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CONFESSION OF FAITH,
The LARGER and SHORTER
With the Scripture-Proofs at large.
ACTS of Affembly and Parliament, relative to, and approbative of the fame.
Deut. vi. 6, 7. And thefe Words which I command thee this Day, fball be in thy Heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy Children, and fbalt talk of them when thou fittest in thy Houf, and when thou walkeft by the Way, and when then lieft down, and when thou rifeft up.
Printed in the Year, MDCCLXVIIL
GENERAL CONTENT SA
HE Preface, by fundry English Divines.
I. The Confeffion of Faith.
II. The Larger Catechifm.
VI. The Solemn League and Covenant.
HEADS OF FAMILIES.
As we cannot but with grief of foul lament thofe multitudes of errors, blafphemies, and all kinds of profaoenefs, which have in this age, like a mighty deluge, overflown this nation; fo, among feveral other fins which have helped to open the flood-gates of all thefe impietes, we cannot but efteem the difufe of family inftruction 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 manumiffion from this fpiritual thraldom confifts, in having our eyes opened, and being turned from darkness to light, Acts xxvi. 18. How much the serious endeavours of godly parents and mafters might contribute to an early feafoning the tender years of fuch as are under their inspection, is abundantly evident, not only from their special influence upon them, in refpect of their authority over them, intereft in them, continual prefence with them, and frequent opportunities of being helpful to them; but alfo from the fad effects which by woful experience we find to be the fruit of the omiffion of this duty. 'Twere eafy to fet before you a cloud of wineffes, the language of whofe practice hath been not only an eminent commendation of this duty, but also a serious exhortation to it. As Abel, though dead, yet fpeaks by his example to us for our imitation of his faith, &c. Heb. xi. 4. So do the examples of Abraham, of Joshua, of the rents of Solomon, of the grandmother and mother of Timothy, the mother of Auguftine, whose care was as well to nurfe up the fouls as the bodies of their little ones; and as their pains herein was great, so was their fuccefs no way unanswerable.
We should scarce imagine it any better than an impertinency, in this noon-day of the gospel, either to inform or perfuade a duty fo exprefly commanded, fo frequently urged, fo highly encouraged.
and fo eminently owned by the Lord in all ages with his bleffing, but that our fad experience tells us this duty is not more needful than 'tis of late neglected. For the reftoring of this duty to its due obfervance, give us leave to fuggeft this double advice.
The first concerns heads of families in refpect of themselves, that as the Lord hath fet them in place above the reft of their family, they would labour in all wifdom and fpiritual understanding to be above them also. 'Tis an uncomely fight 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 fo defireable, that the devils themfelves knew not a more taking bait by which to tempt our first parents, than by the fruit of the tree of knowledge. So fhall you be as gods, knowing good and evil." When Solomon had that favour fhewed him of the Lord, that he was made his own chufer what to ask, he knew no greater mercy to beg than Wifdom, 1 Kings iii. 5, 9. The understanding is the guide and pilot of the whole man, that faculty which fits at the stern of the foul: But as the most expert guide may mistake in the dark, fo may the understanding when it wants the light of knowledge; Without knowledge the mind cannot be good,' Prov. xix. 2. Nor the life good, nor the eternal condition fafe, Eph. iv. 18. My people are deftroyed for lack of knowledge,' Hof. iv. 6. 'Tis ordinary in fcripture to iet profanenefs and all kind of miscarriages upon the fcore of ignorance. Difeafes in the body have many times their rife from diftempers in the head, and exorbitancies in practice from errors in judgment: And indeed in every fin there is fomething both of igno. rance and error at the bottom; for, did finners truly know what they do in finning, we might fay, of every fin, what the apostle fpeaks concerning that great fin, Had they known him, they would ⚫not have crucified the Lord of glory;' did they truly know that every fin is a provoking the Lord to jealoufy, a proclaiming war against hea. ven, a crucifying the Lord Jefus afrefh, 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 blood, it were scarce poffible but fin, instead of alluring, should affright, and instead of tempting, fcare. 'Tis one of the arch devices and principal methods of Satan to deceive men into fin: thus he prevailed againft our firft parents, not as a lion but as a ferpent, 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 defigns of darknefs, by transforming himself into an angel of light, making poor deceived men in love with their miferies, and hug their own deftruction. A moft fovereign antidote against all kind of errors, is to be grounded and fettled in the faith: Perfons, unfixed in the true religion, are very receptive of a falfe; and they who'
are nothing in fpiritual knowledge, are easily made any thing. Clouds without water are driven to and fro with every wind, and fhips without ballaft liable to the violence of every tempeft. But yet the knowledge we efpecially commend, is not a brain knowledge, a mere fpeculation; this may be in the worst of men, nay, in the worst of creatures, the devils themselves, and that in fuch eminency, as the best of faints cannot attain to in this life of imperfection: But an inward, a favory, an heart-knowledge, fuch as was in that martyr, who, tho' fhe could not dispute for Chritt, could die for him.. This is that fpiritual fenfe and feeling of divine truths, the apoftle fpeaks of Heb. v. 14. "Having your fenfes exercifed,' &c.
But, alas, we may fay of the most mens religion what learned Rivet *fpeaks concerning the errors of the Fathers," they were not fo much "their own errors, as the errors of the time wherein they lived." Thus do molt men take up their religion upon no better an account than Turks and Papifts take up theirs, becaufe 'tis the religion of the times and places wherein they live; and what they take up thus flightly they lay down as eafily. Whereas an inward tafte and relich of the things of God, is an excellent prefervative to keep us fettled in the most unfettled times. Corrupt and unfavory principles have great advantage upon us above thofe that are fpiritual and found; the former being fuit. able to corrupt nature, the latter contrary; the former springing up of themselves, the latter brought forth not without a painful induftry. The ground needs no other midwifry in bringing forth weeds, than only the neglect of the husbandman's hand to piuck them up; the air needs no other cause of darkness, than the absence of the fun; nor water of coldness, than its diftance from the fire, because thefe are the genuine products of nature: Were it fo with the foul (as fome of the phi lofophers have vainly imagined) to come into the world an “ab rafa Tabula," a mere blank or piece of white paper, on which neither any thing written, nor any blots; it would then be equally receptive of good and evil, and no more averfe to the one than to the other: But how much worfe its condition indeed is, were fcripture filent, every man's experience does evidently manifeft. For who is there that knows any thing of his own heart, and knows not thus much, that the fuggeftions of Satan have fo eafy 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 fo unacceptable to us, that our utmoft diligence is too little to get our hearts open to entertain them. Let therefore the excellency, neceffity, difficulty of true wisdom ftir up endeavours in you, fomewhat proportionable to fuch an accomplishment; Above all getting, get understanding,' Prov. iv. 7. Aud fearch for wisdom as for hidden treasures,' Prov.iv. 4. It much concerns you in respect of yourselves.
Our fecond advice concerns heads of families, in refpect of their fa
* Rivet, Crit. Sacr.