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465

To my Loving Neighbours and Christian Friends.

Brethren,

My heart’s desire and request unto God for you is, that you may be saved. I say the truth in Christ also, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness, and continual sorrow in my heart, for them amongst you who, as yet, walk disorderly, and not as beseemeth the Gospel, little labouring to acquaint themselves with the mystery of godliness; for many walk, of whom I have told you often weeping, and now tell you again with sorrow, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things.

You know, brethren, how I have been amongst you, and in what manner, for these few years past, and how I have kept back nothing (to the utmost of the dispensation to me committed) that was profitable unto you; but have showed you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to all repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, with what sincerity this hath been by me performed, with what issue and success by you received, God the righteous Judge will one day declare; for before him must both you and I appear, to give an account of the dispensation of the glorious Gospel amongst us; — in the meanwhile, the desire of my heart is, to be servant to the least of you in the work of the Lord; and that in any way which I can concede profitable unto you, — either in your persons or your families.

Now, amongst my endeavours in this kind, after the ordinance of public preaching the Word, there is not, I conceive, any more needful (as all will grant that know the estate of this place, how taught of late days, how full of grossly ignorant persons) than catechising; which hath caused me to set aside some hours for the compiling of these following, which also I have procured to be printed, merely because the least part of the parish are able to read it in writing; — my intention in them being, principally, to hold out those necessary truths wherein you have been in my preaching more fully instructed. As they are, the use of them I shall briefly present unto you:—

1. The Lesser Catechism may be so learned of the younger sort, that they may be ready to answer to every question thereof.

2. The Greater will call to mind much of what hath been taught you in public, especially concerning the Person and Offices of Jesus Christ.

3. Out of that you may have help to instruct your families in the Lesser, being 466so framed, for the most part, that a chapter of the one is spent in unfolding a question of the other.

4. The texts of Scripture quoted are diligently to be sought out and pondered, that you may know indeed whether these things are so.

5. In reading the Word, you may have light into the meaning of many places, by considering what they are produced to confirm.

6. I have been sparing in the doctrine of the Sacraments, because I have already been so frequent in examinations about them.

7. The handling of moral duties I have wholly omitted, because, by God’s assistance, I intend for you a brief explication of the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, with some articles of the Creed, not unfolded in these, by themselves, by the way of question and answer.

Now, in all this, as the pains hath been mine, so I pray that the benefit may be yours, and the praise His, to whom alone any good that is in this or any thing else is to be ascribed. Now, the God of heaven continue that peace, love, and amity, amongst ourselves, which hitherto hath been unshaken, in these divided times, and grant that the sceptre and kingdom of his Son may be gloriously advanced in your hearts, that the things which concern your peace may not be hidden from your eyes in this your day; which is the daily prayer of

Your servant in the work of the Lord,

J. O.

From my Study,
September the last,
[1645].

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