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be harmlessly engaged; but where dangerous examples, where loose conversation, and bad companions, the means, the opportunities, the incentives to vice, abound so much as they do in crowded places and in places connected with a seafaring life, it is greatly to be feared that if children and young persons be not engaged in what is good, they will be engaged in wickedness; that they are not merely absent from the duty and the place where they ought to be, but they are present at scenes which must go near to destroy all the seeds and elements of virtue within them. It may be true, that of those who by their parents or the public are brought to church in their youth, some show very little proofs of being affected or benefited by it. But this is nothing more than what may be said of every plan of education. The best oftentimes fails. As concerning education, therefore, the proper question is-Do those who have no education succeed? and not Does every one that has it make a right use of it? So in this article of bringing children to church, the first inquiry is, whether those who never come to church in their youth will do so when they are grown up; and whether this might not have been the case with multitudes, if they had not been beholden to these institutions.
Then as to another objection-that children just perhaps rising out of infancy are incapable of understanding much of what is going on at church. The objection, in the first place, does not belong to the
children who are brought to church by this institution, more than it did to the little ones, and the children, whom Jehoshaphat assembled in the congregation of Judah, or to the children who were presented to Christ: and we know that in neither of these two cases did the reason hinder its being an accepted service, in their view who brought them. In the next place, the objection is alleged without a sufficient knowledge of human life. It is not only possible, but it is in the ordinary course of things, that men retain from reason and principle what they at first acquired by habit, and under the influence of authority; which yet, if it had not been so acquired, this reason might never have attended to, nor their principles have been excited towards it. Every art and science is at first learnt by rote. Children do not at first know the reason of the rules of grammar or arithmetic; nor is it probable they would ever become grammarians or arithmeticians if they put off learning the practice till they comprehended the proofs. It is afterwards, when they come to employ their own thoughts and their own reflections; when they come to work themselves upon the materials which have previously been laid in by rote, that men of science and learning are formed. A good deal of this observation is true of religion. The principles of Christian knowledge and rules of Christian duty, like all first rules and principles, must be learnt by example and authority. And this is necessary, in order that when men begin to reflect, they may be
provided with something to reflect upon; and we trust and believe, that the principles of Christianity are so well founded, that the more men's reason opens and operates, the more they will be inclined to hold fast by their own judgement what they at first received from the instruction of others. Whereas if a man knew nothing of divine worship in his youth, it would be such a strangeness to him afterwards, that if he should happen to enter a church, it would be with a stupid gaze and wonder at what was passing, rather than with any disposition or any capacity to join in it. This would be a defect not to be overcome by reason; because it is not probable that men's reasoning faculties would be exerted upon a subject from which they were absolutely estranged; it probably therefore would not be overcome at all during the course of the man's life.
I recur to an observation which hath already been stated that all we can do for the honour of God, the utmost return we can any of us make to him for his unceasing, ill-deserved, and unspeakable mercies, is poor and inadequate to the obligation; yet we are not to sink under the sense of our unworthiness, of the feebleness of our endeavours, of their frequent want of efficacy and success; but on the contrary, just in proportion as they are such, we are to use and exert them to the extent of our power; we are to do our all and our utmost. One mode of testifying our piety toward God is by bringing young persons and children to his worship: it is a mode founded in
rational considerations as it respects the children; and as it respects God, it is what we have authority from his Word to say, he himself is pleased to accept and to approve.
I am given to understand that the liberality of the neighbourhood, together with the prudent and praiseworthy attention of those who conduct this charity, afford a prospect of extending its usefulness to some other objects, particularly the establishment of a Day School. I shall only say, that it must be an additional motive to the contributors to know that nothing will be lost; that what can be spared from one good purpose will be applied to another; that if they cast, as the Scripture expresses it, their bread upon the waters, they will, by one channel or another, though after many days, find it again-find it in its effect upon the good and happiness of some one; find it in its reward to themselves.
THE PARABLE OF THE SAMARITAN.
LUKE X. 36, 37.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
THE parable of the good Samaritan was calculated to ascertain who are the proper objects of our love and kindness for in the conversation which precedes, it seems to have been agreed between our Lord and the person with whom he conversed (who is called by Saint Luke a lawyer, but which name amongst the Jews rather signified a divine), that the great rules of the law were, to "love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbour as thyself." But then a doubt is suddenly started, "who was that neighbour ?” who was to be accounted a neighbour within the sense and construction of the precept? To this doubt our Saviour applies this excellent parable. And the whole frame and texture of the parable is contrived to set forth this lesson,-that the persons best entitled to our help and kindness are those who stand in the most urgent need of it; that we are to help