صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

"law day and night, shall be like a tree planted by "the rivers of waters, that bringeth forth his fruit "in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and "whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." This man shall be blessed, and shall be a blessing to others.

Labour then, my brethren, to get thoroughly acquainted with the oracles of God: let your judgment be formed according to them: proportion your approbation of characters and actions by this divine standard. In this manner judge of your acquaintance, connexions, and friends; and, above all, judge thus of yourselves. Try by this rule every pursuit, attainment, or distinction among men let your fears, hopes, desires, joys, and sorrows, be regulated according to it; that all the affections of your souls may be influenced by the pure and animating principles of our holy religion. Thus, when fatigued with business or disgusted with the world, you will have a never-failing source of refreshment, and a most salutary relaxation, to invigorate your weary powers, and recruit your exhausted spirits.

When the word of God is thus treasured up and engrafted in our hearts, we shall be disposed and qualified to teach his truths and precepts to our relations, to speak of them among our friends, and to diffuse the knowledge of them in the circle of our acquaintance. This is strenuously enforced by the exhortation of our text: "Thou shalt teach "them diligently to thy children; and thou shalt "talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and " when thou walkest by the way, and when thou "liest down, and when thou risest up." In reducing these rules to practice, much depends on


external circumstances. When the Christian sesses wealth or influence, and has extensive connexions, he ought to attempt great things: while a little may be done in a more obscure situation, by edifying discourse, letters, or the distribution of books; provided opportunities be sought after, and diligently improved. We allow, indeed, that conceited disputatious talkers, whose conduct does not consist with their principles, or who grossly violate the proprieties of relative life, are often a disgrace to religion: but, when divine truth occupies the heart, and influences the conduct, a man's ordinary conversation may be rendered very useful, in diffusing religious knowledge, and making others wise unto salvation.

They, however, who are placed at the head of families, should deem themselves peculiarly called upon to teach their children and servants. The examples of scripture are in this respect very encouraging and instructive. The Lord had given promises of special blessings to the posterity of Abraham, and he was made a principal instrument in preparing the way for their accomplishment. "I know him," saith God," that he will command "his children and his household after him; and

[ocr errors]

they shall keep the way of the Lord to do judg"ment and justice, that the Lord may bring upon "Abraham the thing that he hath spoken to him "of." "As for me, and my house," says pious Joshua, "we will serve the Lord." Cornelius the centurion, who "feared God with all his house," and who had pious domestics, and even soldiers,

1 ' Gen. xviii. 19.

around him, (though doubtless most of them had been educated pagans,) may be considered as a remarkable instance of the blessing attending this kind of religious instruction: while the awful doom of Eli and his family, may serve as a salutary caution to all who are tempted to indolence or timidity in this important concern.

The ancient method of rendering the truths and precepts of religion familiar to the minds of men, especially of children and servants, is described in the text: "Thou shalt talk of them when thou "sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by "the way, and when thou liest down, and when "thou risest up." And why should the same method be less effectual at present, if it were properly employed? Did we daily instruct our households, by reading and explaining the scriptures to them, along with family-worship; and then frequently converse with seriousness on edifying subjects; did we take occasion from common occurrences, to direct the attention of those around us to the over-ruling providence of God, the fatal effects of sin, the lamentable evidences of human depravity, and the suitableness of the gospel to the state of the world; and did we joyfully embrace every opportunity of inculcating right principles, rectifying mistakes, and making pertinent remarks: young people would be more generally preserved from scepticism, and a considerable barrier would be placed to the incursions of infidelity and impiety. Our Lord himself has taught us this way of improving conversation, in the most simple and easy manner imaginable: he deduced profitable instructions from every occurrence: and grafted the

most important admonitions, even on the insidious questions and impertinent objections of his enemies. We cannot indeed expect to speak with his consummate prudence and irresistible energy; yet we should remember that in this, as in all other things," he hath left us an example that we "should follow his steps;" and promised to give his disciples "a mouth and wisdom, which all their "enemies shall not be able to resist."

[ocr errors]

We are also taught in scripture to encourage young persons in asking questions on religious subjects, by giving them plain and satisfactory answers and some institutions seem to have been chiefly intended to give occasion for such inquiries.1 "The Lord established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law which he commanded our fathers; that they should make them known " unto their children; that the generation to come might know them, even the children that should "be born, who should arise and declare them to "their children, that they might set their hope " in God."2

[ocr errors]

The neglect of this duty is a very dark sign of the present times. Children in general are trained up amidst those very vanities, which they who presented them for baptism solemnly vowed they should renounce! They are early initiated into the corrupt maxims and fashions of this evil world, and brought to join in its frivolous and fascinating pleasures: and, instead of being cautioned against the dangers of conformity to it, are taught to fear

1 Exod. xii. 36, 37. xiii. 10-14. Josh. iv. 21, 22.
2 Psal. lxxviii. 3-8.

nothing so much as the least appearance of singularity! Nay, those persons, who profess a serious regard to religion, often act as if they were anxious to give their children a relish for those seducing trifles, from which they themselves appear to be weaned; and were afraid lest they should too early choose the good part that can never be taken from them! It is inexpressible how much these things promote ungodliness, and prevent the permanent success of the gospel. But let us, my brethren, aim "to bring up our children in the nurture and admo"nition of the Lord;" hoping and longing that they may be "a chosen generation, a royal priest"hood, a holy and peculiar people," by whom true religion may be supported after our decease, and transmitted to future ages. In this view we may consider them as real blessings: but in what other light can a pious parent behold his beloved offspring without the most painful reflections ?

[ocr errors]

We ought not, however, to confine our efforts within the limits of our own families, but should endeavour to propagate our religious principles in the world. What reason indeed can we have to be ashamed of them? Or how can we timidly conceal them, without being ashamed of Christ and his words? We live, it is true, among men called Christians yet it is almost deemed an outrage on good manners, to speak seriously of the doctrine and salvation of our Lord and master! Shall we then hold our peace, and sanction the conduct of a lukewarm or apostate generation by our example? God forbid ! We are commanded to bind the great truths and precepts of his word, "as a "sign upon our hands, and as frontlets between

« السابقةمتابعة »