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both of ignorance and error at the bottom : for, did sinners truly know what they do in sinning, we might say of every sin what the Apostle speaks concerning that great sin, Had they known him, they would not have crucifted the Lord of glory; did they truly know that every sin is a provoking the Lord to jealousy, a proclaiming war against Heaven, a crucify;-; ing the Lord Jesus afresh, a treasuring up wrath unto themselves against the day of wrath ; and that, if ever they be pardoned, it must be at no lower a rate than the price of his blood; it were scarce possible but sin, instead of alluring, should affright, and instead of tempting, scare. It is one of the arch devices and principal methods of Satan to deceive men into sin: thus he prevailed against our first parents, not as a lion, but as a serpent, acting his ernity under a pretence of friendship, and tempting them to evil under an ap
pearance of good; and thus hath he all along carried on his d designs 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 sovereign anti
dote against all kind of errors, is to be grounded and settled les in the faith : persons unfixed in the true religion, are very It receptive of a false ; and they who are nothing in spiritual
knowledge, are easily made any thing. Clouds without water he are driven to and fro with every wind, and ships without
ballast liable to the violence of every tempest. But yet the ed knowledge we especially commend, is not a brain-knowto ledge, a mere speculation; this may be in the worst of men,
nay, in the worst of creatures, the devils themselves, and that in such an eminency, as the best of saints cannot attain to in this life of imperfection; but an inward, a savoury, an heart knowledge, such as was in that martyr, who, though
she could not dispute for Christ, could die for him. This is 2.; that spiritual sense and feeling of divine truths the Apostle
speaks of, Heb. v. 14. Having your senses exercised, &c.
But, alas, we may say of most men’s religion what learned Rivet * speaks concerning the errors of the fathers, “ They
were not so much their own errors, as the errors of the 5 times wherein they lived." Thus do most men take up their religion upon no better an account than Turks and PaA 3
nd ses 3rs in
pists take up theirs, because it is 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 taste and relish of the things of God, is an excellent preservative to keep us settled in the most unsettled times. Corrupt and unsavoury principles have great advantage upon us, above those that are spiritual and sound; the former being suitable to corrupt nature, the latter contrary; the former springing up of themselves, the latter broughtforth not without a painful industry. The ground needs no other midwifery in bringing forth weeds than only the neglect of the husbandman's hand to pluck them up; the air needs no other cause of darkness than the absence of the sun; nor water of coldness than its distance from the fire; because these are the genuine products of nature. Were it so with the soul, (as some of the philosophers have vainly imagined,) to come into the world as an abrasa tabula, a mere blank or piece of white paper, on which neither any thing is written, nor any blots, it would then be equally receptive of good and evil, and no more averse to the one than to the other: but how much worse its condition indeed is, were scripture silent, every man's experience does evidently manifest. For who is there that knows any thing of his own heart, and knows not thus much, that the suggestions of Satan have so easy and free admittance into our hearts, that our utmost watchfulness is too little to guard us from them? whereas the motions of God's Spirit are so unacceptable 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 wisdom stir up endeavours in you somewhat proportionable to such an accomplishment'; Above all getting, get understanding, Prov. iv. 7. and search for wisdom as for hidden treasures, Prov. ii. 4. It much concerns you in respect of yourselves.
Our second advice concerns the heads of families, in respect of their families. Whatever hath been said already, though it concerns every private Christian that hath a soul 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
1 former we propound the method of Joshua, who first began
with himself, and then is careful of his family. To the 1 il latter we shall only hint, what a dreadful meeting those
parents and masters must have at that great day, with
their children and servants, when all that were under their Ý
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 useful. Such forms of sound words (however in these days decried) have been in use in
the Church ever since God himself wrote the Decalogue, as of & 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 ch said already by a learned divine * of this age, as is sufficient
to satisfy all who are not resolved to remain unsatisfied. to
Concerning the particular excellency of these ensuing treatises
, we judge it unneedful to mention those eminent testi
monies which have been given them from persons of known ng worth, in respect of their judgment, learning, and integrity,
both at home and abroad, because themselves spake so much their own 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. It is ordinary in these days for men to speak evil of things they know not; but if any are possessed with mean thoughts of these treatises, we shall only give the
same counsel to them that Philip gives Nathanael, Come and 7. see, John i. 46. It is no small advantage the reader now
bath, 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, consider
ing what a Babel of opinions, what a strange confusion of k tongues, there is this day among them who profess they d 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, Isa. viii. 20. To the law and to the A 4
testimony; * Doctor Tuckney in his sermon on 2 Tim. i. 13.
testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. If the reverend and learned composers of these ensuing treatises were willing to take the pains of annexing scriptare proofs to every truth, that the faith of people might not be built upon the dictates of men, but the authority of God, so some considerable pains hath now been further taken in transcribing those scriptures; partly to prevent that grand inconvenience, (which all former impressions, except the Latin, have abounded with, to the great perplexing and disheartening of the reader,) the misquotation of scripture, the meanest 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 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 serve as a Bible common-place, the several passages of scripture, 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 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 yours should be ignorant of him whoin you so much admire, or any haters of him whom you so much love. If there be any compassion to the souls of them who are under your care, if any regard of your being found faithful in the day of Christ, if any respect to future generations, labour to sow these 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. 4. M. P.
Mr. THOMAS MANTON'S Epistle to the Reader.
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 goest, 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 : it is bad parents and bad masters that make bad children and bad servants; and we cannot blame so much their untowardness, 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 youth, and supplanting family duties. He striketh at all those duties which are publick 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 striketh 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 notice and publick censure. Religion 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 suppose,) when Cain went out from 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
any power and vigour; for there is the stock from whence they are supplied both for the present and future.
For the present: A family is the seminary 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