AN EXHORTATION TO Catechizing: The long neglect whereof is sadly la­mented. And the speedy reviving as earnestly desired.

BY The PROVINCIAL Assembly at LONDON. August 30. 1655.

LONDON, Printed by T. R. and E. M. for Samuel Gellibrand at the signe of the BALL in Pauls Church-yard. 1655.


ALthough the confessed corruption of our own hearts, and unobserved cunning of Satan, have unhappily held us, too long a time, at too great a distance; so that we have not been so forward, as we ought, to contribute our mutual counsels, to the better advancing of the common good: yet can we not allow ourselves to suspect, that any of our dear Brethren, (who (blessed be God) do fully accord with us, in all the fundamentals of our holy Religion, though of different perswasions in some smaller points), will be backward to entertain that seasonable, yea, necessary motion, which we shall here, in the fear of the Lord, humbly present to them.

What desperate defections many have lately made, from that precious faith, which was once delivered to the Saints; and what insolent invasions have been made upon it, by loose tongues, and lewder pens, we must needs all clearly see, and should as sadly lament.

How blasphemously have some disputed against the infi­nite merit, yea, and Deity of our Saviour, as if they intended[Page 4]to justifie the Jewes, in sentencing him to the Crosse, for a­vouching himself the coeternal and coequal Sonne of God? How audaciously have they proceeded in the like sacrilegious attempts against the Holy Ghost, and while they have pre­sumed to crie up all sanctified men as so many Gods, not fear­ed to cry down the blessed Author of all our sanctification, as if he were at most but an Angel? Bid. Cat. How wildly have they risen up, in the profane pride of their haughty wits, against most of the glorious attributes of the Deity, reckoning the unquestionable Doctrines, of Gods Omniscience, Omnipre­sence, Immutability, with the rest of his blessed excellencies, among the absurd dreams of Transubstantiation, Consubstan­tiation, and the like novel and ridiculous Paradoxes? Thus pretending to make their disciples meere Christians, they have taken a faire course, to leave them meere Atheists.

Having laid these cursed foundations, it is not to be won­dered, that they raise an answerable structure of wretched fancies, about the purity of mans nature, and the sufficiency of his power to save himself, without being too much behold­en to those poor means, which the simplicity of our preach­ing, belike in too nice a conformity to the foolishnesse of God hath been wont to prescribe.

Hence they have taken the boldnesse to decrie the Scri­ptures, as some what too dim, especially in comparison of their more glorious new lights; to despise the Sacraments, as if they were as beggerly elements as the Jewish ceremonies; to deride the sing [...]ng of Psalmes, as if Davids Harp were now out of tune; to reject Prayer, as if they had attained to so plentiful a measure of spiritual riches, that it were a shame for them to crave any further supplies. And then alas (think they) what should they viainly lose a seventh part of the year in the superstitious observation of a weekly Sabbath, whereas their whole life is but one continued holy day? What should they defile themselves with the infectious aire of our corrupt Churches, where we never assemble, without constant confessions, of too many iniquities in our holy things? Short­ly, what should they busie themselves too much in preparing themselves for Heaven? We must know they are there alrea­dy; [Page 5]nor can they acknowledge any other Heaven, besides that in their own bosomes. What should they be too fearful of the torments of Hell, wherewith w [...] are wont to terrifi [...] worldlings from sin? These men have discovered, upon a profounder search, that eternal death is but a totall annihilati­on, and so Hell is just nothing. Bid. Cat. And for the souls of the wic­ked, though it should prove true, that they shall not be utter­ly annihilated, R. O. yet they are satisfied they shall sleep so sound­ly after their dissolution, that they shall not be at all sensible of their happinesse, or misery.

Thus is there scarce any one Article of the Christian Re­ligion, yea, or that Systeme of Divinity, which may be easily framed out of the scattered notions of humane reason, as mi­serably as we acknowledge it to be corrupted, which hath not received many a sore blow, and that from the hands of those, whose hearts did ere whiles seem ready to expose their heads, to the greatest hazards, for the least tittle of sacred truth.

We have the charity to think, that most of the oppositi­ons, which have beene so unhappily raised against the truths of God, though they be now attended with too much malice, yet did at first spring meerely from ignorance. Had the truth beene rightly understood, it had not beene so unworthily under­valued, much lesse so treacherously undermined, and least of all so impudently affronted, as woe is us we behold it, both to our grief, and horror.

We are not unwilling to charge our selves, as so farre ac­cessary to all those Barbarous Heresies which are daily broached, and cursed Blasphemies which are as frequently belched out, against the Majesty, and truth of our holy God, that we have beene lesse solicitous then we ought, for the due seasoning of the hearts of our people, with the first principles (which are indeed the most momentous points) of Christian Religion. A timely salting, would by the blessing of God, have happily prevented most of that unsavourinesse, in the discourses, and practises, of too too many of them, which, (God be merciful to us) it is impossible not to resent, and it is as difficult to remedy. Had there beene more Catechizing, [Page 6]there would have beene lesse Apostasie. Had it not beene for want of seasonable instructions, we had not seene so many li­centious insurrections, against the sacred truths, and Ordinan­ces of God.

It is the rare priviledge of the Romish Synagogue, to have such a power over ignorance, as to command her to imploy her self as a tender nurse to their blinde devotions; But the Church of Christ hath ever found her such a froward piece, as that she hath churlishly handled all the genuine issues of truth and piety, and as fondly cockered all the mishapen Mon­sters of Error, though never so strangely composed, of an He­terogeneous commixture, of superstition and prophanenesse. We cannot prevaile with our selves, to nourish the least hope of ever being so happy, as to see Ignorance become serviceable to true Piety. We know the affections, cannot out-go the ap­prehensions; that till Truth be knowne, she cannot be reveren­ced, cannot but be hated. The Principles of Christianity have nothing in them, that can at first glance, take with the preju­diced hearts of natural men; and yet they secretly carry an in­comparable beauty, which is no sooner discovered, then admi­red and adored by all those, whose eyes God is pleased to open to a clear inspection, and whose hearts he vouchsafes to draw to a nearer embracing of them. They who have the happi­nesse to be rightly informed in these sacred Principles, readily acknowledge that the choicest treasures of wisdom, are cu­riously wrapt up, under the mysterious covert of a seeming foolishnesse; and that what appeared but a worthlesse shell, se­cretly incloseth the invaluable Pearle. The shell being skil­fully opened, the Pearle forthwith displaies it self with an ori­ent lustre. To open the shell is the Catechists task.

The more do we wonder, and the lesse can we beleeve, what hath been somtimes suggested, that any of our Brethren of the Ministery should superciliously overlook this Exercise of Ca­techizing, as below the dignity of their station, and accord­ingly put it off as a meaner chare, to the parents and gover­nours of private families.

We heartily rejoyce to hear, of any good hands that are pleased to employ themselves in so profitable a service; and[Page 7]could earnestly wish, that all those to whom the providence of God hath committed the care of young ones, would reck­on it a chief part of that honourable duty, which they owe to their children and servants. But withall we professe, that those privater preparations, should rather be encouragements to the brethren of the Ministery, the more chearfully to pursue, then dispensations in any wise to omit the necessary exercise of publike Catechizing. They who have been taught at home, will the better learne in the Church; and having first gotten somewhat of their lesson by rote, be the more qualified to receive the reason of it. They are mistaken who think the Ministers Catechizing, is but an examining of the memory; it is an inform­ing of the understanding; and of all others the most Doctor­like part of his work. If there have beene any heretofore, who have gravely required the Catechists, to aske certaine questions, and as solemnely forbidden them to expound the an­swers, we do suppose such injunctions were laid, only on some of their Curates, of whom their wisdome saw good cause to be jealous, how it adventured to allow them to speak with­out book.

But certainly Catechizing is a familiar kinde of preaching extempore, not to be performed without a clear insight into the greatest depths of Religion, and a proportionable gift of ready expression.

What is there that requires more Theological abilities, then a perspicuous explication of those dark mysteries of the righteousnesse of God, in charging the sinne of Adam on the whole world, and laying the sinne of the whole world on Jesus Christ of the Hypostatical union of two natures in one person of Christ, of the communication of all the properties of each na­ture to the person, the limitation of all the attributes of the per­son to the several natures, of the offices which Christ exerciseth in his Church, the relations which all the members of the Church have to Christ, and one to another; of the subserviency of the law to the Gospel, of Christs abrogating some parts of the law, so as to establish all? It had need be a very skilful hand, that shall lead lambs both with safety, and not without an holy de­light, through those profound depths, wherein so many[Page 8] Elephants have most miserably miscarried.

The consideration hereof doth little lesse then amaze us, when we observe how some of our people, (in whom (be it spoken without offence) we never discerned any extra­ordinary measure of spiritual knowledge, beyond the com­mon size of their neighbours attainments,) do overly reject this exercise of Catechizing, and hold it unworthy of such wise ones as themselves, to vouchsafe their presence at it. We had thought the strongest men among us needed not have disdained to taste some few spoonfuls of milk. We are sure that that which they please to slight as but milk, costs us more the dressing then any other provisions wherewith they can expect to be entertained. The lowest principles of Chri­stianity, are the highest mysteries. Those are the greatest stones which are laid in the foundation. These are they which support all the rest of the building. These are they which bear the greatest brunt of opposition. What controversies e­ver troubled the Church of God, like those about the corner stone? The conclusions of our Religion are for the more part beyond contradiction, all the greatest quarrels have been a­gainst our principles. Witnesse in elder times the heresie of Arius, which struck so audaciously at the Deity of Christ; that of Macedonius, which dealt as full a blow at the Deity of the holy Ghost; and in our dayes that of the Socinians who have assayed to knock down at once all the received Articles of the Catholick faith, and to set up most of the stigmatized heresies in their room. Hereof we have too full evidence in the Racovian Catechisme, not long since Englished, and more lately enlarged, by Master Biddle; Such mens pub­lishing their Catechismes for the propagation of their Blas­phemies, minds us of the true use of Orthodox Catechizing, for the suppressing and preventing of them.

And we seeme to have just cause to conceive the higher thoughts of its usefulnesse to this purpose, when we sadly re­flect on the many difficulties whereof we have had hereto­fore too frequent experience, and have now as jealous ex­pectations. We have all along observed that the better any practise is, the worse reception it doth usually finde. The[Page 9] general aversnesse of young ones from this exercise of Cate­chizing, is not the least argument of its singular usefulnesse. The more unwilling they are to present themselves to be catechised, the more reason have we to presse them to it, by the greatest violence of perswasion.

We would not seeme to feare, that any of them will have the face to tell us, of a tedious longsomenesse whereunto the addition of catechizing will draw out the exercises in the Church. For besides that the pleasing variety will sweetly detract from the sense of prolixity, we hope they are not to learne, that the Lords day would be wholly spent in the Lords service; and that every moment of it is more precious, then to be idly squandered away in such vaine triflings, as wherein too many are wont to mispend it. And as for some neces­sary employments, which may chance to be alleaged as ex­ceptions against this exercise, it may suffice to say, that com­ing to the Church a litle sooner in the morning, will so suffici­ently lengthen out the afternoon, as that it will convenient­ly enough afford a competent time for it in the shortest dayes. Nor will any of the other services complaine of being wronged, in being now and then drawn somewhat closer to­gether, for the opening a place to Catechizing, considering how exceeding much it is like to deserve of them all.

For other things, we shall all readily give them, whatever assurance they can reasonably desire, that we will have a tender eye to the slownesse of apprehension in some of them, to the slipperinesse of memory in others, to the bashfulnesse of most, to the reputation of all of them; that we shall op­portunely prevent their grosser mistakes, and candidly palliate their lesser ones. That we shall give the best sense to the worst of their answers, and put some necessary words into their mouths, the better to facilitate the expression of their thoughts; that we shall carefully manage every part of this businesse, with the best of our wisdome, and endeavour to credit them, as well as to instruct them; and to procure them both the more esteeme in the Church, and favour when they come home.

And if any of them shall yet chance to look upon it as [Page 10]some indignity to them, to sit under the Deske, when some of their fellowes advance themselves to stand in the Pulpit, we doubt not but to convince them, that all intelligent men account such forwardnesse, not a specimen of more know­ledge, but lesse modesty, then their years seeme to bespeak. A­las, it is only their ignorance that oiles their tongues: had they but had the patience to have beene duly Catechized, they had not had the presumption to preach, or rather, prate so imper­tinently. Their want of learning is the principal faculty that qualifies them for such exercises. Had they beene swifter to hear, they would have beene slower to speak.

We are so sufficiently acquainted with the untractable temper of such impetuous spiritati, that we begin to excuse their parents and masters, that they forbear to interpose their interest and authority for the further restraining them. What hope is there that they who pretend God doth imme­diately Commission them to preach, will yeeld obedience to any mortal man that shall command them to be silent? But we must needs say we extremely marvel, how it comes to passe, that any parents and masters (albeit they hereupon neglect to forbid these bold yonkers to preach, yet) should pretend a secret check in their consciences, and make a piti­full doubt whether they may require them to learne. We wonder how they have beene so strangely inveigled, as to tolerate all things by scrupling them; and to let the reines loose purely out of strictnesse; to think it a sinne in them­selves to presse a duty on others, and a breach of Gods holy Lawes to enjoyne the keeping of them; how it comes about that they who can allow themselves to be severe enough to their servants for loytering in their shops, cannot finde it in their hearts to rebuke them for neglect of the Church; that they who hold themselves bound in conscience, to informe their servants in all the secrets of their trade, should think themselves as much tied up, from pressing them to learne the mysteries of Religion.

We shall say but this, that we see too much cause to fear, lest they who use not all the means they can, to bring their children and servants to the Faith, be themselves brought[Page 11]at last to an unprofitable repentance. Sure we are, they who have not learned their duty to God, will never rightly per­forme their dutie to men. We wish that sawey behaviour, and lame accounts, be not too sad proofs of this unhappie truth. We take it to be so necessary that all Parents and Masters bring their young ones to be Catechized, that we think it needlesse to presse it any further.

Only we are sorry to consider, that some who professe themselves convinced of the usefulnesse of Catechizing, are at a stand about those Catechismes which we would commend to their use; we meane those excellent ones, which were not long since composed by the Reverend Divines assem­bled at Westminster, attested by the Church of Scotland, recommended to this Nation by the High Court of Parlia­ment.

If we be not too much mistaken, the larger Catechisme is as compleat a body of positive Divinity, as any we know ex­tant this day; and we beleeve that whosoever shall peruse it with a judicious, and unprejudiced eye, will easily observe the singular skill of those eminent workmen, who so accurate­ly folded so much variety of choice matter in so few plaine words, so artificially digested the questions, so irrefra­gably confirmed every branch of the answers, by so many clear proofs of Scripture, all along quoted in the margent. We professe to look on that larger Catechisme, as an excel­lent card, not only for vulgar Christians, but all younger Di­vines to steere the course of their studies.

Nor yet do we think higher, then some most Reverend men have beene pleased to speak of it, and they such, as by rea­son of their interest in the Episcopal cause, were not like to overvalue any labour of the Assemblies, beyond the just rate of its apparant desert.

The truth is, we judge that larger Catechisme to be an useful Comment for our selves to have recourse to, in the ex­plication of the lesser, which we esteeme better tempered to the capacities, and memories of younger people. And this testimony we may freely give to this lesser Catechisme, that it hath this considerable excellency, above all those we have [Page 12]seene, that every answer is an intire proposition without rela­tion to the question preceding.

In short, we humbly blesse God, for so great a help, as he hath graciously afforded these Churches in this little piece; and we as heartily blush to think of our own un [...]xcusable neg­lect, of so precious a means, for the instruction of our people.

And yet too, though we most passionately wish, that all our Brethren would unanimously concurre in the joynt use of one and the same, and that the Assemblies Catechisme; yet shall we abundantly rejoyce, to see them perswaded, to use any other Orthodox Catechisme, which they in their wisdom, shall judge better calculated, to the condition of their peo­ple. We see indeed too much cause, and so we doubt not, do all our Brethren, to abhorre the Racovian and Biddles Cate­chisme; but for all those which have beene ordinary amongst us (however it hath pleased some body, in a sullen gravity to put them to rebuke,yet) Red. Red. P. 555. we professe to receive them with reverence, and could readily comply with our Brethren in the use of any one of them. So that the younger people may be taught to know who made them, and why be made them, how good and happy man was made by God, how evill and wretched he hath made himself, what need he had that the Lord Jesus should die for him, that the Holy Ghost should re­generate him, what priviledges he doth enjoy, and may expect by Christ, what duties he is obliged to by those priviledges, how he is to present his petitions to God, how to receive the seales of Gods gracious Covenant, with other particulars of like nature, we shall think them singularly happy, what ever be the forme wherein they shall learne them. We shall not too morosely stand upon circumstantial differences, where there is a fair accord in material principles.

But our hearts even bleed, to consider, how many preci­ous souls, are in daily danger of perishing eternally, for want of meet instruction in these necessary points. Woe is us! while we have too supinely neglected the seasonable sowing of better seed, how wickedly diligent hath the envi­ous man beene in scattering his tares? We estimate his ex­cessive[Page 13]paines in sowing, by the cursed plenty of his harvest. Not to take notice of lesser weeds, though such as have all but too much poison in them, how do we see Popery, Liber­tinisme, Socinianisme, Ranting, Quaking, spreading them­selves so widely, as if they meant to overgrow the whole face of the Nation, and scarce leave roome to the true Re­ligion to put forth its head among them? How often do we see several Sects in the same family, and many a subdivi­sion in each Sect? How do we see sundry perverse doctrines as perniciously practised, that which some please to call Religion (quite contrary to the nature of what is such in­deed) sacrilegiously breaking all the bonds of society, and yokes of government, which are the only securers of true liberty? We pray God the State do not one day feele, what it is to let all loose in the Church: sure we are that too many ma­sters of private families, are already faine to sit down un­der the unsufferable losse, of a considerable parcel of their authority; and well were it for them, if they mist it but one day in seven: We do not despaire, but they will at last grow so wise, as to see how much of their own interest, is invol­ved in the cause of God; and that it is an apparant disad­vantage to their secular affaires, to neglect the spiritual instruction of their children and servants. But for our Re­verend and deare Brethren of the Ministery, we cannot easily admit the least doubt that they are not fully convinced of an especial duty they owe to God, who hath honoured them to set them as Stewards in his house, to give every one his proper portion in due season: and of all others young ones would be most carefully provided for; to the truth, whereof God hath appointed them to take a peculiar care, as the most preci­ous treasure in his house; to the soules of their hearers, who are not capable of being saved without the knowledge of the truth; to the soules of young men especially, who if they be not taught the truth in their greener yeares, will more dif­ficultly learne it when they are growne elder, and the more ripe the more rotten; to themselves, who owe a just ac­count for every particular soule committed to their charge. They know how great a price the least soule hath cost, that[Page 14]the weakest lamb stood Christ no lesse then the strongest sheep, how rich a prey Satan hath ever reckon'd on in the poorest soul; how industrious he is in hunting, how many nimble beagles he hath that rejoyce to do their best in the worst ser­vice he lists to imploy them; how great advantages they have at this time by the many sad breaches in all our hedges; how little we can answer it, that so many breaches have been made, while we so speciously pretended, and so­lemnly vowed to repaire them; how heavy censures are day­ly cast on our sincerest endeavours of a pure Reformation, as if they aimed only at ruining. We have good hopes that all who unfeignedly love God and his truth, will in the serious consideration of these particulars, and many more, which their owne wisdome will readily prompt them, immediately lay aside whatever pretences, and con­scientiously joyne with us, in a speedy reviving of that most necessary, though neglected exercise of Catechizing; which seemes of all others the most probable meanes, both for the timely baying back of that fearful inundation of pestilent Heresies, which hath too farre broken in upon us, and for the better preventing of those mischievous effects, which they daily threaten.

We cannot entertaine the least surmise, of any of our Reverend Brethren, that they will look on this Work, as too troublesome an addition to their other labours, on the Lords day. We are confident they rejoyce, to spend them­selves in the service of God and his Church; and reckon not on the consuming of their oile, while they may lend their light; yea, that they feele no greater burden, then the heavinesse of their people in hearing.

Besides, we easily foresee, how much their Catechizing will seasonably conduce, to a just vindication of the honour of their Doctrine, from those absurd reproaches, with which some slanderous Pamphleters endeavour to blast it, impu­dently saying any thing, and proving nothing; yea, say­ing nothing, but what hath beene as often answered, as ob­jected.

We doubt not but that modell of Divinity which is com­monly [Page 15]taught in our Churches, hath a faire conformity to the patterne in the Mount. We are sure its aime is to ad­vance, the glory of Gods grace, to staine the pride of mans nature; to make the Saints walke much the more comfort­ably, nothing the lesse carefully; to damme up that cursed fountaine of self-conceit, whence daily issue so many im­pure streames, not to open a sluce to any of those hor­rible abominations, which threaten to over-whelme the face of the world. The knowne practises of those bles­sed men, who have beene the most zealous Preachers, and resolute Champions for our Doctrine, have all along sufficienly vindicated it, from these both senselesse and front­lesse calumniations.

And howbeit it be pretended, that we impose on o­ther mens beliefe, and suffer our selves to be over-ruled by corrupt inierests; Yet we doubt not but it clearly ap­peares to the children of wisdome, that we make Gods Word our onely rule, and his glory our onely aime; and drive no other designe, but to bring our people to the saving knowledge of the onely true God, and Jèsus Christ whom he hath sent. It is our griefe to see poore soules, taught to hate our Doctrine, before they know it. If they were duely Catechized, we hope, many of them, would both acknowledge, and adore, that beauty of holinesse, which gloriously shines in every lineament of it.

Could we dispense with our selves, to borrow a wilde straine from the ranting Rhetorick, of a Thrasonical adversarie, we should terme it an Apocryphal diabolisme, to say that we will not suffer the Lord Jesus, quietly to inherit: the glory and praise of his ever-blessed work of Redemption, in the just compasse and extent of it; that wee set bounds and barres to the grace of God which he never set; that we preach this (in effect) for Gospel to the world, that God ne­ver bare any good will to the greatest part of them; but de­creed peremptorily from eternity, eternally to torment them, with the vengeance of eternal fire, how innocently, blame­lessely, spotlessely soever they should live in the world all their dayes. I. G. Catabapt. Epist. to Read. p. antepen.

[Page 16]Be it knowne, we extend the glory of the work of Redemption, farre more then they who accuse us of re­straining it: We not onely teach that God gave his only begotten [...]ne, that whosoever beleeves, should not perish, but have life everlasting; but also adde, that Christ re­deemed his people from their sinnes, as well as from the wrath due to them; from the world and themselves, as well as from Hell and Satan. We teach that Christ pur­chased our faith in order to our salvation, as well as our salvation in consequence on our beleeving; and pro­fesse to owe to Christs purchase the changing of our hearts as well as the saving of our soules: We acknowledge our selves indebted to Christ, for that which our adversaries have learned to put on their owne account, and to thank themselves for it. And whereas they are pleased to repre­sent Christ, but such a Redeemer, as whose redemption not­withstanding, the whole world possibly might have been damned, yea it was impossible that any man should be sa­ved, (it being as much beyond the power of nature to beleeve of it self without special grace purchased by Christ, as for a man though never so gracious to merit the glory of heaven;) we have learned, and accordingly teach, that not one of all Christs sheep shall eternally miscarry. So farre are we from straitning the grace of God, that we allow no bounds, or barres to be set to the invincible efficacie of it. We indeed set bounds to na­ture, none to grace; as acknowledging a sufficiencie of the grace of God to conquer all the oppositions which can be made by the corruptions of man; denying a sufficiency in man, to the least spiritual work, without a blessed super­addition of Gods special grace. In the mean time we de­ny, that God decreed, to punish any of the sonnes of men but for their sinnes; onely we affirm that he bare not such good will to the greater part of men, as to decree to give them his special grace; and that without this, no man how innocent, blamelesse, and spotlesse soever his conversation may seeme to men, is other then a desperate enemy against God. Nor yet do we preach this as a branch[Page 17]of the Gospel; but onely maintaine it as a part of the counsel of God revealed in the Scriptures, not repugnant unto it.

All that we aime at, is, to convince Gods people how much they owe to Gods grace; how miserable they had beene, if he had left them (as justly he might) to the cor­ruption of their owne nature. We open a doore of hope to the poorest soules that groan under the sad sense of their loathed corruptions: that though of themselves they can do nothing toward their salvation, yet by the grace of God, who works in us both to will and to do of his owne good pleasure, they shall be happily enabled to work it out in a pleasant fear and comfortable trembling. We are farre from saying, what we are shamelessely reported to do, That the Elect, though they prove the first sonnes of Belial, yet may be true beleevers, namely, while they continue such; we onely say the Elect are many of them all as wicked, as any of the Reprobates, till by the grace of God they be brought to beleeve; and that though after they beleeve, they may possibly fall into horrible abominations, yet God out of his unchangeable love in which he elected them from all eternity, mercifully preserves his seed though misera­bly withered in their souls, and will in his good time graciously quicken it, infallibly reduce them to a hearty repentance, and bring them in repentance to salvation. We never dreamed of an impossibility of the Saints falling as of themselves, nor of a possibility of their being saved without repentance through the grace of God. This distem­per'd pen strikes no lesse boldly at the Apostle, then our selves; and doth but in a restlesse impotence, kick against the pricks.

It will be much for the honour of our Doctrine to have the younger people receive the summe of it from our owne mouths in Catechizing, and not from the malicious pens of the wilful depravers of it, and defamers of us.

As for expedients for the better accomplishing of so good a work, whatsoever any of our Reverend Brethren shall please to communicate to us, beside those which we are[Page 18]bold to commend to them in a short draught hereunto an­nexed, we shall as thankfully receive, as they shall loving­ly propose them. And we earnestly desire that all sinister misconstructions being charitably laid aside, we would al rea­dily joyne both our hearts and hands, to the happier pro­moting of whatever may conduce to the propagation of the Truth, and preservation of the peace in the Churches of Christ; as knowing that who in these things serveth Christ is acceptable unto God, and approved of men. And though per­haps we may not finde the issue of our endeavours, answer­able to our aime; yet shall we sweetly satisfie our selves with this, that our labour is with our God, and that he will not re­ward us the lesse, where our trouble is the greater.

We shall adde no more, but that we humbly bow our knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would mercifully pardon all our failings, graciously prosper all our good endeavours; that he would knit the hearts of his people each to other, and all to himself; that he would vouchsafe to watch over his Ministers, and help his Ministers to watch over his peo­ple; that he would blesse all those who love the Lord Je­sus Christ in sincerity, that mercy and peace may be on them and upon the Israel of God.


ORdered by the Provincial As­sembly that Doctor Kendall be desired to take care for the printing of the Exhortation now brought in and read.

  • Samuel Balmford Moderator.
  • John Jackson Scriba.

Ordered at a Meeting of the Provincial As­sembly of London, November 23. 1648. That Copies hereof be sent to the Classes within the Province of London.

THe Provincial Assembly of London taking into their serious consideration how sin­gularly useful a diligent course of Cate­chizing in all publike Assemblies within this Province, will be for the promoting of sound knowledge in the Fundamentals of Christian Religion, and of the power of godlinesse against all manner of Errors in Opinion, and Prophanenesse in conversation; have thought it necessary, most earnest­ly to recommend this pious and profitable Exercise to all the several Classes within this Province, that they in their zeale to Gods glory and the Churches edifica­tion, may take such course, that it be speedily and effe­ctually put in execution within all their respective Congregations.

And for the more orderly and uniforme carrying on of this excellent and needful work, It is desired that these following directions be observed;

  • I. That the several Ministers on some Lords day when [Page 22]they give publike notice of their purpose to set upon Catechizing, do in their Sermons effectually demon­strate the great necessity and utility thereof, earnestly exhorting all Parents and Masters of families to pre­pare their children and servants by Catechizing them at home, that they may more readily and chearfully give account in publike.
  • II. That the Catechisme to be made use of through this whole Province be the lesser Catechisme, drawn up and presented by the Reverend Assembly of Divines to the Honourable Houses of Parliament, and published by their Authority, to be used throughout the Kingdome of England and Dominion of Wales, this Catechisme herein excelling all others, that every answer is a per­fect Proposition without the Question.
  • III. That the persons to be Catechized, be children and servants, that have not beene admitted to the Lords Table by the Eldership.
  • IV. That the time of Catechizing be on the Lords dayes in the afternoone before the Sermon, to the end that the whole Congregation may receive benefit thereby.
  • V. That the Catechisme be briefly explained at the first go­ing over it, that so the people may in a short time have a taste of the [...]hole body of Divinity.
  • VI. That Parishioners be desired at the common charge of the Parish to provide Catechismes for the poore sort, who cannot well provide for themselves, and that the distribution of them be referred to the respective Ministers.
  • [Page 23]Lastly, it is desired, that an accompt in writing [what progress is made in the Premisses] be returned from the Classes, to the Provincial Assembly, within fourty dayes after the receipt hereof.
Signed in the Name and by the ap­pointment of the Provincial As­sembly.
  • Edmund Calamy Moderator.
  • William Harrison Scribe.
  • William Blackmore Scribe.

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