?–“That we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life.”
- In whom has God given us this hope?–In our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
- What, then, is the general subject which the Church brings before us?–The use and value of the Bible.
- What is the general duty of Advent?–To prepare for the coming of our Lord.
- What was insisted on last Sunday?–The cleansing of the Church.
- What means of cleansing it is pointed out on this Sunday?–The Holy Scriptures.
- What does the Gospel set forth?–The second coming of our Lord to judgment.
- How do you connect this with the subject?–It is the coming we are now especially to prepare for.
- What means has God vouchsafed us for preparation?–The study of His Holy Word.
- Does the Epistle [Rom. 15.4-13] point out this?–Yes; it says, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.”
- Does it further tell us in whom we are to have that hope?–Yes; it points us to Jesus Christ, the “Minister of the Circumcision, to confirm the promises made unto the Fathers.”