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clearly, and repeat them often; we muft not speak haftily, or with rapidity, but pronounce every fyllable articulately ; give them short and clear definitions, and always in the same words ; make the several truths evident to them by known examples, and familiar com parisons ; speak little to them, and make them speak a great deal, which is one of the most essential duties of a catechist, and the least practised ; and above all, must call to mind the happy faying of Quintilian,
that a child's mind is like a vessel with a narrow neck, in which no water will enter, if poured abundantly into it; whereas it fills insensibly, if the liquid be poured gently, or even by drops. The catechift must proceed gradually from these plain steps to fomething stronger and more elevated, according to the proficiency he observes in the children; but he muft always take care to adapt himself to their capacity, and their weakness; and to defcend to them, because they are not in a condition to raise themselves to him.
This task, which is one of the most important in the ecclesiastical ministry, is not, generally speaking, esteemed or respected enough.' People feldom prepare themselves for it with the care it deserves ; and as the difficulty and importance of it are little known, we too often neglect the means which might facilitate its success. Whoever takes this charge upon himself, ought to peruse, with great attention, St. Auftin's ad mirable treatise upon the method of instructing catechumens, in which that great man, after laying down excellent rules upon this point, vouchsafes to propose a plan of the best method (in his opinion) for instructing them in the principles of religion.
* Magiftri hoc opus eft, cùm ad- respuant, sensim autem influentihuc rudia tractabit ingenia, non bus, vel etiam inftillatis, comftatim onerare infirmitatem dif- plentur ; Gc animi puerorum quan. centium, fed temperare vires suas, tum accipere poffint videndum eft. & ad intellectum audientis defcen- ' Nam majora intelle&tu velut parum dere. Nam ut vascula oris an- apros ad percipiendum animos non gusti fuperfusam humoris copiam fubibunt. Quintil. l. 1. cap. 3.
I think it would be of great advantage to form a general scheme or plan for catechizing in parishes, to serve as a foundation for all the instructions necessary, and regulate both the matter and disposition; so that all the catechisins might contain the same instructions, but treated in a more or less extensive manner, as the children should be more or less improved. These catechisms may be divided into three classes, the first for beginners, the second for those who have already received fome instruction, and the third for such more advanced, and are prepared for receiving the firft communion, or have lately received it. I suppose children to continue in each class about two years ; in which time, the plan I have now mentioned, be it what it will, is to be explained to them (for it is highlr reasonable to leave it to the choice and prudence of the person who is at the head of the catechists) always subjoining the catechism of the diocese. The matters should at first be treated briefly, and in general terms, because they are calculated for children. M. Fleury's catechism is excellent for beginners, and may be looked upon as the execution of the plan which St. Auguftin gives us in his treatise. The same matters are repeated in the second and third classes; but in a new method, which is always an improvement of that which preceded, by adding to it new lights, and more efficacious truths. Would not religion be thus taught thoroughly? I have seen some children, even among the poor, make furprizingly clear responses upon very difficult subjects, which could be owing to nothing but the master's order and method of teaching, and which shews that young people are capable of every thing when they are well instructed.
I own, that nothing is more tedious or distasteful to a man of genius, who often has a great deal of vivacity, than thus to teach the first principles of religion to children, who very often want either capacity or attention. But must not others have had the same patience with us, when they taught us the alphabet,
orthograghy, and the joining of words; and when we ourselves learnt the catechism? * Is it agreeable to a father, says St, Austin, to stammer out half words with his son, in order to teach him to speak? Yet this gives him great pleasure. Does not a mother take more delight in putting aliment into her infant's mouth suitable to its weak and tender condition, than to take the nourishment proper for herself? We must perpetually call to mind the tenderness of a hen who covers her young ones with her extended wings; and hearing their feeble cries, calls them with a faltering voice, in order to fhelter them from the bird of prey, who unrelentingly snatches away fuch as do not fly for safety to their mother's wings. y The love and charity of Christ, who vouchsafed to apply this comparifon to himself, has been infinitely more extensive, and it was in imitation of him, that St. Paul ? made himself weak with the weak, in order to gain the weak; and had, for all the faithful, the gentleness and a tenderness of a nurse and a mother.
bThis, says St. Austin, is what we must represent to ourselves, when we are tired or disgusted ; when we are weary of descending to the puerility and weakness of children; and to repeat inceffantly to them the most trite things, and run them over a hundred times. It often happens, continues the fame father, that we take a fingular pleasure, in fhewing friends newly arrived at the city we live in, whatever is beautiful, uncommon or curious ; and the sweetness of friend
* Num delectat, nisi, amor in- pæda fiupt alitibus. De catechif. vitet, decurtata & mutilata verba rudib. c. 10, & 12. immurmurare? Et tamen optant
y Mait. xxiii. 37. homines habere infantes quibus id exhibeant: & suavius eft matri mi- i Theff ii. 7. nuca mansa infpuere parvulo filio,
b Si usitata, & parvulis congruquàm ipfam mandere ac devorare entia fæpe repetere fastidimus. grandiora. Non ergo recedat de si ad infirmitatem discentium piget pectore etiam cogitatio gallinæ il- descendere. cogitemus quid Jius, quæ languidulis pennis teneros nobis prærogatum sit ab illo... foe:us operit, & fufurrantes pullos qui, cum in forma Dei effet, femet. coníracta voce advocat : cujus ipfum exinanivit, formam fervi acblaudas alas refugientes fuperbi, cipiens. Ibid. cap. 10.
2 1 Cor. ix. 22.
Thip diffuses a secret charm over things which would otherwise appear exceeding tiresom ; and gives them, as to ourselves, all the graces of novelty. Why Thould not charity produce the same effects in us that friendship does, especially when the thing proposed tends towards making God himself known to men, who ought to be the end of all our knowledge, and of all our
ftudies! I thought it my duty to enlarge a little upon the manner of framing catechisms, which is not foreign to the end I propose to myself in this article, viz. of instructing youth in what relates to the eloquence of the pulpit. It is now time to proceed to the second duty of preachers.
II. DUTY OF A PREACHER, To please, and for that end, to speak in a florid and
polite manner. St. Austin recommends to the preacher, to endeavour first, and above all things, to be clear and perspicuous, but he does not pretend he must contine biinfelf to that only. He would not have truth divested of the ornaments of speech, which it alone has a right to employ. - He would have human eloquence subservient to the word of God; but not the word of God made the slave of human eloquence. It often happens, that we cannot reach the heart but through the understanding, and that in order to affect the one, we must please the other. e It is an extraordinary quality, in his opinion, to love and to search in the words only the things themselves, and not the words : but he owns at the same time, that this qua
Quanto ergo magis delectari 4. n.61. nos oportet, cum ipsum Deum jam ¢ Bonorum ingeniorum insignis discere homines accedunt, propter est indoles, in verbis verum amare; quem discenda funt, quæcunque non verba. . . . Quòd tamen G fiat discenda sunt? ibid. c. 12. insuaviter, ad paucos quidem fa
Nec doctor verbis ferviat, fed diofiffimos fuus pervenit fructus. verba doctori. De doct, chrift, l. Ibid. n. 26.
lity is very uncommon; that in case truth is represented without ornaments, it will affect very few.
That speech, like food, must be palatable in order to make it agreeable; and that in both, we muft pay : a regard to the delicacy of mankind, and gratify their taste in some measure.
It was for the fame reason that the fathers of the Church were far from forbidding those who were called to the ministry of the word, the reading of ancient authors and profane learning. St. Auftin declares, that all the truths found in heathen authors are our own, and consequently, we have a right to claim them as our property, by taking them out of the hands of thofe unjust poffeffors, in order to employ them to a better use. b He would have us leave to heathen writers their profane words and fuperftitious fictions, which every good Christian ought to abominate, after the example of the Israelites, who by the command of God himself plundered Ægypt of her gold and most precious garments, without touching their idols; and that we should take from the heathen aüthors, those truths we find in them, and which are, as it were, the silver, the gold, and ornaments of difcourse; and clothe our ideas with them, in order to make the one and the other subservient to the preaching of the Gospel. He cites a great number of fathers who made this use of them, in imitation of Mo
f Sed quoniam inter fe habent fima continent. ... quæ tanquam nonnullam fimilitudinem vescentes aúrum & argentum debet ab eis auatque discentes, propter fastidia ferre christianus ad usum justum plurimorum etiam ipfa, fine quibus prædicandi evangelii. Veftem quovivi non poteft, alimenta condi- que illorum accipere acque enda surt. Ibid.
habere licuerit in usum conyerten 8 De do&r. chrift. 1. 2. n. 6. da chriftignum. De doct. chrift,
Sc do&trinæ omnes gentilium, 1. 2. n. 60. non folùm simulata & superstitiosa i Nonne aspicimus quanto auro figmenta... quæ unusquisque & argento & vette fuffurcinatus.exe noftrum duce Chrifto de focietate ierit de Ægypto Cyprianus doctor gentilium exiens debet abominari fuaviffimus, & martyr beaciilimus? atque devirare : fed etiam liberales Ib. n. 61, Vir eloquentia pollens disciplinas usui veritatis aptiores, & martyrio. S. Hieron. & quædam morum præcepta utilis