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not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ? and this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God, loveth his brother also."' * “ And, beloved, let us love, not in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”+

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SERMON XXII.

EVIL CONSEQUENCES OF THE NEGLECT OF

RELIGIOUS TRAINING.

[Preached at Bilston, for a School.]

1 Samuel iii. 11--13.

And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will

do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house : when I begin, I will also make an end. For I hare told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth : because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them

not.

If any are disposed to doubt whether it be a thing wise and salutary to provide for the education of the people, there are two short sayings delivered by the wisest of men ; speaking, moreover, by inspiration of God, which, to those who

believe the Scriptures, ought at once to decide the question.

“ A child left to himself (says Solomon) bringeth his mother to shame.” * But on the other hand, “ Train up a child in the way he should go : and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” |

It is my intention, with God's assistance, to illustrate these two sayings—the first declaring the evil consequences of the neglect of education ; and the other, the benefit of attending to it, by two apposite scripture examples ; and to take occasion also to show, in a general way, what education is, as considered in its two main branches of Discipline and Instruction, both of which are again and again prescribed as necessary in that divine word which never leaves us without full light in any matter which so much concerns man for time and for eternity, as this matter of education does.

I shall, however, treat only of the first part of my subject now, confining myself to showing how the evil neglect is wont to work, or what children left to themselves are like to come to; and like, also, to occasion to those around them. It will thence be obvious to infer the obligation which lies upon us all in our several places, and, according to our several measures of ability, to do what we can for the furtherance of the christian training of all classes ; not indeed for the taking out of the hands of parents a trust from which nothing can exonerate them, but for the assisting of them in the discharge of it, where circumstances make it reasonable that they should be aided.

* Prov. xxix. 15.

+ Prov. xxii. 6.

I turn, then, to the first book of Samuel. The history commences during the high priesthood of Eli; and the part of the history on which I mean to speak, is that which relates to the ruin of Eli's family, and to the evils which, in connexion with what befell them, came also upon

the whole kingdom of Israel. The immediate cause of all the mischief was the want of the true knowledge of God on the part of the principal sufferers, as the text which I have read informs us; and that was owing, in great measure, to the want of zeal and care on the part of him who should have instructed and admonished them in early youth, and have kept them under restraint and discipline. This is the particular point in the narrative on which I shall chiefly dwell, as having a direct bearing on my special object in addressing you.

There was no king in Israel at the time I am about to speak of. Eli, the high priest, acted also as chief magistrate or judge. He appears to have been, in the main, a pious man. But he had not the intrepid and uncompromising cha

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racter necessary to the faithful discharge of his twofold office. He must have been of a culpably timid and irresolute spirit, liable to be easily misled by his affections, and incapable of speaking out and acting decidedly when his duty and his natural feelings were opposed to one another. This man had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas by name; the last-mentioned being a married man, and his wife, it should seem, a religious and godly woman.

The history opens with a general account of these two young men's characters.

“ Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.” This does not mean that they had not so much as a notional or head knowledge of God and his law. They were acquainted, doubtless, with the history of his deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and of his establishment of them in Canaan, with the divine institution of the priesthood, at the head of which their father Eli stood, and with the rites and ceremonies appointed by God, and doubtless with the moral precepts also delivered from him by Moses. But whilst God“ was nigh in their mouths, he was far from their reins”—they had not the fear of him practically before their eyes. Though they were his servants in form, in fact they were Belial's slaves ; and whatever may be the measure of people's

VOL. III.

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