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Nature teaches us the parent's duty in controlling his offspring. The frailty of infancy, the ready submissiveness and docility of the youthful mind, declare the responsiblity of the parent.
knew it to be that sin, of which the apostle after- | will not exercise a father's authority, an authority wards wrote, when he said, 'There is a sin unto with which God had invested him, and for the death, I do not say he shall pray for it.' Theirs exercise of which he must give an account. was a sin without remedy, as it was a profanation of the only remedy for sin. They must die 'without mercy,' and not even a father's voice could be raised to heaven for them, if they continued to defile and pollute the only channel through which mercy could flow. All sin renders the perpetrator of it vile, but this sin most peculiarly so. All men who make themselves vile by defacing the image of God shall fall beneath the divine curse; but doubly awful shall that curse be, against those who render the priestly office vile in their persons. Their punishment is just, for their iniquity is peculiarly aggravated. 'I have sworn,' says Jehovah, 'that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.' But this verse leads us to consider the judgment brought on Eli, because of his being a partaker in the sin of his sons.
Revelation declares that God has clothed parents with this power, and implanted this docility in the young mind, in order to enable godly parents to restrain their children. And because of this the constitution of our nature, he commands children to obey their parents, and parents to rule well their household, for the glory of his name, 'These words which I command thee this day, saith the Lord, shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them unto thy children,' &c., Deut. vi. 6,7. Personal religion pure as Eli's is not enough; ardent prayer and godly example, like that of Eli's, is not enough; the spiritual welfare of our families must be endeavoured after, by all means diligently, constantly, painsfully, and with heartfelt anxiety, and the command of authority must follow the request of tenderness. Not guiltless surely would that mother be, who, rather than restrain the wayward fancy of her infant, would allow it to sport beside the devouring fire; and not less guiltless, if in the knowledge of determined sin in his child, a father refuses to employ the authority with which God has clothed him; guilty first of disobedience to the command of God, and guilty also of his children's sin, inasmuch as he did not what in him lay to prevent it. I know not how to characterize the cruel tenderness, the hard-hearted softness, of those parents, who by sinful indulgence will endanger the loss of their children's souls, and submit to see and hear the name of God dishonoured by those, whom they might, and could, and ought to have restrained. If such they be who read these lines, let them pause and solve this question: Is it thus with you, because you are indifferent about the salvation of your children's souls, and care not whether in eternity they stand on the right hand of God, or depart to endless woe? Is it thus with you, because you are indifferent about the honour of God, and think their sin but trifling? or is it thus with you, because you have not real
We cannot doubt, from the character of Eli, that in early youth he had instructed his children in their duty to God, and that he set them an example of what was right. It was not therefore through ignorance that they perverted the instituted worship of God. His language in the foregoing chapter intimates, that he prayed for them also, and likely cherished the hope that his prayers would be answered. He did not altogether wink at their sin, he did not think lightly of it, he did not give countenance to it. On the contrary he was greatly grieved by it, tenderly, yet solemnly warned them of its magnitude and inevitable consequence. Would that every professing Christian parent could truly say as much, in regard to those of their children who profane the name of God! But though sorrow of heart, like Eli's, delivered Lot from the charge of partaking in the sin of Sodom, yet it did not deliver Eli from the guilt of his sons. He was responsible for their sin, because, as their father, he had authority and power, and was bound to restrain their profanity. It is the simplest and most obviously just conclusion, that a man is guilty of that crime, which he has been commanded, delegated, and clothed with power to prevent, yet fails to do so. This was Eli's case, this was Eli's sin. He knew his sons' profanity, he knew that they were guilty of most heinous trans-ized the certainty of judgment, the magnitude of gression; he knew, that as their father he was required, and had authority to restrain them,' yet from a foolish tenderness of heart, he would not 'frown upon them,' (so the word may be rendered). He speaks to them, he reasons with them, but he will not command them, like Abraham; he
eternity, or the character of God as an all-seeing and sin-detesting Judge?' If not from one or other of these causes, whence does your neglect proceed? If you knew the blackness of sin, and realized the dread eternity, and truly loved your children, you would not, you could not be slow
in exercising your authority to restrain their way- | the apostle assigns a prominent place to the want wardness, and bring them back from their folly. of natural affection. Jeremiah, weeping over the Without much encouragement, and even against hope, you would leave no means untried. But where is your excuse if it appear from scripture, and be confirmed by all experience, that the promise of success is almost commensurate with the command to obey?
If then as parents you disown the relationship subsisting betwixt you and your children, treating them as you should not treat a stranger, O! take heed that your Father in heaven disown not you; lest it happen to you according to the true saying, 'With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.' Say not in regard to your children, Am I their keeper?' Nature and scripture acquaint you that such is your office. Fear then lest God suddenly coming to judge you, say, 'Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest no longer be steward.'
‹ And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually,' Job i. 5. THE instinct of nature, the voice of reason, and the revelation of God, all combine in affirming, as a solemn duty, the constant, habitual, and earnest endeavouring, after the welfare of those to whom we stand related as parents and guardians. And while to infidels it might be necessary to show the reality of an after existence, and its superior value to the life that now is, it is a plain and self-evident proposition to all, who acknowledge the truths of revelation, that if tender, and watchful, and selfdenying endeavours after our children's outward prosperity be laudable, much more when these regard their spiritual, their eternal well-being. Whatever men's actual practice may be, this must be their conviction; for just as much does the one exceed the other, as the soul is preferable to the body, as eternity is longer than time, and the enjoyment of God is a higher portion than all the enjoyments of wealth, or honour, or scientific lore. The tender care of parents, especially as regards the souls of their children, is a duty strongly pointed out in the word of God. In the catalogue of crimes by which those are characterised who have reached the lowest depths of depravity,
defections and the dire calamities of Israel, complains that the mothers of Jerusalem were deprived of natural affection. Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones, but the daughter of my people is become cruel like the ostriches in the wilderness.' And, among the keenest reproaches that can sting the heart of a neglectful mother is found in the inquiry: Can a mother forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?' And of all the strong, endearing, and expressive emblems by which the Almighty points out the tenderness, the constancy, the steadfastness of his love to us, the most affecting and interesting is that, which exhibits him as our Father in heaven, and enables us as children with confidence to approach him as a Father, all-wise, allmerciful, all-gracious, all-powerful. Yes, if there be any comfort in the emblem and promise of adoption, the duty of parents is abundantly plain.
As an illustration, and example of parental care, the conduct of Job is highly deserving of attention and imitation. Little need be said to recommend it; it finds an echo and response in every breast. Even those who live most neglectful of the duty, here set forth, cannot withhold the approval of conscience, as they read this verse. The infidel himself, who may smile at all religion as a dream, is constrained to acknowledge, that believing, as Job did, in the existence of a sinhating God, and in the importance and efficacy of sacrifice as a mean of atonement, he had been a heartless parent indeed, had shown himself a worthless character, had he manifested indifference to his children, or failed to propitiate the Deity in their behalf. In strong and happy contrast, is his conduct, with that of Eli, which last evening engaged our attention. He knew not of any open profanation of God's name with which his sons could be charged (which was not the case with Eli), but yet his affectionate heart yearns for them, and he trembles, lest the pure eye of God should have seen that, within them, which had not discovered its disformity to his eye, or to the eye of man. 'It may be;' he did not know that it was so: 'It may be;' he knew the frailty of man, the corruption of the human heart, and he was filled with parental anxiety, lest any of his children should dishonour the God whom he loved, lest any of them should sin, and curse God, and thus perish eternally. It may be,' and therefore he will use the appointed means. He did so, when the days
of feasting were gone about.' But it was a habitual exercise with him, to sanctify and offer burntofferings for all, and each of them, and that 'continually.'
It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.' What parent may not make this language of Job his own? What parent may not feel similar anxiety and fear, to that which agitated and possessed Job's heart? O! how few are blessed in the remembrance that by early culture, and early promise, it is only a 'may be,' or only a question, if they have done so 'in their heart.' But how few have been under the influence of such fear, have been concerned about the atonement for their children's sin, or sincere repentance being awakened in their hearts. Will it content or justify the mother, that she does not actually know that her child has fallen from yonder clift. If she knew that it may be' so—will she sit still with folded arms till she learn that it is so? And can a godly parent, who himself has felt the temptations and snares of youth, with indifference allow his child to wander unwarned and unwatched amidst the flowers which the destroyer scatters in the path of ruin. It may be that my sons have sinned,' is enough at any time to fill him with anxiety, who knows the nature and the consequences of sin, enough to make him exert all his parental authority to bring his children to the only sacrifice that can cleanse the soul from sin.
Mark then the conduct of Job and follow in his steps. 'Send' to them not only in the day of sickness, but after feasting, and in the midst of gladness. 'Send' to them, making your anxiety for their souls a matter of more than casual or chance conversation-Send' to them, even when they have passed the days of boyhood, and dwell in homes of their own-'send' to them that they may sanctify themselves, so training them, that your message will not be set aside-'send' to them, not only to inform them that you pray for them, but also that you desire them to pray with you. And while thus you 'send,' let your personal ardour and sincerity manifest itself like Job's. He rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all.' Let your dread of sin be seen, but no less plainly your persuasion of the grace of God in Christ Jesus. And let your conduct show that yours is no formal duty, but the deed of one, who runs so as to obtain, who worships that he may accepted, who sends on such an errand, in order, that at the bar of God he may be able to say, 'Here am I, and the children whom thou hast given.'
O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in
To little purpose, indeed, have we now been so
of that joy which fills the courts of the upper sanc- | while nature's light everywhere discloses a pretuary with adoring and eternal praise.
When David beheld the excellency of Jehovah's name as that was written in legible characters on every object of nature, and every event in providence, displayed in all the earth, and to the utmost verge of God's dominions—when he beheld its excellency, as discovered in the immensity and magnificence of creation, as manifested in his guiding the sun in the firmament, and sealing up the stars, as ruling over all, and swaying the sceptre of the universe, he might well exclaim in wonder and amazement, 'What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou shouldest visit him? Contemplating the divine greatness, David and every devout soul is led to think on his own worthlessness and insignificance and reflecting on his own nothingness, he cannot but be astonished at God's unbounded condescension; and it is in this condescension that to man his excellency appears most conspicuous and wonderful. In this his love is made manifest, and in this, there is a mystery and depth of love that angels do desire, and may through eternity desire to look into and explore.
How excellent is thy name! Could heart now feel or tongue express the full measure of that excellence, it could not, in that case, be what God declares it will be-the source of endless praise. Much as the ransomed soul now feels; strong, and ardent, and ecstatic, as is its song of praise -the excellency of the divine glory that we have seen is as nothing, when compared with that which still remains unknown. Now we see but darkly, and all that we learn of the excellency of God's name is, that it 'passeth understanding.' But even the full vision of the upper sanctuary will not discover all its beauty, the unclouded vision of souls made perfect, as they gaze through eternity, will not fully descry his glory: nor shall ransomed sinners find one moment, through eternity, without cause to veil their faces before Jehovah's brightness, as it advances in effulgence. Let us then, while we tarry here below, attune our hearts to those praises which we hope to sing, in higher strains, in the heavenly world. Here, in the lisping accents of the infancy of grace, let us begin the hymn of glory. Moreover let us strive and pray, that, as there is no corner of the earth, where men may not read the excellency of Jehovah's name, so in every kindred, and in every tongue this song may echo through all the earth;' that as God's glory covers all the earth, and reacheth even above the heavens, so it may be recognized and confessed by men, when, to confess his name, is the salvation of the soul. But
sent Deity, and bespeaks the excellency of God's
O! that grace from above were so largely and continuously imparted to our souls, that, in our spirit and lives, nought were found to contradict this the song of our lips; but that rather, by our trust, and hope, and cheerful acquiescence in the Lord's dealings, our light might so shine forth, that others might catch our spirit, and learn from our lips this song, and unite with us, in glorifying our most exalted and all-glorious Father, our most gracious and adorable Redeemer!
There is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O
For us to realize the truth contained in these words, is to possess a powerfully constraining motive against all profanity in word or action. We say action, because our life and manner speak as plainly and distinctly as our tongue; and it may be said as truly, that 'out of the abundance of the heart' the hand moveth, as 'the mouth speaketh.' But let us view these words specially in reference to the tongue.
Of all sins men think most lightly of the sins of the tongue. It is the common excuse of the profane swearer, that his oaths and profanity are mere words, an empty breath, a meaningless sound, to which his heart responds not; and hence he infers that God takes no cognizance of them, neither are they offensive to him. To such it might be sufficient to reply that the very letter of the law describes their very case; and while it doubtless extends to the feeling of the heart, it expressly, and in so many words declares, 'Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;' shalt not use it but for a good and holy purpose; nothing whereby Jehovah has made himself known, shall by thee be treated with irreverence; 'not a word in thy tongue' expressive of God's names, titles, or attributes, shall by thee be regarded as idle and meaningless. This plainly implies that the glorious and fearful name of God
is profaned when not used with that reverence chiefly, and more powerfully, when in company and solenin awe which so well becometh him.
But while this may be enough in reply to those who make such vain excuses, it may be well to deepen our convictions as a preventative from a sin into which many are so prone to fall, and as an incentive to a duty which we are too ready to forget, the sin of speaking lightly of Jehovah and his ways, the duty of speaking reverently of him, and all that he does. For this purpose observe:
1. That the tongue when it speaks thoughtlessly, and gives utterance to idle words, is the great mean by which profanity is disseminated.
with others; he tempts us to sow the seed when we stand upon ground where it can take root; his object being to dishonour God, and, through us, to lead others on to sin, and thus to dissever us from God. 'Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth. The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell. This being the case, who will say that God does not take cognizance of our idle words, or will not hold those guilty who under any pretence take his name in vain.
2. This verse leads us also to note the great means or motive that will restrain impiety and profanity of language. When we bow the knee in prayer, or realize the presence of God, we feel no inclination to give utterance to irreverent words. A believing and quick sense of the divine presence controls our lips by solemnizing our hearts. Levity of thought being checked, levity of speech is restrained—the one gone, the other is absent-the fountain-head being dried up, the stream ceases to flow. Let us then realize the solemn truth, that there is not a word in our tongue, but, lo, he knoweth it altogether;' not only knoweth it, but taketh notice of it, recordeth it in the book of his remembrance, and is much and grievously offended with it. Let us realize the presence of God in every company, and in every place, and in every possible situation
The outward senses are the appointed means of communication betwixt man and man, and they are adapted to convey to the mind those influential impressions of good or evil which form the character and dispositions of the heart. We all know the power of language in awakening the dormant feelings of the heart. Insulting language, or jeering words, even when known to be spoken in jest, raise a storm of passion in the most placid breast, which the strongest efforts of self-control can scarcely restrain. The remembrance of our youthful days may teach us that the deepest principle will not altogether guard the young-that by hearing the idle or ribbald oath of the profane, their purity of language will be endangered. The experience of every age testifies aloud, that the children, the associates, or the servants of the profane talker are in peculiar danger of corruption, His words cannot be listened to with impunity-realize it as fully as we do in the hour of prayer, or they are like sparks of fire falling on the withered herbage; like the miasmata of an infectious pestilence, the most healthful cannot resist the subtile poison. But this is not all; not only the words of profanity on the lips of others, but especially in our own, fan the flame within us. He whose feelings have scarce been moved by the tale of wrongs which another told, no sooner begins to set it forth himself than his bosom swells with deep emotion; and he, whose sense of duty is scarcely lessened by the levity with which another speaks of it, no sooner himself begins to speak of it in a slighting tone, than his heart assumes the character of his voice. So it is emphatically with all profanity. To the very last it is repulsive in the mouth of another, but in our own we lose sight of its blackness. Like deformity, we only see its hideous aspect in another's face or form, but forget or excuse it in our own. That profanity of language is thus the fruitful seed of profanity of heart, is obvious from the diligence and manner of Satan's tempting us to its commission. He tempts us not when alone merely, but
in the house of God, or at the communion table— realize it as fully as when standing by the deathbed of a Christian friend, or ourselves placed on that couch whence we shall never rise-let eternity rise to view, and we will feel no more inclined to the utterance of profane words in the ordinary scenes of life than we do on occasions such as these.
Let our deep and ever-present conviction be, Thou, Lord, seest me.' The Lord hears, and hearkens;' hears as truly and fully my idle words as my praying voice. And let us live under the deep and abiding conviction, and dread remembrance, that since the most idle and vain word may be to ourselves, or others, the seed of profanity, there is not an idle word for which we shall not have to give an account at the last day. Fearful will be their doom, and bitter their agony of soul, whose idle words have unintentionally spread around them the contagious pestilence of profanity, infecting as with leprosy all brought into contact with them, their children, domestics, associates, and friends. O! that our conversation were