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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. length. If it be too long, it will In this wo find, either more or encuinber 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 espequisite qualities, the longer it has cially, which relate to salvation teen approved by the Christian by Jesus Christ ; those truths, world, the more highly should it be which are the glory of the gosetteemed. A catechism may be pel, and constitute the main obso constructed, as, on its first ject of our faith and joy; those appearance, to meet the unquali- substantial truths, which tend Med 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. 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- Its language is plain, definite, ahlem, and see whether it is not and precise. Considering the a 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. shism, for which it deserves the It cautiously shuns those intri. countenance 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 en. ly 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 recommenda, ries 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. ory.
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 novel. an 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 Assem- 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 paipa- 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 commonremarks, 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 urgea, 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 Warts. He entertained the highest young children, to lay the foundation esteem for the Assembly's Catc. of the knowledge of religion in their chism, 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 us. posed. His views are satisfactorilying be 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, Warrs, 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 ini: 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 anything to set it aside, should be gradually more large and or to sink its crédit; 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 learn according to their increasing of children. How different the object age, and the growth of their under. of those, who wish, cither gradually, standing; and the last of them may or at once, to exclude it from the be that comprehensive system of scheme of religious education. Vol. II. No. 6.
requires them to use the most young, and to the cause of the diligent means to restore its Redeemer, every attempt to sink salutary influence, and to awaken that catechism, which was so the attention of parents and chil. piously composed and so caudren to its all important contents. tiously introduced; which is They may pretend a wish for an characterized by such internal improved plan of religious educa- excellence; and is, besides, so tion. But the methods adopted extensively.supported by the are sufficient to convince the at- public authority of the church, tentive observer, that they are and ratified by the uniform testieither governed by a desire to mony of ages. Let the churchsupplant that system of theolo- es of God awake; let them ask gy, which the reformed church for the old way, and walk in the has generally embraced, or, at footsteps of the foek; and let least, are criminally indifferent thein always beware of men desrespecting it.
titute of the truth, whose impoSuch are the circumstances of sing arts and devious example the present times, that we cannot would lead them into paths, help lamenting, as hostile te the where fatal danger lurks, and the religious improvement of the Saviour is not seen.
RICHARD BAXTER TO A PROD
ORIGINAL LETTER BY REV. Mr. tion to her offspring; which will
not suffer me to see you perish in utter silence, and to forbear my
admonition, how ungrateful soevSir,
erit may prove to your corruption. Tæe many obligations laid up- I have long inquired after on me by the kindness of your your welfare ; and, from the parents, and the last request of voice of Fame, I heard a very your mother on your behalf, sad report of you: That you command me to make known my were quite given up to drinking, thoughts to you concerning your sporting, idle company and courpresent and everlasting state. ses, in flat licentiousness, in your
I know the grace of God is disobedience to your father, and free, and that many parents are to the grief of his heart; and in heaven, whose children are in that, as you were a child when hell; but yet, some respect the you should have been a man, so mercy of God hath to children
now you grow worse than man or for their parents' sake ; which child; so that your father has puts me in some hope of you; purposed to marry, and disinherit and, for myself, I cannot think of you, that he might not leave his your mother, whose soul is now
estate to such I was loath with God, without a strong affec- to credit this report ; but made further inquiry of some that I but what you see? Do you live knew to be your friends, and all only by sense, and not by faith? confirmed it; so that I am in Say not so, without an acknowlgreat fears lest it be true. edgment of brutishness; do not
Sir, believe it, these lines are so, unless you will disown your not begun to you without tears. manhood. Alas! that the only son, the too I beseech you, tell me, do you much beloved darling of my dear ever think of dying, and of what deceased friend, should prove a follows? If not, what shift do wretch, an invincible neglecter you make to overcome your wit, of God and his salvation, and an so far as to forget it? If you do, heir of everlasting misery (with- what shift make you to overcome oyt conversion !) Shall the soul your wit and sense itself so far of such an affectionate, careful as to disregard it? Can your mother see you in damnation ? guilty soul endure the terrors of Shall the heart of a loving father, an offended Majesty ? Is it nothwho looked for much of his earth- ing to be condemned by the most ly comfort in you, have his great- holy God to everlasting tor: est earthly sorrow from you? ments? Is it not sorrow enough to put Sir, you had best bethink you him to part with half himself, quickly whom you have to do but he must see his only son as with. It is not only an earthly lost and dead while he is alive? father that you offend, but you are
Sir, if you cannot feel words, a creature and a subject of eteryou shall shortly have that which nal Majesty. You owe him your will make you feel. What! is highest love and obedience..... your heart become a stone? He will make you know yourHave you so lately seen the face self, and know your Maker, and of death in a deceased mother, know his laws, and know your and do you no better bethink you duty, or he will make you howl of your own ? I beseech you' for in endless misery for it. You the sake of her that charged you may make bold with a man like by her last word to you, to be yourself; but be not too bold ruled by me; nay, I beseech with the consuming fire. The you, for the sake of God and of sun is darkness in comparison of your soul, that you would take his glory ; the heavens and earth these lines a little into your pri- are but as an hand breadth, in yate serious thoughts, if you comparison of his infiniteness. know how to be serious; and Thousands and ten thousands of that you will not proceed any glorious angels are praising Him, further in your folly, till you can while such a thing as you are tell how to answer the question slighting, forgetting and disobey. which I shall now put to you.
ing Him. And do you think Sir, what do you think on? he will long put up with this at Do you not believe that the infi- your hands ?' If you dare take pite God beholdeth you, and that your Prince by the throat, if you you live in his presence? Is dare play with a raging hunGod's presence nothing to you ? gry lion, yet do not play with the Are you affected with nothing wrath of God. If you dare