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The Preliminary Questions,


The Baptifmal Covenant.

1 Cor. XIV. 12. Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the Church.

Printed in the Year M.DCC.XXXI.



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EFORE I enter upon the Explication of our Church-Catechifm, which is a brief, but withal a complete, and comprehenfive Abridgment of the Chriftian Religion, 'twill be requifite to premife fomething touching the Nature, Neceflity, and Usefulness of Catechizing. And here, the better to clear our way, I fhall begin with the word Catechifm, or Catechizing; which coming from the Greek word namiw, that fignifies to reflect, or return a Sound, denotes a way of Inftruction by Queftion and Anfwer; where the Learner doth, as it were, echo back, and return the Sound and Senfe of the Teacher.

But to go on from the Name to the Thing.

Catechifm, or Catechizing, may be defin'd to be a general Inftruction in the fundamental Principles of the Chrif tian Religion, by way of Question and Anfwer. I ftyle it a general Instruction, to diftinguish it from that other way of Teaching, known by the name of Preaching; which defcends to the more particular Parts and Duties of Religion. By the fundamental Principles of Chriftian Religion, I underftand the great and neceffary Points both of Faith and Practice; which the Catechifm is defign'd to inftru&t 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 raifes the Superftructure, and buildeth

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thereupon the one fows the Seeds of Grace in the Heart; the other helps it to grow up into a holy Life, and leads on to greater Maturity and Perfection. Laftly, I ftyle it a way of Inftruction by Question and Answer, whereby 'is farther diftinguifh'd from Preaching; which is a continu'd Difcourfe made by the Teacher, without any Reply or Repetition of the Hearer: Whereas here the Catechift intructs by asking of Queftions, and the Catechumen learns by returning of Anfwers. By both which, Knowledge is more eafily inftill'd, and likewife makes the deeper and more lafting Impreffions on the Mind.

From this brief Defcription of the Nature, I proceed to The Neceffity of Catechizing; which is indeed requifite to all the Ends of Religion. And here it may not be amifs to obferve,

That in the beginning of Chriftianity, our bleffed Saviour and his Apoftles having to do with grown Perfons, both Jews and Gentiles, this way of Catechizing went before Baptifm, and was a neceffary Preparative thereunto: For the Jews being to be converted from Judaifm, and the Gentiles from Heathenifin to Chriftianity; 'twas neceffary they fhould unlearn the Rites and Idolatries of the former, before they could receive the Rules, or be initiated into the Myfteries of the latter. And therefore we find, that the Apostle's Commiffion was to go and teach all Nations, before they baptiz'd them, Mat. 28. 19, 20. That is, being fent to convert rude and barbarous People, that were Aliens to the Commonwealth of Ifrael, and Strangers to the Covenant of Promife, without God, and without Chrift in the World; they were first to inftruct them in the Knowledge of God, and to believe in Chrift, before they were to be receiv'd into his Church, or admitted to the Benefits and Privileges of it.

But when thefe had embrac'd Chriftianity, and were baptiz'd, the Promife 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 Baptifm, and have been admitted into the Church ever fince. Now here Inftruction follows Baptifm, thefe being to be taught afterward the Doctrine of the Chriftian Religion, 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 fometimes follows Baptifm, yet it must always go before Confirmation, and is a neceffary

neceffary Preparative to it. Here, by Confirmation, we understand that folemn renewing and ratifying the Baptifmal Vow in our own Perfons, when we come to Years of Difcretion, that was made in our behalf by Sureties in our Infancy: Which Act is accompany'd with the laying on of Hands, the Bleffing and Prayers of the Bishop for Grace to enable us thereunto. This is that laying on of Hands mention'd by the Apostle, Heb. 6. 1, 2. which is peculiar to Confirmation: For tho this Ceremony was used on other Occafions, as particularly in the Ordination of Minifters, yet in the fore-cited place being mention'd immediately after Baptifm, and numbred among thofe first Doctrines of Christianity, that belong to all Chriftians inftructed in it, can be meant only of the Ufe of it in Confirmation; and hath been fo understood and practis'd in all Ages of the Chriftian Church.

Now Catechizing is abfolutely neceffary to inftruct us in the Knowledge of what was undertaken for us in our Baptifm, without which we must be utterly incapable of knowing or receiving any Benefit by Confirmation. Again,

Thirdly, Catechizing is neceffary to fit and prepare Chriftians for the worthy receiving of the Holy Sacrament; for that inftructs them in the Nature and End of that great Ordinance, together with the Qualifications requifite to the due Participation of it: So that the omitting or flighting of these Inftructions, are the true Reasons why fome receive this Holy Sacrament unworthily, and many others receive it not at all. Moreover,

Fourthly, Catechizing is neceffary to a future Proficiency 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 ob ferve fome very zealous indeed for Preaching, and calling loudly for Lectures and Sermons; who yet for lack of Catechizing, are ever learning, but never come to the Knowledge of the Truth and notwithstanding all their goodly Pretences to Light and Knowledge, ftand in need to be taught what are the firft Principles of the Oracles of God. Hence it comes to pafs, that fo many unhappily mistake the true Means of Edification, and prefer the vain Dreams and Delufions of Mens Fanfies, before wife, wholefom, and pious Inftructions. Wherefore,

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