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* AN EPISTLE

TO

THE READER.

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THAT popish axiom is long since exploded; that ignorance is the mother of devotion.

The world now doth see, that without knowledge the mind is not good. And look, as no knowledge is so nessary, as that of the grounds and principles of the ristian religion, so no way is so apt to convey it to men, that which is called catechistical. More knowledge ordinarily diffused, especially among the ignorant, and punger sort, by one hour's catechistical exercise, than y many hours discourses. This way helps the under

"ding, whilst it provokes the attention : many elabohace serions being lost through the inadvertency of the wearers. Thus not only ignorance is cured, but error

is prevented: Too many being misguided, because ty were not at first well-grounded in the principles of

doctrine of Christ. For such reasons as these, we hly approve the labours of this reverend Brother, in his planation of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism. And

ng to our great satisfaction perused it ourselves in Tole or in part, do leadily recommend it to others :

though he composed it at first for his own particular chregation, yet we judge it must be greatly useful to all maastians in general, especially to private families. The

her of using it in families, must be left to the distha..on of the masters and governors respectively,

Sh yet we concur with the author, and think it-adble (as he hints in one of his Epistles) that after a Stion of the Catechism is propounded, and an answer eturned without the book by one in the family, the

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same person, or some other, to be called upon to read (if not rehearse the explanation of it, the rest reading along with him in several books; by which means their thoughts (which are apt to wander) will be the more intent. To conclude-though the Assembly's Shorter Catechism itself be above our recommendation, as have ing its praises already in the churches of Christ ; yet we think it good to give it under our hands, that this ex. planation of it is very worthy of acceptation.

J. Owen, D. D.
Josefih Caryl,
G. Griffith,
Henry Stubs,
Edmund Calamy,
Matihew Barker,
John Loder,
John Ryther,
Nicholas Blaikie,
James Janeway,
Henry Vaughang
William Maddocks,
John Turner,
William Thomson,
T. Matton, D.D.
William Jenkyn,
Chr. Fowler,
T. Lye,
T. Cawton,
7. Brooke,

Benjamin Needler,
Daniel Bull,
Charles Morton,
William Carslake,
Robert Franklin,
Matthew Sylvester,
Nath. Vincent,
T. Jacomb, D. DE
T. Case,
T. Watson,
7. Doolittle,
J. Innes,
John Wells,
Richard Mayo,
John Hicks,
Edward Veal,
Edward West,
Edward Lawrence,
John Chester,
James Sharfi.

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Seek stand ticea and many grate

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TO THE
MASTERS AND GOVERNORS ;

read (ii g along s their hore in Shorter as har. it ; yet his ex

FAMILIES BELONGING TO MY CONGREGATION.

SOME dedicate their books unto Lords and Ladies, or otirer great persons; such possibly I might find out, had I a mind to seek: But as my love is most endeared unto you, to whom I stand so nearly related; so my greatest ambition is to be serviceable to your souls. Your cordial and constant love to me and my labours (in a whiffling age) of which you have given many manifest proofs, deserveth a greater expression of my gratefiil sense, than the dedication of this book unto you.':

God, by bringing you under my ministry, haih given me the charge of your souls ; and God, by bringing persons into your families, hath given you the charge of their souls. Our charge is great, and to be guilty of the ruin of souls, is dreadful! Happy shall 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, for want of instruction ; and as no way of instruction doth convey clearer light of distinct knowledge in the priociples of religion, than the way of catechising ; so the neglect of this in ministers and masters of families, is such a sin of unfaithfulness unto the souls of them that are under their charge, that all of us should take heed we have it not to answer for, at at the appearance of our Lord.' It is not sufficient for you that you bring your 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 Catechisms. I know no Catechism more full of light and sound doctrine, than the Shorter Catechism of the fate reverend Assembly ; which because in many answers there are things not easy to be understood by beginners; therefore in this, my explanation of it, I have taken pains. to take abroad every answer, to open it in several under-questions and answers, and to confirm the truths thereof by reason and scripture proofs : which I have endeavoured to do as plainly and familiarly as I could, that every thing therein might be the

ESPECI

snore intelligible and useful unto such as either learn or read itu Some chiet controversies in religion I have touched upon, briefy propounding arguments for the backing of truth, and not left objections wholly unanswered, which I have the rather done, that all of you, especially the more unexperienced young ones under you, might get some armour against every where prevailing er. ror. You know that some have committed the whole, so far as we have gone, unto memory; how beneficial they have found this, others beside themselves may speak. Yet all have not that strength of memory, neither would I impose this explana. tion 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 least once every week, to examine your children and servants in the Assembly's Catechism, taking Mr. Lye’s excellent method in the way of asking questions, whom God hath made singularly useful in diffusing much light among young ones.

And after they have given you the answers without book which - are in the Catechism, that then yourselves would read, or cause

one of them to read some part of this explanation on those an-
swers, so far as you can well go at a time; and if each of them
that can read, should, both in your families and in your assembly,
have one of these explanations in their hands to read, along with
them that read, or publicly answer, they would the better at-
tend and understand what is read or answered: which course,
I apprehend, will exceedingly, tend to their great profit ; and
that such as do this with diligence, will (through God's grace)
attain in a short time proficiency in the best knowledge, which
is such a jewel, that none, methinks, should be contented with
out, when for less labour than for jewels of inferior value it
may be obtained. This Explanatory Catechism was chiefly (if
not only) intended for you, and the use of such as are of my own
congregation : which if it may find acceptation also with, and
prove beneficial unto other families, I shall rejoice. The more
generally useful these poor labours 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 shall
take my leave of you, though I be not departed from you, with
the departing exhortation of the apostle Paul, Acts 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 in- ';
heritance among all them which are sanctified."

Your soul's earnest well-wisher,

THOMAS VINCENT..

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