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Joseph and Samuel Catechised. Jos. A reasonable creature, made so by God, aš my brother said.
Pr. What is supposed by this word, saved ?
Jos. 'That man by sin has brought himself into a state of * captivity and misery.
Pr. What is supposed by his being saved by the Trinity ?
Jos. That sin is go great and mighty a tyrant, that none can pull us out of its clutches, but God; and that God is so good and loving to man, as to pull him indeed out of this miserable state.
Pr. What is God's design in saving poor man?
Jos. The glorifying of his name, of his grace, and justice, &c. and the everlasting happiness of his creature.
Pr. Who are they that must be saved ?
Pr. Good boy, Joseph ; thy mother bath taught thee well, and thou hast hearkened to what she has said unto thee,
Then said Prudence to Samuel, (who was the eldest son but one,) 'Come, Samuel, are you willing that I should catechise you also PP
San. Yes, forsooth, if you please.
Sam. A place and state most blessed, because God dwelleth there.
Pr. What is hell :
Sam. A place and state most woful, because it is the dwelling-place of sin, the devil, and death. · Pr. Why wouldest thou go to heaven ?
Sam. That I may see God, and serve him without weari. ness; that I may see Christ, and love him everlastingly; that I may have that fulness of the Holy Spirit in me, that I can by no means here enjoy.
Pr. A very good boy, and one that has learned well. Then she addressed herself to the eldest, whose name was Matthew: and she said to him, 'Come, Matthew, shall I also catechise you
ku) The young pupil is not here taught to answer systematically, 'All the elect ;' but practically, 'Those that accept of his salvation. This is perfectly consistent with the other ; but it is suited to instruct and encourage the learner, who would be perplexed, stumbled, or misled by the other view of the same truth. Thus our Lord observed to his disciples, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now," and Paul fel the Corinthians “with milk, and not with meat ; for they were not able to bear it."How beneficial would a portion of the same heavenly wisdom prove to the modern friends of evangelical truth! And how absurd is it to teach the hardest lessons to the youngest scholars in the school of Christ !
Prudence Catechises Matthew.
257 n's Mat. With a very good will.
Pr. I ask, then, if there was ever any thing that had a being antecedent to, or before God? 6 Mat. No; for God is eternal ; nor is there any thing, excepting himself, that had a being until the beginning of the first day: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is."
Pr. What do you think of the Bible ?
Pr. Is there nothing written therein but what you understand ?
Mat. Yes, a great deal.
Pr. What do you do when you meet with places therein that you do not understand ?
Mat. I think God is wiser than I. (w). I pray also that he will please to let me know all therein, that he knows will be for my good.
Pr. How believe you as touching the resurrection of the dead?
Mat. I believe they shall rise, the same that was buried ; the same in nature, though not in corruption. And I believe this upon a double account: First, because God has promised it :-Secondly, because he is able to perform it.
Then said Prudence to the boys, “You must still hearken to your mother, for she can learn you more. You must also diligently give ear to what good talk you shall hear from others : for your sakes do they speak good things. Observe also, and that with carefulness, what the heavens and the earth do teach you; but especially be much in the meditation of that Book, that was the cause of your
father's become ing a Pilgrim. I, for my part, my children, will teach you what I can while you are here, and shall be glad if you will ask me questions that tend to godly edifying:
Now by that these Pilgrims had been at this place a week, Mercy had a visiter that pretended some good-will unto her,
(w) We ought not to think ourselves capable of comprchending all the mysteries of reve. Lation, or informed of all that can be known concerning them : yet we should not make our incapacity a ruason for neglecting those parts of Scripture, which we do not at present understand ; but, uniting humble diligence with fervent prayer, we should wait for further light and knowledge, in all things conducive to our good. There may be many parts of Scripture, which would not be useful to us, if we could understand them ; though thes bare been, are, or will be useful to others; and our inability to discover the meaning of these passages may tach us humility, and sub:nission to time decisions of our infullille Lastructor.
Mercy has a Suitor. and his name was Mr. Brisk, a man of some breeding, and that pretended to religion ; but a man that stuck very close to the world. So he came once or twice, or more, to Mercy, and offered love unto her.Now Mercy was of a fair coun tenance, and therefore the more alluring. Her mind also : was, to be alwavs busying of herself in doing ; for when she had nothing to do for herself, she would be making of hose and garments for others, and would bestow them upon them that had need. And Mr. Brisk, not knowing where or how she disposed of what she made, seemed to be greatly taken, for that he found her never idle. I will warrant her a good housewife,' quoth he to himself. (x)
Mercy then revealed the business to the Maidens that were of the house, and inquired of them concerning him, for -they did know him better than she. So they told her, that he was a very busy young man, and one that pretended to religion ; but was, as they feared, a stranger to the power of that which is good.
"Nay then,' said Mercy, 'I will look no more on him; for I purpose never to have a clog to my soul.?
Prudence then replied, that there needed no great matter of discouragement to be given to him ; for continuing so, as she had begun, to do for the poor, would quickly cool his courage.
So the next time he comes he finds her at her old work, a making of things for the poor. Then said he, "What, always at it ?? «Yes,' said she, “either for myself or for others.? And what canst thou earn a day ? quoth he. "I do these things,' said she, “that I may be rich in good works, laying a good foundation against the time to come, that I may lay hold of eternal life.”* Why pr’ythee, what dost thou do with them ?' said he. «Clothe the naked,' said she. With that his countenance fell. So he forebore to come at her
* Tin, i, T-19
(1) Designing men will often assume an appearance of religion, in order to insinuate themselves into the affections of such pious young women, as are on some accounts agree able to them ; and thus many are drawn into a most dangerous snare. This incident therefore is very properly introduced, and is replete with instruction. At the same time an important intimation is given, concerning the manner, in which those, who are not taken up with the care of a family, may profitably employ their time, adorn the gospel, 1"* and be useful in the church and the community. It is much better to imitate Dorcas, who “through faith obtained a good report,” in making garments for the poor ; than to waste time and money in frivolous amusements, or deedless decorations ; or eren in the more elegant and fashionable accomplishments,
#e forsakes Her.
259 again. And when he was asked the reason why, he said, that Mercy was a pretty lass, but troubled with ill conditions.'
When he had left her, Prudence said, “Did I not tell thee, that Mr. Brisk would soon forsake thee ? yea, he will raise up an ill report of thee : for, notwithstanding his pretence to religion, and his seeming love to Mercy, yet mercy and he are of tempers so different, that I believe they will never come together.' (y)
Mer. I might have had husbands before now, though I spoke not of it to any ; but they were such as did not like my conditions, though never did any of them find fault with my person. So they and I could not agree.
Pr. Mercy in our days is little set by, any further than as to its name : the practice, which is set forth by the conditions, there are but few that can abide.
Well, said Mercy, if nobody will have me, I will die a maid, or my conditions shall be to me as a husband; for I cannot change my nature : and to have one that lies cross to me in this, that I purpose never to admit of as long as I live. I had a sister, named Bountiful, married to one of these churls : but he and she could never agree; but, because my sister was resolved to do as she had begun, that is, to shew kindness to the poor, therefore her husband first cried her down at the cross, and then turned her out of his doors.
Pr. And yet he was a professor, I warrant you.
Mer. Yes, such a one as he was, and of such as the world is now full : but I am for none of them all.
(y) Young people ought not wholly to follow their own judgments in this most important concern, on which the comfort and usefulness of their whole future lives in a great measure depend : and yet it is equally dangerous to advise with improper counsellors.-The names of the maidens of the house, shew what kind of persons should be consulted : and, when such friends are of opinion that there is danger of a clog, instead of a helper, in the way to heaven, all who love their own souls, will speedily determine to reject the proposal, bowever agreeable in all other respects. The apostolical rule, "Only in the Lord,” is abso lute : the most upright and cautious may indeed be deceived ; but they, who neglect to ask, or refuse to take, counsel, will be sure to smart for their folly, if they be indeed the children of God. An unbelieving partner must be a continual source of anxiety and unex siness ; a thorn in the side ; and an hindranee to all family religion, and the pious educa. tion of children, who generally adhere to the maxims and practices of the ungolly party. Nothing tends more, than such marriages, to induce a declining state of religions; or indeed more plainly shews that it is already in a very unprosperous state. But, when Christiar.9 plainly avow their principles, purposes, and rules of conduct, they may commonly detect and shake off such selfish pretenders : while the attempts made to injure their characters, will do them no material detriment, and will render them the more thankful for having ruscaped the stare,
Now Matthew, the eldest son of Christiana, fell sick, and his sickness was sore upon him, for he was much pained in his bowels, so that he was with it, at times, pulled, as it were, both ends together. There dwelt also not far from thence, one Mr. Skill, an ancient and well-approved physician. So Christiana desired it, and they sent for him, and he came : when he was entered the room, and had a little observed the boy, he concluded that he was sick of the gripes. Then he said to his mother, “What diet hath Matthew of late fed upon P Diet,' said Christiana, Nothing but what is wholesome.'. The physician answered, This boy has been tampering with something that lies in his maw undigested, and that will not away without means. And I tell you he must be purged, or else he will die.'
Then said Samuel, Mother, what was that which my brother did gather and eat, so soon as we were come from the Gate that is at the head of this way? You know that there was an Orchard on the left hand, on the other side of the wall, and some of the trees hung over the wall, and my brother did pluck and did eat.'
“True, my child,” said Christiana, she did take thereof, and did eat; naughty boy as he was ; I chid bim, and yet he would eat thereof."
Skill. I knew he had eaten something that was not wholesome food; and that food, to wit, that fruit, is even the most hurtful of all. It is the fruit of Beelzebub's Orchard. I do marvel that none did warn you of it; many have died thereof.
Then Christiana began to cry; and she said, 'O naughty boy! and O careless mother! what shall I do for my son' (2)
Skill. Come, do not be too dejected ; the boy may do well again, but he must purge and vomit.
(2) Sin, heedlessly or wilfully committed, after the Lord has spoken peace to our souls, often produces great distress long afterwards ; and sometimes darkness and discouragement oppress the mind, when the special cause of them is not immediately recollected : for we have grieved the Holy Spirit and he withholds his consolations. In this case we should adopt the prayer of Job, "Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me:" and this inquiry will often be answered by the discourse H skilful ministers, and the faithful admonitions of our fellow Christians.-When boxful professors are greatly cast down, it is not wise to administer cordials to them immediately : bat to propose such questions, as may lead to a discovery of the concealed cause of their distress. Thus it will.
often be found, that they have been tampering with forbidden fruit ; which discovery may. tend to their humiliation, and produce a sinilar effect on those who have neglected their. duty, by suifering others to sin without warning or reproof.