by Westminster Divines
With Scripture proofs.
This eBook includes the Westminster Confession of Faith and its Subordinate Documents: Preface by Sundry English Divines, Mr. Manton’s Epistle to the Reader, The Confession of Faith, The Larger Catechism, The Shorter Catechism, The Sum of Saving, Knowledge, The National Covenant, The Solemn League and Covenant, The Acknowledgment of Sins, The Directory of Public Worship, The Form of Presbyterian Church Government, The Directory of Family Worship,
The devil hath a great spite at the kingdom of Christ, and he knoweth no such compendious way to crush it in the egg, as by the perversion of youth, and supplanting family duties. He striketh at all those duties which are public in the assemblies of the saints; but these are too well guarded by the solemn injunctions and dying charge of Jesus Christ, as that he should ever hope totally to subvert and undermine them; but at family duties he striketh with the more success, because the institution is not so solemn, and the practice not so seriously and conscientiously regarded as it should be, and the omission is not so liable to notice and public censure. Religion was first hatched in families, and there the devil seeketh to crush it; the families of the Patriarchs were all the churches God had in the world for the time; and therefore, (I suppose,) when Cain went out from Adam's family, he is said to go out from the face of the Lord, Gen. 4:16. Now the devil knoweth that this is a blow at the root, and a ready way to prevent the succession of churches: if he can subvert families, other societies and communities will not long flourish and subsist with any power and vigour; for there is the stock from whence they are supplied both for the present and future.
For the present: A family is the seminary of church and state; and if children be not well principled there, all miscarrieth: a fault in the first concoction is not mended in the second; if youth be bred ill in the family, they prove ill in Church and Commonwealth: there is the first making or marring, and the presage of their future lives to he thence taken, Prov. 20:11. By family discipline, officers are trained up for the Church, 1 Tim. 3:4, One that ruleth well his own house, &c; and there are men bred up in subjection and obedience. It is noted, Acts 21:5, that the disciples brought Paul on his way with their wives and children: their children probably are mentioned, to intimate, that their parents would, by their own example and affectionate farewell to Paul, breed them up in a way of reverence and respect to the pastors of the Church.
For the future: It is comfortable, certainly, to see a thriving nursery of young plants, and to have hopes that God shall have a people to serve him when we are dead and gone: the people of God comforted themselves in that, Ps. 102:28, The children of thy servants shall continue, &c.
Upon all these considerations how careful should ministers and parents be to train up young ones whilst they are yet pliable, and, like wax, capable of any form and impression in the knowledge and fear of God; and betimes to instil the principles of our most holy faith, as they are drawn into a short sum in catechisms, and so altogether laid in the view of conscience! Surely these seeds of truth planted in the field of memory, if they work nothing else, will at least be a great check and bridle to them, and, as the casting in of cold water doth stay the boiling of the pot, somewhat allay the fervours of youthful lusts and passions.
I had, upon entreaty, resolved to recommend to thee, with the greatest earnestness, the work of catechising, and, as a meet help, the usefulness of this book, as thus printed with the scriptures at large: but meeting with a private letter of a very learned and godly divine, wherein that work is excellently done to my hand, I shall make bold to transcribe a part of it, and offer it to public view.
The author having bewailed the great distractions, corruptions, and divisions that are in the church, he thus represents the cause and cure: "Among others, a principal cause of these mischiefs is the great and common neglect of the governors of families, in the discharge of that duty which they owe to God for the souls that are under their charge, especially in teaching them the doctrine of Christianity. Families are societies that must be sanctified to God as well as Churches; and the governors of them have as truly a charge of the souls that are therein, as pastors have of the Churches. But, alas, how little is this considered or regarded! But while negligent ministers are (deservedly) cast out of their places, the negligent masters of families take themselves to be almost blameless. They offer their children to God in baptism, and there they promise to teach them the doctrine of the gospel, and bring them up in the nurture of the Lord; but they easily promise, and easily break it; and educate their children for the world and the flesh, although they have renounced these, and dedicated them to God. This covenant-breaking with God, and betraying the souls of their children to the devil, must lie heavy on them here or hereafter. They beget children, and keep families, merely for the world and the flesh; but little consider what a charge is committed to them, and what it is to bring up a child for God, and govern a family as a sanctified society.
Three Reasons To Catechize
Here are several good reasons to consider implementing a catechism style of teaching with your kids at home and at church:
1. A catechism encourages the unity of essential beliefs among God’s children. Many people want to know what constitutes a true Christian essential teaching. What are the primary teachings of the Christian faith? Catechical instruction can help promote unity among Christians by helping establish the fundamentals of the faith.
2. Catechism promotes a faster, deeper understanding as verses are tied to appropriate questions. Children are helped to tie verses to meaning through the use of questions and answers. Children begin to understand the usefulness of God’s Word as they see how clearly it answers important questions.
3. Catechism stimulates and motivates learning, because most children, especially younger ones, love to answer questions. Questions are a teacher’s most useful ally, because through them one gains access to precious minds. As Jesus showed, questions are invaluable when teaching truth!
Beattie, Francis R. The Presbyterian Standards: An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms
Fisher, James The Assembly's Shorter Catechism Explained
Hetherington, William Maxwell History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines
Hodge, A. A. The Westminster Confession: A Commentary
Warfield, Benjamin The Making of the Westminster Confession
Westminster Divines The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Westminster Divines Westminster Larger Catechism
Watson, Thomas A Body of Divinity
Watson, Thomas The Lord's Prayer
Watson, Thomas The Ten Commandments