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ourselves; and if they perish by our neglects the guilt of it will for ever lie at our doors. As to servants, and other relations under our charge, common humanity requires us to be concerned for their happiness, as being of the same nature with us; but considered as Christians baptized into the same faith, and capable of the same common salvation, we are more strictly obliged thereto. And if we be remiss and negligent in the discharge of this duty, we can neither answer it to God, nor our own consciences; the consideration of which should effectually engage us to a faithful performance of it.
We are also obliged to this duty in point of interest ; for as religion is the best and surest foundation for the true discharge and faithful performance of the duties of all relations, it is therefore really for our own service and advantage, that those who belong to us, should serve and fear God. Would we have dutiful and obedient children, diligent and faithful servants? Nothing will so effectually procure this, as to have the principles of religion and the fear of God firmly settled in them. What an unexampled instance of respect and obedience did Isaac give to the commands of his father, when, without any reluctance, he submitted to be laid upon the altar, and to be slain for a sacrifice, bad not God interposed and prevented it by an angel. What an excellent servant was Eliezer to Abraham! How diligent and faithful in his master's service! so that he trusted him with all he had. And when employed in his son's marriage, what prudence and fidelity did he show in the discharge of that great trust, having no rest till the business was accomplished ! These are two powerful instances to encourage fathers and masters of families, to a religious care of their children and servants. How did the fear of God secure Joseph's fidelity to his master under a great and violent temptation ! He had nothing to restrain him but the consideration of the great trust his master had reposed in him, the sense of his duty, and, above all, the fear of God, which preserved him from consenting to so wicked an action. How can 1,' says he, do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?' Hence it appears to be our duty, and demands our greatest care, to instil the principles of religion into those that belong to us; for if the seeds of true piety be sown in them, we shall reap the fruits of it. But if our children and servants are not taught to fear and reverence God, how can we expect they
would regard and obey us? For nothing but religion obliges conscience; men will break through all other ties, when a fair opportunity offers. And as religion is necessary to procure God's favour, so is it to secure the mutual duties and offices of men to one another.
III. I proceed, therefore, to the last thing proposed, which is, to show the fatal consequences attending the neglect of family duty, both to the public and to ourselves,
First: To the public. Families are the first seminaries of religion: and if persons are not there prepared, especially in their tender years, for public teaching and instruction, little can be expected afterwards. The neglect of a due preparation of our children and servants at home, to make them profit by what they hear and learn at church, is an error, productive of the greatest mischief; because, if no care be taken of them in their younger years, when most capable of religious impressions, we cannot reasonably expect any great good from them afterwards. For if the fear of God hath not been planted in them, they will be bad in all relations ; undutiful children, idle and unfaithful servants, scandalous members of any church, unprofitable to the commonwealth, disobedient to governors, both ccclesiastical and civil; nay, burthens on earth, and so many plagues of human society. And if no remedy be applied to this evil, it will continually grow worse, and in every age diffuse and spread itself, till impiety and wickedness, infidelity and profaneness, have over-run the world, and made it ripe for destruction; as it was in old time, when the 6 wickedness of man was so great upon earth, all flesh having corrupted their way, that the food came and swept them all away.'
Seconilly: The consequences of this neglect will also be very dismal to ourselves, who will first feel the inconvenience of our own guilty negligence. For we can have no security of the duty and fidelity of our family to us, if they have no fear of God nor sense of religion. So that besides the shame and sorrow, we shall have the first ill consequence of their mi-carriages: and the wickedness they commit after, will, in a great measure, be charged upon us, and put to our account in the great day of judgement. And we ought to tremble to think with what rage and fury our children and servants will then fly in our faces, for being the cause of their eternal ruin, in
not taking due care to prevent it. In that day, next to God, and our own consciences, our children and servants will be our most terrible accusers, if we neglect to instruct them in the way of salvation. Let us therefore resolve with Joshua, that we and our houses will serve the Lord; that so, by God's grace, we may, by our future care and diligence, discharge this important duty, and repair our former neglects. And if chil dren were carefully and regularly educated, and families religiously governed, what a happy, delightful place, what a paradise would this world be, in comparison of what it is now! Let these things sink into our hearts before it is too late, and while the evil may be remedied; that we may not for ever lament this neglect, and repent of it when past redress, and there will be no place for repentance.
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
EXCUSES FOR IRRELIGION. LUKE xiv. 18. And they all with one consent began to make excuse,
[Text taken from the Gospel for the Day.] The general purport of this parable is to censure those prejudices, passions, and worldly interests, under the influence of which, the Jews rejected the gracious offers of the Gospel. In applying the parable more immediately to ourselves, we may derive the following lessons of instruction :
I. We learn, in the first place, the guilt and the dreadful consequences of rejecting Christ; of refusing to believe his religion, or of believing without obeying it. Not one of those who were bidden, shall taste of my supper. When we had no claim to be delivered from the punishment, which by our sins we deserved, much less to extend our views to an eternity of happiness, the God of mercy was pleased, of his own infinite goodness, freely to offer to us both these blessings. He offered them to us, through the blood of his own Son Jesus Christ. His own Son undertook, for our sakes, to come down upon earth; to assume the nature of man; and to die upon the cross, that he might make atonement for our sins, and purchase immortal glory, for all, who would accept him as their Saviour, and faithfully obey his commandments. This is the appointed method of salvation, by which alone we may be saved. It is in vain for any man to hope, that he may be justified in any other method, or be rendered meet for glory through the attainment of any other qualifications, than those which are plainly stated in the Gospel. If you will not accept salvation in that method; if you will not labour to acquire those qualifications ; you will assuredly perish ; you will perish by your own choice. If you reject the Son of God, he will be no Redeemer to you. If you profess to believe in him, but will not make it your constant aim, through the influence of Divine grace, to obey him, you will as certainly perish, as if you openly denied him. You do in fact deny him in the most decisive manner. Whatever your lips may affirm, your actions proclaim—“ I do not acknowledge Christ to be my Master: I will not be subject to his laws.” He was ready to receive you: but you would not listen to his call. The guilt is your own; and the consequences are your own.
Do you complain of hard measure in these dealings of God ? Turn to the parable. Suppose a person of wealth and eminence to have sustained reiterated injuries from an inferior :-suppose the offender overtaken by misery, and on the brink of ruin :--suppose the man whom he had injured, generously to interpose in his behalf; to invite the criminal to his mansion; and spontaneously to offer to make important sacrifices, for the sole purpose of restoring him to safety and happiness :-suppose this benignity to be met with a disdainful refusal :-Is the victim of his own obstinacy and pride to murmur, because he is abandoned to the consequences of his choice ?—Or to raise the illustration, if it be possible, to a resemblance somewhat less faint and imperfect of the transaction, which it purposes to portray; suppose a subject, indebted to the bounty of his sovereign for every earthly blessing, to renounce his allegiance, and to crown his ingratitude by the most daring treasons:-suppose him arrested by the arm of justice, and even now standing on the scaffold :suppose his royal master to despatch without solicitation an offer of pardon; to fling open for his admission the doors of
the palace; to hold forth to him unqualified forgiveness; to propose to him not merely the renovation of favour, and re-establishment in all his antecedent honours and professions, but additional wealth, and privileges, and dignity, and power, in a measure far surpassing the utmost stretch of his imagination :-suppose that the extension of this compassion, the exercise of this ineffable goodness, could not be rendered consistent with the attributes of sovereignty, and the general welfare of nations, by any methods except such, as would necessarily require the only son of the monarch previously to become the representative of the traitor, and in his stead to submit to degradation, to sufferings, and to death :-suppose the son, of his own accord, to offer to become the sacrifice. Suppose the father to assent to the offer :-suppose the sacrifice to have taken place. Now fix your eyes on the object o these stupendous mercies. How do you behold him ? Is he dissolved in tears? Is he rent by agonizing remorse? Is he fervently devoting, in the sincerity of his soul, the remainder of his life, the whole of his exertions, of his faculties, of his heart, to the service of his matchless benefactor? Behold him, if you are able to form to yourself the picture, continuing unmoved, devoid of gratitude, with enmity unmitigated, rejecting the offered pardon and all its consequent blessings, with carelessness and contempt. Behold an emblem, a most inadequate emblem, of your own madness, of your own guilt, if you disregard the salvation, offered through the blood of the Son of God.
II. Advert, in the next place, to the excuses, which are stated as having been advanced by some of those, who rejected the invitation of the Lord of the feast. One said, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it.' Another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them.' Another said, “I have married a wife. Our blessed Saviour well knew what was in man. He knew that the human heart, unrenewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit, would naturally be in all times and places the same. The excuses which he represents these despisers as alleging for not attending the entertainment purposely and gratuitously provided for them, are precisely such as, in this our day, numbers allege for not attending to religion. They are such, as numbers are bold enough openly to avow, when expediency