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the use of reason and the knowlege of things about us, nature directs that parents should teach their children, as they grow capable of learning, the things that are necessary to their wellbeing.

The great force of custom and education, whether rightly applied or otherwise, could not be long unobserved in the world: as soon as it was observed, it became a strong call on the natural affection of parents to guard the tender minds of their children against wrong impressions, and to prevent evil habits. Without the exercise of this care in some degree, authority cannot be maintained on the part of parents, nor duty required on the part of children. If parents have nothing to teach, what have children to obey?

When the ways of men grew corrupt, custom and education went over to the side of vice and superstition, and soon spread the follies of idolatry far and wide: these took such deep root, that human reason could not shake them, but was content for ages to wear the chains of blind superstition. Custom and education cannot be shut out of the case: influence they must and will have; and if they are not secured on the side of reason, they will soon grow to be tyrants over it; and men will think and act as if they had none.

So general and so strong is the force of custom and education, that the influence may be said to be natural to the mind of man; and if so, it was doubtless intended by Providence to serve good purposes. That he intended it for this use, is manifest also from his making this use of it, and from his interposing to correct the abuses to which this natural influence was but too liable through the passions and corruptions of men.

Consideration of what provision was made at the beginning of things for propagating religion in the world.

Consideration of what care was taken of religion at the restoration of the world after the deluge: to check the course of succeeding impiety, and keep up a sense of true religion, a

nation of God's own peculiar people was raised up: Abraham made choice of: a law given to his descendants, with signs and wonders: memory of it perpetuated by various rites and ceremonies: these, introduced at first by positive law, soon obtained the force of national customs, and were a strong barrier against idolatry.

These institutions however were not intended to operate merely by the force of custom, but were adopted to preserve and renew the memory of the true reasons in which the Jewish religion was founded: they were intended to make custom subservient to reason and true religion.

On this ground did that religion stand, till God thought fit by a new revelation to call all the world to repentance and obedience to the gospel. The nations of the earth were idolatrous before the coming of Christ; their worship was impure and depraved; and their forms of superstition, supported by custom, had got strong possession of the human heart.

To root out this inveterate evil required supernatural assistance; and yet such as was consistent with the freedom and reason of human minds, and agreeable to the nature of religion, which loses its very being when it is separated from freedom and reason. The power of miracles was such an assistance; for miracles are an appeal to reason, as much as the works of nature are; and therefore, when offered in support of true religion, are to be considered as new arms put into the hands of reason, to subdue the powers of corrupt custom and educa


The subject does not lead to a consideration of all the purposes which Providence had to serve by the power of miracles; but this manifestly was one, to awaken the attention of the world, to consider what they and their idolatrous fathers had been doing, &c.

When reason and true religion were by this powerful assistance set free from the shackles of idolatry and superstition,

miracles ceased; and for perpetuating the knowlege of God and of his truth in the world, the natural and ordinary methods of teaching and instructing received an additional strength, by an order of men set apart for that purpose. This was an additional strength to the ordinary means of instruction, but was never meant to supersede them; for parents are obliged by the law of the gospel and of nature to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and where this care has been neglected, it is rarely that the other can take place.

What then is there in the present circumstances of things that we can do to promote virtue and religion? We have only natural and ordinary means within our power. May we use them? or must the care of virtue and religion be given up? If not, the properest, if not the only way to preserve them, is to lay a foundation for the youth of the country. But these general reflexions arise so naturally, that we may go on to consider the particular case now before us.

The state of religion in Ireland well deserves the attention of every man in this kingdom, who has a concern either for the purity of the gospel, or the security of our government.

The Reformation was very imperfectly carried on in that country; so that the bulk of the people have ever been, and still are, papists: state of Ireland from this circumstance, as well as from the peculiar language of the people, which renders it difficult to enlighten them, considered. Uncomfortable state of the protestant clergy there described: feeling exhortation addressed to all who may have it in their power to alleviate this state of things. Encouragement to do this, arising from a consideration of the prosperity and welfare of our own constitution. The present government and the protestant religion must stand or fall together: papists are by principle enemies to both; and by the lowest computation they are in Ireland as five to two. Civil and military power indeed are in the hands of protestants; and in times of peace perhaps they

are able to preserve public tranquillity; but in public commotions the strength of popery has always been grievously experienced this point enlarged on.

What then shall we say to this state of the case? Shall these numbers continue still to be our enemies? or shall we try to gain their affections, and make them friends to the government? Shall we allow them even to remain untaught, uncultivated, and therefore useless to themselves and to the world? or shall we show them the arts of life and honest industry, teach them to be happy, and serviceable to themselves and to the public? There can be no doubt which part is to be chosen. Concluding observations.


Preached before the Society, corresponding with the Incorporated Society in Dublin, for promoting English Protestant Schools in Ireland, at St. Mary-le-Bow, March 17, 1738.


And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel: And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.

You have in the text the last piece of advice which Moses gave to the people of Israel; for on the self-same day on which he made this exhortation, he was summoned by God to depart from this world; accordingly he died on the mountain of Nebo, and was gathered to his people.

The last advice of dying friends naturally makes a strong impression on the minds of those who survive them; and it is as natural for those who are leaving this world, to make the thing which they esteem to be of the greatest consequence and importance to their friends, who are to stay behind them, the subject matter of their last advice.

Consider now the character of Moses; the many years he spent in conducting the people of Israel from Egypt to the land of promise; the high office he bore, by being appointed by God a prophet and lawgiver to his people: consider him, after a long course of teaching and exhortation, giving his last advice before he died; and you must needs think the happiness of the people to be extremely concerned in the matter

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