« VorigeDoorgaan »
SERM. ledge in their youth, there is great reason w to fear that the cares and pleasures of the
world will prevent their acquiring it at all ; whereas right principles, properly incul. cated at that early season, will probably never desert them during the remaining part of their lives.
With this expectation, our church has provided a catechism, which is a form of instruction by question and answer; and she enjoins her members to teach it their children, as soon as they shall be able to learn it: and she further expects, that it should not only be known, but thoroughly understood by them, before they take on themselves, at their confirmation, those engagements which were made for them by their sureties' at their baptism. This catechism contains, within a short compass, the chief heads of Christian faith and Christian obedience; and, though there are some obscure parts in it, yet, whatever is important is clear, and so plain that, with SERM. some little assistance from their elders, m and a proper degree of attention on their own parts, it may easily be comprehended, by all, before they arrive at that age, when they will become themselves answerable for the observance of their baptismal vow. It is to contribute my share towards this good work, that I shall dedicate this and some future discourses.
This catechism opens with a recital of the privileges which baptism confers, and of the promises which those, who answer for the young person, make in his name. It then proceeds to instruct him in the articles of faith, which are contained in the belief, to which a short explanation, of what may be gathered from it, is added. It goes on, to regulate his practice, by setting before him the ten commandments; after whịch, he is told that from these he may learn his duty towards God and to
SERM. wards his neighbour ; and, in the answers
to the two next questions, these duties are set forth more at large.
As it is impossible for us to do God's will without his special grace, which we can only expect to be granted to our diligent petitions, the catechism next presents us with the prayer which our Saviour him. self taught to his disciples, and with a commentary or paraphrase upon it; and, lastly, it concludes with a short account of the two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's supper. . I shall make some few remarks on each of these, passing over in silence, or in a very few words, those parts which are obscure and immaterial for you to know; what is important, as I hinted before, is neither difficult to be explained or understood. .
The first question, as to the name, arises from a custom which prevailed among va
rious nations, of giving to persons new SERM. apellations on their being adopted into new families; in like manner, we, on being made members of Christ's family, received a Christian name, which denotes our relationship to him ; this name, therefore, is very aptly asked of us, when we are going to be questioned further as to the privileges which are conferred on us by baptism. These are said to be three:-we were made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven; in other words, we are admitted into the society of Christ's disciples, we become one of that body of which he is the head, we gain a title to the mercy of God, and are put in a capacity of obtaining a blessed immortality after death.
Of the engagements which our godfathers and god-mothers are said to enter into for us, the first promises that we should forsake all kinds of sin whatever
SERM. (the world, the flesh, and the deyil, being
v a phrase to that import) the second, that
we should believe all the articles of the Christian faith; and the third, that we should obey God's holy will; which we may in a great measure, though not perhaps en tirely, learn from the commandments.Now there is certainly nothing improper in our sponsors making these vows for us, and we are indisputably bound to observe them; and, for the same plain reason, they are so greatly for own good; for, by the transgression or neglect of them, we shall draw on ourselves God's indignation, and be everlastingly punished in the life to come.
I am now to consider the apostle's creed, as it is called, all the articles of which my god-fathers and god-mothers promised I should believe. The first article requires my assent to this truth--that there is an Almighty God, the Father, and maker of