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take our nature upon him, and to seek that which was lost, that through the means of his redemption we might be reconciled unto him, and rendered capable of receiving the precious gift of salvation from him. Recollect, my dear children, that we have all a share of this sin to answer for; that we are all born with an hereditary portion of it, and that the business of our lives ought to be the combating with our propensity to it. Nor must you imagine, that because you are young, your faults are necessarily trifling in themselves, and consequently will not be visited with the displeasure of God. The children that mocked Elisha were only children, and committed what some might deem only a childish fault: nevertheless, in the sight of God, it was otherwise; and insomuch, as they were insolent and impious to the utmost of their power, in mocking the chosen minister of the Most High, so did He visit them with his wrath, as severely as if they had sinned in the ripened understanding and more extended sphere of their manhood; for at the prayer of Elisha, "there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them." So if you mock your elders and your teachers, or nourish a rebellious and ungrateful feeling towards them; if you are undutiful to your parents, or unkind towards your brothers or sisters, or companions; if you suffer yourselves to
lie, pilfer, or deceive; if you nourish in your bosoms envy, hatred, malice, pride, selfishness, revenge, covetousness, or any other base suggestion of our fallen nature, you estrange yourselves as much from heaven, and act as much in opposition to the will of your Heavenly Father, at the moment, as you could at a more mature age, by giving way to the same evil feelings on a more enlarged scale.
The Scriptures, I have already remarked, are full of endearing expressions concerning children and young persons; too full for the idea to be for one moment entertained that their thoughts and actions are of small importance in the sight of God, or to their own salvation. Jesus Christ took little children up in his arms, and blessed them, and said, "of such is the kingdom of heaven;" but they were little children indeed; whose minds were not yet opened to the knowledge of right and wrong, who had not learned, as the language of scripture mercifully expresses it, to "discern between their right hand and their left hand," and who, therefore, could not have fallen into actual transgression. Of such, we are told that "their angels continually see the face of their Father, which is in heaven." A proof that their innocence, through the mercy of the Creator, obtains them admittance into a state of happiness, for it is only the pure who can see God.
"Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness."-JEREMIAH xiii.
"Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth. LORD is his name."-AMOS v.
WHEN you are retiring to rest, my dear children, let every thing in your deportment and conversation be in unison with the quietness of the hour. See as the evening approaches, how all nature gradually becomes still; night draws her sable curtain over the creation; the flowers bend their heads and fold up their blossoms; the birds seek the shelter of their nests; and man suspends his labour and returns to his home; the stars slowly pierce the heavens, one by one, and take their places, the silent centinels of the night; a countless host, attesting the glory of their Creator. It is the protection of that Creator, who made the heavens and
the moon and the stars, that you have the privilege of invoking; surely, then, the last thought before you sink into repose, should be of the goodness of Him,through whose ever watchful providence you hope to wake again in health and peace. Efface therefore from your mind every anxious care, every vain imagination, every injurious feeling, and fit it for communion with your Maker by sacred meditation. "Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night," says the Psalmist; and again, "The Lord hath granted his loving-kindness in the day time, and in the night season did I sing of him, and made my prayer unto the God of my life." "I call to remembrance my song in the night; I commune with my own heart, and my spirit made diligent search!" "I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law!" "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee, because of thy righteous judgments." Thus we may see how profitable it is at all times to offer up the worship of our hearts to the Lord; how acceptable it is to Him, with whom "the darkness and the light are both alike;" and doubly sweet and salutary must it be for us to purify and elevate our thoughts from all worldly objects, just at the moment when we are sinking ⚫ into that tranquil rest, which is an emblem of our
last repose. " Sleep," says Sir Thomas Browne, as poetically as devoutly, "is death's younger brother, and so like him, that I never dare trust him without my prayers;" but let it be remembered that if sleep be like death, death also is like sleep to those who, having learned early to number their days and incline their hearts unto wisdom, stand prepared to obey the call of their Lord whenever he shall think fit to summon them into his presence: and as "of that hour no man knoweth," let it be our care to entertain no thought on the moment of our giving ourselves up to the temporary insensibility which the weakness of our nature calls for, but such as we might venture to take with us into eternity; by this constant watch over all our thoughts and words and works, alone it is, that we may hope so to sleep the sleep of death," as to awake again to a joyful resurrection, through the infinite mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.