THis in the next place may serve for a just conviction of those whose Fathers lived in gross errours, and wicked practices, & think it no dishonor to them to live and do as their Fathers did before them. When He∣zekiahPage 171 sent the Posts from City to City through the Countries of Ephraim and Manasseh with this Message, that he would have a Refor∣mation according to the first Institution and pattern, and would not have them abide any longer in the wayes of their Fathers, it is said, 2 Chron. 29. 10. They laughed the Messen∣gers to scorn. They mock'd them, what, must we be wiser than our Fathers? See what an∣swer is given to them, Be not ye like your Fathers, which trespassed against the Lord God of your Fathers, ver. 7. They that will erre by their Fathers Copy, may also perish by their Fathers example. In the beginning of King James his Reign in England, the Papists made a Supplication to that King of happy memory: one branch whereof was this. We request no more favour at your Graces hands, than that we may securely profess that Catholick Religion, which all your happy Predecessors professed, from Donaldus, the first converted, unto your Ma∣jesties Peerless Mother. And to this pur∣pose doth Dr. Kellison recite unto that King, a long Catalogue of his noble Predecessors, to encline him (if possible) to embrace the Popish Religion.
Many of our Fathers lived in times of ig∣norance: had they lived in the light which Page 172 we do, it is not probable they would have lived in such gross errours and superstitions as they did. Therefore we are not hand over head to follow all that our Fathers did, but try them, and follow the best. When Fre∣derick the IV. Elector of the Roman Empire, and Count Palatine of the Rhine, was by a certain Prince advised, for his Religion to follow the example of his Father Lewes, his answer was, In Religione, non Parentum, non majorum exempla sequenda, sed tantum vo∣luntas Dei. In matters of Religion, we must neither follow the examples of Parents, nor Ancestors, but the will of God only is to be regarded. And for this resolution, he al∣ledged the testimony of the Lord out of Ezek. 20. Walk ye not in the Statutes of your Fathers, nor observe their Judgements, nor defile your selves with their Idols: I am the Lord, walk ye in my Statutes, vers. 18, 19. Therefore it was a good Confession of the Church, Psal. 106. 6. We have erred with our Fathers. S. Hierom once desired of S. Augustine, that he might have leave to erre with seven Fathers whom he found of his opinion. I should not crave that leave, nor envy any one the priviledge. The Fathers are but Children when they erre: and they who will erre with their Fathers, are more foolish than Children.
THere are many others that make the man∣ners of their Fathers, the rule of their life and conversation. The Children of idle Beggars take up the same wandring course of life as their Fathers did before them. And it is commonly seen (for the most part) that whole Families are tainted with the same vi∣ces of their Stock. John Baptis••〈◊〉 of a generation of Vipers. So if we look abroad into the world, we shall see generations of Swearers, generations of Drunkards, genera∣tions of Idolaters, of Worldlings, of unclean persons. Ahab was a very none such in wickedness: and all that come from him, are like him in evil manners. It is said of his Son Ahaziah, that next succeeded him in the Kingdom of Israel, 1 Kings 22. 25. That he walked in the way of his Father, and in the way of his Mother: in the way of wicked Ahab, and cursed Jezebel. There was an∣nother Ahaziah, King of Judah; the Grand-child of Jehosophat by the Fathers side, and of Ahab by the Mothers side: He drew poison from the Mother, and so trod in the paths of Ahab. The Scripture saith ex∣presly of him, 2 Reg. 8. 27. That he walk∣ed in the way of the house of Ahab, and Page 174 did evil in the sight of the Lord, as did the house of Ahab, for he was the Son in Law of the house of Ahab. Oh what mischief cometh to many a man, and his whole stock, by joyning himself in affinity with a wicked Family!
See the wilful resolution of a generation of Idolaters, Jerem. 44. 17, 18, 19. We will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth of our own mouth, to burn Incense to the Queen of Heav•• and to pour out Drink-offerings to her, as wo•ave done: we and our Fathers, our Kings and our Princes in the Cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: For then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn Incense to the Queen of Heaven, and to pour out Drink-offerings to her, have we wanted all things, and have been consumed by the Sword and by Famine. How doth our Sa∣viour complain of the Pharisees, Matth. 23. 32, 33, 35. Wherefore ye be witnesses to your selves, that ye are the Children of them that killed the Prophets. Fill ye up then the mea∣sure of your sins, ye Serpents, ye generation of Vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of Hell?