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spark within them, which shall hereafter mingle and blaze with the seraph, that “adores and burns" with holy love before the throne of God; that shall still flame when the sun and the stars shall be torn from the heavens; or that shall be quenched in everlasting darkness, or only give that fearful light, which renders more dreadful the regions of horror and despair.
And not only will they themselves dwell in heaven or in hell, but they will also be the means of conducting others to one of these abodes. . Every person has a circle whom he influences to good or evil. Every spirit that is now blest or lost, has not only received impressions from others which tended to lead him to glory or misery, but has also given similar impulses to those with whom he associated. Of what infinite consequence then is the feeblest child ? Thus feeble once was Paul, and those who, like him, are now in glory, surrounded by those whom they were the instruments of plucking from ruin: thus feeble once were the blasphemer, the infidel, the profligate, who groan in torments, while the curses of those whose principles they subverted, and whose morals they overthrew, and who have followed them to the regions of despair, pursue, and for ever shall
Yes, could we have a proper idea of the intensity and duration of future punishments or joys, we should, when we remembered that another birth awaited these children when they should open their eyes on the unchanging world, cry with the utmost solcmnity, " What manner of children shall they be ?"
Parents should ask this question,
III. With a serious and habitual recollection, that according to the ordinary course of God's providence, the
eternal happiness of their children greatly depends upon them.
God works by means. His providence excludes not human agency; and if you wish that your children should be holy in this life, and happy in that which is to come, carefully attend to their religious education. This he commands you in his word. To the faithful performance of this duty he has given the most precious promises. These promises we see constantly accomplished: for who are those who ordinarily are members and ornaments of the church of Christ? Are they not those generally who can recollect the early instructions of a pious father, or the tears and prayers of a mother solicitous for their everlasting welfare?
Parents, you have seen the importance of the charge committed to you. These children are God's; he has intrusted them to your keeping; but he will require an account of them from you. · For these immortal souls that are in your care, Jesus died : he will from his throne of judgment demand of you the purchase of his blood. Feel then your responsibility, and to the question in the text add another, • What manner of parent shall I be? Shall my conduct be so conscientious and holy that I may hope, through the divine blessing, to see my child the friend of Jesus and the heir of glory: or shall I here abandon him to sin and Satan, and hear his curses and reproaches poured upon me throughout eter
If you desire to see your children holy and happy, begin early to instruct them. In the very first periods of life, they are susceptible of those religious impressions that may decide their future character. Speak to them of God and the Redeemer, of heaven and hell, before their minds receive false impressions. Those only who have never been in the habit of conversing with children on divine things, will maintain that such subjects are either uninteresting or unintelligible to them.
Persevere in this religious instruction and admonition. Continue to watch, lest the good seed that was sown in infancy be rooted up. There are many who are attentive to the child while they neglect the youth, who instead of cherishing the impressions that were early made, and endeavouring to fasten them upon the heart and conscience, suffer them to be effaced : who become 6 weary in well-doing;" and abstaining from the pious admonition, the tender exhortation, and the heart-felt entreaty, drop “ the staff of domestic authority, and neglect the book of domestic wisdom :" who as their children advance in life, seldom advise them how to obtain everlasting blessedness, but speak to them only of the road that conducts to temporal wealth, or honour, or wisdom : who eagerly reprove them for a breach of fashionable manners, but are silent when they violate the law of God. It is not difficult to say “what manner of children those will be,” who are thus educated. They will be neglecters of their God, strangers to serious piety, and the heirs of sorrow. They may be caressed and applauded by the world, but will not have that 6 honour which cometh from God only."
Remember too that the character of these children is to be formed, not only by good instructions. but also by good examples. This is the most lively and effectual mode of instruction. There are few parents so awfully wicked and utterly abandoned to sin, as not to wish that their children should love
and practise virtue, as never to exhort them to the love and fear of God. But if your exhortations and admonitions are contradicted by your examples, they will have no effect but to upbraid and reproach yourself, and to increase both your condemnation and theirs. But on the other hand, when a pious parent shall not only, with the most affectionate and tender words that love can dictate, instruct his children in the ways of holiness, but also walk before them in those ways; not only by admonitions show it to be most rational, but also by constant practice show it to be most pleasant and delightful, he has surely cause to hope for the divine blessing upon his offspring. This blessing such a parent anxiously seeks; for when he asks, 66 What manner of child shall this be?" he does it,
IV. With a deep persuasion of his dependence upon God for that holiness and felicity that he desires for his child.
Without the blessing of God, in vain is the tender and assiduous watchfulness of the mother, and the enlightened care of the father. And there is no reason to expect this blessing, if our efforts are made “ with a proud independence, or a careless neglect of his providence and grace.” Sensible that it is God alone who can renew the heart of this child, and raise him to glory, the pious parent, solicitous for his welfare, offers him to the Lord in the only spiritual ordinance of which he is capable; and esteems as a precious privilege the seal of the promise of the covenant, the sign of the grace of the Spirit, the initiating sacrament of the church. He observes this not as a bare empty ceremony, but as a dear pledge of the kindness of God to his child, and of his readiness to receive and bless him.
His sense of his dependence upon God causes bim also, whenever he comes to the throne of grace, to bring his children upon his heart with him. He earnestly beseeches his heavenly Father to adopt them into his family; to bestow on them a large portion of " spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ Jesus,” and to bring them at last to “ the inheritance of the saints in light.” Such prayers frequently and fervently offered for and with his children, shall not be in vain. He will probably have the consolation of seeing his offspring walking in the ways of goodness and religion.
1. Parents, this discourse has peculiarly been addressed to you. Feel the importance of the truths which have been announced to you, and reduce them to practice. In your hands are deposited the hope and blessing, or the curse and plague of the next age. Your families are the nurseries both of the church and state, and according to your cultivation will probably be the fruits hereafter. Are your children yet young? Save them from wretchedness, and yourselves from remorse, by endeavouring early to lead them to the Redeemer. Are your children more advanced in life, and do they give evidence of true holiness and piety ? Pour forth your thanks to God that he has blessed your efforts and answered your prayers; and that he has given your children the best, an everlasting inheritance. Are your children careless of the Redeemer, or disobedient to you ? Examine your past conduct to them ; see whether you have not been remiss in the discharge of your duty to them, and whether God is not punishing you by them for your transgressions. Implore from your heavenly Father forgiveness for the past.