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often find accurate and strong convictions | sion, influences the offerer. An old man reexerting no influence, beyond the under-gards devotion as a refuge, rather than a standing. Nothing is so certain as death; and temple; and takes hold of the horns of the "the living know that they shall die," and yet altar, not to bind his victim there, but to do they live as those who expect it? A man escape from being a victim himself. He knows that the body is nothing to the soul, only forsakes the world-when he can enjoy or time to eternity: and yet, the grand ques it no longer; and leaves his sins when they tion with him is, not "What must I do to be leave him.-Does he present to God his saved?" but, "What shall I eat, and what soul? All its powers are wasted and destroyshall I drink, and wherewithal shall I be ed. Does he yield his body? It is a wornclothed?" How many are there, who hear out instrument in the service of sin. But the Gospel, and even acquiesce in the doc- the young do not insult him with the leav trine of the Fall, and our recovery, and yet ings of the world, the flesh, and the devil. never fall at the feet of the Recoverer, They do not put him off with the refuse of crying, "Lord, save, I perish!" They are life; they consecrate to him the first born of Christian in their creed; and infidel in their their days, the first fruits of their reason and conduct. Religion has to do "with the affections; they give him the prime of their heart;" and a knowledge that does not reach being, and while others too are powerfully the heart, and govern the heart, is nothing. soliciting their regards. And can a ChrisKnowledge is to be viewed in the order of tian be devoid of the love of God! Can he means, and when it does not answer its end, be indifferent to efforts, by which his Divine it is considered by the sacred writers, as ig- Benefactor is so signally delighted and norance. Because he that does not know honoured? Can he see a soldier so early him to purpose, does not know him savingly; entering his army, a servant so early engag they will not allow that a man knows God ing in his service, a worshipper so early apat all-who does not trust in him and love proaching his altar-and see in this soldier, him and obey him. "They that know thy this servant, this worshipper of God, his own Name, will put their trust in thee."-" He offspring-and not glow with the sentiment, that loveth not, knoweth not God. He that "My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart saith, I know him, and keepeth not his com- shall rejoice, even mine." mandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." To believe these things, and to feel them; to know these things and to do them -this is to be wise in heart: and nothing less than this is the promise of the new covenant; "I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart."
II. THE CONSEQUENCE ANTICIPATED: "My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine." Pious children afford their parents pleasure, on three principles:
1. A principle of benevolence. They rejoice in the salvation of every sinner. They would rejoice to hear of the conversion of an enemy. There is no room for envy in the Church, for there is enough and to spare, however multiplied the partakers: and nothing is so remote from a Christian's disposition as a wish to exclude or monopolize. Instead of repelling, he invites: "O taste, and see, that the Lord is good: come with us, and we will do thee good, for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel." And can he be indifferent to the spiritual welfare of those to whom he is united by the ties of flesh and blood? Does religion prohibit relative affection? Yea, it requires, it enlivens, it sanctifies it; and causes the possessor to cry, "How can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred ?"
2. A principle of piety. God is peculiarly pleased and glorified by the sacrifices of early religion, in which choice, and not compul
3. A principle of self-interest. We must distinguish between self-interest and selfishness; and between a sinful self-love and a righteous self-love. "Thou shalt love," says the Law, "thy neighbour as thyself." This clearly allows and requires a proper love to ourselves; and with this the design of religion falls in, which is the advancement of our welfare. Now on this ground the piety of children delights parents, because,
First. It affords them evidence of the answer of their prayers, and the success of their endeavours. How mortifying is it to run in vain, and labour in vain! How painful to see an object of peculiar solicitude and attention baffling every effort and disappointing every expectation! But how pleasing is it to sow, and then reap! to plant, and water, and prune, and then gather the increase! How delightful to a parent to see that his instructions have not been lost; that his tears have not flowed in vain; that his God has not turned a deaf ear, when his big heart cried, "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" And what a blessed stimulus and encouragement is this to future supplication and zeal !
Secondly. Because it becomes the means of their usefulness. It is by such children parents hope to serve their generation according to the will of God. "What a pleasure is it," says the father, "that I am not sending into the neighbourhood and the nation a number of mischiefs and curses, children that are corrupters, such as will lead many to wish that the wretch who had begot them had
been childless; but such as will attach the purest honour to my name, and lead numbers to say, as they witness the amiableness and beneficence of my offspring, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked." "
Thirdly. Because it insures the proper returns of duty. It is natural for a parent to wish for reverence and affection; for gratitude and obedience; for assistance and comfort; especially when they feel the infirmities of nature, or meet with the afflictions of life. Who does not say, "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old!" Who does not tremble at the threatening, "The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it!" But pious principle is the best security for moral practice. He who fears God and confides in him is the only one that will feel the authority of the command and the truth of the promise; "Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." And, my young friends, be assured of this, there can be no piety, where morality is wanting. An undutiful child can never be a partaker of divine grace. Fourthly. Because it will free them from a thousand bitter anxieties. Here let me suppose a few of the cases in which children peculiarly interest the feelings and fears of their parents; and in which nothing but a hope of their piety can set their hearts at
rantee them against the influence of beauty or talent or wealth or honour; and induce them to look after godliness as the one thing needful?
Such is their taking any important step in life. Nothing awakens the concern of parents more than the settlement of their children in marriage: and nothing can delight them more than to find them disposed to "marry in the Lord;" for such a connexion only can secure the discharge of all mutual duty, and draw down the blessing of God; enable them to "walk together as heirs of the grace of life, that their prayers be not hindered;" and "seek a godly seed." But what, except the power of religion, can gua
Such is the nature of their condition in the world. A parent cannot be insensible to the temporal estate of his children, whether they be regarded or despised; rich or poor; comfortably provided for, or struggling with the hardships of life. But this can comfort him, in all circumstances" My child is only a stranger and pilgrim upon earth. He has a better country. God is his portion and his guide. He possesses that grace which, if he prospers, will preserve him; or, if he be afflicted, will support him. He has the wis dom which is from above, and knows how to be abased, and how to abound; and can do all things through Christ, who strengthens him!"
Such is their being bereaved of their dearest relatives. How often are parents distressed at the thought of leaving their offspring behind them, especially as the hour of their dissolution draws near! "Ah! soon their guardian and comforter will be removed far from them, and they may become a prey to cunning or oppression. Soon their cries, if injured, will not reach my ears; or the news, if well treated, gladden my heart. What a world I am leaving them in! What errors, what vices, what examples, will assail them! 'Holy Father, keep, through thy own name, those whom thou hast given me." If, in the midst of all this, he knows that they have chosen God as "the guide of their youth," and hears God saying, "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive," the shadow of death is turned into the morning. "I shall not leave them orphans. He will take them up; and more than supply the place of every creature.”
But let us suppose another case. In the
Such is their removal from home. Children, in common, are soon sent to school, or articled to business; or, in humbler life, placed abroad as servants. When this is the case, they are no longer under the eye and the wing of their parents; and frequently their intercourse with them is very slender. Some places and situations are more danger-order of nature, parents die before their chilous than others; but none are free from moral dren: but this order is sometimes reversed; hazards to youth: and what can relieve the and parents are called to close the eyes of anxiety of a parent, but a confidence in the those on whom they relied to close their own. religious principles and dispositions of his But who can imagine the anguish of a father child; that these, when he has no other wit- or mother, at the death of an ungodly child! ness, will remind him of an omnipresent In- Whose heart does not bleed for David? spector, "the Judge of all;" and lead him to "And the king was much moved, and went exclaim, "How can I do this great wicked- up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; ness, and sin against God?" and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" But the bitterness of death is past, when the pious father, as he views his earthly hope closing in the grave, can say, “Well, thou art hastening away from the evil to come. My loss is thy eternal gain. Thou hast not been born in vain, nor in vain have been my labour and expense in rearing thee. Thou art an immortal now. Thou art equal to the angels. Our separation is but short. Soon shall I overtake thee, and we shall be
for ever with the Lord!" No; that parent | deeply shouldest thou humble thyself, and reis not half so much to be pitied who has buried pent in dust and ashes, under a consciousness a young saint, as he that is mourning over a of thy guilt! Hast thou a parent yet alive, living sinner. Pointing to the grave, in to whom thou hast been only a trial and a which he had just lodged the remains of a torment? Oh! hasten to make what atonepious youth, a father was one day heard to ment thou canst, by confession and amendsay, though with a quivering lip "I do not ment, and become the consolation of those weep for that dear child-he was my comfort who are saying, "My son, if thy heart be and is my comfort-but for him, who is still wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.” alive, and is bringing down my gray hairs And here allow me the liberty of introducing with sorrow to the grave.' two anecdotes: the one, to awaken your fear; Let me conclude: the other, to operate, if you have any, upon your tenderness.
First. By addressing those who, instead of being a joy to their parents, are only their A pious father, in writing to his friend, grief. And with what vile ingratitude are says, "I lately dreamed that the day of judg you chargeable! Need I tell you what claims ment was come. I saw the Judge on his your parents have upon you? With what great white throne, and all nations were gatenderness did they treat you in your in-thered before him. I and my wife were on fancy! What nights of watching, what days the right hand-but I could not see my chilof confinement, what instances of self-denial, dren. I said, 'I cannot bear this-I must go have they passed through in training you up and seek them.' I went to the left hand of to youth! What pains and cost have they the Judge, and there found them all, standing incurred in furnishing you with food and rai- in the utmost despair. As soon as they saw ment; and affording you an education which, me they caught hold of me, and cried,—‘Oh, perhaps, their circumstances with difficulty father, we will never part!' I said, My allowed! And do you thus requite them? dear children, I am come to try, if possible, You may one day have children of your own; to get you out of this awful situation.' So I and "with the same measure ye mete, it took them all with me; but when we were may be measured to you again!" Undutiful come near the Judge, I thought he cast an children commonly meet with undutiful chil-angry look, and said, 'What do thy children dren. "I knew," says Dr. Doddridge, "a with thee now? They would not take thy son; in his passion he struck his father down, warning when on earth, and they shall not and dragged him by the hair of his head. share thy happiness in heaven. Depart, ye When he had drawn him a certain distance, cursed.' At these words I awoke in agony he cried out, Drag me no further-for here and horror." I let my father go when I dragged him!" For this reason, oh! young man, never choose for a wife a daughter that has been a disrespectful daughter. And, oh! young woman, never choose for thy husband a son who has been a disobedient son. Bad behaviour in a private condition is a preparation for bad behaviour in a public one; and the curse of God is likely to attend such disreputable companions.
But you say, "this was only a dream." Admitted. But a reality, equally dreadful, will be exemplified in many. Oh! what cruel separations will the last day witness. It was but a dream; yet the relation of it was the means of impressing serious conviction on the minds of several of the children.
We read of murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers! a charge at which you revolt; a crime that makes you shudder. But, remember, there are more ways of destroying a parent than by poison, or a blow! You may destroy their reputation; you may break their peace of mind; you may undermine their frame, and bring on premature decays, by the corrosions of anxiety and fear. We lately read in a foreign journal of an advocate who was desired to undertake the defence of a young man, charged with a serious crime. He went to his prison to obtain documents-and-in the criminal he instantly recognized-his own son, of whom he had not heard for a length of time! The sight upset his reason; and he went home, and put an end to his existence. Hast thou a father preacher and the people. We had just enor mother in the grave, whose heart was tered, when you, Sir, read the note, requestbroken by thy vice and disobedience? How ing the prayers of the congregation for an
A minister from England, happening, some time since, to be at Ed-b-gh, he was accosted by a young man in the street, with an apology for the liberty he was taking: “I think, Sir, said he, I have heard you at Chapel." "You probably may, Sir; for 1 have sometimes ministered there." remember, said he, a note, put up by an afflicted widow, begging the prayers of the congregation, for the conversion of an ungodly son?" "I do very well remember such a circumstance." "Sir," said he, "I am the very person; and, wonderful to tell, the prayer was effectual. Going, with some other abandoned young men, one Sunday, through and passing by the chapel, I was struck with its appearance. We agreed to go in and mingle with the crowd, and stop for a few minutes, to laugh and mock at the
afflicted widow's profligate son. I heard it with a sensation I cannot express. I was struck to the heart: and though I had no idea that I was the very individual meant, I felt that it expressed the bitterness of a widow's heart, who had a child so wicked as I felt myself to be. My mind was instantly solemnized. I could not laugh: my attention was riveted on the preacher.-I heard his prayer and sermon with an impression very different from that which had carried me into the place. From that moment, the truths of the Gospel penetrated my heart; I joined the congregation; cried to God in Christ for mercy, and found peace in believing; became my mother's comfort, as I had been her heavy cross, and, through grace, have ever since continued in the good ways of the Lord. An opening having lately been made for an advantageous settlement in my own country, I came hither with my excellent mother, and for some years past, have endeavoured to dry up the widow's tears, which I had so often caused to flow, and to be the comfort and support of her age, as I had been the torment and affliction of her days."
Secondly. Let me address parents. Perhaps here are some who are strangers to the pleasure of which we have been speaking. Will you allow me to ask-Whether your affliction has not been your fault? Have you discharged your duty towards your children, I will not say perfectly, but conscientiously God works by means. And do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? It would be little less than a moral miracle, if the children of some professors of religion were pious-such inconsistencies are they called to witness, which, in their influence, are worse than absolute neglect.
But if, "in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, you have had your conversation in the world, and more abundantly to them-ward," and your "house is not so with God" as you desire,-yield not to despair. Never cease to pray and to admonish. Some shower of rain may cause the seed which has long been buried under the dryness of the soil, to strike root, and spring up. Manasseh had a pious education, and yet went great lengths in transgression: but in his affliction he sought the Lord God of his fathers, and he was found of him."Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.
fection, endeared by grace as well as nature, rising up and calling them blessed!
Parents! God grant you this heaven, till you are removed to another-where, presenting yourselves at his throne, you will say, BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN THOU HAST GIVEN ME!" Amen.
THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.—Ephes. iii. 19.
As the minister addresses the people on the behalf of God, so he addresses God on the behalf of the people. Preaching and prayer are parts of his office, equally indispensable; and there is an encouraging relation between them. The one is the resource of the other. For a good minister of Jesus Christ does not look for success, as the consequence of his own reasoning or eloquence or energy; he is convinced of the depravity of human nature, and has observed how often the most powerful instruments have, failed. What then animates him? Why this-He knows that the means are of Divine appointment; that God giveth the increase; that nothing is tos hard for him. He, therefore, invokes his aid, and pleads the promise; "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which 1 please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."-Paul is here praying for the Ephesians, in language the most sublime and significant. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
In the words which we have selected for our present improvement, three things demand our attention.
I. AN INTERESTING SUBJECT.-It is the love
But all hail, ye highly favoured of the Lord, who enjoy this felicity! What satisfaction can equal that which a parent feels in seeing his children growing up intelligent and amiable, and pious and useful; approved of God, and acceptable to man! If there be of Christ. II. A DESIRABLE ATTAINMENT.— a sight on earth sufficient to detain an angel It is to know it. III. A BLESSED CONSEin his passage, it is a father and mother sur-QUENCE. It is "to be filled with all the fulrounded with the pledges of their mutual af-ness of God.”
Christian will readily acknowledge that he had done nothing to recommend himself; that he had done every thing to provoke and justify the Divine displeasure; that he was not only miserable, but guilty, and criminal even in his distress. Oh! this magnifies the love of Christ—it was entirely self-moved! Love, among creatures, originates from some excellency, real or imaginary. In our alms we look after something that seems to deserve what we profess to give. Mere want and wretchedness are not sufficient for our compassion, without some plea. Persons, thereWe pity an in-fore, endeavour to convince us that they have been unfortunate rather than criminal; they know that more is won from us by extenuation than confession. We wait for application. We refuse till the suppliant owns his dependence, and feels our consequence. There is little-little, indeed, of true charity among men! But " He is found of them that sought him not." He awakens our attention. He presses us to receive. "Scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet, peradventure, for a good man some would even dare to die." But we were ungodly. We were enemies by wicked works-yet "for the vilest of the vile he dies!"
I. A VERY INTERESTING SUBJECT.It is the "love of Christ." The love of Christ would furnish us with a thousand sources of reflection; but we shall confine ourselves to one view of it only. It is the incomprehensibility of this love. This is the view of it which the apostle himself here takes. He tells us it "passeth knowledge." This is the noblest commendation he could have pronounced; and it would be easy to prove, that it is as just as it is glorious.
Witness the number of its objects. It is but a few that the bounty of a human benefactor reaches and relieves. dividual. We take up a family. We explore a neighbourhood. The liberality of a THORNTON flows in various channels, through different parts of a country. The compassion of a HOWARD visits the miserable in other lands, after weeping over the dungeoned victims of his own. But a "multitude, which no man can number, out of every nation, and people, and tongue, and kindred," will for ever adore the riches of the Redeemer's love. We shall hereafter see that his love has not been circumscribed by the piety of our fears, by the uncharitableness of our censures, or the mistakes of our creed. "All nations shall be blessed in him, all generations shall call him blessed. . As the stars of heaven, and as the sand on the sea shore, so shall his seed be." This is indeed Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Witness the value of its benefits. You feel your obligation to some of your fellowcreatures, and let them not be forgotten: they have pleaded for your reputation; they have befriended your business; they have relieved your distress; they have preserved your life: but which of them has restored you to the favour of God? Which of them has obtained eternal redemption for you? It is impossible, while we are here, sufficiently to estimate the effects of his love. We know but imperfectly the evils from which he has delivered us. What do we know of the vileness of sin, the sting of death, the curse of the Law, the wrath of God! We know but imperfectly the contents of those exceeding great and precious promises, to which he has entitled us. We know but imperfectly the import of the hope "laid up for us in heaven;" the meaning of "a crown of glory that fadeth not away;" of "beholding his face in righteousness;" of "awaking up after his likeness;" of "a glorious body like his own."
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." "Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!"
Witness the unworthiness of the partakers. Whatever others may think of themselves, a
Witness the expensiveness of its sacrifices. The only quality in the love of many is its cheapness. It will endure no kind of selfdenial. If they embrace an opportunity of doing good, they will never seek one. They may dip their hand into a full purse, and give a trifle of what they are convinced they cannot expend upon themselves; but they shun the trouble of inquiry, and the pain of sympathy: they will not visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction. Few resemble the poor woman in the Gospel, who, while others gave of their abundance, and could go home to a well-spread table afterward, gave all that she had, even all her living for the day; determined that her charity should be sure, however uncertain her subsistence. But His love drew him from heaven to earth. He who was rich, for our sakes became poor; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.Trace him in the humiliation of his life. Behold him in his agony in the garden. See his soul exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. See him nailed to the cross, exclaiming, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!"