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Mr THOMAS MANTON's Epistle to the Reader.
ignorant of the general complaint concerning the decay of the power of godliness, and more efpecially of the great corruption of youth. Where-ever thou goest, thou wilt hear men crying out of bad children and bad servants; whereas indeed the fource of the mischief must be fought a little higher: it is bad parents and bad masters that make bad children, and bad servants ; and we cannot blame fo much their untowardness, as our own negligence in their education.
The devil hath a great spite at the kingdom of Christ, and he kroweth no fuch compendious way to crush it in the egg, as by the perversion of youth, and supplanting family-duties. He striketh at all duties, those which are public in the affemblies of the faints ; but these are too well guarded by the folemn injunctions and dying charge of Jesus Christ, as that he should ever hope totally to subvert and underinine them ; but at family-duties, he striketh with the more fuccefs, because the institution is not fo folemn, and the practice not so seriously and conscientiously regarded as it should be, and the ontission is not so liable to notice and public censure. Religion was first hatched in families, and there the devil seeketh tớ crush it; the fåmilies of the Patriarchs wöre all the Churches God had in the world for the time; and therefore (I suppose) when Cain went out from Adam's family, he is said to go out from the face of the Lord, Gén. iv, 16. Now the devil knoweth that this is a blow at the root, and a ready way to prevent the fuccellion of Churches: If he can fubvert families, other societies and communities will not long flourish and subsist with any power and vigour; for there is the stock from whence they are supplied both for the present and future.
For the present, a family is the seminary of Church and state ; and, if children be not well principled there, all miscarrieth: a fault in the first concoction is not mended in the second ; if youth be bred ill in the family, they prove ill in Church and cominon-wealth; there is the first making or marring, and the presage of their future lives to be thence taken, Pro. XX. 11. By family-discipline, officers are trained up for the Church, 1. Tim. iii. 4. One that rulcih well his own house, &c.; and there are men bred up in subjection and obedi. ence, it is noted, Acts xxi. 5. that the disciples brought Paul on his . way with their wives and children ; their children probably are mentioned, to intimate, that their parents would, by their own example and affectionate farewell to Paul, breed them up in a way of reverence and respect to the pastors of the Church,
For the future, it is comfortable certainly to see a thriving nurse, ry of young plants, and to have hopes that God shall have a people to serve him when we are dead and gone : The people of God com: forted themselves in that, Pfal. cii. 28. The children of thy fer. vants hall continue, &c.
Upon all these considerations, how careful should Ministers and parents bé to train up young ones, whilst they are yet pliable, and; like wax, capable of any form and impression, in the knowledge and fear of God; and betimes to inftill the principles of our moff holy faith, 'as they are drawn into a short fum in catechisins, and fo altogether laid in the view of conscience? Surely these feeds of truth planted in the field of memory, if they work nothing else, will at least be a great check and bridle to them, and, as the casting in of cold water doth stay the boiling of the pot, somewhat allay the fervours of youthful lufts and paflions.
I had, úpon entreaty, resolved to recommend to thee with the greatest earneltness the work of catechising, and, as a meet help, the usefulness of this book, as thus printed with the scriptures at large ; but meeting with a private letter of a very learned and godly divine, wherein that work is excellently done to my hand, I shall make bold to transcribe a part of it, and offer it to public view.
The author having bewailed the great distractions, corruptions, and divisions that are in the Church, hệ thus represents the cause and cure : « Aniong others, a principal cause of these mischiefs is the great and common neglect of the governors of families, in the difcharge of that duty which they owe to God for the souls that are under their charge, especially in teaching them the doctrine of Chrif: tianity. Families are societies that must be fanctified to God, as well as Churches; and the Governors of them have as truly a charge of the souls that are therein, as Paftors have of the Churches. But, alas, how little is this considered or regarded ! But while negligent Ministers are (deservedly) cast out of their places, the negligent masters of families take themselves to be almost blameless. They of. fer their children to God in baptisin, and there they promise to teach them the doctrine of the gospel, and bring them up in the nurture of the Lord; but they easily promise, and easily break it ; and educate their children for the world and the flesh; although they have renounced these, and dedicated them to God. This covenantbreaking with God, and betraying the souls of their children to the devil, inust lie heavy on them here or hereafter. They beget children, and keep families, merely for the world and the flesh: but little consider what a charge is committed to them, and what it is to bring up a child for God, and govern a family as a sanctified society.
O how sweetly and successfully would the work of God go on, if we would but all join together in our several places to promote it! Men need not then run without sending to be preachers : but they might find that part of the work that belongeth to them to be és nough for them, and to be the best that they can be employed in. Especially women should be careful of this duty; because as they are
poft about their children, and have early and frequent opportuni. ties to instruct them, so this is the principal service they can do to God in this world, being restrained from more publick work. And doubtless many an excellent Magistrate hath been sent into the commonwealth, and many an excellent Paftor into the Church, and many a precious faint'to heaven, through the happy preparations of å holy education, perhaps, by a woman that thought herself useless and ynserviceable to the Church. Would parents but begin betimes, and labour to affect the hearts of their children with the great matters of everlasting life, and to acquaint them with the substance of the doctrine of Christ, and when they find in them the knowledge and love of Christ, would bring them then to the pastors of the Church to be tried, confirmed and admitted to the further privileges of the Church, what happy, well-ordered Churches might we have! Then one paltox need not be put to do the work of two or three hundred or thousand governors of families, even to teach their chil. dren those principles which they should have taught then long before; nor should we be put to preach to so many miserable ignorant fouls, that be not prepared by education to understand us: Nor should we have need to thut out so many from holy communion upon the account of ignorance, that yet have not the grace to feel it and lament it, nor the wit and patience to wait in a learning Atate, till they are ready to be fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. But now they come to us with aged self-conceitedness, be. ing past children, and yet worse than children still; having the igno. rance of children, but being overgrown the teachableness of children; and think themfelves wife, yea, wise enough to quarrel with the wifest of their teachers, because they have lived long enough to have been wise, and the evidence of their knowledge is their ageď ignorance; and they are readier to flee in our faces for Church-privileges, than to learn of us, and obey our instructions, till they are prepar ed for them that they may do them good; like firappish currs, that will fnap uş by the fingers for their meat, and fiatch it out of our hands; and not like children, that stay till we give it them. Parents lave so used them to be unruly, that ministers have to deal but with too few but the unruly. And it is for want of this laying the foundation well at first, that profesors themselves are so ignorant as most are, and that so many, especiallly of the younger fort, do fwallow down almost any error that is offered them, and follow any fest of dividers that will entice them, so it be but done with earneftPefs and plausibịlity. For, alas! though, by the grace of God, their hearts may be changed in an hour, (whenever they understand but the eflentials of the faith), yet their understandings must have time and diligence to furnish them with such knowledge as must stablish them, and fortify then against deceits.' Upon thesë, ''árd many the Jike confiderations, we should intreat alỊ Chriftiani families to take more pains in this necessary work, and to get better acquainted Avịth the substance of Christianity. And to that end, (taking along fome moving treatises to awake the leart,) I know not what work
fhould be fitter for their use, than that compiled by the Assembly at Westminster: à Synod of as godly, judicious divines, (notwithstand: ing all the bitter words which they have received from discontented and self-conceited men), I verily think, as ever England saw. Though they had the unhappiness to be employed in calamitous times, when the noise of wars did stop mens ears, and the licentiousness of wars did set every wanton tongue and pen at liberty to reproach them ; and the prosecution and event of those wars did exafperate partial discontented men, to dishonour themselves by seeking to dishonour them : I dare say, if in the days of old, when councils were in power and account, they had had but such a council of bishops, as this of presbyters was, the fame of it, for learning and holiness, and all mi. niserial abilities, would with very great honour, have been transiit. ted to posterity.
I do therefore defire, that all masters of families would first study well this work themselves ; and then teach it their children and fervants, according to their several capacities. And, if they once under. stand these grounds of religion, they will be able to read other books more understandingly, and hear fermons more profitably, and con. fer more judiciously, and hold fast the doctrine of Christ more firmly, than ever you are like to do by any other course. First, let them read and learn the Shorter Catechism, and next the Larger, and lastly, read the Confession of Faith.
Thus far he, whose name I shall conceal, (though the excellency of the matter, and present style, will easily discover him), because I have published it without his privity and consent, though, I hope, not against his liking and approbation, I'fhall add no more, but that I am,
In the Lord's work,
An ordinance of the Lords and Commons allembled in Parliament, for the
calling of an jsembly of learned and godly Divins, and others, to be con ulted with y the Parliament, for the festling of the government and liturgy of the Church of England; and for vindicating and clearing of the doctrine of the said Church from fulse afperfions and interprétations. June 12. 1643.
. . . . W Hereas, amongst the infinite blessings of Almighty God upon
this nation, none is nor can be more dear unto us than the purity of our religion ; and for that, as yet, many things remain in the liturgy, discipline, and government of the Church, which do necesarily require a further and more perfect reforination, than as yet hath been attained ; and whereas it háth been declared and resolved by the Lords and Commons allembled in Parliament, that the present Church government by archbishops, their chancellors, commiffars, deans, deans and chapters, archdeacons, and other ecclefiaftical officers, depending upon the hierarchy, is evil and justly offensive ảnd burdensome to che kingdoin, a great impediment to reformation and growth of religion, and very prejudicial to the state and government of this kingdom; and tļierefore they are resolved that the same shall be taken away, 'arid that such a government shall be settled in the Church, as may be most agreeable to God's holy word, and most apt to procure and preserve the peace of the Church at home, and nearer agreemet with the Church of Scotland, and other reformed Churches abroad; and, for the better effecting hereof, and for the vindicating and clearing of the doctrine of the Church of England from all false calumnies and afperfiors, it is thought fit and necellary to call an Assembly of learned, godly, and judicious divines; who, together with fome members of both the houses of Parliament, are to confult and advise of such matters and things, toucliing the premisies, as shall be proposed unto them by both or either of the houses of Parliament, and to give their advice and counsel therein to both,' or either of the laid houses, when, and as often as they shall be thereunto required. Be it therefore orclained, by the Lords and Commons in this prefent Parliament aflembled, that all and every the persons hereafter in this present ordinance named, that is to fy,
And such other person or persons as shall be nominated and ap. pointed by both houses of Parliament, or fo many of them as shall not be letted by sickness, or other necessary impediment, shall meet and assemble, and are hereby, required and enjoined upon summons signed by the clerks of both houses of Parliament, left at their respective dwellings, to meet and aflemble themselves at Westminster, in the chapel called King Eenry the VIIth's chapel, on the first day of Ju: İy, in the year of our Lord One thousand fix hundred and fortythree; and after the first meeting, being at leait the number of forty,