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tribute my mite to celebrate his praise; and, through his blessing on these feeble, but sincere endeavours, towards instructing and establishing his servants committed to my charge, in his true faith and fear, I hope to be instrumental in adding to the number of the redeemed; at least, in affording such information and support to all who are disposed to think seriously of their latter end, as will render their passage through this life easy, and their departure out of it happy.
Without some first principles founded upon the written word, religion, among the unlearned, must degenerate into superstition, priestcraft, or enthusiasm:- for piety, like other things, advances to a certain state of perfection by degrees, and was intended to be taught to men; otherwise, the publishing of the Gospel, and the appointing of a regular ministry, would have been equally needless. If it had pleased God to inspire individuals separately and arbitrarily, neither of these means would have been afforded us,-whereas God has supplied and preserved the histories, both of the Old and New Testament, as objects of our faith, and rules for our practice. Both together are by way of distinction called the BIBLE, or THE BOOK-the book of life. The pious pains and invention of holy men have from the earliest ages been devoted to the service of their
unlearned and ignorant brethren. These labours afford a test of gratitude and zeal in the improvement of such talents as the Almighty, in his wisdom, has intrusted to them; and at the same time they demand the humble diligence of the latter, in the proof they give of their wish to profit by the happy opportunities which God's goodness affords them. To these motives of Christian benevolence and religious wisdom, we may attribute (among others) the composing of that form of instruction which has been so long in use in our holy church: a form very comprehensive, though very short. It has been the study of many of our most able and pious divines, by explaining it somewhat at length, to render it more generally useful than it might prove, without such an exposition; and by delivering and publishing continued discourses on the several parts of it, they have rendered it more familiar and level to the understanding of the lower ranks. I have availed myself of their superior labours in the course of my plan, and have thereby been assisted in producing that abundant store of Christian knowledge, extracted from the short form of our Church Catechism; and shall endeavour to communicate the valuable instruction it contains, in a still plainer mode of address, than perhaps has ever yet been attempted. To use fine language, and words hard to be understood, is in a manner to preach,
to uneducated people, in an unknown tongue. I have, therefore, avoided all ornament of speech, as much as possible; and as the different opinions of the learned, in some points of doctrine, fall short as to essential benefit to the labouring man, in comparison of the practical lessons these doctrines are intended to recommend to us, I shall, with the blessing of God, employ all my pains in showing the necessity of actual holiness of life, as a proof that our faith is sound; faith without works being dead, that is, if no more than a bare profession, without any real benefit. At the same time I wish you to take notice, my brethren, that I preach CHRIST as the FOUNDATION, and faith in him, as the principal mover of every truly religious action. The name of Jesus is the only name under heaven, given, whereby we can be saved. By him alone we approach unto the Father; No one cometh unto the Father but by me, saith Christ. He is the cause of our being reconciled, and adopted again as sons. Through his stripes we are healed-by his merits, and on account of his sufferings, death, and resurrection, we shall be finally accepted. accepted. He hath received gifts for men, yea, even for the rebellious (Ps. lxviii. 18); that all who repent, and turn unto him, and trust in his name, may have power to work out their salvation by bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. When, there
fore, in these Lectures, you find me insisting upon the value of good works, I warn you to understand, that I never mean to separate the cause from the effect; I do not attempt to put those things asunder, which God hath eternally joined together. To the Author of our redemption, the LORD JESUS CHRIST, we must look for every assistant power, both to will and to do what is purely Christian, and pleasing in the sight of God, as well as for what has been done for us, in redeeming us from the curse of the law he is the way, the truth, and the life: in short, it is in consequence of what he has done, that the free gift of God's grace is vouchsafed to all who ask, and seek, and strive to obtain it. He sitteth on the right of the Majesty on high, to intercede for us, and obtain to his servants such a portion of his Holy Spirit as is needful to prepare them for a place in his kingdom. All these truths, and the whole mystery of our salvation, are contained in this Catechism, and upon which I shall now proceed more particularly to discourse to you.
The portion I have allotted for my subject at this time, is what the two first questions and their answers will afford, viz. "What is your "name?" and, " Who gave you this name?”—To the first, we deliver the name given us when we are christened. To the other, the reply is, "My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism (ie,
"at the time I was christened), wherein I was "made a member of Christ, the child of God, and "an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven *." To
* The expression of being made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, at our baptism, leads to much theological disquisition; and as this work is not intended to be a vehicle for controversy, but merely to convey a plain sense of the public mode of instruction appointed by the Church, to inform and improve its youthful members respecting their Christian duties, the author would wish to avoid any investigation of abstruse points of doctrine-particularly at this time, when much difference of opinion among the learned, hath caused a fresh ferment on the subject of regeneration through the outward form of this holy ordinance. For this reason, he withholds his own private sentiments on the question, leaving the decision of it to the particular conviction and experience of every individual, and the judgment that may be formed from general observation on the practical conduct of the multitude of mere nominal Christians. Much has been, and may be said on both sides: texts of Scripture may be adduced, which seemingly favour the decision of the several disputants, according to their prepossession as to the validity of their own conjectures. But as the support of these proofs would be endless— being liable, on each side, to misinterpretation, and a too partial application of them, and would tend more to confuse than elucidate the subject; the author, in all doubtful points that may occur in the course of his present task, has determined to follow the example of Bishop Burnet, mentioned in his Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church, viz. " to keep, as far as he can, that indifference which he thinks judicious on the occasion; not declaring his own opinion, and avoiding to possess the reader with his sense of the matter, leaving the choice equally free, as the