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chetical works, both at home and abroad, the very copiousness of the list would have shewn the great importance which we trust is beginning at length to be again attached to this long-neglected part of Christian instruction. Before reading and books became common, catechising was one of the chief instruments for initiating children in the knowledge of the doctrines and duties of their holy faith. The practice had, however, during the last century, declined so generally, especially in our own church, that its importance seemed to be in danger of being altogether forgotten; but happily, by means of our Infant-schools, Sundayschools, and daily schools, particularly those on the plan of the National Society, it has been revived, and the attention of our clergy is becoming increasingly alive to its value; several of our prelates, and in particular the present Archbishop of Canterbury, having invited their special attention to the subject. Still, even school catechising is not generally conducted on the best and most efficient plans; and pastoral catechising in the church is almost unknown. The question for consideration is, how can these defects be best remedied?
First, then, are materials for catechetical instruction wanting? This surely will not be for a moment urged; for we have scores upon scores of catechisms, drawn up according to the taste, ability, and religious opinions of the several compilers. The three which happen quite casually to lie before us, form a characteristic specimen of these productions. First, we have an English translation of the modern Geneva Catechism, which the translators are pleased to inform us " contains an exposition of that mild and evangelical system of Christianity which prevails in the Genevan and some of the French Protestant churches ;" and which they strongly recommend as "a valuable manual for young persons, and as a text-book for Sunday in
struction." Then, to set against this "mild system," we have a translation of the Heidelberg Catechism, sanctioned by the celebrated Synod of Dort, in 1618, about half a century after its original publication. And then, as neither of these is Episcopalian, there lies opportunely by their side a recent catechism by Bishop Hobart, of New York, graduated to a somewhat elevated scale of high-church doctrine; and we fear virtually, if not professedly, leaving all classes of Christians, except Episcopalians, to the uncovenanted mercies of God. If in this inference we are mistaken, we will readily correct it at the instance of the Right Reverend and respected author.
These three publications, taken up almost at hazard from among scores extant, and without as yet noticing a single book of home growth, shew that there is no deficiency of materials for catechetical instruction. But, in truth, we would not go to Geneva, to Heidel. berg, or even to our high-church friends in America, for our materials.
First, the Geneva Catechism is a work of more than two hundred pages, and certainly contains a vast mass of valuable and scriptural mat. ter; but its "mild" system is by no means, as the translators maintain, truly "evangelical," though its discrepancies are rather those of defect than excess. Its alleged mildness is not "milk for babes," but an insipid watery dilution, into which, however, some deleterious ingredients occasionally find admission. Suppose, for example, that the catechumen wished to have an answer to these three important questions: Who is Jesus Christ? How does he save sinners? And have good works any connexion with salvation? We find scattered in different parts of this catechism the following answers, which we translate from the French, now lying before us. (Geneva, 1819. Second edition.) First, the cate
chumen wishes to know who is Jesus Christ? It is answered, "He is the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the only Saviour." This is true, and so far it is well; but what mean these expressions? Is Christ a created being, or are we to attribute to him the prerogative of Divinity? Here our Genevese instructors, though we will do them the justice to own that they quote Scripture, not excepting texts the most decisive of our Lord's Divinity, yet dilute and sophisticate the whole by such inadequate comments as the following. "Why is Christ called the only Son of God? On account of his miraculous birth, the excellency of his nature, and his intimate union with God." We then next ask, What is the way of salvation through Christ; or, as this catechism equivocally expresses it, "How has Christ saved us from our sins?" And we find the following answer: "First, by announcing, and confirming by his death, the pardon of our sins upon condition of repentance; and secondly, by offering to us in his doctrine, in his example, and in the aid of the Holy Spirit, the means by which we may be sanctified and merit salvation." This might surely be enough as an illustration of unscriptural doctrine; but we turn over fifty pages to the head of good works, the meritorious sanctification just mentioned, and there we find the unscriptural leading question, "Why does the Gospel promise salvation to those who practise good works?" to which we have the unscriptural answer: "Because God in his mercy is pleased to be satisfied with our intentions and efforts, and to recompense them with eternal life." Such is the "mild system," of modern Genevese catechetical instruction; such the food upon which, alas! the youth of a once pure and flourishing Protestant church are now nourished. We could tolerate by the side of such a catechism, the catechisms of the Church of Rome itself especially as in them the false doc.
trines are plainly to be discerned and reprobated; while those of Geneva are so speciously disguised, so artfully inculcated by negatives rather than by startling propositions, that they are the more insidious and dangerous.
Shall we then revert from Geneva to Heidelberg; from Calvinism uncalvinized in Calvin's own city, to Calvinism as recognized in the Calvinian councils of Dort? Now we are quite willing to admit that the latter is a far more Scriptural specimen of divinity, and far more like our own articles than the former; for, however the name of Dort may startle many readers, the Heidelberg Catechism is by no means a violent polemical production; there is comparatively little in it that is exclusively, much less superlatively, Calvinistic; it reduces all its matter to three well-arranged heads; the greatness of our sin and misery, the means whereby we may be delivered from our sin and misery, and the gratitude due to God for our deliverance; and these points it unfolds and discusses with a clearness and a constant application of Scripture proofs, that render it a very valuable and useful document, and we are thankful to the "Graduate of the University of Oxford," who has given it to the English reader in a vernacular dress. Still it is not adapted for a Church-ofEngland catechism; not only because it states some theological points differently to us, but because it does not recognize that episcopal discipline which churchmen consider both scriptural and meet for edifica
Well then, still keeping clear of our own shores, we will sail from the old to the new world, and take up Bishop Hobart's catechism. This at least is churchman-like and epis copal; and it contains in a small compass a large mass of closely condensed, yet perspicuous theological information. We scarcely know where we would find so much matter in few words, and so much ar
"You say the Holy Ghost sanctifies you, and all the people of God.' Whom do you mean by the people of God? The people of God, or as they are also styled in Scripture the elect, are those who are chosen out of the world, and admitted into covenant with God in baptism. In what sense then are they styled elect? They are styled elect, because conditionally entitled to the privileges of the Christian Covenant."
Whatever may be the scriptural definition of election, we should hesitate to define it being "conditionally entitled to the privileges of the Christian covenant." We should also think it defective, churchmen though we are, to say no more of "continuing in the Apostles' fellow. ship," than that it is "submitting to" an episcopal" ministry." Nor do we think it quite unambiguous to teach a child to say, that "being made in baptism an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven," means that "in baptism I received a title to everlasting happiness hereafter;" though guarded in the next question, by asking, "On what condi"On tion?" to which it is replied, the condition that I am God's dutiful child in this life." Nor would we so limit the phrase, the Holy Catholic Church, as to exclude all Christian communities not strictly episcopal. Nor, even if we thought it well to define the divinely appointed institutions of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, not only as "pledges" by which to those who repent and believe
forgiveness of sins is assured,"
might mention some other particu-
But it is not from written cate-
Church of England, Mr. Gilly's system cannot be carried into such extensive operation as is desirable. The Parish Priest analyses Mr. Gilly's work as follows.
"After shewing that catechising is the uniform practice of the Roman Catholic clergy both abroad and in England, and is attended with abundant success, and proves a powerful instrument of proselytism, Mr. Gilly states how generally it is practised by the foreign Protestant clergy, and details the happy effects it produces amongst their simple flocks. He then describes the measures which have been adopted in England to enforce catechising on the part of the established clergy, and shews how partially they have been pursued, and how miserably they have failed to effect the grand purpose which the church has had ever in prospect, a purpose of the highest and most beneficial import, namely, in the words of your Grace's charge the letter is addressed to the present Archbishop of Canterbury-that of placing the rising generation in the view of the minister, of giving them in the tenderest infancy the advantage of his paternal protection, and sending them to the church, to be publicly instructed by him in faith and morals. The liturgical formularies of the church, conceived on an accurate notion of the relation between the pastor and his flock, are designed to connect them by a regular intercourse, and to direct the conduct of both parties in the performance of their respective duties. As the ground-work of this plan, it is her peculiar object to bring the parishioner, from his earliest days, into immediate contact with his spiritual teacher and guide.' Mr. Gilly then observes, that the theory of catechetical instruction has always been admitted to be beautiful; but with strange inconsistency, the practice has ever been slack and irregular; and following up this striking remark, he proceeds to shew whence the lamentable remissness on this point has originated, and corroborates your Grace's assertion, that it is imputable, neither to the neglect of the ecclesiastical governors,-for they have constantly remonstrated against it, -nor to the indolence of the parochial clergy; but has arisen from the insufficiency of the rubric to revive effective catechising, from a mistaken idea that its necessity is superseded by the National School system, and from a low estimate of its importance on the part of some, and a sense of its difficulties on the part of others. Mr. Gilly has discussed these several topics with his accustomed ability, and has proved, from motives derived from the baptismal and ordination services, from the practice of the Apostles and their successors from the attention paid to it by the early church, and from the opinions of the early Reformers, and other
eminent men, how important is the duty, and how great are the advantages of public catechising. And he farther shews, that, notwithstanding the numerous and apparently formidable objections which have concurred to defeat it, the system is by no means to be abandoned altogether; but it becomes a question, whether it may not be improved, and whether a spirit of emulation may not be stirred up by other and higher motives than a legislative enactment. And he boldly inquires, whether the letter of the law being dead, or considered so, by those who forget their subscriptions and declarations of conformity, is there not some ever-living spirit of the rule by which we may be guided and governed? Yes, my Lord, there is such an ever-living spirit of the rule, and ever will be so long as the holy Scriptures, the Liturgy, the Articles, and the Homilies of our church continue to be the guides by which the conscientious ministers of it direct their steps. And it is highly to the credit of Mr. Gilly, that he has success. fully endeavoured to shew how the everliving spirit of the rule may be embodied, and brought into full life and vigour. This is, in fact, the one great object of his book, and he proves that public catechising in church may be rendered effective by improving the practice by such modifications as would render it popular as well as useful. These modifications, proposed as substitutions for the half-hour prescribed by the rubric, after the second lesson at evening prayer, and for the dry custom of confining the ordinance to a repetition of question and answer, as set down in the catechism, were originally given to the world in your Grace's admirable charge in 1822, and are as follows:-I. A short space before or after the church service, devoted to the examination of the children. And, II. An examination judiciously interspersed with short explanations, which might be generally edifying to the congregation, leaving these matters to the judgment of individual clergymen, and the suggestions of local circumstances."
"Mr Gilly, my lord, has practically adopted your propositions, and has embodied your modifications in a lovely and harmonious system, which he has exhibited at large for the benefit of his brethren in the ininistry. In regard to the first improvement, noticed above, he has preferred a space immediately after the evening service, because there can be no interruption whatever to the congregation, and the time employed may depend entirely upon circumstances, i. e. upon the nature of the examination, and upon the interest which is taken in it. If the children and bystanders shew no symptoms of weariness, it may be lengthened at pleasure; whereas a space before the evening prayers must necessarily terminate, when the hour for prayer shall arrive. These, and other reasons which the author adduces, abun
Review of Works on Catechising.
dantly justify the preference which he gives to the time after evening service for the performance of this interesting duty. With respect to your Grace's second modification, namely, the interspersed explanations, and the mixed character of the practice, Mr. Gilly has shewn at length, and in the most interesting and able manner, the methods of rendering catechising attractive, and has given examples of the system in reference to the Catechism, to a Scriptural examination, to interrogations on the principal articles of religion with Scripture answers, to miscellaneous doctrines explained in answers from Scripture, and to explanations of words and phrases. He has further detailed how the system has been adopted at Somers' Town and at Durham, what has been the progress of the children under it, the popuJarity that has attended it, the benefits it bas conferred, and the stimulus which it
has given to domestic instruction." State of Curates, pp. 4–8.
Such is the outline of Mr. Gilly's argument, the filling up of which contains many very important facts and quotations. The example of the Roman Catholic priests, which he particularly adverts to, may shew us what is the duty-we had almost said, the policy--of Protestants; and the subject is invested with peculiar interest at this particular mo
"I bear willing testimony to the zealous and affectionate manner in which the Romish clergy acquit themselves in this duty. The Council of Trent had the sagacity to make catechising one of the most binding of the sacerdotal services, and in the Preface of the Catechism which was first published by order of this council, a curious remark occurs, which shews how great an advantage is to be gained over our adversaries by strict attention to this duty. The age is sadly sensible what mischief the Protestants have done the Catholic church, not only by their tongues, but especially by their writings called Catechisms.'" Gilly, pp. 7, 8.
"Nothing can be more kind or parental than their catechetical examinations. They do not leave it to parish clerks, or to teachers of an ordinary stamp, to drawl through the same form of words, day after day, and to secure rote without meaning, but they themselves are the judicious expounders, I have entered churches in France, in Italy, and in Switzerland, and
have witnessed the same beautiful scene of a parish priest, surrounded by children of various ranks and ages, mildly questioning, patiently explaining, exhorting, reproving, and instructing like a man of God,' rewarding with smiles of approbation, and rewarded in return by the happy and ani
CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 329.
mated looks of the cheerful circle. In almost all the cases to which I allude, I myself was the only spectator; and that too, often-times unseen by the priest, who therefore was manifestly discharging this interesting duty, not to be heard or seen of men, but to obtain that influence over his juvenile audience, which the sanctity of his office may justly claim." Gilly, pp. 9, 10.
The same system is practised by the Roman-Catholic clergy even in England, and Mr. Gilly attributes much of their recent success in making converts, to the practice.
Their catechetical instructions are not
given, as on the Continent, merely with a view to the benefit of young hearers of their own communion, but to seduce such of our people as may chance to drop in, and listen to them. For this purpose all possible notoriety is extended to the proceeding, and the opportunity is embraced, of putting forth such apologetical, familiar, and attractive, expositions of their doctrine and discipline, as may lead astray the unsettled and wavering professors of a purer
"This sort of effort answers the purpose better than all the controversy in the world; it is the argument of an active life which convinces common understandings and if our own clergy would take similar pains to render their personal office a pattern of zeal, marked by affection, they would be rebuilding the church upon a basis of moral strength, against which the storm raised by papists or separatists would beat in vain.' Gilly, pp. 11-14.
We trust that these suggestions will not be lost upon the members and ministers of our own apostolical communion. We may learn wisdom from our opponents, as well as from our friends; the latter of whom, however, Mr. Gilly also quotes, and especially the clergy of the secluded valleys of Piedmont, as powerful examples of the benefit of pastoral catechising. The Waldenses, he says, would long ago, in all human probability, have been overrun by the incursions of Popery, but for educational disthis preventive cipline.
The difficulties which the Parish Priest urges as standing in the way of a system of pastoral catechetical instruction, at least in many country parishes, are doubtless formidable. In numerous cases, the curate officiates at two or three churches; he 2 S