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Mr THOMAS MANTON'S Epistle to the Reader.
ignorant of the general complaint concerning the decay of the power of godliness, and more efpecially of the great corruption of youth. Where-ever thou goest, thou wilt hear men crying out of bad children and bad servants; whereas indeed the fource 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 fo much their untowardness, as our own negligence in their education.
The devil hath a great fpite at the kingdom of Christ, and he knoweth no fuch compendious way to crush it in the egg, as by the perversion of youth, and supplanting family-duties. He strikethi at all duties, those which are public in the affemblies of the saints ; bat these are too well guarded by the folemn injunctions and dying charge of Jefus Christ, as that he should ever hope totally to fubvert and underinine them; but at family-duties, he striketh with the more fuccess, because the institution is not fo folemn, and the practice not so seriously and conscientiously regarded as it should be, and the ontission is not so liable to notice and public cenfure: Religion was first hatched in families, and there the devil seeketh tớ crush it; the families of the Patriarchs wčre 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, Gén. iv. 16. Now the devil knoweth that this is a blow at the root, and a ready way to pretent the succelsion of Churches: If he can subvert families, other societies and communities will not long flourish and subsist with any power and vigour; for there is the stock from whence they are fupplied 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 ill in Church and cominon-wealth ; there is the first making or marring, and the presage of their future lives to be thence taken, Pro. XX. II. By family-discipline, officers are trained up for the Church, 1. Tim. iii. 4. One that rulcih well his own house, &c.; and there are men bred up in fubjection and obedience, it is noted, 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 pastors of the Church,
For the future, it is comfortable certainly to see a thriving nurse. ry of young plants, and to have hopes that God shall have a people to serve him when we are dead and
gone : The people of God com: forted themselves in that, Pfal. cii. 28.
The children of thy fer. Dants shall continue, &c.
Upon all these considerations, how careful should Ministers and parents be to train up young ones, whilft they are yet pliable, and, like wax, capable of any forin and impression, in the knowledge and fear of God; and betimes to inftill the principles of our moff holy faith, as they are drawn into a short sum in catechisins, and so altogether laid in the view of conscience? Surely these feeds 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 cafting in of cold water doth stay the boiling of the pot, somewhat allay the fervours of youthful lufts and passions,
I had, upon entreaty, resolved to recommend to thee with the greatest earnestness 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 excellently done to my hand, I shall make bold to transcribe 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 : « Aniong others, a principal 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 fouls that are under their charge, especially in teaching them the doctrine of Chrif tianity. Families are societies 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 negligent masters of families take themselves to be almost blameless. They offer their children to God in baptisin, 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 eafily break it; and educate their children for the world and the flesh; although they have renounced these, and dedicated them to God. This covenantbreaking with God, and betraying the souls of their children to the devil
, inust lie heavy on them here or hereafter. They beget children, 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 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 employed in. Especially women should be careful of this duty; because as they are
noft about their children, and have early and frequent opportunities to instruct them, so this is the principal service they can do to God in this world, being restrained from more publick work. And doubtless many an excellent Magistrate hath been sent into the commonwealth, and many an excellent Paftor into the Church, and many a precious faint to heaven, through the happy preparations of à holy education, perhaps, by a woman that thought herself ufeless and unferviceable 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 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 chil, dren those principles which they should have taught theżn long before; nor should we be put to preach to fo many miserable ignorant fouls, that be not prepared by education to underitand us: Nor should we have need to thuç out so 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 tate, till they are ready to be fellow-citizens with the faints, and of the household 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 teachableness of children; and think themselves wise, yea, wise enough to quarrel with the wifest of their teachers, because they have lived long enough to have been wife, and the evidence of their knowledge is their ageď 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 prepar, ed for them that they may do them good; like firappish currs, that will fnap uş by the fingers for their meat, and fuatch 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 laying the foundation well at first, that profeslors themselves are so ignorant as most are, and that so many, especiallly of the younger fort, do fwallow down almost any error that is offered them, and follow
any fest of dividers that will entice them, so it be but clone with earnestpress and plausibịlity. For, alas! though, by the grace of God, their hearts may be changed in an hour," (whenever
they understand but the eflentials of the faith), yet their understandings must have time and diligence to furnish them with such knowledge as malt stablish them, and fortify thein against deceits.' Upon thesë, "and
the Jike considerations, we should intreat alỊ Christian families to take more pains in this necessary work, and to get better acquainted svịth the substance of Christianity. And to that end; (taking along fome moving treatises to awake the least, I know not what work
hould be fitter for their use, than that compiled by the Assembly at Westminster: a Synod of as godly, judicious divines, (notwithftand. ing all the bitter words which they have received from difcontented and self-conceited men), I verily think, as ever England saw. Though they had the unhappiness to be employed in calamitous times, when the noise of wars did stop mens ears, and the licentiousness of wars did set 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 prefbyters was, the fame of it, for learning and holiness, and all m.inisterial abilities, would with very great honour, have been transmitted to posterity.
I do therefore defire, that all masters of families would first study well this work themselves ; and then teach it their children and servants, according to their several capacities. And, if they once underftand these grounds of religion, they will be able to read other books more understandingly, and hear fermions 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 then read and learn the Shorter Catechism, and next the Larger, and lastly, read the Confeíticn of Faith.
Thus far he, whose name I fhall conceal, (though the excellency of the matter, and present style, will eafily discover him), because I have published it without his privity and consent, though, I hope, not against his liking and approbation, l'fhall add no more, but
that I am,
In the Lord's work,
******* ***** *********** ; An ordinance of the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, for the calling of an fjembly of earned and godly Divines, and others, to be con; ulted with y the Parliament, for the feitling of the government and liturgy of the Church of England; and for vindicating and clearing of the doctrine of the said Church from fulse afperfions and interprétations.
June 12. 1643. WHereas, amongst the infinite blessings of Almighty God upon
this nation, none is nor can be more dear unto us than the purity of our religion ; and for that, as yet, many things remain in the liturgy, discipline, and government of the Church, which do neceflarily require a further and more perfect reformation, than as yet hath been attained ; - and whereas it háth been declared and resolved by the Lords and Commons aflembled in Parliament, that the present Church government by archbishops, their chancellors, commiffars, deans, deans and chapters, archdeacons, and other ecclefiaftical officers, depending upon the hierarchy, is evil and juftly offensive and burdenfome to the kingdom, a great impediment to reformation and growth of religion, and very prejudicial 'to the state and government of this kingdom ; and therefore they are resolved that the same shall be taken away, 'arid that such a government shall be settled in the Church, as may be most agreeable to God's holy word, and most apt to procure and preserve the peace of the Church at home, and wearer agreemet with the Church of Scotland, and other reformed Churches abroad; and, for the better effecting hereof, and for the vindicating and clearing of the doctrine of the Church of England from all False calumnies and afperfions, it is thought fit and neceflary to call an Affembly of learned godly, and judicious divines, who, together with some members of both the houses of Parliament, àre to consult and advise of such matters and things, touching the premisles. as shall be proposed unto them by both or either of thie houses of Parliament, and to give their advice and counsel therein to both,' or either of the laid houses, when, and as often as they shall be thereunto required. Be it therefore ordained, by the Lords and Commons in this prefent Parliament assembled, that all and every the perfons hereafter in this present ordinance named, that is to fay,
And such other person or persons as shall be nominated and ap, pointed by both houfes of Parliament, or fo many of them as shall not be letted by sickness, or other necefiary impediment, shall meet and aflèmble, and are hereby required and enjoined upon fummons signed by the clerks of both houses of Parliament, left at their respective dwellings, to meet and aflemble themselves at Westminster, in the chapel called King Henry the VIIth's chapel, on the first day of July, in the year of our Lord One thoufand fix hundred and fortythree; and after the fielt meeting, being at least the number of forty,