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which they have reasonably, as well as naturally, cherished. Religious instruction, admonition, and reproof; a prodigal never can give. He, who does not pray for himself, cannot be expected to pray for his family. The parent, who does not frequent the house of God, will soon see it forsaken by his children. Thus the education of his children will be deserted by the prodigal. The invaluable season of childhood and youth will be lost, and those early impressions, both economical and religious, those important habits, on which the good of this life, and of the life to come, is in a great measure founded, are never established in their minds.
To their comfortable settlement, whatever may be his wishes, he has voluntarily lost the power to contribute. Before the period arrives, at which this important object is to be accomplished, his wife, if she has not died of a broken heart, and her children, usually see him a beggar; and follow him to the hovel, which has become his only shelter. Hence, if they survive the ruin of their hopes, the children are soon turned into the world, to make their way through all the thorns and briers, which regularly embarrass the path of persons in such a situation. The Hand, which feeds the young ravens, when they cry, does, indeed, usually feed them. Earthly friends, at times also, they may find; and sometimes may be regarded by strangers with compassion and tenderness, which they never experienced from him, who gave them birth.
1. By these considerations, Parents are taught the incalculable importance of educating their children to Industry and Economy.
Revolve for a moment the miserable character, circumstances, and end, of those, who have been the subjects of this discourse. Who would be willing, who would not shudder at the thought, that such would be the character, such the circumstances, and such the end, of his own children 2 How shall this dreadful catastrophe be prevented 2 Under God, only by a faithful education of children to Industry and Economy; by habituation to some useful, active business; or some diligent, sedentary em
ployment; by thorough instructions, and a persuasive example. These are the fountains of sustenance to human life. A fortune, bequeathed to children, or provided for them at an earlier period, instead of being a secure provision for their future wants, is commonly a mere incitement to ruin; a bounty, given to idleness; a watch-word to begin the career of profusion. The Jews are said, during some periods, at least, of their existence as a people, to have educated their children, universally, in active business; and to have adopted, proverbially, this aphorism that he, who does not bring up his child to useful industry, brings him up to be a beggar, and a nuisance. It is to be fervently wished, that all Christian Parents would adopt the same maxim, and thus prepare their children to become blessings both to themselves and mankind. It has been repeatedly observed in these discourses, that Industry and Economy are not natural to man, and can only be established by habituation. These habits must both be begun in the morning of life; or there is danger, that they will never be begun successfully. As no man, consistently with his plain duty, can be excused from being industrious and economical, himself; so no man can be justified for a moment, who does not effectually communicate both Industry and Economy to his children. He, who, at the first, made labour the employment of mankind; and who afterwards commanded to gather up the fragments, that nothing might be lost; will admit no excuse for the neglect of these duties, whether they respect ourselves, or our offspring. In this subject, Parents and children of both sexes are equally concerned. Both parents are bound to teach their children; and their children, of both sexes, are bound to learn, to be industrious, and to be economical; to fill up their time with useful employments; to methodize it, that it may be thus filled up; and to feel, that the loss of time, the neglect of talents, and the waste of property, are all serious violations of their duty to God. The parents are bound to inspire, and the children to imbibe, a contempt, an abhorrence, for that silly, worthless frivolity, to which so many children, of fashionable parents especially, are trained; that sinful waste of the golden hours of life; that sickly devotion to
amusement; that shameful, pitiable dependence on trilling, to Vol. IV. 37
help them along, even tolerably, through their present, tedious, dragging existence. Few persons are more to be pitied, as certainly few are more to be blamed, than those, who find their enjoyment only in diversions ; and cling to a ride, a dance, a visit. a play, or a novel, to keep them from sinking into gloom and despondence. Industrious persons, who spend their time in useful pursuits, are the only persons, whose minds are serene, contented, and cheerful. If we wish happiness for our children, then; we shall carefully educate them to an industrious life. Let no parent, at the same time, forget what alarming tempta. tions, and what gross sins, surround idleness and profusion. This consideration will, if any thing will, compel parents to educate their children in this manner. The parent's fortune is, here, of no significance. The heir of a fortune is far more exposed to all these evils, than he, who has none. If he is to go through life with a fortune; he is to be taught to earn, and to preserve, property. Without this instruction, he will, probably, ere long be beggared, tempted without any defence to multiplied sins, and become a liar, a cheat, a drunkard, and perhaps a suicide. What parent would not tremble at the thought, that his own negligence would entail these evils upon his offspring 2 2. Young persons, whatever may have been their education, are, here, forcibly taught to pursue an industrious and economical life. The children of wealthy parents are generally prone to believe, that they are destined, not to usefulness, but to enjoyment; and that they may be idle, therefore, without a crime. No opinion is more groundless; and very few are more fatal. God made all mankind to be useful. This character he requires of them without conditions. He, who does not assume it, will be found inexcusable at the final day. Every human ear ought to tingle, and every heart to shudder, at the doom of the unprofitable servant in the Gospel. Still more prone are youths to believe, that profusion is honourable ; and to shrink from the imputation of niggardly conduct. There is no more absolute absurdity, than the supposition, that prodigality and generosity are the same thing. They are not even allied. Generosity consists in giving freely, when
a valuable purpose demands it; and with a disposition, benevolently inclined to promote that purpose. Prodigality is the squandering of property, not for valuable, but base and contemptible purposes; for the mere gratification of voluptuousness, vanity, and pride. All these gratifications are mean, selfish, and despicable. The generous man feels the value of property. The prodigal has no sense of this value. The generous man gives, because what he gives will do real good to the recipient: the prodigal, because he cares nothing about property, except as it enables him to acquire reputation, to gratify his pride, to make an ostentatious display of wealth, or to outstrip and mortify a rival. In all this there is not an approach towards generosity. On the contrary, the motives are grovelling and contemptible; and the manner, in which they are exhibited to the eye, is disingenuous and hypocritical; a gaudy dress upon a loathsome skeleton. But the prodigal fails of the very reward, which he proposes as the chief object of his expense. In spite of all his wishes, and efforts, even weak men perceive, that he is totally destitute of generosity; and those who most flatter, are the first to forsake, him : while, to shelter their own meanness and treachery, they proclaim, more loudly than any others, his weakness, faults, and miseries, to mankind. Let every youth, then, fasten his eye on this wretched character, this pernicious conduct, and this deplorable end. His own exposure let him strongly feel. Let him realize with solemn emotions of mind; that Idleness and Profusion are broad and beaten roads to ruin, both in this world and that which is to come. With these views, let him devote all his time to some useful and upright employment; and thus make every day yield its blessings. What he acquires by commendable industry, let him faithfully preserve by prudent, watchful care. In this manner he will become honourable in the sight of wise and good men, a blessing to himself, to his family, and to mankind; while he will, at the same time, fulfil one important end of his being. SERMON CXXIII.
Exodus xx. 15.
Having considered the Frauds, which men practise upon Themselves, and their Families, I shall now proceed to examine the II. Head of discourse, proposed at that time; viz. The Frauds, which we practise upon others. Of these, the 1. Class, which I shall mention, is those, which respect Borrowing the property of others. Frauds of this kind are so numerous, that it is impossible here to mention them all; and so common, that most persons practise them without even suspecting themselves to be criminal. Still they are frauds; and crimes, which admit of no excuse. Of this transgression persons are guilty, whenever they suffer that, which has been loaned to them, to be injured through their own JNegligence. This evil is extremely common; and by a great part of mankind is scarcely regarded, unless when the injury is considerable, as being censurable at all. Still it is obviously a