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•^Vhatever hath been said already, tho' it concerns every private Christian jhat hath a foul 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 sluggishness, 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 wt, shall only hint, what a dreadful meeting those parents and masters jiiust 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 eternal 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 singularly »isefu). Such forms of found 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 pwn praise: gold stands not in need of varnish, nor 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 arc 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 profess 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, Jsa. 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 Jcarned 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 x Tim. i. Ij.
be built upon the dictates of men, but the authority of God s So some considerable pains hath now been further taken in transcribing those, scriptu res, partly to prevent that grand inconvenience (which all former impressions, except the Latin, have abounded with, to the great perplexing and dilheartning of the reader) the misquotation of scripture; the meanest reader being nble, 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 lerve as a Bible common-place, the several passages of scripture which arc 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 fee, in this design, 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 yoars 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 seals 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 sow 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.
A. M. P.
EPISTLE To The REAPER.
ICannot 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 gocst, i 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 so much their untowardnels, as our own negligence in their education.
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 youths and supplanting family-duties. He striketh at all duties, those which are public in the assemblies of the saints; but 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 striketb. with the more success, because the 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 nptice 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 Gqd had in the world for the time, and therefore (l suppose) when Cain went out froip 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 subsist; 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 seminaiy 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, I Tim. iii. 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
•" way 017 with their wives and children; their children probably are mentioned, to intimate, that their parents would, by their own example and affectionate farewel to Fan], breed them up in a way of reverence and respect to the pastors of the church.
For the future, "tis comfortable certainly to fee a thriving nursery of yoong plants, and to haye hopes that God (hall have a people to serve him when we are dead and gone; the people of God comforted themselves in that, Psal. cii. 38. 'The children of thy servant shall conti'nne.*
Upon all these considerations how careful should ministers and parents be to train up young ones, while they are yet pliable, and, like wax, capable of any form and impression in the knowledge and sear of God; and betimes to instill the principles of our most holy faith, as they are drawn into a short sura in catechisms, as so altpgether laid in the view of conscience? Sorely 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, some>hat allay the fervours of youthful lusts and passions.
I had upon intreaty resolved to recommend to thee with the greatest earnestness 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 excelkndy done to ray hand, I shall make bold to transcribe a part of it, and offer it to publick view.
The author having bewailed the great distractions, corruptions and divisions that are in the church, he thus represents the cause and cure: Among others, a principal cause of these mischiefs is the great and common neglect of the governors of families, in the discharge of that duty which they owe to God for the souls that are under their charge, especially in teaching them the doctrine of Christianity. Families are societies that must be sanctified to God, as well as churches: And the governors of them have as truly a charge of the fouls that are therein, as pastors have of the churches. But, alas, bow little is this considered or regarded! But, while negligent ministers are (deservedly) cast out of their places, the negligent masters of families take themselres to be almost blameless. They offer their children to God in baptism, 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; altho' they have renounced these, and dedicated them to God. This covenant-breaking with Goct, and betraying the fouls of their children to the devil, must ly heavy on them here or hereafter. They beget children, arid keep families, merely for the world and the flesh: but little consider what a charge is committed to them, and what it is to foring 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 fending, to be preachers: But they might find that part of the work that belongeth to them to be enough for them, and to be the best that they can be employed in.
Especially women mould be careful of this duty, because as they are most about their children, and have early and frequent opportunities 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 conynon-wealth, and many an excellent pastor into the church, and many a precious faint to heaven, through the happy preparations of a holy education, perhaps by a woman that thought herself useless and unserviceable 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 pastor need not be put to do the work of two or three hundred or thousand governors of families; even to teach their children those principles which they should have taught them long before: Nor should we be put to preach to so many miserable ignorant souls, that be not prepared by education to understand us: Nor should we have need to shut 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 state, till they are ready to be fellow-citizens with the faints, and of the houshold of God. But now they come to us with aged self-conceitednefs, being past children; and yet worse than children still; having the ignorance of children, but being over-grown the teachableness of children and think themselves wife, yea, wife enough to quarrel with the wisest of their teachers, because they have lived long enough to have been wise, and the evidence of their knowledge is their aged 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 prepared for them that they may do them good; like snappish currs, that will snap us by the singers for their meat, and snatch it out of our hands; and not like children, that stay till we give it them. Parents have so used them to be unruly, that ministers have to