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ONFESSION of FAITH,
Τ Η Ε
LARGER AND SHORTER
SCRIPTURE-PROOFS AT LARGE.
TOGETHER WITH The Sum of SAVING KNOWLEDGE | NATIONAL and SOLEMN LEAGUE,
(contain'd in the Holy Scriptures, || ACKNOWLEDGMENT of Sins and and held forth in the said Confef- ENGAGEMENT to Duties. fion and Catechisms) and Practi- | DirectorIES. cal Use thereof.
Form of CHURCH-GOVERNMENT, COVENANTS;
Deut. vi. 6, 9. And these Words which I command the this Day, shall be in thy
Heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy Children, and tale talk of them when thou fittest in thy House, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thos licht down, and when thou risest up.
G L A s 6 o : PRINTED BY ROBERT AND ANDREW FOULIS,
FOR JOHN ORR BOUKSILLER,
THE Preface, by sundry English Divines.
s we cannot bat with grief of soul lament those multitudes of errors, blafphemies, and all kinds of profaneness, which have in this last age
like a mighty deluge overflown this nation; so, among several other kins which have helped to open the flood-gates of all these impieties, we cannot but esteem the disose of family instruction one of the greatest. The two great pillars upon which the kingdom of Satan is erected, and by which it is upheld, are ignorance and error; the first step of our manumission from this spiritual thraldomi consists, in having our eyes opened, and being turned front darkness to light, Acts xxvi. 18. How much the serious endeavours of godly parents and masters might contribute to an early seasoning the tender years of such as are under their inspection, is abundantly evident not only from their special influence upon them, in respect of their authority over them, interest in them, continual presence with them, and frequent opportunities of being helpful to them; but also from the sad effects which by woful experience we find to be the fruit of the omission of this duty. “Twere easy to fet before you a cloud of witnesses, the language of whose practice hath been not only an eminent commendation of this duty, but also a serious exhortation to it. As Abel, though dead, yet speaks by his example to us for initation of his faith, &c. Heb. xi. 4. So do the examples of Abraham, of Jo. fhua, of the parents of Solomon, of the grandmother and mother of Timothy; the mother of Augustine, whose care was as well to nurfe up the souls as the bodies of their little ones; and as their pains herein was great, so was theit faccefs no way unanswerable.
We should scarce imagine it any better than an impertinency, in this soon-day of the gospel, either to inform or perfuade in a duty fo expressly commanded, fo frequently urged, fo highly encouraged, and so eminently owned by the Lord in all ages with his blefling, but that our fad experience tells us this duty is not more needful than 'tis of late neglected.
For da testoring of this daty to its due obfervance, give us leave to suggest this • double advice. The file concerns heads of families in respect of themselt:s, that as the A 2
Lord hath set them in place above the rest of their family, they would la:
bour in all wisdom and spiritual understanding to be above them also. 'Tis - an uncomely fight to behold men in years babes in knowledge; and how unmeet 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 desireable, 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 iii, 5,9. The understanding is the guide and pilot of the whole man, that faculty which sits at the stern of the soul: 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 fcripture 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 in. deed in every sin there is something both of ignorance and error at the bottom; for, did finners truly know what they do in finning, we might say of every fin, what the apostle speaks concerning that great fin, ‘Had they known
him, 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 heaven, ' 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, not 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 moft sovereign antidote against all kind of errors, is to be grounded and settled in the faith: Persons, unfised in the true religion, 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 wiod,' and ships without ballast liable to the violence of every tempest. But yet the knowledge we especially commend, is not a
brain-koowledge, a mere speculation; this may be in the worft of men, nay, in the worst 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 spi. ritual sense and feeling of divine truths, the apostle speaks of, Heb. v. 14. * Having your senses exercised,' &c. .
But, alas, we may say of most mens religion, what learned Rivet * speaks concerning 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 prefervative 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 naturę, the latter contrary; the former springing up of themselves, the latter brought forth not without a painfal 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 needs no other capse of darkness, than the absence of the fun; nor water of coldness, 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 averfe to the one than to the other: But how much worse its condition indeed is, were fcripture filent, every man's experience does evidently manifeft. For who is there that knows any thing of his own heart, and knows not thus Buch, 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? whereas the motions of God's Spirit are so unacceptable to us, that our utmolt diligence is too little to get our hearts open to entertain them. Let therefore the excellency, neceffity, difficulty of true wisdom ftir up endeavours in you, somewhat 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,