The Means of Grace: Instituted and Prudential

The following excerpt is from The doctrines and discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, “Section X: Of the Duty of Preachers to God, themselves, and one another.”

Question 3. Do we sufficiently watch over each other?

Answer. We do not. Should we not frequently ask each other, Do you walk closely with God? Have you now fellowship with the Father and the Son? At what hour do you rise? Do you punctually observe the morning and evening hours of retirement? Do you spend the day in the manner which the conference advises? Do you converse seriously, usefully, and closely? To be more particular: Do you use all the means of grace yourself, and enforce the use of them on all other persons? They are either instituted or prudential.

Instituted Means of Grace

I. The instituted are,

1. Prayer: private, family, and public; consisting of deprecation, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving. Do you use each of these? Do you forecast daily, wherever you are, to secure time for private devotion? Do you practice it everywhere? Do you ask everywhere, Have you family prayer? Do you ask individuals, Do you use private prayer every morning and evening in particular ? 

2. Searching the Scriptures, by 

(1) Reading; constantly, some part of every day; regularly, all the Bible in order; carefully, with notes; seriously, with prayer before and after; fruitfully, immediately practicing what you learn there?

(2) Meditating: At set times? By rule?

(3) Hearing: Every opportunity? With prayer before, at, after? Have you a Bible always about you? 

3. The Lord’s supper: Do you use this at every opportunity? With solemn prayer before? With earnest and deliberate self-devotion? 

4. Fasting: Do you use as much abstinence and fasting every week as your health, strength, and labor, will permit? 

5. Christian conference: Are you convinced how important and how difficult it is to order your conversation aright? Is it always in grace? Seasoned with salt? Meet to minister grace to the hearers? Do you not converse too long at a time? Is not an hour commonly enough? Would it not be well always to have a determinate end in view? And to pray before and after it? 

Prudential Means of Grace

II. Prudential means we may use either as Christians, as Methodists, or as preachers. 

1. As Christians: What particular rules have you in order to grow in grace? What arts of holy living? 

2. As Methodists: Do you never miss your class or band?

3. As preachers: Have you thoroughly considered your duty? And do you make a conscience of executing every part of it? Do you meet every society? Also, the leaders and bands? 

These means may be used without fruit. But there are some means which cannot; namely, watching, denying ourselves, taking up our cross, exercise of the presence of God. 

1. Do you steadily watch against the world? Yourself? Your besetting sin? 

2. Do you deny yourself every useless pleasure of sense? Imagination? Honor? Are you temperate in all things? Instance in food: (1) Do you use only that kind and that degree which is best both for body and soul? Do you see the Necessity of this? (2) Do you eat no more at each meal than is necessary? Are you not heavy or drowsy after dinner? (3) Do you use only that kind, and that degree of drink, which is best both for your body and soul? (4) Do you choose and use water for your common drink? And only take wine medicinally or sacramentally? 

3. Wherein do you take up your cross daily? Do you cheerfully bear your cross, however grievous to nature, as a gift of God, and labor to profit thereby? 

4. Do you endeavor to set God always before you? To see his eye continually fixed upon you? Never can you use these means but a blessing will ensue. And the more you use them, the more you will grow in grace.