Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

SERM. actors and perpetrators of them are poor, XXI.

ignorant creatures, uneducated, undisciplined, uninformed, whose passions have never been tamed by habits of early restraint, and who have never been instructed in those grand motives and preservatives of virtue — justice and self-denial, which are so weightily inculcated by our religion. I do not say that persons of education are never to be found among the notoriously vicious; to such an assertion there doubtless exist exceptions; but they are exceptions only, nor do they bear any sort of proportion to the number of those whose maturity has corresponded with the regular habits of their childhood.

Early good impressions are not easily effaced; the whole of life usually takes its colour from the beginning; they who have passed the first stages well, do not afterwards turn aside into the paths of unrighteousness without many struggles and much

repug.

XXI.

repugnancy; the ingenuous blushes of SERM. shame mușt first be quenched, the compunctious visitings of remorse must first be excluded, ere they can intermit or break off those settled habits, which the having been so long engaged in them has ingrafted into their nature, and rendered not only easy but even delightful.

The conclusion then is, that by tending your aid to the education of the poor, you will confer on them a kindness of unspeakable importance.

But it is not on them alone you will confer this kindness, you will likewise be highly serviceable to your country. Every individual whom you assist in training to virtue and industry, is clearly a public benefit, since it is on the virtue and industry of individuals that the happiness and pros; perity of the state must be founded. You will likewise confer a considerable benefit on yourselves; it is not only your duty to

assist

[ocr errors]

SERM. assist in the education of the poor, but it is XXI.

also your interest, and that in a very high degree. The tranquility and the happiness of private life depend very much upon those around us; it is in the power of the lowest of our neighbours to take very much from our comfort.

To live amongst a set of people sunk in profaneness and debauchery would alone be a great diminution of the happiness of a feeling man; but, besides that, he could not but be always in danger, and frequently subject to their insults--their extortions — their fraudstheir violence. Now, I know nothing which is so likely to free us from these dangers, as the assisting in the education of the children of those parents, who are themselves destitute of the means. We must teach the poor that there is a life after this, where they will be everlastingly happy, if they behave themselves soberly, justly, and religiously, while they are on

earth;

earth; or where they will be everlastingly ŠERM.

XXI. miserable, if they are profane, debauched, and dishonest; we must teach them that it is their interest to live quietly and honestly, that such a life is the most likely means of procuring a livelihood, and of getting themselves' forward; but that if it were not so, even though they should gain the whole world by a contrary behaviour, the whole world would be worth nothing to them, when they must lose their own souls.

We must teach them these things early, for if, as I observed before, we suffer the bias of human nature towards evil to gain strength by habit, but small are the pros pects that we shall ever be able to subdue it.

I confess that the chief success whick I can expect to meet with in' my ministry. is among the young; it is here then that I wish thiefly to exert myself, and it is here that I would prevail of you to concur

As

with me.

SERM. As then ye would have faithful servants XXI.

and dependants, industrious labourers and mechanics, quiet and inoffensive neighbours, as ye would travel with safety on the roads, or lie down to rest securely in your beds, as ye would preserve your persons and properties free from violence and rapine of every kind, and as ye would avoid the reverse of all these requisites to tranquility and comfort, ye are bound to favour and to promote the cause of education... I call upon you then, as men of religion and morality, and by consequence interest. ed in their advancement and diffusion; I call upon you, as ye wish well to good government, and are friends to the prospe

your country; I call upon you, as ye would contribute to the turning of many ynto righteousness, and above all, as ye value your own interest and happiness both here and hereafter, to assist to the utmost of your abilities, not only now, but at all

other

rity of

« VorigeDoorgaan »