Imatges de pÓgina
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the good state of his circumstances in a variety of respects, and the welfare of society, in an eminent degree depend upon it; and the more civilized men are, and the more they are connected with each other in fociety, the more important is virtue to their common happiness. Having it more in their power to contribute to each other's comfort, it is the more desirable that they should have a disposition to do it.

No parent, attentive, as all parents ought to be, and naturally are, to the happiness of their offspring, will neglect this article of instruction in his care of his children. He will endeavour to educate them in such a manner as to inspire them with an abhorrence of vice, and a love of virtue; and his whole system of discipline respecting them, every thing that he proposes in the form of rewards, or punishments, will have this for its principal object; because in no other way can he lay so good a foundation for their succels and happiness in life. They will then be prepared to conduct themselves in the most proper manner, so as to derive the greatest advantage from all the circumstances

in which they can be placed. Adversity will give them the least pain, and prosperity the greatest enjoyment. They will be happy in themselves, and be most disposed to contribute to the happiness of others, which, by reflection, will most eminently contribute to their own.

But this great object is not to be attained without attention and labour. Na turally every man,

like
every

other animal, wilhes to gratify the present appetite, whatever it be ; and it is only some inconvenience arising from it, or apprehended to arise from it, that leads any person to refrain from immediate indulgence. And in the power of forbearing to indulge the natural appen tites, with a view to avoid future evil, or secure future and distant good, consists the great superiority of men over brutes, and of fome men over others. This is the difference between the wise man and the fool, the virtuous and the vicious. All persons, therefore, who attend to the

proper

education of their children endeavour, as much as poffible, to give them the benefit of their own experience, and of the knowledge they

have

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have by any other means acquired in this respect ; and thus some persons enter the world with much greater advantage than others. They have less to learn from their own experience, the teaching of which is often dear bought, and frequently comes too late; the evils in which they have involved themselves being irremediable.

We may therefore take it for granted that, if the Divine Being, the true parent of mankind, vouch safe to give them struction at all, he will attend to this most important object in the first place, and that every thing in a system of truly divine revelation will be made subservient to this; so that this consideration furnishes no unfair test of the truth of such a revelation,

Accordingly, we find that, whereas the heathen religions had no connection with morals, and were rather calculated to encourage

the worst vices that men are subject to, it appears to have been the primary object of the religion taught in the Scriptures to guard men against vice, as the greatest of evils, and to inculcate the principles of moral virtue, as the greatest good of man ;

while every thing of a ritual and ceremonial nature in it is always represented as a thing of secondary consideration, and only subservient to this. And as it may be useful to us both to confirm our faith in divine revelation, and to impress our minds more strongly with a sense of the importance of virtue, I shall take a review of the general plan and object of revelation with respect to this fubject. In this retrospect the same confi. derations will frequently come before us, but such repetitions will not be without their yse. What the Divine Being did not think too much to teach, and to repeat, giving, as the prophet says (Isaiah xxviii. 10.) line upon line, and precept upon precept, we can-, not think too much to learn, and give repeated attention to.

The first moral lesson, and the most necessary of all others to a child, is that of obedience to its parents, and submission to all proper authority; for they are not capable of understanding the reasons but of very few things. And this we find, in the history of our first parents, whatever there may

be of fable or allegory in the account, was the first leffon that was taught them, viz. by the prohibition to eat of the forbidden fruit, and at the same time they were apprized of the inconvenience that would follow their transgression of the command of their maker.

In the history of Cain and Abel, mankind were taught not only an abhorrence of the crime of murder, (though in that state of things it was not punished with death) but in general, that if they behave well, they will be accepted of God, and that if he frown upon them, or punish them, it is always on account of fin. God says to Cain, Gen. iv. 7. If thou doeft well, shalt thou not be atcepted? and if thou daeft not well, fin lieth at the door. After the murder, God said to him, What haft thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth to me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which bas opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground it shall not benceforth yield unto thee : ber Atrength. A fugitive and a vagabond Malt thou be in the earth. So

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