Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

. (page 48 of 121)
Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 48 of 121)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


has forbidden. Where there is this desire to please,
this reluctance to oftnd GK)d, the individual will
read with constancy and attention the sacred vo-
lume, which is written for the express purpose of
teaching us how to obey and please the Lord. Find-
ing there innumerable inj unctions against all kinds
of immorality and sin, and as many commands to
practise evet^r personal relativei and social duty,
the true Christian will be zealous for all good
works. Remembering, that Jesus Christ is propos-
ed there as our example, no less than our atone-
ment, he wiU strive to be like him in purity, spirit-
vality, submission to the will of Ckxl, and devoted-
aess to the divine glory. Nor will he foraet to imi-
tate the beautiful meekness, lowliness, ana kindness
of his depNortiKkent: so that the love, which a right
view of his atonement never fkils tp produce, trans-
forms the soul of the believer into his image. Find-
ing in the word of God many commands to culti-
vate the spirit, and attend on the exercises of devo-
tion ; the true Christian will remember the Sabbat
day to keep it hdv, will maintain daily praver in
bis closet, and tmite himself in the fellowship of
some Christian church, to live in communion with
believers, and with them to celebrate the sacred
supper.

During the trials of life, he will console himself
with the promises of grace and the prospects of
glory. He will soAen nis earthlycares by the in-
fluence of his heavenlv hopes. He will endeavor
to keep himself pure from the vices of the world,
and shine as a spiritual light amidst surrounding
darkness. His ereat business in this world will be
to prepare for a better: and when the time arrives
for him to quit the visible for the invisible state, he
will bow in meek submission to the will of Qod,
and retire from earth, cheered with the prospect
and the expectation of eternal glory.

Such appears to me to be the nature of true relK
fion. lu possessor, dailv cooscioiis of hw defects,
will habitually humble nimself belbre Qod ; ana
while he seeks forgiveness for past offeneea, through
the blood of Jesus Christ, will as eaneKly implora
the i^acious aid of the Holy Qhost to sanctiQr him
mora perfectly for the fbmrc



CHAPTER V.

OM TBB ADVANTAOaS AND BBflTOMaBItrrr OF A Roua
■DUCATIOir.

The advantages of any system of means, must of
oourse, as to tneir value, be estimated by the im-
portance of the eikd to be obtained, which, in the
present case, is the possession of real relwion in
this world, and eternal happiness in that which ia
to come. The end to be obtained includes not only
a profiBssion of piety in our present stare of being,
but all that infinite and everlasting £rlicity, which
piety brings in its train '.-^of what vast consequence
then must oe the most suitable means for attaining
this sublime purpose 1

The value of a thing, mv dear children, is aome*
times learnt by the want cm it; consider terefore,
the 8ituatk>n of those young persons, whose parents,
careless of their own souls, take no pains for the
salvation of their children. In whatm hapless aitu-
aiion are sueh yoang people placed 1 They are
taught perhaps every thmg but religion. They are
instructed in all the elegant accoiniiUshments of
fhshionable life ; but how to serve Qod and obtain
eternal salvation, is no part of their education. In
their abode, wisdom, in the form of parental piety,
ia never heard saying " Hearkenjre children, and I
will teach you the fear of the Lord." They see
cards and other amusements often inuoduced to the
domestic circle, but no Bible: thev hear singmgi
but it is not the songs of Zion : there is feasting
and conviviality, but no deyotion : there is no do-
mestic altar, no family prayer. The Sabbath is
marked with the same levity as other days. They
go to church perhaps, but hear any thing rather
Uian the pure gospel of Christ. Th^ are taken to
every gay par^ in the neighborhood, and are studi-
ously trained up for pleasure. They scarcely ever
see the lovely form oi religion in the circles which
they frequent, axcqpt like, its divine author, it be
brought there to be despised and rejected of men.
How are such yoang people to b^ pitied 1 Who
can wonder that tktf do not fear the Lord 1

How different haa been yoar lot I— the very con-
trast of this. From your earliast childhood yon
have been taught the nature and the nacessitT of
true religion. JmtmuUtn on these topica has been
coeval with the dawn of reason. Every topie of
mety has been explained to you as you eonU bear it
The doctrines of ChrLsftanity hava been sta^
and proved, its duties unfolded and enforced. Thf
nature and attributes of Qod; the extent and oUi*
gation of his law; the design and gnu;e of the gos-
pel, have been explained— your siuinl state has been
clearly set before you ; the objea of Christ's death
pointed out ; the necessity of regeneration, justifica-
tion, and sanctification impressed iipon your heart
If you perish, will it be for lack of knowledge 1—
If you miss the path of life, will it be firom not hav-
ing it pointed out 1

To instruction has been imited mAmo nx t i onj^
With all the tenderness of parental afl^tion, and
all the seriousness which the nature of the subject
demanded, you have been warned, entreated, and
even besought to fear Qod and seek the salvaticn
of your sonii. You have seen the tear glistening
in a father's eye, while his tongue addresMd to you
the fondest wishea of his heart for your eternal hap-
piness.

You have enjoyed the advantage of a system of
mild and appropriate discMuu, Rennemher you
not the time when your budding corruptions were
nipped by the kfaid hand of parental eare ; and the
blosBomt of yoothfkd excellence wut sheltered and
festered by a aothar's watehfM eye 1 Have thay



Digitized by



Google



18



CHRISTIAN PATHER'S'^PRESENT;



not often reproved you for what was wrong, and
commended you for what is right 1 Have they not
by praise, and by dispraise jadicionsly administered,
endeavored to train yon np to hate that which in
evil, and to cleave to that which is good 1 Have
they not kept you from improper company, and
warned yon a^^ainst associates that were likely to
injure youl Hafre they not with weeping eyes,
and bleeding hearts, administered that correction
which your sins deserved I

Have vou not also seen all this enforced by the
power of a My txaimpU, imperfect, it is true, yet
suiBcient, like the sun even when partially covered
with a mist, to be your guide 1 You have seen
them walking^ with Gk>d, and in fellowship with
Christ. You have seen them retiring for prayer,
and marked with an impression of devout serious-
ness, they have brought from the presence of God.
You cannot doubt tlmt religion was the governing
pineiide of their heart The happiness, as weU as
noUness of true piety, has appeared in their conduct.
You have seen the clond or sorrow which affliction
brought upon their brow, irradiated with the sun-
beams <tf Christian iaith and hope. Thus the whole
weight of parental example, has been employed to
give impression in favor of religion on your heart.

But the advantue of a pious education rests not
here ; for vou wefi know that it has procured for
you all aher religious benefits, whicn conduct, in
the order of means, to the salvation of the soul. You
have been taken, from a child, to keof tke gospel
preaeked by those who are anxious to save them-
selves, and them that hear them. Yon have been
associated with religious people, and joined the cir-
cles of the righteous, where the claims of religion
are respected, and her holy imase has been wel-
comed with afiection, aud treated with respect. —
Religious books have been put into your hands.—
Schools selected for your education which would
aid the work of your parents, and every thing kept
out of your way which would be likely to be an im-
pedijDent to the formation of your religious charac-
ter, and your pursuits of eternal salvation. Thus,
80 far as means go, the very avenues of perdition
have been blocked up, the way to destmction has
been filled with mounds and barriers ; while the
path of ISb has been carefully laid open to your
view, and every thin^ done to facilitate your en-
trance to the road of immortality. You have been
bom. cradled, instrilietcd in an element of religion ;
you have trod thtf ground, and breathed the atmos^
phere of piety. What advantages ! ! Who shall
ceunt their number or calculate tneir value I !

And now think of the responsibilUv which all
these privileges entail upon you. This thought
fills me with trembling for you, if you do not trem-
ble for yourselves. Man is an accountable being,
and his accountability to Gkxl, is in exact propor-
tion to his opportunities for knowing and doing the
will of his Creator. No talents of this kind, that
are intrusted to man, are so precious as tho!«e of a
religions education ; and with no persons will God
be so awfully strict in judgment, as with those who
have possessed them. A law ofpreporti&n^ will be
the rule of the final jadgment Ten talents will not
be required from those, to whom only five were de-
livered : nor will only five be demanded from those,
with whom ten were entrusted. This is plainly
stated by Christ in that rooHt impressive passage.
" That servant, which knew his Lord's will, and
prepared not himself, neither did according to his
will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But ho that
knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes,
•haH be beaten with few stripes. For unto whom-
•oi^er much is given, of him shall be much requir-
ed ; and to whom men have committed much, of



him they will ask more.*'* Who upon this scale,
shall measure the height and depth of your respon-
sibility T The poor ragan who hews down a tree,
makes a sod of its wood, and Worships the deity
which he has thus fashioned : who lives in all Idna
of lust, and cruelty, and falsenood— the Mohamme-
dan, who turns his face to the rising sim, and calls
upon his prophet^the rustic, who revels in the vil-
lage where his father rioted before him, and where
neither of them ever heard one parental admonitioB,
nor one gospel sermon— nay, even the infidel who
derides the Scripture, and was taugtit to do it by hit
sire, will not have so much to* Account for in the
day of scrutiny, at you who have enjoyed the ad-
vantages of a pious education. Think, I beseech
you, upon all your privileges, the instructions, the
warnings, the admonitaous. the reproof yon nave
recdved even from ]rour innmcy— your father's ear-
nest pMyers, and your mother's monitoij tears-
domestic teachings, and ministerial advice— Sab-
baths spent, and sermons heard— all, all must be
accounted for at the last day *, all will be demanded
in judgment. You may now think li^tly of these
things, but God does not Yo% may iorset them at
they pass, but God does not They are dealt out to
you as precious things : the number of them is writ-
ten down amongst the records of Omniscience^ and
in that dav when the throne shall be set, and the
books shall be opened, the improvement of each
will be demanded! by a voice at which the universe
shall tremble. You will not be tried as one that
had only the feeble glimmering of natural reason to
guide his perceptions, and his conduct ; but as one
that walk^ amidst the noontide splendor of divine
revelation, as one that occupied just that station in
the moral world, where the lisht of heaven fell with
the clearest and the steadiest brightness.

Do fancy yourself called into judgment to answer
for jour religious privileges ; summoned by a voice
which is Impossible to resist from the throng of
trembling spirits waiting for their doom ; fancy yon
hear the voice that commanded the universe into
being, saying to you, " ChiM of the righteous, son
of many prayers and much anxietv, give an account
of thyself; exhibit the fruits ana improvement of
all thy rich and innumerable advantage^ for a life
of piei^. Ye parents who taught him, bear witness.
I intrusted him to your care. Did ye bring him no
in the fear and nortnre and admonition of the Lord!
Resign your trust ; deliver your testimony ; clear
yourselves." Impressive and awful spectacle!! —
There you stand before the tribunal of God. con-
fronted bv the mother that bore vou, and the uUher
that lovea you. If you have neglected your advan-
tages, and lived without piety, what a testimony
will they bear. " Thou art our wimess, O God,
and that unhappy individual in whom we once de-
lighted as our child, but whom we now renounce
for ever, with what afi^eetionafe solicitude, and tm-
wearied perseverance ; with how many tears and
pravers we labored for his salvation. But all was
useless. This is not the season of mercy, or we
would still pour over his goiltv head one more fer-
vent prayer for his salvation ; out forbidden to com-
mena him to thv mercy, we can now do nothing but
leave him to thy justice." Miserable man, what
can he sayl He is speechless. Conscious guilt
leaves him without exca.se, despair seals up his Jipe
in silence. One piercing, agonizing look is direct-
ed to his parents, one deep groan escapes his boeom,
as the ghosts of murdered opportunities rise upon
his vision, and crowd the regions of his fancy. At
his distracted eye ranges o'er the millions who stand
on the left hand of the Judge, there is not one whose
situation he does not envy. The Pagali, the Mo>



♦ Lnkexii.47,4a



Digitized by



Google



OHftl&TIAN FATHER'S PEEAfiNT.



1^'^



, the poorwutOkX who sinned away his
lift in a bcnighttd viliage, eren the infidel, coing op
to receive his doom iimr blaspheming the God of reve-
lation, ai^pears less goihy, less miserable than he.

But irere mj pen dipped in the gall of celestial
di^leasare, 1 coald not deseribe the weight a£ the
smttnetf nor the miwrj which it inclades, that will
tall vtpcA the ongodlr child of riff^ons parents. —
Who shall portray tne hell ctfsoch a fhllen spirit, or
aet forth the torments with whkh it will be followed
10 the regions of eternal Ikieht 'i We all know that
110 sttiferiiigsareaodreadfm asthose which are self-
woeared; and that self-reproach infoses a bitterness
mto the cup of wo, which exasperates the angnish
of demair. Disappointment of long and fondly che-
rished hopes is dreadfhl \ bm if there be no reason
Ibr s^-reproaeh, even this is tolerable : bot to snflfer,
throagh eternal ages, in the bottomless pit, with no
profMet but of misery, no employment bnt that of
nnmoering over the iidvantages we once nossessed
ftr eseroing from the wrath to come— Mil is hell.—
My Chiwen I my chUdren ! n^ heart agonizes as
I write. I groan orer these lihes oi my book— these
pictures of my fkncy. Do take warning. Hearken
to these sentiments. Let them hare thenr due weight
vpon your minds-^treasure up this conriction in
your mind»— that of all lands on earth, it is Ae most
dreadful to travel to the bottomless pit from a Chris-
tian country ; and of all the situations in that coun-
ftf, it is the most awfbi to reach the bottomless pit
from the house of godly parents. Let me be any
thing in the day of judgment, and in etern^ misery,
rather than the irreligious child of religious pa-
lents.*



CHAPTER VL

OM TD Moar paaTAiLQfo obsticlm wmcB mtTiiiT.
Tomra nonji mou BNnaiiro on ▲ aaLMnos

UfB.

Oon Lord has most explicitly tangut us, my dear
diildren, that the entrance to the path of life is not
only unattended with difficultVy nor to be accom-
fdohed without effort Into that road we are not
Dome hf the pressure of the thronging multitude
nor the fbrc^ 6f natural inclination. No broad and
ibwery avenue attracts the ejre ; no syren sonft? <>f
worldly jdeisure allure the ear; ''bur strait is the
gate, and narrow is the watVthat leadelSi to llf)*, and
ftw there be that find it** Hence the admonition—



"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many shall
seek to enter in and shall not be abte." This im-
plies that there are obstructifms to be reoioved and
aifflculties to be surmounted.

The fundamental and universal obstruction with
which eveiy one has to contend, and which can be
removed only by the power of the Holy GQiost, is
the darkness and depravity brought upon human
nature by the Fall *^ and the inonlgea sensuality,
prqudiee, and enmity of the carnal mind. But
this vrevaUliig depravity manifests itself in various
speeCfic fonns. according to the different circum-
stances, constitutions, ages, and tempers of its sub-
iectt. It is an inward and universal evil, elhibit-
ing its opposition to religion in an immense variety
ofwats.

1. Sdf-cmeeU is not uncommonly to be met with
in the character of tbe youn^, and is very much op-
posed to tfie spiilt of true piety.

This U a sort of epidemic disease, which Imds &
peculiar soseq;kibiliiy Ih persons of your age to re-
cerre It. Tonng in years and experience, they are



* There is a little repetition in this chapter, of some
of the sentiments in tne first ; biit as the subject led
to it, the author was not anzious to avoid it.



very apt, nevertheless, to form high notions of them-
selves, and to fiemey they are competent judges of
an truth and conduct They decide, where wiser
minds deliberate; speak, where experience is si-
lent; rush forward with impetuosity, where their
sires scarcely creep; and think themselves quite as
competent to determine and to act, as those who
have witnessed the events of three-score years and
ten. This disposition shows itself oftentimes in re-
ference to busmess; and the bankrupt list has a
thousand times revealed the consequences. But it
is seen in more important matters than business.
In the gavety of tneir spirits, and in the efflor-
escence or yonthAd cnersy, they see no great need
of religion to make them najppy ; or if some religion
be necessary, they do not think it requires all that
solicitude and caution with Which older Christians
attend to its concerns: thef are not so much in dan-
ger as some would represent; thef shall not take up
with the humbling, self-abasing, penitential religion
of their fkthers, but adopt a more rational piety ; tiUw
loive reason to ^ide them, strength to do all tnat is
necessary, and therefore cannot see the need of so
much fear, cantioa, and depend^ce.

My children, be humble: pridie and self-conceit
win otherwise be your rum. Think of your age
and your inexperl^ce. How ofien, already, have
you been misled if the ardor of youth, in cases
where you w^re most confident that you were rightl
When the Athenian orator wa& asked, What is the
first grace in oratory 1 he rq^lied, Pronunciation;
the second 1 Prontmciation; the third 1 still he re-
plied. Pronunciation : so, if 1 am asked, What ia
the first grace in religion 't I reply. Humility; the
second tuumility: the third 1 still Humility: and
self-conceit is the fust, and the second, and this third
obstruction.

3. Loveof^orWf pUoiwre is a great impediment
to piety. It has been most profanely said^ "Youth
is the time for pleasure, manhood fi^i business, old
age for religion." It is painful to observe, that if
the two latter allotments of human life are neglect-
ed, (he first is not Young people too often answer
the description given by tne apostle, " Lovers of
pleasure more than lovers of Qoo." In youth, there
are many temptations to the gratification of this

Eropensi^: the senses are vigorous, the spirits
vely, the imsjifinatioa ardent, the passions warm,
and the anxieties of life but few and feeble. Hence
mdny give themselves up to the impulses of their
corrcmt nature, and are ndd in alienation from a
life or piety by a love of pleasure. Some are car-
ried away Dy a vain and trivolous bve of dress and
show; others by a deligl^ in conviviality and par-
ties ; others by roots, ballis, and theatrical represent-
ations; others by the sports of the field; others by
intemperance and debanchery. i

It is admitted that all these gratifications are not
equally degrading in themselves, nor equally de-
structive of reputation and health ; but if^ indulged
as the chief good, they may all prevent the mmd
from attending to the concerns of religion. A pre-
dominant kive of worldly fdeasure, of any kind, is
destructive in every point of view. It unfits you fbr
the pursuits, and dismclines ]rou fbr the toils of bu-
siness; and thus is the enemy of your worldly inte-
rests. It often leads on from gratifications, which,
in the opinion of the worU, are decent and monU,
to those whkh are vicious and immoral ; it is in-
compatible with the duties and comforts of domestic
life ; it prevents the improvement of the understands
ittg, and keeps the mind barren and empty; it pre-
vents us firom becoming the benefhctors of our spe-
cies ; but its greatest mischief is, that it totally in-
disposes the mind for religion, and thus extends
its mischief to eternity: in short if eherished and
persisted in, it ruins and damns tne soul for evei;



Digitized by



Google



90



CHRISTIAN FATH£R'0 PRE8BNT.



My diildr^ beware of this moat dangerous pro-
pensity; consider whither it leads; check it to the
uttermost; and ask grace from hcayen to acqqire a
better taste. ^ What a hideous case is this, to be so
debased in the temper of your minds as to lose all
the laudable appetites and advantages of an intellec-
tual nature; and to be sunk into the deformity of a
devil, and into the meanness of a brute 1 To be so
drenched in mali^qiant delights, and in tiensual,
fading, and surfeiting |)leasures, as to forego all
real and eternal satisfactions for them, and to entail
insupportable and endless miseries upon yourselves
by them." Yes, if you live for worldly pleasure, and
neglect religion, yon are living up an exceedinp:
great and eternal weight of glory, for light and fri-
volous gratifications, which are but for a moment.
You are, for the sake of a few years' empty mirth,
entailing everlasting a^es of unmitigated torments.

Besides Jhough worldly pleasure gratifies, does it
satisfy 1 When the honev is all sucked, does it
leave no sting behind 1 And then, what are the
pleasures of the world compared with those of reli-
gion, but the shadow to the substance ^ the stagnant
pool to the fresh and running fountam ; the smok-
ing taper to the mid-dajrsuni Shall worldly plea-
sure cneat you of salvation 1

3. Prejudice against tke vwys of Religion^ as
gloomy^ keeps many from yielding to its claims.

Mimy young people seem to compare religion to
a dark subterranean cavern, to which, as you de-
scend, jTou quit all that is joyous in life ; which is
impervious to the light of heaven, and inaccessible
to the melodies of creation; where nothing meets
the e^e but tears, nor the ear but sighs; where the
inhabitants, arrayed in sackcloth, converse onljr in
groans ; where, in short, a smile^is an offence against
the superstition that reigns there, and a note of de-
light would be avenged by the awful genius of the
place, with an expulsion of the individual who had
dared to be cheerful. Tkis religion 1 No, my
children. I will give you another figurative view
of it. ^ Wudom hath builded her house, she hath
hewn out her seven pillars : she hath Killed her
beasts : she hath mingled her wine j she hath also
furnished her table; she hath sent forth her maid-
ens ; she crieth upon the highest places of the city,
come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine which
I have -minglei"*

This is a metaphorical description of religion
under the name of wisdom, and the figure of a feast.
It is declared in revelation, and all the saints in the
universe will confirm the truth of the assertion, that
"Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all
her paths peace.'t

4. An incmsideraU heedless temper is with many
an obstruction to piety.

There is frequently, in persons of your age and
circumstances, a peculiar thoughtlessness of mind :
a want of calm consideration and steady reflection.
They do not deliberate and ponder. Their minds
seem as light as thistle-down, and as volatile as the
butterfly. They are «lw[» walking, talking, smil-
ing, but rarely thinking. The meditative mood, the
oontemplative attitude, is never theirs. If you want
them, never look for them at home, but watch for
them abroad. Their extreme volatility prevents
them from giving due heed even to the concerns of
the world ; and as for religion^ though they are im-
mortal creatures, lost sinners invited to salvation,
destined to eternity, and hastening to heaven or
hell, they have scarcely ever had a serious thought



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 48 of 121)