Whoever thou art that lookest into this book, never undertake to read it, unless thou first resolvest to become from thine heart an unfeigned Practitioner of Piety. Yet read it, and that speedily, lest, before thou hast read it over, God, by some unexpected death, cut thee off for thine inveterate impiety.
The Practice of Piety consists --
First, In knowing the essence of God, and that in respect of, (I.) The diverse manner of being therein, which are three persons -- Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. (II.) The Attributes thereof; which are either Nominal or Real, -- (1.) Absolute, as, Simpleness, Infiniteness, -- (2.) Relative, as, Life, Understanding, Will, Power, Majesty.
Second, In knowing thy own self, in respect of thy state of Corruption and Renovation.
Third, In glorifying God aright, (I.) By thy life, in dedicating thyself devoutly to serve him, -- both privately, in thine own person; and publicly, with thy family, every day; and with the Church, on the Sabbath-day; -- and extraordinarily, by fasting and by feasting. (II.) By thy death, in dying in the Lord, and for the Lord.
Unless that a man doth truly know God, he neither can nor will worship him aright: for how can a man love him whom he knoweth not? and who will worship him whose help a man thinks he needeth not? and how shall a man seek remedy by grace, who never understood his misery by nature? Therefore, saith the Apostle, |He that cometh to God, must believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him,| Heb. xi.6.
And forasmuch as there can be no true piety without the knowledge of God; nor any good practice without the knowledge of a man's own self; we will therefore lay down the knowledge of God's majesty, and man's misery, as the first and chiefest grounds of the Practice of Piety.