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kind offers to be rejected with impunity: surely, at least, we run the risk of his with
drawing from us the assistance of his holy 1 spirit, without which all our endeavors to i please him cannot but fail, when we wil; fully neglect the means he has pointed out to preserve so great a blessing.
Although trúe humility is one of the first and most distinguishing marks of a Christian, yet I cannot help thinking that those who attempt, under that pretence, to debase human nature, are its worst enemies. Of this description are those who by their writings have endeavored to represent it in the blackest and most frightful colors, which, instead of holding out an encouragement to virtue, is apt to depress the mind of the pious and humble Christian; whereas, when we reflect upon the Ironor that the Son of God has done our nature, we ought to do every thing in our power to honor it. Are we not expressly told, in the sacred writings, that, at the day of judgment, we shall see God and man united in the same person, and that angels and archangels will fall down and worship him?
Surely this ought to be a motive with us, to endeavor to adorn with every grace and virtue a nature so honored.
The sacred history passes over several years of our blessed Saviour's life; and this chapter concludes with an account of a journey made by Joseph and Mary to Jerusalem, to celebrate the passover, and of their taking our Lord with them when he was only twelve years of age; of his tarrying behind them among the doctors in the Temple ; and of his return with them to Nazareth, where he continued subject to them.
In the conduct of Joseph and Mary we have an example fet us which ought to be followed by all good parents : that of making their children partakers with them, as early as possible, in their religious duties; for whatever care and attention they may pay to their offspring in other matters, if this most essential point be neglected, they are guilty of a great breach of duty, both
to themselves and their children. Youth is the season in which the strongest and most lasting impressions are made: it is therefore of the utmost consequence, during that period, to make them sensible of their duty to their Maker; nor can there, in my opinion, be a more delightful sight than that of a well-instructed child joining with its innocent voice in the praises of its Creator: it is a sight that must be pleasing to men and angels.
It always appeared to me possible, and experience has convinced me of it, that we may give children instruction in such a manner as to make it a pleasure to them instead of a talk; and that such a mode, if practicable, is to be preferred, more efpecially in religious matters, will not, I think, be denied.
We should be very cautious not to give children a disgust to their duty, by making it too burthensome or severe, left, as I am afraid is too often the case, it should grow up with them and settle into habit. We should first gain their hearts, and then
endeavor to convince their reason, encouraging a laudable curiosity; which, under proper restraints, may be turned both to the amusement and improvement of youth.
In our Saviour's example, we may see the reverence and dutiful submission we owe to our parents. There is no case in which we are exempted from this duty, except where it unfortunately happens that the will of the parent is set in oppofition to fill higher duties ; namely, those to our Maker: and, even in this case, although we are bound to obey God rather than our earthly parents, we should so foften our refusal to comply with their defires, by modesty and humility, as to convince them that nothing less than our eternal interest should interfere with our duty to them. Such a conduct, which is conformable to what both the laws of God and man require of us, may probably produce the happiest effects, by shewing our parents the impropriety of their expectations, and inducing them to give them
up, without our appearing to assume a superiority, which is always improper.
The joy which must have filled the breast of the blessed Virgin on finding Jesus, may be more easily conceived than described ; for though she knew him to be the Son of God, yet, during the time that she missed him, human nature prevailed, and distracted her with all the doubts and apprehensions natural to a mother for the safety of a beloved child.
It must have also been a great additional gratification to her to have found him so worthily employed, fitting in the midst of the doctors, and astonishing all that heard him at his understanding. To the remonstrance of his mother, our Saviour makes no other reply than, that when higher duties call, earthly ones must give place; and then, with the utmost respect and meekness, returns with her and his reputed father to Nazareth.
Those who fancy themselves above their parents from any superior acquisition of knowledge or fortune, would do well to look to this example set them by their