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A Catechism,




1. A Catechism is a course of instruction by question and answer in the first principles, or elements, of any subject.

2. Derivation. It is derived from a Greek word 1 which denotes, (i) to sound down, (ii) to teach by word of mouth. Thus St Luke states that he had composed his Gospel in order that Theophilus might thoroughly know the certainty of the things wherein he had been orally instructed?, or catechised, and Apollos is said to have been mighty in the Scriptures, and to have been orally instructed", or catechised, in the way of the Lord. He who thus teaches is called a Catechist4, and he who is thus taught a Catechumen.

3. The Catechism of the Church of England is a course of instruction in the first principles or elements

1 Κατηχέω, which comes from κατά = down, and ήχος =α sound, whence the English word echo.

2 "Ινα επιγνώς περί ων κατηχήθης λόγων την ασφάλειαν, Lk. i. 4.

3 Ούτος ήν κατηχημένος την όδον του Κυρίου, Acts xviii. 25; comp. also Rom. ii. 18, 1 Cor. xiv. 19, Gal. vi. 6.

4 Which word is twice placed before questions in t? Church Catechism.

of the Christian religion', and is "to be learned by every person, before he is brought to be confirmed by the Bishop."

4. Division of the Catechism. The first principles in which the Catechism gives instruction may be divided into Five Parts.

5. The First Part treats of the Christian Corenant, and instructs us concerning the Christian Name, and the Privileges, and Obligations of our Baptism.

6. The Second Part treats of the Apostles' Creed and its explanation, and instructs us in the Faith, to which our Covenant binds us.

7. The Third Part treats of the Ten Commandments and their summary, or the Duty towards God and towards our Neighbour, to which our Covenant obliges nis.

8. The Fourth Part treats of Prayer, and especially the Pattern Prayer, called the Lord's Prayer, given us by our Saviour.

9. The Fifth Part treats of the two Sacraments; (i) of Baptism, whereby we are admitted into the Christian Covenant, and (ii) of the Lord's Supper, whereby our Covenant-union with Christ is renewed, “our souls strengthened and refreshed," and "we be fed and sustained to spiritual and everlasting life?”

10. History of the Catechism. English Versions and Expositions of the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments had existed in very early times. Immediately before the Reformation, however,

1 Compare the answer of the Bishops at the Savoy Conference: “The Catechism is not intended as a whole body of divinity, but as a comprehension of the Articles of Faith, and other doctrines most necessary to salvation.”

2 Nowell's Catechism; Nicholson On the Catechism, p. 183.

3 Thus, in Saxon times, the Council of Cealchythe, A.D. 785, directs, “that all shall know the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, and that all Sponsors shall promise to teach them

the knowledge of these elements of the Christian religion would seem to have been very scanty. The first Book of Service, therefore, put forth by the advisers of Edward VI. in the year A.D. 1549, contained the Catechism? as far as the explanation of the Lord's Prayer, which, with certain alterations, still remains in our Prayer-Book. The Explanation of the Sacraments 3 was not added till after the Hampton Court Conference, A.D. 1604, in the reign of James I.

their children." A council held at Lambeth, A.D. 1281, directs the clergy to explain, four times a year, the Ten Commandments and the Creed in the Vulgar or English tongue. The injunctions of Henry VIII., in 1536 and 1538, ordered the clergy to “teach the people the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments, sentence by sentence, on Sundays and Holydays." See Procter On the Book of Common Prayer, pp. 389, 390.

1 Strype assigns the Catechism expressly to Dean Nowell, Eccle8. Mem. II. 368; Churton in his Life of Nowell (pp. 403, 407), gives it to Poynet, afterwards Bishop of Winchester. “In any case, Cranmer appears to have reviewed and digested it, not without the able cooperation of Ridley.” See Todd's Life o; Cranmer, 11. 61; Blunt On the Reformation, p. 207.

2 Till the year 1661 the Catechism was inserted in the Order of Confirmation, and the title in the Prayer-Books of Edward and Elizabeth was, Confirmation, wherein is contained a Catechism for Children.

3 It is generally ascribed to Bishop Overall, the Prolocutor of the Convocation, and at that time Dean of St Paul's, but in all probability was either translated by him from an old Latin formula ; or ab ged from the questions and answers on the Sacraments in the third or smaller Catechism” of Nowell. See Procter on the Book of Common Prayer, p. 393, n.

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