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and attendance than that of our country people that labour the ground, and therefore cannot well be duly discharged if it be wholly cast over upon the Lord's day, without ever meeting with them, or bringing any considerable part of them together, all the week . long.
5. It seems absolutely necessary that each minister would resolve on some short and plain form of ca. techism, for the use of his people; for, it is not, I think, to be imagined, that ever people will have any fixed knowledge of the articles of religion, by lax, and continually varied, discourses and forms, or by catechisms too long and too hard for them: and would some draw up several short forms, they might be revised at the next Synod, and possibly one framed out of them, which, by consent, might be appointed for the use of this diocess for the interim, till one shall be published for the whole church.
6. That which hath been formerly proposed, would be reminded, of a more exact and spiritual way of dealing with public offenders, that their reception might be both more apt to recover the penitents themselves, and to edify the church.
7. For more frequent communion, (if it could be had), or, however, for the better improving it, when we have it, seldom as it is, what hath been formerly suggested, touching the way of examining and preparing people to it, and other particulars relating thereto, need not be repeated, but need very much to be really practised, ifthey can be of any use.
8. Likewise, enough hath been formerly said, (it were well if any thing might once appear to be done), touching the worship of God in families, especially the prime ones within our bounds: as likewise touching the exercise of discipline, for the repressing of swearing and drunkenness, and all profaneness, fo much abounding every where; and that our doctrine be likewise, more particularly and frequently, applied to that purpose.
9. Something hath likewise been said concerning the training up of such young men amongst 'us as intend the ministry, not only as to their strain of preaching, but the moulding of their minds to more inward thoughts, and the study of a devout life, and more acquaintance with the exercises of mortification, and purging of their own hearts, by those divine truths which they are to preach to others, for the same purpose; for how shall they teach what they have not learned ?
10. That churches be more frequently and exactly visited, and by each minifter the families of his congregation.
This paper being publicly read, and confented to, and approved by the unanimous vote of the Synod, conform to it was framed the following act :
The Bishop and Synod having seriously considered the height of profaneness, and gross fins abounding among their people, particularly drunkenness and uncleanness, and most universally the heinous fin of cursing and swearing, and, that which foments and increases those, and all fins, the great contempt of the Lord's holy day and ordinances; and the gross and almost incredible ignorance of the common sort, under so much affiduous preaching and catechising : for the more effectual redress of all these evils, have agreed and resolved, through the Lord's help, each one, within himself, to stir the grace and zeal of God that is within him, to renewed vigour and fervour, and more earnest endeavours in the use of all due means for that effect; and particularly,
1. The applying of their sermons and doctrines more expressly and frequently to the reproof of those wickednesses, especially of that horrible fin, which almost all ranks of men do more easily and frequently commit than they can possibly do. other grofs fins, and that with less sense and remorse,curfing and swearing : And that they will, by God's affiftance,
not only use short and frequent reproofs of this and other fins, but at sometimes more largely infift in representing the exceeding finfulness and vileness of such a particular fin, and the great danger of the Lord's wrath and heaviest judgments upon those that perfift in it.
2. That with this they will join constant private inspection over the lives of their people, and, by all due means, particularly inquire into them; and when they find any one guilty of any gross fin, privately to admonish him, meekly and affectionately, but yet with all freedom and plainness; and if upon that they mend not, to proceed in the regular way of difcipline and censure within their own charge ; and if they be not by that reclaimed, but prove obstinate, then to delate them to the higher judicature, in the usual order of this church,
3. To use more frequent catechising, and that in so plain a method and way, as may be most apt, both to inform the minds of the most ignorant, and, through the blessing of God, to make more deep impression upon their hearts.
4. That, as much as is competent for ministers, they will endeavour to procure the executing of these penal laws made against cursing and swearing, and other scandalous offences, in such a way as may be most convenient and feasible in each of their respective parishes.
5. That they will endeavonr, both by exhortation, and, where need is, by use of discipline, to bring their people to more careful and constant attendance on all the ordinances of God, at all times of the accustomed public meetings, and to a more religious and reverend deportment in them throughout the whole, but particularly in time of prayer.
6. That they be particularly careful to inquire after the daily performance of the worship of God in families, and, where they find it wanting, to enjoin it, and make inquiry again after it; and this would
be especially provided for, in the choice and most eminent families in the several congregation, as exemplary to all the rest.
VI. Concluding Paragraph, April 1668.
The Bishop having commended the Brethren for their unity and concord, and good conversation, exhorted them to continue therein, and to be more and more exemplary in holiness, and in modefty and gravity, even in the externals of their hair and babit, and their whole deportment; and to the regulating of their children, and their whole families, to be patterns of religion and fobriety to all about them; and that they themselves aspire daily to greater abstraction from the world, and contempt of things below; giving themselves wholly to their great work of watching over fouls, for which they must give account; and to reading and meditation; and to prayer, that draws continual fresh supplies from heaven, to enable them for all these duties.
VII. Paragraph respecting Baptismal Vows,
That which had been sometimes spoke of before, the Bishop now again recommended to the Brethren, that, at their set times of catechising and examining their people, they would take particular notice of young persons, towards their first admission to the holy communion; and, having before taken account of their knowledge of the grounds of religion, would then cause them, each one particularly and expressly, to declare their belief of the Chriftian faith, into which, in their infancy, they were baptized; and, reminding them of that their baptismal vow, and the great engagement it lays upon them to a holy and
Chriftian life, would require of them an explicit owning of that vow and engagement, and their folemn promise accordingly, to endeavour the observing and performance of it, in the whole course of their following life: And then, in their prayer with which they use to conclude those meetings, would recommend the said young persons, now thus engaged, to the effectual blessing of God, beseeching him to own them for his, and to bestow on them the sanctifying and strengthening grace of his Holy Spirit, as his fignature upon them, sealing them to the day of redemption.
And this practice, as it hath nothing in it that can offend any, even the most scrupulous minds, so it may be a very fit fuppletory of that defect in infant baptism, which the enemies of it do mainly object againt it, and may, through the blessing of God, make a lasting impression of religion upon the hearts of those young persons towards whom it is used, and effectually engage them to a Christian life; and if they swerve from it, make them the more inexcusable, and clearly convincible of their unfaithfulness, and breach of that great promise, and sacred vow, they have so renewed to God before his people. And for authority of divines, if we regard it, it hath the general approbation of the most famous reformers, and of the most pious and learned that have followed them since their time; and, being performed in that evangelical fimplicity, as it is here propounded, they do not only allow it as lawful, but desire it, and advise it as laudable and profitable, and of very good use, in all Chriftian churches.