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SERM. “ The account which is there given of
our duty toward God and our neigh“ bour, is adapted to all ranks, and to all ages. The philosopher, when he
peruses it, pauses with admiration, and the religionist is enraptured with piety. The
young should be encouraged to learn it “ with the most serious attention, and
happy is it for the man of hoary hairs, “ if he continues to read it with growing “ conviction, growing delight, and grow
PROVERBS XXII. 6.
be should go,
Įrain up a child in the
and when he is old he will not depart from it.
T is melancholy to think how old this serm. precept is, and yet how far the world is vii. from having benefited by it so much as it might. Had it been the general care of
. men, from the first ages of the world, to have set their children forward in the
way they ought to go, then we might naturally have looked for something approaching to perfection, even among human creatures. But yet, not if this had been left to mere hazard, for though experience, perhaps,
, might have convinced them of their own errors, it might not have taught them a perfect rule of right; so that, in order to
SERM. breed up a rising generation, in such a VII. manner as to secure them entirely from
the seductions of sin, and the delusions of folly and vanity, it must be necessary to have some standard to refer to, by which we may, without doubt or, difficulty, entirely regulate their actions. But, in regard to us, this is the case ; we have, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, confirmed by the inward suggestions of the conscience, a most infallible rule of right always to refer to, and by which, we are compelled, more perhaps than we are willing to confess, always to judge of our own proceedings. We cannot deny, that we know always what is morally right and morally wrong, in the manners and dealings of mankind; and though such knowledge may not avail so far as to amend our lives, yet that we and others do transgress and deviate from the paths of virtue, is sufficiently clear to us. Let us then consider, within ourselves, how exceedingly blameworthy we must be, if, both knowing that we are doing wrong, and knowing at the same time what would be right, we suffer the rising generation
to be misled by our examples, and, for serm. want of advice and instruction, to wander vil. from the paths of virtue and holiness ? And yet, if we give way to any evil habits whatsoever, we cannot but render ourselves responsible for the effects they may have with regard to society at large.
From the same words which I am now discoursing upon, I took occasion, last time I addressed you from hence, to enforce, as a matter of exceeding great propriety and importance, the duty of instructing the rising generation in the Public Catechism of the church ; but there is evidently another mode of instruction, fully as much incumbent on us, namely, that of example; and upon this head, more particularly, I purpose to enlarge at present. There are none who live so entirely secluded, but that their manners and ways of living will attract some notice; and it is one of the most common weaknesses of our nature, to think ourselves at liberty to do, what others have done before us. The wicked and sinful man, therefore, has very much
ŞERM. more to answer for than the mere weight VII. of his own transgressions; his example is
always dangerous to his fellow creatures; and, as a murderer is naturally expelled society, because no man's person is safe while he ranges at large, so one of sinful and wicked habits, should be much more shunned and avoided, for fear that he might contaminate the soul, that more noble part of man. But young persons and children are those who are always most in danger from the contagion of bad examples; nature having given them minds peculiarly susceptible of lasting impressions, they can scarcely ever resist the contagion of bad examples; and as they become thus, therefore, as it were, innocent victims, the guilt of their misdoings must rest with those whose evil courses have blinded and misguided them. Let us look around us then, and reflect seriously upon the importance of our actions; how far our own welfare is affected by them is but one thing, we ought also deeply to weigh in our minds how they may affect the peace and happiness of