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CHURCH OF ENGLAND CATECHISM
JEREMY BENTHAM, Esq.
A NEW EDITION.
PRINTED FOR JOHN AND HENRY L. HUNT,
TAVISTOCK STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
CHURCH OF ENGLAND CATECHIISM
Question 1. WAAT is your name?
Answer. My Godfathers and my Godmothers in my baptism (1); wherein I was made a member of Christ, tho child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven (2).
OBSERVATIONS. (1). [Godfathers and Godmothers in my baptism.]—Thus far the answer appears not to stand exposed to any considerable objection; it being supposed that to this examination no child is subjected on whom the ceremony called baptism has not been performed. So far as this is true, the answer is nothing more than the statement of a matter of fact, of the existence of which, though, generally speaking, it is not possible the child -should have any remembrance of it, it is but natural that he should feel himself assured by satis
factory and unsuspected evidence. But this blamelessness-it will soon be seen whether it be of any long continuance.
(2.) (Wherein I was made, &c.]—Already the contempt of truth, pregnant with those incongruities of which that corrupt affection is so naturally productive, begins to manifest itself. In this formularly styled a Catechism, will be found involved, though many of them tacitly, in a manner and without any sufficient warning, a system of assertions, prodigious in extent and variety, contained in another formulary, being the verbal part of a ceremony of prior date, called baptism. Of this anterior ceremony, the examinee, a child, commonly but just able to speak—a child, in which the faculty of name has as yet scarcely begun to develop itself-a child completely incompetent to the forming of any judgment, or so much as a conception, in relation to the matter contained in it, is made to take upon himself to pronounce the effect,
Here, then, the first lesson which he is made to learn, and that under the notion of forming his mind to the sentiment of piety, is a lesson, which, if it amount to any thing and has any meaning, is a lesson of insincerity: and which, as far as it forms him to any thing forms him to insincerity. For hereby what is the declaration which he is made to utter?-a declaration, asserting in the character of a true fact, the fact of his entertaining a persuasion which in truth he does not entertain, and which that he should entertain, is, in the nature of the case, not possible. When by Rousseau, on the occasion of the stories commonly put into the hands of children under the
name of fables, the practice, of thus drawing from the fountain of falsehood and misrepresentation the first aliment presented to the human mind, was held up to view, and the absurdity and mischievous tendency of it displayed, deep and extensive was the sensation produced by the remark, not less so the conviction and recognition of the justice of it. But if, in any such profane book of instruction, the admission of falsehood be incongruous, and the habit of regarding it not only with indifference but with approbation pernicious, how much more so in a book of religious instruction ?- in a book professing to introduce men to the favour of the God of Truth? Yes, if by misrepresentation
yes, if by falsehood, any real and preponderant good effect could be produced, such as could not be produced by any other means. But by this or any other of the falsehoods so plentifully strewed all over this Catechism, and which will successively be held up to view, in what imaginable shape can any good be seen to flow?
Question 3.-What did your Godfathers and Godmothers then for you?
Answer.—They did promise and vow three things in my name (1): First, that I should renounce the devil and all his works (2), the pomps and vanity of this wicked world (3), and all the sinful lusts of the flesh (4): Secondly, that I should believe all the articles of the Christian faith (5): And, thirdly, that I should keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my
OBSERVATIONS. 1. Things is the name given to the courses of conduct which are the subjects of the vow here spoken of.
But, before we enter upon the consi