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Fourthly.-A willingness in all things to obey God, completes the view, which ought to be given of a right disposition towards him.
There must be a distinct acknowledgement of His right to govern us, and an unreserved surrender of our heart and life to His authority : an habitual desire to do what he has enjoined, avoid what he has forbidden. Where there is this desire to please, this reluctance to offend God, the individual will read with constancy and attention the sacred volume, which is written for the express purpose of teaching us how to obey and please the Lord. Finding there innumerable injunctions against all kinds of immorality and sin, and as many commands to practise every personal, relative, and social duty, the true Christian will be zealous for all good works. Remembering, that Jesus Christ is proposed there as our example, no less than our atonement, he will strive to be like him in purity, spirituality, submission to the will of God, and devotedness to the divine glory. Nor will he forget to imitate the beautiful meekness, lowliness, and kindness of his deportment: so that the love, which a right view of his atonement never fails to produce, transforms the soul of the believer into his image. Finding in the word of God many commands to cultivate the spirit, and attend on the exercises of devotion; the true Christian will remember the sabbath day to keep it holy, will maintain daily prayer in his closet, and unite himself in the fellowship of some Christian church, to live in communion with believers, and with them to celebrate the sacred supper.
During the trials of life, he will console himself with the promises of grace and the prospects of glory. He will soften his earthly cares by the influence of his heavenly hopes. He will endeavour to keep himself pure from the vices of the world, and shine as a spiritual light amidst surrounding darkness. His great business in this world will be to prepare for a better: and when the time arrives for him to quit the visible for the invisible state, he will bow in meek submission to the will of God, and retire from earth, cheered with the prospect and the expectation of eternal glory.
Such appears to me to be the nature of true religion. Its possessor, daily conscious of his defects, will habitually humble himself before God; and while he seeks forgiveness for past offences, through the blood of Jesus Christ, will as earnestly implore the gracious aid of the Holy Ghost to sanctify him more perfectly for the future.
On the advantages and responsibility of a pious
The advantages of any system of means, must of course, as to their value, be estimated by the importance of the end to be obtained, which, in the present case, is the possession of real religion in this world, and eternal happiness in that which is to come. The end to be obtained includes not only a profession of piety in our.
present state of being, but all that Infinite and everlasting felicity, which piety brings in its train :-of what vast consequence then must be the most suitable means for attaining this sublime purpose !
The value of a thing, my dear children, is sometimes learnt by the want of it; consider therefore, the situation of those young persons, whose parents, careless of their own souls, take no pains for the salvation of their children. In what a hapless situation are such young people placed! They are taught perhaps every thing but religion. They are instrucied in all the elegant accomplishments of fashionable life; but how to serve God and obtain eternal salvation, is no part of their education. In their abode, wisdom, in the form of parental piety, is never heard saying, “ Hearken ye children, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” They see cards and other amusements often introduced to the domestic circle, but no bible: they hear singing, but it is not the songs of Zion : there is feasting and conviviality, but no devotion: there is no domestic altar, no family prayer.
The Sabbath is marked with the same levity as other days. They go to church perhaps, but hear any thing rather than the pure gospel of Christ. They are taken to every gây party in the neighbourhood, and are studiously trained up for pleasure. They scarcely ever see the lovely form of religion in the circles which they frequent, except, like, its divine author, it be brought there to be despised and rejected of men. How are such young people to be pitied! Who can wonder that they do not fear the Lord !
How different has been your lot!—the very contrast of this. From your earliest childhood you have been taught the nature and the necessity of true religion. Instruction on these topics has been coeval with the dawn of reason. Every topic of piety has been explained to you as you could bear it. The doctrines of Christianity have been stated and proved, its duties unfolded and, enforced. The nature and attributes of God; the extent and obligation of his law; the design and grace of the gospel, have been explained—your sinful state has been clearly set before you; the object of Christ's death pointed out; the necessity of regeneration, justification, and sanctification impressed upon your heart. If you perish, will it be for lack of knowledge ? If you miss the path of life, will it be from not having it pointed out ?
To instruction has been united admonition. With all the tenderness of parental affection, and all the seriousness which the nature of the subject demanded, you have been warned, entreated, and even besought to fear God and seek the salvation of your souls. You have seen the tear glistening in a father's eye, while his tongue addressed to you the fondest wishes of his heart for your eternal happiness.
You have enjoyed the advantage of a system of mild and appropriate discipline. Remember you not the time when your budding corruptions were nipped by the kind hand of paternal care; and the blossoms of youthful excellence were sheltered and fostered by a mother's watchful eye? Have they not often reproved you for what was wrong, and commended you for what is right ? Have they not by praise, and by dis
praise judiciously administered, endeavoured to train you up to hate that which is evil, and to cleave to that which is good ? Have they not kept you from improper company, and warned you against associates that were likely to injure.
Havo they not with weeping eyes, and bleeding hearts, administered that correction which your sins deserved !
Have you not also seen all this enforced by the power of a holy example, imperfect, it is true, yet sufficient, like the sun even when partially covered with a mist, to be your guide ? You have seen them walking with God, and in fellowship with Christ. You have seen them retiring for prayer, and marked with an impression of devout seriousness they have brought from the presence of God. You cannot doubt that religion was the governing principle of their heart. The happiness, as well as holiness of true piety, has appeared in their conduct. You have seen the cloud of sorrow which affliction brought upon their brow, irradiated with the sun-beams of Christian faith and hope. Thus the whole weight of parental example, has been employed to give impression in favour of religion on your heart.
But the advantage of a pious education rests not here; for you well know that it has procured for you all other religious benefits, which conduct, in the order of means, to the salvation of the soul. You have been taken, from a child, to hear the Gospel preached by those who are anxious to save themselves, and them that hear them. You have been associated with religious people, and joined the circles of the righteous, where the claims of religion are respected, and