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for Cesar, but Cato is for Pompey.” Yes, the approbation of Cato is preferable to that of the
SERMON LV. gods! I mean those imaginary gods, who frequently usurp the rights of the true God.
In fine, the martyr for morality is rewarded THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF A by the prerogatives of martyrdom. It would
BAD EDUCATION. be inconvenient, in the close of a sermon, to discuss a question that would require a whole
1 Samuel iii. 12, 13. discourse; I mean that concerning degrees of glory, but that, if there be degrees of glory, In that day, I will perform against Eli, all things the highest will be bestowed on martyrs, will.
which I hare spoken concerning his house; admit of no dispute. This, I think, may be
when I begin, I will also make an end. For proved from many passages of Scripture. St. I have told him, that I will judge his house for John seems to have taken pains to establish erer, for the iniquity which he knoweth; bethis doctrine in the Revelation: “He that cause his sons made themselves vile and he reovercometh, and keepeth my works unto the
strained them not. end, to him will I give power over the nations, These words are part of a discourse which and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as God addressed to young Samuel in a vision, the vessel of a potter shall they be broken into the whole history of which is well known to shivers," chap. ii. 26, 27. This regards mar- us all. We intend to fix our chief attention tyrs, and this seems to promise them pre-emi- on the misery of a parent, who neglects the
“Behold I come quickly; hold that education of his children: but before we confast which thou hast, that no man take thy sider the subject in this point of view, we will
Him that overcometh will I make a make three remarks tending to elucidate the pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall history. The crimes of the sons of Eli, the go no more out; and I will write upon him the indulgence of the unhappy father, and the name of my God, and the name of the city of punishment of that indulgence, demand our my God, which is new Jerusalem, which com- attention. eth down out of heaven from my God,” chap. Observe the crimes of the sons of Eli. They iii. 11, 12. This regards martyrs, and this supported their debaucheries by the victims seems to promise them pre-eminence. “What which the people brought to the tabernacle to are these which are arrayed in white robes? be offered in sacrifice. The law assigned them and whence came they? These are they which the shoulders and the breasts of all the beasts came out of great tribulation, and have wash- sacrificed for peace-offerings: but, not content ed their robes, and made them white in the with these, they seized the portions which God blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before had appointed to such as brought the offerings, the throne of God,” chap. vii. 13—15. This and which he had commanded them to eat in regards martyrs, and this also seems to promise his presence, to signify their communion with them pre-eminence.
him. They drew these portions with fleshChristians, perhaps your minds are offended hooks out of the caldrons, in which they were at the gospel of this day. Perhaps you are boiling. Sometimes they took them raw, that terrified at the career which we have been they might have an opportunity of preparing opening to you. Perhaps you are inwardly them to their taste; and thus by serving themmurmuring at this double martyrdom. Ah! selves before God, they discovered a contempt rather behold “the great cloud of witnesses” for those just and charitable ends which God with which you are compassed about, and con- had in view, when he ordained that his minisgratulate yourselves that you fight under the ters should live on a part of the sacrifices.same standard, and aspire at the same crown. God, by providing a table for the priests in his Above all, "look unto Jesus, the author and own house, intended to make it appear, that finisher of faith, who endured such contradic- they had the honour of being his domestics, tion of sinners against himself;" and who, as and, so to speak, that they lived on his revethe same apostle Paul speaks, not only nue. This was a benevolent design. God also, dured the cross,” but also "despised the by appointing the priests to eat after they had shame.” Hark! he speaks to you from the sacrificed, intended to make them understand goal, and in this animating language addresses that he was their sovereign, and the principal you, “ If any man hear my voice, I will come object of all the ceremonies performed in his in to him. To him that overcometh will I palace. These were just views. grant to sit with me in my throne, even 'as I The excesses of the table generally prepare also overcame, and am set down with my Fa- the way for debauchery; and the sons of Eli ther in his throne," Rev. iii. 20, 21. Happy having admitted the first, had fallen into the you, if you be accessible to such noble motives! last, so that they abused "the women that asHappy we, if we be able to say to God, in sembled at the door of the tabernacle of the that solemn day in which he will render to congregation," chap. ji. 22; and to such a deevery one according to his works, “I have gree had they carried these enormities that the preached righteousness in the great congrega- people, who had been used to frequent the holy tion. Lo, I have not refrained my lips, o place only for the purpose of rendering homLord, thou knowest; I have not hid thy righte- age to Almighty God, were drawn thither by ousness within my heart, I have declared thy the abominable desire of gratifying the inclinafaithfulness and thy salvation, I have not con- tions of his unworthy ministers. Such were cealed thy loving kindness! Withhold not the crimes of the sons of Eli. thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord!" Let us observe next the indulgence of the paGod grant us this grace. Amen.
rent. He did not wholly neglect to correct his
sons, for the reproofs he gave them are record- I violent death of Eli; all these ovents are fully ed in the second chapter. “Why do ye such known. thingsi” said he to them, “for I hear of your I hasten to the chief design of this discourse. evil dealings by all this people. Do not so my The extreme rigour which God used towards sons, for it is no good report that I hear.". To Eli, and the terrible judgments with which perform a duty of such importance with so he punished the indulgence of this unhappy much indifference, was equal to an encourage- parent, seemed to offend some who have not ment of the sin. Eli made use of petitions attended to the great guilt of a parent, who and exhortations, when he ought to have ap- neglects to devote his children to God by a holy plied sharp reproofs, and alarming threaten- education. I
I am going to endeavour to remove ings. He censured and rebuked, when he this offence, and, in order to do so, I shall not ought to have anathematized and thundered: confine myself to my text, but shall treat of accordingly, after the Holy Spirit liad related the subject at large, and show you, as our time the reproofs which Eli, in the words just now will allow, first, the crimes and miseries of a cited, addressed to his sons, he tells us in the parent, who neglects the education of his famitext, by a seeming contradiction, but in words ly; and secondly, the means of preventing full of truth and good sense, that Eli “restrain- them. We will direct our reflections so that ed them not."
they may instruct not only heads of families, Observe thirdly what terrible punishments but all our hearers, and so that what we shall this criminal indulgence drew down upon the say on the education of children, by calling to guilty father, the profligate sons, and even the mind the faults committed in our own, may whole people under their direction. A prophet enable us to correct them. had before denounced these judgments against To neglect the education of our children is Eli, in order to engage him to prevent the re- to be ungrateful to God, whose wonderful power petition of the crimes, and the infliction of the created and preserved them. With what marpunishments. “Wherefore honourest thou thy vellous care does a kind Providence watch sons above me?” said the man of God. “1 over the formation of our infants, and adjust said, indeed, that thy house, and the house of all the different parts of their bodies? thy father, should walk before me for ever: With what marvellous care does a kind Probut behold the days come that I will cut off vidence provide for their first wants: for at first thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, they are like those idols, of which the prophet that there shall not be an old man in thine speaks, “they have eyes and see not, they house. And thou shalt see an enemy in my have ears and hear not, they have feet and habitation, in all the wealth which God shall cannot walk.” Frail, infirm, and incapable give Israel. And the man of thine, whom I of providing for their wants, they find a suffishall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to cient supply in those feelings of humanity and consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart. I tenderness with which nature inspires all huAnd this shall be a sign unto thee, thy two man kind. Who can help admiring that, at a sons, Hophni and Phinehas in one day shall time when infants have nothing that can please, both of them die," chap. ii. 29, &c.
God enables them to move the compassion of These threatenings were accomplished in all their parents, and to call them to their succour their rigour. The arm is in Scripture an em- by a language more eloquent and more pablern of strength, and when the prophet threat-thetic than the best studied discourses? ened Eli, that the Lord would cut off his arm, With what marvellous care does a kind Proand the arm of his father's house, he meant to vidence preserve them amidst a multitude of foretell that the family of this priest should accidents which seem to conspire together to fall into decay. Hophni and Phinehas perished snatch them away in their tenderest infancy, in battle when the Philistines conquered the Is- and in all their succeeding years. Who but a raelites. Ahitub and Ichabod, the sons of Phi- Being almighty and all-merciful could preserve nehas, lived only a few years after the death a machine so brittle, at a time when the least of their father. If we believe a tradition of shock would be sufficient to destroy it. the Jews, this threatening was accomplished With what astonishing care does a kind Promany ages after it was uttered. We are told vidence provide for those wants, which old age in the Talmud, that there was at Jerusa- incapacitates us to supply? Who can shut his lem a family, in which no one outlived the eyes against all these wonders without sinking eighteenth year of his age; and that a famous into the deepest stupidity, and without exposRabbi found by inquiring into the origin of that ing himself to the greatest misery family, that it descended from Eli. A rival, To neglect the education of our children is Zadok, was made high priest instead of Abia- | to refuse to retrench that depravity which we comthar, a descendant of Eli. We are able to municated to them. Suppose the Scriptures prove by very exact registers that the high had not spoken expressly on the subject of oripriesthood continued in the family of Zadok ginal depravity, yet it would argue great stunot only from the building of the temple to the pidity to question it. As soon as infants disdestruction of it, that is to say for the space cover any signs of reason, they discover signs of four hundred years, but even to the time of of depravity, and their malice appears as their Antiochus Epiphanes. The rest of the mis- ideas unfold themselves. Sin in them is a fire fortunes of Eli, the victory obtained by the at first concealed, next emitting a few sparks, Philistines, the taking of the ark, the confusion and at last bursting into a great blaze, unless it which brought on the labour and the death of be prevented in time. Whence do they derive the wife of Phinehas, who expired, “saying, so great an infection? Can we doubt it, my name the child Ichabod, for the glory is de- brethren? They derive it from us, and by comparted from Israel," chap. iv. 19, &c. the municating our nature we communicate our
depravity. It is impossible, being our children, consummation of that great sacrifice, which he that they should not be depraved, as we are; was about to offer to the justice of his Father. for, to use the language of scripture, their "fa- The soul of our divine Saviour was affected thers are Amorites and their mothers are Hitt- with the dangers to which his dear disciples ites,"
.” Ezek. xvi. 13. Here I wish I could give were going to be exposed. Against these you some notion of this mortifying mystery; I gloomy thoughts he opposed two noble reflecwish I could remove the difficulties which pre- tions. First, he remembered the care which vent your seeing it; I wish I could show you he had taken of them, and the great principles what a union there is between the brain of an which he had formed in their minds: and seinfant and that of its mother, in order to con- condly, he observed that “shadow of the Alvince you that sin passes from the parent to the mighty, under which he had taught them to child.
abide,” Ps. xci. 1. "I have manifested thy What! can we in cool blood behold our chil- name unto the men which thou gavest me. dren in an abyss, into which we have plunged While I was with them in the world, I kept them; can we be sensible that we have done this them in thy name, and none of them is lost but evil, and not endeavour to relieve them? Not the son of perdition. They are not of the world, being able to make them innocent, shall we not even as I am not of the world,” John xvii. 6, endeavour to render them penitent Ah! vic- | 12, 16. This is the first reflection. “Now I tims of my depravity, unhappy heirs of the am no more in the world, but these are in the crimes of your parents, innocent creatures, born world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep only to suffer, I think I ought to reproach my- through thine own name those whom thou hast self for all the pains you feel, all the tears you given me, that they may be one, as we are. I shed, and all the sighs you utter. Methinks, pray not that thou shouldst take them out of every time you cry, you reprove me for my in the world, but that thou shouldst keep them sensibility and injustice. At least, it is right, from the evil. Sanctify them through thy truth, that, as I acknowledge myself the cause of the thy word is truth. Father, I will that they evil, I should employ myself in repairing it, and also, whom thou hast given me, be with me endeavour to renew your nature by endeavour-where I am,” ver. 11, 15, 17. This is the seing to renew my own.
cond reflection. This reflection leads us to a third point. To These two reflections are impenetrable neglect the education of our children is to be shields, and a parent should never separate wanting in that tenderness, which is so much their them. Would you be in a condition to oppose due. What can we do for them? What inhe- the second of these shields against such attacks ritance can we transmit to them? Titles? They as the gloomy thoughts just now mentioned are often nothing but empty sounds without will make upon your hearts on that day in meaning and reality. Riches? They often which you quit the world and leave your chil"make themselves wings and fly away,” Prov. dren in it endeavour now to arm yourself with xxiii. 5. Honours. They are often mixed with the first. Would you have them "abide under disagreeable circumstances, which poison all the shadow of the Almighty?" Inculcate his the pleasure. It is a religious education, piety, fear and his love in their hearts.
Would you and the fear of God, that makes the fairest in- be able to say as Jesus Christ did, “Holy Faheritance, the noblest succession, that we can ther, I will that they whom thou hast given me leave our families.
be with me, that they may behold my glory; If any worldly care may lawfully occupy the keep them through thy name?" Put yourself mind of a dying parent, when in his last mo- now into a condition to enable you then to say ments the soul seems to be called to detach it to God as Christ did, “I have given them to self from every worldly concern, and to think thy word, they are not of the world, even as I of nothing but eternity, it is that which has our am not of the world." children for its object. A Christian in such cir- To neglect the education of our children is cumstances finds his heart divided between the to let loose madmen against the state, instead family, which he is leaving in the world, and of furnishing it with good rulers or good subthe holy relations, which he is going to meet in jects. That child intended for the church, heaven. Ee feels himself pressed by turns be- what will he become, if he be not animated tween a desire to die, which is most advan- with such a spirit as ought to enliven a minister tageous for him, and a wish to live, which seems of religion? He will turn out a trader in sacred most beneficial to his family. He says, “I am things, and prove himself a spy in our families, in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to de- a fomenter of faction in the state, who, under part, and to be with Christ, which is far better; pretence of glorifying God, will set the world nevertheless
, to abide in the flesh is more need on fire. That other child intended for the bar, ful for you,” Phil. i. 23, 24. We are terrified what will he become, unless as much pains be at that crowd of dangers, in which we leave taken to engage him to love justice as to make these dear parts of ourselves. The perils seem him know it, or to make him not disguise it as to magnify as we retire from the sight of them. well as understand it? He will prove himself One while we fear for their health, another an incendiary, who will sow seeds of division while we tremble for their salvation. My bre-in families, render law suits eternal, and reduce thren, can you think of any thing more proper to indigence and beggary even those clients, to prevent or to pacify such emotions, than the whose causes he shall have art enough to gain. practice of that duty which we are now pressing And that child, whom you have rashly deteras absolutely necessary? A good father on his mined to push into the highest offices of state death-bed puts on the same dispositions to his without forming in him such dispositions as are children as Jesus Christ adorned himself with necessary in eminent posts, what will be bein regard to his disciples immediately before the come? A foolish or a partial judge, who will
pronounce on the fortunes and lives of his fel- world a sinner? was it necessary to put me in low citizens just as chance or caprice may im- arms against Almighty God? Was it not enough pel him: a public blood-sucker, who will live to communicate to me natural depravity? must upon the blood and substance of those whom you add to that the venom of a pernicious eduhe ought to support: a tyrant, who will raze cation? Was it not enough to expose me to the and depopulate the very cities and provinces misfortunes inseparable from life must you which he ought to defend.
plunge me into those which follow death? ReThe least indulgence of the bad inclinations turn me, cruel parent, return me to nothing, of children sometimes produces the most fatal whence you took me. Take from me the fata! effects in society. This is exemplified in the existence you gave me. Show me mountains life of David, whose memory may be truly re- and hills to fall on me, and hide me from the proached on this article, for he was one of the anger of my judge; or, if that divine vengeance most weak of all parents. Observe his indulg- which pursues thee, will not enable thee to do ence of Amnon. It produced incest. Remark so, I myself will become thy tormentor; I will his indulgence of Absalom, who besought him for ever present myself, a frightful spectacle beto allow his brethren to partake of a feast, fore thine eyes, and by those eternal howlings, which he had prepared. It produced an assas- which I will incessantly pour into thine ears, I sination. See his weak fondness of the same will reproach thee, through all eternity I will Absalom, who endeavoured to make his way reproach thee, with my misery and despair." to the throne by mean and clownish manners, Let us turn our eyes from these gloomy affecting to shake hands with the Israelites, and images, let us observe objects more worthy of to embrace and kiss them (these are the terms the majesty of this place, and the holiness of of Scripture,) and practising all such popular our ministry. To refuse to dedicate our childairs as generally precede and predict sedition. ren to God by a religious education, is to refuse This produced a civil war. Remark how he those everlasting pleasures, which as much sur. indulged Adonijah, who made himself chariots, pass our thoughts as our expressions. and set up a retinue of fifty men. The sacred It is a famous question in the schools, whehistorian tells us, that “his father had not dis- ther we shall remember in heaven the connexe pleased him at any time, in saying, why hast ions we had in this world? Whether glorified ihou done so?" 1 Kings, i. 6. This produced spirits shall know one another? Whether a faa usurpation of the throne and the crown. ther will recollect his son, or a son his father?
To neglect the education of your children is And so on. I will venture to assert, that they to furnish them with arms against yourselves. who have taken the affirmative side, and they You complain that the children, whom you who have taken the negative on this question, have brought up with so much tenderness, are have often done so without any reason, the torment of your life, that they seem to re- On the one side, the first have pretended to proach you for living so long, and that, though establish their thesis on this principle, that they have derived their being and support from something would be wanting to our happiness you, yet they refuse to contribute the least part if we were not to know in a future state those of their superfluities to assist and comfort you! persons, with whom we had been united by the You ought to find fault with yourselves, for tenderest connexions in this present world. their depravity is a natural consequence of such On the other hand, if we know, say the parprinciples as you have taught them. Had you tisans of the opposite opinion, the condition of accustomed them to respect order, they would our friends in a future state, how will it be not now refuse to conform to order: but they possible that a parent should be happy in tho would perform the greatest of all duties; they possession of a heaven, in which his children would be the strength of your weakness, the have no share; and how can he possibly relish vigour of your reason, and the joy of your old pleasure at the right hand of God, while he age.
revolves this dreadful thought in his mind, my To neglect the education of children is to children are now, and will for ever be torprepare torments for a future state, the bare ap-mented with the devil? prehension of which must give extreme pain to It should seem, the proof and the objection every heart capable of feeling. It is beyond a are equally groundless. The enjoyment of doubt, that remorse is one of the chief punish- God is so sufficient to satiate a sonl, that it ments of the damned, and who can question, cannot be considered as necessary to the hapwhether the most excruciating remorse will be piness of it to renew such connexions as were excited by this thought; I have plunged my formed during a momentary passage through children into this abyss, into which I have this world. I oppose this against the argument plunged myself?
for the first opinion: and I oppose the same Imagine a parent of a family discovering against the objection, for the enjoyment of God among the crowd of reprobates a son, whom he is every way so sufficient to satiate a soul, that himself led thither, and who addresses to him it can love nothing but in God, and that its this terrible language. “Barbarous father, felicity cannot be altered by the miseries of what animal appetites, or what worldly views those with whom there will then be no coninclined you to give me existence to what a nexion. desperate condition you have reduced me! See, A consideration of another kind has always wretch that you are, see these flames which made me incline to the opinion of those who burn and consume me. Observe this thick take the affirmative side of this question. The smoke which suffocates me. Behold the heavy perfections of God are here concealed under chains with which I am loaded. These are the innumerable veils. How often does he seem fatal consequences of the principles you gave to countenance iniquity by granting a profusion
Was it not enough to bring me into the ! of favours to the contrivers of the most infernal
schemes? How often does he seem to declare such a master, and saying to him, “behold me, himself against innocence by the misfortunes and the children which God hath given me,” which he leaves the innocent to suffer? How Heb. ii. 13. often have we seen tyrants on a throne, and We have been speaking of the fatal consegood people in irons Does not this awful quences of an irreligious education; and now phenomenon furnish us with an irrefragable we wish we could put you all into a condition argument for the doctrine of a general judg- to prevent them. But, alas! how can some of ment and a future state? Which of your you reduce our exhortations to practice? you preachers has not frequently exhorted you to disconsolate fathers, you distressed mothers, * judge nothing before the time,” i Cor. iv. from whom persecution has torn away these 5; at the end of the time comes “the restitu- dear parts of yourselves, ye weeping Davids, tion of all things,” Acts iii. 21, which will ye mourning Rachels, who, indeed, do not justify Providence?
weep because your children “ are not,” but Now, it should seem, this argument, which because, though they are, and though you gave none but infidels and libertines deny, and which them existence, you cannot give them a reliis generally received by all Christians, and by gious education? Ah! how can you obey our all philosophers, this argument, I say, favours, voice? Who can calm the cruel' fears, which not to say establishes in an incontestible man- by turns divide your souls. What results from ner, the opinion of those who think that the all the conflicts, which pass within you, and saints will know one another in the next life. which rend your hearts asunder? Will you Without this how could we acquiesce in the go and expose yourselves to persecution? Will justice of the sentence, which will then be you leave your children alone to be persecuted? pronounced on all? Observe St. Paul, whose Will you obey the voice that commands, "flee ministry was continually counteracted. What out of Babylon, and deliver every man his own motive supported him under so much opposi- soul,” Jer. i. 6; or that which cries, “ Take tion? Certainly it was the expectation of seeing the young child?” Matt. ii. 20. 0 dreadful one day with his own eyes the conquest which alternative! Must you be driven, in some sort, he obtained for Jesus Christ; souls which he to make an option between their salvation and had plucked out of the jaws of Satan; be- yoursmust you sacrifice yours to theirs, or lievers whom he had guided to eternal happi- theirs to your own ness. Hear what he said to the Thessalonians, Ah! cruel problem! Inhuman suspense! Thou “What is our hope, our joy, our crown of re- tyrant, is not thy rage sufficiently glutted by joicing? Are not even yo in the presence of destroying our material temples inust you our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye lay your barbarous hands on the temples of are our glory and joy,” chap. ii. 19, 20. the Holy Ghost? Is it not enough to plunder
Now, this is the hope, this is the crown, us of our property, must you rob us of our which I propose to you, heads of families, to families? Is it not enough to render life bitter, engage you to dedicate your children to God would you make eternity desperate and intoleby a religious education.
rable? It was this thought which supported one of But, it is not to tyrants that we address the wisest of the heathens against the fears of ourselves, they are inaccessible to our voice, death, I mean Cato of Utica. No man had a or inflexible to our complaints. It is to God greater affection for a son, than he had for his. alone, who turns them as he thinks proper, No man bore the loss with greater firmness and that we address our prayers. Hagar found magnanimity. “O happy day, when I shall herself banished into a desert, and she had quit this wretched crowd, and join that divine nothing to support her but a few pieces of and happy company of noble souls, who have bread, and a bottle of water. The water being quitted the world before me! I shall there meet spent, her dear Ishmael was ready to die with not only these illustrious personages, but my thirst. She laid him under a bush, and only dear Cato, who, I will venture to say, was one desired that she might not see him die. She of the best of men, of the best natural dispo- rambled to some distance, wept as she went, sition, and the most punctual in the discharge and said, “Let me not see the death of the of his duties, that ever was. I have put his child,” Gen. xxi. 16, &c. See, she cannot body on the funeral pile, whereas he should help it, she sits “over against him, lists up her have placed mine there; but his soul has not. voice, and weeps." God heard the voice of left me, and he has only stepped first into a the mother and the child, and, by an angel, country where I shall soon join him.” said unto her, “What aileth thee, Hagar? fear
If this hope made so great an impression on not, for God hath heard the voice of the lad. the mind of a pagan, what ought it not to pro- Arise, take hold of his hand, and lift him up, duce in the heart of a Christian? What infinite for I will make him a great nation.” See what pleasure, when the voice shall cry, ye a source of consolation I open to you! Lift up dead," to see those children whom God gave the voice and weep. “O Father of spirits, you? What superior delight, to behold those God of the spirits of all flesh,” Heb. xii. 9; whom an immature death snatched from us, Numb. xvi. 22. Thou Supreme, whose essence and the loss of whom had cost us so many is love, and whose chief character is mercy, tears? What supreme satisfaction, to embrace thou who wast touched to see Nineveh repent, those who closed our eyes, and performed the and who wouldst not involve in the general last kind offices for us? O the unspeakable destruction the many infants at nurse in that joy of that Christian father, who shall walk at city, “who could not discern between their the head of a Christian family, and present right hand and their left,” John iv. 11; wilt himself with all his happy train before Jesus not thou regard with eyes of affection and pity Christ, offering to him hearts worthy to serve our numerous children, who cannot discern