« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
the reach of the unrenewed heart; we can easily exercise such a religion of ourselves. We are perfectly adequate to it, without any special divine help. For who needs special divine help to enable him to deceive himself, and to indulge the hope of the hypocrite? Who has any occasion to rely upon the grace of God, in order to the exer- cise of a proud, selfish, false religion? But let a man set
up before him a religion which agrees with the word of God, particularly with those prominent passages quoted above; and let him make it the great object of his desires and efforts to cultivate such a religion, and to exhibit all its lovely fruits; and he will quickly learn that his strength is weakness. He will find that the practice of true religion is totally against the natural dispositions of his heart; that it requires constant self-denial, a constant struggle against the law in his members, a constant endeavor to subdue and mortify his corrupt heart; that it must involve him in an endless warfare against hostile powers without and within. The labor he undertakes is arduous. The travel is all the way up-hill, and frequently up very steep ascents. Every one who truly enlists in this work, will quickly find, and will find with increasing clearness as he proceeds, that he is exceedingly weak and insufficient, and that his help must come from the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Believing, as all Christians do, that the scripture is the only safe and infallible rule, we ought so to regard it in our practice. When we go to our places of retirement to commune with our own hearts, and to examine ourselves; we have to do with nothing as a rule of judgment, but the word of God. Away, then, ye false imaginations, dreams, passionate excitements, and mental convulsions. “To the law and to the testimony.” This is our standard. And the right application of this standard to our own case requires the tranquillity and stillness which we enjoy in retirement. Here the all-important question arises ; are we Christians ? We cannot trust to the opinion of our friends. They look only on the outward appearance. We go directly to our Statute Book, our sure guide. We ask for the old paths, where is the good way? We turn to one and another passage of holy writ, particularly to the
passages above quoted, and others of like kind; for it
is best to have particular passages before our eyes, at one time this, and at another time that. Then, looking to God for the guidance of his Spirit, we inquire whether the traits of character thus presented to view, are ours. If we can stand the trial of God's word, faithfully applied, we are Christians, heirs of eternal life. If not, we shall be cast away as dross. The word of God which we receive as our rule, is immutable. Other things change and pass away; but this abideth forever. The world, especially at the present day, is full of inventions. The active, restless mind of man is ever seeking after something new; and in worldly matters there are many new things which are of great value. But there is no such thing as a new religion, or a new way to heaven. All that which deserves the name of religion, and which will be approved at the final judgment, agrees with the standard which was settled eighteen hundred years ago. In this standard there can be no alteration ; of course there can be none in that religion which is conformed to it. All the true religion which will exist in our country and in the world during the present year, and the present generation, whether commencing in revivals or not, and all which will exist to the end of the world, will be just such religion as our Saviour describes in his sermon on the mount, and just such as Paul describes, when he tells us what are the fruits of the Spirit, and such as is described in the various passages above cited, and in other passages of scripture relating to the same subject. If we possess this religion, we are happy here and hereafter. If not, whatever our present appearances and hopes, we have no part or lot among the heirs of heaven.
PUBLISHED BY THE
AMERICAN DOCTRINAL TRACT SOCIETY.
PERKINS & MARVIN, AGENTS.
DUTIES OF PARENTS.
The Old Testament closes with a prophecy which, in the New, is applied to John the forerunner of Christ. He was to come, to 66 turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers,” lest the Lord should " come and smite the earth with a
This points to the true way of promoting a reformation, and averting the judgments of heaven. It must be through the influence of parents. Their hearts must be turned towards their children, in deep solicitude for their welfare. And the hearts of the children must be turned towards their parents, in a readiness to receive their instructions, and to profit by them. Parents occupy a station of great responsibility; and it is desirable that they should have a solemn sense of it, and be persuaded to do what they can for the best good of their children. It is designed, in this tract, to lay before parents some considerations which should prompt them to make exertions for the benefit of their children; and then, to point out some things which parents can do, that would be greatly for their children's benefit.
1. Children are formed by education. It is not denied that there is some difference in children naturally, owing to difference of constitutional temperament. But, it is believed, that, difference of early training makes the grand difference which is observable in after life. God has said, “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” And to the
parent who neglects to do this, he says, “ seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children.” No miracle needs to be supposed here ; for it accords with universal experience and observation, that education forms the mind, and gives a stamp to the character. Human beings do not come to maturity at once. They form their habits by slow degrees, and acquire their modes of thinking and acting, from what they learn. Knowledge is not born with them; it is taught them by others. Parents, teachers, companions, and all with whom they have intercourse, contribute, more or less, to form their minds, and give a direction to their pursuits. Circumstances, apparently fortuitous, often have great influence; and, if not carefully observed and diligently counteracted, they sometimes give to the character a strong bias, which is most unhappy in its tendency. The scenes which children witness, the conversation they hear, the books they read, all contribute their share of influence. It is not meant to deny that children are the subjects of native depravity. All systems of education, based on the contrary assumption, will be sure to end in disappointment. The admission of the fact, however, only goes to show, still more forcibly, the necessity of such training as shall tend to counteract the native propensity to evil. Nor is it meant that parents can, by any direct agency of their own, renew the hearts of their children. This must be done, if it ever is done, by the agency of the Holy Spirit. But it is meant, that, when you become parents, your children are committed to your care, to be trained up for their final destiny; and that, according to the means which you shall use, their character will be ordinarily determined, and their final destiny fixed. It is according to the ordinary laws of cause and effect, as proved by experience and observation, that your children shall be what you train them to be ; and that their character will receive its decisive stamp from your care and attention, or take its distinctive features in a different way, from your remissness and neglect.
2. You ought to feel deeply concerned for the best good of your children. The relation you sustain to them imposes this obligation upon you. Why are they com
mitted to your care, but that you may care for them? Why has God allowed you to occupy the station of parents, but that you should be bound to fulfil its duties? Who shall care for them, if you do not ? They are not capable of taking care of themselves. In their tender years, they cannot provide even for the common wants of a single day. Much less are they capable of discerning what their best interests require, for the whole of their future existence. They are ignorant and helpless. You have been instrumental of bringing them into the world, and of giving them an existence which shall never end. They are immortal beings, placed here to form a character for eternity. And they are placed under your care, that they may form that character under your influence, and have their eternal destiny fixed by your attention or neglect. Can you look with indifference on the fearful responsibility which you have thus taken upon yourselves ? You cannot shake off that responsibility, if you should wish to do it. You must meet your children at the bar of God. You must behold them forever in the realms of bliss, or in the regions of despair. And you must witness forever the effects which have resulted from your present treatment of them. But, it need not be supposed that you are destitute of the common feelings of humanity. You love your children ; and feel concerned for their present comfort. You cannot neglect their present wants, nor willingly see them suffer for a single hour. And you feel, probably, quite enough concerned as to what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and wherewith they shall be clothed. And it may be that you feel sufficiently concerned to have them successful in the world, and prosperous in their temporal affairs. But food and drink and clothing are not the extent of their wants. Neither wealth nor honor will make them happy. Real enjoyment depends upon the mind; and the mind is formed by education. Their comfort in this world requires the same course of training which is necessary to their happiness in the world to come. Of the means necessary to train them for heaven, not a single particular can be neglected, without a proportionate sacrifice of their comfort here. And you cannot act the part of affectionate parents, if
you do not consider the future, as well as the