« ForrigeFortsæt »
able, useful and happy in life, and a blessing to church and state. And as it respects the happiness of children in a future world, it is certain a religious education is of great importance. As God works by means in religion as well as in other things, there is a connexion between a good education and salvation. This we are taught to believe, not only from the effect which we see education have in other things, but also from the consideration that God has made it the duty of parents, religiously to educate their children, and he would not have done this if it was of no use. Besides he has given great encouragement, if he has not made absolute promises, that the parent's fidelity shall issue in the salvation of the child. The promise to Abraham for his parental fidelity was that his children should keep the way of the Lord ; Gen. xviii. 19. And we also read, “ Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it ;” Prov. xxii. 6. Similar passages several times occur in the Scriptures. These declarations if they do not amount to absolute promises of salvation to children in consequence of parental fidelity, at least afford great encouragement. The faithfulness of parents has doubtless been often blessed. Many have had reason in this life to bless God for a pious father, and more for a pious mother. Multitudes will have reason, through eternity to thank him for these inestimable privileges. And I believe, with comparatively few exceptions, they are the children of parents who attend to the religious education of their children, who are made partakers of the saving grace of God. Let parents therefore, if they desire or regard the everlasting welfare of their children, be faithful in their religious education ; and let them persevere in faithfulness, and not faint under seeming discouragements. Even though God to try your faith and patience, and to manifest his sovereignty, cause you to wait long, yet he may answer you at last, and your example, prayers, instructions, and reproofs may bring forth saving fruit, after you yourselves have gone to rest.
The example of Monica the mother of the celebrated and pious Augustine of the fifth century deserves here to be mentioned for the encouragement of pious parents, who may be ready to give over their children as incorrigible. Her son was a very dissolute youth; but still she
continued to instruct and exhort him, and daily to wrestle in prayer with God for his conversion. At a certain time she applied to a clergyman to talk with her son, which he from a sense of his incorrigibleness declining to do, she continued entreating him with tears, until he encouraged her with these words, “ A child of so many tears cannot perish.” And so it issued. At the age of thirty he was turned unto God, and became one of the most pious and useful men, that ever professed the christian faith. Parents, mothers especially, go and do likewise, and you may hope that if you persevere the Lord will grant your requests.
3. I present one other motive, and that is the dreadful consequences of unfaithfulness, both to parents and children. The probability is, that if you neglect your duty, your children will be forever lost. The probability of this consequence is clear from what has already been said, Consider then the value of the souls of your children. You love them, and are anxious to provide for them, and procure them respectability and happiness in this world. But these although important are of little consequence in comparison of their eternal happiness. Oh! feel for the everlasting interests of your children, and anxiously endeavour to procure for then the blessing of God. How can you bear the thought that they should be lost! And lost too through your neglect! Besides, remember that great will be your own guilt. And how will you
bear to meet them in a future world! (parents, think of these things and be faithful to the souls of your children.
“ Wives submit yourselves untoʻyour own husbands, as is fit, in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter a
In these words we have contained one of the most important relations of life, viz. that of husband and wife ; and the duties of this relation are summarily pointed out.
This relation is constituted by marriage, which is an ordinance of God. This ordinance was instituted in the garden of Eden, before the fall of our first parents, by God himself, when he brought the woman to the man, “ And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh :" And the Lord added, “ therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife ; and they shall be one flesh;" Gen. ii. 23, 24. And our Saviour, when on earth, sanctioned this institution, by being himself present at a marriage, in Cana of Galilee and working a miracle for the accommodation of the guests. Marriage is therefore a relation sanctioned by divine approbation, and divine appointment, and “ is honourable in all ;” and celibacy, or a voluntary passing through life in a single state, so far from being a virtue, as has been taught by the friends of monastic institutions, contravenes a divine appointment.
It is true the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians, rather advises Christians, except in certain cases, against marriage ; but he tells us he spake in this, his own opinion, and not by divine commandment ; and his opinion was founded on the then persecuted state of the church. “ Now (says he) concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment; suppose therefore, that this is good for the present distress. I say that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife ? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife ?-seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh;" 1. Cor. vii. 25–28. The church was in an unsettled and persecuted state. Christians had frequently to flee from city to city, and were often exposed to the alternative of either renouncing their religion, or undergoing imprisonment, suffering, and death. In this state of things, the more they were disencumbered with the world, and earthly connexions, the less temptations would they have, to shrink from the trials to which they were exposed. But the apostle by no means advises against marriage as a general principle, but speaks only in relation to the present distress. And he elsewhere frequently makes honourable mention of this relation, and points out the duties arising out of it. And in his epistle to Timothy looking forward with a prophetic spirit to the days of anti-christ, and foretelling the corruptions which would then be introduced, he mentions among others, “ forbidding to marry,” and calls it a “doctrine of devils;" 1 Tim. iv. 1, &c. Hence it is evident, no valid objection against this relation can be drawn from the writings of Paul.
Marriage is a very important relation, and ought to be entered into with serious consideration. There is no step which persons take in life, in which their temporal, and not unfrequently, their spiritual happiness are deeply concerned. But we have reason to fear, few are duly impressed with a sense of the importance of this relation, when they enter it. The direction of the apostle to Christians is to marry,“ only in the Lord;" 1 Cor. viii. 39. And,“ be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers : for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? and what communion hath light with darkness ? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15. Christians know by experience that they have enough within them, to retard their spiritual progress; that they need every external assistance to help them forward in their journey towards heaven ; and that while believing partners may greatly promote the divine life in the soul, lighten spiritual burdens, by helping to
bear them, and may be a means of quickening them when they grow languid-unbelieving partners give no assistance, but by gradually infusing their spirit may greatly retard them, and by opposition may prove a source of heavy trial.
We have many instances in Scripture where a breach of the rule to marry only in the Lord, has been productive of great evil. The intermarriages of the song of Seth who were God's visible people before the flood, with the wicked daughters of Cain, is given as the great cause of that exceeding corruption, which provoked God to destroy the old world with the flood. The marriage of Esau with the daughters of Heth was a great grief to the minds of his pious parents, and sensible of the danger of such a connexion, they took special care that Jacobshould not unite himself with any of the Canaanitish women. God expressly prohibited the Israelites intermarrying with the Heathen ; and the transgression of this law, brought frequent judgments on the nation.
Solomon's marriages with Heathen women were productive of great evil both to himself and his people. And doubtless, observation and experience, in the different ages of the church, have often proved the impropriety of such marriages.
Marriage should be between only two persons. Polygamy is unlawful. On this subject, in our country, much need not be said. Polygamy always has been and still is practised in the East. But that it is wrong we are taught hy the original institution of marriage, which was between only one pair. And our Saviour referring to the original institution, says, “ have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning, made them male and female ; and said for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.” Mat. xix. 4, 5, 6. And the apostle Paul in the frequent references which he makes to the conjugal relation, uniformly speaks of it as existing between one man and one woman. And the domestic evils which polygamy has occasioned is an evidence of its impropriety, as we see especially exemplified in the families of Abraham, Jacob, and Ikanah.
It is true polygamy was practised by good men of old, bose whose names have just been mentioned, and also