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catechumen, and at the same time be reconciled with the views and customs of our congregations. There is both difficulty and danger in disturbing these. There is a serious call upon us to effect a gradual return not to primitive, but to the authorised and unexceptionable practices of the Church; not as though a form were insisted on for the mere form's sake, or for the gradual assertion of a principle which we do not avow, but as involving the avowed principles of the Church, and setting forward the cause of light, and life, and the truth, as it is in Christ Jesus. Such I believe to be Catechising,—the instruction of the rising generation, not of one but of all classes, in the principles of their faith. This becomes daily more and more urgent upon us, as efforts which we cannot disregard are made to draw a line of separation between religious and secular teaching. In our hands, as ministers of the Church, and as provided by the Church, is the religious teaching of the Lord's day, and the portion of this directed to be spent in Catechising is beyond the control of any interference, while the blessing on the seed thus sown may give, and probably will give, a value and a power to it that under no other circumstances can be reasonably expected. With regard to the difficulties and objections that stand in the way of our resumption of this venerable practice, the first is presented in the children themselves, many of whom are unwilling to stand up in the face of the cong regation. This is a natural difficulty, and the result of a modesty which is commendable, but practice will overcome it; and in our schools from which we can select those of a proper age, we have the means of commencing the restoration of the practice without doing violence to the feelings of any one.
Our children are too much accustomed to our teaching to entertain any fear of us, even in the face of the congregation, and our method of Catechising may easily be such, combining simplicity of question with Scriptural exposition of the answer, as will inspire confidence, while it conveys in the most forcible manner instruction. Others, with the aid of a few good examples, readily obtained in any congregation, will be led to fall into the ranks, and to take their share in an exercise at once interesting and instructive. Much, also, may be done by an understanding that in this exercise is carried out our preparation for Confirmation, and that the anxiety of an examination in detail may to a certain extent be avoided by this simple method of enabling our pastor to judge of our spiritual progress. A second objection is its interference, although not in itself necessary, with the afternoon sermon, which has taken its place. Now this objection is easily removed. Let the sermon still hold its place, with or without reference to the preceding Catechising, or as an alternative-or I
may rather say a profitable compromise-let the sermon follow the Catechising. After a certain number of questions have been asked and proved by Scriptural reference, let the children be dismissed, and the application of the Scriptures referred to, and the point of doctrine proved by them be addressed by way of lecture to the congregation. I am convinced that in this manner a congregation may be speedily and profitably interested in the exercise, while by the addition of three or four leading questions on the Catechising, given to the children to be answered in writing by the following Sunday, the interest may be widely extended among the families of whom the congregation is composed.
ON CATECHISING. .
The subject which, in the following pages, it is proposed to treat of, may well claim the attentive consideration of every friend of truth, and of the Church as embodying Truth.
The present condition of the Church is on all sides paradoxical. Zealous and pious men occupy the place of the ministry, the people daily rise into greater inportance through education, and the Church's ablest defenders are struggling for principles ; and yet, speaking generally, few or none of its ministers in their several districts carry out those principles into operation. It is the evil of all party struggles that principles are used as watchwords. Little does it signify what these watchwords mean; when used as watchwords only they are all of equal importance, having their weight according to the party that follows them. It is not the object of these remarks to brand either one party or another of those now occupying and dividing the public attention, but simply to draw attention to those injunctions of the Church which she positively, not negatively, insists on; that in coming to some understanding and agreement on such points of rubrical and canonical order as are involved, we may ascertain, not whether we have asserted, but whether we have practised, that which the Church enjoins; and if it be found that we have neglected them, then, whether that laxity arising from ignorance, against which we have set up our principles as a standard, be not, in fact, largely and principally attributable to our own neglect of the principles themselves, and of the injunctions of the Church which we are contending for.
Not venturing on the minor, although deeply important matters of detail, which separate Churchmen into parties, lest I should lose in them the authority of the Church, I would willingly have, as I consider I am fully entitled to have, all parties with me in the consideration of a duty which all parties reading the Rubric and Canon must admit we are bound to perform that of Catechising publicly in the congregation. When reading these, and there is probably no period for more than a century when they have been so much read as during the last five years, we are struck with the positiveness of the injunction, that no evening service should pass without Catechising.* Why is it that it has been neglected ? This is the first question that suggests itself. When throughout the larger part of the rural parishes, whether it were by reason of pluralities or laxity, there was but one service in each church, we can readily understand why the good old custom should become obsolete, and the practice be changed; why the only service should have a sermon, and the Catechism be neglected. When the Church awoke from this apathy, it awoke, in the first instance, through the more zealous and faithful preaching of a chosen few; and preaching was thereby, and perhaps naturally, magnified at the expense of other duties. But why, at the present time and season, when principles have been so zealously sifted, and church ordinances restored, the very letter of her orders being almost pertinaciously insisted on, this her most positive injunction should be still neglected, is unintelligible. The most plausible reason that has been adduced for it is this, that in the school is now done that which the Church contemplated doing through catechising, and that, consequently, from the altered circumstances of the times, there is no need of looking to the letter, if the spirit of the injunction be fulfilled. It will be for me to shew that the spirit is not fulfilled; but, were the same reasoning applied to matters of far less moment, we should be enabled to teach in peace the distinctive principles of the Church, and, without contentions on matters of discipline, devote ourselves to
* See Rubric after Catechism, and Canon 59. It is true there is a difference in the directions given, but neither of the injunctions leave any option but as to the time, which may reasonably be supposed indifferent, provided only that the duty be executed.