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Joseph Engel’s Introduction to The Catechism for Young Children

May 30, 2013

Below is the riveting introduction to the 1840 edition of The Catechism for Young Children, which is what we use in TrinKids. Let it feed and encourage you in your task as a parent:

TO PARENTS AND TEACHERS.

You have an awfully responsible office in being entrusted with the training of immortal spirits for the service  of God on earth and for glory in heaven.  The temporal welfare and  the  eternal salvation not only of your own children, but of future generations, may depend upon your faithfulness in the discharge of this duty.  The prosperity, and even the continuance, of the church of God on earth are connected with the religious education of the rising generation.  To aid you in this all-important task the following little work has been written, and is humbly offered to your  acceptance.  Brevity and conciseness have been studied in the composition of it as far as the nature of the   subjects treated of would allow.  But much of the benefit to be derived from this work will depend on the judgment and care exercised in the use of it.  Without these requisites even the words of inspiration may be perverted to convey defective or erroneous views of truth ; and with them even an imperfect work like the present may be made a “ light to the feet and a lamp to the path” of your interesting charge.  Be admonished then to enter on this “work of faith and labor of love” “with diligence, preparation and prayer.”  Endeavor to impress the minds of the dear children with the importance of understanding what they learn.  Be not satisfied with the verbal accuracy of their answers.  Encourage them to ask and be ready to answer questions for information, while you gently check a spirit of idle curiosity.  Endeavor to make what most children consider an irksome task a pleasing and profitable study.  Be not discouraged nor chafed in your minds if you find that “ line upon line and precept upon precept” are required to overcome the dullness or heedlessness of your youthful disciples.  Remember the words of the divine Teacher, who, when inviting sinners to become his disciples, said, “ Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.”  And emulate the spirit of the pious mother who, when asked by a witness of her patience and successful perseverance in the instruction of one of her children, “ How could you repeat that sentence to the child twenty times?” answered, “ If I had repeated it only nineteen times I should have lost my labor.”
Acting thus in the spirit of faith and prayer, you shall in due time reap the fruit of your labors, and when your heads are laid low in the dust your children shall rise up and call you blessed.

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