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IN the composition of the following epitome of religion much use has been made of the Protestant Catechism originally published in French and translated into English some years ago. To have given it entire would not have been consistent with our prescribed limits, but its simplicity and comprehensiveness may well entitle it at some future period to an entire republication. The arrangement of the subjects under distinct heads, and the division of the whole into short sections (obviously important improvements) have been borrowed from it.
Something has also been taken from the Unitarian Catechism published in 1791, entitled “Practical Instructions for Youth.” The matter of that publication is for the most part excellent, but it wants the advantage of conciseness, and many of the answers are so long as to be extremely burdensome to the memory of the learner; an error cautiously to be avoided.
Among other original matter, the first section will probably attract notice on account of its differing from most catechisms hitherto published. All seem to agree in the propriety of inspiring the young
mind with ideas of religion, by directing it to God as a Creator ; but the first subject of creating power generally pointed out is itself. This cannot be natural. There are certainly other objects which would
sooner attract its notice. Thus Milton thought, when he makes Adam say, on awaking into existence,
a Straight towards heaven my wond'ring eyes I turn'd
And the first use he makes of the faculty of speech is to address the most glorious object of the visible creation; then, returning to the contemplation of himself, he infers the existence of a Creator.
It is hoped that the subjects will be found tosucceed each other in natural order—the expressions such as not to be beyond the ordinary capacity of children of seven years old and upwards, and the sentiments no other than may be conscientiously adopted by every denomination of christians.
With the impression of this catechism, printed separately from the tracts, will be given a shorter one suitable for children of an earlier age.
FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PERSONS.
SECTION I. 1. WHAT is the name of that glorious body which gives us light and heat by day?
2. What is that other body which shines with a milder light by night?
3. By what general title are those innumerable sparks of light described, which overspread the skies when the sun is 'set?
They are called the stars.
4. When you walk abroad into the fields, what do you see? ?
I see earth and water, and a great variety of trees, plants, flowers, and living creatures.
5. Do you think it possible that any of these things could have made themselves?
No—they must have had some other maker.
6. Could you, or your parents, or any person you have ever seen or heard of, have made these things?
That great and incomprehensible being whom we call God.
SECTION II. 1. If God be the maker of all things, it follows that he is your
Yes it is to him I owe life and breath, and all things.
2. Must not that being, who is capable of effecting
all this, be possessed of infinite power? Yes—he must be powerful beyond all that I can conceive.
3. Do you not also perceive proofs of great wisdom?
I see day and night, summer and winter, seed time and harvest, regularly succeeding each other, and from these, and other marks of beauty and order, I gather that God is infinitely wise.
4. Are not the effects of his goodness equally perceivable ?
Yes, I and all other creatures continually experience it in the supply of our wants, in our constant preservation, and in every thing which makes us comfortable and happy.
5. Where is God?
God is present in every part of the universe; he knows every thing that is in heaven and upon earth; and is acquainted with all we do, or say, or think.
6. Why can we not see God ?
Because God is a spirit who hath not parts or shape, and whose essence is too refined to be the object of our sight.
SECTION III. 1. Hath God given us any other means of knowing him than what are derived from the works of cre. ation ?