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be questioned whether the apparent pro- SERM. perty we may seem to have in our children, XI. by the laws and course of nature, be not effectually forfeited by our neglect to breėd them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ; for, as it is a command of God, that children should honor their father and mother, this commandment must needs imply a previous conduct on the part of the parents to act by their children so as to deserve the name of parents in the sight of God: but how can those be thought to deserve honor and reverence, who by neglect, or ill example, or ill advice, shall have suffered their children to run into, all manner of excesses to the loss and destruction of both their souls and bodies? It is the same with other relations. The holy Apostle Paul exhorts servants to be obedient “ to their masters in the flesb;" but he takes care to shew what masters he considers deserving of this obedience :66 And
je masters do the same things unto them, (that is, “ with good will do them “ service," and so forth, as the context expresses it) “ forbearing tbreatening," " know
BERM. “ ing," he adds, with singular propriety,
“ that your master also is in Heaven,” or in other words, knowing that if they should seem here to be absolutely dependent upon you, yet at least you yourselves are entirely as dependent upon, and quite as accountable to, God. But, perhaps, in no instance, is the pretence of property more abused than in our usage of the dumb animals that come into our possession. These, having no power of remonstrance, no means at all of appeal, are in every
instance whatsoever treated just as the temper and disposition of their proprietors happens to direct. Some, possibly, may fall into the hands of merciful and kind masters, and if they acquire no addition of comforts in reward of their services, may yet, perhaps, not be compelled to any unnecessary or unreasonable labour. If they contribute « to tread out the corn,", they have their share of it in the end, and are not “ muz
zled,” that they may not eat; but, for one merciful, how many cruel masters are there to be met with ? How many treat the brute creatures, subject to them, with
out the least possible regard to their feel- SERM. ings. Can you imagine or suppose, those harmless, uncomplaining animals have no friend to take their part? Can you conceive that a good and gracious God, who alike gave being to all things on the face of the earth, can behold such inhumanity and cruelty without displeasure? Remember, for no doubt it is true, that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his regard. God is the friend of those dumb animals, we are told so in holy writ; “ He
giveth them fodder,” by the seasonable supply of grass and corn; he feedeth the young ravens in their way; he feedeth all the fowls of the air, without their having the care and anxiety that we have, of sowing, or reaping, or gathering into barns. Depend upon it all that we see of their sufferings here by the hands of man, will one day or other be set to rights; we know not how, but this at all events we may be sure of, God never suffers them to come into our possession to be wantonly abused and ill treated, but he requires mercy at our hands, and though we never may
SERM. form to ourselves any right idea of the
compensation that may be in store for them, yet we may be sure that punishment will be in store for those who pay no regard to their pains and pleasures.
" The righteous man,” says Solomon, and none are truly righteous that can do otherwise, “ regardeth, the life of his beast.” It may be asked in the end, but are not our worldly goods our own ? No, not always to do. as we will with them : worldly goods, however acquired, are but talents intrusted to our care; if we do no good with them, we in effect hide them in a napkin, as is represented of the unprofitable servant in the parable; treasures on earth so badly administered, will merit no treasures in lieu of them, in Heaven; they will be taken from us at our death, and in no. shape restored to us in the world to come. If we misapply our worldly substance, if, like the heedless and incautious prodigal, we waste it in riotous living, or other gross and immoral excesses, we must needs comprehend what the consequences will be. Our sumptuous fare and purple cloth-,
ing, will be exchanged for weeping and SERM. gnashing of teeth. The poor, and the fru- XI. gal, and the temperate, will exchange conditions with us in the last day; then they “ shall be comforted," and we “ tor“ mented.” Prodigality often involves the innocent in its cruel consequences; for few are so destitute of relatives and dependents, as not to have others besides themselves to provide for; a neglect, which St. Paul does not scruple to say, amounts to a denial of the Christian faith'; nay, is even worse than infidelity itself *. Upon this head of worldly possessions it must also be obvious, that what should be appropriated to the just payment of debts cannot be our's by any right whatever.
It is impossible to conclude without one further application of the words of my text. Are you Christians ? Do you believe or profess yourselves to be so? If
you are, in no sense of the expression are you any longer your own. You are redeemed with