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man waketh in vain.” Men may rise early and sit up late, yet all in vain: for so, by diligent discharge of duty accompanied with reliance on him, giveth he his beloved sleep. While his mind is so engaged on the important subject of trusting in God, the parental relation and its responsibilities break in upon his thoughts, and, as if by surprise, he exclaims, “ Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord.”

These words imply,



We do not hold them as property of our own acquisition, nor as at our own disposal. Our title to the possession is through the gift of God, and we hold them under such restrictions and reservations as have been dictated by his wisdom and benevolence. Duty to the sovereign Giver demands, that we maintain an habitual conviction that they are his, and a just sense of his goodness in bestowing them. Jacob when asked by his brother Esau, 66 And who are these that are with you,” answered, “ These are the children which God hath graciously given thy servant.” Joseph called his firstborn Manasseh; for God by this, with other instances of his kindness, had made him forget the toils of his past life and his father's house. The second he “ called Ephraim; for God had caused him to be fruitful in the land of his affliction.” By these names he expresses his sense of God's goodness in bestowing upon him an heritage so invaluable. When Joseph brought his sons to his aged and now dying father, the patriarch inquired, " And who are these?“They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place.” “Of all my sons,” says David, “ for God hath given me many sons, he hath chosen my son Solomon to sit upon

the throne of the kingdom of the Lord.” The envious, the impatient Rachel accosted Jacob saying, “ Give me children or else I die.” Her impiety, in the wrong direction of her prayer, was reproved by the patriarch, who, being angry, said, “ Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” Of God it is said, “ That he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” In this light the Christian in every age has regarded him. Who can be the author of life to any thing that lives, but he that never began to be!—Who is uncreated. Wherever you turn your eyes upon God's vast dominion, you behold it swarming with life. The insect, seen only by microscopic aid; the atom that floats in the sunbeam; the worm and the serpent that crawl; the multifarious tenants of the deep; the beasts of prey that roam through the desert, and the domestic animal that waits at the stall: these all have derived life from the same creative power

which animates the tongue of the seraph, which enlivens the wing of the ministering angel, and “ which sendeth man to his work.” Shall we not all join with David in exclaiming, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works; in wisdom hast thou made them all: the whole earth is full of thy riches.” Shall creatures, then, that breathe by the inspiration of the Almighty, set up a claim of exclusive right to their own being; or shall they so set claim to their own offspring, barely because to them is left the care and direction of their infancy, childhood, and youth. The claim, if made, is founded either in ignorance or arrogance; for “ children are an heritage of the Lord.” Nor are we to admit the thought, that the inheritance bestowed is of small, or even of common importance. That little heart that palpitates within that bosom, is actuated by a spirit that will never die. That little immortal may be destined to tell the story of redeeming love, and to bring salvation to many of his fellow men. It


live and be the support and comfort of aged and feeble parents. It may be the instrument of public good to its country; or it may be an example of wickedness, and the subject of misery unutterable and everlasting. And all this, the reasonable and natural result of parental faithsulness, or the contrary. Parents we appeal to you; for ye can tell the excellence and worth of this inheritance. Why are your children the objects of your anxious care? Because they are most ardently and tenderly loved. The love of offspring is in man a law of nature. “ Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb.” Was there ever a heart so leaden and motionless as not to be moved by an infant's smile? Their charms displayed in the artless forms to which instinct leads, when reason scatters her earliest rays upon the soul, how enchanting! The first voice it utters tells you

that it is a sufferer. It is cast into your arms forlorn and helpless. Its cries are eloquent pleas for compassion; and if they ever fall ineffectual on the ears of any, then there are monsters in human form.

" He that provideth not for his own, and especially those of his own household, hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” To parents, then, children are a precious gift of God. They are a treasure which they are bound to improve for their Master's use.



This seems to be the sentiment as enforced in the second clause, 6 and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” That is, the children which God has given you for an heritage are to be restored to him as a reward for his gift, improved by the performance of all parental offices. Should I mistake the sentiment of inspiration intended in these words, the position which I have taken still presents a duty binding on parents universally; and the general principle applies to every man and every thing we call our own. The principle which I maintain is briefly this: As we are God's, so the children which God has given us are his; and that they are given us, that we may train them for and dedi. cate them to him. By the Spirit of inspiration we are told that “the Lord's people are his portion.” This is said of them as a people in covenant with God, and has a respect to Israel as a nation. This is plainly stated in the following passage: “ Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; and to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be a holy people unto the Lord thy God.” Deut. 26:17, 18, &c. These words of the covenant could only be addressed to the living individuals of the nation; yet they plainly include the future generations; as the whole form applies only in a future sense, viz. the promises on God's part, and the pledges of fidelity on Israel's part. Now if parents pledged themselves to God in behalf of their offspring; and if they had a full prospect of a blessing on them as the reward of their fidelity, how could they redeem their pledge to God, or reasonably expect a blessing on their seed, but by teaching them concerning God and his ways; concerning their duty and their hope of reward. After God had promised to Abraham, that he should be the father of many nations, that he should be exceedingly fruitful, and that kings should descend from him, he adds, “ I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thce.” So dealt God in renewing his covenant with Isaac and with Jacob. And why does God embrace the parents with the children in his covenant? That the parents might be held by the special covenant obligation, as well as by natural aflection and the interest which they have in the eternal well-being of the children, to train them by every proper ineans for God. Good men feel the obligation, and their hearts glad. den with the hope of blessing on their labors. God holds them bound to fidelity, and considently looks for the proper fruit of their labor. “ I know him”-I know Abraham-or that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” The change of dispensation from the forms of the ancient ritual to the simple and venerable forms of the gospel, has produced no alteration in the parental and filial relations, neither in that which exists between God and man. The gospel exhibition of grace as it respects men in successive generations is as follows: 6 The promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." It is to you, believing parent, and to your sccd; but it extends now to heathen nations, said to be “afar off,” and to the children of such of them as shall be savingly called; and so on, to the believing and their children, until all the “ earth shall see the salvation of God.” Upon this is founded the parent's privilege of dedicating his children in baptism unto the Lord. In this dedication, the parent pleads this promise, and trusts in him that made it, that he and that his offspring may be jointly pariakers of the blessings it contains: viz. that God may be his God and the God of his tender infant. In this dedication, too, the church receives the promise of the parent on the child's behalf, that he will teach and otherwise faithfully train it in the ways of the Lord. And the church becomes bound to have oversight of his fidelity, and to see to it that he is faithful to his vows. By such means as these, a most reasonable expectation may be entertained, that the Lord will give efficacy to his own appointed instrumentality, and come and save. Let us now see how this view of the subject accords with the directions or injunctions of the Scriptures to parents and to children. When Moses had recited to the people of Israel the substance of the covenant at Horeb, and had subjoined the most solemn exhortations to keep the statutes and commandments contained in it, he calls their attention to the only object of worship, and to the sum of all duty in the following words: “ Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might: And these words, which I command thee, this day, shall be in thine heart:" subduing their corruptions, regulating their purposes, animating their affections, and directing all their actions, as a people who sought and had reason to expect blessings from God. Without this, their mere mental acquaintance with divine things could avail them nothing personally; nor without this, would they be inclined to use them to any benefit in the relative obligations of life. Having thus taught them how they were individually dependent on a living and heart-governing power of divine truth, for their own present and eternal well-being, the Spirit of the Lord, by Moses, commands as follows: “ Thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children; and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and


when thou risest up: And thou shalt bind them as a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes; and thou shalt write them upon the posts of thine house, and on thy gates.” Whether the interest which parents have in the felicity of their offspring, or God's rightful claim upon their services, are most prominent in this passage is not easily determined. Children are spoken of as being the property of parents. “ Teach them diligently to your children.” But why does God, in forms so varied, in terms so strong, and on occasions which would seem to admit apology, press the duty of parental fidelity, if he did not hold them as his peculiar property, and as in circumstances peculiarly dangerous? Parents are to make religion the subject of their conversation on the little occasions of respite from common labors, when they sit in their houses waiting or receiving their wonted repast; as they go to or return from the labors of the day. They must remind them of the Keeper of Israel that never slumbereth nor sleepeth before they deliver them over to sleep, or take repose to themselves. They must tell them, that trusting in this faithful Guardian, they are equally safe from “the terror by night" and from “ the pestilence that walketh in darkness," as from “ the arrow that flieth by day,” or “the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” In the morning, before the cares of the day occupy the attention, the subject must be introduced. They should be told that the appointed angels of their Father in heaven have watched their pillows, and enjoined to seek his guidance and his protecting care through the day. Fearful of neglect, parents are commanded to bind them for a sign, or remembrancer, upon their hand, that as the employment of the hand in business demands the attention of the eye, they might have a monitor continually pointing to the duty. So habitually must they be engaged on the all-solemn theme, that their countenances must, by their fixed solemn adjustment, speak to the children around the devotional feelings of the heart. The posts of their doors and their gates must bear witness to their fidelity, in showing to their dear offspring the way of life, as fully as if the whole were described or written upon them. Of worth how unspeakable are immortal souls! And how full of wisdom and good will to men are the arrangements of God's providence, by which he prepares them for future felicity. Parents are ministers of his for the instruction of infancy and childhood. They are guards of his, set between them and danger. The laws of superiority in the parent, and of subjection in the child, which are indeed laws of nature, founded in the dependence of the child and the strong affection of the parent, abundantly discover the divine intention to be, that parents teach and in all things direct and rule their offspring on his behalf. The written law is in exact accordance with

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