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SERMON XXIX.

ON DOING GOOD.

PREACHED TO THE CANDIDATES FOR THE BACCALAUREATE

IN 1816.

GALATIANS vi. 10.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men ; es

pecially unto them, who are of the household of faith.

This passage of Scripture is founded upon that, which immediately precedes it, “ And let us not be weary in well-doing : for in due time we shall reap, if we faint not.” That, which we may be expected in this case to reap, is mentioned in the 8th verse; viz. life everlasting. The original language at the commencement of the 9th verse is. To de xanov WO18VTES, Mn Exxaxwjev: literally, “ While we are doing that, which is morally excellent, beautiful, or lovely; let us not flag :" " let us not lose our energy, nor become feeble and spiritless in our exertions."

On the contrary, let us always be vigorolis, and animated, in the performance of this great duty. The original words rendered, let us do good, are sgry of Wisda to ayadov : “ let us labour that which is good,” i. e. “let us do it with the diligence and exertion, with which industrious men labour in their ordinary business." From a comparison of this phraseology we learn, that that, which is to be done by us, is not only to be beneficial to mankind, but is to be done with such a disposition as will render the performance morally excellent and lovely in the sight of God; and that it is our duty to labour in this employment with firm resolution, and unremitted energv.

This duty we are required to perform, especially, towards those, who are of the household of faith. For this part of the injunction, obvious, and ample reasons may without any difficulty be alleged. But the time will not permit me to consider, either the reasons, or the injunction itself. I shall, therefore, confine my observations to the general precept in the text; which requires us

To do good unto all men, as we have opportunity.

The first care of every man is undoubtedly to be employed, in all ordinary cases, upon himself; and the next, upon his family, The reasons are plain and decisive. God has committed these objects peculiarly to him. To them he can do more good than to any others; as they are always within his reach; as their wants are more immediately and perfectly known to bim; and as he can supply them more easily, more uniformly, and more effectually, than he can those of any other persons. It is hardly neces. sary to observe, that what is true of their wants is equally true of all their other interests. In addition to this it is to be remembered, that, unless he perform the duty here specified, it will never be performed: for his fellow-men will never take the charge of it upon themselves.

But, beside this great and indispensable duty of all men, it is in the power of all to do some, and of most to do much, gvod to others, who are not their immediate connections. The performance of this duty I consider as the great obert of the apostle in the text; an object, worthy of his commission, of his inspiration, and of the glorious Being, by whom he was inspired.

What St. Paul thought it proper thus solemnly to enjoin upon all, to whom the Gospel should come. I shall endeavour to impress upon the minds of my audience; and, particularly, upon

the youths, for whom the present Discourse is especially intended.

You are now, my young friends, about to take your leave of the Seminary, in which you have received your principal education, and the principal means of enabling you to live usefully and honourably in the world. I have heretofore given you many instructions, kindly, and sincerely, I know, and as I hope usefully to you. The last, which as a body you will ever receive from me, I am to give to you now. If they are not profitable to you, I intend, that it shall not be my fault. Your past behaviour, while under my instruction, merits my cordial commendation: and for

bids me to entertain a single doubt that the instructions, which I now address to you, will be received with candour and good-will. I hope they will not be forgotten.

The first class of benefits, which you are required to confer upon your fellow-men, and which will ordinarily be more in your power than any other, is formed of such, as are naturally involved in the peculiar employments, to which you will hereafter devote yourselves. These to an observing man will usually be obvious; and by all men will be acknowledged to be indispensable parts of your duty. Whether you betake yourselves to the pursuit of Agriculture, Commerce, Law, Medicine, or Theology; whether you are found in private or public stations; it will be admitted by each of you, that the business, to which you are thus addicted, ought to be performed faithfully by yourselves, and usefully to others, But this class of beneficial efforts I shall not insist upon at the present time. My chief object is to urge upon you a beneficence, collateral to this ; a beneficence, which will be suggested to you almost daily by passing events; which it will be in your power to render without neglecting your professional duties; which in single cases will often be of more importance than such of those duties, as can be performed within an equal period; which, united, may be justly considered as of inestimable value; and which on all these accounts is indispensably required of you by your Maker. Let me now point out to you some of the ways, in which you may advantageously exert this beneficence towards your fellow-men.

As a preliminary to all the observations, which will be made in this discourse, I shall suppose you to be established in some useful business; which will furnish you with competent means of subsistence, and in the prosecution of which, if faithful to yourselves, you will acquire in some good degree reputation and influence. In this situation let me urge upon you, not merely as generous and honourable conduct, but as a duty to God and to mankind, from which you cannot be released, such encouragement of well-behaved young men, as they may need, and as it may be in your power to furnish them without too serious inconvenience to yourselves. Young men, at their entrance into life, are apt to feel all the difficulties, really involved in their circumstances; and usually many

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more, which are chiefly imaginary. These, however, operate op their minds with the same force, as if they were real. The field is to them new and unlimited; and the objects, which it contains, are numerous, and for that reason perplexing. Naturally, they fasten their eyes on those which are forbidden. By the number of these objects, they are perplexed: by their nature, they are disheartened. During a period to come, of greater or less length, many of you, should Providence prolong your lives, may not improbably find yourselves in this very situation. Very many others have been in it before you; and by the blessing of God have surmounted the obstacles, which lay in their way to success. This extensive experience proves, that they are less formidable, and ought to be less discouraging, than you will imagine them. When you shall bave triumphed over them all; let me exhort you to remember the anxiety and despondence, which you felt in these circumstances : and from your own sufferings learn to feel, and to relieve, the sufferings of such as come after you. To be the friend of young men is to sustain one of the most respectable characters, and to act one of the most useful parts, ordinarily within the reach of a person, even of distinguished worth. It is to comfort the heart, sustain and invigorate the energy, multiply the blessings, and expand the usefulness, of many youths, fitted, both by their endowments and their dispositions, to become benefactors to mankind. At the same time the good, to be done, may be accomplished in most cases with very little self-denial or inconvenience. Often, advice may be all that is necessary : not onfrequently, countenance: and at times, sympathy. Should other aid be needed; he, who communicates it, will be the more deserving; and enjoy the satisfaction regularly springing from pure beneficence.

Another mode of doing good, which will be extensively in your power, is to befriend Education ; particularly that, which is furnished by purochial schools. On this copious subject I can only give hints.

It is proverbially acknowledged, that, independently of the operations of the Divine Spirit, the character of men is chiefly formed by the discipline of childhood : and in our own country a great part of this discipline is furnished by parochial schools. New England justly r'nims the reputation of having distinguished

herself by an attention to these Institutions, which, to say the least, is uncommon; and no part of New England, perhaps, more than this State. Yet it is unquestionably true, that our own system is in many respects lamentably imperfect. Often, this is in various particulars the character of the instructors; and always, as I believe, of the scheme of instruction. Even the modes, in which reading, writing, and spelling, are customarily taught, are extremely defective; and seem rather to bave been the result of accident than of thought. The time, spent in learning to read and write badly, is from twice to six times what would be necessary to learn both well. The waste might easily be applied to the attainment of other knowledge, confessedly of great value.

It cannot be denied, that this subject is of very serious importance: since it must affect, to a considerable extent, the well-being of the whole rising generation. Comparatively, however, it is insignificant. Moral and religious instruction, an object of far higher consequence, there is reason to fear, is often either wholly neglected, or administered with such carelessness, as is nearly allied to absolute neglect; or is given so erroneously and imperfectly, as to be little better, and sometimes perhaps worse, than

There are undoubtedly cases, widely and happily different from all these; but, it is to be feared, they are far fewer than a good man would wish.

Were every schoolmaster to comprehend the extent and importance of his office; were he at the same time a Christian ; or would he even act as a Christian ; and were the scheme of instruction to be formed on the principles, taught in the Gospel ; he would become a preacher of righteousness to his little flock; and his instructions hopeful means of their piety. To parents, who trained up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, he would become in this case a powerful aid; and to those, who did not, the best of all substitutes. In this case every child in the community, who was sent to school, would in a good degree receive a religious education; and be hopefully prepared to be virtuous here, and happy hereafter.

The change, which would be made in the character of the next generation, were a complete reformation to take place in both particulars, would, I suspect, be greater than the most sanguine man can be easily induced to believe. To effectuate such

none.

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