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rather than caught from their neighbours; and owing, not to the influence of external examples, but to a principle of internal corruption." Neglect the education of children, and you are sure to have their manners evil, their lives unprofitable. Nay, only remit your endeavours, and they lose what has been gained : they start aside like a broken bow. And wherefore this? Why do they not, without the rules of discipline or lessons of instruction, spontaneously addict themselves to the exercise of every virtue; just as the cygnets in yonder canal spontaneously take to the element of water and the act of swimming 7 That bed in the garden before us will suggest the reason. It has been digged and dressed this very day; it now lies smooth and clean; not a single weed appears on its surface; yet how certainly will it in a very little time produce a plenteous growth of those vegetable nuisances. Whence can this proceed? No hand will sow them, no wish will invite them; but the seeds, though unperceived by any eye, are already there. Disseminated by the winds, they have mixed themselves with the mould, and are sunk into the soil. So, just so, it is with our children: the seeds of iniquity are within + them ; and unless proper diligence be exerted by us, unless gracious assistance be vouchsafed from above, they will assuredly spring up, overrun their souls, and dishonour their lives. Ther. Let us leave the children, and make men the subject of our inquiry. Asp. In this respect, Theron, Men are but children of a larger growth.
tom or habit, but ovoet, by nature, Eph, ii. 3. f Whoever chooses to examine the seeds, the poisonqus seeds, which are lodged in this nursery of all evil, may see a sample of them in our Lord's o Mark vii. 20–23; where he characterizes the heart, not barely of the hypocritical pharisee, or the abandoned publican, but of mankind in general. After such an authority, shall I mention the testimony of Seneca? We are allowed to glean the grapes when the vintage is gathered. In such a view. I would introduce the philosopher after the Saviour. ‘ Omnia in omnibus vitia sunt; sed non omnia in singulis extant. De Benef, lib. iv.
We may leave the vest or hanging sleeve coat, but we shall still find the follies of the child. In youth, what low ambition and fondness for despicable pleasures: in manhood, what a keen pursuit of transitory wealth; yet what a cold in attention to God and holiness I Men, and men too of the greatest abilities, whose penetration on other subjects is piercing as the eagle's sight, are, on the most important points, blind as the incaverned mole. - Ther. What, is the understanding like the most dim-sighted animal, when lodged in her darkest retirement * That sublime faculty of the soul, which lends her eye to all the rest, sits at the helm, and directs their motions. - Asp. You remember, I presume, that beautiful passage in Milton,” which Mr. Addison so highly admires and so judiciously illustrates: the passage I mean, where the archangel Michael comes down to advertise Adam of future events, and to execute the sentence of divine justice. : Ther. I remember it perfectly well. In the east, the great light of day lies under an eclipse : in the west a bright cloud descends, filled with a host of angels, and more luminous than the sun itself. The whole theatre of nature is darkened, that this glorious ma— chine may appear in all its magnificence and beauty. From this radiant chariot the potentate of heaven alights, and advances with a majestic stateliness to meet Adam. Asp. Should you see such an august personage, alighting from such a splendid chariot, and walking amidst the thronged streets of a city ?—should you behold every one intent upon his business or diversions, struck with no awe, paying no reverential regard to this celestial visitant, what would you think? Ther. I should certainly suspect that some superior power had drawn a veil over their sight, and hid this wonderful spectacle from their view. Asp. Such is really the case with all mankind by nature, and with the generality of people, during their whole life. God, the infinitely great God, is in every place; yet how few advert to his presence 2—All na
ture exhibits him to their senses; yet, perhaps, he is not in any of their thoughts. The sun, clothed in transcendent brightness, most illustriously displays his Maker's glory. The moon, though drest in fainter beams, has lustre enough to shew us the adorable Deity, and his marvellous perfections. The stars, fixed as they are at an unmeasurable distance, and lessened almost to a point, come in with their evidence, and magnify their Creator to a gazing but unaffected world. o The air whispers his clemency in the gentle, the refreshing gales of spring. If we take no notice of this soft persuasive address, the tone is elevated; the majesty of Jehovah sounds aloud, in roaring winds and rending storms; yet both expedients fail. Man is like the deaf adder, that stoppeth her ears; he refuseth to hear the voice of the charmers, charm they never so sweetly, never so forcibly. * Each flower, arrayed in beauty, and breathing perfume, courts our affections for its infinitely amiable Author; not a bird that warbles, nor a brook that murmurs, but invites our praise, or chides our ingratitude. All the classes of fruits deposit their attestation on our palates, yet seldom reach our hearts. They give us a proof of the divine benignity; a proof as undeniable as it is pleasing, and too often as ineffectual also. In short, the whole creation is a kind of magnificent embassy from its Almighty Lord, deputed to proclaim his excellences, and demand our homage; yet who has not disregarded the former, and withheld the latter? How few walk as seeing him that is invisible, or have fellowship with the Father of spirits 2: though to walk before him is our highest dignity, and to have fellowship with him is our only felicity. Ther. This is owing to inattention, rather than to any blindness or defect in man's understanding. The many works of genius which have been produced in various ages, are an abundant proof of his intellectual capacity. Have not the seas been traversed and the skies measured Has not the earth been disembowelled of its choicest treasures, while its surface is beautified with towns, cities, palaces innumerable 2 What fine arts are invented and exercised, and to what a pitch of perfection are they carried ? Arts that seem, if not to exceed, at least to rival nature. It was the understanding which formed all these great designs, it was the understanding which contrived the means and conducted the execution. And are not these unquestionable evidences of her very superior abilities Asp. Then she is like some great empress, who conquers half the world, but is unable to rule herself; who extends her regulations into foreign climes, while her domestic affairs are involved in confusion. Do you doubt the reality of this remark 2 Set yourself to meditate upon the most interesting truths; how desultory, how incoherent are your thoughts? Charge them to be collected; they disobey your orders: rally the undisciplined vagrants; again they desert the task: exert all your power, and keep them close to their business; still they elude your endeavours. The other day I could not forbear smiling at a little adventure of your youngest son's; some quicksilver which happened to be spilt upon the floor, parted into several globules. The shining balls looked so prettily, he longed to make them his own; but when he offered to take them up they slipt from his hand. As soon as he renewed the attempt, so often he met with a disappointment; the closer he strove to grasp them the more speedily they escaped from his fingers. He seemed at first to be amazed, then became quite angry that the little fugitives should so constantly baffle his repeated efforts. Thus unmanageable I very often find my own thoughts; if yours are under no better regimen, this may convince us both, that all is not according to the original creation. We apply ourselves to converse with the everlasting God in prayer; here one would expect to have the thoughts all clearness and all composure: But here “We are not sufficient of ourselves, to think any thing as of ourselves.” All those holy ideas which create reverence, or strengthen faith, or quicken love, come from the Father of lights; should he withdraw his influence, all will be dull, and dark, and dead. It may * 2 Cor. iii. 5.
be we are romewhat enlivened in this sacred exercise;
# 2 Kings Wii. 17. t Called therefore by the apostle, “fleshly wisdom,’ and opposed to the grace of God. 2 Cor. i. 12,
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