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Ir is well known, not only that the catechism is designed to be taught in all church schools, but that the compulsory teaching of it is now secured by the legislature in all church schools receiving government grants. And now that nonconformists in certain localities are presented with a temptation to send their children to church schools, it becomes them to enquire into the religious training they will there receive. We shall examine some of the statements made in the catechism, and leave the unprejudiced reader to judge whether they are in accordance with the doctrines of the bible. "Question.What is your name?

Answer.-N. or M.

Question.-Who gave you this name?

Answer. My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism; wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven."

One error into which some nonconformists have fallen is here avoided, viz. that the children of believing parents are "born into the church," and are to be baptized, because as soon as they are born they are actually members of Christ's church. The Church of England teaches that we do not become members of Christ by birth, and so far it teaches truly. For "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit,” (John iii. 6.) "henceforth know we no man after the flesh."-2 Cor. v, 16. If church membership is hereditary, it cannot be said that the church "knows no man after the flesh."

But whilst one error is avoided, another, equally great, is adopted, for in the answer to this second question it is plainly inculcated that all baptized persons are members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. The sentiment here put into the mouth of the child is, "Blessed are they who have been baptized, for their's is the kingdom of heaven." And in accordance with this, the child, in the answer to the fourth question, is made to say, "I heartily thank our heavenly Father, that he hath called me to this state of salvation;" and in the answer to the sixth question, the child is made to class himself with "all the elect people of God." All this is inconsistent with the doctrine of Christ, who, on the Mount, declared, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for their's is the kingdom of heaven."-Matt. v. 3, 5-10. It is quite contrary to the case of


Simon Magus, whom the spirit of inspiration declared almost immediately after baptism to be "in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."-Acts viii. 23. It is contrary to the doctrine of Paul, who said to baptized persons, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God ?"—1 Cor. vi. 9.

"Question. What did your godfathers and godmothers then for you?

Answer. They did promise and vow three things in my name. First, that I should renounce the devil, and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh. Secondly, that I should believe all the articles of the christian faith. And thirdly, that I should keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my life."

Now, either the sponsors can make good this vow, or they cannot. If they can make good their vow, and secure that the child shall renounce the devil and all his works, why is the catechist afterwards made to say, "My good child, know this, that thou art not able to do these things of thyself, nor to walk in the commandments of God, and to serve him, without his special grace; which thou must learn at all times to call for by diligent prayer." If the child when he comes to years of understanding cannot do these things without God's special grace, how can his sureties make him do them, unless they can secure the special grace of God on behalf of the child. One would think that if christians solemnly promise to do that which they cannot do without God's grace, it should be with fear and trembling but what shall we say of those who engage that others shall do that which it is most evident they cannot make them do, unless they can also secure the grace of God on their behalf? But if godfathers and godmothers can make good their vow, what an awful amount of guilt those of them have contracted whose godchildren are not in the possession of the special grace of God, or who may even have so sunk in sin as to become the prey of drunkenness, or infidelity! Let those sponsors who believe that they are able to fulfil what they have solemnly promised, remember that they are, on their own showing, guilty of the blood of every soul for whom they have stood responsible, and who has grown up a stranger to the special grace of God.

But the sponsor may deny his ability to procure the special grace of God for another. If so, why does he promise and vow that which implies his ability to procure it? He may say that after he has done his best, he can do no more; very true, but that he would do his best is not the thing he has promised. He has promised in the name of the child to "renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh-believe all the articles of the christian faithkeep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my life." How many sponsors have discharged these


obligations? NOT ONE. Reader, are you a sponsor, and have you succeeded in any one instance in procuring the special grace of God for the children you became surety for? If not, remember that scripture, "Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."-Eccl. v. 5.

Besides, on what authority is the use of sponsors made to rest? Certainly we do not read of such an order of persons in scripture. The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized without sponsors. So was Lydia. So were all whose baptism is recorded in the New Testament. It is freely admitted that the use of sponsors is a very ancient custom, nor can we point out the precise time when it began to prevail, but the practice is unauthorised by the letter of scripture, and contrary to its spirit. Every person who knows his right hand from his left is personally responsible to God, nor is it possible for his responsibility to be shifted to another party, and if it were possible, those who know the nature and amount of their own deficiency will not be forward to become responsible for others. "My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth."-Prov. vi. 1, 2. "He that hateth suretyship is sure."-Prov. xi. 15.

As to the antiquity of the custom, it is not so ancient as the days of the apostles, for we find no mention of it in their writings, and even those who plead the authority of the fathers, make no scruple themselves in contravening it, for, as Gibbon says, (Decline and Fall, ch. xx. sec. 3, note) "One circumstance may be observed, in which the modern churches have materially departed from the ancient custom; the sacrament of baptism, even when it was administered to infants, was immediately followed by confirmation and the holy communion."

But at any rate, all parents whose children attend a church school should immediately withdraw them, if their children have not been baptized, or if they have been baptized without sponsors, otherwise the children will be compelled, twice over every time they repeat the catechism, to assert what they know, or may know, to be a direct falsehood. For how can a child say that his sureties gave him his name, if no one ever stood surety for him? How can he say that his godfathers and godmothers promised and vowed three things in his name, if he never had any godfathers and godmothers? Is it nothing to you, nonconformist parents, that your children should be taught to confound the distinction between truth and falsehood? Is it nothing to you, ye who have authority in the church, to incur the responsibility of training the infant mind to a disregard of truth? Is it nothing to you, legislators of the land, whether your enactments have a tendency to purify or corrupt the infant mind?

"Question.-What meanest thou by this word sacrament?


Answer. I mean an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.

Question.-How many parts are there in a sacrament?

Answer. Two; the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace."

In the former question the word sacrament is meant to designate the sign only, in the latter it includes both the sign and the thing signified. Of course there can be no objection to the use of a word in any sense, if it be distinctly understood what is meant by it, but it is peculiarly unfortunate that this word should be employed at one time to mean nothing more than the outward visible sign, and at another time to mean both the outward sign and the inward grace; for it tends much to the confounding of the two, and encourages the tendency there is in human nature to rest in mere ceremonial observances. And thus many are flattered to believe that they have a name to live while they are dead. But this is not all. It even looks as if the framers of the catechism and liturgy were lamentably deceived themselves, or had an intention of deceiving others. For let any one examine the prayer offered up after the baptism of an infant. "We yield thee most hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this Infant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for thine own Child by adoption, and to incorporate him into thy holy Church!" And that baptism and nothing else, is supposed to be the means of effecting this mighty change is evident from the prayer offered before the baptism. "Give thy Holy Spirit to this Infant that he may be born again." Thus the child is supposed after baptism to be born again, and before baptism not to be born again!

Let children have their minds thoroughly imbued with such sentiments, and is it likely that when they come to years of understanding they will feel the force of our Lord's solemn words, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God"? John iii. 3.

But are infants born again by baptism, or are they not? If they are, why is there no difference in point of moral character between baptized and unbaptized young people? If they are not, why do the catechism and liturgy make void the word of God?


But no, it is not by baptism that regeneration is effected. settled aversion from God hath fastened its roots in the very spirit of the human mind. Men by nature are "alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them." Ephesians iv. 18. They do not like to retain God in their knowledge, they say to him, "Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." Job xxi. 14. Their understandings are dark, their minds vain, their wills obstinate, their consciences seared, their hearts hard, their lives one continued act of rebellion against


God. Hence it is most evident that if any of us would enter the place where there is nothing that defileth, or that maketh a lie, we must be renewed in the spirit of our minds. (Eph. iv. 23.) We must be made new creatures-old things must pass away and all things become new. (2 Cor. v. 17.) This change, and not our being baptized, is regeneration, and without this none can enter the kingdom of heaven. Your baptism, dear reader, will avail you nothing if you have not undergone this change. It is not by means of baptism that it is produced, nor is your baptism any pledge that it has been, or will be effected in you.

No. The stains of our guilt are too foul for the waters of baptism to wash away, but "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John i. 7 The outward visible sign is one thing, the inward spiritual grace is another. To suppose you have the latter because the former has been administered, is a delusion. To join in giving thanks over baptized infants as regenerated beings is a mockery. To call the administration of baptism a sacrament, and then to define that sacrament as embracing both the sign and the thing signified, is a snare. "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Gal. iii. 26.




No name is so dear and delightful to me,
A s that of my Jesus whose grace is so free;
The love which induced him my nature to take,
H as urged him to suffer and die for my sake;
A fountain was opened in his precious veins,
New life to procure and purge out my deep stains;
I nhumanly tortured and cruelly slain,

E ternal redemption for me to obtain ;
Like a conqueror he rose in glory to reign.

How shall I his matchless achievements proclaim,
And tell of the wonders compris'd in his name?
Y on permanent sun appears feeble and dim,
Compared with the glories essential to him;
Resplendent in all his perfections he shines,
O ́n all the bright armies of angelic minds;
Furnish me, Saviour, with discernment to see,
The infinite beauties inherent in Thee.

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