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Fifthly, Catechizing is necessary to preserve Men from Errors, Heresies and Divisions in Matters of Religion: These are thofe Tares that are too apt to spring up in the Field of the Church, and to choke the good Seed of found Doctrine planted in it; which are therefore to be weeded out, and prevented by this timely method of Instruction. We read in Scripture of false Teachers, that should come in Christ's Name, and deceive many; and likewise of the cunning Craftiness of Seducers, who would come ninth all deceivablenefi os Unrighteousness, 2 Thess. 2. 10. Now there is no such Antidote against the Poison of their salse Doctrines, as to be instructed and settled betimes in the Principles of Religion; for they are the ignorant and uncatechiz'd Persons that are drawn aside by these Seducers, and like Children tossed to and fro with every Wind of Doctrine. Early Instruction is the best Ballast to preserve Men from these Blasts, and to keep them found and steddy in the true Religion; and therefore the Apostle directs, not only to learn, but to holdfast the Form of sound Words: which tho it may be understood at large as the whole Body of the Scriptures, yet because the great and weighty Truths of Religion lie there scatter'd and diffus'd up and down, and are not easily discern'd or distinguish'd by ordinary Capacities, therefore this Form of found Words is generally interpreted of the jjpostles Creed; which being a brief Summary of all the necessary Articles of Faith, is thereby made the Test or Touchstone of found Doctrine: by learning and understanding whereof, Men may be able to try and discern between true and false Doctrine, and thereby defeat the Designs of false Teachers, by receiving the one, and rejecting the other.
Lastly, Catechizing is necessary to preserve Men from Temptations to Sin, and falling into a vicious and ungodly Course of Life. As there are false Teachers that endeavour to corrupt the Doctrine of Christ, and to draw Men into Errors and Divisions to destroy the Unity of his Chisrch; so there are other evil Instruments, that seek to corrupt mens Manners, and to draw them into a loofe, intemperate and debauch'd Life. Now as Catechizing is known to be the best Preservative against the former, so is the well-grounding of Youth in the Principles of Religion the best Means to prevent the latter: For when the Mind is, by early and pious Instruction, possessed of good Principles, 'tis in a great measure armed against the Force of Temptation l Virtue will then keep the Possession, and Vice must come with great strength to assault or overcome it. Whereas an uninslructed Person lies open and defenseless, ready to yield upon the sirst Motion, and to surrender upon every Temptation.
Thus we fee what Catechizing is, namely, a general Instruction in the fundamental Principles of the Christian Retigion, by way of Question and Answer: And likewise how necessary it is to all the Ends of Religion. To effect which, a Catechism must have these three Properties ^ it must be short, plain, and comprehensive.
I. I fay, a Catechism must be short, that it may be the better learn'd, and the more easily committed to memory; for this way of instructing being intended for Children, it must be as brief and concise as possible, lest Length and Tedioufness should discourage them from learning, and render it too difficult to be retained: and therefore a Catechism ought not to be crouded with any unnecessary matters of Controverfy ; but to consist only of the fundamental Points of Faith, and Principles of a holy Life.
II. A Catechism must be plain and familiar, that it may be the better suited to the Capacities of the Learners, and the more easily understood by them; and therefore it must not consist of any nice and abstruse Speculations, that are more apt to puzzle and distract, than inform the Mind. •,
III. A Catechism must be full and comprehensive, containing the Whole of a Christian's Duty, and all Matters necessary to Salvation; it must comprize all that is to be believ'd, practis'd, and pray'd for, that the Learner may be perfect in all found Knowledge, and thoro-wly instructed to every good Work.
These were the Qualisications of the antient Catechisms, which were such Forms of Doctrine or found Words, as might be easily learn'd and retain'd by all, containing nothing but what was purely fundamental to a good Lisa here, and all that was necessary to eternal Happiness hereafter. Such as this is the Catechism of our Church, which I am about to explain to you; in which the three sorecited Properties may be clearly seen. For,
1st. 'Tis a brief and concise Model of Instruction, and so not apt to clog or burden the Memory of the Learner.
2dly. Tis plain and familiar, sitted to the weakest Capacities, and so may easily be receiv'd and remember'd by ajl, even the meanest Understandings.
B 4 %dly.
%dly. 'Tis full and comprehensive, containing all the necessary Duties of a Christian, as weH as all the fundamental Doctrine* of Christianity j so that as there is'nothing redundant in it that may be fpar'd, so there is nothing defective that need be fupply'd: And consequently, for its Excellency and- Use, far exceed* all the Catechisms, not only of the Roman Cbuitth, but likewise thofe of our modern Reformers; both which are not only burdensome and difficult for their Length, but by crouding into them many obscure and unnecessary Tenets, are redundant for their Matter.
In short then, this may serve to recommend this excellent Summary or Abiidgmenr of the Christian Religion, to be taught and learn'd of all that would go on to Perfection. For as in all Arts and Sciences we must Begin with Principles, before we can attain to a higher Perfection; so in learning the Christian Religion, we must begin sirst with the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, if we mean to arrive to anv higher Degrees of Knowledge of it. This was the Method the Apostles us'd in teaching, and the Disciples took in learning the Mysteries of the Gofpel: And all that would be knowing and stable ChrifliaBs, must go on by tb* fame Steps.
'Tis indeed, a gear piece of the Cire, Wisdom and Piety of our Church, to provide such a useful and compendious Model of Instruction, which it requires to be taught and learn'd of all its Members s there are none, of what Age, Parts, or Quality soever," but stand in need of, and may ,receive benesit by these Instructions; the greatest Persons may not be asham'd, nor the meanest afraid, to learn them: but as they are useful and necessary for all, so they ought not to be defpis'd or neglected by any.
Wherefore, let all who have the Care or Oversight of any others, fee that the Persons committed to their Charge be well catechiz'd and instructed in the Principles or Religion; and to that end, let them (as they are commanded) keep to that Catechism, or excellent Method of Instruction, which the Church hath wisely chalk'd out for them, that all its Members may be bred up in the Belies and Practice of the same Doctrine, and not be distracted with various Notions, nor divided into sundry and different Sects and Opinions, to the great disturbance of the Peace of the Church, and th>e greater peril of their own Souls,
Prov. xxii. 6.
Train tip a Child in the Way he Jhould go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
A VING premis'd some things in the foregoing Introduction, touching the Nature and Necessity of Catechizing in general, and likewise of the Excellency of our Church-Catechism in pinicular; I proceed to add something sarther concerning the Benesit and Usefulness of Catechizing, the better to quicken and excite to so important and necessary a Duty. This I shall do from the Words read, 'Train up a Child, &0.
They are the Words of Solomon, who being in all Ages reputed the wisest of Men, his Advice must carry great Weight with it ; and being the Result of great Wisdom and iarge Experience, may very well deserve to be heeded, and receiv'd by all Men. And here we learn,
J. That there is a Way wherein all Men Jhould go.
II. That Children are to be train'd up betimes in this Way.
III. We have an/Encouragement annex'd to so doing,
viz. When they are old they will not depart from it.
I. The wise Man here plainly suppofes, that there is a Way, wherein all Men ought to go: and this is double; the
One is, The Way of a particular Calling, Trade, or Course of Life, wherein they are to employ themselves for their bodily Sustenance. The
Other is, The Way of a general Calling, Profession, or Course of Religion, wherein they are to act for the Comfort and Salvation of their Souls: The one appertains to them as Men, the other as Christians; in both which, all Men are to be engag'd, for their present and eternal Welfare.
First, T fay, there is a Way of a particular Calling, Trade, or Course of Life, wherein all Men are requir'd to walk; and this is to be done, to provide partly for their own private Wants and Necessities, partly for the Necessities of the Publick, and partly likewise to prevent the many Evils and Dangers of Idleness.
Every Man's private Wants and Necessities call upon him to walk in the way of some Calling for the supply of them; for God Almighty deals out his Blessings only to such as labour and seek for them: 'Tis the diligent Hand (faith Solomon) that maketh rich, whilst the lazy Person and the Sluggard sink into Want and Beggary. Twas ordain'd from the beginning, Gen. 3. 19. That in the Sweat of their 'Brows all Men should eat their Bread. And therefore the Apodle, 2 T'lejs. 3. 10, ir, i2. order'd, that such as would not work should not eat; yea, he reckons thofe in the number of disorderly Walkers that work not at all: and thofe that are such, he exhorts, that with Quietness they work, and eat their own Bread. As if it were not their own Bread, unless it were got by their own Labour. A Calling then is necessary for every one to be engag'd in, in which they are commanded to work with their Hands, that they may have lack of nothing, 1 Thefll 4. 11,12. 2 Thess. 3.
Again, Not only Mens private Necessities, but likewise thofe of the Publick, require them to walk in the way of some particular Trade or Calling. A Heathen could tell us, js'hat we arc not born for ourselves only, but our Friends