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need to die for it: nor yet can his neglect alone be cause unto another that he should perish everlastingly; else were our individual misery not of our own perverse choosing. But we are speaking only now of what a Christian parent's duty is, under the prospect of so plain and probable consequences: can he neglect his own duty, without endangering his own salvation?
Wherefore consider, Christian parents, where you stand, and unto what an obligation you are called. Remember well, in what a very important practical sense the work of man's salvation yet remains open; and what a share may possibly be found within your own power, either of contributing to its advancement, or of partaking in its hindrance. And if what has been said may any way have found an entrance to your hearts and the acceptance of your honest judgment, then let our thoughts return (that they may rest upon a cheering view) to contemplation of our blessed Lord's example. Keep ever in your mind, for comfort, that engaging picture, in which he is presented as at once" increasing in wisdom and "stature, and in favour with God and man.” And let this be your prospect, and your guide, and the object of your earnest imitation.
C Cf. Ezekiel xviii. 1-18.
shall there be the surest and best-grounded hope, that the increase of stature and of years shall bring to every growing heart that feareth God increase of blessing and prosperity. "Establish "thou, O Lord, the work of their hands" on such as offer it to thy protection thus; " yea, "the work of their hands establish thou it!"
d Psalm xc. 17.
THE CONSCIENTIOUS CHURCHMAN'S ACTUAL OPPOR
TUNITIES AND MEANS OF GRACE.
ECCLESIASTES Vii. 10.
Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.
THIS is one of those texts of Scripture which can hardly fail to strike with some impression, immediately on being heard, from its extreme naturalness; that is to say, from its direct and obvious likeness to the realities of life. "Say "not thou, What is the cause that the former days
were better than these ?"who has not met, in life, with such a disposition as the wise man here reproves? Is it not a tendency and manner of men now, to speak disparagingly of the present days, in comparison with days past? The saying may be heard continually, that "times are not 86 as they were used to be;" which is, in substance, just the same with the assertion that the
"former days were better than these." Now we have good authority from the text for saying, that such comparisons are not wise.
Why are they not wise? For several good reasons, which may readily be given. On the broad, general ground they are not wise, if they in any way include, or seem too strongly to imply, a discontent or murmuring at God's providence; for that it is, which has appointed us our times, whether they be good, or whether they be evil. But, independently of this more serious and highest consideration, there are no few specific reasons to be given to the same effect.
§. 1. All such comparisons, then, are not wise, for one thing, because the fact is doubtful. It is not sure, at any given period, that the former times were better than the present; and it can never be a point of wisdom to make comparisons upon uncertain facts".
§. 2. Again; it is not wise to make comparisons of this sort, inasmuch as it is probable that no two persons, in speaking about former times, mean exactly the same thing, or rightly understand each other. It is most probable, they neither refer back to any common period, nor do they mean to say that former times were better
a Cf. Serm. XIII.