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First; for parents to give their children a Christian education, according to their power.
Here is the beginning of all our future misery. Children are indulged; they are suffered to have their own wills, to make their own choices, which are always foolish. This helps to strengthen their corruption, which will make their hearts to ache before ever they can master it. Whereas, if they were brought up in the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom; if they were made sensible betimes, what they were sent into the world for, what they ought most to fear, and what to hope for, above all earthly blessings; if they were taught the way of God's commandments, and discreetly corrected when they should forget their duty; this would preserve their minds from the corruptions of an evil world. Whereas those that are accustomed to evil, and have the seeds of wickedness cherished in their hearts, will meet with the greatest difficulties in overcoming their evil habits.
Now, this being very often the case, there is no way left, but,
Secondly, to fly to God for help, and beg His most gracious assistance to break these double bonds; to put His fear into our hearts; to awaken in us a lively sense of our eternal ruin; to draw us by the cords of love, that our faith, and fear, and love, may make us choose the way of God's commandments, and keep us stedfast in them, till by perseverance in well-doing, we have made our calling and election sure.
Let us consider, that we are now no longer children; that it is now our duty to live like men, who know, or ought to know, the danger of living in a stupid neglect of eternity.
If children are led by ill examples to think of nothing but their present satisfaction, it is because they are no better taught, and know no better; but this will not excuse them when they come to be men. It will not then be enough to say, I do as the rest of the world does. This will not satisfy an awakened conscience, which will tell us, that God has expressly commanded us not to be conformed to this present evil world.
To conclude: all Christians agree in this, that some time in our lives we must resolve in good earnest to put away SERM. childish things, and to live like men who have their senses LXXXII.
about them. Amongst these, very many put off their conversion so long till death overtakes them unawares. Some contract such evil habits, as makes them plainly despair of ever overcoming them. Others live in a way of repenting and sinning all the days of their life.
To prevent all these mischiefs as much as may be, the Church has appointed a time when all people shall be called upon to consider, to resolve, and to promise, to live as becomes men, as becomes Christians, as becomes those that hope for salvation, The time the Church has appointed is, when children are come to years of discretion.
And this she has done for a very good reason; namely, that people may, with their own choice and consent, dedicate themselves to God, before sin and hell have got the dominion over them,-before evil habits are become a second nature.
And a sad account are those parents like to make, who neglect such a time of preparing their children to receive the grace of God, then offered them after so seasonable and solemn a manner. They do not consider, that the wisest of men, without the grace of God, are too weak for so great a work as all Christians are to go through.
What then do they think will become of their children, (1 Pet. 5. whom they abandon to the malice of the devil, who, like a
roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may (be permitted to) devour, finding them out of God's ways and protection.
Let all others. put their trust in God, whose grace is sufficient to enable us to do whatever He expects from us. This He has shewn in the conversion of others whom He has effectually called from an evil life to a life of true religion, in spite of all their enemies, and the great corruption of their nature.
God grant that we may never resist His grace, nor grieve His Holy Spirit, by which we are sanctified. To Whom, &c.
PREACHED AT A CONFIRMATION.
THE KNOWLEDGE NECESSARY FOR EVERY ONE WHO TAKES UPON
HIMSELF THE PROFESSION OF A CHRISTIAN, POINTED OUT AND ILLUSTRATED.
LUKE xiv. 28-30.
For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first,
and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Our blessed Saviour well foresaw, that when the Gospel came to be preached to the world, when men were told that their becoming members of the Church of Christ gave them a title to the protection and love of God, a right to heaven and eternal happiness, many would desire to become Christians.
Now, that they might not be deceived in their hopes; that they might not undertake a profession in hopes of being great gainers by it, and afterwards forsake it because of the difficulties they might probably meet with; He makes use of this parable, to make men sensible how wisely they go about their worldly concerns. That they may not be discouraged or disappointed, they sit down, and consider with themselves, they consult with others wiser than themselves, they think what difficulties they shall meet with, what it will cost them, to compass their ends. From whence He would have us make this conclusion; that for the very same reason, when people desire to become Christians in hopes of salva
SER M. tion, they ought in the first place to know what will be ex-
pected from them, and whether they will resolve to do what
If a man has a house to build; before he lays one stone,
Therefore, to carry on the design of this parable: as a man, who is about to undertake any work of moment, would be glad to be informed what difficulties he is likely to meet with, what will be necessary to bring his work to perfection, how much he will be a loser if he miscarries; it is as necessary that every person, who takes upon himself the profession of a Christian, should beforehand know,
First; what God will expect from him.
Secondly; what discouragements he will certainly meet with.
Thirdly; what assistances he may depend upon.
Lastly; what means he must use to gain the end of his
And these are the particulars which, by the good grace of
I. And, in the first place, every person who desires to be
We all know, that we must renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh; that we must believe in God, and keep His commandments.
But it is not enough to know, and to say this, unless you resolve to live like people that really believe this to be their duty and their interest. Whoever hopes to go to heaven when he dies, must be in earnest while he lives to fit himself for it.
This is signified in the text, by sitting down and counting the cost ; intimating thus much, that if I think I ought to be
a Christian, I ought likewise seriously, and often, to think what it is to be one; I ought often to consider the promises which God hath made to such as fear and serve Him to the best of their power, that my heart being full of the sense of my own unworthiness, and God's goodness, I may very cheerfully and thankfully do whatever I shall at any time be convinced will please IIim.
Now, he that is thus disposed, and resolved that for the sake of heaven, which he hopes for, and for the love of God who has provided such good things for them that serve Him; he that is resolved at all times, for these reasons, to do what he shall be persuaded will please God, is in a fair way to happiness, let his understanding be never so mean.
And this I affirm to you, and this I will shew you from God's Word, that none of you may think, either that want of learning will excuse you from keeping the commandments of God, or hinder you from attaining the promises Ile has made His children and servants. “If any man (saith Christ) John 7. 17. will do His will,” that is, really desires to please God," he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself :” that is, the Spirit of God is always ready to enlighten the minds, and to inform the judgments of those that seriously desire to please Him. Thus it was with St. Paul before his conversion : he was verily persuaded, that he did God good service in persecuting the Church; and God was pleased, even by a miracle, to inform him better of his duty.
And I rather insist upon this, than burden your memories with too many things at once.
Reason thus with yourselves : Is it not a great mercy that God will be pleased to pardon me, for Christ's sake, though I have many ways offended Ilim ? Is it not a great favour that God has resolved (if it is not mine own fault) to make such a poor creature as I am equal to the angels of heaven? Is not that God greatly to be feared, who, when I am dead, can raise me to life again, and reward or punish me for ever? Are not the joys of heaven very great, when Jesus Christ who knew them, and so many wise and good men in hopes of them, have suffered death, to encourage others to set their hearts upon them? And must not the torments of hell be terrible