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AND THE REST OF
THE DIOCESE OF LINCOLN.
My RevereND BRETHREN,
The following Catechism, composed and published some years ago for the use of my parish, is now, at your request, and by your encouragement, reprinted for the benefit of my diocese : and I make no doubt but that, through the blessing of God upon your pious endeavours, it will help to propagate a more perfect knowledge of the doctrine of Christ, in all the parts of it.
It was with this sort of instruction that that great and wise minister, the Lord Cromwell,* began, as the most likely means to bring on the Reformation, so much desired by all good men: and thougb what he required went no farther 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 was this a good beginning, and even more than many of the clergy themselves, in those days, were very well able to expound to them.
* See his Injunctions, anno 1536. Reg. Cranmer, fol. 97 and 99.
Hence it was, that about eleven years after, King Edward the Sixtli * found it necessary to repeat the very same order in his injunctions: “ That every holy-day, when there was no sermon, the parsons and vicars in their several churches should, immediately after the Gospel, openly and plainly recite to their parishioners the Paternoster, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments in English, to the intent the people might learn the same; exhorting all parents and householders to teach their children and servants the same, as they are bound by the law of God, and in conscience to do.” For their better doing whereof, when the Service-book was compiled about two years after, a catechism was also inserted into it; and the curate enjoined, † “ every sixth week at the least, to teach and declare the catechism, according to the book of the same.”
We are told, indeed, that Archbishop Cranmers
• Edward the Sixth’s Injunctions, anno 1547.
+ Bishop Burnel's Hist. of the Reformation, vol. ii. Appendix, p. 165.
Sea Hist. ibid. p. 71.
had himself, the year before, anno 1548, drawn up a catechism for the instruction of young persons in the grounds of the Christian religion; and, in his dedication of it to the king, complained very much of the neglect of catechizing in former times : but yet still this work continued in the same state; nor was any thing more done in it by public authority, till about four years after; when, together with the Articles of Religion, another catechism* was composed and published in Latin, and all school-masters enjoined by the king's command to instruct their scholars in it. And here I take the complete model of our Churchcatechism to have been first laid : to the explication of the Creed, the Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer, was added a short account of the two sacraments; and to some or other of these, whatsoever was most necessary to be known or believed by every Christian, was orderly, though briefly reduced.
No sooner was the unhappy stop of this exercise, which followed under Queen Mary's reign, removed by her death, but Queen Elizabeth t returned to the same order that her brother, King Edward the Sixth, had established. She required the parsons and vicars, every holy-day, to recite the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments in English, that their pa
Anno 1553. Catechismus brevis Christiana Disciplina summam continens, omnibus Ludi-Magistris autoritate Regiâ commendatus.
+ Anno 1559. Queen Elizabeth's Injunctions, n. 5. 44.
rishioners might both learn themselves, and teach their children the same. And she enjoined them every holy-day, and every second Sunday in the year, to hear and instruct the youth of their parish, for half an hour at least before Evening-prayer, in the Ten Commandments, the articles of the Belief, and the Lord's Prayer; and diligently to examine them, and teach them the catechism set forth in the Book of Public Prayer.
About three years after it was agreed by the Queen's commissioners, * that besides the catechism for children which are to be confirmed, another somewhat longer should be devised for communicants; and a third in Latin, for schools. What was done as to the former of these I cannot tell; but for the latter, I find that in the convocationt which met the next year, such a catechism was drawn up and agreed to by the lower house, and brought up by the prolocutor to the upper. But though that synod continued to sit above a month afterwards, yet it does not appear that any thing more was done in this inatter till about eight years after ;£ when Dean Nowel published his Catechism, which had been before presented to, and in good measure agreed upon, in that convocation.
* Anno 1561. Vid. Synod. MSS. in Col. C. C. Cantabr.
+ Act. Convoc. 1562, die Mercur. 3 Martii, where it is called Catechismus Puerorum.
Both his larger and lesser Catechisms were published, anno 1570.
It would be too tedious to mention all the following orders which were made, as well by the bishops and clergy in their synods, as by our succeeding princés, and even by the parliament itself, for the diligent discharge of this necessary duty. How strictly the ministers were enjoined to instruct the younger persons of their parishes in their catechism; and parents and masters required to send their children and servants to be instructed by them. By the constitutions of 1571,* every rector and vicar was obliged, upon every Sunday and holy-day, to spend two hours after dinner in this work : and lest their parishioners should neglect to attend it, it was ordered, that no one should come to the holy communion, or answer for a child in baptism, or contract marriage, who had not first learned the catechism, so as to be able readily to answer to all the parts of it.
This was reinforced in the synod of 1575,+ and confirmed, as the other before had been, by the Queen's authority: and when Archbishop Whitgift understood that this profitable exercise began, nevertheless, to be too much neglected both by the ministers and people, he not only reinonstrated to his suffragans the sad effects of it, but earnestly exhorted
• Sparr. Collect. p. 233.
my State of the Church, p. 231.