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their hands the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God!
Then, again, I urge it upon all parents—See that your children be taught, and taught as soon as they can learn, out of God's holy word. Accustom them from earliest youth to read the Bible; yes, and to learn parts of the Bible by heart-such parts as they can understand—such parts as bear upon life and conduct. Especially let them read, and read again, and again, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels.
The Sermon on the Mount, beginning at St. Matt. v. and going down to the end of St. Matt. vii., is a portion of holy Scripture that all Christians, from the youngest to the oldest, ought to know thoroughly. Let them read, and learn, and inwardly digest, that most instructive, most sacred part of God's word; and then they will not be wholly without defence in the hour of danger. Knowing the will of Christ concerning them, knowing it from His own lips, they will be better prepared than many are, to carry themselves as His true soldiers and servants, and to run with patience the race He has set before them !
It is an evil world in which we live, and it is an evil nature which is born in us, and we need every help we can get to keep us upright in our way. But what help is so great as an early acquaintance with the word, and will of God? The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart !
Then, once more let me say it, let us give that knowledge early to those who are committed to our care. They claim it at our hands; and heavy will it weigh on our souls if we keep it from them. Heavy will our hearts be one day, brethren, if, through our neglect, our children grow up ignorant of God's word, and, so growing up, fall into grievous sin. Bitterly shall we reproach ourselves when too late, with being the cause of their undoing—for not taking more pains with them in their youth—for not having instructed them ourselves out of God's word; or, if we could not do that, for not seeing that they were so instructed by others.
With Bibles so cheap, with schools so cheap and so good, the poorest parent is without excuse should his child be destroyed for lack of saving knowledge. May the thought of so sad a thing impress us all with the importance of securing for our little ones the great safeguard of an early acquaintance with God's word! May we see to this, as to a matter of the very first consideration, that they from childhood upward know, and know intelligently, those holy Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, which are able to make wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus !
THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT.
THE WORKS OF CHRIST HIS BEST WITNESS.
St. Matt. xi. 4-6.
Go, and show John again those things which ye do hear and
see : the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended
The words are taken from the Gospel for this Sunday, and they are words to be deeply pondered— full of help and comfort in times like the present, when some of the greatest truths of our religion are called into question, and doubt and unbelief are once more vexing the heart, and hindering the way of numbers who still outwardly call themselves Christians.
It is well, even though we ourselves may be free from those doubts and perplexities, that we
should be prepared to meet them. It is well, in days like these, to examine carefully the grounds of our holy faith, so that we may not stumble and fall at the first obstacle that may cross our path,—may not be dumb and confounded before the first difficulty suggested to us; but ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us, with meekness and fear.
Now the verses which I have taken for a text supply such a reason. They furnish us with the surest, and strongest, and most intelligible answer to the attacks which are now being made upon our Christian belief. Go, and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me!
And, first, consider the condition of John the Baptist, when this message was sent to him. He was in prison, shut up in confinement by Herod for his boldness in reproving that tyrant. He had lingered already some time in the dungeon, and yet no prospect of release appeared. Our Lord, to Whom he had borne such bold testimony-- Whom he had pointed out as