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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: since neither private life can be happy, nor the public welfare secure for any long time, without the belief of the doctrines and observance of the duties of Christianity, for which catechizing the young and ignorant lays the firmest 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 short, 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 least 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 said about them, may deserve the attention of all sorts of persons; especially as it is but too possible, that some of all sorts may never have been taught sufficiently even the first principles of religion, and that many may by no means have sufficiently re

tained, and considered since, what they learnt in their early years: but preserving scarce more in their minds than the bare words, if so much, may be little the better, if at all, for the lessons of childhood. To which it might be added, that every one hath need, in a greater degree or a less, if not to be informed, yet to be reminded and excited.

Let me beg therefore, that all who have cause to hope they may receive benefit, would attend when they are able and that all who have children or servants, 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 say for yourselves hereafter, if when you have the most entire 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 what I shall say to you: for all that you learn by rote will be of no use, unless you learn also to understand it. The exposition, 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 lost upon you. You are soon 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 whoso findeth wisdom, findeth life; and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against her, wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate her, love death.

* Psal. xlix. 1, 2. + Prov. xxiii. 12.

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Prov. viii. 35, 36.



THE catechism of our church begins, with a prudent condescension and familiarity, by asking the introductory questions, What is your name? and Who gave you this name? which lead very naturally the person catechized to the mention of his baptism, at which time it was given him. Not that giving a name is any necessary part of baptism; but might have been done either before or afterwards, though it hath always been done then, as indeed it was likely that the first public opportunity would be taken for that purpose. But besides, it was no uncommon thing in ancient times, that when a person entered into the service of a new master, he had a new name bestowed on him. Whence perhaps the Jews might derive the practice of naming the child, when it was circumcised; it being then devoted to the service of God. The first Christians, in imitation of them, would of course do the same thing, for the same reason, when it was baptized: and no wonder, that we continue the practice. For it might be a very useful one, if persons would but remember, what it tends to remind them of, that they were dedicated to Christ, when their Christian name was given them; and would make use of that circumstance frequently to recollect those promises, which were then solemnly made for them; and which they have since con

firmed, or are to confirm and make personally for themselves. Without performing these, we are Christians, not in deed, but in name only, and shall greatly dishonour that name, while we bear it and boast of it.

Our baptismal name is given us, not by our parents, as we read in Scripture the name of Jewish children was, but by our godfathers and godmothers. And this custom may also have a double advantage. It may admonish them, that having conferred the title of Christians upon us, they are bound to endeavour, that we may behave worthily of it. And it may admonish us, that our name having been given us by persons, who were our sureties, we are bound to make good their engagements.

But the office and use of godfathers will be considered under one of the following questions. The subject to be considered at present, though not fully, is baptism. For this being our first entrance into the Christian church, by which we become entitled to certain privileges, and obliged to certain duties; religious instruction begins very properly by teaching young persons what both of them are. And in order to recommend the duties to us, the privileges are mentioned first.

Not but that God hath an absolute right to our observance of his laws, without informing us beforehand what benefit we shall reap from it. Surely it would be enough to know, that he is Lord and King of the whole earth; and that all his dealings with the works of his hands are just and reasonable. Our business is to obey, and trust him with the consequences. But in great mercy, to encourage and attract his poor creatures, he hath been pleased to enter into a covenant, a gracious agreement with

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