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Lord hath set them in place above the rest of their family, they would las
bour in all wisdom and spiritual understanding to be above them also. 'Tis 1 an uncomely fight to behold men in years babes in knowledge; and how un. 1 meet are they to instruct others, who need themselves to be taught which • be the first principles of the oracles of God ? Heb. v. 12. Knowledge is an accomplishment so defireable, that the devils themselves knew not a more taking bait by which to tempt our first parents, than by the fruit of the tree • of knowledge. So shall you be as gods, knowing good and evil.'. When! Solomon had that favour Thewed him of the Lord, that he was made his own chuser what to ask, he knew no greater mercy to beg than wisdom, 1 Kings iïi, 5,9. The understanding is the guide and pilot of the whole man, that faculty which sits at the stern of the foul : But as the most expert guide may mistake in the dark, so may the understanding when it wants the light of knowledge: 'Without knowledge the mind cannot be good,' Prov. xix, 2. Nor the life good, nor the eternal condition safe, Eph. iv. 18. ‘My • people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,' Hof, iv. 6. 'Tis ordinary in scripture to set profaneness and all kind of miscarriages upon the score of ignorance. Diseases in the body have many times their rise from distempers in the head, and exorbitancies in practice from errors in judgment: And indeed in every fin there is something both of ignorance and error at the bottom; for, did finners truly know what they do in sipping, we might say of Every fin, wliat the apostle speaks concerning that great sin, “ Had they known "bim, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;' did they truly krow that every sin is a provoking the Lord to jealousy, a proclaiming war against haven, ‘ a crucifying the Lord Jesus afresh, a treasuring up wrath ' unto themselves against the day of wrath,' and that, if ever they be pardoned, it must be at no lower a rate than the price of his blood, it were scarce possible but fin, instead of alluring, should affright, and, instead of tempting, scare. 'Tis one of the arch devices and principal methods of Satan to deceive men into fin; thus he prevailed against our first parents, dot as a lion but as a serpent, acting his enmity under a pretence of friendship, and tempting them to evil under an appearance of good; and thus hath he all along carried on his designs of darkness, by transforming himself into an angel of light, making poor deceived men in love with their miseries, and hug their own destruction. A most sovereign antidote against all kind of errors,
is to be grounded and settled in the faith: Persons, unfixed in the true re·ligion, are very receptive of a false; and they who are nothing in spiritual knowledge, are easily made any thing. • Clouds without water are driven
to and fro with every wind,' and ships without ballast liable to the violence of every tempest. But yet the knowledge we especially commend, is not a
brzin-knowledge, a mere speculation; this may be in the worst of men, nay, in the wont of creatures, the devils themselves, and that in such an emipency, as the best of saints cannot attain to in this life of imperfection: But an inward, a savory, an heart-knowledge, such as was in that martyr, who, tho' she could not dispute for Christ, could die for him. This is that spiritual sepse and feeling of divine truths, the apostle Speaks of, Heb. v. 14. • Having your senses exercised,' &c.
Bai, alas, we may say of most mens religion, what learned Rivet * speaks concering the errors of the Fathers, “ they were not so much their own “ errors, as the errors of the times wherein they lived." Thus do most men take up their religion upon no better an account than Turks and Papists take up theirs, because 'tis the religion of the times and places wherein they live; and what they take up thus slightly they lay down as easily: Whereas an inward taste and relish of the things of God, is an excellent preservative to keep us settled in the most unsettled times, Corrupt and unsavory principles have great advantage upon us, above those that are fpiritual and found; the former-being suitable to corrupt nature, the latter contrary; the former springiog up of themselves, the latter brought forth not without a painful industry. The ground needs no other midwifery in bringing forth weeds, than only the neglect of the husbandman's hand to pluck them up; the air Deeds no other capse of darkness, than the absence of the fun; nor water of coldress, than its distance from the fire, because these are the genuine produets of nature: Were it so with the soul (as some of the philosophers have rainly imagined) to come into the world as an “ abrasa Tabula," a mere blank or piece of white paper, on which neither any thing is written, nor any blots; it would then be equally receptive of good and evil, and no more averse to the one than to the other : But how much worse its condition indeed is, were scripture Gilept, every man's experience does evidently manifest. · For who is there that koows any thing of his own heart, and knows not thus much, that the suggestions of Satan have so easy and free admittance into our bearts, that our utmost watchfulness is too little to guard us from them? wbereas the motions of God's Spirit are so unacceptable to us, that our ut. molt diligence is too little to get our hearts open to entertain them. Let therefore the excellency, neceffity, difficulty of true wisdom stir up endeavours in you, fomewhat proportionable to such an accomplishment; ' Above * all getting, get understanding,' Prov. iv. 7. • And search for wisdom as
for hidden treasures,' Prov. ii. 4. It much concerns you in respect of yourfelves. Our second advice concerns heads of families, in respect of their families.
. • Rivet. Crit. Sacr,
Whatever hath been faid already, tho' it concerns every private Christian that hath a soul to look after, yet, upon a double account, it concerns parents and masters, as having themselves and others to look after : Some there are, who, because of their ignorance, cannot; others because of their Nuggishness, will not mind this duty. To the former we propound the method of Joshua, who first began with himself, and then is careful of his family. To the latter we Mall only hint, what a dreadful meeting those parents and masters must have at that great day, with their children and servants, when all that were under their inspection shall not only accuse them, but charge their eterpal miscarrying upon their score. Never did any age of the church enjoy such choice helps, as this of ours. Every age of the gospel hath had its creeds, confessions, catechisms, and such breviaries and models of divinity as have been fingularly useful. Such forms of sound words (however in these days decried) have been in use in the church, ever since God himself wrote the decalogue, as a summary of things to be done, and Christ taught us that prayer of his, as a directory what to ask. Concerning the usefulness of such compendiary systems, so much hath been said already by a learned divine * of this age, as is sufficient to satisfy all who are not resolved to remain unsatisfied,
Concerning the particular excellency of these ensuing treatises, we judge it unneedful to mention those eminent testimonies which hath been given them, from persons of known worth in respect of their judgment, learning, and integrity, both at home and abroad, because themselves spake so much their own praise: gold stands not in need of varnish, por diamonds of painting; give us leave only to tell you, that we cannot but account it an eminent mercy to enjoy such helps as these are. * 'Tis ordinary in these days, for men to speak evil of things they know not; but, if any are possessed with mean thoughts of these treatises, we shall only give the same counsel to them, that Philip gives Nathaniel, ‘Come and fee,' John i. 46. 'Tis no small advantage the reader now hath, by the addition of scriptures at large, whereby with little pains he may more profit, because with every truth he may behold its scripture-foundation. And indeed; considering what a Babel of opinions, what a strange confusion of tongues there is this day, among them who profefs they speak the language of Canaan; there is no intelligent person but will conclude that advice of the prophet especially suited to such an age as this, psa. viii. 20. “To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according
to this word, it is because there is no light in them.' If the reverend and ļearned composers of these ensuing treatises were willing to take the pains of annexing scripture-proofs to every truth, that the faith of people might not : Doctor Tuckney, in his Sermon on 2 Tim. i. 13.
be built upon the dictates of men, but the authority of God: So some conGeerable pains hath now been further taken in transcribing those. fcriptures, partly to prevent that grand inconvenience (which all former impressions, except the Latin, have abounded with, to the great perplexing and disheartning of the reader) the misquotation of scripture; the meanest reader being able, by having the words at large, to rectify whatever mistake may be in the printer in citing the particular place: Partly to prevent the trouble of turning to every proof, which could not but be very great : Partly to help the memories of such who are willing to take the pains of turning to every proof, but are unable to retain what they read; and partly that this may serve as a Bible common place, the several passages of scripture which are scattered up and down in the word, being in this book reduced to their proper head, and thereby giving light each to other. The advantages, you see, in this defign, are many and great: The way to spiritual knowledge is hereby made more easy, and the ignorance of this age, more inexcusable. '
If therefore there be any spark in you of love to God, be not content that any of yours should be ignorant of him whom you so much admire, or any haters of him whom you so much love. If there be any compassion to the foals of them who are under your care, if any regard of your being found faithful in the day of Christ, if any respect of future generations ; labour to low the seeds of knowledge, which may grow up in after-times. That you may be faithful herein, is the earnest prayer of
Henry Wilkinson, D.D. Matthew Pool.
John Loder. William Taylor. Francis Raworth. Samuel Annelley. William Cooper. Thomas Gouge. William Jenkin. Charles Ofspring, Thomas Manton. Arthur Jackson. Thomas Jacomb. Joho Cross.
George Griffiths. Samuel Clark. Edward Perkins. Samod Slater. Ralph Venning. William Whitaker. Jeremiah Burwel. John Fuller.
Joseph Church. James Nalton,
Haf. Bridges. Thomas Goodwin. Samuel Smith.
Mr. THOMAS MANTON'S EPISTLE TO TÌE R E A D E R.
CHRISTIAN READER, T Cannot suppose thee to be such a stranger in England, as to be ignorant
of the general complaint concerning the decay of the power of godliness, and more especially of the great corruption of youth; wherever thou goelt, thou wilt hear men crying out of bad children, and bad servants :. Whereas indeed the source of the mischief must be sought a little higher; 'tis 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 edu
The devil hath a great spite at the kingdom of Christ, and he knoweth no such 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 assemblies of the saints; bụt these are too well guarded by the solemn injunctions and dying charge of Jesus Christ, as that he should ever hope totally to subvert and undermine them; but at family-duties he striketh with the more success, because she institution is not so solemn, and the practice not so seriously and conscientiously regarded as it should be, and the omission is not so liable to notice and public censure. Religion was first hatched in families, and there the devil seeketh to crush it; the families of the Patriarchs were 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, Gen. iv. 16. Now the devil knoweth that this is a blow at the root, and a ready way to prevent the succession of churches: If he can subvert families, other societies and communities will not long flourish and subalt with any power and vigour; for there is the stock from whence they are supplied both for the present and the 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 common-wealth; there is the first making or marring, and the presage of their future lives to be thence taken, Prov. xx. 11. By family-discipline, officers are trained up for the church, 1 Tim. üi. 4. 'One " that ruleth well his own house, &c.' and there are men bred up in subjection and obedience, 'tis noted, Acts xxi. 5. that the disciples brought Paul on his