Instruction for the Ignorant:
BEING A SALVE TO CURE THAT GREAT WANT OF KNOWLEDGE, WHICH SO MUCH REIGNS BOTH IN YOUNG AND OLD.
PREPARED AND PRESENTED TO THEM IN A PLAIN AND EASY DIALOGUE, FITTED TO THE CAPACITY OF THE WEAKEST.
‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.’–Hosea 4:6
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.
This little catechism is upon a plan perfectly new and unique. It was first published as a pocket volume in 1675, and has been republished in every collection of the author’s works; and recently in a separate tract. The earliest edition that has been discovered bears the date of 1691; from which our copy has been prepared for the press. This is the first book of this class that was composed upon the broad basis of Christianity, perfectly free from sectarian bias or peculiarity. It is an exhibition of scriptural truths, before which error falls without the trouble of pulling it down. It is in the world, like the ark of God in the temple of Dagon. It is alike admirably calculated to convey the most important truths to the inmates of a palace or of a workhouse,–to the young or to the aged,–to the ignorant Roman Catholic, or to the equally ignorant Protestant. Its broad catholicity is its distinguishing excellence. In the separate communions included within the general church of Christ are various, and in many respects, inestimable compendiums of Christian truth, arranged for the catechetical instruction of the young and ignorant; but it cannot be denied that these, one and all, exhibit some marks of sectarian feeling and dogmatic teaching in the details that relate to the special views which each communion takes of certain scriptural doctrines. The reason why this should be the case is very obvious: there would be no differences of opinion amongst Christians except from conviction that these differences are essential, and such conviction naturally leads to these points of disagreement being (may we not say?) rather too obtrusively enforced as part and portion of a saving belief. All Bunyan’s efforts were to awaken sinners to a sense of their degradation, misery, and danger, and to direct them to the only refuge from the wrath to come–the hope set before them in the gospel; and then leaving the pious convert to the guidance of his Bible in forming his connections in the pilgrimage of life. Bunyan is solemnly in earnest; his desire is, that poor sinners should be relieved from ignorance, darkness, and destruction, and be introduced into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. May his impressive injunction be indelibly fixed upon our souls, ‘To read, ponder over, and receive the wholesome medicine as we shall answer in the day of the terrible judgment.’–GEO. OFFOR.