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Must you not feel yourselves constrained to engage for them, if possible, the assisting grace of God, by ' an early dedication of them to him through Christ, by instructing them in his service, by watching over their morals, by praying with and for them, by setting holy examples before them, by doing every thing in your power to guide them into the way of salvation that their feet may take hold on eternal life? Do you not feel a horror at the idea of their missing of salvation through your neglect ? can you be recon. ciled to the agonizing apprehension of seeing them lead an irriligious life in this world, and in the next, sinking under accumulated guilt into irrecoverable ruin? There have been instances, I admit, of chil. dren who, after the best religious education, have proved graceless; also of others who, after having been unnaturally neglected by their earthly parents, have yet, through the compassion of their heavenly Father, been plucked as brands out of the burning and made the trophies of victorious grace. These how. ever, seem to be deviations from the common me. thods of providence. In general, the saying of the wise man is verified, " Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' God having ordained means for transmitting religion to posterity and securing a godly seed, his blessing so generally attends his own instructions that there is abundant encouragement for our observance of them.
I would therefore further press you to an imitation of the example in the text by the regard which you owe to your own country. If our happiness, as a people, depend upon the continued favor of the Alinighty; in what way can we hope for the continu. ance of his favor, but by our being sincere in serving him and approving ourselves to him a peculiar people zealous of good works? . But this cannot be (he character of the people at large, unless it be first
the character of families; those smaller societies of which the greater community is composed. For the good of his country therefore it concerns every householder to resolve, that as for him and his house thy will serve the Lord.' In proportion as this resolution is carried into effect by heads of families, we shall become such a people as God will delight to bless. Besides its moral influence, it will have a na. tural tendency to render the state of the public, prosperous. Religion is one of the strongest bands to hold society together, and the main prop of civil government, When this fails, and profligacy and want of principle becomes general, the wheels of government are soon embarrassed, and sometimes break in anar. chy and confusion. It cannot be expected of a people who have cast off the fear of God, all regard for his authority and laws, that they will pay such re. spect to human laws, especially in republican gov. ernments where the law makers are the creatures of the people. Without religion, such governments cannot be long supported. Be entreated then, as you 'tender the liberties of your country and wish its pros. perity, to fear and serve God in your houses, instil. ling principles of virtue and piety into the minds of your children, and so training them up, that, as they come forward to act their parts on the great stage of life, they may have wisdom and integrity as legislators, fidelity and uncorruptness as magistrates, loyalty and obedience as subjects, charity and benevo. lence as neighbours, and all those virtues and amia. ble qualities which make good and useful members of society.
Lastly, to this let me urge you by all the concern which, as christians, you feel for the church of God and the continuance and success of religion among
It is from your families that the church expects the supply of its members and the repair of the waste made by death ; and, woe be to you ! if through the
neglect of religion in your houses, there shall be none qualified to become pillars in the house of God. The present prospect in this respect, is truly melancholy. The generation who have passed the meridian of their days, are hastening, one after another, to the house appointed for all the living. What a large proportion of those who, not long since, were the most distinguished characters in this church are gone already! Every year thins the number of cominunicants. Compared with the whole assembly, it is but a small remnant who join in keeping up the memory of the Saviour's death. Nor are the places of those who are gone, supplied by the addition of new members. The seats of deceased fathers of the gospel feast, in many sad instances, remain vacant; while their children who have succeeded to their worldly possessions, leave it as yet uncertain whether they will inherit their piety and regard for religious institutions. What will be the ultimate issue of the present indifference with respect, not only to the power, but even to the forms of Godlines among us, heaven only knows. Sure I am, that all who are Israelites indeed, have just ground for concern and painful apprehension for the Ark of God. May He with whom is the residue of the spirit, who is able in a spiritual, as well as in a literal sense, to turn dry ground into water-springs, and cause the wilderness and solitary places to flourish and blossom as the rose-may He pour forth so plentiful an effusion of his spirit and grace both upon you and your children, that they may grow up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses ; that instead of the fathers there may be the children through successive generations!
END OF THE FIRST VOLUMEN