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CAUTIONS CONNECTED WITH THE SEASON OF WINTER.
Blessed are the men, who going through the vale of misery, use it for a well; and the pools are filled with water.
THE withered leaf, the deserted fields, the icy atmosphere and the grateful fire, all proclaim the coming winter.-We are bound, by a host of reasons, to use the leisure of winter in mental and moral cultivation. Oh, let not the spring open upon us and find us still ignorant of useful knowledge, and still unmoved by religious motives. As the harvest from the fields is now safely gathered, so let the spring witness the nobler harvest of mind; the treasures of ripe thought and matured virtue.
The winter is often used as a season of pleasure. Instead of using "the wells of the desert" as temporary resting places where toil was to relax, some have considered them as permanent abodes, where idleness was to recline without reproach, and luxury revel without harm.-Against these abuses I would now caution all, and especially the young.-The love of amusement degenerates into a passion, and then, from being an occasional indulgence, it becomes an habitual and therefore a fatal desire.-It tends to degrade all the powers of the understanding. It is the eternal law of nature, that truth and wisdom are the offspring of labour, of vigour and perseverance in every worthy object of pursuit. Love of amusement is fatal to these. It kindles not the eye of ambition; it bids the heart beat with no throb of generous admiration; it lets the soul be calm, while all the rest of our fellows are passing us in the road of virtue or of science.-The inordinate love of pleasure is equally hostile to the moral character. Enfeebled intellect brings moral incapacities. We have duties to perform, from the cradle to the grave, and most of life calls for great activity, and the moral honours of our being can be won only by the steadfast magnanimity of pious duty. Does the enervating school of pleasure brace us for hardy conflict or faithful perseverance? Alas! that hoary headed teacher, experience, assures us that the mind which exists for pleasure cannot exist for duty. Pleasure corrodes all the benevolent emotions of the heart, and withers the most sacred ties of domestick affection. It is also, as fatal to happiness as to virtue. Temporary relaxation, and nothing more, is allowable. Continued amusement punishes itself by satiety. Happiness flies the presence of a surfeit. And what occasional reproaches of conscience! what sad mortifications ! what universal scorn !
These are only a few miseries in the love of amusement. God gave the leisure of winter for very different pursuits. My young friend, if a siren voice calls you to indulgence, remember the intellectual and moral degradation to which it will conduct you. Was it for the ends of unmanly pleasure that your parents devoted_you, when they mingled their tears in the waters of your baptism? Think with the elevation and generosity of your age, whether this is the course that leads to honour or to fame ;-whether it was in this discipline that they were exercised, who, in every age, have blessed and enlightened the world; whose names you cannot pronounce without the tear of gratitude or admiration. Follow then the example of Jesus Christ, whose mind was active in the cause of truth, and whose heart was warm in the cause of virtue.
MORNING AND EVENING RELIGIOUS DUTIES.
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.
THE morning and evening of each day can hardly fail to suggest to a serious mind an occasion for acknowledging its dependance on God. How suitable that our first thoughts in the morning should be directed upwards to the great Preserver. How is it that this repose has been administered to my faculties, during this state of forgetfulness into which I have been thrown? By what strange and mysterious process is it, that my mind and body are invigorated and prepared for the duties of another day? How easily might I have slept the sleep of death, and never have awaked, till I opened my eyes in the eternal world. What unseen hand is this, which has restored me from this emblem of death to life, and activity, and enjoyment, which has sustained in motion the springs of life, while I had no knowledge of what was passing around me, and was unable to defend myself against danger? Why have I not been a victim to the devouring element, or had my slumbers disturbed by the roaring of a midnight conflagration, or the dying shrieks of my family? It is because I have been made the care of that watchful guardian, who never slumbers nor sleeps. Shall not this day then be given to his service in token of gratitude for this kind preservation?
In the evening also, before we close our eyes in sleep, how natural that we should render some acknowledgement of our dependance in view of the blessings of the preceding day. While the darkness and solitude of our chamber invite to serious reflection, how exceedingly natural for the mind to pause and think of some of the latest impressions of the goodness of God. How many blessings has the past day brought along with it? What cause for gratitude, that while it has witnessed the departure of multitudes into eternity, my life has been spared, and with it all the mercies, which are necessary to render it a comfort to me. Perhaps, during the past day, I have been subject to some distressing temptation, and have had strength given me to resist it; or perhaps I have been delivered from some alarming danger, and in a way which seemed to indicate the particular care of a gracious providence. In view of all these blessings, especially when I consider, that they are bestowed upon one, who has merited none of them, shall I not say, with a spirit of devout thanksgiving, hitherto hath the Lord helped me ?
These are only two out of the many occasions, which loudly call for a spirit of thankful recollection. It is a spirit, which is not only demanded by the circumstances in which we are placed, by all the relations which we sustain to the great Benefactor, but which is essential to the highest enjoyment of the gifts of Providence. Let the impartial, judge whether that man is the most happy, who receives every blessing as coming from a father's hand, or he, who riots amidst the bounties of heaven, without feeling one thrill of pious affection, and with a heart bound up in the frost of ingratitude.
Awake, awake, and gird up thy strength
To Him, who unceasing love displays,
And thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their
To us, with our short sighted views, all things relating to the salvation of this world, may seem to be something vast and almost infinite-may seem to embrace the dominion of God. But let us remember that the empire and the majesty of heaven are not so bounded. Let us raise our thoughts to those worlds on worlds, that rise and extend, and spread to infinitude,-through regions where neither the eye, nor the thought of man has ever wandered. Let us think of the eighty millions of suns which modern astronomy has brought to our view-eighty millions of suns with all their systems. Let us remember that all this too may be but one portion, and a little portion, of the ways in which the Almighty travels in the greatness of his power. At the head of this boundless dominion of worlds on worlds, and systems on systems, and universe upon universe, sits and reigns the Omnipotent, the Infinite God. Yet from this height of his dwelling place, does he descend to behold the things that are done upon earth. He regards our wants and weaknesses; He takes account of our sorrows; He has made provision for the great, the spiritual welfare of our immortal being. In this province of his empire, he has raised up one, to be our Helper and Saviour, our Teacher and Guide, our Mediator and Comforter, our Lawgiver and Judge. He has made his precepts our law; his character our pattern; his loveliness our attraction to virtue; his sufferings our salvation; his death our life; his resurrection our pledge of immortality. He has made Jesus, who was crucified, both Christ and Lord. Receive Jesus Christ then in the character in which he is presented to you. Let questions about his original, metaphysical nature be laid to rest. They are not of the Bible. Think of Jesus as your Saviour. Learn of him as your Teacher. Obey him as your Master. Imitate him as your Example. Love him as your gracious Friend, and Benefactor, and Lord. Receive him as the Son of God. Fill your minds with the loveliness and grandeur of his character, as the brightest Image of God, the Representative of his authority, the Messenger of his mercy, the dying Saviour, the triumphant Restorer, the light, life, and salvation of dying and guilty men. Fulfil the purpose of his death, and the duty of honouring him, by cultivating his mild, pure, forbearing, and charitable temper of mind.
Jesus is a Saviour by proclaiming and using various moral means. The means must be agreeable to the end. The misery from which Jesus would save man, is the wrong state of his mind and affections. This can be removed by no arbitrary appointments of place or condition, by no exertion of absolute power, like the striking off chains at a blow. A moral disease must be cured by moral remedies, suited to the spiritual malady. The days of miraculous healing are over. Jesus. is a Saviour by his doctrine, example and death. He proclaims God's truth which is able to sanctify and save our souls; and he illustrates his religion by his own imitable example. Learn wisdom from this example. Have not the folly to hope for the great end, except you devotedly pursue the prescribed means. these which God pours his blessing, for they guide "through faith unto salvation."
It is upon
Lydia, when she was baptized and her household :-The jailer, was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
THE baptism of the infants of baptized christians was the universal, uniform, undisputed practice of the primitive church; and consequently was an apostolic institution. The mode of baptism, whether by immersion or affusion, was in fact, and with great wisdom, left to the discretion of the parties concerned. Infant baptism is a religious service of great and obvious practical utility. Its utility is what most concerns us. By this solemn profession of their own faith in Christ, and the voluntary registering of their infant offspring as members of that holy community of which he is the head, parents do virtually and strongly bind themselves to perform their duty as the disciples and subjects of Christ, and to educate their children in the principles and habits, the views and practices, of the society in which they are enrolled.
The parent, who thus enters his child as a member of the Christian community, thereby promises that he will instruct him in the knowledge of God, of his existence, his unity, his unrivalled authority, his natural and moral attributes, his character, his providence, his just and benevolent government that he will teach him what he is to believe concerning the mission and doctrine of Jesus Christ, his miracles, his actions, his discourses, his prophecies, his benevolent and exalted character, his sufferings and death, his resurrection, his ascension, and the subsequent gifts of the Holy Spirit according to his gracious promise that he will impress upon his mind, that the great object of the mission of Jesus was to reveal "the words of eternal life," and that "God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained, of which he hath given assurance to all men in that he hath raised him from the dead." Also, that the only way to secure a glorious and happy resurrection is by a prompt, uniform, and cheerful obedience to the laws of Christ; by loving God with all the heart and soul; by doing to others as they would that others should do to them and "denying all ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godlily, in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearance of the great God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ." And that all privilege, that all profession, that all the high titles and characters, which they may assume as members of the Christian community, will avail nothing, if the heart is not right in the sight of God, if the life is not regulated by the principles and hopes of the Gospel.
But this is not all: the Christian, who by bringing his child to baptism enters his name as a member of the Christian community, virtually promises that he will bring him up in the discipline of the Christian school. He promises that, as soon as the child begins to be susceptible of moral agency, he will make him the subject of moral discipline; that he will carefully watch the first emotions of the affections, to encourage and invigorate those which are right, and to correct those which tend to vice and misery. That as far as possible he will keep him out of the way of temptations which may be too powerful for his virtue, from the snare of evil company and of bad example; and will place him in the society of those whose conversation may enlighten his mind, and whose example may incite him to virtue.
BAPTISM-ADDRESS TO PARENTS.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
CHRISTIAN FRIENDS-By this early initiation of your infant offspring into the christian community, you have made a solemn and explicit profession of your own faith in the christian religion; and you have virtually assumed a most serious responsibility, and have laid or rather acknowledged yourselves under the most important obligations.
The solemn profession of your belief in the christian religion upon the birth of a child, and when you thus enter your offspring as members of that holy community of which Christ is the head, takes place in circumstances peculiarly interesting and impressive. It reminds christian parents that the promise is made to them and to their children; and it excites their desires, and stimulates their exertions, to train them up in the same principles and views, to form them to the same character, and to animate them with the same hopes, which are the sources of their own best peace and consolation in their passage through life.
You cannot but be anxious, my christian friends, for the future welfare and success of your rising offspring. You oft dart a solicitous eye through the vale of distant years; and the natural wish of the fond parental bosom is, that their lot in life may be safe, honourable and happy. But there is one wish which lies nearer to the heart than all the rest; and that is, that they may be wise and good; that they may fear God and keep his commandments; that they may not only profess but practice the religion of Christ that so you may look forward with joyful expectation to a happy interview with them at the day of Christ; and to the everlasting enjoyment of their society, with that of all the virtuous and the wise of all ages, in a state of perfect and uninterrupted purity, harmony, and felicity when the world and all its concerns shall have passed away as a vision of the night.
For this truly blessed and glorious hope, the christian revelation lays a sure foundation. And these interesting and momentous considerations will induce you to train up your children in the love of truth, virtue, and piety. Permit me to observe, that it is a great and serious charge which is committed to your trust. Of this important trust you will be solicitous to render a faithful account.Nothing can be done without exertion. But from judicious instruction, from faithful admonition, from mild and salutary discipline, from good example and fervent prayer for the divine blessing, nothing is too much to be expected. The human heart is susceptible naturally; it easily yields to the plastic hand. The human character, upon which peace and happiness depend, is the sure result of education and discipline, and of early impressions and associations :"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
What an encouragement to diligent and persevering exertion! The seed which is sown with care and skill, and watched and watered with assiduous attention, though it may for a time seem buried in the dust, will in the end rise and flourish, and produce a copious harvest, which will be the joy and crown of your advancing years. "Therefore, let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not."