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whom you have rashly determined to push into the highest offices of state without forining in him such dispositions as are necessary to eminent posts, what will he become? A foolish or a partial judge, who will pronounce on the fortunes and lives of his fellow citizens just as chance or caprice may impel him: a public blood-sucker, who will live upon the blood and substance of those whom he ought to support : a tyrant, who 'will rase and depopulate the very cities and provinces, which he ought to defend.
The least indulgence of the bad inclinations of children sometimes produces the most fatal effects in society. This is exemplified in the life of David, whose memory may truly be reproached on this article, for he was one of the most weak of all parents. Observe his indulgence of Amnon. It produced incest. Remark his indulgence of Absalom, who besought him to allow his brethren to partake of a feast, which he had prepared. It produced an assassination. See his weak fondness of the same Absalom, who endeavored to make his way to the throne by inean and clownish manners, affecting to shake hands with the Israelites and to embrace and kiss them (these are the terms of scripture,) and practising all such popular airs as generally precede and predict sedition. This produced a civil war. Remark how he indulged Adonijah, who made himself chariots, and set up a retinue of fifty men. The sacred historian tells us, that his father had not displeased him at any time, in saying, why hast thou done so ? 1 Kings i. 6. This produced an usurpation of the throne and the crown.
To neglect the education of your children is to furnish them with arms against yourselves. You complain that the children, whom you have
brought up with so much tenderness, are the torment of your life, that they seem to reproach you for living so long, and that, though they have derived their being and support from you, yet they refuse to contribute the least part of their superfluities to assist and comfort you. You ought to find fault with yourselves, for their depravity is a natural consequence of such principles as you have taught them. Had you accustomed them to respect order, they would not now refuse to conform to order : but they would perform the greatest of all duties: they would be the strength of your weakness, the vigor of your reason, and the joy of your old age.
To neglect the education of children is to prepare torments for a future state, the bare apprehension of which must give extreme pain to every heart capable of feeling. It is beyond a doubt, that remorse is one of the chief punishments of the damned, and who can question, whether the most excruciating remorse will be excited by this thought; I have plunged my children into this abyss, into which I have plunged myself?
Imagine a parent of a family discovering among the crowd of reprobates a son, whom he himself led thither, and who addresses to him this terrible language, “ Barbarous father, what animal appetites, or what worldly views inclined you to give me existence, to what a desperate condition have you reduced me? See, wretch that you are, see these flames, which burn and consume me. Observe this thick smoke which suffocates me. Behold the heavy chains, with which I am loaded down. These are the fatal consequences of the principles you gave me. Was it not enough to bring me into the world a sinner, was it necessary to put me in arms against Almighty God? Was it
not enough to communicate to me natural depravity, must you add to that the venom of a pernicious education? Was it not enough to expose me to the misfortunes inseparable from life, must you plunge me into those, which follow death? Return me, cruel parent, return me to nothing,' whence you took me. Take from me the fatal existence you gave me. Shew me mountains and hills to fall on me, and hide me from the anger of my judge : or, if that divine vengeance, which pursues thee, will not enable thee to do so, I myself will become thy tormentor; I will for ever present myself, a frightful spectacle, before thine eyes, and by those eternal howlings, which I will incessantly pour into thine ears, I will reproach thee, through all eternity I will reproach thee with my misery and despair."
Let us turn our eyes from these gloomy irnages, let us observe objects more worthy of the majesty of this place, and the holiness of our ministry. To refuse to dedicate our children to God by a religious education, is to refuse those everlasting pleasures, which as much surpass our thoughts as our expressions.
It is a famous question in the schools, whether we shall remember in heaven the connections we had in this world? Whether glorified spirits shall know one another? Whether a father will recollect his son, or a son his father? And so on. I will venture to affirm, that they, who have taken the affirmative side, and they, who have taken the negative on this question, have often done so without any reason.
On the one side, the first have pretended to establish their thesis on this principle that something would be wanting to our happiness, if we were not to know in a future state those persons, with
whom we had been united by the tenderest connections in this present world. · On the other hand, if we know, say the partizans of the opposite opinion, the condition of our friends in a future state, how will it be possible, that a parent should be happy in the possession of a heayen, in which his children have no share; and how can •he possibly relish pleasure at the right hand of God, while he revolves this dreadful thought in his mind, my children are now, and will for ever be tormented with the devil ?
It should seem, the proof and the objection are equally groundless. The enjoyment of God is so sufficient to satiate a soul, that it cannot be considered as necessary to the happiness of it to renew such connections as were formed during a momentary passage through this world. I oppose this against the argument for the first opinion : and I oppose the same against the objection, for the enjoyment of God is every way so sufficient to satiate a soul, that it can love nothing but in God, and that its felicity cannot be altered by the miseries of those, with whom there will then be no connection.
A consideration of another kind has always made me incline to the opinion of those who take the affirmative side of this question. The perfections of God are here concealed under innumerable veils. How often does he seem to countenance iniquity by granting a profusion of favors to the contrivers of the most infernal schemes? How often doth he seem to declare himself against innocence by the misfortunes, which he leaves the innocent to suffer? How often have we seen tyrants on a throne, and good people in irons ? Doth not this awful phenomenon furnish us with an irrefragable argument for the doctrine of a general judgment and a future state ? Which of your preachers hath
not frequently exhorted you to judge nothing before the time, I Cor. iv. 5. at the end of time cometh the restitution of all things, Acts iii. 21. which will justify providence ?
Now, it should seem, this argument, which none but infidels and libertines deny, and which is generally received by all christians, and by all philosophers, this argument, I say, favors, not to say establishes in an incontestible manner, the opinion of those, who think, that the saints will know one another in the next life. Without this how could we acquiesce in the justice of the sentence, which will then be pronounced on all ? Observe St. Paul, whose ministry was continually counteracted. What motive supported him under so much opposition ? Certainly it was the expectation of seeing one day with his own eyes the conquests, which he obtained for Jesus Christ ; souls which he had plucked out of the jaws of satan; believers whom he had guided to eternal happiness. Hear what he said to the Thessalonians, What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and Joy, chap. ii. 19. 20.
Now, this is the hope, this is the crown, which I propose to you, heads of families, to engage you to dedicate your children to God by a religious education.
It was this thoaght, which supported one of the wisest of the heathens against the fears of death, I niean Cato of Utica. No man had a greater affection for a son, than he had for his. No man bore the loss with greater firmness and magnanimity. “Q happy day, when I shall quit this wretched crowd, and join that divine and happy company of noble souls, who have quitted the