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IF the Principles of the Christian Religion were well rooted in the Hearts of all Mankind, what excellent Fruit would they produce! The Earth would put on another Face, bearing some resemblance of Heaven it self: Idolatry, with all sorts of Wickedness and Vice; would be every where discountenanced and suppressed for all would worship the one living and true God, and him only: There would be no more Wars, nor rumors of Wars; Kingdom would not rise against Kingdom, nor Nation against Nation, but all Princes would be at Peace with their Neighbours, and their Subjects at Unity among themselves, striving about nothing but which should serve God best, and do most good in the World. Then Piety, and Justice and Charity, 2would revive and flourish again all the World over, and particularly in the Church and Kingdom to which we belong. Then the Prayers would be read twice a Day in every Parish, as the Law requires, and all People would heartily joyn together in offering them up to the Almighty Creator of the World. Then all that are of riper Years would, at least every Lord’s-Day, celebrate the Memory of the Death of Christ, by which their Sins are expiated,, and the Most High God reconciled to them, and become their God and Father: And as all sorts of People would thus continually worship God in his own house, so wheresoever they are, they would do all they could to serve and honour him; Whether they eat or drink, or whatsoever they do, they would do all to his glory. And as for their Fellow-servants, they would all love as Brethren, and every one seek another’s good as well as their own: Whatsoever they would that men should do to them, they would do the same to all other Men. In short, all would then deny Ungodliness and worldly Lusts; and live soberly, righteously and godlily in this present world, and so walk Hand in Hand together in the narrow way that leads to 3everlasting Life. This would be the happy state of all Mankind, if they were but well grounded in that Religion which the Eternal Son of God hath planted upon Earth.
But not to speak of other People, we of this Nation rarely find any such effect of this Religion among our selves, though it be as generally professed, and as clearly taught among us, as ever it was in any Nation, there are but few that are ever the better for it; the most being here also as bad both in their Principles, and Practices, as they which live in the darkest Corners of the Earth, where the light of the Gospel never yet shined: Tho’ the Kingdoms in general be Christian, there are many Heathens in it, People that were never Christened many that were once Christened, and are now turned Heathens again, living as without God in the world: Many that would still be thought Christians, and yet have apostatized so far as to lay aside both the Sacraments which Christ ordained, and every thing else that can shew them to be so: Many that privily bring in damnable Heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and so bring upon themselves swift Destruction: Many that follow their pernicious Ways, 4by reason of whom the way of Truth is evil spoken of, and through Covetousness wish feigned works, make merchandise of men,, as St. Peter foretold, 2 Pet. 2. 1, 2, 3. Many who will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts, heap to themselves Teachers, having itching ears, and so fulfil the Prophecy, of St. Paul; 2 Tim. 4. 3. And of those who still continue in the Communion of the Church, and in the outward profession of the true Christian Faith, There are many who although they profess to know God, yet in works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good Work reprobate, Tit. 1. 16. Many, did I say? I wish I could not say almost all: But alas! it is too plain to be denyed.
For, of that vast Company of People that are called Christians in this Kingdom, how few are there that live as becometh the Gospel of Christ? that finish the Work which God hath given them to do, even glorifie him in the World? How many that refuse or neglect to worship and serve him upon his own Day? how few that do it upon any other Day, when they have any thing else to do? How many that never received the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in their whole lives? How few that receive 5it above two or three times in the Year, how often soever they are invited to it? How many are the Proud, the Passionate, the Covetous; the Intemperate, the Incontinent, the Unjust, the Prophane and Impious, in comparison of the Humble and Meek, and Liberal, and Sober, and Modest, and Righteous, and Holy among us? The disproportion is so vastly great, that none but God. himself can make the Comparison: So little of Christianity is now to be found amongst Christians themselves; to our shame be it spoken.
It is indeed smatter of so much Shame as well as Grief, to all that have any regard for the Honour of Christ their Saviour, that they cannot but be very solicitous to know how it comes to pass, that his Doctrine and Precepts are so generally slighted and neglected as they are in our Days? and how they may be observed better for the future than now they are? Both which Questions maybe easily resolved; for we cannot wonder, that of the many which profess the Christian Religion, there are so few that live up to it, when we consider how few are duly instructed in the first Principles of it.6
The Religion which Christ hath revealed to the World, is by his Grace and Blessing settled and established among us, so as to be made the Religion of the Kingdom in general: And therefore all that are Born in it, are, or ought to be, according to his Order or Institution, soon after baptized, and so made his Disciples, or Christians by Profession, And the Church takes Security of those who thus bring a Child to be baptized, that when it comes to be capable of it, it shall be instructed in the Catechism, which she for that purpose hath set forth, containing all the Principles of that Religion into which it was baptized. But notwithstanding this hath been neglected for many Years, whereby it is come to pass that the far greatest part of the People in this Kingdom, know little or nothing of the Religion they profess, but only to profess it as the Religion of the Country where they live; they may perhaps be very zealous for it, as all People are for the Religion in which they are born and bred, but take no care to frame their Lives according to it, because they were never rightly informed about it; or, at least, not soon enough, before Error or Sin hath got possession of them, which one or other 7of them commonly doth before they are aware of it; for they are always as Children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of Doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, Eph. 4. 14. And whatsoever Sin gets dominion over them, there it reigns and domineers in their mortal Bodies, so that they obey it in the Lusts thereof, in spight of all that can be said to them out of God’s own Word; for they are no way edified by any thing they hear, in that the Foundation is not first laid upon which they should build up themselves, in that most holy Faith that is preached to them. The Word they hear is as Seed that falls by the way side, or upon a rock, or else among thorns,, and so never comes to perfection; their Hearts not being prepared before-hand, and rightly disposed for it, by having the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ first infused into them.
This therefore being the great cause of that shameful Decay of the Christian Religion that is so visible among us, we can never expect to see it repaired, unless the great Duty of Catechising be revived, and the Laws that are made about it, be strictly observed all the Kingdom 8over; as most certainly they ought to be, not only as they are the Laws both of the Church and State, under which we live, but likewise for that they are grounded upon the Word of God himself, who expresly commands the same thing by his Apostle, saying, Fathers provoke not your Children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
For here, by nurture, we are to understand, as the Greek Word παιδεία signifies, that Discipline which Parents ought to exercise over their Children, to prevent their falling into, or continuing in any wicked course. And by the Admonition of the Lord, is meant the Catechising, or putting them in mind of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of what he would have them believe and do, that they may be saved. For the Original Word νουθεσία, which we translate Admonition, properly signifies Catechising. (Κατηκίζειν νουθετεῖνHesych.) And therefore to chatechise or instruct Children in the Knowledge of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, is a Duty here laid upon all Parents by Almighty God himself; and all that neglect to educate or bring up their Children in the Admonition of the Lord, by catechising or teaching them 9the Principles of his Religion, they all live in the breach of a plain Law, a Law made by the supreme Law giver of the World, and must accordingly answer for it at the Last-day.
Wherefore all that are sensible of the great Account which they must give of all their Actions, at that time, to the Judge of the whole World, cannot but make as much Conscience of this as of any Duty whatsoever, so as to use the utmost of their Care and Diligence, that their Children may grow in Grace, and in the Knowledge of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and so be wise unto Salvation. Neither is this any hard matter for those to do, who live in the Communion of our Church, having such a Catechism or Summary of the Christian Religion drawn up to their Hands, which is easie both for Parents to teach, and for Children to learn: And yet full and comprehensive, that it contains all things necessary for any Man to know in order to his being saved. As you may clearly see if you do but cast your Eye upon the Method and Contents of it; which may be all reduced to these five Heads, The Baptismal Vow, the Apostles Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Doctrine of the 10Sacraments, ordained by our Lord Christ.
It begins where a Child begins to be a Christian, and therefore hath a Christian Name given him, even at his Baptism, wherein he was made a Member of Christ, a Child of God, and an Inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven: Which great Privileges belong to all that are baptized, and to none else. None else being in the number of Christ’s Disciples; for our Lord Christ, a little before his Ascension into Heaven, left Orders with his Apostles, and in them, with all that should succeed in the Ministry of the Church to the End of the World, to make all Nations his Disciples, by baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as the Original Words plainly import, Mat. 28. 19. And therefore as People of all Nations are capable of being made his Disciples, so none now are, nor ever can be made so any other way, than by being baptized according to his Order. But they who are not thus made his Disciples by being baptized unto him, are not the Members of Christ; and if they be not the Members of Christ, they cannot be the Children of God, nor have any right to the Kingdom of Heaven, that being promised 11onlyto such as believe and are baptized, Mark 16. 16. And our Saviour himself elsewhere also saith, That except a man be born again of water, and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God, John 3. 5. Whereby we may perceive the great Necessity of this Sacrament, where it may be had, as our Church observes in her Office for the Ministration of it, to such as are of riper Years.
It is to be further observed, that when our Saviour ordained Baptism to be the Way or Means of admitting Persons into his Church, or the Congregation of his Disciples, lest we should think, as some have done, that he meant it only of those who are of riper Years, he used the most general Terms that could be invented, requiring that all Nations should be so baptized, and if all Nations, then Children also, which are a great, if not the greatest part of every Nation. And accordingly his Church hath always baptized Children as well as adult Persons: When any who were come to Years of Discretion, were willing and desirous to become Christ’s Disciples, that they might learn of him the Way to Heaven, they were made so by being baptized; and if they had Children, they were also baptized at the same 12time with their Parents And so were the Children which were afterwards born to them; they also were baptized soon after they were born: And that it is our Saviour’s pleasure that Children also should be brought into his Church, appears likewise in that when his Disciples rebuked those who brought Children to him, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little Children, to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven, Mark 10. 14.
But seeing they who are thus baptized according to the Institution of Christ, are thereby made his Disciples, and in him the Children of God, it is necessary they should then promise to believe, and live from that time forward according as he hath commanded; which Promise therefore all that are grown up, always used to make everyone in his own Person, and for that purpose were, and ought to be catechized before hand, and put in mind of what they were to promise when they were baptized; and therefore were called Catechumens. But Children not being capable of making any such Promise themselves, in their own Persons, they were always admitted, and required to do it by their Guardians, that is, 13by their Godfathers and Godmothers, which brought and offer’d them to be baptized; and are therefore obliged to take care that they be afterwards catechised, or instructed in the Principles of that Religion into which they were admitted, and put in mind of the Promise which they then made of framing their Jives according to it.
This Promise therefore which Children make at their Baptism by their Sureties, and which is implied in the very nature of the Sacrament, whether they have any Sureties or no, it consists of Three general Heads.
First, That they will renounce the Devil and all his Works, the Pomps and Vanities of this wicked World, and all the sinful Lusts of the Flesh.
Secondly, That they will believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith.
Thirdly, That they will keep God’s holy Will and Commandments, and walk in the same all the days of their life.
Which Three Things, under which the whole substance of the Christian Religion is contained, being all promised by Children when they are baptized into it, it is absolutely necessary that they be afterwards put in mind so soon as they are capable of the Promise which they 14then made, and of the Obligation which lies upon them to perform it: For otherwise it can never be expected, that they should either do, or so much as know it; whereas the instructing them in this the first Part of the Catechism will prepare and dispose them for the understanding all the rest.
Particularly the Apostles Creed, which is next taught them, containing all those Articles of the Christian faith, which they promised to believe, and nothing else; nothing but what is grounded upon plain Texts of Scripture, and hath been always believed by the whole Catholick Church, in all Ages and Places all the World over: Here are none of those private Opinions and controverted Points which have so long disturbed the Church, and serve only to perplex Mens Minds, and take them off from the more substantial and necessary Duties of Religion, as we have found by woful Experience, which our Church hath taken all possible care to prevent, by inserting no other Articles of Faith into the Chatechism which her Members are to learn, than what are contained in this Creed, received and approved of by the whole Christian World; and then acquainting them what they chiefly learn in it, even 15to believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, in whose Name they were Christened, and therefore must continue in this Faith, or cease to be Christians.
The other thing which they who are baptized promise; is, That they will keep God’s Commandments, which therefore are next taught in the Catechism, without any mixture of Humane Inventions or Constitutions: Those Ten Commandments which the supreme Lawgiver himself proclaimed upon Mount Sinai, and afterwards wrote with his own Finger upon two Tables of Stone. These they all are bound to learn, because they are bound to keep them all, as they will answer it at the Last-day, when all Mankind shall be judged by them.
But no Man can keep these Commandments without God’s special Grace, which we have no ground to expect, without praying to him for it. And therefore Children are in the next place taught how to pray according to that Form which Christ himself composed, and commanded us to say, whensoever we pray, Luke 11. 2. And as he who believes all that is in the Apostles Creed, believes all that he need believe; and that keeps all the Ten Commandments, 16 doth all that he need to do; so he that prays this Prayer aright, prays for all things which he can have need of: So that in this short Catechism, which Children of five Years old may learn, they are taught all that is needful for them, either to believe or do, or pray for.
The last Part of the Catechism, in concerning the two Sacraments which Christ hath ordained in his Church, as generally necessary to Salvation; that is to say, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: Both which our Church hath there explain’d with such extraordinary Prudence and Caution, as to take in all that is necessary to be known of either of them, without touching upon any of the Disputes that have been raised about them, to the great prejudice of the Christian Religion.
Seeing therefore this Catechism is so full, that it contains all that any Man needs to know, and yet so short, that a Child may learn it: I do not see how Parents can bring up their Children in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord, better than by instructing them in it. I do not say, by teaching them only to say it by rote, but by instructing them in it, so that they may understand, 17as soon and as far as they are capable, the true Sense and Meaning of all the Words and Phrases in every Part of it; for which purpose it will be necessary to observe these Rules.
First, You must begin betime, before your Children have got any ill Habits, which may be easily prevented, but are not so easily cured. When Children are baptized, being born again of Water and of the Spirit, as the Guilt of their Original Sin is washed away in the laver of Regeneration, so that it will never be imputed to them, unless it break forth afterwards into actual Transgressions; so they receive also the Spirit of God to prevent all such Eruptions, by enabling them to resist the Temptations of the World, the Flesh and the Devil, to believe and serve God according as they then promised; so far at least, that sin shall not have dominion over them, that they should obey it in the lusts thereof, seeing now they are not under the Law, but under the Grace of Christ, Rom. 6. 12, 14. But that the Seeds of Grace which were then sown in their Hearts, may not be lost, or stifled, butt grow up to perfection. Great care must be taken that they may be taught, so soon as they are capable to discern between 18Good and Evil, to avoid the Evil and do the Good, and to believe and live as they promised, when they were endued with Grace to do it. Hast thou Children? saith the Son of Sirach, Instruct them, and bow down their neck from their youth, Eccles. 7. 23. Give thy Son no Liberty in his youth, and wink not at his Follies. Bow down his neck while he is young, and beat him on the sides while he is a child, lest he wax stubborn and be disobedient unto thee, and so bring sorrow to thine heart, cap. 30. 11, 12. Whereas he that gathereth Instruction from his youth, shall find Wisdom till his old age. c. 6. 18. According to that of the Wise Man: Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it, Prov. 22. 6. As Timothy from a Child had known the holy Scriptures, 2 Tim. 3. 15. And that was the reason that he was so expect in them when he became a Man: Which therefore that your Children may also be, the first thing they learn, must be their Catechism, where they are taught all the great Truths and Duties that are revealed in the Holy Scripture; as necessary to Salvation.
But how can such Parents do this, that cannot read, nor say the Catechism themselves? 19This, I fear, is the case of too many among us: There are many who having not been taught to read when they were young, neglect or think scorn to learn it afterwards, and so lose all the Benefit and Comfort which they might receive by reading of the Holy Scriptures: But this, I confess, is not so necessary, especially in our Church, where the Holy Scriptures are so constantly read in publick; that if People would as constantly come and hearken to them, they might be wise unto Salvation, although they cannot read; as few heretofore could, at least in the Primitive times, when notwithstanding they attained to the Knowledge of God, and of their Duty to him, as well as if they had been the greatest Scholars in the World. But then considering that they could not read, they supplied that Defect by attending more diligently to what they heard out of God’s Holy Word, and laying it up in their Hearts, so that they understood all the Principles of the Christian Religion, and were able to instruct their Children in the same, as well as if they could read. But this is not our case; for now there are many who can neither read, nor so much as say the Catechism, having never 20learned it themselves, and therefore cannot possibly teach it their Children. Such as the Apostle speaks of, who when, for the time, they ought to be Teachers, they have need that one teach them again, which be the first Principles of the Oracles of God, and are became flesh as have need of Milk, and not of strong meat, Heb. 5. 12. And what must such do? They certainly, as they tender their own good, must be doubly diligent in the use of all means that may tend to their Edification and Instruction: And as they desire the good of their Children, they must send them to School, or provide some other Person to teach them; which if the Parents neglect to do, the Godfathers and Godmothers of every Child, should put them in mind of it, and see that the Child be taught so soon as he is able to learn, what a solemn Vow, Promise and Profession he made by them at his Baptism. And that he may know these things the better, they must call upon him to hear Sermons; and chiefly they must provide that he may learn the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments in the vulgar Tongue, and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his Soul’s health, as they are 21contained in the Church Catechism, and then to bring him to the Bishop to be Confirmed by him.
But for that purpose, when Children have been taught the Catechism, they must be sent to the Minister or Curate of the Parish where they live, that he may examin and instruct them in it: Examin whether they can say it, and instruct them so as to make them understand it. For though the Words be all as plain at they can be well made, yet the things signified by those Words, are many of them so high, that it cannot be expected that Children should reach and apprehend them without help: Which therefore they must go to their Minister for, whose Duty and Office it is to acquaint them with the full Sense and Meaning of every Word, what is signified by it, and what ground they have to believe it in God’s Holy Word. But to do this to any purpose, requires more time than is commonly allowed for it its our Days: And that is one great Reason there are so few among us that are built up, as they ought to be, in their most holy Faith. Many refuse or neglect to send their Children to be Catechized at all; and they who send them, send them so little, and for so little a time, that 22it is morally impossible they should be much the better for it: As many have found by Experience; who, although in their Childhood they were taught the Catechism, and could say it readily, yet having not been sufficiently instructed in it, they afterwards forgot it again, and knew no more than as if they had never learnt it. I wish this be not the Case of too many Parents; Wherefore that this great Work may be done effectually, so as to answer its End, as Children should begin as soon as ever they are able to learn the Catechism, and go on by degrees till they can say it perfectly by heart, so when they can do that, they are still to continue to be instructed in it all along, till they understand it all so well, as to be fit to receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which usually may be about 16 or 17 Years of Age, more or less, according to their several Capacities. By this means, as they grow in Years, they would grow also in Grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Pet. 3. 18. This likewise would be a great Encouragement to the Minister to take pains with them, when they are such as can understand what he saith to them, and will continue under his Care and 23Conduct ’till they are settled and grounded in the Faith, and have their Senses exercised to discern between Good and Evil; and so shall be every way qualify’d to serve God, and do their Duty to him in that state of life, to which he shall be pleased afterwards to call them, upon Earth, and then to go to Heaven.
If this could once be brought about throughout the Kingdom, that all Children that are born and bred up in it, were thus fully instructed in the Knowledge of Christ, and of that Religion which he hath revealed to the World, till they are fit for the Holy Communion, and ready to engage in the Affairs of the World, the next Generation would be much better than this, and Christianity would then begin to flourish again, and appear in its native Beauty and Lustre. And verily, whatsoever some may think, such especially as were never catechized themselves, this is as great and necessary a Duty as any that is required in all the Bible. For God himself by his Apostle, expresly commands all Parents to bring up their Children in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord; that is, as I have shewed, to catechize or instruct them in the Principles of the Doctrine of our Lord Christ. And therefore they 24who do it not, live in the breach of a known Law, yea, of many Laws. There being many Places in God’s Holy Word, where the same thing is commanded in other Terms by Almighty God himself, saying, These Words which I command thee this Day, shall be in thy Heart, and thou shalt teach then diligently thy Children, Deut. 6. 7. And again, Therefore shall ye lay up these Words in your Heart, and in your Soul, and bind them for a Sign upon your Hand, that they may be as Frontlets between your Eyes, and ye shall teach them your Children, ch. 11. 18, 19. So also ch. 4. 10. This is that which he commands also by the wise Man, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it, Prov. 22. 6. The Word in the Original which we translate, train up, signifies also to dedicate or devote a Child to the service of God, by instructing him how to do it, and exercising him continually in it; and therefore in the Margin of our Bibles, it is translated Catechize a Child: So that we have here both the Necessity and Usefulness of this Duty: The Necessity, in that it is commanded to train up, or catechize a Child in the Ways of God: And the Usefulness, in that what a Child 25is thus taught, will remain with him all his Life long.
Seeing therefore that God hath laid so strict a Command upon all Parents; to bring up their Children in the Knowledge of himself, and of their Duty to him, they can expect no other, but that he should take particular notice whether they do it or not; and reward or punish them accordingly. As we see in Abraham, what a special Kindness had God for him upon this account? Shall I hide from him, said the Lord, that thing which I do? Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty Nation, and all the Nations upon Earth shall be blessed in him. But why had he such an extraordinary Favour for Abraham above all other Men? God himself gives us the Reason of it, saying: For I know that he will command his Children and his Household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, Gen. 18. 19. This was the Reason that Abraham was so much in his favour, that he was called the Friend of God, Jam 2. 23.
And how much God is displeased with Parents neglecting to bring up their Children in his true Faith and Fear, and suffering them to grow up and go on in 26a course of Vice and Prophaneness, appears sufficiently from that severe Judgment which he inflicted upon Eli and his whole House for it, saying to Samuel, For I have told him, even Eli, that I will judge his House for ever, for the Iniquity which he knoweth, because his Sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore I have sworn to the House of Eli, That the Iniquity of Eli’s House shall not be purged with Sacrifice nor Offering for ever, 1 Sa. 3. 13, 14. The Execution or which dreadful Judgment is left upon Record in the Holy Scriptures, as a standing Monument and Caution to all Parents, to take heed how they educate their Children.
Be sure the Saints of God in all Ages have taken as much care to bring up their Children well, as to live well themselves; making as much Conscience of this, as of any Duty whatsoever which they owe to God: That the Children which he hath given them, may answer his End in giving them; that they may not be insignificant Cyphers in the World, or as fruitless Trees that serve only to cumber the ground, but that they may serve and glorify God whilst they are upon Earth, so as to be meet to be Partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light.27
And verily all Parents would make this their continual care and study, if they minded either their own or their Childrens good, Many complain, not without cause, that their Children are Disobedient and Undutiful to them; but the cause is chiefly in themselves. When they have neglected their Duty to their Children, how can they expect their Children should perform their Duty to them? They were never taught it, how then can they do it? If therefore they prove stubborn and obstinate, if they give themselves up to all manner of Vice and Wickedness, if instead of a Comfort they be a Grief and Trouble to their Parents, their Parents must blame themselves for it: And when they come to reflect upon it, their Sin in neglecting their Duty to God and their Children in their Education, will be a greater trouble to them, than any their Children can give them. Whereas when Parents bring up their Children in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord, if their Children notwithstanding happen to miscarry afterwards, they have this to comfort them, that they did their Duty, and have nothing to answer for upon that account.
But what a mighty Advantage would it be to the Children themselves, to be 28thus continually put in mind of their Baptismal Vow, the Articles of our Faith, the Duties of Religion, and what else is contained in the Catechism, from their Childhood all along till they come to be Men or Women? Their Minds would be then filled with such Divine Truths, and with so great a sense of their Duty, that there would be no room left for Heresy or Sin to enter, at least not so as to get possession, and exercise any dominion there. The first Impressions that are made upon us, are not soon worn out; but usually remain as long as we live. As the Wise Man observes, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it, Prov. 22. 6. When one hath been all along from his Childhood brought up in the Knowledge of God and his holy Will, it will stick by him so as to be a constant check upon him, to keep him within the compass of his Duty in all ordinary cases; and if any thing extraordinary happen to draw him aside it will make him restless and uneasy, till he hath recovered himself, and got into the right way again; and so it will either keep him Innocent, or make him penitent. In short, by the Blessing of God attending, as it usually doth, this great Duty, when it is conscienciously 29 performed, this is the best means that Parents can use, whereby to breed up their Children for Heaven, to make them Fellow-Citizens with the Saints, and of the Houshold of God, both in this World, and for ever.
Wherefore, If we have any regard either to our own, or to our Childrens Eternal Welfare, let us set upon this Duty in good earnest; let us bring up our Children so long in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord, till they fully know him, and all that he would have them believe and do, that they may be saved: but we must be sure to teach them by our Example as well as Instructions; we must not tell them one thing and do another our selves; but shew them how to keep the Faith and the Laws of God, by keeping them our selves before their Eyes, all the while we live together upon Earth: That when we are all got, one after another, out of this troublesome and naughty World, we and our Children may at last meet together in Heaven, and there praise and glorify Almighty God, we for them, and they for us, and all for his Grace and Truth in Jesus Christ our Lord.30
After this general Instruction in the Principles of our Holy Religion, it will be necessary, as soon as our young Christian is capable of it, to inform him more particularly in the Nature of God, and the great Mystery of the Trinity, into which we are all Baptiz’d which therefore shall be my next Subject.31
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