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shall he also reap: he that soweth to the flesh, that pampers his child, teaches him to admire what God hates, and slight what God recommends,-must take all the sad consequences of their eternal ruin upon his own head ?
In the morning, therefore, sow thy seed; and in the evening, withhold not thy hand. The husbandman does not despair, but sows, the seed, and waits for the season: that is, he waits for God's time. Seed-time and harvest are periodical in nature: but the seed which the parent sows has no such periodical seasons. It comes up when God pleases. And I must also tell you, as a public witness for God and his truth, that you should never despair. No distressed woman ever hoped more against hope, than the mother of your Preacher : but she prayed; and while she prayed, she waited patiently, and put her trust in an Omnipotent Arm. Like the Syro-Phenician woman, she cried, Lord help me! She not only prayed, and waited; but she instructed his mind, and then waited God's season: and she lived long enough to hear that her child preached that gospel which he once despised; and she said, Now, Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace !
My Dear Friends, it was on this principle, that Noah , framed his ark: warned of God, and moved with fear, he prepared an ark to the saving of his house : his faith saved his family from the Flood. God bears testimony, also, (Gen. xviii. 19.)
to the faith of Abraham: I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him: and them that honour me, God says, I will honour. It is said, (Exod. ix. 20, 21.) He, that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh, made his servants and his cattle flee unto the houses; and they were saved from the storm : and he, that regarded not the word of the Lord, left his servants and his cattle in the field ; that is, they let things take their course: and that is the general way of the world.
I beseech you to take up the holy reasoning, then, of the holy men of whom I have been speaking the holy resolution, in the midst of an ungodly world, of saving your own souls, and those of your children. Say with Joshua, As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Think of the case of Eli, who, though a good man, forgot good rules, neglected his sons, and suffered them to run at random: God brought a heavy judgment on the house of Eli, and told him that as he had honoured his sons more than him, he would bring reproach upon his house. I beseech you, therefore, to look on your children, in this way of true affection; and not to be anxious about their advancement in this world. But be you anxious concerning that, which our Lord pointed out: Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall never be taken away from her.
My Dear Hearers, I conclude with this observation: what is interesting truth with respect to children, is interesting truth to us all. Their bodies need food, and raiment, and care; but may not instruction to their souls be compared to food, and raiment, and medicine for their bodies ? Their souls must have the Bread of Life, the Water of Life, and the Medicines of the Gospel-or perish for ever! They need these to strengthen them; to enable them to arise, and travel through this wilderness world, in their way to a better.
I pray God, therefore, that whatever I have been saying to the children, both Parents and Children may so take hold of, as to take hold of knowledge, and to keep it fast, and to take care of it as that which contains eternal life and every blessing. May the Holy Spirit apply these truths to all our hearts! Amen.
ADVANTAGES OF THE HOUSE OF MOURNING.
ECCLESIASTES . VII. 2.
It is better to go to the House of Mourning, than to go to the
House of Feasting. NOTHIN
OTHING seems more contradictory to the general sentiments of mankind, than this declaration of the Wise Man. I shall, therefore,
1. STATE THE SENSE OF THE WORDS. 2. ILLUSTRATE THE FACT.
I. With respect to the SENSE, it seems sufficiently obvious.
“ It is better,” as one expresses it, “ to go to a funeral, than to a festival.” A man may lawfully do both: he may glorify God, as Christ did, in going to both: Christ went to the marriagefestival at Cana; and he went to the grave in Bethany, and groaned and wept there.
The House of Mourning is to be considered, however, as a very distinct thing from any sort of monkish austerity. Men are not taught of God to be ingenious in tormenting themselves; nor to be volunteers in humility, as the Apostle
expresses it. The Wise Man here speaks of any dispensation of affliction, which God has set before us in his providence, There is a time to weep, and to meet an afflictive dispensation; and, instead of wishing to avoid such dispensation by sinful methods, the Wise Man tells us in the text, that It is better to go to the House of Mourning, than to the House of Feasting.
Those persons, therefore, of whom Isaiah speaks, in his fifty-sixth chapter, who say, Come ye, I will fetch wine; and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant—these men have wholly mistaken the matter: it would be better, far better, to go to a scene of trial and affliction, than to let themselves loose, like brute beasts, to the gratification of their passions.
II. Let us endeavour to ILLUSTRATE THE TEXT.
I shall do this, by shewing you, that the House of Mourning is better than the House of Feasting in these Four respects: as
1. It gives BETTER LESSONS:
1. There are BETTER LESSONS afforded in the House of Mourning, than in the House of Feasting.