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care be taken in private families for the government and instruction of youth, the public will soon see and feel the happy effects of it. Permit me therefore to remind all parents of the duty they owe to God, their country, and their children, to take care that those who are by the laws of God and man committed to their government, be virtuously educated and instructed in the way of the Lord. This God requires of you; his creatures they are, whom call
your children: they owe obedience to him in the first place, and it is his authority which you exercise over them; and if they perish for want of timely instruction and correction, he will require their souls at your hands.
Parents have a trust likewise reposed in them by their country. There is nothing of greater consequence to the public than that the youth of the nation should be trained up to virtue and industry; that the seeds of religion should be sown betimes in their hearts, and cherished by proper encouragement. These are the only methods from which we can have any hopes to see our country supplied with honest and worthy men. It is but reasonable to expect from parents that they should out of natural affection seek to promote the happiness of their children; and since the same care which is necessary to form them to be good subjects, is also necessary to say the foundation of their own happiness and prosperity in the world, this care is wholly intrusted to parents; who ought to look on themselves as responsible to their country for the future behavior of their children.
But farther; if parents would but consider the condition of those children whom they have brought into the world, they would find themselves obliged, by the strongest ties of natural affection, to guard them against the certain miseries of this life and of the next, by seasoning their minds with principles of virtue and religion. How wretched, do you think, are those parents who live to see their children made miserable by vice? And what an addition must it be to their misfortune, if it is attended with this reflexion, that it was want of early care in them which led the way to this ruin and misery? How often is it that men remember with detestation the negligence and indulgence of their parents, when either they find themselves useless to the world and themselves, for want of that early care which should have been bestowed on them; or exposed to misery, to an untimely end, or to a life of shame and reproach, by those evil inclinations which grew headstrong in them for want of being pruned in their tender years !
You see then what strong obligations parents are under to be diligent in the discharge of this duty; which they owe to God, their country, and their children: and we might promise ourselves happy days to come, were there a performance answerable to these obligations. In many cases indeed parents are disabled from discharging this duty through ignorance and poverty; and what must become of such families, where the fathers and mothers can scarcely, with all their labor, provide food and raiment; so far are they from being able to attend to the education and instruction of their children ? And this necessity of many poor families among us gave rise to the institution of public schools, maintained by contributions for the instruction and education of the poor: an institution which, however serviceable to the poor of our country, is calculated to promote nobler views than those of private interest and advantage to any one set of men, and tends directly to the public good, and the benefit of all.
The passions of men considered, it is not to be expected that those who are permitted to go wild and untamed in their youth, should prove harmless, much less useful and beneficial to society, in their more advanced years. Necessity is a great temptation to wickedness, and leads men to use fraud or violence to support their vices; and if they have nothing but their corrupt affections to direct them, can it be hoped that they should withstand these temptations ? Idle and undisciplined boys commonly prove loose and vicious young men, and often fali a sacrifice to the severity of the law before they become
Thieves and robbers must be punished, or the innocent must be ruined; so far the rigor of the law is justified : but is it not a deplorable case, and to a Christian country a great reproach, that great care should be taken to punish wickedness, and little or none to prevent it ? · And yet this is the case where the instruction of the poor is neglected, and they are left to pursue the corrupt inclinations of nature to their own destruction. This mischief is in some measure provided for by the charity-schools; and by breeding up the poor to be honest and diligent, the rich are saved from the violence of wicked necessitous men; the poor are rescued from wickedness, and the punishments due to it; and so many useful and beneficial hands are gained to the public.
Farther, not only the good order and peace of civil society is provided for by these charitable institutions, but also the peace of the church of Christ; by training up youth to be orderly and well behaved members of it: an end which every Christian, who has any regard for his holy profession, must take pleasure in promoting. But carry this consideration into its remoter consequences, the happiness to which many souls may arrive through the influence which a pious education may have on the whole course of their lives; and nothing will be wanting to give us a just conception of the usefulness of this design, or to encourage us to be liberal and generous in contributing to the support of it. If every gift bestowed for the honor of God, or for the good of our country, or for the sake of a poor brother, shall have its reward ; how abundantly shall this charity be recompensed, which serves all these purposes at once; whịch brings maintenance to the poor, instruction to the ignorant, and opens to the miserable a way to happiness ; which provides for the order of civil government, and the peace of Christ's church on earth; referring all to the glory and honor of him, who is Lord of the world which now is, and of that which is to come ? Give therefore according as God has blessed you : here are many who ask your help; the poor, your country, the church of Christ, which intreats for these her helpless children: and one there is who looks on, and will not forget the love you show to the meanest of his members for his sake, Jesus Christ, our Lord : 'to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honor and glory henceforth and for evermore.' Amen.
SUMMARY OF DISCOURSE I.
PROVERBS, CHAP. XXIV.-VERSE 21.
The fear of God and of the king are joined together in Scripture, to show the dependence which one has on the other. The advantage of religion to all public societies and civil governinents is evident: and if we look into the history of former times, we shall find the first symptoms of ruin in the dissolute lives of the people and their contempt of sacred things.
The duty of fearing God is not considered farther than as the obedience due to our superiors on earth is included in it; the discourse therefore is confined to the following particulars : I. what obedience to our governors is enjoined by the law of God: II. how inconsistent with this obedience is the practice of those men, who are given to change.
I. Obedience is seen chiefly in three things : first, in submission to the laws and commands of our princes : secondly, in honor and reverence to their persons and government : thirdly, in defending them, when any danger threatens them or the public. First: to determine the original of civil power, or the prince's right to the subject's obedience, is neither easy nor necessary. When our Saviour appeared in the world, various were the forms of government in it, and different the degrees of power exercised by its rulers ; none of which were lessened or increased by the divine law, but all pronounced to be the ordinance of God; and obedience was exacted, under penalty of disobeying him, the original of all power : for he that resisteth, resisteth the ordinance of God, &c.
But since the nature of obedience is no where determined by the law of God, while the practice of it only is commanded, some other rule there must be to judge of the extent of our duty. This shown to be the measure of power and authority: whatever the prince can lawfully command in that, the subject is bound to obey. The things which are God's must be rendered unto God; and therefore no divine law can be superseded by the command of any earthly power : we must obey God rather than man, and be content with the lot of them who suffer for well-doing. But to reason abstractedly on the power of princes is a sign of weakness and of a troublesome temper : custom and the law of the land are, in each country, the highest reason : otherwise the gospel, which was intended for the law of all nations and people, could not have commanded obedience to the present powers, so different in form and authority.
Obedience is primarily due to God, the fountain of all power. Where God did not so visibly interest himself, as in the Jewish dispensation, but committed the reins of government to earthly princes, the making of laws for the external order of the world was remitted to their authority; and therefore the gospel, though infinitely more perfect than the law, gave us no system of laws, either for civil or ecclesiastical government. Of obedience there are two parts, the external and the internal : the former is that in the due performance of which the beauty and order of the world consists, and is therefore the proper care of its governors. The same holds in religion, which is the service of God: there are duties in which none are concerned but God and our own souls; such as faith, repentance, &c. But God requires also an external and visible worship from us, in which