« PreviousContinue »
shall not now say more than that it is fairly implied in the text, which tells us, that revealed things belong to us, to the end, “ that we may do all the words of” the divine « law."
There is a further topic of reflection included in the text, on which it would not be proper to omit offering a few remarks. We are here told, that the things which are revealed, belong not only to us, but to our chil
This is one among several passages of Scripture, which connect with our own spiritual interests, those of our offspring. Thus it is said, that, “the promise is to us and to our children.” To the pious Jew the precept of Jehovah was, “ These words which I command thee
66 this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” But we need not multiply quotations in support of a duty, the reality and importance of which none, it is presumed, are disposed to deny.
But although the reality and importance of this duty are so generally admitted, how exceedingly rare are the instances in which it is faithfully performed! Few, alas! are the parents who feel as much anxiety for the religious instruction of their children as they ought-as the word of God, and the spirit of Christianity enjoin. They will avoid neither care nor expense to improve the minds of their sons, and to accomplish the persons of their daughters, while the heart, the noblest part of man,
, from which 6 are the issues of life,” is, to say the least, comparatively neglected.
We would not now be understood as expressing any disapprobation of the ornamental branches of female education. And still less is it our desire to say thing against the culture of the mind in either males or females. On the contrary, no one can feel a deeper interest in the mental improvement of the community, than the speaker who now addresses you. His only object is to say, that the most important wisdom is that which pertains to the salvation of the soul, and that the noblest accomplishments are those which fit the human being for the society of heaven.
It is not our design this evening to enter into a discus. sion of the subject of religious education. We can merely urge upon you the importance of teaching your children to study and value that volume, which reveals the things that belong to them as well as to you. Let them learn to esteem it as the first and best of Heaven's gifts—a gift by the due improvement of which their happiness in this world, and in the next, is to be promoted. It is the appropriate and imperative duty of parents to make the study of revealed truth a part of the stated oc: cupations of their children. This is a branch of instruction which cannot be commmenced too early, nor continued too long
But what, it may be inquired, is meant by the study of the sacred Scriptures? We answer, that it does not consist simply in the perusal—even though it be a daily perusal—of their pages. The parent must take upon him. self the task of exposition and of application. He must first endeavour to make his cbildren understand the truths of Heaven, and then he must urge upon their consciences the obligation of acting in conformity with these truths. And especially should he teach them the necessity of PRAYER, as an auxiliary to the profitable use of the inspired record. He should tell them again and again, that, without the aid and blessing of the Most High, their own efforts to comprehend the doctrines, and
to practise the precepts of the Bible, will be of no avail. And to give to this solemn lesson its proper efficacy, the parent must rely chiefly on the powerful influence of his own habitual example. He must not only point to the throne of the heavenly grace, but must himself lead the way. He must, day by day, conduct bis offspring to that throne, and there unite with them in the fervent petition, “Lord, open thou our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”
Three practical reflections are suggested by the text. We shall glance at them for a moment in concluding.
Learn to avoid an idle and unprofitable curiosity with regard to religious subjects. Distinguish between things secret and things revealed. Be content with the knowledge of those truths, which God, in his infinite wisdom and benevolence, has thought fit to disclose. Consume not your time in the investigation of matters which cao never be fully understood in this world, and which, even if they could be fully understood, would have no perceptible nor felt influence on the moral character, and ulterior destination of man.
But while you thus guard against an overweening curiosity respecting religious subjects, beware of falling into the opposite fault of indifference. We would impress it upon you, that “the things which are revealed
" BELONG” to you—that they are your property, and as such should be wisely and industriously improved. The God who
gave them cannot but be highly incensed should you bury them in the earth as a useless talent. Ah! has it never occurred to you, that the neglect of the Bible, and of those dread realities which it unfolds, must tend to aggravate your condemnation in the day of final retribution! -how dark and overwhelming must be the frown, which, if guilty of such neglect, you must encounter from the judgment-seat of Christ! We can assure you, dear hearers, that, were the trumpet of the Archangel now pouring its summons on our ears, we would much rather take our chance for salvation with the red man of the west, or with the degraded inhabitants of New Holland, than with the wisest and most virtuous of those, who, in despite of Bibles and prayers and preaching, and pious examples, and all the nameless advantages of Christianity, have remained careless and unconcerned with regard to the things that pertain to their future and everlasting peace.
Finally, we would address a word of exhortation to parents in this assembly. The passage before us teaches you, that the truths of Heaven belong not only to yourselves, but to your children. And does not the voice of nature within you return an echo to the language of the text? Your interests and theirs you feel to be the same. It would do violence to all your sensibilities to think of separating them. If religion be valuable for you, it must be equally valuable for them. And if you have realized its power in your own souls, you must be inexpressibly solicitous, that they also should experience its influence, and enjoy its blessings.
Do we this evening address any who have hitherto neglected the religious instruction of their offspring. If so, we would earnestly and affectionately entreat you, brethren, to omit no longer this highest of parental duties. We would urge you to the prompt and assiduous performance of it, by the solemn consideration, that you must ere long appear at the tribunal of your Maker, to account for all your conduct, and particularly for your conduct towards those immortal beings, whose character and destiny have been entrusted, in a certain sense, to your care.
What must be your
sensations, should it then be seen that you have ruined not only yourselves, but your children! And how keen must be your anguish throughout interminable ages, should they, the companions of your despair, incessantly reproach you as the cause of their perdition as well as your own, and heap upon you their execrations for
your neglect to teach them by your counsels, your example and your prayers, that the acquisition of the entire world were a poor and paltry equivalent for the loss of the soul! Yes, as surely as there are degrees of suffering in hell, the apartment where the worm devours most greedily, and the fire glows most intensely, is that in which the parent and the child are doomed to spend their eternity together.
But we turn from this heart-rending scene to one of a different description. We ask you, parents, how great must be your happiness, should you instruct your children in those revealed things which belong to them, and should your instructions, under the blessing of God, which you are authorized to solicit and expect, be the means of leading them to do all the words of the divine law! Through life, they shall be the comfort and pride of your hearts—in death they shall administer solace to your minds, and smooth the pillow that receives your last sigh-and throughout eternity they shall be jointparticipants with you of the rest that remaineth for the people of God. What terms can describe the ecstacy that marks the first meeting of parent and child in the regions of perfect purity and bliss! 0! could you conceive, but for a moment, the raptures of such an interview, this single conception would do more to impel you to the faithful discharge of the duty on which we insist, than the most spirit stirring-language that our feeble tongue can utter.