Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors]

former impressions, except the Latin, have abounded with, to the great perplexity and disheartning of the reader) the mica quotations of scripture ; the meanest reader being able, by having the words at large, to ratify 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 bụt bę very great : partly to help the memories of such who are wil. ling to take the pains of turning to every proof, but areun, able to retain what they read; and partly that this may fervo as a Bible common-place, the several passages of fcripturę 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 design, are many and great: The way to fpiritual knowledge is hereby made more easy, and the ignorance of this age more inexcufable.

If therefore there be any spark in you of love to God, be pot content that any of yours should be ignorant of himwhom you so much admire, or any haters of him whom you so much love. If there be any compassion to the fouls of them who are under your care, if any regard ofyour beịng found faithful in the day of Christ ,if any respect to future generations ; Jabour to fow these seeds of knowledge, which may grow up in after-times. That you may be faithful herein, is the ear. nest prayer of

Henry Wilkinson. Matthew Pool,
D. D. A. M. P,

William Bates,
Roger Drake.

John Loder.
William Taylor. Francis Raworth.
Samuel Annelley,

William Cooper.
Thomas Gouge.

William Jenkin,
Charles Ofspring,

Thomas Manton,
Arthur Jackson. Thomas Jacomb,
John Crols,

George Griffiths
Samuel Clark, Edward Perkins,
Samuel Slater. Ralph Venning:
William Whitaker. Jeremiah Burwel,
John Fuller.

Jofeph Church.
James Nalton.

Hal. Bridges.
Thomas Goodwin. Samuel Smith.

Samuel Rowles,
John Glafcock.
Leo. Cooke.
John Sheffeild,
Matthew Haviland,
William Blackmore,
Richard Kentilh.
Alexander Pringle,
William Wickins
Thomas Watson.
John Jackson.
John Seabrooke,
John Peacbie.
James Jollife,
Obadiah Lee.

Mr.

Mr. Thomas. Manton's Epistle to the reader.

CHRISTIAN READER.

I

Cannot suppose thee to be such 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 goeft, thou wilt hear men crying out of bad children and bad fervants : Whereas indeed the source of the mischief must be fought a little higher; 'tis bad parents,and bad masters that make bad children, and bad servants; and we cannot blame so much their un, towardness, as our own negligence in their education.

The devil hath a great spight 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 ftriketh at all duties,

those whicb are Public in the assemba Jies of the Saints ; but these are too well guarded by the folemn injunctions and dying charge of Jesus Christ, as that he mould ever hope totally to subvert and undermine theme But at family-duties he striketh with the more success, because the institution is not so folemn, and the practice not fo ferioully and conscientiously regarded as it should be, and the omisli, on is not so liable to notice and public censure, Religior. 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 fuppofe) when Cajn went out from Adam's family, he is said to go out from the face of the Lord, Gen. iy. 16. Now the devil knoweth that this is a blow at the root, and a ready way to prevent the fuccession of Churches: If he can subyert families, other Societies and communities will not long flourish and fubfift 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 semiņary of Church and state ; and if children be not well principled, there all miscar, rieth: A fault in the first concoction is not mended in the Second; If youth be bread ill in the family, they prove ill in the

Church

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 lobjection 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 bave a people to serve him when we are dead and gone ; the people of God comforted themselves in that, Pfal.cii. 28. The chil. dren of thy servants fhall continue, &c. . Upon all these confiderations, how careful should minifters 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 Tort Sum in Catechisms,and fo altogether laid in the view of Conscience ? Surely thefe 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 fervours 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 fçriptures 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 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.

Soc

focieties that must be fanctified to God, as well as churches; and the governors of them have as truly a charge of the souls ther are therein, as pastors have of the churches. But, alas, Low 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 blamelels

. They offer their children to God in baptism, and there they promise to teach them the doctrine of the gofpel, and bring them up in the nurture of the Lord; but they eafily 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 souls 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 society. O how sweetly and successfully would the work of God go on, if we would but all join together in pur 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 women 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 doubtless many an excellent magistrate hath been {ent 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 knowledge 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 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 gover,

nors,

bors of families; even to teach their children those princi ples which they should have taught them long before : not Thould we be put to preach to so many miserable ignorant fouls, that be not prepared by education to understand us: nor fhould we have need to shut out so many from holy communion upon the account of ignorarfce, that yet have not the grace to feel it and lament it, nor the wit and patienoe to wait in a learning state, till they are ready to be fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the houshold of God. But now they come to us with aged self-conceitedness, being past children, and yet worse than children fill; having the ignorance of children, but being overgrown the teachablenels of children; and think themselves wise, yea, wise enough to quarrel with the wiselt of their teachers, because they have lived long e nough 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 snappith curs, that will snap us by the fingers for their meat, and fnatch 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 most are, and that so many, especially of the younger fort, do swallow down almost any error that is of ferred 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 intreat 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.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »