« AnteriorContinua »
child can soon distinguish, in some degree, SERM. between his earthly parents and the Father of All," which is in Heaven," whose name he is taught to hallow; that Father, who is actually, and in reality, to give him his daily bread," and send him (by the effects of his merciful providence) "all things "that be needful both for his soul and body.” But of all parts of the Catechism, capable of making an early impression on the minds of children, I think none can be more likely to do so, than the two admirable summaries of our duty to God, and our duty to our neighbour. I can scarcely conceive it possible for a child to mistake the meaning of the terms adopted in the former. It is, beyond all explanation, most full and comprehensive, and yet simple to admiration:
My duty towards God," says the innocent and unoffending child, not yet corrupted by evil principles, "is to believe in him, to fear him, and to love him, with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul, and with all my strength to worship him-to give "him thanks-to honour his holy name and his "word—and to serve him truly all the days
of my life.” Is it possible to think this does not sink deep into the mind of a child ? Again, how soon must he be capable of understanding, also, the chief points of his duty to his neighbour, as set forth under the several relations and distinctions which civil society has given rise to; first, generally, he is “ to love all men “ as himself, and to do to all men as he “ would they should do to him," under any supposed or real exchange, that is, of circumstances and situation. Then, for the several relations of civil life, his father “ and mother” he is to “ love, honour, and “ succour; the king, and all that are put in “ authority under him (to execute the established laws of the land), he is to reverence “ and obey.” In order to profit by their care and services, he is to “ submit bimself “ to all his governors, teachers, spiritual pas“ tors, and masters ;” and because there must ever be inequalities in the outward estates and conditions of men, for the peace and harmony of society, he should learn to “ order bimself lowly and reverently. “: to all bis betters; to burt nobody in word
6 or deed; to be true and just in all bis deal- serm.
ings; to bear no malice nor batred in bis beart; to keep his hands from picking and stealing, and his tongue from evil speaking, lying, and slandering ; to keep his body in
temperance, soberness, and chastity; not to “ covet or desire other mens' goods, but to “ learn and labour truly to get bis own living, « and to do his duty in that state of life into “ which it shall please God to call him.” It may seem unnecessary to have repeated these articles thus at length in this assembly, but I must be allowed to deem it otherwise, if, in setting them before you in a new point of view, as compositions of the most consummate simplicity, I obtain for it any additional regard and attention. I think we shall not bear, now, to hear it said our Church Catechism is ill-calculated for children, when it has provided such a foundation for every duty, religious and moral; when it stands forth thus, to preoccupy and engage the tender minds of infants, before the evil lessons of the corrupt and abandoned shall have made
SERM. their way to them; to fortify, arm, and
strengthen them, before the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, shall have been at liberty to begin their attacks. What a prospect does it unfold to us in the course and progress of the life of a fellow creature, when we have not only the scriptural encouragement of the text to stimulate us, but when the philosophy of the human mind steps in to enforce the observation, and tells us, it is an almost infallible consequence, that a child trained up in the path of Christian rectitude, will scarcely ever, in the natural course of events, be inclined or able, when he is old, to depart from it? Habit is truly a second nature, not easily abandoned and set aside. If we have any doubt of it, in regard to a
, good disposition, and a good education, surely we must grant it in the case of a bad one. How incorrigible are the wicked; how just the inference of the Prophet, “ Can “ the Etbiopian change bis skin, or the leopard “ his spots ? Then may ye also do good who
? ” are accustomed to do evil.” Good habits
ought to be still stronger, as founded upon sERM. principles so satisfactory to the mind of man.
I shall conclude these general remarks on our Church Catechism, which I have laid before you this day, as applicable to the season, with the eloquent but just encomium of a very learned writer of our own times :
“ Morality has, by some writers, been investigated with metaphysical subtlety, “ and explained with logical precision. By 66 others it has been decorated with all the “ rich and glowing colours of eloquent de
clamation, and poetical imagery. But, “ (with an exception to those writings only, « which proceeded immediately from the
Spirit of God) I have not seen the moral “ relations of mankind, and the obliga“ tions resulting from them, stated with
so much compression in the matter, so “ much order in the arrangement, or so “ much luminousness and energy in the style, as in the Catechism of our Church.