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Τ Η Ε
CONFESSION OF FAITH,
The Larger and SHORTER CATECHISMS,
With the Scripture-Proofs at large.
The Suv of SAVING KNOW. NATIONAL and SOLEMN
LEDGE (contain'd in the Holy LEAGUE. Scriptures, and held forth in ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of Sins the said Confession and Cate- and ENGAGEMENT to Dochisms) and practical use there- TIES.
FORM of CHURCH-GOVERN
ACTS of Assembly and Parliament, relative to, and ap
probative of the fame.
Deut. vi. 6,7. Nnd these words which I command thee this Day, jball
be in thy Heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy Children, and soalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy Hof, and wben thou walkeft by the Way, and when theu lieft down, and when tbou rifist up.
Printed in the Year, M DCC LXVIII.
Τ Η Ε
. GENERAL CONTENTS THE Preface, by fundry English Divines. .
Mr. Manton's Epifle' to the Reader.
CH R I S T Í AN Ř E A D E R,
H E A D S OF F AM I L I É S.
As we cancer but with grief of foul lament those multitudes of et
rors, blafphemies, and all kinds of profaoeners, which have in this age, like a mighty deluge, overflown this nation ; fo, among feveral other sins which have helped to open the flood-gates of all these impietes, we cannot but esteem the disuse of family instruction one of the greatest. The two great pillars upon which ihe kingdom of Satan is erected, and by which it is upheld, are ignorance and error ; the first step of our manumiffion from this fpiritual thraldom confifts, in having our eyes opened, and being turned from darkness to light, Afts xxvi. 18. How much the serious endeavours of godly parents 20d 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 beiog helpful to them; but also from the fad effects which by woful experience we fiod to be the fruit of the omission of this dory. 'Twere easy to set before you a cloud of winesses, 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 our imitation of his faith, &c. Heb. xi. 4. So do the examples of Abraham, of Joshua, of the parents of Solomon, of the grandmother and mother of Timothy, the mother of Augustine, whose care was as well to ourse up the souls as the bodies of their little ones; and as their pains herein was great, fo was their success no way unadswerable.
We should scarce imagine it any better than an impertinency, in this poon-day of the gospel, either to inform or persuade a duty so exprelly commanded, so frequently urged, fo highly encouraged, A 2
and so eminently owned by the Lord in all ages with his bleffing, bưe that our fad experience tells us this duty is not more needful thad 'tis of late neglected. For the restoring of this duty to its due obfervance, give us leave to suggest this double advice.
The first concerns heads of families in respect of themselves, that as the Lord hath fet them in place above the rest of their family, they would labour in all wisdom and spiritual understanding to be above them allo. 'Tis an uncomely fight to behold men in years babes in koowledge; 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 à more taking bait by which to tempt our first parents, than by the fruit of the stree of • kaowledge. So fhall you be as gods, knowing good and evil." When Solomon had that favour fhewed him of the Lord, that he was made his own chufer what to ask, he knew no greater mercy to beg than Wisdom, 1 Kings iji. 5, 9. The understanding is the guide and pilot of the whole inan, that faculty which fits 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 fcripture to iet profanepels and all kind of miscarriages upon the fcore of ignorance. Diseases in the body have many times their rife from distempers in the head, and exorbitancies in practice from errors in judgment : And indeed in every fin there is fomething both of igno. sance and error at the bottom; for, did fingers truly know what they do in finning, we might say, of every fin, what the apostle speaks concerniog that great sin, Had they known him, they would • Dot have crucified the Lord of glory;' did they truly know that every fin is a provoking the Lord to jealousy, a proclaiming war against hea. ven, a crucifying the Lord Jesus afresh, a treasuriag up wrath unto
themselves against the day of wrath,' and that, if ever they be par doned, it must be at no lower a rate than the price of blood, it were scarce pollible 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 fio: thus he prevailed against our first parents, oot as a lion but as a serpent, a&iog his enmity under a pretence of friendship, and rempting them to evil. under an appearance of good; and thus hath he all along carried on his de Ogns 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 fovereigo antidote agaiost all kind of errors, is to be grounded and settled in the faith : Persoas, unfixed 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 ure driven to and fro with every wind, and ships without ballant liable to the violence of every tempeft. But yet the knowledge we efpecially commend, is not a brain knowledge, a mere fpeculation; this may be in the worst of men, day, in the worft of creatures, the devils themselves, and that in such eminency, as the best of laints cannot attain to in this life of imperfection : But an inward, a favory, an hcart-koowledge, such 2 was in that martyr, who, tho' She could not dispute for Christ, could die for him.. This is that spiritual sense and feeling of divine truths, the apostle speaks of Heb. v. 14. "Having your senses exercised, &c.
Bat, alas, we may say of the 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 time wherein they lived.” Thus do moft ner 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 talte and relich of the things of God, is an excellent preservative to keep us settled in the most unset. tled times. Corrupt and unsavory principles have great advantage upon us above those that are spiritual and found; the former being suit. able to corrupt nature, the latter contrary; the former springing up of themselves, the latter brought forth not without a paioful industry. The ground Deeds no other midwifry in bringing forth weeds, than only the neglect of the husbandman's hand to piuck them up; the air Deeds no other cause of darkness, than the absence of the sun; nor water
} of coldoefs, than its distance from the fire, because thefe are the geneide products of nature : Were it fo with the foul (as some of the phi. losophers bave vainly imagined) to come into the world an “ab rasa Fabula," a mere blank or piece of white paper, on which neither any thing written, por any blots; it would then be equally receprive of good and evil
, and no more averfe to the one than to the other: But how much worfe its coodition indeed is, were fcripture filent, every man's experience does evideptly manifeft. For who is there that knows any thing of his owo heart, and knows not thus much, that the suggestions of Satan have fo eafy and free admittance into our hearts, that our utmost watchfulness is too little to guard us from them whereas the motioas of God's Spirit are so upacceptable to us, that our utmost diligence is too little to get our hearts open to entertain them. Let therefore the excellency, necessity, difficulty of true wildom stir up endeavours in you, fomewhat proportionable to fuch an accomplishment ; 'Above all getting, get onderstanding,' Prov. iv. 7. • Aud fearch for wisdom as for hidden treasures,' Prov. iv. 4. It much concerns you in respect of yourselves. Our second advice concerns beads of families, in respect of their fa
milics * Rivet, Crit. Sacr.