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DIOCESE OF ST. ASAPH.
Brethren, beloved in the Lord, As God our Saviour, the Head of the whole Church which He hath purchased with His blood, hath been pleased to call me, the unworthiest of His servants, to take care of that part of it which He hath planted in the diocese to which you belong : so I verily believe and expect that. He will ere long call me to give Him an account, how I have discharged the trust and performed the duty which He hath laid upon me.
The consideration whereof hath made me very solicitous, and thoughtful, what to do, and how I may behave myself in this place and station, so that I may appear before Him at that day with joy, and not with shame and grief.
Whereupon, calling to mind the several parts of the office which He hath conferred upon me, and the promises which I made when I was admitted into it, I presently thought it necessary to begin with that, without which whatsoever else either you or I shall do, will turn to little or no account as to the main end of our ministry ; I mean,
the duty of catechising or instructing the people committed to our care in the principles of the Christian religion, that they may know what they must believe and do, that they may serve God acceptably while they live upon earth, and be happy for ever.
Not as if I thought that this duty hath been hitherto neglected among you: for I have heard, to my great comfort, that it is generally practised throughout the diocese every Lord's-day. But taking my measures from what I have observed in other places, I fear, that, notwithstanding all your care and diligence, you have not yet found that happy effect of it, which you desire; and therefore will be glad of any direction or assistance that may be given you, for the more effectual performance of it.
It is, I confess, a thing much to be lamented, that among the many who profess the faith of Christ, there are so few that either strive to live up to it themselves, or take care that their relations and families should be taught it. ! Whereby it comes to pass, that in many places the Minister is often forced to omit this duty, for want of some to whom he may perform it. But howsoever, that should not discourage, but rather excite you to use the greater diligence and application both in public and private, to convince those under your charge, of the great necessity that lies upon them to observe what the laws both of God and man require in this case, as ever they expect or desire, that either they or theirs should be saved: not doubting, but that God's blessing will attend your sincere endeavours in this, as well as in the execution of any other part of the office and ministry, to which He hath called you.
And whatsoever other difficulties you may meet with, you have a great advantage in having so many persons of great worth and quality among you, who rightly understanding the excellent and truly Apostolical constitution of our Church, have a just value and zeal for it: which I doubt not but they will be ready upon all occasions to shew, by setting before their tenants and neighbours a good example, as in other respects, so particularly in sending their children and servants to be catechised publicly in the church: which they will do the more constantly, when they find, that you do not only examine those who are sent, whether they can say the Catechism, but set yourselves in good earnest to instruct them throughly in all the fundamental Articles of the Christian faith, and in all the duties which they owe to Almighty God, to their sovereign, to their parents, and to all their other relations, as well as to themselves and to one another. For they will then see, that this is the best sort of education that parents can give their children; and that which will do them more good, than any thing else which they can ever do for them.
Upon these and the like considerations, having spent some thoughts about catechising in general, so as to attain the end of it, in the way that it is here proposed, and having accordingly drawn up a short explication of the Catechism which our Church hath set forth, I thought good to present you with it, as a testimony of my readiness to contribute what I
towards the laying the foundation in some, as well as to the building up others of the diocese in our most holy faith.
If it hath no other, I hope, at least, it will have this
good effect, that it will put you in mind to stir up of God which is in you by the imposition of hands, and to exert it in studying, contriving, and using all the means and methods that you can think of, that all in your respective parishes, who as yet are young or ignorant, but capable of learning, may be so well instructed in the Church Catechism set forth for that purpose, that they may be fit to be Confirmed.
In the mean while, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to crown all your
labours with success, and to carry you through the whole work which He hath set you, to the glory of His great Name, the benefit of His Church and people, and to your own everlasting joy and felicity.