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ing them the knowledge of salvation ? Not only in a future state ought you to fear the punishment of so criminal a conduct ; you will be punished in this present world. Children ignorant of religion will but little understand their duty to their parents. They will become the cross, as they will be the shame and infamy of your life. They will shake off your yoke as soon as they have passed their childhood, they will abandon you to the weaknesses, infirmities, and disquietudes of old age, when you arrive at that distasteful period of life, which can be rendered agreeable only by the care, the tenderness, and assiduity of a well bred son. Let us unite all our endeavors, my dear brethren, to remove this evil. Let us honor an employment, which nothing but the licentiousness of the age could have rendered contemptible. Let us consider that, as one of the most important trusts of the state, one of the most respectable posts of society, which is appointed to seminate religious principles in our children, to inspire them with piety, to guard them against the snares that they will meet with in the world, and by these means, to render them dutiful in childhood, faithful in conjugal life, tender parents, good citizens, and able magistrates.
The pastors of our churches make a second class of teachers. I know, that all our sufficiency is of God; 2 Cor. iii. 5. that, though Paul may plant, and Apollos water, God only giveth the increase ; that holy men, considering the end of the ministry, have exclaimed, Who is sufficient for these things ? ! Cor. iii. 6. Yet, the ordinary means, which God useth for the conversion of sinners, are the ministry of the word, and the qualifications of ministers, for faith cometh by hearing, Rom. 'x. 17. Now this word, my brethern, is not preached with equal power by all; and though the foundation which each
lays be the same, it is too true that some build upon this foundation the gold and sprecious stones of a solid and holy doctrine, while others build with the wood, hay, and stubble, 1 Cor. iii. 12. of their own errors, the productions of a confused imagination and a mistaken eloquence. And as the word is not preached with the same power, so it is not attended with the samé success.
But when the word proceeds from the mouth of å man whom God hath sealed, and enriched with extraordinary talents, when it proceeds from a man, who hath the tongue of the learned and the wisdom of the wise, as the scripture speaks : Isa. 1. 4. when is proceeds from a Boanerges, Mark iii. 17. a son of thunder, from a Moses, mighty in words and in deeds, Acts vii. 22. who maintains the dignity of his doctrine by the purity of his morals, and by the . power of his good example, then the word is heard with attention ; from the ear it passeth to the mind, from the mind to the heart, from the heart to the life: it penetrates, it inflames, it transports. It becomes a hammer breaking the hardest hearts, a ttoo-edged sword, dividing the father from the son, and the son from the father, dissolving all the bonds of flesh and blood, the connections of nature, and the love of self.
What precaution, what circumspection, and in some sort, what dread ought to prevail in the choice of an office, which so greatly influences the salvation of those among whom it is exercised! There needs only the bad system of a pastor to produce and preserve thousands of false notions of religion in the people's minds; notions which fifty years labor of a more wise and sensible ministry will scarcely be able to eradicate. There needs only a pastor sold to sordid interest, to put up, in some sort, salvation to sale, and to régulate places
in paradise according to the diligence or negligence with which the people gratify the avarice of him who distributes them. There needs only a pastor fretted with envy and jealousy against his brethren to poison their ministry, by himself, or by his emissaries. Yea sometimes, there needs only the want of some less essential talents in a minister to give advantage to the enemies of religion, and to deprive the truths he preaches of that profound respect which is their dne ; a respect that even enemies could not withhold, if the gospel were properly preached and its truths exhibited in their true point of view.
It would be unreasonable perhaps to develope this article now.
How many of our people would felicitate themselves if we were to furnish them with pretences for imputing their unfruitfulness to those who cultivate them ; but, if this article must not be developed, what grave remonstrances, what pressing exhortations, what fervent prayers should it occasion ; let the heads of families consider the heinousness of their conduct in presuming to offer impure victims to the Lord, and in consecrating those children to the holy ministry, in whom they cannot but discover dispositions that render them unworthy of it. May ecclesiastical bodies never : assemble for the elections of pastors without making profound reflections on the importance of the service in which they are engaged, and the greatness of the trust which the magistrate commits to them : May they never ordain without recollecting, that, to a certain degree, they will be responsible for all the sad consequences of a faithless or a fruitless ministry : May they always prostrate themselves, on these occasions, before God, as the apostles in the same case did, and pray, Lord shew whom thou hast chosen, Acts i. 24. May our rulers
and magistrates be affected with the worth of those souls, whom pastors instruct ; and may they unite all their piety, all their pity, and all their power to procure holy men, who may adorn so eminent, so venerable a post.
What hath been said on the choice of pastors still more particularly regards the election of tutors, who are employed to form pastors themselves. Universities are public springs, whence rivulets flow into all the church. Place at the head of these bodies sound philosophers, good divines, wise casuists, and they will become seminaries of pastors afler God's heart, who will form the minds, and regulate the morals of the people, gently bowing them to the yoke of religion. On the contrary, place men of another character at the head of our universities, and they will send out impoisoned ministers, who will diffuse through the whole church the fatal venom which they themselves have imbibed.
3. The third cause, which we have assigned, of the infancy and noviciate of most christians in religious knowledge, is the multitude of their secular affairs. Far be it from us to aim at inspiring you with superstitious maxims. We do not mean that they who fill eminent posts in society shall devote that time to devotion, which the good of the community requires. We allow, that, in soine critical conjunctures, the time appointed for devotion must be yielded to business. There are some urgent occasions when it is more necessary to fight than to pray: there are times of important business in which the closet must-be sacrificed to the cares of life, and second causes must be attended to even when one would wish to be occupied only about the first. Yet, after all, the duty we recommend is indispensable. Amidst the most turbulent solicitudes of life, a christian, desirous of being safed,
will devote some time to his salvation. Some part of the day he will redeem from the world and society, to meditate on eternity. This was the practice of those eminent saints, whose lives are proposed as patterns to us.
The histories of Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and David are well known, and you recollect those parts of their lives to which wę refer, without our detaining you in a repetition now.
The last cause of the incapacity of so many christians for seeing the whole of religion in its connection and harmony, the last cause of their taking it only by bits and shreds, is their love of sensual pleasure. We do not speak here of those gross pleasures, at which heathens would have blushed, and which are incompatible with christianity. We attack pleasures more refined, maxims for which reasonable persons become sometimes apologists : persons who, on more accounts than one, are worthy of being proposed as examples : persons who would seem to be the salt of the earth, the flower of society, and whom we cannot justly accuse of not loving religion. How rational, how religious soever they appear in other cases, they make no scruple of passing a great part of their time in gaming, in public diversions, in a round of worldly amusements; in pleasures, which not only appear harmless, but, in some sort suitable to their rank, and which seem criminal only to those, who think it their duty not to float on the surface of religion, but to examine the whole that it requires of those men, on whom God hath bestowed the inestimable favor of revealing it. We may presume, that, if we shew people of this sort, that this way of life is one of the principal obstacles to their progress in religion, and prevents their knowing all its beau. ties, and relishing all its delights, we shall not speak without success. In order to this, pardon