Milk for Babes. Drawn Out of the Breasts of Both Testaments. Chiefly, for the Spirituall Nourishment of Boston Babes in Either England: But May Be of Like Use for Any Children (1646)

Q. What hath GOD done for you?

  1. A. God hath made me, He keepeth me, and He can save me.

Q. Who is God?

A. God is a Spirit of himself and for himself.

Q. How many Gods be there?

A. There is but one God in three Persons, the Father, the Sonne, and the Holy Ghost.

Q. How did God make you?

A. In my first parents holy and righteous.

Qu. Are you then born holy and righteous?

A. No, my first Father sinned, and I in him.

Q. Are you then born a sinner?

A. I was conceived in sinne, and born in iniquity.

Q. What is your birth-sinne?

A. ADAMS sinne imputed to me and a corrupt Nature dwelling in me.

Q. What is your corrupt nature?

Answ. My corrupt nature is empty of Grace, bent unto sinne, and only unto sinne, and that continually.

Q. What is sinne?

A. Sinne is the transgression of the Law.

Qu. How many Commandments of the Law be there?

Answ. Ten.

Q. What is the first Commandment?

A. Thou shalt have no other gods but me.

Qu. What is the meaning of this Commandment?

A. That we should worship the only true God, and no other beside him.

Q. What is the 2d Commandment?

A Thou shalt not make to thy self any graven image, &c.

Qu. What is the meaning of this Commandment?

Ans. That we should worship the true God with true worship, such as God hath ordained, not such as man hath invented.

Q. What is the third Commandment?

A. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain, &c.

Qu. What is here meant by the name of God?

A. God himself and the good things of God, whereby he is known as a man by his name, as his Attributes, Worship, Word, and Works

Qu. What is it not to take his Name in vain?

A. To make use of God, and the good things of God to his glory and our good, not vainly, not unreverently, not unprofitably.

Qu. What is the fourth Commandment?

A. Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day, &c.

Q. What is the meaning of this Commandment?

A. That we should rest from labor and much more from play on the Lords day, that we may draw nigh to God in holy duties.

Quest. What is the fifth Commandment?

Answ. Honour thy Father and thy Mother, that thy dayes may be long in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Quest. Who are here meant by Father and Mother?

Answ. All our Superiours whether in Family, School, Church, and common wealth.

Quest. What is the honour due unto them?

Answ. Reverence Obedience, and (when I am able) Recompence.

Quest. What is the sixth Commandment?

Answ. Thou shalt do no murther.

Quest. What is the meaning of this Commandment?

Answ. That we should not shorten the life or health of our selves or others, but preserve both.

Quest. What is the seventh Commandment?

Answ. Thou shalt not commit Adultery.

Quest. What is the sinne here forbidden?

Answ. To defile ourselves or others, with unclean Lusts.

Quest. What is the duty here commanded?

Answ. Chastity to possess our vessels in holiness and honour.

Quest. What is the eighth Commandment?

Answ. Thou shalt not steale.

Quest. What is the stealth here forbidden?

Answ. To take away another mans goods without his leave: or to spend our own without benefit to our selves or others.

Quest. What is the duty here commanded?

Answ. To get our goods honestly, to keep them safely, & to spend them thriftily.

Quest. What is the ninth Commandment

A. Thou shalt not bear false witnesse against thy Neighbour.

Quest. What is the sinne here forbidden?

Answ. To lye falsly, to think or speak untruly of our selves or others.

Quest. What is the duty here required?

A. Truth and Faithfulness.

Quest. What is the tenth Commandment?

A. Thou shalt not covet, &c.

Q. What is the Coveting here forbidden?

Answ. Lust after the things of other men: and want of contentment with our own.

Qu. Whether have you kept all these Commandments?

Answ. No, I and all men are sinners.

Qu. What is the wayes of Sinne?

Answ. Death and damnation.

Quest. How look you then to be saved?

Answ. Onely by Jesus Christ.

Qu. Who is Jesus Christ?

A. The Eternal Son of God, who for our sakes became man, that he might redeem and save us.

Qu. How doth Christ redeem and save us?

A. By his righteous life and bitter death and glorious resurrection to life again.

Qu. How do we come to have part and fellowship with Christ and his Death and Resurrection?

A. By the power of his word and Spirit, which bring us to Christ and keep us in him.

Qu. What is his word?

A. The Holy Scriptures of the Prophets and Apostles, the Old and New Testament, Law and Gospel.

Qu. How doth the Ministry of the Law bring you towards Christ?

A. By bringing me to know my sinne, and the wrath of God against me for it.

Qu. What are you thereby the nearer to Christ?

A. So I come to feel my cursed estate, and the need of a Saviour.

Quest. How doth the Ministry of the Gospel help you in this cursed Estate?

Answ. By humbling me yet more, and then raising me up out of this Estate.

Quest. How doth the Ministry of the Gospel humble you more?

Answ. By revealing the Grace of the Lord Jesus in dying to save Sinners, and yet convincing me of my sinne, in not believing on him, and of my utter insufficiency to come to him▪ and so I feel my selfe utterly lost.

Quest. How then doth the Ministry of the Gospel raise you up out of this lost Estate to come unto Christ?

Answ. By teaching me the value and vertue of the death of Christ, and the riches of Grace to lost Sinners, by revealing the promise of Grace to such, and by ministring the Spirit of Grace, to apply Christ and his promise of Grace unto my self, and to keep me in him.

Qu. How doth the spirit of Grace apply Christ and his promise of Grace unto you and keep you in him?

Answ. By begetting in me Faith to receive him: Prayer to call upon him Repentance to mourn after him, and new obedience to serve him.

Quest. What is Faith?

Answ. Faith is a Grace of the Spirit, whereby I deny my selfe, and believe on Christ for righteousness and salvation.

Quest. What is Prayer?

Answ. It is a calling upon God in the name of Christ, by the help of the Holy Ghost, according to the will of God.

Quest. What is Repentance?

Answ. Repentance is a grace of the Spirit, whereby I loth my sinnes and my selfe for them, and confess them before the Lord, and mourn after Christ for the pardon of them, and for grace to serve him in newness of life.

Quest. What is newness of life or new Obedience?

Answ. Newness of life is a grace of the Spirit, whereby I forsake my former lusts and vain company, and walk before the Lord in the light of his word and in the communion of his Saints? 

Qu. What is the Communion of Saints?

A. It is the fellowship of the Church in the blessing of the Covenant of Grace and the Seals thereof.

Qu. What is the Church?

A. It is a Congregation of Saints joyned together in the bond of the Covenant to worship the Lord, and to edifie one another in all his holy Ordinances.

Q. What is the bond of the Covenant in which the Church is joyned together?

A. It is the profession of that Covenant which God hath made with his faithful people, to be a God unto them, and to their seed.

Qu. What doth the Lord bind his People to in his Covenant?

A. To give up themselves and their Seed, first to the Lord to be his People, and then to the Elders and Brethren of the Church, to set forward the worship of God, and their mutual edification.

Q. How do they give up themselves and their Seed to the Lord?

A. By receiving through Faith the Lord and his Covenant, to them selves, and to their Seed. And accordingly working themselves, and training up their Children in the wayes of his Covenant?

Qu. How do they give up themselves and their Seed to the Elders and Brethren of the Church?

A. By confession of their sinnes and profession of their Faith and of their subjection to the Gospel of Christ, and so they and their seed are received into fellowship of the Church and the seals thereof.

Qu. What are the Seals of the Covenant now in the days of the Gospel?

A. Baptisme and the Lords Supper.

Qu. What is done for you in Baptism?

A. In Baptisme, the washing with water is a sign and seal of my washing in the blood and spirit of Christ and thereby of my ingrafting into Christ, of the pardon and cleansing of my sinnes; of my raising up out of Affliction: and also of my resurrection from the dead at the last day.

Quest. What is done for you in the Lords Supper?

Answ. In the Lords Supper, the receiving of the bread broken, and the wine poured out, is a sign and seal of my receiving the Communion of the body of Christ broken for me, and of his blood shed for me; and thereby of my growth in Christ, of the pardon and healing of my sinnes, of the fellowship of his Spirit, of my strengthening and quickening in grace, and of my sitting together with Christ on his Throne of Glory at the last Judgement.

Quest. What is the resurrection from the dead, which was sealed up to you in Baptisme?

Ans. When Christ shall come to his last Judgement, all that are in the graves shall arise again, both the just and the unjust.

Quest. What is the last Judgement, which is sealed up to you in the Lords Supper?

A. At the last day we shall all appear before the Judgement seat of Christ to give an account of our works and to receive our reward according to them.

Qu. What is the reward that shall then be given?

Ans. The Righteous shall go unto life eternal, and the wicked shall be cast into everlasting fire with the Devill and his Angels.



Bible Passages Referenced in Milk for Babes 

The 64 questions and answers refer to 203 passages from the Bible. Citations are “called out” in italic lower-case letters and printed in the margins. The letters “j” and “v” are not used. In the following table, book names have been regularized with modern spellings, and all quotations given here are from the King James Version. Problematic or emended references are denoted with an asterisk (*).

What hath God done for you? 

Psa. 119.73  Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

Psa. 121.4–8  4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. 6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. 8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. 

Isa. 63.1  Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.  

Who is God? 

John 4.24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  

Exo.3.14  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

How many Gods be there? 

1 Cor. 8.6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. 

1 John 5.7  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. d How did God make you? 

Gen.1.26–27  26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 

Eccles.7.29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. 

Are you then born holy and righteous? 

Isa. 43.27  Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me.

*Rom. 5.19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one, shall many also be made righteous. 

[The 1646, 1656, and 1657 editions have: 

Ro. 11.19″: “Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.” 

Other editions (1684; Maschil 1702) have:

Rom. 12.19 —”Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”] 

Are you then born a sinner? 

Psa. 51.5  Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sinne did my mother conceive me.

What is your birth-sinne? 

Rom. 5.12–14  12Wherefore, as by one man sinne entered into the world, and death by sinne; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13(For until the law sinne was in the world: but sinne is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 

Eph. 4.22  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.

What is your corrupt Nature? 

Rom. 7.18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 

Gen. 6.5  And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

What is sinne? 

1 John 3.4  Whosoever committeth sinne transgresseth also the law: for sinne is the transgression of the law.

How many commandements of the Law be there? 

Deut. 4.13  And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. 

What is the first Commandement? 

Exod. 20.3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

What is the meaning of this commandement? 

Mat. 4.10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

What is the 2d. Commandement?

Exo. 20.4–5 4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.

What is the meaning of this Commandement? 

John 4.24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 

Deut. 12.32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. 

Mat. 15.9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

What is here meant by the Name of God? 

Deut. 28.58  If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; 

Exod. 33.19  And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy 

Exod. 34.6  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 

1 Kings 9.3  And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there forever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. 

Psa. 138.2  I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. 

Job 1.21  And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

What is it not to take his Name in vain?

2 Kings 1.3  But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? 

Lev. 10.3  Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. 

Job 36.24  Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold. 

1 Cor. 10.31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 

Job. 5.27  Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good. 

Deut. 8.16  Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; 

Jer. 2.30 In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. 

Lev. 26.2  Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD. 

Heb. 4.2  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

What is the fourth Commandement? 

Exo. 20.8–11 8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

What is the meaning of this Commandement?

Isa. 58.13-14  13If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. 

Exo. 32.6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

What is the fifth Commandement? 

Exo. 20.12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. u Who are here meant by Father and mother? 

Prov. 23.22 Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old. 

1 Kings 5.13 And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men. 

1 Kings 2.12 Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly. 

1 Cor. 4.15 For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 

2 Chron. 29.11 My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense. 

1 Tim. 5.1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 

1 Sam. 25.8 Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David. 

Gen. 4.20–21 20And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. 21And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

What is the honour due to them? 

Mal. 1.6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? 

Heb. 12.9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 

Eph. 6.1. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 

1 Tim. 5.4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

What is the sixth Commandement? 

Exo. 20.13 Thou shalt not kill. y What is the meaning of this Commandement? 

Mat. 5.22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 

2 Cor. 7.10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 

1 Sam. 26.24 And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation. 

Mark 3.4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

What is the seventh Commandement? 

Exo. 20.14 Thou shalt not commit adultery. a What is the sinne here forbidden? 

Gen. 38.9–10 9And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. 10And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also. 

Lev. 18.24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you.

What is the duty here commanded?

Tit. 2.5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 

1 Pet. 3.2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 

1 Thes. 4.4–5 4That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 

What is the eighth Commandement? 

Exo. 20.15 Thou shalt not steal. d What is the stealth here forbidden? 

Luke 19.8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 

1 Thes. 4.6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 

Prov. 21.20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.

What is the duty here commanded? 

Prov. 13.11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase. 

John 6.12  When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 

Luke 19.16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 

Luke 15.13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

What is the ninth Commandement? 

Exo. 20.16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

What is the sinne here forbidden?

Eph. 4.25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 

Jer. 9.4–5 4Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. 5And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. 

Josh. 9.22 And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us? 

Prov. 13.7 There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches. h What is the duty here required? 

Eph. 4.25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 

Mat. 23.23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

What is the tenth Commandement? 

Exo. 20.17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

What is the coveting here forbidden? 

Rom. 7.7 What shall we say then? Is the law sinne? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sinne, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 

Heb. 13.5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Whether have you kept all these Commandements?

Rom. 7.14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sinne. 

Rom. 3.23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

What is the wayes of sinne?

Rom. 6.23 For the wages of sinne is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Rom. 2.8–9 8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

How look you then to be saved? 

Acts 4.12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Who is Jesus Christ? 

1 John 5.20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 

Prov. 8.23–25 23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 24When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. 25Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: 

John 1.14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 

2 Cor. 8.9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. Luke 1.68–69 68Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 

Luke 2.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

How doth Christ redeem and save us? 

Gal. 4.4–5 4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 

Mat. 20.28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. 

Phil. 2.7, 8 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 

Rom. 4.25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

How do we come to have part and fellowship with Christ, in his Death and Resurrection? 

John 17.20–21 20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 

2 Cor. 5.20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 

1 Cor. 6.17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

What is his Word? 

2 Tim. 3.15–16 15And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 

How doth the Ministery of the Law bring you towards Christ? 

Rom. 3.20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sinne. 

Gal. 3.10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 

Gal. 3.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 

Rom. 7.9, 10 9For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sinne revived, and I died. 10And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

What are you thereby the nearer to Christ? 

Gal. 3.10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 

Gal. 3.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

How doth the Ministery of the Gospell helpe you in this cursed Estate?

Luke 3.4–6 4As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. w How doth the ministery of the Gospell humble you more? 

2 Tim. 1.10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 

1 Tim. 1.15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 

John 16.7–9 7Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sinne, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9Of sinne, because they believe not on me; 

John 6.44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 

Luke 19.10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

How then doth the Ministery of the Gospel raise you up out of this lost estate to come unto Christ?

John 12.32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 

2 Cor. 5.19–20 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 

Song 5.10–16 10My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. 11His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. 12His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. 13His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. 14His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. 15His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. 16His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. 

Song 6.1 Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee. 

2 Cor. 3.18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Luke 19.10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. 

Mat. 9.13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 

Gal. 3.5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Rom. 10.17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 

Rom. 1.16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

How doth the spirit of grace apply Christ, and his promise of grace unto you, and keepe you in him?

Rom. 10.17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 

Rom. 10.14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 

Zech. 12.10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. 

Rom. 16.25–26 25Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.

2 Cor. 10.4–5 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

What is Faith? 

Phil. 1.29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 

2 Cor. 4.13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; 

Phil 3.8–9 8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

What is Prayer?

Mat. 6.9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 

John 16.23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 

Rom. 8.16 16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 

Rom. 8.27 27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 

1 John 5.14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.

What is Repentance? 

NOTE: This call-out is missing in the 1646 edition, and the references run unbroken folllowing “a” until “c.” The call-out is supplied at this location based on the subject matter of the referenced verses.

Acts. 5.31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sinnes.

Zech. 12.10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (This reference is repeated six citations later; that repetition is omitted here. The same citation also appears under “y” twelve references earlier.)

Ezek. 6.9 And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations. 

Job 42.6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. 

2 Sam. 24.10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. 

Lev. 26.40–41 40If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; 41And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: 

Prov. 28.13 He that covereth his sinnes shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Zech. 12.10 [The 1646 edition repeats this reference here.] 

1 Sam. 7.2 And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

Psa. 51.1–2 1Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sinne. 

Psa. 51.10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

What is newnesse of life or new obedience? 

Rom. 7.6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. 

1 Pet. 4.2–4 2That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.

Psa. 116.9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. 

Psa. 119.9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. 

Psa. 119.105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. 

Psa. 119.115 Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God. 

Psa. 16.3 But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.

What is the communion of Saints?

1 Cor. 1.2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s: 

Phil. 1.5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 

Acts 2.47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. 

Rom. 9.4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 

1 Cor. 12.13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

What is the Church?

Psa. 89.5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. 

Psa. 50.5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. 

Psa. 50.16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? 

Ezek. 20.37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: 

Acts 2.42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 

1 Cor. 14.23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 

1 Cor. 14.26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

What is the bond of the Covenant, in which the Church is joyned together?

2 Cor. 8.5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 

2 Cor. 9.13. Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 

Gen. 17.7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

What doth the Lord binde his people to in this Covenant? 

Josh. 24.15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. 

Josh. 24.21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. 

Josh. 24.24–25 24And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. 25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 

2 Cor. 8.5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 

Eph. 5.21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 

Neh. 9.38 And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it. 

Neh. 10.28–34 28And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding; 29They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes; 30And that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, not take their daughters for our sons: 31And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt. 32Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with. the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God; 33For the shewbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sinne offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. 34And we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, after the houses of our fathers, at times appointed year by year, to burn upon the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law.

How do they give up themselves and their seed to the Lord?

John 1.12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 

Gen. 17.9–10 9And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 

Isa. 56.6–7 6Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 7Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. 

Gen. 18.19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

How do they give up themselves and their seed to the Elders and Brethren of the Church?

Mat. 3.6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sinnes. 

Act 8.37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 

2 Cor. 9.13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 

Act. 2.38–39 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sinnes, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.

What are the seales of the Covenant now in the dayes of the Gospel?* (This call-out is erroneously labelled “l” in the 1646 edition.) 

Rom. 4.11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 

Col. 2.11–12 11In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sinnes of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 

1 Cor. 11.25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

What is done for you in Baptism?

Heb. 10.22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 

Heb. 12.24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. 

John 3.5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 

Rom. 6.2–3 2God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sinne, live any longer therein? 3Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 

Acts 22.16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sinnes, calling on the name of the Lord. 

Luke 3.3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sinnes; 

1 Pet. 3.20–21 20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 

1 Cor. 15.29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

What is done for you in the Lords Supper?

1 Cor. 10.16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 

Mat. 26.26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 

Mat. 26.28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sinnes. 

1 Cor. 12.13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 

Psa. 104.15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart. 

John 6.55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

[Lord’s Supper, second part] *(There is no text callout for the marginal citation labeled “n” in the 1646 edition, although this reference sits in the margin separate from those above. The text callout “n” in the next answer refers to the citation labeled “o,” regarding baptism and resurrection, and the text call-out for “o” is skipped.)

Luke 22.27, 29, 30 27For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. . . . 29And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

What is the resurrection from the dead, which was sealed up to you in Baptism?

John 5.28–29 28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. 

Acts 24.15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

What is the last judgement, which is sealed up to you in the Lords Supper? 

2 Cor. 5.10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 

Mat. 12.36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 

1 Cor. 4.5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

Eccl. 12.14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

What is the reward that shall then be given?

Mat.25.34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 

Mat. 25.46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Published editions of Milk for Babes: 1646–1702

Milk for Babes. Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments. Chiefly, for the Spirituall Nourishment of Boston Babes in Either England: But May Be of Like Use for Any Children. London: J. Coe for Henry Overton, 1646. [Wing 6443]

Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes in Either England. Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments for Their Souls Nourishment but May Be of Like Use to Any Children. Cambridg, MA: S[amuel]. G[reen]. for Hezekiah Usher, 1656. [Evans 42]

Spirituall Milk for Boston Babes in Either England. Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, for Their Soules Nourishment: But May Be of Like Use for Any Children. London: Henry Cripps, 1657. [Wing 6462A]

Spiritual Milk for Babes. Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, for Their Souls Nourishment: of Great Use for Children. London: Henry Cripps, 1662. [Wing 6459A]

Spiritual Milk for Babes, Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, for Their Souls Nourishment: But May Be of Like Use for Any Children. London: Peter Parker, 1668. [Wing 6460]

Spiritual Milk for Babes Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, for Their Souls Nourishment; and of Great Use for Children. Corrected in Quotations by L. H. London: Peter Parker, 1672. [Wing 6461

Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes, in Either England: Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments for Their Souls Nourishment. But May Be of Like Use to Any Children. Boston, 1684. [Evans 39225]

Nashauanittue Meninnunk wutch Mukkiesog. Trans. Grindal Rawson. Cambridge, MA: Samuel Green for Bartholomew Green, 1691. [Evans 550] 

The New-England Primer Enlarged; For the More Easy Attaining the True Reading of English. To Which Is Added Milk for Babes. London: B[enjamin]. Harris, [1701; Known only from an advertisement printed in Davenport’s Saints Anchor Hold, B. Harris: London, 1701] 

[Cotton Mather,] Maschil, or, The Faithful Instructor. Offering, Memorials of Christianity in Twenty-six Exercises upon the New-English Catechism. Boston: B. Green & J. Allen for Samuel Phillips, 1702. [Evans 1069; “Milk for Babes” occupies pages 14–106 of this work, with each set of the original questions and answers amplified by Mather by a series of yes-or-no questions.] 

Editions are also reported from London 1648 (by Wilberforce Eames, who reports it is bound with the British Library copy of the 1646 edition), Cambridge 1668 [Evans 120; based on S. F. Haven], and Boston 1690 [Evans 506; based on Thomas Prince’s MS catalogue in Sibley’s Harvard Graduates], the last with an appendix of “Serious Advice” by Cotton Mather.


John Cotton’s Milk for Babes (also known as Spiritual Milk for Babes), a beginning catechism for children and young Christians, was first published in the 1640s and remained in print continuously for over 200 years. In a series of 64 questions and answers, it rehearses sin and the law, the ten commandments, the role of the Church, the nature of grace, the covenant, salvation, the sacraments, and the last judgment. It is annotated with 203 marginal Bible references on which Cotton based his statement of the fundamental Puritan credo. In its 13 small pages, Cotton’s catechism encompasses the Reformed Protestant faith in simple, succinct, and eloquent language that passed into general usage and, ultimately, into the New England subconscious. 

The oldest surviving copy of Milk for Babes was published in London in 1646. It was reprinted many times on both sides of the Atlantic, and at least eight editions from the seventeenth century are known. Between 1690 and 1701, it was first incorporated into The New-England Primer, and it remained an essential component of that work and an integral part of American religious education for the next 150 years. 

John Cotton (1584–1652) was by most accounts the preeminent minister and theologian of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was educated at Cambridge and was a leader of the Independents or Puritans in England. In 1633, to avoid prosecution for nonconformity, he came to Massachusetts, where he served as “Teacher” for the church in Boston until his death. 

This edition of Milk for Babes contains the entire text of the earliest known printing from 1646. It also includes a brief textual history and an added appendix giving the text of all 203 Bible passages cited, keyed to the questions and answers to which Cotton applied them.

Notes on the Text 

The earliest surviving edition of John Cotton’s shorter catechism, Milk for Babes. Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, was printed at London in 1646. The catechism was probably composed in 1641, and copies may have been printed by Samuel Daye at Cambridge in New England between 1641 and 1645. Whether the London edition of 1646 was set from manuscript or from an earlier printed issue is not known. Another edition with the same title may have been issued at London in 1648. The earliest extant American edition (surviving in only one badly defective copy) was printed at Cambridge in 1656, with the title Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes in Either England. Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments. Later editions that have survived are those of London in 1657, 1662, 1668, and 1672—this last described as “Corrected in Quotations by L. H.”—and all titled Spiritual Milk for Babes. An edition published in Boston in 1684 is also known, with the title Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes. The work was translated into Natick Algonquin by Grindal Rawson and issued as Nashauanittue Meninnunk wutch Mukkiesog, Wussesèmumun wutch Sogkodtunganash Naneeswe Testamentsash (Cambridge, 1691). The Indian version does not include the biblical references. 

Milk for Babes was incorporated by Benjamin Harris into the New-England Primer (first published c.1688–1690) at least as early as 1701, although no copies any editions of the Primer before 1727 are known to survive. Surviving copies do not contain the marginal Bible citations. Throughout the eighteenth century some versions of the New-England Primer – included Milk for Babes, while others included the “Shorter Westminster” catechism, and some versions even included both. (See Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The New-England Primer: A History of Its Origin and Development [New York, 1897], pp. 18, 41–44). Cotton’s grandson, Cotton Mather, incorporated Milk for Babes into his anonymous work Maschil, or, The Faithful Instructor (Boston, 1702) and also into his anonymous The Man of God Furnished. The Way of Truth, Laid Out; with a Threefold Catechism (Boston, 1708). 

Cotton’s title “Milk for Babes” may have been suggested by earlier English catechisms, such as William Crashaw’s Milke for Babes. Or, A North-Countrie Catechisme. Made Plaine and Easie, to the Capacitie of the Countrie People (London, 1617 [also 1618, 1622, and 1633]); Hugh Peters’ Milke for Babes, and Meate for Men (Amsterdam, 1630; London, 1641); or William Dickenson’s Milke for Babes: The English Catechisme, Set Downe in the Common-Prayer Booke (Oxford 1628). Another contemporary catechism with a similar title was Robert Abbot’s Milk for Babes: or, a Mother’s Catechism for Her Children (London, 1646). The title may, in fact, have been supplied by the printer, as it was apparently in common use for simple or beginning catechisms. On the history of the New England catechisms, see Wilberforce Eames, Early New England Catechisms: A Bibliographical Account of Some Catechisms Published before the Year 1800, for Use in New England (1898), especially pages 21–26, 62, 81–87; on the 1672 London edition, see Benjamin Franklin V, “The Identity of L.H., Amender of John Cotton’s Milk for Babes,” Resources for American Literary Study 25.2 (1999), pp. 159-173, and also his “Goodman Brown and the Puritan Catechism,” ESQ 40:1 (1994), no. 154, pp. 66–88. 

Milk for Babes, as published in 1646, contains two typographically distinct portions: 1) the questions and answers, and 2) the biblical references cited in support of the answers and printed in a column in the outer margins. These marginal citations presented obvious challenges to the typesetter(s), who often struggled to fit them within the small space allotted, and occasionally neglected to include the text callouts for them, misnumbered (or mis-lettered) the sequence, or otherwise misattributed or mismatched the citation and reference. Furthermore, being relegated to the margins of the page, they were printed less distinctly and have suffered more wear and deterioration in the surviving copies, so that punctuation (inconsistently applied to begin with) is sometimes speculative in varying degrees. Mostly, this relates to distinguishing commas from periods: sometimes the abbreviated book names were followed by periods, sometimes not; sometimes verses were separated by commas, and sometimes by periods. Fortunately, two surviving copies of the 1646 London edition are available for comparison: one in the Henry E. Huntington Library and the other in the British Museum—both are available in the Early English Books Online series. Occasionally reference has been made for confirmation to the London 1657 edition and to the badly defective Cambridge 1656 edition. 

In all cases, the marginal citations in this text have been compared to the Bible passage (in the King James version) they reference. In one instance, an emendation of a probable typographical error has been made, based on the relevance of the passage referenced. In many cases, the verse cited may not appear to have an immediate and obvious bearing on the “Question” being answered, but it has not been undertaken to amend Cotton’s Bible references to ones thought more suitable (as “L.H.” did in 1672), because the application of scripture to questions of doctrine and creed may proceed by other than the most direct and obvious route. In fact, the exegetical process whereby Cotton justified his faith on Bible grounds may at least be suggested by reporting his starting point in scripture and his endpoint in the catechism.