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LECTURES ON THE CATECHISM
ARRANGED IN QUESTION AND ANSWER.
N matters of importance, what should every one that wants information do ?
They should first seek for it, and then attend to it. What does the happiness of all persons depend beyond comparison chiefly upon ?
On being truly religious.
Because true religion consists in three things:-Reasonable government of ourselves-good behaviour towards our fellow creatures—and dutifulness to our Maker.
What will the practice of these duties generally give us? Health of body and ease of mind; a comfortable provision of necessaries; and peace with all around us.
What will the performance of them always secure to us? The favor and blessing of God; who on these terms, will both watch over us continually with a fatherly kindness in this life, and bestow upon us eternal felicity in the next.
Since, whoever is religious must be happy, what is it great concern of every one of us to know and observe? The doctrines and rules which religion delivers.
Do we not of necessity all come into the world ignorant of these?
Yes; and our faculties are so weak at first, and gain strength so slowly; the attention of our earlier years to serious things is so small; that even were our duty to comprehend no more than our reason could teach us, few, if any, would learn it sufficiently without assistance; and none so soon as they would need it.
What further would be the consequence of this state of ignorance?
We should enter into a world full of dangers, every way unprepared for avoiding them; we should go wrong in the very beginning of life, perhaps fatally; we should hurt, if we did not ruin ourselves.
Could reason if improved to the utmost, discover to us all that we are to believe and do?
No, a large and most important part of it is to be learnt from the Revelation, made to us in God's holy word: and this, though perfectly well suited to the purposes for which it was designed, yet the information of the learned must, in many respects, be needful to prepare the young and ignorant for receiving the benefits of which they are capable from reading the Scriptures.
Of what service is instruction, besides enlightening the ignorant?
It does equal, if not greater service, by preventing or opposing their prejudices and partialities.
From our tenderest age of what are we constantly giving proof?
Wrong notions in support of them; which we are extremely backward to acknowledge.
What are we very apt to do in consequence of this? We are very apt to model our religion in such a manner as to leave room for our faults.
What may be the advantage of right explanations?
They may preserve persons from thus deceiving themselves, and guard them against future and present danger.
What is a still greater advantage of instruction?
It brings frequently before people's eyes those truths on which otherwise they would seldom reflect. It also keeps the thoughts of their duty continually at hand, to assist them in resisting the temptations with which they are attacked.
On the Privileges of Baptism.
HAT does the Catechism of our Church begin with?
With a prudent condescension and familiarity, by asking the introductory questions-What is your name?— Who gave you that name ?
To what do these questions very naturally lead? They naturally lead the person catechised to the mention of his baptism, at which time it was given.
Is the giving a name any necessary part of baptism? No, this might have been done either before or afterwards, though it has been always done then.
From what circumstance might the Jews derive the practice of naming the child when it was circumcised?
It was no uncommon thing in ancient times, to give a person a new name when he entered into the service of a new master; and the child when circumcised was considered as devoted to the service of God: they therefore, in compliance with the above mentioned custom gave it a name. The first Christians in imitation of them, would of course do the same thing when they baptized their children.
In what respect may this practice be useful ?
It might be very useful if persons would but remember of what it tends to remind them, that they were dedicated to Christ, when their christian name was given them; and would make use of that circuinstance frequently to recollect those promises which were then solemnly made for them.
If we do not perform these promises what are we?
Not by our parents as we read in Scripture, the name of Jewish children was, but by our godfathers and godmothers.
Is there any advantage in this custom ?
It has a double advantage: It may admonish them, that having conferred the title of Christians upon us, they are bound to endeavour that we may behave worthily of it. And it may admonish us, that our name having been given us by persons who were our sureties, we are bound to make good their engagements.