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THE GENERAL CONTENTS.

HEADS OF FAMILIES.

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his example to us for imitation of his faith, 8c. 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 nurse up the souls as the bodies of their little ones; and as their pains herein was great, so was their success no way unanswerable.

We should scarce imagine it any better than an imperti. nency, in this noon-day of the gospel, either to inform or persuade in a duty so expressly commanded, so frequently urged, so highly encouraged, and so eminently owned by the Lord in all ages with his blessing, but that our sad experience tells us, this duty is not more needful, than it is of late neglected. For the restoring of this duty to its due observance, give us leave to suggest this double advice.

The first concerns heads of families in respect of themselves; That as the Lord hath set them in place above the rest of their family, they would labour in all wisdom and spiritual understanding to be above them also. It is an uncomely sight to behold men in years babes in knowledge ; and how unmeet are they to instruct others, who need them. selves to be taught which be the first principles of the oracles of God? Heb. v. 12. Knowledge is an accomplishment so desirable, that the devils themselves knew not a more taking bait by which to tempt our first parents, than by the fruit of the tree of knowledge; So shall you be as gods, know. ing good and evil. When Solomon had that favour sheweu him of the Lord, that he was made his own chuser what to ask, he knew no greater mercy to beg than wisdom, 1 Kings iii. 5, 9. The understanding is the guide and pilot of the whole man, that faculty which sits at the stern of the soul: but as the most expert guide may mistake in the dark, so may the understanding, when it wants the light of knowledge: Withoutknoroledgethemindcannot 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, Hos. iv. 6. It is ordinary in scripture to set profaneness, and all kir.. of miscarriages, upon the score of ignorance. Diseas in the body have many times their rise from distempers in the head, and exorbitancies in practice from errors in judgment: and indeed in every sin there is something

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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, Hal theyknown him, they would not have crucified the Lordof glory; did they truly know that every sin is a provoking the Lord to jealousy, a proclaiming war against Heaven, a crucifying 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 enmity under a pretence of friendship, and tempting them to evil under an appearance of good, and thus hath he all along carried on his 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 antidote against all kind of errors, is to be grounded and settled in the faith : persons 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 are driven to and fro with every wind, and ships without hallast liable to the violence of every tempest. But yet the knowledge we especially commend, is not a brain-know·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 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 s 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

pists * Rivet. Crit. Sacr.

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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 arc spiritual and sound; the former being suitable to corrupt na ture, the latter contrary; the former springing up of them selves, the latter brought forth not without a painful industry The ground needs no other midwifery in bringing forth weed than only the neglect of the husbandman's hand to pluc them

up; the air needs no other cause of darkness than th absence of the sun; nor water of coldness than its distanc from the fire; because these are the genuine products o nature. Were it so with the soul, (as some of the philoso phers have vainly imagined,) to come into the world as a abrasa tabula, a mere blank or piece of white paper, on whic neither any thing is written, nor any blots, it would then b equally receptive of good and evil, and no more averse tthe one than to the other: but how much worse its conditio indeed is, were scripture silent, every man's experience doe evidently manifest. For who is there that knows any thin . of his own heart, and knows not thus much, that the sug gestions of Satan have so easy and free admittance into ou hearts, that our utmost watchfulness is too little to guard u from them ? whereas the motions of God's Spirit are so ur acceptable to us, that our utmost diligence is too little to ge our hearts open to entertain them. Let therefore the ex cellency, necessity, difficulty of true wisdom stir up endea vours in you somewhat proportionable to such an accon plishment; Above all getting, get understanding, Prov.iv. and search for wisdom as for hidden treasures, Prov. ii. It much concerns you in respect of yourselves.

Our second advice concerns the heads of families, in respec of their families. Whatever hath been said already, thoug it concerns every private Christian that hath a soul to loo after; yet, upon a double account, it concerns parents an masters, as having themselves and others to look after: som there are, who, because of their ignorance, cannot; other because of their sluggishness, will not mind this duty. To tł

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former we propound the method of Joshua, who first bega

with himself, and then is careful of his family. To tl | latter we shall only hint, what a dreadful meeting tho 1 parents and masters must have at that great day, wit

their children and servants, when all that were under the

inspection shall not only accuse them, but charge the i 1. eternal miscarrying upon their score.

Never did any age of the Church enjoy such choice help y as this of ours. Every age of the gospel hath had its Creed 1 Confessions, Catechisms, and such breviaries and models of divinity as have been singularly useful. Such forms of soun hi words (however in these days decried) have been in use & the Church ever since God himself wrote the Decalogue, d a summary of things to be done; and Christ taught us tha

prayer of his, as a directory what to ask. Concerning tl

usefulness of such compendiary systems, so much hath bee d said already by a learned divine * of this age, as is sufficier b to satisfy all who are not resolved to remain unsatisfied.

Concerning the particular excellency of these ensuing tre of tises, we judge it unneedful to mention those eminent test be monies which have been given them from persons of know ng worth, in respect of their judgment, learning, and integrity ag

both at home and abroad, because themselves spake so muc their own praise; gold stands not in need of varnish, no diamonds of painting : give us leave only to tell we cannot but account it an eminent mercy to enjoy suc

helps as these are. It is ordinary in these days for men t ex speak evil of things they know not; but if any are possesse

with mean thoughts of these treatises, we shall only give th m. same counsel to them that Philip gives Nathanael, Come an 1. see, John i. 46. It is no small advantage the reader no 4. hath, by the addition of scriptures at large, whereby wit

little pains he may more profit, because with every truth h ect may behold its scripture foundation. And, indeed, consider oh ing what a Babel of opinions, what a strange confusion o ok tongues, there is this day among them who profess the nd speak the language of Canaan, there is no intelligent perso

but will conclude that advice of the prophet especially suite Er to such an age as this, Isa. viii. 20. To the law, and to tle

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testimony * Doctor Tuckney in his sermon on 2 Tim. i. 13.

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