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Mr THOMAS MANTON's Epiftle to the Reader.



Cannot fuppofe thee to be fuch a stranger in England, as to be ignorant of the general complaint concerning the decay of the power of godlinefs, and more efpecially of the great corruption of youth. Where-ever 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: it is bad parents and bad mafters 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 cruth it in the egg, as by the perverfion of youth, and fupplanting family-duties. He striketh at all duties, thofe 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 feriously and confcientiously regarded as it should be, and the ontiffion is not fo liable to notice and public cenfure. Religion was first 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 ftock from whence they are fupplied both for the prefent and future.

For the prefent, a family is the feminary 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 common-wealth; there is the first making or marring, and the prefage of their future lives to be thence taken, Pro. 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, it is 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 farewell to Paul, breed them up in a way of reverence and refpect to the pastors of the Church.


For the future, it is comfortable certainly to fee a thriving nurse. ry 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 fer vants fhall continue, &c.

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

I had, upon entreaty, refolved to recommend to thee with the greatest earnestness the work of catechifing, and, as a meet help, the usefulness 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 shall makę bold to transcribe 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 cause and cure" Aniong others, a principal caufe of thefe mifchiefs is the great and common neglect of the governors of families, in the difcharge of that duty which they owe to God for the fouls that are under their charge, efpecially in teaching them the doctrine of Chriftianity. 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 (defervedly) caft out of their places, the negligent mafters of families take themselves to be almoft blameless. They offer their children to God in baptifin, and there they promife to teach them the doctrine of the gofpel, and bring them up in the nurture of the Lord; but they eafily promife, 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 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, 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 beft that they can be employed in. Efpecially women should be careful of this duty; because as they are


moft about their children, and have early and frequent opportunities to inftruct 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 hath been fent into the commonwealth, 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 everlasting 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 of the household of God. But now they come t to us with aged felf-conceitedness, being paft children, and yet worse than children ftill; having the ignorance of children, but being overgrown the teachableness 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 prepar ed for them that they may do them good; like fiappifh currs, that will fap us by the fingers for their meat, and fnatch it out of our hands; and not like children, that ftay 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 first, that profeflors themfelves are fo ignorant as most are, and that fo 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, fo it be but done with earneftnefs and plausibility. 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 fuch knowledge as muft stablish them, and fortify them against deceits. Upon thefe, and many the like confiderations, we fhould intreat all Christian families to take more pains in this neceflary work, and to get better acquainted with the fubftance of Chriftianity. And to that end, (taking along fome moving treatifes to awake the heart,) I know not what work


fhould be fitter for their ufe, than that compiled by the Affenbly at Weftminster: a Synod of as godly, judicious divines, (notwithftanding all the bitter words which they have received from difcontented and felf-conceited men), I verily think, as ever England faw. Though they had the unhappiness to be employed in calamitous times, when the noife of wars did ftop mens ears, and the licentioufhefs of wars did fet every wanton tongue and pen at liberty to reproach them; and the profecution and event of thofe wars did exasperate partial difcontented men, to difhonour themfelves by feeking to difhonour them: I dare fay, if in the days of old, when councils were in power and account, they had had but fuch a council of bishops, as this of prefbyters was, the fame of it, for learning and holiness, and all minifterial abilities, would with very great honour, have been tranfmitted to pofterity.

I do therefore defire, that all masters of families would fuft ftudy well this work themfelves; and then teach it their children and fervants, according to their feveral capacities. And, if they once underftand thefe grounds of religion, they will be able to read other books more understandingly, and hear fermons more profitably, and confer more judiciously, and hold fast the doctrine of Chrift more firmly, than ever you are like to do by any other courfe. First, let them read and learn the Shorter Catechifm, and next the Larger, and lastly, read the Confeffion of Faith.

Thus far he, whofe name I fhall conceal, (though the excellency of the matter, and prefent style, will eafily difcover him), becaufe I have published it without his privity and confent, though, I hope, not against his liking and approbation, I fhall add no more, but that I am,

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An ordinance of the Lords and Commons affembled in Parliament, for the calling of an fembly of learned and godly Divines, and others, to be confulted with y the Parliament, for the fettling of the government and liturgy of the Church of England; and for vindicating and clearing of the doctrine of the faid Church from falfe afperfions and interpretations. June 12.1643.

Whereas, amongst the infinite bleffings 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, difcipline, and government of the Church, which do neceffarily require a further and more perfect reformation, than as yet hath been attained; and whereas it hath been declared and refolved by the Lords and Commons aflembled in Parliament, that the prefent Church government by archbishops, their chancellors, commiffars, deans, deans and chapters, archdeacons, and other ecclefiaftical officers, depending upon the hierarchy, is evil and juftly offenfive and burdenfome to the kingdom, a great impediment to reformation and growth of religion, and very prejudicial to the ftate and government of this kingdom; and therefore they are refolved that the fame thall be taken away, 'and that fuch a government fhall be fettled in the Church, as may be moft agreeable to God's holy word, and most apt to procure and preferve the peace of the Church at home, and nearer agreement 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 falfe calumnies and afperfions, it is thought fit and neceflary to call an Affembly of learned, godly, and judicious divines, who, together with fome members of both the houfes of Parliament, are to confult and advife of fuch matters and things, touching the premiffes, as fhall be proposed unto them by both or either of the houses of Parliament, and to give their advice and counsel therein to both, or either of the faid houfes, when, and as often as they fhall be thereunto required. Be it therefore ordained, by the Lords and Commons in this prefent Parliament affembled, that all and every the perfons hereafter in this prefent ordinance named, that is to fay,

And fuch other perfon or perfons as fhall be nominated and appointed by both houfes of Parliament, or fo many of them as shall not be letted by ficknefs, or other necefiary impediment, shall meet and aflemble, and are hereby required and enjoined upon fummons figned by the clerks of both houfes of Parliament, left at their respective dwellings, to meet and aflemble themfelves 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 fift meeting, being at least the number of forty,


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