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Of the Name and Dignity of a Christian. Q. What religion are you of? A. By the grace of God, I am a Christian.
INSTRUCTION.—Christian is derived from Christ, and signifies as much as a disciple of Christ, and professor of his law and doctrine; or one who is baptized by divine institution in the name of the blessed Trinity, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; whereby, being purified from original sin, and from all sin whatever, we are made sons of God, and heirs of heaven; members of Christ's church; or Christians; and living temples of the Holy Ghost. Thus, what Christ is by nature, a Christian is by the grace of baptism; as Christ is by nature the eternal Son of God, a Christian by grace is the adopted son of God, and so receives, in some proportion, by a spiritual regeneration, what the Son of God received by his eternal generation; That we should be called and be the sons of God, (1 John iii. 1,) by adoption, by virtue whereof we call God our Father, as being sons of God, and heirs of his kingdom. Rom. viii. 15.
Before we are baptized, we remain in sin; are infidels, out of God's favour, and have no title to heaven. Unless one be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. St. John iii. 5.
The faithful first received the name of Christians, in the city of Antioch. Acts xi. 26. Before that time they went by the name of disciples, and brethren : they were called disciples, as being followers of Christ's d ctrine; and brethren, from the great and remarkable love they had for one another: They were all of one heart and one mind. Acts iv. 32. At length they took the name of Christians, a name derived from Christ, to
signify their being the believers and professors of his law, as well as partakers of the unction of his grace.
EXHORTATION.-Learn to value yourself for what you are through the grace of Christ: a Christian ; a disciple of Christ. What more excellent than that profession which derives its name from Christ! By it we become truly his, partakers of his merits here, and glory hereafter. See your vocation then, as the apostle warns you,(1 Cor. i. 26 ;) and have a just regard to its dignity, by living worthily of it; and, as you retain his name, resemble him also in your life and virtues. The character of a Christian is a character of holiness; be not a scandal to it, as many are; for many are Christians in name, and that is als; beware you blemish it not by a wicked life: He who commits sin, is the servant of sin. St. John viii. 34. So when you sin mortally, you are no longer the servant of God, or disciple of Christ'; you belong not to him, but to the devil; you forfeit your right and title to the kingdom of heaven; and as long as you remain in that state impenitent, you are out of the grace and favour of your God and Redeemer. O sin! unworthy of the breast or name of a Christian, who has been anointed with divine grace; with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Psalm xliv. 9.
Of the Obligations of a Christian. Q. What is a Christian obliged to by his profession? A. He is obliged inwardly to believe, and outwardly to confess the faith and law of Christ : With the heart we believe unto justification, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Rom. x. 10.
INSTRUC.-A Christian must believe in his heart all that Christ has taught, and his church professes, with a sincere and unfeigned faith : God must be served with sincerity and truth; no deceit, dissimulation, or hypocrisy, must harbour therein ; since all things, even our most secret thoughts, are open to him, and nothing is hidden but shall be revealed at the last day.
A Christian must also profess the faith and law of Christ outwardly and openly, for God's honour : thus, if called before kings and princes, enemies of your faith, and if demanded by them what religion you profess, you must boldly confess yourself a Christian, a Catholic, and if by your confession of it you are to suffer, you must rather undergo death, as the apostles and holy martyrs did, than deny your faith : God must ever be obeyed before men, (Acts v. 29;) and the reward of this obedience will be who confesseth me, before men, him will I confess before my Father who is in heaven, (St. Matt. x. 32.;) whereas the reverse will follow disobedience; He who denieth me before men, him will I deny before my Father who is in hedven.- A Christian must profess his faith outwardly, for his own good, by often repeating his belief.-He must again profess it outwardly, for his neighbour's good, thereby to bring him from his error to the true faith and church of Christ.
EXHOR.–Give thanks to God for your vocation to the true faith, for having made you a Christian, a Catholic. See how far you have concurred with your faith, or deviated from it; whether you have made open profession of it when required, and whether you have joined good works to your faith, and by them made the light of it shine before men. Never be ashamed of professing the Gospel, or of practising what will conduce to your future happiness : rather be ashamed and blush, that. you have so little conformed to its maxims, and that you have so often left the ways of God, and followed those of the world, which will, in the end, leave you in despair and confusion,
· Of the Sign of the Cross. Q. Why are we taught to sign ourselves with the sign of the cross ? A. To put us in mind of the blessed Trinity, and of the incarnation and death of our Saviour.
INSTRUC.—The sign of the cross is a mark to distinguish Christians from unbelievers; it is as a short creed, whereby we profess the two principal mysteries of the Christian faith, the unity and trinity of God, and the incarnation and death of our Saviour: for when we pronounce these words, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we profess our belief of one God and three persons; and, by signing ourselves with the sign of the cross, we profess our belief in Christ crucified : we ought to glory in nothing so much as in Jesus, and him crucified. Gal. vi. 14.
With the sign of the cross, we begin and end our prayers, to signify, that we can obtain nothing of God, but through the mediation and merits of Christ crucified. For the like reason, the church makes such frequent use of the sign of the cross in the administration of the sacraments, to signify, that their virtue is derived from the death and passion of Christ. Our forehead and breast were signed with the cross in baptism ; and this we are taught to bear in our bodies all our lives. This holy sign is a means to preserve us from evil spirits, who vanish at the sight of it. St. Lawrence, by the sign of the cross, restored sight to the blind; many miracles have been done by it; it arms us against temptation; it guards us against witchcraft and enchants
ments.-- What veneration the primitive church had for this pious custom, may be known from these words of Tertullian; “When we set forward on a journey, when we go abroad, or come home, or when we dress, in all our conversation, we sign our foreheads with the sign of the cross.” De Coron. Mil. c. 3. And from these words of St. Chrysostom, “Let us have the sign of the cross in our houses, on our windows, on our foreheads, and in our minds, with much devotion." If any one, then, ask the origin of this custom, let your answer be, that tradition has ever taught it, antiquity has confirmed it, and faith hath ever practised it.
Exhor.-Bear then, O Christians, a due veneration to the holy cross. Can you think too much of Jesus crucified ? can you do him too great honour? The sign of the cross puts you naturally in mind of his passion; how, then, can you make the sign of the cross too often, whilst by it you honour his death, and profess your belief and adoration of the blessed Trinity ? This is the end and pious intent of this custom, as all Catholics from their infancy are taught. The sign of the cross will be seen in the heavens at the last day; let it appear in your heart at that day, by having followed the ways of the cross in your life-time. It will then appear to the joy of the good, who honoured it on earth; it will be seen to the eternal agony of the wicked, who despised and held it in contempt. As once it appeared in the air unto Constantine the Great, with this inscription, “ In this sign thou shalt overcome;" so I may say to you, In this sign, thou, O Christian, shalt overcome the enemies of thy soul, and gain a victory that shall be crowned with glory.
Of the three Theological Virtues. Q. Which are the three theological virtues ? A. Faith, hope, and charity.
ÎNSTRUC.—These three virtues are called theological, because they have God for their immediate object; for it is God whom We believe in all matters of faith ; in him we hope for grace and glory; him alone we love above all things. These three virtues were infused into our souls with baptism, and are absolutely necessary to our salvation. They both raise and perfect the edifice of a spiritual life, which is grounded on faith, advanced by hope, and perfected by charity. They are the key and entrance into life: by faith, we behold God as our supreme happiness; by hope we are animated to pursue it; by charity we come to the possession of it, and a union with God. These three begin and perfect all our good works, and without