Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

will regret it ; but not a single friend of truth, virtue and mankind. It is certainly happy for our children and the world, if the force of their education is turned to the way in which they should go, so that in manhood and age they will not depart from it.

The parent who educates his children, or suffers them to be educated, in irreligion, will have fad conviction, from their behaviour, either that he hath no rightful command over them, or that their education has been essentially wrong. For if they, as parents, are entitled to honour and reverence, whence is the title derived ? You reply, From the order of nature. But if there is not an author of nature, and one who presides over it, it has no law nor order. If there is an author of nature, whose kingdom is over all, then he is the former of our bodies, and the father of our spirits. Now if he be a father, where is his honour? Is he, who is above all, and through all, and in us all, entitled to no honour ? and shall earthly superiors, notwithstanding, claim this from their inferiors ? Or if he justly claims supreme reverence, will

you not teach your children to pay it to him? On what ground can you otherwise expect that they will honour you?

The order of families and society therefore depends upon religious education. What account can those parents who neglect it give to God, to their children, or to the community ? Or what account can they give, if their example is a constant contradiction to any religious instruction they may impart ?

When children become capable, in a measure, to judge for themselves, their judgment may still be much affisted by the mature advice of parents and others. Would they guard against an hafty judgment and rash determinations, they must distrust their own opinions, when opposed to the judgment of those who have had more opportunity and superior means of information. We cannot esteem the child or youth who appears to contemn his parents and teachers. Any improvements in knowledge, connected with modesty, a mind open to advice, is pleasing.

If family and civil order depend upon moral and religious education if the neglect of it breaks the bonds of society-would level all property, and confound all the relations of life--would take away all security for our reputation and personal safety, let it not be said that liberality and freedom of mind forbid a virtuous and pious education. If free thinking consists in be ing set loose from all principle-in disowning all dependence on, and accountableness to, a Maker and Governour of the world—all connection with, and obligation to, the Mediator between God and menin opening the flood-gates of vice-then indeed religion is opposed to free enquiry. But if such licentious talk can proceed only from an atheift, let not the objection be urged by any who are not atheists. Let not the flaves of luft and of Satan undertake to teach us what is liberty; nor the bigots of fcepticism talk of liberality.

The subject will be profitably improved, if parents are put upon recollecting their omissions of family instruction in religion, and excited to greater circumspection and fidelity in this highly important duty. Have they taught and warned their children, as they should have done ? Have they permitted no iniquity in them, which they might have restrained? Have they done what was in their power, that their children might be an instructed seed to serve the Lord? Or have they injured those whom they tenderly love, by withholding from them Chriftian instruction ? Has the adorning of their bodies, rather than the ornaments of the mind, been the concern of parents ? Have treasures which corrupt, canker, and flee away, been laid up with much care, while the true riches have been carelessly thought of for them, if indeed at all thought of? Have parents been very solicitous that

their children might be promoted in the world; but been too unmindful of that sacred text, Them that honour me, I will honour? They who despise me, shall be lightly esteemed?

Do any of you who are parents complain, that your children neither fear God, nor honour you ? Examine what blame may lie at your own door. Did you begin early with instruction and government, and continue the same as their advancing capacity, disposition and years required? If you have taken pains to have them furnished for their intended employment in life, have you also instructed them to acquaint themselves with God, and be at peace? If fond affection has not indul. ged them too far--if you have not, by misjudged feverity, discouraged them, and disaffected them to right paths—if you have fulfilled your duty, but not been successful; pious parents have had the same affliction. But be sure to examine faithfully, whether, or how far, you may have been the blameable cause of the wickedness of your children, by your neglect, or any mproper conduct.

The forest grief of parents is sometimes from children, who might be their greatest joy. Whatever can be done to prevent an affliction so great, should be done while there is hope, Let it be the constant care of parents so to guide and guard their children, that these may account it their honour and felicity to have descended from them; and make it their ambition to be the joy and crown of their parents. Make it your unwearied endeavour to lay before them such arguments and motives in behalf of undifsembled piety and found morals, as may be adapted to fill them with a growing esteem of every good path ; that when you thall sleep with your fathers, they may take your place, and do more for God. Your encouragement to the cheerful performance of this parental duty is, that a child trained up in the way he should go, will not depart from it when he is old. AMEN.

SERMON III.

REFLECTIONS OF THE AGED ON THE

EARLY CHOICE OF RELIGION.

PSALM, lxxi. 16, 17, 18.

I WILL GO IN THE STRENGTH OF THE LORD GOD: I WILL MAKE MENTION OF

THY RIGHTEOUSNESS, EVEN OF THINE ONLY. O GOD, THOU HAST TAUGHT ME FROM MY YOUTH; AND HITHER TO HAVE I DECLARED THY WONDROUS WORKS. NOW ALSO WHEN I AM OLD AND GRAY-HEADED, O GOD, FORSAKE ME NOT; UNTIL I HAVE SHEWED THY STRENGTH UNTO THIS GENERATION, AND THY POWER TO EVERY ONE THAT IS TO COME.

THIS

HIS sacred paffage contains the reflection of an aged faint on his early choice of God, and the divine goodness to him from youth to old age-his resolutions resulting from this reflection—and his concern to transmit religion to after times.

FIRST, We have the reflection of an aged faint on his early choice of God, and the special providence over him from youth to old age. Thou hast taught me from my youth. Hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.

David begins the pfalm with calling to mind his early trust in God and devotedness to him, the peculiar providential care which he had experienced from the beginning of life, and through all its succeeding stages and circumstances. His early choice laid the foundation of proficiency in the path

of true wisdom. Hence he could charge his son, “ Know thou the God of thy “ father."

Early habits of piety, strengthened in manhood, and matured in age, render hoary hairs both honour. able and comfortable. David, when old and gray

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »