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must be responsible for all the mischief, which he directly brings upon the church, and, in a measure, for all which will be occasioned by others following his example.
If men would introduce a new catechism, it becomes them to present one, which deserves to be preferred before the Assembly's. Let us, then, examine the catechisms, which have been lately poured upon the land. What do we find, that entitles them to public regard? On almost every great subject of revelation, we meet either palpable error, studied ambiguity, or total silence. And it is often the case, that those divine truths, which seem to be held forth,
are either half expressed, or distorted and misapplied. How great the inconsideration and rashness, if not the criminality of those, who endeavour to substitute, in the place of our excellent catechism, other models of instruction, which, .comparably, have scarcely a shadow of excellence! How can we reflect upon it, without a mixture of grief and indignation, that so many covert, and so many open measures should take place, which have a direct tendency to create a disesteem and neglect of such an excellent form of sound words; particularly, that ministers of God's word should be so forward to supersede it entirely, when the cause of gospel truth
It may be thought that some remarks, here made, are injurious to the character of the pious Dr. WATTS, who composed and publish ed several catechisms for children; and his example may be urged, as justifying the conduct which we have taken the liberty to censure. But it will be found, on inquiry, that our remarks imply no censure of Dr. WATTS. He entertained the highest esteem for the Assembly's Catechism, and never meant that it should be superseded by any which he composed. His views are satisfactorily learned from the following quotations. He lays it down as his first rule for composing catechisms for children, "that different catechisms be com-. posed for different ages and capacities, each of which should contain an abstract of Christianity, or a view of our whole religion in miniature. In the first of these all the questions should be as short, plain, and easy as possible, for young children; and others should be gradually more large and full, and enter a little further into the things of God, which they should learn according to their increasing age, and the growth of their understanding; and the last of them may be that comprehensive system of Vol. II. No. 6.
Christian religion, which is commonly called the Assembly's Catechism." Again, he says, "All that I presume to propose to my friends is, that the Assembly's Catechism might be put into the hands of children when they are grown up to twelve or thirteen years of age, or more, and that there might be some shorter and easier forms of instruction provided for young children, to lay the foundation of the knowledge of religion in their tender minds, and to train them up by degrees till they are capable of using the Assembly's Catechism with understanding and judgment." The plan of instruction proposed by Dr. WATTS, is deemed worthy of high regard. But let it be well considered, how different his design was from the design of others, who pretend to imi tate his example. He viewed the Assembly's Catechism as holding the highest place in the best scheme of catechetical instruction. He had no idea of doing any thing to set it aside, or to sink its credit; but wished that it might be used, after some easier forms, to perfect the religious education of children. How different the object of those, who wish, cither gradually, or at once, to exclude it from the scheme of religious education.
requires them to use the most diligent means to restore its salutary influence, and to awaken the attention of parents and children to its all important contents. They may pretend a wish for an improved plan of religious education. But the methods adopted are sufficient to convince the attentive observer, that they are either governed by a desire to supplant that system of theology, which the reformed church has generally embraced, or, at least, are criminally indifferent respecting it.
Such are the circumstances of the present times, that we cannot help lamenting, as hostile to the religious improvement of the
young, and to the cause of the Redeemer, every attempt to sink that catechism, which was so piously composed and so cautiously introduced; which is characterized by such internal excellence; and is, besides, so extensively supported by the public authority of the church, and ratified by the uniform testiLet the churchmony of ages. es of God awake; let them ask for the old way, and walk in the footsteps of the flock; and let them always beware of men destitute of the truth, whose imposing arts and devious example would lead them into paths, where fatal danger lurks, and the PASTOR SAVIOUR is not seen.
ORIGINAL LETTER BY REV. MR. tion to her offspring; which will
RICHARD BAXTER TO A PROD-
not suffer me to see you perish
THE many obligations laid upon me by the kindness of your parents, and the last request of your mother on your behalf, command me to make known my thoughts to you concerning your present and everlasting state.
I know the grace of God is free, and that many parents are in heaven, whose children are in hell; but yet, some respect the mercy of God hath to children for their parents' sake; which puts me in some hope of you; and, for myself, I cannot think of your mother, whose soul is now with God, without a strong affec
I have long inquired after your welfare; and, from the voice of Fame, I heard a very sad report of you: That you were quite given up to drinking, sporting, idle company and courses, in flat licentiousness, in your disobedience to your father, and to the grief of his heart; and that, as you were a child when you should have been a man, so now you grow worse than man or child; so that your father has purposed to marry, and disinherit you, that he might not leave his estate to such. I was loath to credit this report; but made
further inquiry of some that I knew to be your friends, and all confirmed it; so that I am in great fears lest it be true.
Sir, believe it, these lines are not begun to you without tears. Alas! that the only son, the too much beloved darling of my dear deceased friend, should prove a wretch, an invincible neglecter of God and his salvation, and an heir of everlasting misery (without conversion!) Shall the soul of such an affectionate, careful mother see you in damnation? Shall the heart of a loving father, who looked for much of his earthly comfort in you, have his greatest earthly sorrow from you? Is it not sorrow enough to put him to part with half himself, but he must see his only son as lost and dead while he is alive?
Sir, if you cannot feel words, you shall shortly have that which will make you feel. What is your heart become a stone? Have you so lately seen the face of death in a deceased mother, and do you no better bethink you of your own? I beseech you for the sake of her that charged you by her last word to you, to be ruled by me; nay, I beseech you, for the sake of God and of your soul, that you would take these lines a little into your private serious thoughts, if you know how to be serious; and that you will not proceed any further in your folly, till you can tell how to answer the question which I shall now put to you. Sir, what do you think on? Do you not believe that the infipite God beholdeth you, and that you live in his presence? Is God's presence nothing to you? Are you affected with nothing
but what you see? Do you live only by sense, and not by faith? Say not so, without an acknowledgment of brutishness; do not so, unless you will disown your manhood.
I beseech you, tell me, do you ever think of dying, and of what follows? If not, what shift do you make to overcome your wit, so far as to forget it? If you do, what shift make you to overcome your wit and sense itself so far as to disregard it? Can your guilty soul endure the terrors of an offended Majesty? Is it nothing to be condemned by the most holy God to everlasting torments?
Sir, you had best bethink you quickly whom you have to do with. It is not only an earthly father that you offend, but you are a creature and a subject of eternal Majesty. You owe him your highest love and obedience... He will make you know yourself, and know your Maker, and know his laws, and know your duty, or he will make you howl in endless misery for it. You' may make bold with a man like yourself; but be not too bold with the consuming fire. The sun is darkness in comparison of his glory; the heavens and earth' are but as an hand breadth, in comparison of his infiniteness. Thousands and ten thousands of glorious angels are praising HIM, while such a thing as you are slighting, forgetting and disobeying HIM. And do you think he will long put up with this at your hands? If you dare take your Prince by the throat, if you dare play with a raging hungry lion, yet do not play with the wrath of God. If you dare
venture on fire or water, yet learn more wit than to venture on hell-fire.
Do you think these are but empty words? Believe you not a life to come? If you do not, your unbelief shall not procure your escape : but experience shall convince you, and make you, in despite of you, believe or confess that there is an endless life that you should have provided for. If you do believe it, you are out of your wits, man, to believe one thing, and do another; to believe that you are near to heaven or hell, and yet make light of it!
O, Sir, it is but a few days that you have to take your fleshly pleasures in; but it is long and long indeed that you must suffer for it, if speedy sound conversion prevent it not. How many years must your flesh and bones lie in the earth, while your soul is paying dear for your wilfulness! And how many millions of years after must soul and body lie in hell! Will you. take comfort in the remembrance of your present pleasures? Will it ease your torments, think you, to remember that once you had your will, and once you gratified your flesh?
Sir, deal plainly and not deceit fully with yourself. Are you considerately resolved to sell all your hopes of heaven for your pleasure? Are you resolved of it? Will you make so mad a bargain? Will you venture upon hell for a little sensual delight? If this be your deliberate resolution, you be not worthy the name of a man, nor worthy to come into the company of men. If it be not, what mean you, to do it? The Governor and Judge
of the world hath told you, that "they that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; and they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit :" that "to be carnally minded is death; that if ye live after the flesh ye shall die; that they who are in the flesh cannot please God; and that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
Sir, all these, and a hundred more such, are the true words of God, which I mind you of, that you may see who it is that you are so bold with, and what it is that you cast your soul on. Jest not with damnation. Hearken not to the suggestions of your vain imagination, nor to the deceitful words of prating sensualists, when you see the words of God against them. Re member who you are and where you stand. Though you are a gentleman, you are but a lump of walking dirt, as to that bodily part which you pamper. You are continually in the hand of God. How afraid am I, lest I should ere long hear of your death, and so you should be past recovery in hell, and out of the reach of warnings and advice! and what a base dishonour is it to your understanding, that you should set so high an estimate on the sordid delights of your fleshly mind, as to cast away God and Christ, and heaven, and soul, and friends, and credit, and conscience, and all for them!
Why, Sir, is it really your judgment that your fleshly pleasures are worth all these? If it be, what a blind and sottish mind have you? I dare say and profess, that no man in Bedlam hath a greater error. If it be
not your judgment, will you go against your own judgment? Why, in this, you are far worse than any beast; for a beast hath no reason to rule his appetite, and so disobeyeth not his reason; but you have reason, if you will not stifle and bury it, but use it. What is it that you love so much better than God, than Christ, than heaven and all? Is it drink and play, and fleshly plea sure? Why a heathen, a Turk, a dog, a swine, hath his part in these as well as you. Take it not ill that I speak to you in so plain and homely a phrase. I tell you the day is even at hand, when your tongue shall confess that I spoke not half so ill of your way of folly as it doth deserve. You have read in Luke, (the sixteenth) of him that was tormented in hell, because he had his good things in this life, in gay clothing and delicious fare: and how much worse than this do you !
0, Sir, remember sin is deceitful, the flesh is base, the world is worthless, pleasures here are but short; but God is of infinite perfection; heaven is a certain durable possession; holiness is sweet and amiable; the life of godliness is clean, and safe, and pleasant. I am loath to word with you any further; but address myself to you, in the grief of my heart, for your sin and misery, with these three important requests, which I entreat you, that you will not deny me.
First, That you will, patiently and considerately, read over and over this letter, which I write to you.
send you; and as you go, examine your soul by it, and allow it your most sober solitary thoughts.
Secondly, That you will deliberately read over this treatise of conversion, which herewith I
Thirdly, That you would presently, this night, betake yourself to God in prayer on your knees, and lament with tears your former folly, and earnestly beg his pardoning grace, and beseech him to give you a new, a holy, a mortified mind; and make this seriously your daily practice; and then, go to your father, and on your knees, confess your sin and disobedience, and beg his pardon, and promise unfeignedly to do so no more; and that from this day forward, you will take your fleshly disposition for the great and dangerous enemy of your soul; on the conquest of which your salvation lieth; and which you must study to subdue, and not to please. Read what Paul himself thought necessary, 1 Cor. ix. 25-27; and that you never more meddle with sports and recreations, or drink, or fleshly pleasures, but soberly and ordinately, and no more than is needful to fit you for the service of God; and that your care and business, and every day's work may be (when you have bewailed your youthful folly) to do God all the service that you can, and make ready for your appearing before the Lord; and make sure of that everlasting glory, which you have forfeited.
Go not out of doors till you have examined yourself whether you go on your Master's business; and whether your work be such that you would be comfortably found in, if death shall call you before you come in as gain.