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and as you have a capacity to serve, and enjoy, and glorify God by real religion, how can we love you in reality, if we do not covet for you this high and holy distinction ? We should feel that our love had exhausted 'itself upon trifles, and had let go objects of immense, infinite, eternal consequence, if it were not to concentrate all its prayers, desires, and efforts, in your personal religion.
Almost every parent has some one object which he desires above all others on behalf of his children. Some are anxious that their offspring may shine as warriors; others, that their's may be surrounded with the milder radiancē of literary, scientific, or commercial fame. Our supreme ambition for you is, that whatever situation you occupy, you may adorn it with the beauties of holiness, and discharge its duties under the influence of Christian principle. Much as we desire your respectability in life, and we will not conceal our hope that you will occupy, no mean place in society, yet we would rather see you in the most obscure, and even menial situation, provided you were partakers of true piety, than see you on the loftiest pinnacle of the temple of fame, the objects of universal admiration, if at the same time your hearts were destitute of the fear of God. We might, indeed, in the latter case, be tempted to watch your ascending progress, and hear the plaudits with which your elevation was followed, with something of a parent's vanity ; but when we retired from the dazzling scene to the seat of serious reflection, the spell would be instantly broken, and we should sorrowfully exclaim, “ Alas! my son, what is all this, in the absence of religion, but soaring highe to have the greater fall!"
You must be aware, my dear children, that all our conduct towards you, has been conducted upon these principles. Before you were capable of receiving instruction, we presented ceaseless prayer to God for your personal piety. As soon as reason dawned, we poured the light of religious instruction upon your mind, by the aid of familiar poetry, catechisms, and conversation. You cannot remember the time when these efforts commenced. How often have you retired with us, to become the subjects of our earnest supplications at the throne of grace. You have been the witnesses of our agony for your eternal welfare. Have we not instructed, warned, admonished, encouraged you, as we laid open to your view, the narrow path which leadeth to eternal life? Have we not been guided by this object in the selection of schools for you
educa tion, companions for your amusement, books for your perusal? Has not this been so interwoven with all our conduct, that if at any time
had been asked the question, “ What is the chief object of your parents' solicitude on your account,” you must have said at once “ For my being truly pious ?" Yes, my children, this is most strictly true. At home, abroad, in sickness and in health, in prosperity and in adversity, this is the ruling solicitude of our bosoms.
How intently have we marked the developement of your character, to see if our fondest wishes were likely to be gratified. We have observed your deportment under the sound of the Gospel, and when you have appeared listless and uninterested, it has been as wormwood in
our cup; while, on the other hand, when we have seen you, listening with attention, quietly wiping away the tear of emotion, or retiring pensive and serious to your closet, we have rejoiced more than they which find great spoil. When we have looked on the conduct of any pious youth, we have uttered the wish, “ O that my child were like him!” and have directed
ion to his character, as that which we wished you to make the model of your’s. When, on the other hand, we have witnessed the behaviour of some prodigal son, who has been the grief of his parents, the thought has been like a dagger to our heart, “ What if my child should turn out thus !"
1. Now we cherish all this solicitude on our own account. We candidly assure you,
that nothing short of this will make us happy. Your piety is the only thing that will make us rejoice that we
are parents. How can we endure to see our children choosing any other ways than those of wisdom, and any other path than that of life? How could we bear the sight, to behold you travelling along the broad road which leadeth to destruction, and running with the multitude to do evil ? “ O God, hide us from this sad spectacle, in the grave, and ere that time comeş, take us to our rest.”. But how would it cmbitter our last moments, and plant our dying pillow with thorns, to leave you on earth in an unconverted state ; following us to the grave, but not to heaven. Or should you be called to die before us, and take possession of the tomb in our names, how could we stand at the dreadful post of observation, darker every hour, without one ray of hope for you, to cheer our
wretched spirits! How could we sustain the dreadful thought, which in spite of ourselves would sometimes steal across the bosom, that the very next moment after you had passed beyond our kind attentions, you would be received to the torments which know neither end nor mitigation! And when you had departed under such circumstances, what could heal our wounds, or dry our tears !
Should you become truly pious, this circumstance will impart to our bosoms a felicity which no language could enable me to describe. It will sweeten all our intercourse with you, establish our confidence, allay our fears, awaken our hopes. If we are prosperous, it will delight' us to think that we are not acquiring riches for those who will squander it on their lusts, but who will employ it for the glory of God when we are in the dust. Or, if we are poor, it will cheer us to reflect, that though we cannot leave you the riches of this world, we see you in possession of the favour of God, and that portion, which after comforting you on earth, will enrich you through eternity. My dear children, if you are anxious to comfort the hearts of your parents, if ye would fulfil our joy; if ye would repay all our labour, anxiety, affection ; if ye would most effectually discharge all the obligations which you cannot deny you owe us, Fear God, and choose the ways of religion : this, this only, will make us happy.
2. We cherish this solicitude on behalf of the church, and the cause of God..
We are every year conveying to the tombs of their fathers, some valued and valuable members of the Christian church.
We are perpe
tually called to witness the desolations of the last enemy in the garden of the Lord. How often do we exclaim over the corpse of some eminent Christian and benefactor, Departed saint, how heavy the loss we have sustained by thy removal to a better state ! Who now shall fill up thy vacant seat, and bless like thee both the church and the world ?" My children, under these bereavements, to whom should we look but to you? To whom should we turn but to the children of the kingdom, for subjects of the kingdom ? You are the property of the church. It has a claim upon you. Will ye not own it, and discharge it? Must we see the walls of the spiritual house mouldering away, and you, the rightful materials with which it should be repaired, withheld! We love the church,
? we long for its prosperity, we pray for its increase, and it cannot but be deeply distressing to us to witness the ravages of death, and, at the same time, to see the want of religion in those young persons, whose parents, during their life, filled places of honour and usefulness in the fellowship of the faithful.
We are anxious for your being pious that you might be the instruments of blessing the world by the propagation of religion. The moral condition of the world is too bad for description. If it be ever improved, this must be done by Christians. True piety is the only reformer of mankind. A spirit of active benevolence has happily risen up, rich in purposes and means, for the benefit of the human race. But the men, in whose bosoms it now lives and moves, are not immortal upon earth; they too must sleep in dust, and who shall succeed them