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of their Tempers, in exciting them to Good, and preferving them from Evil, as much as they can: And Parents ought first absolutely to require this of them, and then examine diligently from Time to Time whether it be done. But especially Masters and Mistrefies of Charity-schools, which are founded purposely to give the Children of the Poor an early and deep Tincture of Religion and Virtue, fhould look upon it as by far their principal Business to teach them, not merely outward Observances and Forms of good Words, but such an inward Sense and Love of their Duty to God and Man, as may secure them, if poflible, from that lamentable Depravity, into which the lower part of the World is falling; and which it is highly the Interest of their Superiors, if they would but underitand their Interest, to restrain and correct.
As the Care of Children belongs to their parents and Teachers ; fo doth that of Servants to the Heads of the Families, in which they live. And therefore it tioned in Scripture by God himself, as a distinguishing Part of the Character of a good Man, that he will command his Houfhold to keep the Way of the Lord, to do Justice and Judgments. For indeed it is a strong and a requifite Proof of Reverence to our Maker, as well as of Kindness to them, and Concern for our own Interest, to die rect them in the Way of their Duty, or procure them the Direction of good Books and good Advice; to exhort them to the more private Exercises of Religion; to contrive Leisure for them to attend the appointed folemn ones, which is plainly one Part of giving them, as the Apostle requires, what is just and equal*; and to fee that the Leisure, allowed them for that Purpose, be honestly so employed, and not abufed.
For, after all, the most valuable Instruction for Ser. vants, for Children, for all Persons, is the public one of the Church, which our Saviour himself hath promised to bless with his Presence f. And therefore it is a Rule
Gen. wiii. 19.
of inexpressible Moment: Gather the People together ; Men, Women, and Children, and thy Stranger that is within thy Gates: that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God; and observe to do all the Words of his Law: and that their Children, which have not known any Thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live .
Whoever else may fail of doing their Duty, we the Ministers of Christ' must not fail to be instant in Seafon, and cut of Season"; to feed the Young with the fincere Milk of the Word!, and preach the Gospel to the Poor k. It is the peculiar Glory of Christianity, to have extended sligious Inftruction, of which but few partook at all before, and scarce any in Purity, through all Ranks and Ages of Men, and even Women. The first Converts to it were immediately formed into regular Societies and Alsemblies; not only for the joint Worship of God, but the further edifying of the Body of Christ': in which good Work, some of course were stated Teachers, or, to use the Apostle's own Expression, Catechizers in the Word; others, taught or catechized. For catechizing signifies in Scripture, at large, instructing Persons in any Matter, but especially in Religion. And thus it is used, Aets xviii. 25. where you read, This Man was instructed in the Way of the Lord; and Luke i. 4. where again you read, That thou mayest know the Certainty of those Things, wherein thou haft been instructed. The original Word, in both Places, is catechized.
But as the different Advances of Persons in Knowledge made different Sorts of Instructions requisite ; so in the primitive Church, different Sorts of Teachers were appointed to dispenfe it. And they who taught so much only of the Christian Doctrine, as might qualify the Hearers for Christian Communion, had the Name of Catechists appropriated to them: whose Teaching being usually, as was most convenient, in a g:eat Measure by Way of Question and Answer ; the Name of 8 Deut. xxxi, 12, 13.
2 Tim. iv, 2.
1 Pet. ii. 2. * Matth, xi. 5. Eph. iv. 12. in Gal. vi. 6.
Catechism hath now been long confined to such Instruction, as is given in that Form. But the Method of employing a particular set of Men in that Work only, is in most Places laid aside. And I hope you will not be Losers, if they, who are appointed to the higher Ministries of the Church, attend to this also.
Under the Darkness of Popery almost all religious Instruction was neglected. Very few, to use the Words of one of our Homilies, even of the most simple People, were taught the Lord's Prayer, the Articles of the Faith, or the ten Conmandments, therwise than in Latin, which they understood not"; so that one of the first necessary Steps taken towards the Reformation, in this Country, was a general Injunction, that Parents and Masters should first learn them in their own Tongue, then acquaint their Children and Servants with them°: which three main Branches of Christian Duty, comprehending the Sum of what we are to believe, to do, and to petition for, were soon after formed, with proper Explanations of each, into a Catechism. To this was added, in Process of Time, a brief Account of the two Sacraments; all together making up that very good, though still im. proveable, Form of found Words, which we now use.
And that it may be used effectually, the Laws of the Land, both ecclesiastical and civil, require not only Minifters to instruct their Parishioners in it, but Parents, and Masters and Mistresses of Families, to send their Children and Servants to be instructed ; meaning evidently, unless they made some other more convenient Provision to answer the same End. For promoting religious Knowledge and Practice is not only the express Design of all Church Government, but a Matter (would God it were well considered) of great Importance to the State also: fince neither private Life can be happy, nor the public Welfare secure for any long Time, without that Belief of the Doctrines and Observance of the
Homily againft Rebellion, Part 6. • See Wake's Dedication of his Commentary on the Church Catechism. 2 Tim, i. 13. A4
Duties of Christianity, for which catechizing the
young and ignorant lays the firmeft Foundation. · It must be owned, the Catechism of our Church is, as it ought to be, so clear in the main, as to need but little explaining, all Things considered. But then it is also, as it ought to be, so thort, as to leave much Room for setting forth the Particulars comprehended under its general Heads ; for confirming both these by Reason and Scripture; and for imprinting the whole on the Consciences and Affections of the Learners. This therefore I shall endeavour to do, in the Sequel of these Discourses, as clearly and familiarly as I am able.
In the Nature of the Thing, nothing new or curious ought to have any Place in such an Exposition, as indeed such Matters ought to have little Place in any public Teaching of God's Word: but leaft of all, where only the plain fundamental Truths of our common Faith are to be taught, confirmed, and recommended in a plain Way. And yet, as these Truths are of all others the most necessary; the plainest Things, that can be faid about them, may deserve the Attention of all sorts of Persons; especially as it is but too pofli ble, that fome of all Sorts may never have been taught fufficiently even the first Principles of Religion, and that many may by no Means have fufficiently retained, and considered fince, what they learnt in their early Years ; but preserving fcarce more in their Minds than the bare Words, if fo much, may be little the better, if at all, for the Leffons of their Childhood. To which it might be added, that every one hath need, in a greater Degree or a lefs, if not to be informed, yet to be reminded and excited.
Let me beg therefore, that all who have Caufe to hope they may receive Benefit, would attend when they are able : and that all who have Children or Şervants would bring or send them. This is not a Day of Business. It ought not to be a Day of idle Amusements. It is appointed for the public Worship of God, and learning of his Will. This is one of the Hours of his
Worship: it is that Part of the Day in which you are most of you more at Liberty, than you are in any other. And what will you fay for yourselves hereafter, if when you have the most intire Leisure, you chuse rather to do any thing or nothing, than to serve your Maker, and improve in the Knowledge of your Duty? Never was there more Danger of being infected with Evil of every Sort from Conversation in the World. Surely then you should endeavour to fortify yourselves, and those who belong to you, with proper Antidotes against it. And where will you find better, than in the House of God? But particularly I both charge and beg you, Children, to mark diligently wbat I shall fay to you: for all that you learn-by Rote will be of no Úse, unless you learn also to understand it. The Expofition, which you are taught along with your Catechism, will help your Understanding very much, if you mind it as you ought: and what you will hear from me may be a yet further Help. For if there should be some Things in it above your Capacities, yet I shall endeavour to the best of my Power, that most Things may be easy and plain to you. And, I entreat you, take Care that they be not loft upon you. You are loon going out into the World, where you will hear and see Abundance of what is evil. For Christ's Sake lay in as much Good, in the mean while, as you can, to guard you against it.
But indeed it behoves us all, of whatever Age or Station we be, to remember, that the Belief and Practice of true Religion are what we are every one equally concerned in. For without them, the greatest Person upon Earth will, in a very few Years, be completely miserable : and with them, the meanest will be eternally happy. O hear ye this, all ye People ; ponder it, all ye that dwell in the World; high and low, rich and poor, one with another ?, Apply your Hearts to Instruction, and your Ears to the Words of Knowledge." For whofo fineeth Wisdom, findeth Life; and shall obtain Favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against her, wrongeth his own Soul : all they, that hate ber, love Deaths. PS. xlix. I20
I Prov. xxiij. 127 • Prov. viii. 35, 36