« السابقةمتابعة »
A BAD EDUCATION. truth from error, who cannot believe, because gentleness, if they discover, that it is not the they have not heard, who cannot “ hear with-fruit of our care to reward what in them is out a preacher," and to whom, alas! no worthy of reward, but of a natural inclination, preacher is sent Rom. x. 14.
which we have not the courage to resist, and But you, happy fathers, you, mothers, fa- which makes us yield more to the motions of vourites of heaven, who assemble your children our animal machine, than to the dictates of around you
as a hen gathereth her chickens reason? On the other hand, what good can under her wings,” Matt. xxiii. 37; can you they derive from our severity, if they see, that neglect a duty, which is impracticable to others? it proceeds from humour and caprice more than That tyrants and persecutors should display from our hatred to sin, and our desire to free their fury by making havoc of our children, them from it. If our eyes sparkle, if we take and by offering them to the devil, is, I allow, a high tone of voice, if our mouths froth, when extremely shocking, but there is nothing in it we chastise them, what good can.come of such very wonderful: but that Christian fathers and chastisements? mothers should conspire together in such a Fourth maxim. The best means of procuring tragical design would be a spectacle incompa- a good education lose all their force, unless rably more shocking, and the horror of which they be supported by the examples of such as the blackest colours are unable to portray. employ them. Example is also a great motive,
How forcible soever the motives, which we and it is especially such to youth. Children have alleged, may be, I fear they will be inef- know how to imitate before they can speak, fectual, and such as will not influence the before they can reason, and, so to speak, before greatest part of you. It must be allowed, that, they are born. In their mothers' wombs, at if there be any case, to which the words of our the breasts of their nurses, they receive impresSaviour are applicable, it is this of which we sions from exterior objects, and take the form are speaking, “strait is the gate, and narrow of all that strikes them. What success, miseis the way, which leadeth unto life, and few rable mother, can you expect from your exhorthere be that find it,” Matt. vii. 14.
tations to piety, while your children see you A reformation of the false ideas which you yourself all taken up with the world, and its form on the education of children, is, so to amusements and pleasures; passing a great speak, the first step which you ought to take part of your life in gaming, and in forming in the road set before you this day. No, it is criminal intrigues, which, far from hiding from not such vague instructions as you give your your family, you expose to the sight of all children, such superficial pains as you take to mankind? What success can you expect from make them virtuous, such general exhortations your exhortations to your children, you wretchas you address to them, is it not all this, that ed father, when they hear you blaspheme your constitutes such a religious education as God Creator, and see you living in debauchery, requires you to give them. Entertain notions drowning your reason in wine, and gluttony, more rational, and remember the few maxims, and so on? which I am going to propose to you as the Fifth maxim. A liberty, innocent when it is conclusion of this discourse.
taken before men, becomes criminal, when it First marim. Delays, always dangerous in is taken before tender minds, not yet formed. cases of practical religion, are peculiarly fatal What circumspection, what vigilance, I had in the case of education. As soon as children almost said, what niceties does this maxim ensee the light, and begin to think and reason, gage us to observe? Certain words spoken, as we should endeavour to form them to piety. it were, into the air, certain imperceptible alluLet us place the fear of God in these young sions, certain smiles, escaping before a child, hearts, before the world can get possession of and which he has not been taught to suspect, them, before the power of habit be united to are sometimes snares more fatal to his innothat of constitution. Let us avail ourselves cence than the most profane discourses, yea, of the flexibility of their organs, the fidelity of they are often more dangerous than the most their memories, and the facility of their con- pernicious examples, for them he has been ceptions, to render their duty pleasing to them taught to abhor. by the ease with which they are taught to dis- Sixth maxim. The indefatigable pains, which charge it.
we ought always to take in educating our chilSecond maxim. Although the end of the dren, ought to be redoubled on these decisive divers methods of educating children ought to cvents which influences both the present life, be the same, yet it should be varied according and the future state. For example, the kind to their different characters. Let us study our of life to which we devote them, is one of children with as much application as we have these decisive events. A good father regustudied ourselves. Both these studies are at- lates his views in this respect, not according tended with difficulties; and as self-love often to a rash determination made when the child prevents our knowing ourselves, so a natural was in the cradle, but according to observafondness for our children renders it extremely tions deliberately made on the abilities and difficult for us to discover their propensities. manners of the child.
Third maxim. A procedure, wise in itself, Companions too are to be considered as deand proper to inspire children with virtue, may ciding on the future condition of a child. A sometimes be rendered useless by symptoms of good father with this view will choose such sopassion, with which it is accompanied. We cieties as will second his own endeavours, he cannot educate them well without a prudent will remember the maxim of St. Paul, “ Evil mixture of severity and gentleness. But on communications corrupt good manners,” 1 Cor. the one hand, what success can we expect from / xv. 33; for he knows, that a dissolute compan
ion has often eradicated from the heart of a youth all the good seeds which a pious family
SERMON LVI. had sown there. Above all, marriage is one of these decisive
GENERAL MISTAKES. steps in life. A good father of a family, unites his children to others by the two bonds of vir
Romans xii. 2. tue and religion. How can an intimate union be formed with a person of impious principles,
Be not conformed to this world. without familiarizing the virtuous by degrees Of all the discourses delivered in this pulpit with impiety, without losing by little and little those which deserve the greatest deference, that horror which impiety would inspire, and and usually obtain the least, are such as treat without imbibing by degrees the same spirit of general mistakes. What subjects require a So necessary is a bond of virtue. That of re- greater deference? Our design in treating of ligion is no less so, for the crime which drew them, is to dissipate those illusions, with which the most cutting reproofs upon the Israelites the whole world is familiar, which are authorafter the captivity, and which brought upon ized by the multitude, and which, like epidemithem the greatest judgments, was that of con- cal diseases, inflicted sometimes by Providence tracting marriages with women not in the cove- on public bodies, involve the state, the church, nant. Are such marriages less odious now, and individuals. Yet are any discourses less when by a profane mixture people unite “light respected than such as these? To attack geneand darkness, Christ and Belial, the temple of ral mistakes is to excite the displeasure of all God and idols?” 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15. Are such who favour them, to disgust a whole auditory, marriages less hateful now, when, by a horrible and to acquire the most odious of all titles, I partition, the children, if there be any, are mu- mean that of public censor. A preacher is tually ceded before hand, and in cold blood dis- then obliged to choose either never to attack posed of thus: the sons shall be taught the truth, such mistakes as the multitude think fit to authe daughters shall be educated in error, the thorize, or to announce the advantages which boys shall be for heaven, the girls for hell, a he may promise himself, if he adapt his subson for God, a daughter for the devil.
jects to the taste of his auditors, and touch their Seventh marim. The best means for the edu- disorders only so far as to accommodate their cation of children must be accompanied with crimes to their consciences. fervent prayer. If you have paid any atten- Let us not hesitate what part to take. St. tion to the maxims we have proposed, I shall Paul determines us by his example. I am gonot be surprised to hear you exclaim, “Who ing, to-day, in imitation of this apostle to guard is sufficient for these things” 2 Cor. ii. 16. you against the rocks, where the many are But, if it be the fear of not succeeding in edu- shipwrecked. He exhorts us, in the words of cating your children, which dictates this lan- the text, not to take “ the world for a model!" guage, and not that indolence, which tries to “ the world,” that is, the crowd, the multitude, get rid of the labour, be you fully persuaded, society at large. But what society has he in that the grace of God will triumph over your view? Is it that of ancient Rome, which he great infirmities. Let us address to him the describes as extremely depraved in the beginmost fervent prayers for the happiness of those ning of this epistle? Does he say nothing of children, who are so dear to us, and let us be our world, our cities and provinces We are lieve that they will return in benedictions upon going to examine this, and I fear I shall be them. Let each parent collect together all his able to prove to you, that our multitude is a piety, and then let him give himself up to the dangerous guide to show us the way to heaven; tenderest emotions towards his children. Oand, to confine ourselves to a few articles. God! who didst present thyself to us last Lord's shall prove that they are bad guides to direct day under the amiable idea of a parent" pity- us, first, in regard to faith; secondly, in regard ing them that fear thee as a father pitieth his to the worship which God requires of us;children,” Ps. ciii. 13. O God! who thyself thirdly, in regard to morality; and lastly, in relovest thy Son with infinite tenderness and ve- gard to the hour of death. In these four views, hemence: 0 God! author of the tender aftec- I shall enforce the words of our text, “Be not tions, which unite me to the children thou hast conformed to this world.” This is the whole given me, bless the pains I take in their edu- plan of this discourse. cation: disobedient children, my God, I disown. 1. The multitude is a bad guide to direct our Let me see them die in infancy, rather than go faith. We will not introduce here the famous along with the torrent of general immorality, controversy on this question, whether a great and * run” with the children of the world to number form a presiunption in favour of any
excess of riot,” 1 Pet. iv. 4. I pray religion, or whether universality be a cortain evifor their sanctification with an ardour a thou- dence of the true Christian church? How often sand times more vehement than I desire their has this question been debated and determined! fortune: and the first of all my wishes is to be How ofien have we proved against one commuable to present them to thee on that great day, nity, which displays the number of its professors when thou wilt pronounce the doom of all with so much parade, that if the pretence were mankind, and to say to theo then, “Lord, be- well-founded, it would operate in favour of pahold, here am I, and the children thou hast ganism, for pagans were always more numergiven me.” May God excite such prayers, ous than Christians! How often have we told and answer them! To him be honour and them, that in divers periods of the ancient glory for ever. Amen.
church idolatry and idolaters have been en
throned in both the kingdoms of Judah and If the nature of the thing cannot convince Israel! How often have we alleged, that in the you, that the multitude continue through netime of Jesus Christ the church was described gligence in the profession of that religion in as a " little flock,” Luke xii. 32; that heathens which they were born, experience may here and Jews were all in league against Chris- supply the place of reasoning. There is an tianity at first, and that the gospel had only a infinite variety of geniuses among mankind. small number of disciples! How often have Propose to an assembly a question, that no we retorted, that for whole centuries there was system has yet decided, and you will find, as no trace, no shadow of the opinions of modern it is usually said, as many opinions as heads. Rome! But we will not apply ourselves to It is certain, if mankind were attached to a this controversy to-day by fixing your atten- religion only because they had studied it, we tion on the sophisms of foreigners; perhaps we should find a great number of people forsake might divert your eyes from your own; by that in which they had been brought up, for it showing you our triumphs over the vain at- is impossible, that a whole society should unite tacks made on us by the enemies of the refor- in one point of error, or rather, it is clear, to a mation, perhaps we might turn away your at- demonstration, that as truth has certain chartention from other more dangerous wounds, acters superior to falsehood, the temples of which the reformed themselves aim at the idols would be instantly deserted, erroneous heart of religion. When I say the multitude sects would be soon abandoned, the religion of is a bad guide in matters of faith, I mean, that Jesus Christ, the only one worthy of being the manner in which most men adhere to truth, embraced, the only one that deserves disciples, is not by principles which ought to attach them would be the only one embraced, and would to it, but by a spirit of negligence and preju- alone be received by all sincere disciples of dice.
truth. It is no small work to examine the truth, Do not think, my brethren, that this reflecwhen we arrive at an age capable of discus- tion concerning that spirit of negligence, which sion. The fundamental points of religion, I retains most men in a profession of their own grant, lie in the Scriptures clear and perspicu- religion, regards only such communions as lay ous, and within the comprehension of all who down their own infallibility for a fundamental choose to attend to them: but when we pass article of faith, and which prescribe ignorance from infancy to manhood, and arrive at an and blind submission as a first principle to age in which reason seems mature, we hnd their partisans, for it is but too easy to prove, ourselves covered with a veil, which either that the same spirit of negligence reigns in all hides objects from us, or disfigures them. The communities. Hence it comes to pass, that in public discourses we have heard in favour of general so few Christians can render a reason the sect, in which we were educated, the inve- for their faith. Hence it is that people are terate hatred we have for all others, who hold usually better furnished with arguments to opprinciples opposite to ours, the frightful por- pose such societies as surround them, than with traits that are drawn before our eyes of the those which establish the fundamental truths of perils we must encounter, if we depart from Christianity. If then you follow the direction the way we have been brought up in, the im- of the multitude in the study of religion, you pressions made upon us by the examples and will be conducted by a spirit of negligence, decisions of our parents, and masters, and teach- prejudice will be held for proof, education for ers, the bad taste of those who had the care of argument, and the decisions of your parents and our education, and who prevented our acquir-teachers for infallible oracles of truth. ing that most noble disposition, without which II. The multitude is a bad guide in regard it is impossible ever to be a true philosopher, to that worship, which God requires of us; they or a real Christian, I mean that of suspending defile it with a spirit of superstition. Superour judgment on subjects not sufficiently pro- stition is a disposition of mind that inclines us ved; from all this arise clouds that render the to regulate all parts of divine worship, not by truth inaccessible, and which the world can- just notions of the Supreme Being, nor by his not dissipate. We do not say, that natural ta- relation to us, nor by what he has condescended lents, or supernatural assistance are wanting; to reveal, but by our own fancies. A superwe are fully convinced that God will never stitious man entertains fantastical ideas of God, give up to final error any man who does all in and renders to him capricious worships; he not his power to understand the truth. But the unfrequently takes himself for a model of God: world are incapable of this work. Why? Be- he thinks that what most resembles himself, cause all the world, except a few, hate labour however mean and contemptible, approaches and meditation in regard to the subjects which nearest to perfection. We affirm, this disposirespect another life; because all the world tion is almost universal. would choose rather to attach themselves to It would be needless to prove this to you, what regards their temporal interests than to my brethren, in regard to erroneous commuthe great interest of eternal happiness: because nities. Were superstition banished from the all the world like better to suppose the princi- world, we should not see men, who are made ples imbibed in their childhood true, than to in the image of God, disgrace their nature by impose on themselves the task of weighing prostrating themselves before idols, and marthem anew in the balance of a sound and severe mosets, so as to render religious honours to reason: because all the world have an invinci- half a block of wood or stone, the other half of ble aversion to suppose, that when they are ar- which they apply to the meanest purposes: we rived at manhood they have almost lost their should not see a crowd of idolaters performing time in some respects, and that when they leave a ceremonial, in which conviction of mind has school they begin to be capable of instruction. I no part, and which is all external and material,
we should not see a concourse of people receiv- 1. Consider mankind in regard to the masing with respect, as the precious blood of the ters who govern them. Here I congratulate Saviour of the world, a few drops of putrefied myself on the happiness of speaking to a free water, which the warmth of the sun has pro-people, among whom it is not reputed a crime duced by fermentation in the trunk of a decayed to praise what is praise-worthy, and to blame tree: we should not see pilgrims in procession what deserves blame, and where we may freely mangling their flesh in the streets, dragging trace the characters of some men of whom prualong heavy loads, howling in the highways, dence requires us not to “speak evil, no not in and taking such absurd practices for that re- thought, no not in the bedchamber, lest a bird pentance, which breaks the heart, and trans- of the air should carry the voice, and that forms and renews the life. You will easily which hath wings should tell the matter,' grant all this, for I have observed, it is often Eccles. X. 20. Is it in the palaces of the great less difficult to inspire you with horror for that humility reigns, humility which so well these practices, than to excite compassion in becomes creatures, who, though crowned and you for such as perform them.
enthroned, are yet infirm, criminal, dying creaBut you ought to be informed, that there tures, and who, in a few days, will become are other superstitions less gross, and therefore food for worms, yea, perhaps victims in the more dangerous. Among us we do not put a fames of hell? Is it in the palaces of the great, worship absolutely foreign to the purpose in that uprightness, good faith, and sincerity reign? the place of that which God has commanded Yet without these society is nothing but a banand exemplified to us, but we make an esti- ditti, treaties are only snares, and laws cobmate of the several parts of true worship. webs, which, to use a well known expression, These estimates are regulated by opinions catch only weak insects, while the fierce and formed through prejudice or passion. "What carnivorous break through. Is it in the palabest agrees with our inclinations we consider ces of the great that gratitude reigns, that as the essence of religion, and what would lawful tribute due to every motion made to thwart and condemn them we think circum- procure our happiness? Is it there that the stantial.
services of a faithful subject, the labours of We make a scruple of not attending a ser- an indefatigable merchant, the perils of an inmon, not keeping a festival, not receiving the trepid soldiery, blood shed and to be shed, are Lord's Supper, but we make none of neglect- estimated and rewarded? Is it there that the ing to visit a prisoner, to comfort the sick, to cries of the wretched are heard, tears of the plead for the oppressed. We observe a strict oppressed wiped away, the claims of truth exdecency in our religious assemblies while our amined and granted? Is it in the palaces of ministers address prayer to God, but we take the great that benevolence reigns, that benevono pains to accompany him with our minds lence without which a man is only a wild beast! and hearts, to unite our ejaculations with his Is it there that the “ young ravens which cry” to besiege the throne of grace. We think it a are heard and fed? Ps. cxlvii. 9. Is it there duty to join our voices with those of a whole that they attend to the bitter complaints of an congregation, and to fill our places of worship indigent man, ready to die with hunger, and with the praises of our Creator, but we do not who asks for no more than will just keep him think ourselves obliged to understand the sense alive? Are the palaces of the great seats of of the psalm, that is sung with so much fervour, piety and devotion? Is it there that schemes and, in the language of an apostle, to "sing are formed for the reformation of manners? Is with understanding,” 1. Cor. xiv. 15. We it there that they are "grieved for the affliction lay aside innocent occupations the day before of Joseph," Amos vi. 6: and “take pleasure in we receive the Lord's Supper, but no sooner in dust and stones of Zion?" Ps. cii. 14. Is it do we return from this ordinance than we allow there that we hear the praises of the Creator? the most criminal pleasures, and enter upon do they celebrate the compassion of the Rethe most scandalous intrigues. Who make deemer of mankind these mistakes my brethren? Is it the few? What ideas are excited in our minds by the “Be not conformed to this world,” in regard names of such as Caligula, Nero, Dioclesian, to the worship that God requires of you, the Decius, names detestable in all ages? What multitude perform it in a spirit of superstition. ideas could we excite in your minds, were we
III. Neither are the many a better guide in to weigh in a just balance the virtues of such regard to morality. Here, my brethren, we heroes as have been rendered famous by the are going more particularly to describe that encomiums given them. You would be asclass of mankind, among which we live, and of tonished to see that these men, who have been which we ourselves are a part. Indeed, the called the delights of mankind, have often deportraits we are going to draw will not be served execration, and ought to be considered flattering to them, for justice requires, that we with horror. But I purposely forbear, and should describe men as they are, not as they will not put in this list all that ought to be pretend to be. In order to exactness let us placed there, that is to say, all those who have consider them separately and apart. First, In had sovereign power, except a very few, who regard to the masters who govern them. Se in comparison are next to none, and who are, condly, In regard to the professions, which they as it were, lost in the crowd among the rest. exercise. Thirdly, In regard to some maxims And yet the elevation of kings makes their generally received. Fourthly, In regard to crimes more communicable, and their exannthe splendid actions which they celebrate. ples more contagious; their sins become a filthy And lastly, In regard to certain decisive occa- vapour infecting the air, and shedding their sions, that, like touchstones, discover their malignant influence all over our cities and saprinciples and motives.
milies, lightning, and thundering, and disturb
ing the world. Accordingly, you see in gene- but by what will most benefit the people ral, that what the king is in his kingdom, the among whom he exercises his ministry; it is to governor is in his province; what the governor take as much care of a dying person in an obis in his province, the nobleman is in his do- scure family, lying on a bed of straw, lost in main; what the nobleman is in his domain, the oblivion and silence, as of him, who with an master is in his family. The multitude is a illustrious name lives amidst silver and gold, bad guide, mankind are a dangerous model, and for whom the most magnificent and pompconsidered in regard to the masters who govern ous funeral honours will be prepared, it is to them.
cry aloud, to lift up his voice like a trumpet, 2. Consider the many in regard to divers and show the people their transgressions, and professions. What is the profession of a sol- the house of Israel their sins,” Isa. lviii. 1; dier, particularly of an officer of rank in the Mic. iii. 8; and 2 Cor. v. 16; “it is to know army? It is to defend society, to maintain re- no man after the flesh" when he ascends the ligion, to be a parent to the soldiery, to bridle pulpit, boldly to reprove vice, how eminent sothe licentiousness of arms, to oppose power ever the seat of it may be. What is the usual against injustice, to derive from all the views conduct of a minister?
O God! “ Enof death that lie open before him, motives to ter not into judgment with thy servants, for prepare his accounts to produce before his we cannot answer one complaint of a thouJudge. But what is the conduct of a soldier? | sand!” Ps. cxliii. 2; Job ix. 3. Is it not to brave society? Is it not to trample 3. Consider the multitude in regard to some upon religion? Is it not to set examples of de general marims which they adopt, and hold as bauchery, licentiousness, and vengeance? Is it rules and approved axioms. Have you read not to let out his abilities, and to sacrifice his in the gospel the following maxims? Charity life to the most ambitious designs, and to the begins at home. Youth is a time of pleasure. most bloody enterprises of princes? Is it not to It is allowable to kill time. We should not accustom himself to ideas of death and judg- pretend to be saints. Slander is the salt of ment till he laughs at both, to stifle all remorse, conversation. We must do as other people do. and to extirpate all the fears, which such ob- It is unworthy of a man of honour to pocket jects naturally excite in the consciences of an affront. A gentleman ought to avenge himother men?
self. Ambition is the vice of great souls. ProWhat is the profession of a judge? It is to vided we commit no great crimes, we suffihave no regard to the appearances of men, it is ciently answer our calling. Impurity is an into be affable to all who appeal to authority, to tolerable vice in a woman, but it is pardonable study with application. the nature of a cause in
It would be easy to enlarge this which he is obliged to decide, it is patiently to catalogue. Which of these maxims, pray, go through the most fatiguing details of proofs does not sap some of the first principles and objections. But what is often the conduct of the religion of Jesus Christ? Yet which of of a judge? Is it not to be struck with the ex- these maxims is not received in society as a terior difference of two parties appearing before fundamental rule of action, which we should be him? Is it not to be inaccessible to the poor, accounted singular and petulent to condemn? to invent cruel reserves, and intolerable delays? 4. Consider the multitude in regard to cerIs it not to grovel in ignorance, and to hate tain actions, of which they tavish praise and write study and labour?
encomiums. We do not mean to speak at What is the profession of a man learned in present of such crimes as the depravity of the the law? It is to devote his service only to world sometimes celebrates under the notions truth and justice, to plead only a good cause, of heroical actions. Our reflections are of anto assist even those who cannot reward his la- other kind. It is pretty clear, that depravity bours. What is the conduct of counsel? Is it is general, and piety in the possession of a very not to support both the true and the false, and few, when persons of a superficial knowledge to maintain by turns both justice and iniquity? | are praised for the depth of their understandIs it not to adjust his efforts to his own glory, ing, and when such as perform very small and or to his client's ability to pay?
inconsiderable actions of virtue are considered What is the profession of a merchant? It is as the wonders of the world. Sometimes ! to detest false weights and measures, to pay hear the world exclaim, What benevolence! his dues, and never to found his fortune on What liberality! What generosity! I inquire falsehood, fraud, and perjury. But what is for the evidences of these virtues, on which the conduct of a merchant? Is it not to use such lavish encomiums are bestowed; I expect false weights and measures? Is it not to cheat to find another St. Paul, who, "wished himthe state of its dues? Is it not to indulge an self accursed for his brethren,” Rom. ix. 3. I insatiable avidity? Is it not to enrich himself hope to meet with another Moses, by telling untruths, by practising frauds, by be“ blotted out of the book” of life rather taking false oaths
than see his nation perish, Exod. xxxii. 32. What is the profession of a minister? It is But no; this boasted generosity and charity is to devote himself wholly to truth and virtue, that of a man, who distributed to the poor on to set the whole church an example, to search one solemn occasion, once in his life, such a into hospitals, and cottages, to relieve the mise- suin of money as he expends every day in prories of the sick and the poor; it is to determine digality and superfluity. It is that of a man, himself in his studies, not by what will acquire who bestows on all the members of Jesus Christ him reputation for learning and eloquence, but almost as much as he does on the walls of a by what will be most useful to the people over room, or the harness of a horse. I hear the whom he is set; it is to regulate his choice of world exclaim in some circumstances, What subjects, not by what will make himself shine, friendship! What tenderness! I inquire for