« EelmineJätka »
others, we are determined, that, as for us and our house, we will serve the Lord?
Let us pass to a kindred subject, THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN, and inquire if we can trace out no vestiges of habitual defects here? No part of our duty is more important, and none more difficult. And yet how many religious parents appear to be contented with committing their children to faithful instructors, and to believe that, having discharged this first duty, they are acquitted from all further personal labour? How few train up-habituate, form-a child in the way that he should order that, when he is old, he may not depart from it? How few seem to remember that it is not so much the professed and formal lesson which educates the child, as the living influence of the examples that surround it, the spirit and conversation, the tempers and pursuits of its parents or companions ? This, this is the nurture and admonition, which it receives. This, if it be truly Christian, will, under the divine blessing, produce the happiest effects. It is of little moment that we distinguish ourselves in the eyes of our children by a profession of evangelical truth or a stated observance of religious duties, if they perceive in our general deportment the marks of peevishness, severity, worldly-mindedness, fretfulness, or inconstancy. On the contrary, the exhibition of such in
congruities of character will serve little other purpose than to lodge in the minds of youth a prejudice against vital religion which perhaps nothing can afterwards remove. And, though it would be absurd to suppose that a truly Christian parent will habitually allow himself in such inconsistencies, yet is there not, even in persons of this description, an occasional approximation to the evil? Were not Eli and David, though men of undoubted piety, greatly culpable in their domestic relations? Did not Jacob, with all his attainments in religion, show an undue partiality to some of his children above others? And are not too many Christians betrayed into an imitation of these examples ?
Again, if we consider THE USE WE MAKE OF OUR PROPERTY, WHATEVER IT MAY BE, we shall see still farther reason to lament the influencé of habit upon us in our imperfect state on earth. Let your conversation, saith the Apostle, be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. Are, then, our manner of life, our turn of mind, our walk in the world, decidedly free from the inordinate desire of gain? How do we act in the acquisition of wealth? How in the employment of it? How upon the loss of it? Do we spend liberally on our fancy and humour, whilst we are reluctant and backward in consecrating our worldly means to the promotion of the interests
of religion or humanity? Are we fond of display and exhibition, and can we incur considerable expenses for objects which will incidentally subserve these ends, whilst our private and ordinary dealings are disfigured by much narrowness and selfishness ? What proportion do our charities bear, not to those of our neighbours, 'nor to our own under other circumstances, but to the property 'which God has at present intrusted to our stewardship? Do we give according as God has given to us, or according to what others do'; that is, do we give upon principle, or in compliance with custom? 0, let us remember, that the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Unsuspected habits of covetousness are amongst the most common and most dishonourable of the defects into wbich even sincere Christians are occasionally betrayed. The very first beginnings of this dreadful and insidious vice should be watched, and no labour, or effort, spared for eradicating, by the aid of divine grace, the growing inischief.
Once more, what are our TEMPERS? - I mean, not merely with reference to our domestic relations, in which view I have already touched on this topic, but with reference to the members in general of the society in which we
live? Do we cultivate the meek and lowly, the charitable and forgiving, the patient and forbearing dispositions which adorned our blessed Lord and Saviour? What lamentable effects does one unchristian temper, long indulged and habitually strengthened, produce! Much of the happiness of a whole family, much of the honour of our Christian profession, much of the consistency and comfort of our lives, may be injured by a single evil disposition not early and vigorously subdued. Let us learn therefore to search into ourselves, with a view of ascertaining our state in this respect: with a view of discovering whether an impetuous and irascible disposition on the one hand, or a blameable facility and pliancy of temper on the other, are acquiring force; whether harshness and severity, envy and moroseness, pride and sullenness, fretfulness and discontent, levity and indifference, sloth and carelessness, are insinuating themselves into the frame and habit of our minds. It is easy to be religious, at least it is easy to persuade ourselves that we are so, when nothing occurs to cross our temper, or oppose our natural bias. It is easy to be always yielding, or always resolute. But to exhibit habitually any tolerable (and at the best it will be but a tolerable) consistency of truly Christian self-government, is a triumph of grace indeed,
But the time would fail me, if I were to attempt to trace out adequately the operation of unfavourable habits on true Christians. They may affect every branch of our religious and moral conduct. They may show themselves in all the bodily and mental acts of which we are capable. They may appear in all the parts of our duty towards God, towards our neighbour, and towards ourselves. The evil may vary in degree, as well as in extent. It may scarcely be visible, or it may amount to an obvious inconsistency. It may be soon detected and remedied, or it may continue till it appears rooted in our very nature. It may be checked by good instruction and example, or it may be nourished by bad. It may amount to scarcely more than the infirmity of the best Christian, or
may lead on to great iniquities—to grievous defection, and even apostacy from God. In every case however, habits, whether more or less evil, are, by the very constitution of our nature, in constant progress; and, in proportion as they are suffered to remain undisturbed, they become more and more difficult to be eradicated.
Let us then consider,
TION OP UNFAVOURABLE HABITS, OR OP DISCO
VERING AND OVERCOMING THEM WHEN FORMED.