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not sorry to confess that our rewards and punishments all suppose something good in yourselves to work upon; and this it is which makes the difference between education and civil government, between the discipline of a school and that of a workhouse or a gaol. Government by fear alone or chiefly is happily impossible with us, because here the object is your improvement, not your outward obedience only; and fear can but enforce the latter, not the former. But whilst obedience from unworthy motives is thus set out of the question, obedience for conscience sake may often be practised here; and the habit gained, than which none is more needed, nor any more ennobling, of cheerful submission to lawful authority. Obedience may often be practised, obedience I mean in things indifferent, or of which you do not see the importance; for I do not call it properly obedience when we only do what our conscience would have equally bound us to without any command at all. But in all societies there are some things laid down for the sake of general order or propriety, which in themselves, before they were fixed, can scarcely be said to have any thing to do with right or wrong. It is obedience

when these rules are obeyed for conscience sake, obeyed because they are rules, and rules imposed by an authority which has a lawful claim on our compliance; and the good of so obeying in the formation of the character is not inconsiderable. Not indeed if manhood were really, as some falsely talk, a state of independence; if the moment of your leaving school would be the last in which you would have any thing to do with obedience. But he who so looks on life is little likely to make it the beginning of life eternal. I do not speak only of those professions or situations in which obedience, in the most common sense of the word, is so strictly required; nor yet of the respect which our parents must claim so long as they are spared to us. But I speak of the habit of giving way to others, of not pressing our own will against theirs; that Christian habit which St. Peter calls "being subject one to another;" and I speak still more of the habit of obedience to God and Christ, as distinct from what we mean by the words virtue and duty. There can indeed be no obedience to God without these, but the word implies something more, it implies doing our duty because God commands it, it implies a deep and abiding sense of our relation to him, that we are not, nor ever can be independent

beings, but dependent creatures; and that, by practising obedience to our Maker, by doing his will because it is his will, and because we love him, we shall be raised to a higher and more endearing name; no longer creatures, but children.

On the other hand, the habit of disobedience may be learnt here no less readily. To hate authority, to evade it whenever you can, and to make a boast of doing so, there are many opportunities, there is the temptation of much vulgar applause, to lead you to this; and with the feeling of independence thus full grown, as it were, in early youth, are these the times, or is this the country in which it will be diminished in manhood? Will it not be strengthened into all that selfish indifference to law and to authority of every kind which is now SO common? And will he, who despises man, indeed reverence God? Or will he not, does he not, as a matter of experience, find Christ's yoke hard also? and does he not strive to free himself from it at every turn? How far is he then removed from the hardness of Jehoiakim? And does he not as truly hate and defy God's word in his heart and life, as if he were to utter his blasphemies aloud, and revile the Scriptures, or mock at Christ's worship and ordinances?



1 SAMUEL II. 25.

They hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.


Why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

LET no one for an instant suppose that I have chosen these verses for my text with any intention of plunging into questions perfectly beyond the reach of man's understanding, and therefore perfectly incapable of affording us any benefit. The question which properly belongs to these verses, which I have purposely placed side by side of each other, is merely this, What is the lesson that they were intended to teach us? What is the lesson? not, What is the truth which may be drawn

from them as a conclusion from its premises? Again, is the lesson of these two verses intended for the same persons, or for the same person at the same time? or if for different persons, or for the same person at different times, what are the differences either of persons or of circumstances? And no man asking such questions as these of the Scripture is likely to ask in vain; whereas no man who asks what is the general truth, as in philosophy, which is to be gathered from these, and almost all other passages relating to God, is likely to be satisfactorily answered.

Now, first, what is the lesson taught us by the words out of the book of Samuel? "They hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them."

"The Lord would slay them!" it is a dreadful sentence, and we would fain know of whom it was uttered. It is spoken, we see, of some particular persons, not generally; and who were these persons? The account shows us that they were the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, two men of great and instructive wickedness, the sons of a priest, brought up amidst holy things from their childhood, and themselves, when they grew up, called to minister in the priestly office. What more

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