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together laid in the view of conscience! Surely these seeds 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 casting in of cold water doth stay the boiling of the pot, somewhat allay the fervours of youthful lusts 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 publick view.
The author having bewailed the great distractions, corruptions, and divisions that are in the Church, he thus represents the cause and cure :
Among others, a principal cause of these mischiefs is the great and common neglect of the governors of families, in the dis. charge of that duty which they owe to God for the souls that are under their charge, especially in teaching them the doctrine of Christianity. Families are societies that must be sanctified 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 negli
. gent masters of families take themselves to be almost blameless. They offer their children to God in baptism, 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 easily 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, must 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 sanctified 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 sending 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 most about their children, and have early and frequent oppportunities 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 pastor into the Church, and many a precious saint to heaven, through the happy preparations of a holy education, perhaps by a woman that thought herself useless and unserviceable 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 ! thna
one pastor 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 should have taught them long before ; nor should we be put to preach to so many miserable ignorant souls, that be not prepared by education to understand us ; nor should we have need to shut 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 state, till they are ready to be fellow-citizens with the saints, 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 theinselves wise, yea, wise enough to quarrel with the wisest of their teachers, because they have lived long enough to have been wise, 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 instructions, till they are prepared for them, that they may do them good ; like snappish curs, that will snap us by the fingers for their meat, and snatch 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 professors themselves are so ignorant as most are, and that so many, especially of the younger sort, do swallow down almost any error that is offered them, and follow any sect of dividers that will entice them, so it be but done with earnestness and plausibility. For, alas! though by the grace of God their hearts may be changed in an hour, (whenever they understand but the essentials of the faith,) yet their understandings must have time and diligence to furnish them with such knowledge as must stablish them, and fortify them against deceits. Upon these, and many the like considerations, we should entreat all Christian families to take more pains in this necessary work, and to get better acquainted with the substance of Christianity. And, to that end, (taking along some moving treatises to awake the heart,) I know not what work should be fitter for their use, than that compiled by the Assembly at Westminster ; a Synod of as godly, judicious divines, (notwithstanding all the bitter words which they have received from discontented 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 men's 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 inen 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 presbyters was, the fame of it for learning and holiness, and all ministerial abilities, would, with very great honour, have been transmitted to posterity,
I do therefore desire, 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 understand these grounds of religion, they will be able to read other books more understandingly, and hear sermons 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 them read and learn the Shorter Catechism, and next the Larger, and lastly, read the Confession of Faith.”
Thus får he, whose name I shall conceal, (though the excellency of the matter, and present style, will easily discover him,) because I have published it without hís privity and consent, though, I hope, not against his liking and approbation. I shall add no more, but that I am
An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, for the calling of an Assembly of learned and godly Divines, and others, to be consulted with by the Parliament, for the settling of the government and liturgy of the Church of England; and for vindicating and clearing of the doctrine of the said Church from false aspersions and interpretations. June 12. 1643.
IIEREAS, amongst the infinite blessings of Almighty God upon purity of our religion ; and for that, as yet, many things remain in the liturgy, discipline, and government of the Church, which do necessarily require a further and more perfect reformation than as yet hath been attained ; and whereas it hath been declared and resolved by the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, that the present Church-government by archbishops, their chancellors, commissars, deans, deans and chapters, archdeacons, and other ecclesiastical officers depending upon the hierarchy, is evil, and justly offensive and burdensome 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, and 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 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 false calumnies and aspersions, it is thought fit and necessary to call an Assembly of learned, godly, and judicious Divines, whó, together with some members of both the Ilouses of Parliament, are to consult and advise of such matters and things, touching the premises, as shall 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 said Houses, when, and as often as they shall be thereunto required : Be it therefore ordained, by the Lords and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, That all and every the persons hereafter in this present ordinance named, that is to
And such other person or persons as shall be nominated and appointed by both Houses of Parliament, or so many of them as shall not be letted by sickness, or other necessary impediment, shall meet and assemble, and are hereby required and enjoined, upon summons signed by the clerks of both Houses of Parliament, left at their respectivedwellings, to meet and assemble themselves at Westminster, in the Chapel called King Henry the VII's Chapel, on the first day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and fortythree; and after the first meeting, being at least the number of forty, shall from time to time sit, and be removed from place to place; and also that the said Assembly shall be dissolved in such manner as by both Houses of Parliament shall be directed : and the said persons, or so many of them as shall be so assembled, or sit, shall have power and authority, and are hereby likewise enjoined from time to time, during this present Parliament, or until further order be taken by both the said Houses, to confer and treat among themselves of such matters and things, touching and concerning the liturgy, discipline, and government of the Church of England, for the vindicating and clearing of the doctrine of the same from the false aspersions and misconstructions, as shall be proposed unto them by both or either of the said Houses of Parliament, and no other; and deliver their opinion, advices of, or touching the matters aforesaid, as shall be most agreeable to the word of God, to both or either of the Houses, from time to time, in such manner and sort as by both or either of the said Houses of Parliament shall be required ; and the same not to divulge, by, printing, writing, or otherwise, without the conserit of both or either IIouses of Parliament. And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, That William Twisse doctor in divinity shall sit in thu chair, as prolocutor of the said Assembly; and if he happen to die, or be letted by sickness, or other necessary impediment, then such other person to be appointed in his place as shall be agreed on by the said Houses of Parliament: And in case any difference in opinion shall happen amongst the said persons so assembled, touching any the matters that shall be proposed to them as aforesaid, that then they shall represent the same, together with the reasons thereof, to both or either the said Houses respectively, to the end such further direction may be given therein as shall be requisite to that behalf. And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, That, for the charges and expences of the said Divines, and every one of them, in attending the said service, there shall be allowed every one of them that shall so attend, during the time of their said attendance, and for ten days before and ten days after, the sum of four shillings for every day, at the charges of the Commonwealth, at such time, and in such manner, as by both Houses of Parliament shall be appointed. And be it further ordained, That all and every the said Divines, so, as aforesaid, required and enjoined to meet and assemble, shall be freed and acquitted of and from every offence, forfeiture, penalty, loss, or damage, which shall or may ensue or grow by reason of any non-residence or absence of them, or any of them, from his or their, or any of their church, churches, or cures, for or in respect of their said attendance upon the said service; any law or statute of non-residence, or other law or statute enjoining their attendance upon their respective ministries or charges, to the contrary thereof notwithstanding. And if any of the persons above named shall happen to die before the said Assembly shall be dissolved by order of both Houses of Parliament, then such other person or persons shall be nominated and placed in the room and stead of such person or persons so dying, as by both the said Houses shall be thought fit and agreed upon; and every such person or persons, so to be named, shall have the like power and authority, freedom and acquittal, to all intents and purposes, and also all such wages and allowances for the said service, during the time of his or their attendance, as to any other of the said persons in this ordinance is by this ordinance limited and appointed. Provided always, That this ordinance, or any thing therein contained, shall not give unto the persons aforesaid, or any of them, nor shall they in this Assembly assume to exercise any jurisdiction, power, or authority ecclesiastical whatsoever, or any other power than is herein particularly expressed.
Assembly at EDINBURGH, August 19. 1613. Sess. 14. Commission of the General Assembly to some Ministers and Ruling
Elders, for repairing to the Kingdom of England. THE
HE General Assembly of the Church of Scotland finding it neces
sary to send some godly and learned of this Kirk to the kingdoin of England, to the effect under written; therefore gives full power and commission to Mr. Alexander Henderson, Mr. Robert Douglas, Mr. Samuel Rutherford, Mr. Robert Baillie, and Mr. George Gillespie, Ministers, John Earl of Cassilis, John Lord Maitland, and Sir Archibald Johnstoun of Warristoun, Elders, or any three of them, whereof two shall be Ministers, to repair to the kingdom of England, and there to deliver the declaration sent unto the Parliament of England, and the letter sent unto the Assembly of Divines now sitting in that kingdom; and to propone, consult, treat, and conclude with that Assembly, or any Commissioners deputed by them, or any Committees or Commissioners deputed by the Houses of Parliament, in all matters which may further the union of this Island in one Form of Kirk-government, one Confession of Faith, one Catechism, one Directory for the worship of God, according to the instructions which they have received from the Assembly, or shall receive from time to time hereafter from the Commissioners of the Assembly deputed for that effect : with power also to them to convey to His Majesty the humble answer sent from this Assembly to His Majesty's letter, by such occasion as they shall think convenient; and sicklike, to deliver the Assembly's answer to the letter sent from some well affected brethren of the ministry there ; and generally authorises them to do all things which may further the so much desired union, and nearest conjunction of the two Churches of Scotland and England, conform to their instructions aforesaid. Many of the persons who were called by the foresaid Ordinanco of the
Lords and Commons (in that broken state of the Church) to attend the Assembly appeared not; whereupon the whole work lay on the hands of the persons hereafter mentioned.