Imatges de pàgina
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AN EPISTLE

TO THE

READER.

THAT Popish axiam is. long since exploded, that ignorance is the mother of devotion. The world doth now fee, that without knowledge the mind is not good. And lock, as no knowledge is 6 necesary, as that of the grounds and principles of the Christian religion ; fo no way is so apt to convey it to the minds of men, as that which is called catechistical. More knowledge is ordinaily diffufed, especially among the ignorant and younger fort, by me hour's catechistical exercise, than by many hours continued discourses. This way helps the understanding, while it provokes the attention ; many elaborate fermons being loft, through the inadvertency of the bearers. Thus not only ignorance is cur?d, but errar also is prevented; too many being misguided, because they were not at first well grounded in the principles of the doctrine of Christ. For fuch reasons as these, we highly approve the labors of this reverend brother, in his Explanation of the Afsembly's Shorter Catechism. And having, ta our great fatisfaction, perused it our felves, in whole or in part, do readily recommend it unto others : for though he composed it at first for his own particular congregation, yet we judge it may be greatly useful to all Christians in general, especially to private families. The indmer of using it in families, must be left to the discretion of the masters and governor's respectively : though yet we concur wiih the author, and think it advisable (as he hints in one of bis epiftles) that, after a question in the catechism is propounded, and an anfwer without book returned by one of the family, the fame person, or some other, be called upon to read (if not to rebearse) the explanation of it, the rest reading along with him in fveral books ; by which means, their thoughts (which are apt to wander) will be the more intent upon what they are about)

To conclude, though the Assembly's Shorter Catechism itself to:
above our recommendation, as having its praises already in the
churches of Christ ; yet we think it good to give it under exr
hands that this Explanation of it is very worthy of acceptation.
7. Owen, D. D. T. Manton, D, D T. Jacomb, D.D.
Joseph Caryl Will. Fenky T. Cafe
G. Griffith C. Fowler

T. Watson
Hen. Stubs
T. Lye

T. Doolittle
Edm. Calanıy
T. Cawton

Fam. Innes
Matt. Barker T. Brooks:

70. Wells John Loder Ben. Needler Rich. Mayo. Fohn Ruyther Dan. Bull

John Hicks Nic. Blaikie Cha. Morton Edw. Veal James Janeway Will. Carsake Edw. Weft H. Vaughan Robert Franklin Edw. Lawrence Will. Maddocks Matt. Sylvester 70. Chester Fohn Turner Nath. Vincent Fan. Sharp Wil. Thompson

To the Masters and Governors of Families belonging to

my Congregation. SOME dedicate their books unto lords ard ladies, or other great perfonis ; such possibly I might find out, had I a mind to feek : but as my love is most endeared unto you, to whoin I ftand so nearly related ; ßo my.greatest ambition is to be ferviceable unta your souls. You cordial and constant love to me and my labors (in a whiffling age) of which you have given many manifcf proofs, deserveth a greater expression of my grateful fenfe, that the dedication of this book unto you. God, by bringing you under any ministry, hath given me the charge of your souls ; and Gods by bringing persons into your families, hath given you a charge of their souls. Our charge is great, and to be guilty of the ruin of fouls, is dreadful. Happy Fall we be if we be found faithful to our own and others' souls, in the great day of accounts. Too many, even in our nation and city, perish and run blindfold into hell, for want of knowledge ; and the most are without know

edge, for want of instruction. And as no way of instruction doth convey clearer light of distinct knowledge in the principles of religion, than the way of catechising ; f the neglect of this in ministers and masters of families, is fruch a fin of unfaithfulness unto the souls of them that are under their charge, thut all of us should take heed we have it not to answer for at the appeardnce of our Lord. It is not fufficient for you to bring jour'

children and servants to receive public instruction ; but it is your !: duty also to instruct them privately, and at home to examine

them in their catechisins. I know no catechisin inore full of light, and found doctrine, than the Shorter Catechism of the late reverend Assembly; which, because in many answers, there are thing's not easy to be understood by beginners, therefore, in this niy Explanation of it, I have taken pains to take abroad every an. fwer, to open it in several under questions and answers, and to confirm the truths thereof by reasons and fcripture proofs ; which I have endeavored to do as plainly and familiarly as I could, that every thing therein inight be the more intelligible and useful unto such as either learn or read it. Some chief controversies in religion I have touched upon, briefly propounding arguments for the backing of the truth, and not left objections wholly unanfwered ; which I have the rather done, that all of yoil, cfpecially the more unexperienced young ones under you, might get fome armor against every where prevailing error. You know, that some have committed the whole of the Explanation, so far as we have gone, unto memory ; how beneficial they have found this, others beside thenifelves can speak : yet all have not that strength of memory, neither would I impose this Explanation to be learned without book by all : yet this I advise, that you, who are masters of families, would set apart time, twice, or at leasi orice every week, to examine your children and servants in the Asembly's Catechism ; taking Mr. Lye's excellent method in the way of asking questions, whom God hath made lirigularly useful in the diffusing much light among young ones. And after they have given you the answers without book, which are in the Catechifin, that then yourselves would read, or cause one of them to read, fome part of this explanation on those answers, fo far as you can well go at a time. And if each of them that can read, should, both in your families, and in our public assembly, hace

one of these Explanations in their hands, to read along with - them that read, or publicly answer, they would the better retend

A m

and understand what is read or answered, which course, I
apprehend, will exceedingly tend to their great profit ; and tha!
such as do this with diligence, will (through God's blessing) at.
tain in a short time, viuch proficiency in the best knowledge, which
is such a jewel, that none, niethinks, should be contentedly with.
out, when with lefs labor than for other jewels of inferior value,
it may be obtained. This Explanatory Catechisme was chiefly (if
not only) intended for you, and the use of such as are of my como
gregation ; which, if it may find acceptation also with, and prove
beneficial untó other families, I fall rejoice. The more gener.
ally useful my poor endeavors are, as it will tend so much the
more to the glory of my great master, so it will yield to myself
the greatest comfort, especially in a dying hour. I mall take
my leave of you, though I be not departed from you, with the
departing exhortation of the apostle ; Alts xx. 32. And now,
brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of
his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you
an inheritance among all them which are fanctified.
Your carnest fouls' well-wisher,

T. VINCENT

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AN..

EXPLANATION

OF THE

SHORTER CATECHISM.

1. Ques. W HAT is the chief end of man?

Anf. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Q. 1. What is meant by the chief end of mari ?

A. The chief end of man, is that which man ought chiefly to aim at, or design, to defire, to feek after, and endeavor to obtain, as his chief good and happiness ; unto which his life and his actions should be referred and directed: which is the glorifying of God, and the enjoyment of God forever.

Q. 2. May men have no other chief end than the glorifying and enjoying of God?

A. Men ought to have no other chief end than the glorifying of God: but they may have subordinate ends; For, 1. Men ought to be diligent in their particular call. ings, for this end, that they may provide for themselves and their families. Theff. iv. 11, 12. • Do your own business, and work with your own hands, that ye may have lack of nothing.' 2. Men may eat and drink, and sleep, for this end, that they may nourish and refresh their bodies. It is lawfulto design, and desire, and seek such things as these in fuch actions, subordinately, or less principally ; but in these and all actions, men ought principally and chiefly to design and seek the glory of God. 1 Cor x. 31. • Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.' 3. Men may moderately defire and endeavor after the enjoyment of such a portion of the good things of the world, as are needful and usetul; but they ought to make choice of God for their chief

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