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O F T H E
The Treliminary Questions,
The Baptismal Covenant.
i Cor, XIV. 12. Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the Church.
Printed in the Year M.DCC.XXXI. Vol. I. B
E F O R E I enter upon the Explication of our Church-Catechism, which is a brief, but withal a complete, and comprehensive Abridgment of the Christian Religion, 'twill be requisite to premise something touching the Nature, Necessity, and Usefulness of Catechizing. And here, the better to clear our way, I shall begin with the word Catechism, or Catechizing; which coming from the Greek word Ka.n-xj.ia, that signisies to reflect, or return a Sound, denotes a way of Instruction by Question and Answer; where the Learner doth, as it were, echo back, and return the Sound and Sense of the Teacher.
But to go on from the Name to the Thing. Catechism, or Catechizing, may be desin'd to be a general Instruction in the fundamental 'Principles of the Christian Religion, by way of Question and Answer. I style it a general Instruction, to distinguish it from that other way of Teaching, known by the name of Preaching; which descends to the more particular Parts and Duties of Religion. By the fundamental Principles of Christian Religion, I understand the great and necessary Points both of Faith and Practice; which the Catechism is design'd to instruct Children in, in order to the building them up in their most holy Faith, and making them wife unto Salvation. So that Catechizing lays the Foundation of Faith and Knowledge; whereas Preaching raises the Superstructure, and buUdetb
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thereupon: the one sows the Seeds of Grace in the Heart; the other helps it to grow up into a holy Lite, and leads on to greater Maturity and Perfection. Lastly, I style it a way of Instruction by Question and Answer, whereby ''is farther distinguish'd from" 'Preaching ; which is a continu'd Discourse made by the Teacher^ without any Reply 01 Repetition of the Hearer: Whereas here the Catechist instructs by asking of Questions, and the Catechumen learns by returning of Answers. By both which, Knowledge is more easily instill'd, and likewise makes the deeper and more lasting Impressions on the Mind.
From thi^ brief Description of the Nature, I proceed to -sr The Necessity of Catechizing; which is indeed requisite
to all the Ends of Religion. And here it may not be amiss to observe,
That in the beginning of Christianity, our blessed Saviour and his Apostles having to do with grown Persons, both Jews and Gentiles, this way ot Catechizing went before Baptism, and was a necessary Preparative thereunto: For the Jews being to be converted from Judaism, and the Gentiles from Heathenism to Christianity; 'twas necessary they should unlearn the Rites and Idolatries of the former, before they could receive the Rules, or be initiated into the Mysteries of the latter. And therefore we sind, that the Apostle's Commission Wes to go and teach all Nations, before they baptiz'd them, Mat. 28. 19, 20. That is, being sent to convert rude and barbarous People, that were Aliens to the Commonwealth of Israel, and Strangers to the Covenant of 'Premise, without God, and without Christ in the World; they were sirst to instruct them in the Knowledge of God, and to believe in Christ, before they were to be receiv'd into his Church, or admitted to the Benesits and Privileges of it.
But when these had embrae'd Christianity, and were baptiz'd, the Promise being to them and their Children, who became holy, and were in Covenant by the Faith of their Parents; their Children were receiv'd to Baptism, and have been admitted into the Church ever since. Now here Instruction follows Baptism, these being to be taught afterward the Doctrine of the Christian ReligionK into which they have the favour to be initiated before they were of Age to understand it. However, we may note,
Secondly, That tho Catechizing sometimes follows Baptism, yet it must always go before Confirmation, and is a
necessary necessary Preparative to ir. Here, by Consirmation, we understand that solemn renewing and ratifying the Baptismal Vow in our own Persons, when we come to Years of Discretion, that was made in our behalf by Sureties in our Infancy: Which Act is acompany'd with the laving on of Hands, the Blessing and Prayers of the Bishop ior Grace to enable us thereunto. This is that laying on or Hands mentions by the Apostle, Heb. 6. I, ^. which is peculiar to Consirmation: For tho this Ceremony was used on other Occasions, as particularly in the Ordination of Ministers, yet in the fore-cited place being mention'd immediately after Baptism, and numbred among thofe sirst Doctrines of Christianity, that belong to all Christiana instructed in ir, can be meant only of the Use of it in Consirmation; and hath been so understood and practis'd in all Ages of the Christian Chnrch.
Now Catechizing is absolutely necessary to instruct us in the Knowledge of what was undertaken for us in our Baptism, without which we must be utterly incapable of knowing or receiving any Benesit by Consirmation. Again,
Thirdly, Catechizing is necessary to sit and prepare Christians for the worthy receiving of the Holy Sacrament; for that instructs them in the Nature and End of that great Ordinance, together with the Qualisications requisite to the . due Participation of it: So that the omitting or flighting of these Instructions, are the true Reasons why some receive this Holy Sacrament unworthily, and many others receive it not at all. Moreover,
Fourthly, Catechizing is necessary to a future Prosiciency by preaching the Word, and all other religious Exercises; for as there is no Building without a Foundation, so neither is there any edifying, or going on to perfection, without laying the Ground-work by Catechizing. We may observe some very zealous indeed for Preaching, and calling loudly for Lectures and Sermons; who yet for luck of Catechizing, are ever learning, but never come to tlie Knowledge of the Truth: and notwithstanding all their goodly Pretences to Light and Knowledge, stand in need to be taught what are the sirst Principles of the Oracles of God. Hence it comes to pass, that so many unhappily mistake the true Means of Edisication, and prefer the vain Dreams and Delusions of Mens Fansies, before wife, wholefcm, and pious Instructions. Wherefore,
B 3 Fifthly,