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As an Help for instructing the Young and Ignorant in the knowledge of the Principles
that in a very comprehensive manner.
BRIEFLY DEMONSTRATING THE TRUTH OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION,
AND THE UNREASONABLENESS OF INFIDELITY.
BY THE REV. MR. JOHN WILLISON,
Minister of the Gospel in Dundee.
Hold fast the form of sound words Tim. i. 13.
SECOND PHILADELPHIA EDITION.
No. 249, Market Street.
IN Scotland, the ministers are obliged by their church rules and constitutions, to be much employed in the work of Catechising; and the good fruits of it do appear; for there the people (comparatively speaking) are generally knowing and orthodox : whereas, in those places where catechising is neglected, ignorance and error do wofully prevail. It is found by experience that there is more knowledge diffused among the ignorant and younger sort by one hour's catechising, than by many hours preaching: for, by the method of catechising, the attention is provoked, as well as the understanding instructed, and memory gratified; whilst many excellent sermons are lost through the non-attention of the hearers, or the weakness of their memories. In the primitive church, catechising was very much their work. They had many ministers set apart for it, called Catechists; and sundry of their most eminent lights were so called, for their excelling and diligence in this good work. Before persons were admitted to the full communion of the church, they were from time to time to be catechised, and kept under trial; and, till such time as they were judged fit to partake of the sacrament, they were called Catechumeni.
Our Lord doth enjoin all his ministers to be careful to feed the lambs of his flock, as well as the older sheep, John xxi. 15. And accordingly we find his apostles took care to feed the babes with milk before they were able to receive stronger meat, 1 Cor. ii. 1, 2. Heb. v. 12. As we have our Catechisms, so they had Forms of instruction in which the young and weak were catechised, called a Form of Knowledge, Rom. ii. 20. a Form of Doctrine, Rom. vi. 17. the Form of Sound Words, 2 Tim. i. 13. the first Principles of the Oracles of God, Heb. v. 12. and the Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, Heb. vi. 1. In these were both Theophilus and Apollos catechised, Luke i. 4. Acts xvij. 25. in both of which texts, the word in the Greek is Catechised, which we have there rendered Instructed. The apostle Paul doth require the people of Galatia to give all encouragement and support to those who laboured in the work of catechising among them, Gal. vi. 6. Let him that is taught in the word, communicaie to him that teacheth in all good things, In the original, it is, Let him that is catechised, communicate to him that catechiseth. This office is not below the most learned divines, seeing Christ sets himself a pattern to us in it, by catechising his disciples, Matth. xvi. 15, 16.
We in this national church, through the Lord's mercy, are provided with excellent Catechisms, both Larger and Shorter, for our help in Catechising, And the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, established in this church about ninety years ago, (which both we and the body of Protestant dissenters in our neighbouring nations do receive and teach our children by) is judged the most excellent summary we ever had, in sn small a compass, of the great principles of the Christian religion, extracted from the word of God. It hath been greatly esteemed in foreign parts also, and upon that account hath been translated both in to both Latin and forcedes JB the hand of divine Providence, it proves