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return, and pierces at this moment his very inmost heart; not to dissemble nor cloke his sins before the face of ALMIGHTY GOD, our Heavenly FATHER; “ to arise and go to His Father, and say unto Him, FATHER, I have sinned against Heaven and before Thes, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son.”
• My son, hast thou sinned; do so no more ; but ask pardon for thy former sins. Flee from sin, as from the face of a serpent,” you know too well by sad experience the sting it leaves behind, the deep wound it inflicts; how true those words of the Son of Sirach are—“If thou comest too near it, it will bite thee; the teeth thereof are as the teeth of a lion, slaying the souls of men !” And so far as you have any earnestness, any fear of the Lord left, you will lay to heart this also :" He that hateth to be reproved is in the way of sinners ;” and so must take his portion with them at last : but he that feareth the LORD, has any fear of the LORD left, “ will repent from his heart.”
And now, then, if you who are older, who are parents, or have in any way charge of the young, can feel this exhortation speaking to you as unto children, as disobedient children, and calling you back to the fear of God, and the way
have left; to repentance and watchfulness; how deeply ought you to feel it, as addressed to those who are indeed “ children,” children in
age and in innocence? In proportion as correction is grievous to you, because you have forsaken the way; as you have made God's holy fear a terror, Christ's light yoke a galling one, and His easy burden a heavy load, the keeping of His commandments grievous, and prayer itself irksome; you will feel, if you are tender-hearted, the necessity of applying all this holy discipline to keep those in the way who have not yet wandered from it. You will feel how much more than any scholarship it must be to keep little children from evil, and to bring them up in the fear, and nurture, and admonition of the LORD.
The penitence of parents, the great source of hope for themselves, is the source of hope also for their children. God only knows what you might have been; what have been your
advantages, and how you have used them; your training may have been very poor, your opportunities very few ; but you have consciences. And when we, knowing the terror of the LORD,—how awful death and judgment are to us all,-persuade you, as we are
manifest unto God in speaking, so are we, I trust, manifest in your
let these little ones profit by your sad experience of evil. I know, indeed, that some, hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, are so jealous of the holiness of others, as to be bent on tearing them from God's service : an uneasy conscience will, if not directed aright, have this effect. A wilfully impenitent sinner will not be content without doing the devil's work in the devil's spirit, and trying to make others the children of hell like himself. Nay, he may come to hate and envy even the innocence of little children, and not bear that even they should be better than himself.
Yet is the sight of a little child more touching to the heart, more piercing to the conscience, than any sermon, to bid us return to God: a lesson to us as regards ourselves, bidding us be converted and become as little children, as we hope to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven ; and as regards these little ones themselves, to keep them unspotted from the world. They are fresh from the Hands of their CREATOR, and from the Arms of their most merciful Saviour; keep them as best you can in His Arms and in His Bosom, and train them up as ever under His searching Eye, and conscious of His sacred Presence. They are at the age when they most long to live and to see good days, and it is as natural for you to wish it for them, as for them to wish it for themselves. Train them, or suffer us to try to train them, in that holy discipline, which can alone secure it to them; teach them the fear of the Lord, and so fit them to inherit His blessing. Reverence them as His, and as sacred to Him.
Keep their tongues, not only by precept, but by example, from evil speaking, lying, and slandering. Pray God to set a watch before your own mouths, and keep the door of your lips. Set before them His most blessed example, Who did “no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” Keep them unspotted from the world; their hearts in the way of truth, and meekness, and righteousness; their bodies in temperance, soberness, and chastity. Pray for them yourselves, and teach them to pray. Provoke them not to wrath, lest they be discouraged, disheartened, or hardened, by hasty words and unkind treatment. “ Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD."
Remember, they have not only minds and memories, to read and understand, but hearts and consciences to mark and inwardly digest what they learn by heart; not only minds and memories to make them scholars, but hearts and consciences to make them Christians, Christian disciples. They have hearts which need careful and tender nurture, to train them in the love of God; and consciences, which need watchful examination, and strict admonition, to awaken them and lead them on in His holy fear. Remember, I repeat it, that they have not only minds and memories, but hearts and consciences, which must be trained in the love of their God and Saviour, under a constant sense of His Presence. Thus must the
cleanse their way; not merely by learning to read a chapter, or getting a Psalm by heart; but by being watched and ruled first, and so taught to rule themselves, their hearts and bodies, their words and actions, after His word, and be wise for eternity. So far as we are helping towards this good end, in keeping their hearts pure, and their consciences clear, in training children to be singlehearted, and pure-hearted, and open-hearted, and tender-hearted, so far only are we doing good; and so far as you help us in this good work, are you doing your Christian duty by them. In doing this, you are providing, not only for their welfare in life, but are laying the seeds of that peace which passeth all understanding, which this world cannot give nor take away : you are preparing yourselves and them for death and judgment, and for the long life" and "good days” of a blessed eternity.
I know how hard all this is, and the harder in proportion as your own training has been poor, or, if good, in proportion as you have departed from it—how very hard it is to guide a soul into the
peace. Keep them, then, so far as in you lies, in God's Hands, where you placed them in Holy Baptism, in the arms of your Saviour, by His side and under His eye; and so, if you die before them,
and see them as Jacob saw his sons round the bed, you will better bear that last look; you will feel deeply that you leave them in His arms, and trust them to His merciful care; you will not be leaving them to go alone, but to hold them fast by God, taught in life and death to dwell under the defence of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the ALMIGHTY. Or, if you lose them, how cheerfully may you commit their souls into the Hands of the faithful CREATOR and most merciful Saviour. Ever remember, dealing with children is dealing with souls. Treat them through life, as remembering that their Angels do always behold the face of our FATHER which is in Heaven ; and so think of them, and speak to them, and speak before them, and act toward them, and in their presence, as you will wish to have done when you shall meet them at the last great day, before the throne of our SAVIOUR and JUDGE. ... Oh! my brethren, so let your light shine before them, that they may see your good works, and glorify in this world, and through the vast awful eternity, your Father which is in Heaven !
GOVERNMENT OF THE TONGUE.
EPHESIANS iv. 29.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is
good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Our LORD said to His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world.” He had come HIMSELF as the Light of the world, to enlighten it by His most holy doctrine, and by His heavenly example. So we are told of those who heard His doctrine, that they “wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth :” others cried out, “Never man spake like this Man.". Of His example it is said, He hath done all things well; when the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us, they beheld His glory, so far as man could see it, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the FATHER, full of grace and truth. Not, indeed, that all beheld His glory; all who followed did not see the light either of His doctrine or His example.
But to a chosen few, who were least unfit to be near Him, and least unable to receive it, He communicated this light. His disciples shone by His light. He was as it were the Sun; they were to be like stars to reflect His holiness on others : they were to walk as He also walked; and were in their measure to be the “ light of the world,” and show by their every word and action in life Whose serva they were. They would only bring others to Christ in proportion as they partook of His light; and thus it was His solemn charge to His disciples, and through them to