4. The end of much pains in education is often defeated by cross influences on the part of the parents; as when one of them is not pious, and by example, if not by precept teaches irreligion to the children: or, when one has a different standard and kind of religion, and a different judgment as to measures and principles of discipline, from the other.

5. Parents sometimes injure the souls of their children, by their manner of correcting them ; administering punishment more in anger than in faithful love, and using greater severity against accidents or carelessness, than against moral trespasses or obliquities.

6. The power of education may be fatally impaired by not proceeding in the work, as God's representatives and ministers, appointed by him to this very thing; but undertaking it, as exclusively of our own will and to answer our own selfish designs and ends ;-the difference here being all the difference between the influence of God's name and authority, and that of sinful man's.

7. Finally, it is a quite common fault of parents, that they do not fall in with the measures of the church, for the spiritual good of children ; neither desiring the prayers and labors of the church in their behalf, nor urging upon them with any becoming seriousness, a fulfilment of the sacred obligations arising from their connexion with the church. As if the covenant of infant baptism, both in respect to themselves and their children, were an empty ceremony of no significance or influence whatever, or were of itself efficacious and saving, independently of every other means and agency.

We close the discussion with two short remarks. In the first place, the glance we have now taken, at the causes of error in education, confirms us, in the conviction we expressed in the first part of the discourse ;-namely, that it is owing, not to fatal necessity, but to a truly culpable delinquency on the part of parents, that there is so much of irreligion to be found in Christian families. The contrary doctrine, has sometimes assumed to itself great sacredness, as an essential part of orthodoxy; and in deference to it, the promises of scripture to parental faith and dilligence, have been understood in a sense which implies that they are rather proverbs than promises. But to say nothing of the violence which it offers to the word of God, and the reproach which it casts upon the Divine goodness, and the justification which it affords to one of the highest forms of human unfaithfulness, we are persuaded by considering the evil in question in but a portion of its manifest and well-known sources, that here is indeed the responsible means of what may be well termed, the grand hindrance to the gospel among mankind. With this in our view, as illustrated by the foregoing observations, we do not wonder that the children of the church mingle with the world, in such frequency, that the work of God's recovering grace cannot be kept in an onward movement, without bringing in others to take the deserted places of baptized apostates. No, we see nothing to wonder at, but that Christian parents should care so little for the eternal well-being of their offspring, and should have so little thoughtfulness or sense of their own high privileges and far-reaching responsibilities.

In the second place, we are persuaded, that there is soon to be a greatly increased attention to the education of children in Christianity. The immense importance of this business must ere long be seen and acknowledged, as hitherto it hath never been. Already a favorable change has taken place; and this change must go forward, with increasing rapidity, as the set time for the conversion of the world draws on. Looking at the laws of our nature, the analogies of Providence, the experience of former times, and above all, at the explicit testimonies of the Divine word, we are constrained to believe, that the leaven of Christianity, will diffuse itself through the mass of human nature, not so much by the impulsive agency of societies for the reformation of particular evils, or even by local revivals of religion, as by the still and patient work of training up children in the nurture and admonition of the gospel. We would by no means be understood, as disapproving or thinking lightly of these instrumentalities: on revivals especially,-on mighty outpourings of the Holy Spirit, our hope rests, for the triumph of Christianity. But what we hold and what we would now enforce is, that these and all other agencies, will mainly prove favorable, by leading to one great silent reform throughout the families of Christendom, in the one matter of the religious education of children. Our chief wish is to arm this sentiment with such power, that it shall become a practical principle, throughout all the households of the saints on earth. We long to see every legitimate agency for promoting the cause of Christ in the most active and energetic exercise ; and most earnestly would we pray that abundant effusions of the Spirit of God, may attend the exemplary use of these means of salvation; but still, what we rely upon more than all things else, for the universal and permanent spread of the gospel, is a baptism of the Holy Ghost upon parents, and the representatives of parents in the church, which shall show them what they ought to do in educating children for Christ, enable them to do it, and keep them engaged in the work with a diligence proportioned to its importance.




“And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.” Judges xvi. 20.

The presence of God is the joy of his people, and the pledge of their prosperity. But, “woe to them,” saith the Lord, when I depart from them !"

This the son of Manoah found to his cost. His was a remarkable experience. Even before his birth he appears to have been the object of divine regard in a peculiar degree. A child of promise, from his youth up he received the blessing of God, and was favored above many. “ The child grew, and the Lord blessed him." From an early age he was brought under the influence of the Spirit of God in a remarkable and extraordinary manner. “And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times, in the

camp of Dan."

He soon became the wonder of his age, by reason of the marvellous physical strength with which he appeared to be endowed, and gave rise, perhaps, to the fabled Hercules of heathen mythology. In some way unknown to us, and unknowable by man, the Spirit of the Lord imparted unto him a power that made him a terror to his enemies. On the occasion of his meeting a young lion at the vineyards of Timnath, we are told that “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid." It was because “ the Spirit of the Lord had come upon him," that he was able to slay thirty of the men of Ashkelon, on another occasion. The same account is given of the power which he put forth, when, having been bound with two new cords and delivered into the hands of the Philistines, he burst them as if they had been flax burnt with fire, and slew a thousand of his enemies.

It has been much questioned whether Samson was truly a child of God or not. His life, it must be admitted, was very different sured up.

from that of David, and other holy men of honored memory. We can discover in it but little of the Spirit of adoption, and see but little, if anything, to confirm his claims to a place among the saints. It is to be borne in mind, however, that the record is short, and occupied more with the exploits of the man, and the wonders that he wrought in behalf of God's people, than with the life of God in the inner man of his heart. He is numbered by the apostle Paul among the Old Testament saints, “who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises,” and the like : all of whom "obtained a good report through faith.” If saved, it must have been, so as by fire.

That he was the subject, not merely of an occasional afflatus of the Spirit of God, but of an abiding operation, we may gather from the words of our text. His power was derived from his fellowship with the Holy Spirit. It was because of the abiding, or indwelling of the Spirit, that he was able to put forth such amazing strength. However necessary it was that, as a Nazarite, his hair should be unshorn, it was not in his locks that his might was trea

When he had been deprived of the hair of his head, it is said of him, that rising up after the deep sleep of which this advantage had been taken, he observed, “I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself ;” not knowing “ that the Lord was departed from him.” In this departure of the Lord, or of the Spirit of the Lord, was his subsequent deficiency. “ The Lord had departed from him," and therefore he became a prey to his enemies, and was brought to an untimely grave.

No truth is more clearly or frequently taught in the word of God, than that the Holy Spirit holds intercourse with human beings on the earth. How this intercourse is held, or in what way the Spirit of God influences, sways, and controls the spirit of man, is not to be explained or known in this present corporeal state.

" The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth ; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

But it does not follow that we are to reject a doctrine, because there is something mysterious pertaining to it. The world is full of mystery. Man is a mystery to himself.

God is all mystery. We must reject all these, and everything else connected with them, if we refuse to believe in the existence of anything that is at all mysterious or incomprehensible. That God is able to commune with the soul of man, to hold intimate intercourse with the human spirit

, and to establish an uninterrupted correspondence with his intelligent creatures, must be admitted. You know it, and I know it. That he does do it is matter not only of revelation but of experience. Who is there among us that has not been made to know it again and again ? The unconverted are, in every land where the gospel is preached, brought in unnumbered instances to

feel that there is a reality in these influences of the Spirit. When the truth is applied with peculiar power to the heart and conscience, and they are constrained to tremble in review of their sins and in prospect of a judgment to come, they cannot but own that “it is God which worketh in them.”

Say, siuper! haih a voice within

Oil whispered to thy secret soul,
Urged thee to leave the ways of sin,

And yield thy heart to God's control ?
Sinner! il was a heavenly voice,

It was the Spirit's gracious call;
It bade thee diake the belter choice,

And haste to seek in Christ thine all."

But it is the child of God, more especially, that, by being made the subject in a peculiar degree of these influences, knows the reality of these gracious operations. Having been born of the Spirit he cannot but recognize his heavenly parentage. Taught by the Spirit, and led by the Spirit, he has a delightful perception of his divine teacher and guide, and cometh up from the wilderness, leaning on his beloved. Sealed by the Spirit of promise, and made a temple of the Holy Ghost, he cannot deny a present Deity. Brought to feel, from day to day, the constraining power of this Holy One, he often finds occasion to exclaim,

"Sure the blest Comforter is nigh !"

The fact, therefore, of this spiritual intercourse being admitted, a fact that lies at the very foundation of the Christian scheme, and of revelation itself,—your attention will be directed to two considerations growing out of this fact, and suggested by the words of the text. Consider, first, the evil of losing the Spirit, and, then, that, however

great the evil, we may not at the time be aware of it.

I. The departure of the Holy Spirit is an unspeakable evil.

If God can establish this spiritual intercourse, as we have seen, then he can also dissolve the connection thus formed, whenever he pleases. That this connection is frequently dissolved, wholly or in part,—that the Spirit of God, having communed to some extent with the human spirit

, does at times, in particular instances, depart from the soul, is a fact as well attested as that of his intercourse with man. When Samson awoke from that fatal sleep into which he had been lured by his vile paramour, and went out to bestir himself, as at other times, he found, though he knew it not at first, that “the Lord had departed from him.” That blessed Spirit, which, dwelling in him, and imparting to him grace in every time of need, had made him a terror to his enemies, and a tower of strength to his friends, had left him—and left him a prey to his foes.

« ForrigeFortsett »