Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

milies. Whatever hath been faid already, tho' it concerns every pri vate Chriftian that hath a foul to look after, yet upon a double account, it concerns parents and mafters, as having themfelves and others to look after: Some there are, who because of their ignorance, cannot; others because of their fluggishnefs, 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 we shall only hint, what dreadful meeting those parents and mafters must have at that great day, with their children and fervants, when all that were under their infpection fhall not only accufe them, but charge their eternal mifcarrying upon their fcore. Never did any age of the church enjoy fuch choice helps, as this ofours. Every age of the gospel hath had its creeds, confeffions, catechifms, and fuch breviaries and models of divinity as have been fingulary ufeful, Such forms of found words (however in thefe days decayed) have been in ufe in the church, ever ince God himfelf wrote the decalogue, as a fummary of things to be done, and Christ taught us that prayer of his, as a directory what to ask. Concerning the usefulness of fuch compendiary fyftems, fo much hath been faid already by a learned divine* of this age, as is fufficient to fatisfy all who are not refolved to remain unfatisfied.

Concerning the peculiar excellency of thefe enfuing treatifes, we judge it needful to mention thofe eminent teftimonies which hath been given them, from perfons of known worth in the refpect of their judgment, learning, and integrity, both at home and abroad, becaufe themfelves fpeak fo much their own praife: gold ftands 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 fuch helps as these are, 'Tis ordinary in those days, for men to fpeak evil of things they know not; but, if any are poffeffed with mean thoughts of thefe treatifes, we fhall only give the fame counfel to them, that Philip gives Nathaniel, Come and fee,' John i. 46. 'Tis no small advan tage the reader now hath, by the addition of fcriptures at large, whereby with little pains he may more profit, because with every truth he may behold its fcripture foundation. And indeed, confidering what a Babel of opinions, what a ftrange confufion of tongues there is this day, among them who profefs they fpeak the language of Canaan; there is no intelligent perfon but will conclude that advice of the prophet efpecially fuited to fuch an age as this, Ifa. vii, 30. To the law and to the teftimony, if they speak not according to this word, ⚫it is because there is no fight in them. If the reverend and learned compofers of these enfuing treatifes were willing to take the pains of annexing fcripture proofs to every truth, that the faith of people might not be built upon the dictates of men, but the authority of God; fo fome confiderable pains hath now been further taken in tranfcribing thofe fcriptures, partly to prevent that grand inconvenience,

* Doctor Tuckney, in his Sermon on 2 Tim. i. 13.

(which

(which all former impreffions, except the Latin, have abounded with, to the great perplexing and difheartning of the reader) the mifquotation of fcripture; the meaneft reader being able, 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 gerat; partly to help the memories of fuch 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 ferve as a bible common-place, the feveral paffages of fcripture which are scattered up and down in the word, being in this book reduced to their proper heads, and thereby giving light each to other. The advantages, you fee, in this defign, are many and great: The way to fpiritual knowledge is hereby made more eafy, and the ignorance of this age, more inexcufable.

If therefore there be any fpark in you of love to God, be not content that any of yours fhould be ignorant of him whom you fo much admire, or any haters of him whom you fo much love. If there be any compaffion to the fouls of them who are under your care, if any refpect to future generations; labour to fow the feeds of knowledge, which may grow up in after-times. That you may be faithful herein, is the earnest prayer of,

[blocks in formation]

MR. THOMAS MANTON's Epiftle to the Reader.

CHRISTIAN READER,

Cannot fuppofe thee to be fuch a ftranger in England, as to be ig norant of the general complaint concerning the decay of the power of godliness, and more efpecially. of the great corruption of youth; wherever thou goeft, thou wilt hear men crying out of bad children and bad fervants: Whereas indeed the fource of the mischief must be fought a little higher; 'tis bad parents and bad masters that make bad children, and bad fervants; and we cannot blame fo much their untowardness, as our own negligence in their education.

The devil hath a great fpite at the kingdom of Chrift, and he knoweth no fuch compendious way to crush it in the egg, as by the perverfion of youth, and fupplanting family duties. He striketh at all duties, those which are public in the affemblies of the faints; but these are too well guarded by the folemn injunctions and dying charge of Jefus Chrift, as that he should ever hope totally to fubvert and undermine them; but at family duties he ftriketh with the more fuccefs, because the inftitution is not fo folemn, and the practice not fo ferioufly, and confcientiously regarded as it fhould be, and the omiffion is not fo liable to notice and public cenfure. Religion was firft hatched in families, and there the devil feeketh 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 Cain went out from Adam's family, he is faid 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 fucceffion of churches: If he can fubvert families, other focieties and communities will not long flourish and fubfift with any power and vigour; for there is the flock from whence. they are fupplied both for the prefent and the future.

For the prefent, a family is the feminary of church and flate; and, if children be not well principled, there all mifcarrieth: A fault in the first concoction is not mended in the fecond; 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 prefage of their future lives to be thence taken, Prov. xx. 11. By family difcipline, officers are trained up for the church, 1 Tim. iii. 4. One that ruleth well his own houfe, &c. and there are men bred up in fubjection and obedience, 'tis noted, Acts

xxi. 5. that the difciples 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 farewel to Patil, breed them up in a way of reverence and refpect to the paftors of the church.

For the future, 'tis comfortable certainly to fee a thriving nursery of young plants, and to have hopes that God fhall have a people to ferve him when we are dead and gone; the people of God comforted themselves in that, Pfal. cii. 28. The children of thy fervants fhall continue,' &c.

Upon all thefe confiderations how careful fhould minifters and parents be to train up young ones, while they are yet pliable, and, like wax, capable of any form and impreffion in the knowledge and fear of God; and betimes to inftil the principles of our most holy faith, as they are drawn into a fhort fum in catechiims, and fo altogether laid in the view of confcience? Surely thefe feeds of truth planted in the field of memory, if they work nothing elfe, will at least be a great check and bridle to them, and, as the cafting in of cold water doth ftay the boiling of the pot, fomewhat allay the fervors of youthful lufts and paffions.

I had upon intreaty refolved to recommend to thee with the greatest earneftnefs the work of catechifing, and, as a meet help, the ufefulnefs of this book as thus printed with the fcriptures 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 fhall make bold to tranfcribe a part of it, and offer it to public view.

The author having bewailed the great diftractions, corruptions and divifions that are in the church, he thus reprefents the caufe and cure: Among others, a principal cause of thefe mifchiefs is the great and common neglect of the governors of families, in the discharge of that duty. which they owe to God for the fouls that are under their charge, efpecially 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 fouls that are therein, as paftors have of the churches, But, alas, how little is this confidered or regarded! But, while negligent minifters are (défervedly) caft out of their places, the negligent mafters of families take themfelves to be almoft blamelefs. They offer their children to God in baptifm, and there thy promile to teach them the doctrine of the gofpel, and bring them up in the nurture of the Lord; but they cafily promife, and eafily break it; and educate their children for the world and the flesh; altho' they have renounced thefe, and dedicated them to God. This covenant-breaking with God, and betraying the fouls of their children to the devil, muft lie heavy on them here or hereafter. They beget children, and keep families, merely for the world and the flesh; but little confider what a charge is committed to

them,

them, and what it is to bring up a child for God, and govern a family as a fanctified fociety. O how fweetly and fuccefsfully 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 imployed in. Efpecially women fhould be careful of this duty, becaufe as they are most about their children, and have early and frequent opportunities to inftruft them, fo this is the principal fervice they can do to God in this world, being reftrained from more publick work. And doubtless many an excellent magiftrate have been fent into the common wealth, and many an excellent paftor into the church, and many a precious faint to heaven, through the happy preparations of a holy education, perhaps by a woman that thought herfelf ufelefs and unferviceable to the church. Would parents but begin betimes, and labour to affect the hearts of their children with the great matters of everlafting life, and to acquaint them with the fubftance of the doctrine of Chrift, and when they find in them the knowledge and love of Chrift, would bring them then to the paftors 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 paftor 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 fhould have taught them long before; nor fhould we be put to preach to fo many miferable ignorant fouls, that be not prepared by education to understand us; nor fhould we have need to fhut out fo 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 ftate, till they are ready to be fellow citizens with the faints, and the houfhold of God. But now they come to us with aged felf-conceitednefs, being paft children; and yet worfe than children fill; having the ignorance of children, but being overgrown the teachablenefs of children, and think themfelves wife, yea, wife enough to quarrel with the wifeft of their teachers, because they have lived long enough to have been wife, 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 inftructions, till they are prepared for them that they may do them good; like fnappifh currs, that will fnap 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 fo ufed them to be unruly, that minifters have to deal but with too few but the unruly. And it is for want of this laying the foundation well at firft, that profeffors themfelves are fo ignorant as moft are, and that fo many, especially of the younger fort, do fwallow down almost any error that is offered them, and follow any fect of dividers that will entice them, fo it be

but

« PoprzedniaDalej »