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hend, that what has been now faid, muft SERM. have excited in you thanksgivings to God for VIII. the advantage you have had of a religious education: and that you have renewed your refolutions, to emprove it. And it is indeed prudent, to be very ferious and deliberate in refolving to walk with God, and perfevere in the way of his commandments all the days of our life. You should continue in the ufe of all the means of your establishment and should carefully decline the fnares, that are dangerous to your virtue. If unawares you meet with them, and finners entice you to evil; refolutly withhold your confent, and withstand their enticements and folicitations.
You need not to be told, that children of fuch parents, of so many prayers, of such hopes and expectations, cannot fin at so easie a rate, as others. In every step you fhould take, in the way of folly and fin, you would meet with checks and rebukes. And if you should break through, and harden yourselves against all the remonftrances of your enlightened conscience and understanding, the iffue would be unutterable remorfe and anguish.
But this, I trust, shall not be your cafe. Your goodneffe, I hope, fhall not be like a Hof. vi. 4. morning cloud, or the early dew, that foon pafProv. iv. feth away but rather be as the dawning light, that fhineth more and more unto the perfect day.
May you then, willingly admit and enter-
The Virtue and Benefit of early Piety, or fearing the Lord from the Youth.
I KING S xviii. 12.
....... But I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.
HOUGH this good character be here given by the perfon himself, we are not immediatly to admit the fufpicion of pride and vanity. What he fays is only for the fake of felf-prefervation. If we never commend ourselves for a lefs weighty reason, we N 4 fhall
SERM. fhall not incur the juft cenfure of boafting and vain glorie.
The perfon is Obadiah, whofe hiftorie we have in the former part of this chapter. He is now fpeaking to the Prophet Elijah. And the thing happened in the time of the long dearth in the reign of Ahab King of Ifrael.
At the begining of the chapter it is faid : And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, faying: Go, fhew thy felf unto Akab, and I will fend rain upon the earth. And Elijah went to fhew himself unto Abab. And there was a fore famine in Samaria. And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the Governour of his boufe.
Some have put the queftion, whether this be the fame as Obadiah the Prophet. But it does not appear, that this perfon had at all the prophetical character. And Obadiah, whofe fhort book of prophecies we have among the leffer Prophets, near the end of the Old Teftament, feems to have lived a good deal later than the reign of Ahab.
It follows in ver. 3. and 4. Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly. For it was fo, when Jefebel cut off the Prophets of the Lord, that
Obadiah took an hundred Prophets, and bid SERM. them by fifty in a cave, and IX. gave them bread
By Prophets, as is generally fuppofed, we are not here to understand infpired perfons, with a fpecial commiffion from God: but men educated in the schools of the Prophets. These Jefebel looked upon as her enemies, because they oppofed her idolatrous worship, and taught the people the true religion. And, poffibly, fhe fufpected them of favoring the interests of the kingdom of Judah, where was the appointed place of worship for all the tribes of Ifrael.
It was therefore an act of great piety, and much refolution, in Obadiah, in a time of fuch danger, to protect thofe Prophets. He hid them by fifty in a cave, and gave them bread and water: that is, all needful provififions, fending them meat and drink privatly every day.
Ver. 5. 6. And Ahab faid unto Obadiah: Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks. Peradventure we may find graffe to fave the horses and mules alive, that we lofe not all the beafts. So they divided the land between them, to pass through