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II. To explain and illustrate the exhortation itself, and suggest the most effectual methods of reducing it to practice.


66 The

These things must be in our own hearts, before we can to any good purpose teach them to others, or make them the subject of our frequent conversation. We should therefore apply ourselves, with persevering assiduity, to obtain a comprehensive and familiar acquaintance with the doctrines of revelation, in all respects. Our memories should be stored with the precepts, examples, warnings, and promises of the Bible. 66 Let the word of “ Christ dwell in you richly.” This cannot be done, unless we carefully attend to our Lord's exhortation. “ Search the Scriptures; for in “ them ye think ye have eternal life.” “ hand of the diligent maketh rich:” and he, “ whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and “ who meditates in his law day and night, shall “ be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, “ that bringeth forth his fruit in his season: his “ leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he “ doeth shall prosper.” This man shall be blessed, and shall be a blessing to others.

Labour then, my brethren, to get thoroughly acquainted with the oracles of God: let

your judgment be formed according to them: propora tion your approbation of characters and actions by this divine standard. In this manner judge of


your acquaintance, connexions, and friends; and above all, judge thus of yourselves. Try by this rule every pursuit, attainment, or distinction among men : let your fears, hopes, desires, joys, and sorrows, be regulated according to it; that all the affections of your souls may be influenced by the pure and animating principles of our holy religion. Thus, when fatigued with business or disgusted with the world, you will have a neverfailing source of sefreshment, and a most salutary relaxation, to invigorate your weary powers, and recruit


exhausted spirits.
When the word of God is thus treasured


and engrafted in our hearts, we shall be disposed and qualified to teach his truths and precepts to our relations, to speak of them among our friends, and to diffuse the knowledge of them in the circle of our acquaintance. This is strenuously enforced by the exhortation of our text. “ Thou shalt “ teach them diligently to thy children; and thou " shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, " and when thou walkest by the way, and when " thou liest down, and when thou risest up. In reducing these rules to practice, much depends on external circumstances. When the Christian possesses wealth, or influence, and hath extensive connexions, he ought to attempt great things: while a little may be done in a more obscure situation, by edifying discourse, letters, or the distribution of books : provided opportunities be



sought after, and diligently improved. We allow, indeed, that conceited disputatious talkers, whose conduct does not consist witli their principles, or who grosly violate the properties of relative life, are often a disgrace to religion: but when divine truth occupies the heart and influences the conduct, a man's ordinary conversation may be rendered very useful, in diffusing religious knowledge, and making others wise unto salvation.

They, however, who are placed at the head of families, should deem themselves peculiarly called upon to teach their children and servants. The examples of scripture are in this respect very encouraging and instructive.—The Lord had given promises of special blessings to the posterity of Abraham, and he was made a principal instrument in preparing the way for their accomplishment.

' I know him," saith God, “that he will com“ mand his children and his household after him; " and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do

judgment and justice, that the Lord may bring

upon Abraham the thing that he hath spoken to “ himn of.” “As for me, and my house,” says pious Joshua, “ we will serve the Lord.” Cornelius the centurion, who " feared God with all his “ house,” and who had pious domesticks, and even soldiers around him, (though doubtless most of them had been educated pagans,) may be considered as a remarkable instance of the blessing attending this kind of religious instruction: while the awful doom of Eli and his family, may serve as a salutary caution to all who are in this respect, tempted to indolence or timidity.

1 Gen. xviii, 19.


The ancient method of rendering the truths and precepts of religion familiar to the minds of men, especially of children and servants, is described in the text: “ Thou shalt talk of them when thou “ sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest

by the way, and when thou liest down, and when “ thou risest up." And why should the same method be less effectual at present, if it were properly employed ? Did we daily instruct our households, by reading and explaining the scriptures to them, along with family-worship; and then frequently converse with seriousness on edifying subjects; did we take occasion from common occurrences, to direct the attention of those around us to the over-ruling providence of God, the fatal effects of sin, the lamentable evidences of human depravity, and the suitableness of the gospel to the state of the world; and did we joyfully embrace every opportunity of inculcating right principles, rectifying mistakes, and making pertinent remarks: young people would be more generally preserved from scepticism, and a considerable barrier would be placed to the incursions of infidelity and impiety. Our Lord himself hath taught us this way of improving conversation, in the most simple


easy manner imaginable : he deduced profitable instructions from every occurrence; and grafted the most important admonitions, even on the insidious questions and impertinent objections of his enemies. We cannot indeed expect to speak with his consummate prudence and irresistible energy: yet we should remember that in this, as in all other things,” he hath left us an example that we should follow his steps;” and promised to give his disciples “a mouth and wisdom, which all " their enemies shall not be able to resist.”

We are also taught in scripture to encourage young persons in asking questions on religious subjects, by giving them plain and satisfactory answers: and some institutions seem to have been chiefly intended to give occasion for such enquiries'. “ The Lord established a testimony in

Jacob, and appointed a law which he command“ed our fathers; that they should make them “known unto their children; that the generation

to come might know them, even the children " that should be born, who should arise and de“ clare them to their children, that they might set “ their hope in God?."

The neglect of this duty is a very dark sign of the present times. Children in general are trained up amidst those very vanities, which they who presented them for baptism solemnly vowed they

* Exod. xii, 36, 37. xiii, 10-14. Josh, iv, 21, 22. ? Ps. lxxyiii, 23.


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