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felf conceited men) I verily think, as ever England saw. Tho' they had the unhappiness to be employed in calamitous times when the noise of wars did ffop men's ears, and the Licentiousness of wars 'did fet every wanton 'tongue and pen at liberty to reproach them; and the prosecution and event of those wars, did exasperate 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 ministerial abilities, would with very great honour have been transmitted to posterity.
I do therefore desire, 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 understand these grounds of religion, they will be able to read other books more understandingly, and hear sermons more profitably, and confer 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 Mall conceal (tho' the excellency ofthe matter ,andpresentstile,
will easily discover him )because I have published it without his privity and confent, tho', I hope not against his liking and approbation. Ifall add no more, but that I am
church and common wealth; there is the first Making or Mar. ring, 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. iii. 4. One that ruleth well his own house, &c. and there are men bred up in 'objection and obedience. 'Tis not: d, 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 pastor of the church
For the future, 'tis comfortable certainly to see a thriving nursery of young plants, and to have hopes that God shall have a people to serve him when we are dead and gone ; the peaple of God comforted themselves in that, Pfal.cii. 28. The chil. dren of thy fervants shall continue, cc,
Upon all these considerations, how careful should ministers and parents be 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 instill the principles of our most holy faith, as they are drawn into a mort Sum in Catechisms and fo altogether laid in the view of Conscience ? Surely these Seeds 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 fer. vours of youthful lufts and passions.
I had upon intreaty resolved to recommend to thee with the greatest earnestnels 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 excellent ly done to my hand, I shall make bold to tranfcribe 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, he thus represents the cause and cure: Among others, a principle 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.
focieties 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 pastors 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 ne. gligent masters of families take themselves 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 God, and betraying the fouls of their children to the devil, must lie heavy on them here or hereafter, They beget chil dren, 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 fanctified fociety. 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 with out sending 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 woo men should 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 principle service they can do to God in this world, being restrained from more public work. And doubtlefs many an excellent magistrate hath been sent into the common-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 know. ledge and love of Christ, would bring them then to the pastors of the church to be tried, confirmed and admitted to the fur: ther privileges of tlie 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 gover,
bors of families; even to teach their children those princi ples 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 ignorartce, 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-conceitedness, being past children, and yet worse than children still; having the ignorance of children, but being overgrown the teachablenels of children and think themselves wise, yea, wise 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 curs, that will snap us by the fingers 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 deal but with too few but the unruly. And it is for want of this lay. ing the foundation well at first, that professors themselves are so ignorant as molt are, and that so many, especially of the younger fort, do swallow down almost any error that is offerred them, and follow any feet of dividers that will entice them, so it be but done with earneftness and plausibility. For alas, though, by the grace of God, their hearts may be chan. ged in an hour, (whenever they understand but the essentials of the faith) yet their understandings must have time and diligence to furnish them with such knowledge as must stablish them, and fortify them against deceits. Upon these and many the like considerations, we should in treat all christian fa. milies to take more pains in this necessary work, and to get better acquainted with the substance of christianity. And to that end (taking along some moving treatises to awake the heart) I know not what work should be fitter for their use, than that compiled by the assembly at Westminster; a synod of as godly, judicious divines, (notwithstanding all the bitter words which they have received from discontented and
felf conceited men) I verily think, as ever England saw. Tho' they had the unhappiness to be employed in calamitous times when the noise of wars did stop men's ears, and the Licentiousness of wars :did set every wanton tongue and pin at liberty to reproach them; and the prosecution and eFent of those wars, did exasperate 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 ministerial abilities, would with very great honour have been transmitted to pofterity.
I do therefore desire, that all masters of families would firft ftudy well this work themselves, and then teach it their children and servants, according to their several capacities. And, if they once understand these grounds of religion, they will be able to read other books more understandingly, and bear sermons more profitably, and confer 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 (tho' the excellency ofthe matter,andpresentstile,will easily discover him )because I have published it without his privity and consent, tho', I hope not against his liking and approbation. Ifall add no more, but
that I am