II. The Means of Grace
1. What is the widest import of this term?
It signifies, generally, all the ordinances appointed by God through which we receive His covenant blessings: hence the word, prayer, faith, worship are means of grace.
2. Is grace limited to these?
There is a universal grace which comes through the Mediator, the Supreme Medium of grace, to the world through the Spirit. But the term here specially refers to the appointed channels provided in the church: the word, united prayer, and sacraments, severally and unitedly.
3. In what sense is the word one of the means?
(1) The written word is publicly and privately, in all dispensations, the medium of communion with God. (2) But, in the Christian church, that word is made the instrument of conviction, conversion and sanctification: in the institute of teaching and preaching. (3) No other means of any kind is a channel of grace without the word.
4. In what sense is prayer such a channel?
(1) This also is the universal way of access to God and blessing from Him: without it also no other means are effectual. (2) But in the Christian church united prayer is a special institution with which God connects His covenant blessing.
5. And in what sense the sacraments?
They also are institutions—like preaching and common prayer—with which the grace of the gospel is connected.
6. What is the relation of the word and prayer and sacraments?
It may be said that (1) the word teaches and promises the grace; (2) prayer seeks and finds it by faith; and (3) the sacraments confirm and seal it through the Spirit.