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OSS. bodiaq520b2a9dain not what God has in reserve, nor ples of Christian morality and
b ofochastian morality and am 1 anxious : it is sufficient piety. And as this is so import that he governs in perfect wis- tant and difficult a duty, the inasdom and goodness. If he bestow vidual members of the church, prosperity, I will rejoice if he and the church, as a body, bught call me to suffering, by his gra to do what in them Ties to assist cious support, I will still exclaim, parents in discharging it. But * Even so, Father, for so it hath through the inattention of parseemed good in thy sight." widtents and of churches to this
great duty, there is little ground FUENTES Y
to expect that our youth will be Batangiai dozad u a odt,
a generation to seek the Lord.lo balss sriti
But there is something more SURVEY OF NEW ENGLAND than bare neglect.Anlevil, hrsteen CHURCHES. siin
formerly unknown in New Eng. - (Continued from p. 216)
land, has been lately introduced o bo 319 ads sidid
into the mode of catechising. S. ANOTHER evil, which threat- It is obviously very desirable, ens the welfare of our churches, that there be a general uniformity is the neglect or abuse of catechet- in the method of instructing ical instruction. Catechising is youth. The importance of this one of the best and most approv must be felt by all who consider, ed methods of teaching children that unity of faith among Christhe principles of religion. No tians is intimately connected other method has ever been with the honour of Christ and the found so well adapted to the prosperity of his church. It is state of the youthful mind. Chris- to be expected, that the mode of tian catechisms have been the instruction will have a powerful successful means of conveying influence on the youthful mind. from one generation to another Children, who are instructed in the saying knowledge of the gos- the peculiar sentiments of Chrispel. The general neglect of this tianity, and see the happy effect mode of instruction forebodes in- of those sentiments exemplified calculable injury. A family is a in the lives of their parents, are seminary, of church and state, under advantages to receive the Unless children are educated in most valuable impressions. They the nurture and admonition of will be strongly guarded against the Lord, they are likely to grow the danger of licentious opinions, up in ignorance and vice. What, and, after they come to maturity in a moral view, will distinguish of understanding, will be likely them from the heathen, if they to embrace the truths of reveldare left without gospel informa- tion. The earlier they are tion? Every parent is obliged, taught the principles of religion, by the express , command of the better will they ultimately Scripture ; by the solemn vows understand them, the more perwhich he makes, when he offers "fectly remember thein, and the up his children in baptism; and more constantly and deeply feel by those affections which tender- their influence. How Highly ly bind him to their welfare, to important, then, that the mode instil into their minds the princi- of juvenile instruction should
comprise the system of divine lightened, un sanctified reason truth. And as there is, and can discovers. But a catechism, be, only one such system ; as the professedly constructed on Chris. particular method of stating it tian principles, and designed to will probably produce such dura- instruct the rising age in the ble effects on the mind; and as truths of the Christian religion, it is so necessary to the harmony must be exceedingly defective, of believers and the peace of the if it do not contain the peculiar church, that the same sentiments doctrines revealed in the gospel. on religious subjects should Suppose it is free from error, generally prevail ; it is evidently and contains much moral and of much consequence, that there religious truth. Yet, if it want be a general uniformity in the those truths, which distinguish mode of instruction. Religious the evangelical revelation, it deeducation ought to rest on the serves not the title of a Christian same foundation, to proceed on catechism. It is indispensable in the same principles, to be regula- a Christian catechism, that it exted by the same maxims. Now hibit those yiews of God and his there is no way, in which this law, of the moral condition of uniformity can be preserved so man, of the character and work effectually, as by the general of the Redeemer, and of the adoption of the same catechism method of salvation by grace, for youth, and the same confes, which compose the essence of the sion of faith in the churches. gospel, and make the Christian
But it is a question still, to be religion what it is. Tot considered, what catechism shall - Secondly. A Christian cate.” be adopted? This leads directly chism ought to be composed in to an inquiry concerning the filain, definite, precise language, essential profierties of a good Being designed to convey in Christian catechism.
struction to people in general, it On this subject it is a remark should be written in language which first occurs, that a Chris- · which they can understand. Betian catechism ought to contain all ing designed to convey instruct the distinguishing doctrines of the tion on subjects, which are most i gospel. If the Christian revela- weighty in themselves, and which tion is designed to make known it is of infinite importance that any truths not taught by the all should rightly apprehend, it light of nature; to exhibit those I should, in every part, be ex: li truths should be a primary ob- : pressed definitely, and with precii ject of a Christian catechism. A sion. The brwords employed philosophical catechism may should be such, as will give a properly be restricted to philo- complete and exact idea of the sophical truth. A political cate- truths under consideration; chism may extend no further such, as will clearly mark their than political principles. A cate- limits, so that they may be neith chism formed merely by the aid er stretched to any excess, nor
Teason, we expect, will comprise ments. Every thing, in short, those truths only, which unen- should be so expressed that the Th
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attentive, unprejudiced reader mended by its fulness. Of all shall apprehend neither more human composures of such a nor less, than what is meant. moderate length, the catechism
Thirdly. A Christian cate- contains the most complete sumchism ought to be of a suitable mary of Christian knowledge. lengih. If it be too long, it will In this wo find, either more or encumber the memory; if too less explicitly, all the great docshort, it will want some material trines of our holy religion. part.
There is scarcely one truth of Fourthly. If a catechism pos- importance, which is not here sess the above mentioned re. asserted. Those truths espe. quisite qualities, the longer it has cially, which relate to salvation been approved by the Christian by Jesus Christ ; those truths, world, the more highly should it be which are the glory of the gosesteemed. A catechism may be pel, and constitute the main obso constructed, as, on its first jett of our faith and joy; those appearance, to meet the unquali- substantial truths, which tend fied approbation of wise and good savingly to enlighten our minds, men, while at the same time it and to purify our hearts and will not endure a thorough trial. lives, are held forth in their diLong experience often discovers vine beauty and glory. Al. defects, which were concealed though the catechism was comfrom the most discerning eye. posed more than a hundred and If, therefore, a catechism, in addi- fifty years ago, it is remarkably action to other requisite properties, commodated to the present state has been sanctioned by experi- of religion, and fitted to counterence and derives authority from act the errors which now prevail its antiquity, it is the more in the world. By this means it strongly recommended to our conduces more to the necessary confidence.
information of the people, than Now let us examine, by these many, large volumes on divinity, rules, the Assembly's shorter cate I tå language is plain, definite, chism, and see whether it is not and precise. Considering the á composition of superior merit. mysterious nature of many gos. It seems, indeed, unnecessary to pel truths, and the ambiguity and bestow encomiums on that, sophistry, which have been artwhich so manifestly carries its fully associated with theological own recommendation. “ Gold expressions, we have reason to needs no varnish, and diamonds admire the perspicuity and preno painting." Yet it may be cision of the catechism. It utuseful, in these infected times, ters nothing in dark or unintelto 'recal the public attention to ligible phrases. It leaves noththose excellencies of the cate ing indeterminate or doubtful. chism, for which it deserves the It cautiously shuns those intricountenance of all who love the cate and metaphysical terms, interest of evangelical truth, but which often perplex divinity, and for which we expect the enemies furnish to the bulk of mankind of the truth will endeavour to perpetual occasion of division overwhelm it with infamy. and strife. * In the first place it is recom: . Should it be objected against the catechism, that it is above the ent, the longer it has been used. understanding of children; we It is believed, that no volume of answer; the reason of this must human composure has been be sought, not in the obscurity of productive of so much good. the sentiments or expressions in What a distinguished instrument the catechism, but in children's has it been of promoting among mental incapacity. No cate- men the saving knowledge of dichism can convey clear and ade- vine things! What a precious quate ideas to their minds before seed planted in the youthful they are capable of receiving mind, yielding in their season them. Still every one who well the excellent fruits of wisdom considers the nature of mankind, and goodness! What a permaespecially of children, will readi- nent treasure, abundantly enly see, that it is both important riching the church of God from and necessary to their intellec- generation to generation! The tual and moral improvement, testimony of ages stamps it with constantly to direct their atten- unspeakable value. There is tion to things above their reach, no composition of the kind, posand lay in their retentive memo- sessing so many recommendaries an early foundation 'for their tions ; none which, in the most knowledge and faith, when years important respects, will bear shall mature their faculties. comparison with this.
As to the length of the cate The Assembly's shorter catechism; it is a circumstance to chism, therefore, is evidently be noticed with pious gratitude, entitled to the universal approbathat so many momentous truths tion of Christians; and, while no are contained in so short a com- other of equal merit is offered, pass. It is of such a moderate ought to be resolutely supported length, that it may be often by ministers and churches, as perused by all, and, with little a directory for the instruction of labour, fully committed to mem- the rising generation.
The same rules, by which we The catechism is peculiarly determine the excellence of the recommended by the manner in Assembly’s catechism, show that which it was introduced, and by most of those catechisms, which the testimony of long experi are obtruded upon the world at ence. It was, with great labour this day, have little or nothing to and fervent prayer, composed by recommend them. Their novelan assembly of more than a hun- ty may, indeed, be thought a dred divines, eminent for exten recommendation. But this, on sive learning and Christian holi- impartial inquiry, will be found ness. After being agreed upon a circumstance greatly to their by that large and respectable disadvantage. Prudently to reassembly, it was most seriously form abuses and make valuable examined and approved by the improvements is always a good general assembly of the church work. But a spirit of innovation, of Scotland. With such care which is justly accounted so was it received, as a directory hazardous in political affairs, is for catechising. Its excellence infinitely more hazardous in rehas been more and more appar- ligion. He, that leads the way,
must be responsible for all the are either half expressed, or dismischief, which he directly torted and misapplied. How brings upon the church, and, in great the inconsideration and a measure, for all which will be rashness, if not the criminality of occasioned by others following those, who endeavour to substihis example. *
tute, in the place of our excelIf men would introduce a new lent catechism, other models of catechism, it becomes them to instruction, which, comparably, present one, which deserves to have scarcely a shadow of excelbe preferred before the Asseme lence! How can we reflect upon bly's. Let us, then, examine the it, without a mixture of grief catechisms, which have been and indignation, that so many lately poured upon the land. covert, and so many open meaWhat do we find, that entitles sures should take place, which them to public regard ? On al- have a direct tendency to create most every great subject of rev a disesteem and neglect of such elation, we meet either palpa- an excellent form of sound words ; ble error, studied ambiguity, or particularly, that ministers of total silence. And it is often the God's word should be so forcase, that those divine truths, ward to supersede it entirely, which seem to be held forth, when the cause of gospel truth
• It may be thought that some Christian religion, which is common. remarks, here made, are injuri. ly called the Assembly's Catechism." ous to the character of the pious Dr. Again, he says, “ All that I presume WATTs, who composed and publish- to propose to my friends is, that the ed several catechisms for children; Assembly's Catechism might be put and his example may be urged, as into the hands of children when they justifying the conduct which we have are grown up to twelve or thirteen taken the liberty to censure. But it years of age, or more, and that there will be found, on inquiry, that our re might be some shorter and easier marks imply no censure of Dr. forms of instruction provided for WATTS. He entertained the highest young children, to lay the foundation esteem for the Asseinbly's Cate of the knowledge of religion in their chisin, and never meant that it should tender minds, and to train them up be superseded by any which he com- by degrees till they are capable of usposed. His views are satisfactorily ing the Assembly's Catechism with learned from the following quotations. 'understanding and judgment." The He lays it down as his first rule for plan of instruction proposed by Dr. composing catechisms for children, WATTS, is deemed worthy of high « that different catechisms be com. regard. But let it be well considered, posed for different ages and capaci. how different his design was from the ties, each of which should contain an design of others, who pretend to imi. abstract of Christianity, or a view of tate his example. He viewed the our whole religion in miniature. In the Assembly's Catechism as holding the first of these all the questions should highest place in the best scheme of be as short, plain, and easy as possi. catechetical instruction. He had no ble, for young children; and others idea of doing any thing to set it aside, should be gradually more large and or to sink its credit; but wished that full, and enter a little further into the it might be used, after some easier. things of God, which they should forms, to perfect the religious education lear according to their increasing of children. 'How different the object age, and the growth of their under of those, who wish, either gradually, standing: and the last of them may or at once, to exclude it from the be . that comprehensive system of scheme of religiogo education. Vol. II, No. 6.