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of the Lord. A more essential service cannot be rendered to society, than the training up children to fear God, and honour their earthly fuperiors; to lead a peaceable life, in godliness and honesty. Children themselves claim it, as the best and most comfortable course of life. Ignorance and violation of religion and morality, in the first stage of life, lays the foun. dation of infamy and wretchedness. Furthermore, in the neglect of religious education, parents and heads of families cannot be supposed to take care of their own souls.
The example of the wiseft and best of men is a most useful comment on the various instructions of scripture, relating to early education in religion. The testimonies God hath given of his approbation of parents who have carefully attended to this duty, and of his difpleasure against the parents who have neglected or been remiss in it, abundantly evince its importance.
But, in oppofition to the example of great and pi. ous men, to the many express commands of God, and to the undeniable teftimonies of his favour and anger, objections are made to religious education, that it fet. ters and shackles young minds, is hostile to all free enquiry, and upholds bigotry and superstition. Intending to appropriate a discourse to the distinct confideration of this objection, it will not be attended to at prefent.
Before I conclude, suffer me to turn your reflections upon the closing scene of a pious parent. How folicitous is he to impress a deep sense of religion upon his offspring ? There was weight in his counsel, while he went in and out before them. He then appeared really to believe and to feel the good doctrine which he imparted. But his final charge has a peculiar energy No charge of a parent to his pofterity, when he is about to leave them behind in the world, can be more impressive than that of David to his son. Full of faith and hope as of days, his work finished, ripe for heav
en, his time to die being come; behold his parental concern for Solomon, then young and inexperienced, about to enter upon arduous duties, amidst many snares and allurements. Behold him, with every circumstance of folemnity, charge his fon to adhere inviolably to the religion in which he had been educated; which the father had cordially embraced, and held fast in all trials which had proved a sure support in all the viciflitudes of life ; and in the hope of which he was prepared to die. “Thou, Solomon my son, know “ thou the God of thy Father; and serve him with a
perfect heart, and with a willing mind.” In making this choice, the son was assured that he would find his temporal and eternal account : But apostacy would bring fatal conviction of folly and presumption. On the confines of the grave, every worldly interest sinks to nothing. Swallowed up in contemplations on the scenes of eternity, the consequences of despising or deferring religion, or of duplicity in it, present themselves in full force—as also the wisdom of an early, decided choice of it. Look to David, who made and was fixed in this choice. See him expecting his exit, his flesh and heart failing, but fearing no evil, because God was the strength of his heart-improving the last moments of life, in imparting the best farewel counsel to a son endeared to him ; committing him to a covenant God; and enjoining upon him, by the folemnities of death and eternity, to know and serve the God of his father.
Parents ; here is your pattern. Learn, what you will; on the verge of life, most earnestly desire for your children—what character you will then with them to poffefs. Have you made choice of the only living and true God? With unutterable groanings, you will pray, that they may also choose him for their God—that he would replenish them with his grace, guide them by his counsel, and make them blessings friends to the Israel of God.
As contraries illustrate each other, let the character of David becontrasted to that of Chesterfield. The former, charging his fon, Know thou the God of thy father, pointed out to him the way to heaven. The latter led his in the way to hell. For he taught him thus: "Improve in all “ the refinements of deception and falsehood. Walk “ in the way of thine heart, and in the fight of thine “ eyes ; but take care to fhun the coarseness of vulgar “ vice: Indulge thine appetites as becomes a person “ of rank and
breeding. Deny thyself no fashionable gratification.” This, instead of the inftruction which became a father, was giving him deadly poison. A son thus corrupted had reason to curse the father that begat him. It had been better to have been educated among the Hottentots, or to have been an ideot.
Parents ; in a little time you may leave your children in this world, and go to another, never to return. They call on you to guide them in right paths. Be instant in season and out of season, teaching them the fear of the Lord. This is wisdom. Serve him yourselves with all your heart. Spare no means or pains to imbue their minds with the best principles, that they may be wife to salvation. Committing yourselves and them to the divine direction and care, your labour in the Lord shall not be in vain. Warn and teach them in all wisdom. Watch for their souls, in the view of the account you must give of your charge. With exceeding joy will you appear in the presence of your great Judge, if you may be able to say, Here am I, and the children which thou gavest me. Happy the pious parents, whose children walk in their ways! Happy the children who have pious parents! With such parents every other care for their children is subservient to this, that the good part may be chofen, which shall never be taken away. “ My son, if thy heart be wise,
my heart shall rejoice. The good man leaveth an e inheritance to his children” better than riches and honour. They have reason to rise up, and call bizz blessed.
ANSWER TO THE OBJECTION, THAT EDU-
PROVERBS xxii. 6.
TRAIN UP A CHILD IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO; AND WHEN HE IS OLD, HE WILL NOT DEPART FROM IT.
HE duty of parents
parents to instruct their children in the principles of religion, and to incite them to the practice of it, is evident from many express injunctions of the sacred oracles; from the testimonies of the favour of Almighty God to the faithful performance of this duty, and of his anger to the neglect of it. The example of the greatest and best of men, in all times, shews the sense they had of the high importance of this duty, and recommends it with a force irresistible, except by those whom neither precept nor example can persuade. They object, “that the religious is education of children fetters and shackles their “ minds, is hostile to free enquiry, and upholds bigot“ ry and superstition.” My present discourse will be devoted to the examination of this objection.
We shall not urge the authority of the text that has been read, or the many others of like import. Nor shall we urge the example of the excellent of the earth. Neither of these have the smallest weight with objectors of the present description.
Let such as are inclined, plead the cause of bigotry and superstition; we have not so learned Christ. He
hath taught us to judge even of ourselves what is rightto prove all things-to be fully persuaded in our own mind. Christianity is a reasonable service, and requires that we be ready always to give a reason of our faith and hope : It never could have been received, had not men exercised their reason, and attended to the principles of evidence, in opposition to the authority of superstition and tradition-in opposition to the wisdom by which the world knew not God.
The primitive Christians had a veneration for the wisdom of God in the scriptures, and for his seal set to them, which nothing could abate. Their esteem of them rose, and their zeal to guard them was kindled, in proportion to what they suffered for the truth as it is in Jesus. Amidst the corruptions of judaism and popery, the sacred books were preserved with such care, that, the substance of divine truth being retained, the refutation of those corruptions might always be found in the inspired writings. The reformation, fimilar to that from paganism, opened men's eyes, and turned them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. The bible only is the religion of Protestants. The zeal of the first Christians, and of the reformers, for the scriptures should provoke to emulation those who are parents, that their children may know these writings—may learn to compare spiritual things with spiritual. It argues a noble mind, to recur to the scriptures for the decision of every religious controversy, not receiving for doctrines the commandments of men.
However any may be educated in bigotry, it appears, from what we have now remarked, that true religion encourages free enquiry : It does not contract, it enlarges the mind. It is not grounded on education, but on the authority of the God of truth. He can teach man knowledge by revelation as well as by the light of nature. It behoves us to use all the means of knowledge which he affords-all helps to know his will—and all