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Teach them, also, to refer all the little innocent plea. sures, which they enjoy, to a benefactor superiour to yourselves, and to bear their little disappointments, as tending, ultimately, to their greater enjoyment. Surely, nothing can be easier, than, before the mind has learned to pry into secondary causes, to teach them to feel their immediate dependence on a supe. riour power. By frequently comparing, also, their duties and sentiments toward God with their relation to yourselves, you have certainly a most efficacious instrument of religious impression.
2. In the next place, you will find, that the facts and narratives in the scripture are level to their capacities, and interesting to their feelings. They can early sympathize with the sufferings of our Saviour, early be impressed with the wonders of his miraeulous works; and their questions will soon afford you opportunity to explain, in the most intelligible manner, how he was the saviour and benefactor of our race. They can understand the deplorable situation of mankind, at the time of his appearance in the world, and the love of the Father, in sending him, at that moment, to enlighten and redeem it. They can understand the high character of his obedience, and the merit of his painful sufferings and death. When they have once seen an instance of dissolution, and have conceived an idea of the loss of life, they can be made to understand what Jesus has promised to those, who obey him, and that he himself rose from the dead, as an example, and a pledge of the life, that he promises to the good. They can easily understand the wonderful excellence of the Redeem. er's character, and, no doubt, they may be made to feel, that it consisted in great benevolence, meekness, patience, condescension and devotion. They will, at once, discover, also, that the Bible is a book of a peculiar character; and it is not difficult, to generate in their minds a reverence for its sentiments and style.
more Do not imas certain formiem repeat
They should be directed toʻthe most touching repre. sentations, and the most moral stories; and you will find them susceptible of the best impressions..
But, to preserve in their minds an habitual sense of religion, even from their infancy, there is nothing more salutary, than to accustom them to private prayer. Do not imagine, that it is necessary to confine them always to a certain form; nor satisfy yourselves, that it is sufficient to hear them repeat the Lord's prayer, morning and evening. You will find, that they can, much sooner than you imagine, make little prayers of their own, however short or incoherent they may, at first, appear. O, ye parents, if you were sufficiently interested in this most interesting of subjects, you would early aid their thoughts, and help out their imperfect petitions, and accustom them to pray for themselves, instead of hearing them repeat, for ever, a form, which they either do not understand, or utter unconsciously. . But I must leave the subject to your own good sense, aided by a deep conviction of the importance of religion, and of early religion.
Before I conclude, however, I cannot but make one remark, of great practical importance, that, though a child may be secured from the contagion of innumerable examples of depravity in others, one unequivocal violation of rectitude, discovered in the parent, may paralyze the influence of all past, and all future instruction. What, then, is not to be apprehended from an habitual transgression of the laws of virtue. You cannot, you will not put lessons into your children's hands, every line of which condemns you; you will not hear them read from books, whose pure pages make you blush ; you will not teach them prayers, who never heard you pray; nor send them regularly to the weekly services of the sanctuary, to see your seats empty, and hear your irreligious habits condemned. This, I acknowledge, would be too
much to expect of you. Walk, then, within your houses, with a perfect heart. Then may you teach diligently to your children the holy truths and precepts of your religion. You will be unwilling to talk of them, neither when thou sittest in thine house, when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up; that the generations to come may know them, even the children, which shall be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, and their children to another gen. eration.
DEUT. XXXII. 29.
HAPPY ART THOU, O ISRAEL; WHO IS LIKE UNTO THEE ?
T'he proclamation of the chief magistrate, and the long continued custom of this part of the union invite us once more, my christian friends, to cast a retrospective look of gratitude upon our public bles. sings. It cannot be very dissonant to the spirit of this institution of annual thanksgiving, to devote the hour, which is occupied in the instructions of the pulpit, to some considerations on the peculiar circumstances, which distinguish this country from older and distant nations; especially, if we endeavour to ascertain and to acknowledge those advantages for moral and religious excellence, which are afforded by its extraordinary position. The very multitude of our privileges, and especially their commonness and apparent security diminish, in some degree, the feel. ings of attention and interest, which they ought to excite. Absorbed, as we all are, in the pursuits of private emolument, we too often lose sight of those public, but not less distinguished advantages of our
situation, which frequently furnish the only, or the primary ground of individual improvement and hap. piness. It is true, we unavoidably feel, with peculiar gratitude, the value of our personal blessings; but it would be unpardonable, to be always inattentive to those public privileges, which, though we share them with many millions, may yet constitute our most en. viable advantages. It is my intention, this morning, with diffidence, to consider, under several heads, some of the circumstances in the situation of this country, which are favourable to great moral and religious eminence; and to suggest, under each topic, such serious considerations, as are suited to the religious nature of the present occasion.
Omitting, as subjects too extensive for a single discourse, the blessings of christianity and civil liberty, the advantage, which I shall first mention, is to be found in the novelty and youth of our institutions. We may begin to build upon the experience of former ages, and older countries, with all the privileges, and all the spirit of new experiment. Young institutions are flexible, and may be easily contrived to meet the exigencies of circumstances, as they rise. To say nothing of our political institutions, which are, in truth, the most hazardous of our experiments—which, from the very nature of our government, every one feels himself called upon to scrutinize, and quite able to adjust-experiments, which, God grant, our folly may never defeat, let us attend to those establishments, which have learning, public utility, religion and charity for their objects. In the countries of Europe, the usefulness of this kind of institutions is inconceivably diminished by the circumstance of their antiquity, and the character of the times, in which they were founded. The munificence of truly pious benefactors was often directed to the most worthless objects. Estates have been bestowed upon monastic and unprofitable foundations ; legacies have