« السابقةمتابعة »
real improvements. While I fay this, I would not be underflood as being against a liberal education, and elegant manner of life, or any thing that is truly becoming in an advanced rank. There is no more religion in being fordid, than in being fumptuous. But I think the spirit of the gospel is fuch, that it will difpofe a truly pious perfon to be rather late than early in adopting new ornaments; rather sparing than exceffive in dress, furniture and equipage; and careful not to be conformed to that vanity of the world which we renounced at baptifm. Let men defend one practice after another, as they please, I fhall always expect to fee fomething which a careless worldly person will do, but which a good man will not do.
However, not to keep entirely in generals, I must once more give my public teftimony against what was lately attempted to be brought in here, equally contrary to the law of the land, and the precepts of the gofpel, the pernicious entertainments of the ftage. The best and wifeft men in all ages have born witness against them, as the great means of corrupting the morals of a people; and I am certain, they must be of all others moft hurtful to the inhabitants of this place, the far greatest part of whom live by daily labor. I look upon it as the indifpenfible duty both of magiftrates and minifters, to do all in their power, to prevent the introduction of what may betray the young and unfufpicious into the destructive paths of vice, or the lower clafs of mankind into an idle and diffolute life. Much good of this kind may be done in matters of outward order, by a firm and refolute behaviour in thofe who are in place and authority. I mufi alfo here take particular notice of the duty of fabbath fanctification. I do hereby warn you against that moft pernicious refinement of gadding abroad, paying private visits, upon the Lord's day. Whoever knows any thing of the obligation of family government and inftruction, muft be fenfible that to receive promifcuous company on that day, is to render it utterly. impracticable. Befides, the vain and unprofitable, and fometimes finful converfation, that prevails in fuch cases, muft greatly weaken, or entirely obliterate any serious impreffions, made upon your mind, during the fervice of the
fanctuary. Chriftians, is not the rest of the fabbath, from worldly cares and pursuits, a; confolation to your own fouls, as well as a happy opportunity of doing fervice to the fouls of others? why then will you fuffer yourfelves to be robbed of it, by the impertinent intrufions of idle or ill difpofed perfons? Let your houfes be facred on that day, as well as your churches; and endeavour to prepare your minds, and thofe others members of your families, for an eternal fabbath in the world to come. This leads me, in the
4th Place, to exhort you to be careful and confcientious in family government, and inftruction. How inexcufable are thofe parents and mafters, who fuffer their children and fervants to perifh for lack of knowledge? What unspeakable advantages do you enjoy, having all the force of natural affection, as well as natural authority, to give your inftructions weight? How many have remembered, with pious gratitude, through a whole life, the benefit they have received frrom family inftruction and example? I know I fpeak to many who are accountable to God for this mercy; how fhall you answer it then, if you do not give the fame advantage to your own families; And how shall they answer to God, think you, who have banished the worship of God from the families in which they found it? One would think, the lifelefs walls and furniture of your chambers might be awakening monitors. There is the greatest mutual influence between family and perfonal religion. Perfonal religion is the foundation of all family and relative duties. It would be speaking to the deaf to perfuade any to watch over the fouls of others, who have no concern for their own. But wherever there is a deep impreffion of the importance of eternity for ourfelves, this will naturally and neceffarily fet before us its importance with refpect to all that are dear to us. the other hand, for the fame reason, family religion is one of the beft and fureft evidences of the reality and the ftrength of perfonal religion. It is fometimes obferved, that some very pious perfons are extremely defective in this particular, and take little care of the inftruction, and fill lefs of the government, of their children. If they are
truly pious, it is a very great blemish upon their piety. However, for my own part, I confefs I do very much fuf pect the fincerity of religion, in those who are remarkably negligent in this particular, let them profefs as much as they will. I know that pious perfons, from the weakness of their judgment, will be guilty of great imprudence in the manner of family inftruction, and from an absolute incapacity, may not be able to preserve their authority; but I cannot eafily reconcile with true piety, the abfolute neglect of either the one or the other.
I muft add, that I take family religion, and the careful discharge of relative duties, to be an excellent mean of the growth of religion in a man's own foul. How can any perfon bend his knees in prayer every day with his family, but it must be a powerful reftraint upon him from the indulgence of any fin which is visible to them? Will fuch a perfon, think you, dare to indulge himself in anger, or chufe to be seen by them, when he comes home ftaggering with drunkenness, unfit to perform any duty, or ready to fin ftill more by the manner of performance? When I figure to myself a master of a family, who had come home fotted like a beast, and half-fupported to his house, rifing in the morning, I am not able to conceive how he can bear the looks of thofe members of his family who had been witneffes of his fhame. But befides being a restraint from grofs crimes, I cannot help faying, that, speaking of the things of God, with the concern of a pa rent, of the humanity of a master, must give a folemnity of spirit, and a sense of their moment, even greater than before. A man cannot speak to purpose, without feeling what he fays; and the new impreffion will certainly leave behind it a lafting effect. Let me, therefore, my beloved hearers, earneftly recommend to you the faithful difcharge and careful management of family duties, as you regard the glory of God, the intereft of his church, the advantage of your pofterity, and your own final acceptance in the day of judgment.
5. Let religion be incorporated with your lawful employments, and improved by an attention to the whole courfe of Providence to you and yours. Nothing is more
hurtful to religion, than to confine it to particular times and places: Ifhould have rather faid, there is not a greater mistake in religion, than to imagine that it can be fo confined. True religion will fhew its influence in every part of your conduct. It is like the fap of a living tree, which penetrates to the moft diftant boughs, In your or dinary calling, fee that you undertake nothing but what is lawful in its end, and endeavor to accomplish nothing by any but by lawful means, that you may have always the comfort of a confcience void of offence. Nay, you fhould even do more; you fhould endeavor, to act fo fin gle and fincere a part, as to be beyond the imputation of fraud, that all who know you may put the most unbounded confidence in your integrity. There are many other calumnies which we may naturally expect from a malici. ous world; and it ought to trouble us very little to hear them but it must be extremely diftrefling to a good man to be but fufpected of difhonefty. Oh, my brethren! how often hath it grieved me to fee, that many perfons, formerly of a decent character, when they loft their fubftance, loft their religion with it; and, indeed, to confider how few, when they were reduced in their circumftances, could fatisfy the public that they had acted fairly.
Let it be your care, I beseech you, to remember, that it is God that giveth.you power to get wealth; and what thanks are due to him, if he hath given you abundance, especially if he hath given you withal a heart to bestow. Be diligent in your bufinefs, from a principle of consci ence; and make it the daily fubject of your prayer to God, that he would either keep you from the fhame of poverty, or, at least, from the fin of it. Take notice of every ftep of his providence, whether of mercy or trial. Let the afpect of providence direct your exercise, and quicken your affections in religious duties; and take fuch views of the fullness of an all-fufficient God, in acts of worship, as may prepare you for every event of providence, whether profperous or adverfe.
Thus, my brethren, I have now finished what I propofed, in the way of advices; and, for what I have to fay with regard to the prefent difpenfation of providence, that VOL. II. 4 A
puts an end to my miniftry among you, I fhall bring it within very narrow bounds. It were eafy, by faying a few words, to move the concern both of speaker and hearers: this I have hitherto chosen to avoid; and, therefore, fhall only fay, that I am deeply fenfible of the affection and duty of the congregation that attended my ministry, and others under my charge. I cannot express my sense of it better, than in the words of the late eminently pious Doctor Finlay, my immediate predeceffor in this new office, who, on his death-bed, faid to those about him, 'I ' owe a long catalogue of debts to my friends, which will ⚫ not be put to my charge; but I hope God will difcharge them for me.' I cannot now do any thing better for you, than again to befeech you, to remember and put in practice the directions I have given you, and, I am perfuaded, that it shall go well with you. The only further request I have to make to you is, that you would give to me, and my family, an intereft in your prayers. Intreat of God, that we may be preserved from perils and dangers, and carried to the place of our destination in safety; and that I may be affifted of him in every future duty, and not fall under the terrible reproach, of agreeing to make fo distant a removal, and then being found unfit for the important task. -I conclude with the words of the apostle Jude, 24, 25. Now, unto him that is able to keep you from fall"ing, and to present you faultless before the presence of "his glory, with exceeding joy; to the only wife God, "our Saviour, be glory and majefty, dominion and powboth now and ever." Amen.