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should renounce! They are early initiated into the corrupt maxims and fashions of this evil world, and brought to join in its frivolous and facinating pleasures; and instead of being cautioned against the dangers of conformity to it, are taught to fear nothing so much as the least appearance of singularity! Nay, those persons, who profess a serious regard to religion, often act as if they were anxious to give their children a relish for those seducing trifles, from which they themselves appear to be weaned; and afraid lest they should too early choose the good part that can never be taken from them! It is inexpressible how much these things promote ungodliness, and prevent the permanent success of the gospel. But let us, my brethren, aim “to “ bring up our children in the nurture and admo“nition of the Lord;” hoping and longing that they may be “ a chosen generation, a royal priest" hood,” a holy and peculiar people, by whom true religion may be supported after our decease, and transmitted to future ages. In this view we may consider them as real blessings: but in what other light can a pious parent behold his beloved offspring without the most painful reflexions?
We ought not, however, to confine our efforts within the limits of our own families, but should endeavour to propagate our religious principles in the world. What reason indeed can we have to be ashamed of them? Or how can we timidly conceal them, without being ashamed of Christ and his words? We live, it is true, among men called Christians : yet it is almost deemed an outrage on good manners, to speak seriously of the doctrine and salvation of our Lord and master! Shall we then ivici our peace, and sanction the conduct of a lukewarm or apostate generation by our example? God forbid! We are commanded to bind the great truths and precepts of his word, “as a “sign upon our hands, and as frontlets between " our eyes; and to write them on the posts of our . " houses, and on our gates.” This can imply nothing less than an open profession that we are the worshippers of God, and the disciples of Christ; that we believe the Scriptures, embrace the gospel, and make the commandments of the Lord the rule of our conduct. These things should be clearly understood by our friends and connexions, that when they enter our houses they may say, “ God is worshipped in this family;' that they may be restrained from evil in our presence by the consideration of our character and profession, and be prepared to hear from us such pious reflections as may occur in the course of conversation.
We shall rejoice at the last day to have our faith and piety made known before the assembled world: · what then can induce us to conceal them at present, but fear of ridicule or reproach? We should recollect that an intrepid profession of the truth, without ambiguity or prevarication, is expressly
required by the Lord Jesus from all his disciples ; that this is one grand mean of promoting his cause in the world; that the scorn, to which it may expose us, is a clear demonstration of the great contempt, in which the divine Saviour is held, even among his professed disciples; and that this is evidently a cross to be born for his sake, “who “bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” Let us then,
MI. Consider the reasonableness of such a conduct.
Should a liberal and honoured benefactor earnestly demand our attention to a message he had sent us; we should doubtless examine it with studious accuracy, and explicitly comply with his desires. Should a friend bequeath us a legacy, we should pot be wanting in examining the favourable clause of his testament, and availing ourselves to the utmost of his kind remembrance. But the message of God, in all respects, is far more entitled to our strictest regard. He who made us, and against whom we all have sinned, condescends to teach us how we may escape eternal misery and obtain eternal happiness! Is it not then most reasonable, that we should diligently observe his instructions, and recommend them with our whole influence?. The world is against us; the broad road to des
truction is thronged; false religion unites with impiety in rendering our situation most perilous ; God himself condescends to guide us in the safe and happy path;' and shall we reject his counsels? Our own hearts are deceitful, the powers of darkness unwearied in their subtle efforts to delude us: and shall we not use every means of escaping their wiles, and warning others to elude their devices? New forms of delusion start up every day: shall we not then bestow pains to distinguish the truths of revelation from damnable heresies ? Surely it is most reasonable, both to study the Scriptures, and to pray without ceasing for the teaching of the holy Spirit; that we may be kept from the ways of the destroyer, established in the pure principles of Christianity, preserved from innumerable dangers, find unfailing resources of support and comfort in trying circumstances, be rendered useful in our respective stations, meet death with joyful hope, and leave the world in full assurance of everlasting felicity.
The knowledge and wisdom, which may be derived from a careful investigation of the Scriptures, will be found of the utmost importance, éven in conducting our temporal concerns. We shall thus learn the best discretion in estimating characters, and judging of men's pretensions and professions : be directed how to act even in respect of their prejudices and mistakes; and learn to accommodate
ourselves to varying circumstances, without countenancing evil by improper compliances, or preventing our own success by violent opposition; where gentleness might have obviated the difficulty.
But the subject is too copious to be fully discussed on this occasion. It must suffice to observe, that the advantages of diligence and earnestness, in the grand concerns of our holy religion, far more than counter-balance the self-denial that it requires. For what is it, but bestowing pains to be happy and useful? to live and die in comfort? and to use proper means of rendering our children and relatives happy? that they too may serve their generation according to the will of God, leave the world with joyful hope, and meet with us in heaven. And are not these objects well deserving of our utmost diligence and unwearied attention?
Let me then conclude with the observation which introduced the subject: “If religion be any thing, ' it is every thing.' It must be our business in this world, if we would enjoy a warranted hope of felicity in the world to come: yea, it must be our element here, in order to a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. Every man's own conscience must decide, how far this is his charac. ter and experience; and every one must be left to apply the subject to his own case, for conviction,