Page images

religion is not felt, are strikingly described in the verses which precede the text. The apostle is speaking of those who are wilfully ignorant of Christianity, or wickedly renounce its authority. "Men shall be lovers of their ownselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; they are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, they resist the truth; they are men of corrupt minds, and reprobate concerning the faith; but their folly shall be manifest to all men.' He next speaks of the effect of Christianity on himself. He exercised faith, long-suffering, charity, patience. He lived godly in Christ Jesus; and rather than deny his LORD, or leave his cause in any place without an advocate, he willingly suffered persecution. He then exhorts Timothy to persevere, as having been blessed with early instruction, assured of the excellence of revealed truth, and animated by the brightest examples in his own family. "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing

of whom thou hast learned them; and that, from a child, thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in CHRIST JESUS." Fron these words I shall make the following remarks;

1. That children should receive religious instruction.

2. That this instruction is superior to every other kind.

3. That the Scriptures are its legitimate

[ocr errors]


May the HOLY SPIRIT bless the present attempt to aid the rising generation!

The depravity of human nature renders early instruction of incalculable advantage. God made man upright. He possessed knowledge, without any mixture of error; and holiness, without any taint of sin. But he yielded to the tempter and departed from his Maker. By sin, he lost that light in his understanding which gave him the true knowledge of God-that rectitude in his will which caused him to delight in the will of GoD-and that purity in his affections, which led him to love every thing in exact proportion to its real loveliness. He is now prone to error, and inclined to evil. If there be not this evil tendency in the mind, whence comes it that, when light appears in the world,


men love darkness, and that human opinions should be so generally prefered to divine truths? Whence comes it, that the earth has been overspread with wickedness? And that they, who have escaped the corruptions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour, have continual need to exercise vigilance over their own hearts? Why should we dissemble the sin of our fallen nature? Why should we flatter ourselves with a false persuasion that we possess greater excellence than what really belongs to our present condition? In all cases it is most fair, most prudent, and most safe to meet and represent things precisely as they are, neither exaggerating on the one side, nor depreciating on the other. Doubtless, fallen man, possesses faculties which may render him very useful in society; and these faculties are capable of considerable improvement: but, as to his spiritual condition, it is evident from the universal testimony of Scripture- the constant observation of the discerning-and the unvarying experience of the whole human race-that "foolishness is bound in the heart of a child,*”—that “man is very far gone from original righteousness,"+that he is ignorant of the things that make for his peace-and that, left to himself, he would

* Proverbs xxii, 15.

+ 9th Article of the Church.

[ocr errors]

die in a state of enmity against his Maker.* Should he not be taught these humiliating truths? Does not ignorance add greatly to his danger? Means of defence may be adopted against a foe discovered, whilst one in ambushment takes us by surprise. And Education is also an appointed mean towards a recovery. "He commanded our fathers that they should make them known to their children-that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.Ӡ

The permanency of early impressions indicates childhood to be the most proper season of instruction. At that period, our Creator has communicated "such flexibility to the organs, such quickness to the apprehension, such retention to the memory, such inquisitiveness to the temper, such alacrity to the animal spirits, and such ardour to the affections as are not possessed at any subsequent period. We are therefore bound by every tie of duty, to follow these obvious designations of Providence, by moulding that flexibility to the most durable ends, by pointing that apprehension to the brightest objects, by storing that memory with the best of knowledge, by giving to that alacrity the best direction, by turning that inquisitiveness to the noblest pur

* Romans iii, 11; viii, 7.

+ Psalm lxxvii, 5-7.

poses; and, above all, converting that impression of heart to the most exalted moral uses." Why should we not give religion the advantage which sin will otherwise have? Let us assist the rising generation before sin has hardened them. Let us aid them by religious instruction, before Satan has placed a stronger garrison in their hearts. What can be worse than ignorance? Is it not generally, followed by carelessness and impiety? The immense majority of those who have come to an untimely end, will bear witness to this melancholy truth. The seeds of wickedness are cherished, and spring up when they come to age. The obstinacy of natural viciousness may indeed frustrate a good education; but, where there is no culture, no fruit can be expected. The cultivation of the mind, as of the earth, delivers it from the barrenness of its nature. And it will be found that, as Christian knowledge leads to God, so it is the preservative of virtue, and the best source of happiness. Bring them up, said one who had felt the force of early impressions, "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."†

The Author has peculiar pleasure in adopting the sentiments of one of the earliest promoters of Sunday Schools. Mrs. H. More has, with equal felicity, instructed the highest classes, and poured the light of knowledge into the minds of the most illiterate and poor.

+Ephesians vi, 4.

« PreviousContinue »