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children think seriously of what they hear, but, because they are so young, it is VERY DIFFICULT TO
UNDERSTAND AND COMPREHEND THAT
RELIGION BY WHICH THEY MUST BE SAVED.
When we say, 'Hear, ye Children, the instruction of a father," if that instruction relates to their salvation, people are ready to say, “You never can make them understand you."
But this I must beg leave to deny. I acknowledge to you, that there are many things in the Bible, which are of such a deep and difficult nature, that the most learned man cannot entirely enter into them ; but, with
; respect to what is necessary to your present and eternal happiness, you are not incapable of understanding it. For instance: if you can be brought seriously to think of the instruction afforded you at school, you can easily think and understand that you are a sinner, —that you have been unkind and ungrateful to your parents and friends,—that you have been sinners against God and his commands,—that you have told lies, and done things that your own consciences have told you were wrong,--and that you are sometimes committing a double fault, first committing the fault itself, then telling a falsehood to cover it.
Why a child knows—for I have been a ch and I recollect what a child thinks and does—a child knows he is wrong, and that his manner of going on is contrary to what he reads in God's word; and a child can also read in the Bible, that the small and the great must one day stand before God in judgment : not only the aged, but the young must be judged. A child can see in the Bible, that, if God had not provided a Saviour, our mouths must all have been for ever stopped before him. Young and old are guilty before God.
Now, therefore, cannot you understand that you are sinners? Have you not been obliged, very often, to confess how wrong your conduct has beer, both to
ward God and your parents ? On the other hand, cannot you understand how gracious God has been ? not only in sending Jesus Christ to save sinners, who promises pardon through his blood, and his Holy Spirit to purify the heart and make it alive to God and to love him; but you may also read how gracious this Saviour was to those children that were brought to him, when his disciples would have kept them back that they might not be a trouble to him. He
says, Suffer the little children to come unto me: and he took little children up in his arms, and blessed them; as though he had said, “I love children. Bring them to me.
I love children to come unto me; and therefore I now set it up as a monument in my Church to show that I love them to come unto me."
You can read in your Bibles about a foolish young man going away from his father's house, and advice, and instruction, and ruining himself. What a miserable mistake it is, for you to suppose that you can do better for yourselves, than your parents can or will do for you !-better, without your father's advice and counsel, than with it! And what a miserable mistake it is, for a man to think he can do better without God, than with him; to fly from God's own coun
unsel, his unerring word of truth!
You can there read about poor Lazarus; and see what a crown is preparing for a man, if he has but a praying heart. Though covered with rags, his affliction is but for a moment: and he is removed, and carried into Abraham's bosom: while the rich man's glory passes away like a dream; and he goes down into hell, where he cannot get one drop of water to cool his tormented tongue.
You may, therefore, see enough in the Bible, and in the good books put into your hands, to teach you what is the mind and will of God concerning you: and you are capable of receiving a gracious proposal from Goaip Jesus Christ, inviting you to come to him, that you raay have life here and eternal life hereafter.
your parents' houses were on fire, you would be glad of any hand to take hold of you, that you might not be burnt: now what is the Gospel ?--It is God's hand stretched out, while he says, Hear, that your souls may live.
If you had lived in Noah's time, you would have understood, that, if you did not enter into the Ark, you must be drowned. So, at this day, Jesus Christ is preached in the Gospel to you, and is set forth as the only Saviour—the Deliverer—the High Priest sent from God to redeem you by his blood, and to take you to his kingdom when you die; and if you accept of God's salvation, you shall live, as Noah did.
Let me say one thing more to you.
Suppose, when you think of these things, you find your minds puzzled; and when you get home, you say—“I cannot understand, after all the pains the Minister has been taking with me, I cannot understand how I am to be saved, and to escape the misery of the rich man that he was telling me of, and gain Abraham's bosom."
Then I will tell you what to do :-go, and kneel down, and say, “O Lord! I am a poor, ignorant child: I cannot teach myself, and the Minister cannot teach me: but thou canst teach me. Thou didst teach young Samuel, when the High Priest could not: therefore send thy Holy Spirit to teach me, and to make me understand thy love. Oh, make a child to understand thy mind; and send thy Spirit, that he may be light and life to me."
But, mind! I would not have you suppose that Samuel was the only child taught by the Holy Spirit; for many are the instances of young children, that have early sought the Lord and found him: they have been made wise unto salvation, have known the way of life, and have taken fast hold of wisdom and not let it go. They have talked of religion to children older than themselves, and have even been their invon, 15.
structors; and I should tell you, as a witness, that I have known several of them who have lived ornaments to the Church, and died rejoicing in Christ, and went undoubtedly to a better world.
4. I will tell you one thing more that has been said with respect to you.
It has been said, when we conversed about it,-for we think of you, when you think not that we do, it has been said, that, notwithstanding all that has been done for you, in teaching you, giving you books, preaching sermons to you, and talking with you, it has been said, that GENERAL INSTRUCTION IS NOT SUFFICIENT; that there must be other helps : you must be taught at home; and every thing, that can be thought of, should be done to impress religion on your minds. Now if this be necessary, then be thankful to any friend for any help afforded you. Say of such—“ Here is one, who cares for me. Here is one, who loves me; who loves my eternal interest; who would keep me from poisonous examples."
But especially, my dear children, you should hear the instruction of a father, with respect to your Parents, who are particularly appointed to instruct you. I shall not now be able to say enough on this subject to you, nor should I if I were to take up a whole discourse in preaching on this point: I could not sufficiently show you the deep and lasting obligations, under which you lie to your parents; and how you ought to be studying, on every occasion, to show them bow much you feel yourselves indebted to them. None can love you like a parent. None cares for your interest like a parent. None thinks of you awake or asleep like a parent. When you are at play, their hearts are often aching for you: and you will never know the value of your parents, till you lose them.
And I should tell you, that God has set a mark on children who honour their parents; and a mark upon
them, who slight them: and I declare to you, that I never saw a child which behaved perversely and disobediently to his parents, on whom God did not set a black mark, for whom he did not raise up plagues and scourges.
On the other hand, if a child has been obedient and affectionate, and has had a dutiful regard for his parents, I have often had occasion to think of those words, 'Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
But to return to the point from whence I just now set out, if the instruction of your Minister needs to be followed
at home if this has been said among us, that general instruction wants following up at home, that things must not be left in the pulpit or the chapel-if this be the case, I ought to speak,
I II. TO PARENTS and HEADS OF FAMILIES. And I say to such parents as are present, your own
I salvation is your first concern; and, till you are in earnest and anxious about that, I shall never hope to see you anxious about the salvation of your children.
But of this you hear continually. You hear continually impressed on you the importance of fleeing from the wrath to come, and that to purpose, by fleeing to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I must now pass by your own personal concern for salvation, to speak to you of that special charge committed to you in your dear children. If they were only to live here for a little while, and then die for ever, and go as the atheist talks into an eternal sleep, then indeed you need only be concerned for their well-being here. But the children committed to you are immortals. It is true, they live but a little while, here; but they will live for ever, in a future world. And what does the word of God say to the conscience of a parent concerning every child committed to his