The key of knowledge which is, a little booke intended to bee of good use, as for all degrees of Christians, so especially for religious families, and religious schooles. The full use and contents whereof must be enquired in the preface or introduction to the worke, which is (first) deliberately to be read of those who desire to receive profit by the booke. By John Jackson, rector of Marsk neere Richmond in York-shire.
Jackson, John, 1600-1648.
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THE INTRO∣DUCTION, OR PRE∣face necessary to bee read by the Peruser of this Booke.

THe designe, and end which the Author hath in publi∣shing these few sheets of Paper, shall be made knowne unto thee in a few following Paragraphs.

First, Being a man full of lei∣sure, hee thought they might [ I] (through Gods blessing) prove a few well spent houres to compose some little Theologicall tractate, or manuall of Devotion, which might be truly usefull to militant Christians, either to beget, or pre∣serve Religion in their hearts. Wherein he had a speciall aime to serve the Salvation of two sorts of people: first, of his Parcchiall charge, or the slocke whereof hee is made an Over-seer; Secondly, Page  [unnumbered] of such Christian friends and ac∣quaintance (of what degree soever) dispersed here and there, as did more peculiarly love his person, or approve his work in the ministery thinking he might take more liber∣ty and boldnesse of speech to speake unto every of them in the lan∣guage of Saint Paul to his Schol∣ler Timothy: Thou hast fully knowne my doctrine: continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast beene assu∣red of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. 2 Tim. 3.

[ II] 2. His Second thoughts were, in so doing to practise selfe-deni∣all, in meerely serving Vertue, and not fame; and not to theame his pen with some high and applau∣ded subiect, but to apply him∣selfe to what should bee I. most plaine and easie for the understan∣ding. 2 most short and contracted for the memory. 3 most methodi∣call and disposed, to take the fan∣cy. 4. Serious and weighty, to Page  [unnumbered] worke on the Conscience, and la∣stly usefull and practicall in re∣gard of the will and affections, that thus it might have a kindly working on all the severall pow∣ers and faculties of the Soule.

Thirdly, Hereupon hee resol∣ved [ III] to draw and pourtray the whole entire body of divioitie com∣monly called The revealed will of God, and cast it into little moulds or formes, as Alexander did all Homers Iliads into a nut-shell, and as Regiomontanus did his exquisite motions into the little body of a flie, yet so as he endeavoured to free it from those two monstrosities both of Nature and Art, Defect of any thing necessary on the one hand, and redundancie or excesse of any thing superfluous on the other.

Fourthly, Hee acquired and [ IIII] looked into most of all the fa∣mous and notorious institutions of Religion, Systemes of Divinitie Common places, Theologicall the∣ses, Catechismes both of topi∣call Page  [unnumbered] Churches, and particular men, famed all over the Christian world, and cried up to be Orthodox, me∣thodicall and receaved, that at least observing the Oeconomie and fabricke of every one, and how the same truths did concurre in a di∣verse method and order of han∣dling, there might out of all of them together compared and col∣lated result and arise what the Author heereof doth now in these ensuing Schedules present.

[ V] Fifthly, But then considering that there is the same danger in a spirituall flocke as was in Jacobs, Gen. 33. 13. the ghostly guide may over-drive the Children that are tender, and the heards that are with young, whereas to lead on softly, is safe; and consi∣dering againe that there are three sorts, or rather degrees in Religi∣on, First, Beginners or probatio∣ners, Secondly, Proficients, or growers, and lastly growne and full statured Christians, Ephesi∣ans Page  [unnumbered] 4. 11, who may challenge the brave title and clogy of Mnason, Act 21, 16, an old disciple: yea that the Scripture it selfe allow∣eth, and beareth up this distincti∣on in two severall texts, both 1 Ioh. Epist. chap. 2. verse 13. under the titles of1 Children,2 Young men, and3 Fathers; and also Marke 4. 28. under the tearmes of1 the blade, 2 the Eare, 3 the ripe corne in the eare: Hereupon the Author hath endeavoured to make sacred Divinitie hold proportion with the severall strengths and capabilities of Christians, casting it into three severall moulds or formes: The first of 12 Queries and Responses, according to the number of the howers of the day, or moneths of the Yeere, intended to bee the Childs Divinitie. the second of 31. after the number of daies in the moneth, which is the young mans Divinitie. The third into 52. as there are weekes in the yeere, which you may call the old Page  [unnumbered] mans Divinitie, as the severall Title-pages preceding each tra∣ctate will more fully declare.

[ VI] Sixtly, and Lastly, whereas the worthy addressing of a mans selfe to the Lords table, to receive the blessed Sacrament of the body and bloud of Christ is, and hath ever beene esteemed an high piece of Pietie, and one of the most eminent performances which a militant Christian can goe about, as being one of the neerest approaches wee can make to God: therefore as a Coronis to the rest, here is anne∣xed an Alphabet, or Abecedary tractate concerning the Lords sup∣per, and our profitable comming thereunto, as the frontispice-lease thereof doth shew.

And this is all the Author hath to say anent this little worke and his intent in publishing of it. There yet remaines something to be ad¦ded touching the right use thereof, in the behalfe of the usufructuary, or whosoever hands these treatises Page  [unnumbered] may fall into: in which regard the Authour proposeth these Counsels and Advertisements.

First, Hee adviseth that by all meanes the chiefes and superin∣tendents of families, and schooles who are both Priests and Princes within their owne sept and verge, see that those who are under their goverment bee initiated and instru∣cted in the principles of Religion, whilst they are yet of very tender yeares. for it is scarce to be credi∣ted, if experience did not ascertaine the truth thereof, either how inept and indisposed unto divine know∣ledge such are, as are stept into yeeres, and having first filled their heads, and bardened their hearts with worldly-mindednesse have thereby prevented, aud praeoccu∣pated the enterance of the things of God: or on the other hand how naturally and sweetly Catechisme is sucked in with the Mothers milke, rocked in with the Nurse,asported in with play-fellowes, Page  [unnumbered]hired in with nuts and apples, awed in with the twig of a rod, &c. which howsoever at first in them it may be no more oft times than the bare letter, orbforme of knowledge, yet by the Spirits worke ere long may bee improved unto Saving knowledge. This those worthy auncient Christians knew well,c who taught their infants first to loose their tongues into the articu∣late, and syllabicall pronunciati∣on of the word Hallelujah. And surely it's as easie to teach Chil∣dren to say Hosanna to Christ,* as bald-pate to Elisha. Aristotle pro∣veth the sweetnesse of knowledge by this, that the mouths of Chil∣dren are so full of questions: and there is this reason further in Di∣vinitie, that those who are yet in∣nocent as doves, shall receive such irradiation of divine light from God, as to bee wise as Serpents, and those whose wills doe cleave unto good, their understanding shall approach unto Truth.

Page  [unnumbered] 2. The second Advertisement is this, that the Catechist, that is, hee, or shee, who takes upon them the office to instruct, and Cate∣chize others, stand in some faire and neere relation to the Catechu∣menoi, that is, those who are taught and instructed: by which meanes it comes to passe that their principles are more authentick, authoritative and magisteriall, and the doctrine which they instill, proves both more strong, by reason of the cre∣dit of a Superiour, and more sweet, by reason of the love of a familiar. Oh then documents sticke, when wee can say, I know of whom I have learned them. Then rudiments and grounds are indeed Nailes to fasten in the memory, and goads to pricke on the Affections, Eccles. 12. 11. Thus Samuel was instructed by Eli, and young Jehoash by Jeho∣jadah, both Priests; the great Eunuch by Philip, a Deacon; Paul by his tutour Gamaliel; Ti∣mothyPage  [unnumbered] by his mother, and Grand∣mother, Lois and Eunice; Ori∣gen by his father Leonides; Gor∣gonia by her brother Nazianzene; Saint Basil by his nurse Macri∣na; and Saint Hierom comman∣ded the Lady Paula to set her maids to learne the Scriptures. Neither ought any one thinke they lesson themselves unto any low indecencies in playing the duty of a Catechist towards their No∣vices; whilst they see whole Chur∣ches, Counsels both nationall and oecumenicall, particular men of signall note and fame, such as Lu∣ther, and Calvin, calling off their pennes from learned Commenta∣ries, positive Divinitie, polemicall disputes, exquisite Sermons, and the like, even to write Cate∣chismes by way of question and answer. Yea how many fathers are there both of the Greeke and La∣tine Church which have their pe∣culiar dforme of doctrine, orehy∣potyposis of wholsome words? Page  [unnumbered] Clemens of Alexandira his Pae∣dagogue; Cyrill of Jerusalem his Catechisme, Origen that famous Catechist his bookes of principles, Theodoret his Epitome of divine precepts, Lactantius his instituti∣ons, Augustine his encheiridion, &c. Neither could it bee credi∣ted, if the voucher were not histo∣ries of singular esteeme, how emi∣nent persons for learning, vertue, and honour have descended even unto the practiques herein, one I cannot omit: Saint Hierom, for learning so great a Clerke, as S. Augustine seriously wished to e∣quallize him, for sanctity so rare, as it is farre more easy to counter∣feit him then imitate him: hee ha¦ving exhorted Leta to send her daughter to her Grandmother Paula at Bethleem, to be educated there, addes certaine words, wher∣by hee binds himselfe to become master and Catechist to the child, saying hee will carry her upon his armes, and on his shoulders, and Page  [unnumbered] that as old as hee was, hee would teach her stammeringly to pro∣nounce her words, and that in this regard hee would not esteeme him∣selfe lesse glorious then Aristotle, who had Alexander the sonne of Philip, King of Macedon for his Scholler, &c.

3. The third Advertisement must be this, that the disciple or scholler be throughly acquainted by his Catechist and instructer with the Scheme and method of his in∣stitution or Catechisme, for as in reading of holy Scripture, who so meanes to understand what hee reades, must labour to get into his head the structure and fabricke, that is, the Oeconomie, and or∣der of that booke of holy writ, that he is reading: So whosoever would bee fully instructed in Christian Religion, must first get unto him∣selfe a perfect and methodicall forme of sound doctrine, and then before he goe to particulars, must possesse his understanding of the Page  [unnumbered] generall lineaments and portrai∣ture of that body of Divinitie, which hee meanes to make his com∣passe for his knowledge to saile by. To instance in these subsequent moulds and formes of Divinitie. The oeconomie and disposition of the first stands in the unfolding of three points, 1. Mans misery by [ I] the fall. 2. His redresse from that misery. 3. His thankeful∣nesse for that redresse: which is also the manner and forme both of the Heidelberge Catechisme, au∣thorized through all the low Coun∣tries, and the Palatinate, and al∣so of Alstedius his Catechisme which hee calls the little bible, and the very same is the oeconomie of the Epistle to the Romans, which is called the f Key of scripture.* The Oeconomie of the second is this, it takes the first hint and rise from [ II] Saint Pauls dichotomie, Titus 1. 1. which distinguisheth Religion intogTruth, and Godlinesse, un∣der the first head of truth is ope∣ned Page  [unnumbered] and explained the Apostles Creed, and under Godlinesse the second head is handled the Com∣mandements, the Lords prayer, and the doctrine of the Sacra∣ments. [ III] The third is of a circular forme, like a snake holding the taile in the mouth: of which forme also are divers of Davids Psalmes which are called circular Odes, as Psalm. 8. and 117. and the five last Psalmes. Enterance is made into it by the very same quere that Calvin doth into his so famous Ca∣techisme, that it is translated into all the 3. learned Languages, La∣tine, Greeke, and Hebrew; and from thence, like the river of E∣den, Gen. 2. 10. it spreads it selfe into 4 heads, the first of Faith, or thinges to bee beleeved, the se∣cond of Love, or thinges to bee done, The third of Prayer, or things to be asked, and the fourth of the Sacraments, or thinges to be sealed: and this is the Oeconomie of Canisius, and Bellarmines Ca∣echismes, Page  [unnumbered] &c. And to adde a [ IIII] word touching the mode and forme of the last tractate, concerning the holy Eucharist and the communi∣cants worthy receiving of it, it's method is pure Scripturall, for who so hath but saluted the holy ori∣giuall tongue of the old Testament knowes thath Ieremies Threnes and idiverse of Davids Psalmes are Alphabeticall, and thatk to this end and purpose, to helpe memory both to attaine and retaine them with greater ease and lesse industry. And beside the authority of Scrip∣ture to warrant this way of com∣posing;l Ecclesiasticall History makes mention of an Abecedary Psalme, which Saint Augustine so made up against the Donatists.

The 4. and last advertisement is this, that to make a brave know∣ing and intellectuall Christian in∣deed, the way is, to referre the Scrip∣ture which he reads, and the Ser¦mons he heares, unto those heads and points of Catechisme, where∣unto Page  [unnumbered] they specially and most pro∣perly belong. And to doe this the better, learners and beginners are not onely to make use of their owne dexterity and skill so farre as they are able, but also till they be well versed in this way, consult with their Superiours and teach∣ers, get them to looke over them while they practise, intreat them freely to use their asteriskes of approbation where they hit, and their spunges and obeliskes where they misse. The benefit redounding hence will be this, First, an ad∣mirable establishment and confir∣mation of the truth to see ser∣mons, bookes, Scriptures, &c. all to concurre and be concentrique to∣gether. Secondly, an excellent in∣geny and quicknesse both in pro∣ving the principles and fundamen∣tals of Religion by Scripture, and in referring texts of Scripture, and Sermons to principles of Cate∣chisme, which may bee called the Genesis and Analysis of Divinity. Page  [unnumbered] And I doubt not but by practise a Lay Christian may doe as much as Cartwright,* who hath referred every Proverbe of Solomon to one of the ten Precepts of the morall Law.

The Author now thinkes hee hath prefaced sufficiently, and will remove manum de tabula as speedily as if hee heard an Angell from Heaven say, hold thy hand, it is enough; in all which if hee have iudged any thing truly, or wisely hee voweth onely to wor∣ship him who is the first truth, and chiefest wisdome.

Now the good will of him that dwelt in the bush be with all those who desire to know the first truth, and enioy the chiefe good; and to that end blesse this small labour in his Church, if it be but to the di∣spelling of ignorance and darke∣nesse from off one Soule, of which the Author is the more hopefull, as being conscions that he hath no other ayme in the Edition hereof Page  [unnumbered] save those two intimated in the first Paragraph of the Preface, to wit, to bee a tribute of duty to some, and a present of affection to others.