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was brought up at the feet of this Christian Gamaliel; and, in imitation of so excellent a master, has lately published the following admonition to us✶ under his ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
"As to the lowest and most laborious classes of people, they have seldom either leisure or ability to educate their children well; and, unless the public and the clergy take the care upon themselves, the probability is, that they will have no education at all. The usual mode of instructing them in religion, when they are. brought in the way of it, is by means of the Church Catechism: this, at first, can be nothing more than teaching the children to repeat it by heart; but, as they grow up, and their understandings open, it should be explained to them in the easiest and most familiar termsshould be placed before them in various points of view, and brought down to the level of their. humble capacities, so as to make them comprehend, clearly and distinctly, the grounds and rudiments, the essential doctrines and fundamental duties of that religion which is to be the guide of their conduct here, and the means of their salvation hereafter. This, it must be con
The author at that time served a eure in His Lord. ship's diocese.
fessed, is a laborious part of duty, but it is a part so useful, so important, and so indispensably necessary, that I cannot forbear pressing it home on your most serious attention."
I quote this passage to convince you, both how closely our method agrees with the rules here laid down, and also that, notwithstanding the dissipation of the times, and the reproachful scoffings and unjust censures of many, the pure and positive means of upholding Christianity, and destroying the kingdom of Satan, still exercise the vigilance and zeal of those whom God hath set over us, to admonish and exhort unto good works.
As this directly recommends the task I have lately adopted for your religious improvement, and leads immediately to the second part of the subject, I will now dismiss you, praying God's blessing on what has been said at this time, that you may profitably digest it, and be seriously prepared for the remainder when we meet again. -Now, &c.
ACTS, VIII. PART OF VERSES 30, 31.
And Philip said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me ?
I WOULD not pass so unfavourable a judgment upon your religious disposition, my friends, as to suppose it necessary to repeat the heads of my former Discourse, so lately delivered to you upon these words, in order to renew any impression of the great consequence of the subject. I have already shown you, from the nature of things, from fact, from Scripture, and the testimony of the best and wisest men, both of former and more modern times, the value of early instruction in religious knowledge: I shall therefore proceed immediately to the second division of my subject, and endeavour to make it equally clear, that it is, in a great degree, through neglect of this essential article of education, that, when youth grow up, they are, so easily led astray, and estranged from the service of that church in which they were born and bred.
First, then, as a falling off from regular attendance upon public worship in the church is become too common in many places, and by those who have, in other respects, the report of being sober and seriously inclined persons; and as I am concerned to observe it is the case with some among ourselves, it naturally produces an inquiry into the cause, and equally inclines us to use our best endeavours to remove it.
It being past all doubt that the doctrines of our excellent Church are purely evangelical; its service easy to be understood, and at the same time most decent, solemn, and affecting; it must surely contain abundant food for the exercise of every devout soul; and, from the judicious regularity in which it repeats the whole of the sacred volume, its prayers and collects, and the due application of every Christian rite, no orderly and well-disposed person, but may find matter of exhortation and comfort, reproof and admonition, if he will but give earnest, uniform, and sincere attention to the holy form of worship it administers.
That any one should appear dissatisfied with such unexceptionable provision for the soul's health, affords matter of just surprise; and, as the only way to account for a disorder, is to trace it to the fountain-head, I think we may affirm one reason at least for the rise and growth of this very blameable conduct to be the want
of that early instruction I so fully treated of in my former Discourse ;-to the deficiency of such a solid foundation of sound principles as would answer every scruple of conscience, reconcile all misgiving fears, uphold the weak, satisfy the doubting, and put to flight a host of fanciful and false alarms, which either the artifice of the devil, or the infirmity that flesh is heir to, may occasionally raise in wavering or melancholy minds. I am ready to think, I say, that this great error of separating from the established worship, will be very much prevented by the humble means already mentioned; but, as this will chiefly afford armour to those who are com-ing up, those that have already started aside, we must endeavour to win back by such methods as their harder case more particularly requires: gentle counsel, seasonable argument, and charitable remonstrance, may possibly work upon some, though I am convinced the malady is often inveterate and stubborn; and, as it is doubtless more difficult to reclaim one that is prejudiced in a wrong cause, than to keep him in the right at first; we must, therefore, not slacken in the exercise of every likely means, but exert our best abilities in convincing them of the error and danger of their proceedings, and in vindicating the honour and sufficiency of that church, of which we are appointed the ministers. We must, as St. Paul did, become every thing to every