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any Parents in existence, who may be considered as more interested than others in the present subject, you are the parties.
You may have observed, that, throughout, I have not confounded Parental Obligations, or the training of Children, with your obligation to fulfil the commission of our common Lord; that I have not confounded the Domestic Constitution with the Church of the living God,-or, in other words, that, in tracing the weighty and incumbent duties of the Parental Character, I have not confounded Christian Education with the work of the Ministry, nor have I, so far as I am conscious, ever trenched on what I believe to be the special, because the ordained, means for the conviction and the conversion of a lost world. This be far from me. On the contrary, there seems to me to exist between the successful exercise of your ministry, and the exertions of Christian Parents, that fine harmony which is at once apparent, and engaging, and useful, between all things of divine appointment.
Thus, if they are next under God, with regard to their Children, as Children, you also are next under Him, with regard to the entire Family, as souls. Upon your skill, or discrimination and affectionate fidelity in addressing these Families, much depends indeed. Under the weight and pressure of your responsibility, here and hereafter, you occasionally look around you and say—“Brethren, pray for us.” Now, do you intend by this, that they should pray for your success in the conversion of souls? To whom, then, I ask, can you cast an imploring eye, with more confidence, than to Christian Parents, especially when you see them sit before you, with their Children around them? Do they not frequently implore that the divine blessing may rest on them? In their Family devotions, on some occasions, have they never been heard by God to express their desires, in some such language as this ?
on of cu Domesti
None, indeed, but a Pastor, knows a Pastor's care ; but where will you-where can you find any Members of your flock more able or more likely to sympathize with your incumbent desire, and loudly-called-for anxiety, to be useful to the souls of men ? and with regard to their Children especially, you well know, that there are not to be found in your audience any other individuals who feel an anxiety such as theirs. Lay hold then of this feeling as an auxiliary, and you will not do so in vain.
To the primitive Church, however, all the Ministers of Christ profess to look for encouragement and a Guide. When, therefore, you cast your eye over one or other of those epistles, addressed by men inspired, to the Church as it actually appeared in their day, can you help being struck with the distinct recognition of the Domestic Constitution, in all its connections ? Husband and Wife, Parent and Child, Master and Servant, lie embosomed in these letters. Not that every one who sustained such a relation was there : from the spiritual nature of the Messiah's kingdom this was impossible ; though, in these days, in many instances, into the Garden of the Lord, the Family tree had actually been transplanted, with all its branches entire ; and from the style of address to each of these parties, it may be presumed, that, in these churches, there were to be found, not only Masters, however rich, and Servants, however poor, but Parents, however old, and Children of the ten
To have seized upon, not only the extremes
of station, but the extremes of age, was one momentous feature of the Church planted by the Apostles. Looking over the broad field of their exertions, in the service of their common Lord, we seem to hear, not only
“ People and realms, of every tongue,
Dwell on his love with sweetest song-
But, say you, where now are the households which have been converted in a day? and where now the tens, nay, the hundreds, not to say thousands, who have bowed before the voice of a single address ? Ah, where indeed! Though the Lord's arm is not shortened, that he cannot save, nor his ear heavy, that he cannot hear, these are questions into which, at present, I must not enter ; but certainly they are far from being irrelevant to the ministry of us all!
In the meanwhile, however, and in the midst of such impotency, let it be our wisdom to ascertain principles, and look to individual cases. The skepticism expressed by many, in regard to conversion, may be easily accounted for; some of them affirming, in regard to the heathen abroad, that, until you civilize or humanize men, you need not attempt to Christianize them ; that you must make them men before you can expect them to become Christians. But what shall we say in reference to the skepticism which as evidently reigns in others, with respect to Children, or young people, whether at home or abroad, while waiting, as they would tell you, till they come to what they choose to regard as the years of discretion ? And what is the severe punishment laid up for Parents who labor under such want of Christian foresight-such want of faith and genuine compassion? Why, that these years, for which they idly waited, turn out to be the very years of indiscretion? This, however, is an old offence; and, alas!
ooking ice of
it seems but too common to corrupt human nature. You have already seen how the Apostles themselves stumbled ; but “ there is no flesh in man's obdurate heart; it does no feel for man;" and is often cold and indignant even at the young of the species.
“And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the Children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David! they were sore displeased, and said unto Him-Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise ?"
No; whatever scribes and chief priests might say then, or men of a kindred feeling think now, the Christianity of very early life is a subject in which you will find no skepticism-no hesitation in the Word of God; nay, it is one upon which the Saviour not only looked with a most benignant eye, but he still holds the broad shield of his protection over such early profession of attachment to his
After having set a little Child in the midst of his disciples, and finished the lesson which childhood, as such, suggested* --you hear him say in conclusion—" But whoso
* Such a period of life is indeed fraught with instruction to the Christian Parent; for nature as such, whether physical or moral, always repays the labor. bestowed upon it. The Saviour himself, who sanctified almost every object for the instruction or encouragement of his followers, here leads the way. When very young, you may therefore most profitably regard them, as appropriate emblems of those qualities which are the effect of regeneration. Then you will discover but little or no disposition to take precedence, or you will see them, regardless of external distinctions, cheerfully associating with their inferiors in rank or years: see them simple, artless, free from guile-without the love of money-without anxious care, yet submissive and very dependent—and, to crown the whole, disposed implicitly to credit either Parent. Let me ask, where you will find such a combination of qualities in those of riper age ? How, then, can Parents trifle away those years ? Such neglect is like the loss of the spring in Nature.
shall offend one of these little ones, which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Far, indeed, am I from taking this heavenly intimation in any other sense, than the words, in their connection, seem at once to convey. Nor am I surprised at the language employed for such an offence. What think you of poisoning a fountain, or nipping the bud in nature ? Christianity, once possessed by a Child, bids fair to have justice done to it; the least offensive—the most engaging —the purest, and, generally, by far the most useful profession of Christianity, is likely to follow. Praise, it seems, by our Lord's reply, admits of degrees-and, it also appears, can, by him, be carried to the highest degree from the lips of Children. As an evidence of the Messiah's claims, sufficient even for such a moment, never let it be forgotten, that in the very temple of old, with her priests and her scribes walking around, they were the hosannas of Children, which stilled and drowned the voice of these enemies and avengers.
One Child in particular, however, you remember, whose origin and history seem left on record, to illustrate that divine harmony which exists between the domestic obligations, and the Christian Ministry, as such. . From the days of his infancy he had known the Holy Scriptures ; and though Paul rejoiced over him, as his own son in the faith, still he was affected greatly, when he thought of this child's obligations to his Mother and Grandmother ! Now when Parental assiduity, and the preaching of the truth, had, as it were, embraced each other, and poured their respective blessings on the head of Timothy, what was the consequence? Why, that when but a young man, he was capable of being urged, by his spiritual Father, to reach the very height or acme of all Christian excellence. “Let no man,” said he to him, “ despise thy