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the request which you may make to your heavenly Father, that he will teach you to love him. Pray to him constantly for his help to open your eyes, and soften your hearts; and be sure that such prayers will not be in vain. Pray to him to show you what he thinks of the evil that you are every day committing, and to make you think of it in the same manner; and, depend upon it, that you will judge of it, ere long, very differently from what you now do. And this is in your own power.
You can, if you choose, bend your knees, and utter words to God; you can speak to him in your hearts at certain seasons, whether you have opportunity to bend your knees or no.
You can make a point of so speaking to him every day; of forcing yourselves to do it, if you cannot do it willingly: and then, if you go on in this way, merely resolving and practising to speak to God, -I care not in how few words, so that they are the words of your own hearts, -asking him to be merciful to you, and to make you his own true children,-be assured that the will and the love of his service will very soon be given to your prayers, and you will be brought, by the Holy Spirit, to know and to love the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ.
2 KINGS 11. 24.
There came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare
forty and two children of them.
I SAID, some time since, that as the Bible was written chiefly for grown-up persons, and the faults of grown-up persons are different from those of boys, so many things that are said in the Bible may seem not directly to concern you. And, in particular, what is difficult for all to form to themselves any full notion of, is, in the case of the young, still harder to enter into fully: I mean, the great consequence of what we do ;—the very great rewards that will follow it, if good; and the equally great punishments which it will bring upon us, if bad. This, I say, is hard for every one to conceive: and it is well said, that the very first temptation ever offered to men, took advantage of this common feeling :
“ The serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” But it is still harder for you to fancy that your conduct can be either so immensely rewarded, or so heavily punished, because it seems to relate to things of such little consequence. You may hear grown-up people talk afterwards, in a laughing manner, of the faults which they committed at school,-of their idleness, and of the various acts of mischief, and worse than mischief, which they committed. They speak of their school faults as of things which, indeed, it was very proper for the master to punish, when he found them out; but which, if he did not find them out, were never in danger of being punished by anyone else. And when boys hear older
. people speak in this manner of their own past conduct, it naturally makes them think that it does not really matter much whether they behave well or ill at school, excepting always in certain points which they think are dishonourable; and that they are just as likely to be respectable and amiable men hereafter, if they are idle and careless now, as if they were ever so attentive and industrious.
Now, I would beg those who think so to attend a little to the story in the text :-As Elisha, the prophet, was going up to Bethel,
“ there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said to him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” Now, some say that the word, which is here translated “ little children,” means rather“ boys, or young men;" but, however this be, it is certain, (and that is the point to which I want to bring you,) that the persons thus heavily punished were persons not grown up to manhood; they had all the excuse that youth could give them. And the offence too was probably one which we should call rather carelessness and idle mischief, than deliberate wickedness. They insulted Elisha, just as I am afraid that persons, with any thing in their appearance at all strange or remarkable, are sometimes insulted now. It was Elisha's baldness which they laughed at, in the very spirit of idle boys, at all times, and in all countries. They laughed at him too as a prophet; just in the way that congregations of Methodists, for example, have been sometimes laughed at and disturbed among us, and their singing and preaching made a jest of. But for this offence, we are told that the prophet cursed them in the name of the Lord, and that “ there came forth two bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” The point for you to observe is, that God is angry with the faults of young persons as with those of grown-up men, and that he punishes them as heavily. Of course, the rest of the story is not applicable : God's punishments are not now punishments upon our bodies in this life, but punishments upon
, our immortal bodies after the resurrection, when we shall all be called before the judgment-seat of Christ. And a man, who, being thus insulted, were to curse those who were insulting him, and to wish for God's judgments upon them, would certainly now be a great deal worse than the boys who had provoked him. But that is not our concern; nor are we considering the conduct of Elisha, but the punishment inflicted by God upon those who had offended him, and which is recorded in the Scriptures for our example.
I take this story, then, as teaching us what I think we very much need to be taught, namely, that the faults of our youth, and those which are most natural to us at that