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CONFESSION OF FAITH;
LARGER AND SHORTER CATECHISMS,
Scripture-proofs at Large :
THE SUM OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE,
CONFESSION AND CATECHISMS,) AND PRACTICAL USE THEREOF;
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF SINS, AND
ENGAGEMENT TO DUTIES;
FORM OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT, &C.
F PUBLICK AUTHPT
PA CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.
Deut. vi. 6,7. And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine
heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children ; and shalt talk
Printers to the King's most Excellent Majesty.
tudes of errors, blasphemies, and all kinds of profaneness, which have in this last age, like a mighty deluge, overflown this nation; so, among several other sins which have helped to open the flood-gates of all these impieties, we cannot but esteem the disuse of family instruction one of the greatest. The two great pillars upon which the kingdom of Satan is / erected, and by which it is upheld, are ignorance and error; the first step of our manumission from this spiritual thraldom consists in having our eyes opened, and being turned from darkness to light, Acts xxvi. 18. How much the serious endeavours of godly parents and masters might contribute to an early seasoning the tender years of such as are under their inspection, is abundantly evident, not only from their special influence upon them, in respect of their authority over them, interest in them, continual presence with them, and frequent opportunities of being helpful to them; but also from the sad effects which, by woeful experience, we find to be the fruit of the omission of this duty. It were easy to set before
you a cloud of witnesses, the language of whose practice hath been not only an eminent commendation of this duty, but also a serious exhortation to it. As Abel, though dead, yet speaks by
hot his example to us for imitation of his faith, &c. 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 impertinency, 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 thellselves; 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 themselves 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, knowing good and evil. When Solomon had that favour shewed 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 ill
. 5, 9. The understanding is the guide and pilot of the whole man, that factdty 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: Without knowledge the inind cannot 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 kind of miscarriages, upon the score of ignorance. Diseases 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