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preacher is going forward, for his hearers to search out the texts, perhaps there is no inclination, and remember them with once hearing they cannot. But let them know that each of them may be called on for an answer at the next moment, and it is obvious that in nine cases out of ten a sufficient stimulus will be given to fix the attention of the pupils. And once succeed in fixing their attention by such means, and you have accomplished that which is perhaps the most useful of all the results of catechising-you have compelled them to think. On this point Archdeacon Bather's
words are admirable :
"The sermon was blameless, but there was no constraint upon them to give their thoughts to it. But just here is the catechist's advantage; his method forces the child to think. Some little effort and application of mind is required of him-is actually extorted from him every moment. Instead of making a speech, the instructor has put a question; perhaps he has got no answer, or a wrong answer, but he is not beating the air, and his pains are not thrown away; if he has but shown his pupil that something has been asked of him, to which he can render no reply, at least he has arrested his attention, and probably excited his curiosity, and convinced him moreover of his ignorance, and made him perceive just in what place and instance he needs information; and therefore if he has not made a proselyte, he has got a hearer, and from so small a beginning, greater things are soon to follow. A few questions more lead the pupil's mind nearer and nearer to the point to which the instructor desires to bring him, till his eye actually catches it, and he sees it for himself, perceives that he has gone a step, and has ground to stand upon in reaching further; and because he had something to do to make his advantage of his teacher's hint, and has himself delivered the result of his own reflections, he has discovered that he is capable of something, and his interest is excited and his mind gladdened, as the present gain of application and effort comes to him."-pp. xxxii, xxxiii.
This is perfectly true. The interest which is capable of being excited in their young minds by a judicious teacher, is quite surprising to those who are used to contemplate them merely as thick-headed youngsters, fit for nothing better than bird-tending, or as noisy urchins playing at pitch-farthing in the streets. And well we know that, once manage to keep up this interest, the hardest part of the work is done-that is, for the present; and such a familiarity with Scripture is induced, that your subsequent preaching will tell upon him with tenfold effect in after-years.
There is one argument more which we cannot refrain from hinting at in favour of the public catechising of the young, as the Church directs us all to do. There are, we apprehend, none of our clerical brethren but will readily acknowledge the difficulty which is often felt in the course of preaching, not merely as to when, but
as to how to bring forward at all certain subjects, which ministerial faithfulness tells them must not be passed over in unbroken silence, but which, nevertheless, ministerial prudence whispers must be most cautiously and lightly alluded to, lest more harm be done by touching than omitting them. The source of the difficulty is twofold. Certain grown members of your congregation (it matters not whether many or few) are living in some sin,take, for example, dissent. They are known to be so, and they know that you are aware of it. Yet if you preach on this subject, the chances are ten to one that, to a man, they take offence. "He preached at me," is the immediate cry; "I may be led, but I can't be driven." And the consequence is, they not only confirm themselves more obstinately in that particular sin, but their hearts are hardened against your preaching in general; if, indeed, they do not leave your ministry and the Church altogether. This, then, is one source of the difficulty-the unwillingness of men to be told of their faults. Coupled with this is their unwillingness to have their prejudices disturbed. Yet so utterly ignorant of first principles are the bulk of our hearers, especially on all subjects connected with Church polity, that were they never so amenable to the correction of their faults-the preacher can scarcely hope by the plainest statements (perhaps the plainer, the more hopeless) to do more than offend their prejudices. There is no ground on which their mind can take its stand, to judge of the reasonableness and truth of what is advanced. Is it not, then, obvious that here-in public catechising-we have the opportunity ready made to our hands for teaching many home truths which our adult congregation would swallow in no other way? We instil them drop by drop. We teach them under the pretence of teaching others; and we teach them too by such infinitesimal doses of first principles-which their minds will after a while apply in spite of themselves, that we do not risk offending their prejudices. It is a successful course of moral homoeopathy. They do not perceive what you are driving at, and by and by are surprised into acquiescence.
As the Archdeacon says:
"Thus all the people of your charge will have the benefit of an easy and familiar method: you will have an opportunity you much want of instilling instruction, drop by drop, into ignorant adults as well as into ignorant children; and you will be enabled, with almost equal ease and advantage, to arrest and fix their attention. For next to being asked a question ourselves, nothing awakens and interests us more than hearing others questioned. There will be curiosity to catch the child's reply. A thought can scarcely fail to cross the listener how he should reply himself, or whether he could reply. Many are glad to get infor
mation without the risk of exposing present ignorance; and when the information is watched and waited for, it is retained. Most people take pleasure in contemplating the efforts of children; and here the auditory is composed of persons who regard the very children before them with a peculiar solicitude."—p. xl.
The following passage, selected from the body of the work, will serve to give some little illustration of what we have said above, and will, at the same time, afford an example of the admirable manner in which this accomplished catechist (now gone to reap the reward of his labours) was wont to press the juices out of the kernel which the Church Catechism placed in his hand. He is lecturing on the baptismal privileges, as set forth in the reply to the second question.
"What is the second privilege? The being made the child of God.What have you told me Christ is to God? His Son.-In what relation, then, do those who are members of Christ stand to God? In that of children: For,' says the Scripture, 'ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.'-How, then, must we henceforth regard God? As a father. And how must we behave to Him? As children.-I suppose, then, He will treat us as such. Does a loving father keep his dear child at a distance? No: he delights to have him come to him, without fear or doubting, for every thing he wants.-What does St. Paul say to the Galatians about that? Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.' So you may come and pray to God in hope, What words hath your Saviour put into your mouth to encourage you to this? When ye pray, say, Our Father.'-What does a father mean to give his son in the end? A good inheritance. But does he give it him immediately? No. Why not? Because he is not fit to be trusted with it. Then what good thing does he give him first? A good edu'cation.And in order to that, whom does he put him under? Tutors and governors.-Has God done so by you? Yes. Who stands in God's place over you from your birth? My parents.And for whose sake must you obey them? God's sake. They may commit their authority to somebody else. To whom, in fact, have they committed it? To the schoolmaster.-Then, for whose sake must you obey him? First, for my parents'; and ultimately, for God's. Has not God established a visible society upon earth, in which He has appointed pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry? Yes. What do you call this society? The Church.-Then you must look up to the pastors and teachers of the Church to be trained. Now suppose you shall have been trained properly, what does St. Paul say, you will be meet, or fit for? To be partakers of the inheritance of the saints.' p. 77.
Considering the peculiar circumstances under which the work before us has been composed and published, we feel unwilling to
look otherwise than most tenderly at it. Nevertheless we feel bound to caution those who may be inclined to make use of it, not to allow the author's examples, more especially the Second Part, which relates to the Church Catechism itself, to serve for more than examples; not to allow any portion to supersede the efforts of their own mental powers. It was never intended by its reverend author for this; but merely as a guide, a direction at first. It is much too meagre in most points to serve as more. We may particularly instance the part relating to "the pomps and vanities of this wicked world," and the duties to God and our neighbour :-two portions on which we have heard a skilful catechist dilate with much advantage.
But in truth, we would fain warn our readers that books of any sort, however elaborate, can be no more than mere occasional helps and lights. He will never make a good catechist-nay, he will make but a sorry one, who depends upon a certain line of questioning which he may have prepared beforehand. To prepare oneself is indeed necessary, and with the greatest pains; and short notes, consisting of leading questions and Scripture references, with any particular point capable of illustration here and there, may be useful, if not quite necessary, to assist the memory of the catechist, and prevent his rambling too far from the chief matter in hand. But beyond this let him not go. He must be ready to seize on any opportunity, which a blundering or an unexpected answer will afford. He must have his wits constantly about him; he must remain cool, collected, and patient; above all, he must never lose his temper, or show that he is otherwise than interested himself in what he would beget an interest in others for. Nor, lastly, should he ever suffer himself to forget that he is not a hired master in his school, but a clergyman training his little flock in church.
Perhaps, too, we may be pardoned, if we venture to advise that the catechetical lecture in the church shall never exceed one quarter of an hour: experience has proved the sufficiency of these limits on several accounts. It must be an uncommonly apt class of catechumens, and an uncommonly skilful catechist, that can occupy a longer time, at once, than this to advantage. Besides, this will remove a difficulty which many clergy have stated to us, as to the carrying out the direction of the rubric. There are not a few parishes in which, either from the people having become habituated to an afternoon sermon, or from local causes it may be deemed inexpedient to abolish this; and the difficulty is, how to preach the sermon and catechise besides, for fear of wearying the minds of the auditory. Now if the catechising be made to follow the second lesson, and the sermon to succeed to the rest of the
prayers, and neither of them be allowed, as a general rule, to exceed a quarter of an hour, we apprehend that the difficulty will vanish: the time allotted to instruction-whether by catechesis or by prædicatio, will not exceed the half hour; and being broken into two portions, and diversified in its manner, will not tire either the hearers or the teacher, where a set half hour of continous declamation infallibly would. At least, we have seen something of this sort tried with apparently good effect.
To conclude, charged with difficulty as the catechising openly in the church confessedly is in most cases, and enhanced as this may be from local causes in other cases, we would earnestly urge our brethren to think long and deeply before they determine to relinquish it. The traveller in Surrey will see many an acre of productive ground, which once was nothing but a seemingly hopeless common; so poor and so stony is the soil. And who shall sit down with folded arms, and declare that his lot has been cast in so unpromising a parish, that nothing save disappointment can result from perseverance, pains, and prayer? Archdeacon Bather's was certainly one of those spots which we are used to think not particularly favourable for great moral or intellectual results: to us then his experience may afford some encouragement. Let us hear it :
'I was," he writes, "inducted in 1804 to the living which I now hold. I set to my work at once, and preached as plainly and as well as I knew how, and I should be sorry to think that no good came of it. Still, however, I could not but see, that with respect to the elder part of my congregation, talk as I would, I could not talk it into them. Now and then I might say a thing would strike them, but as to the general argument of my discourse, it was all thrown away. My old lesson in catechising came into my mind [this refers to an anecdote of his school-days], and I turned myself to the younger sort. We had at that time in the parish a good many boys, from 13 to 17 years of age. They worked in the collieries on week-days, and came to church on Sundays, and they were generally very well disposed. So, I will take my catechumens from these,' I thought; but then, not one in six of them could read. I found a couple of working colliers who could read very well, and I made them my Sunday-school masters. The chief thing they had to do was this:-I appointed them a portion of Scripture, not exceeding two verses at the most, and I saw that they could read it themselves with intelligence. They then read it pause by pause to the boys, who soon learnt the words, and could repeat them with intelligence too. Then, after Divine service, I got my pupils to deliver the passage to me with one voice, and I questioned them upon it; and by this means I found that I could communicate much religious knowledge, which might be, and has been, held fast till now. Besides this, I had two little dame schools, containing sixty children each, and I