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order of Christians the use of the holy Scriptures in the vulgar tongue, since even the catechumens themselves, who were but an imperfect sort of Christians, were exhorted and commanded to read the canonical books in all churches, and the apocryphal books in some churches, for moral instruction. "Nay, if we may believe Bede, they were obliged to get some of the holy Scriptures by heart, as a part of their exercise and discipline, before they were baptized. ... Among [them,] as St. Austin and others have observed, those were commonly the most tractable and the best proficients, who were the most conversant in the holy Scriptures."
As we descend into the dark ages of the Church, catechetical instruction, with all other instruction, appears to have been grossly neglected. At a synod held in England in the year 735, it was enjoined, “ that the priests learn and teach to know the Creed, Lord's Prayer and words of consecration in the Masse (or eucharist”) in the English tongue. This seems to indicate, as Fuller (from whom the canon on these instructions is quoted) remarks, that “ learning then ran low, (since] the priests themselves had need to learn them; yet ignorance was not then so high, but that the people were permitted to be taught them.
On the first dawn of the reformation in England it was found necessary to recommend catechetical instruction as a means of dispelling the gross ignorance in which the people were involved. This work was commenced by Cromwell in the reign of Henry VIII., " and though what he required,” Archbishop Wake remarks, “went no further than to teach first the parents and masters themselves, and by them their children and servants, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the ten Commandments; yet this was a good beginning, and even more than many of the clergy themselves in those days were very well able to expound to them."
It may teach us gratitude for our privileges in the present day to learn, from an old and faithful historian, the state of the people and the means adopted for their instruction, in the early part of king Edward the Sixth's reign. “ There was now great care taken that the vulgar sort might arrive at some knowledge of religion, which they were for the most part barbarously ignorant of before.
And for this purpose provision was made that the people might learn in English the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ave, that always were to be said before in Latin, but especially the Lord's Prayer, commonly called the Pater Noster. And therefore, the better to inculcate it in the minds of the people, Latimer used to say this prayer constantly, both before and after sermon, in the country where he was.
And when any poor people came to him to ask an alms, he would oppose them with the Lord's Prayer and bid them say it, and cause his servants sometimes to require them to say it. Many would tell him they could say the Latin Pater Noster, and others that they could say the old Pater Noster, (as they termed the Lord's Prayer in Latin,) but not the new, meaning the English.”
In the year 1548, a Catechism, translated from the German of Justus Jonas, under the supervision of Archbishop Cranmer, was published in England. This was subsequently known under the title Cranmer's Catechism. “It consists," says Le Bas, “ of elementary expositions of the Commandments, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Sacrament of Baptism, the authority of the Keys, and the Lord's Supper. In this book the Commandments are arranged conformably to the Romish practice. The first two coalesce into one, and the tenth is divided into two. But then in the discourse on idolatry, introduced by Cranmer into the exposition, he remarks, that this arrangement is the work of later interpreters; and that, according to the most ancient interpretation, the words relating to images form the second commandment.” If this be always fully given, the arrangement is a matter of less importance, although there seems to be no room for doubt as to that intended by Scripture. The Church of Rome is compelled to transpose a clause in the tenth commandment in order to make it appear as a distinct injunction.
Cranmer's Cutechism was erroneous with respect to the number of the sacraments, (of which it makes three, Penance being one,) and does not appear to have gone into general use. In the year 1553, another Catechism, which had been composed in Latin, was set forth, and its use enjoined upon all schoolmasters, &c. by the authority of
* Strype's Memorials of Edward VI.'s Reign. B. i. ch. 9.
the king. It is in consequence called King Edward's Catechism. It is said in the king's injunction to have been written by a certain godly and learned man,” but who was the author was not made known, and seems to be generally considered uncertain. Some thought that it was written by Poinet, bishop of Winchester. Strype, however, than whom there is probably no better authority in such matters, says,—" It was certainly writ by Alexander Noel (or Nowell,] as I find by comparing Noel's Catechism and this together. The collocutores (speakers] are in both Catechisms the same, viz. magister and auditor. And in many places the very same questions and answers are given verbatim. Only Noel's Catechism, published under queen Elizabeth, is larger much.”* He quotes also in his memorials of Cranmer the testimony of a learned contemporary of Noel, to the same effect.
Strype also says of this Catechism, “ that it seems to have heen published in English as well as in Latin, that John Day printed it, and [it was] licensed to come abroad in 1552. For according to the warrant book, ‘in September, 1552, a license was granted to the same person to print it both in Latin and Er ish, the king having caused it to be set forth.' But it was not printed before 1553, and the reason it was so long between the license and the publication (half a year and more) I conjecture was, because it was thought fit to have the allowance first of the convocation for the giving it greater countenance and authority.”+
This Catechism has been republished in the first volume of the Christian Observer, of which it occupies about 16 pages. There is quoted in connexion with it the remark of Dr. Randolph, bishop of Oxford, that the “ Catechism published in the reign of Edward VI. was the last work of the reformers of that reign ; whence it may fairly be understood to contain, as far as it goes, their ultimate decision, and to represent the sense of the Church of England as then established.” Archbishop Wake says of it: “ And here I take the complete model of our Church Catechism to have been first laid." It is a sound and excellent production, expressing the same sentiments with respect to the depravity of man, the need of the Holy Spirit
* Memorials of the Reign of Edward VI. B. il. ch. 15.
to create a new heart in him, and the impossibility of justification except by faith alone, which are to be found in the present Articles and Liturgy of the Church of England.
The injunction for the use of this Catechism by king Edward is dated on the 20th of May, 1553. He requires that it shall be taught, “ immediately after the other brief Catechism which we have set forth.”
This “other brief Catechism” appears to have been one which John Day was licensed to print in March of that year. Strype gives in his collection of records two warrants to this printer, one for printing the larger Catechism, both in Latin and English, dated in September, 1552, as we have seen; the other was given in March, 1553, “ for printing a Catechism in English, with the brief of an A B C thereunto annexed,” &c.*
Strype supposes this brief Catechism to be referred to in certain letters to the bishops, written by the king in a subsequent part of 1553. “ This,” he says, “ I conclude to be the CHURCH CATECHISM, joined nowf ordinarily with our Common Prayer, for the printing of which John Day had the king's license in the month of March before, as likewise he had from Elizabeth afterwards.”
That this conclusion is correct is moreover proved by the fact, that Elizabeth in the second year of her reign issued a proclamation, in which she enjoined it upon the clergy to examine their flocks, and teach them “the Catechism set forth in the book of Public Prayer.”+ This could not have been inserted in the prayer book during the reign of Mary, which extended back to the year in which Edward the Sixth's two Catechisms were published, (being the last of his reign,) while all that is said by historians seems to prove that there was no publicly authorized Catechism before that period.
* The dates and details of these warrants are here noticed, in order to distinguish carefully between the larger Catechism of king Edward and the brief one which Strype states to be the Church Catechisin. The former was printed in 12mo, and bound (as Fuller states) with the articles of religion, adopted at the same time. The latter seems to have been combined with a primer for children. Blunt, in bis History of the Reformation, confounds these, stating that Strype attributes the authorship of the Church Catechism to Nowell, whereas it will be seen from our extracts, that it is the larger Catechism, licensed in September 1552, of which he speaks in that connexion. t About the year 1720.
# Archbishop Wake.
The Church Catechism then appears to have been set forth under the auspices of the early reformers of the Church of England, and was prepared by some of them, perhaps Cranmer himself, (who took a deep interest in catechetical instruction,) upon the model of Edward the Sixth's Catechism. It contained at this time no account of the sacraments, as will be seen when the additions on that subject are noticed. For the present we proceed in the order of time to notice Dean Nowell's Catechism in Latin, which, has been seen, Strype represents as an extension of king Edward's, and both as proceeding from the same author. This was prepared by direction of the convocation of 1562, of which Nowell was prolocutor, but not printed until 1570. It was reprinted in 1572 and 1578, and translated into English and Greek.*
Nowell's Catechism was held in high estimation. As a proof of it Strype says, “It was thought fit that ministers should converse in this Catechism, and learn true Divinity from it. But this, some, conceited of their own learning, thought much of. Thus Thomas Cartwright, in his Admonition, complained that now ministers, like young children, must be instructed and learn the Catechism. Where in the margin he placed these words ministers of London enjoined to learn Mr. Nowell's Catechism. To which thus Dr. Whitgift, “That, Cartwright, which you in derision quote in the margin, is a book fit for you to learn also. And I know no man so well learned, but it may become him to read and learn that learned and necessary book.’t Bishop Randolph, as quoted by the Christian Observer, says of this work and Jewel's Apology for the Church of England, written about the same time, “ Both these works were publicly received and allowed. They have also a claim to the attention of the reader, both for clearness of argument, and for eloquence of language."
A brief notice of one whose name so often occurs, and who was so distinguished among the great men of the Church of England as Dean Nowell, will not be unacceptable to the reader. Fuller says of him, “ Alexander Nowell, Doctor of Divinity, and Deane of St. Paul's in London, born in Lancashire, bred in Oxford, afterwards fled into Ger