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Your natural humility, tenderness and teacha. bleness, are not real holiness; but they are certainly more favourable than the opposite tempers, to the introduction of real holiness. The scripture repre. sents them so, and urges you to take the benefit of them, while you may
2. We see that religion, in its main substance, is adapted to the capacity of the young.
The Jewish children were easily convinced, that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah. It required no laboured reasoning, or depth of learning, to see, that no man could speak as he spakë, or do the works which he did, except God were with him.
The system of religion contains, indeed, many things above the comprehension, not only of children, but of mortals. These, however, are not the most essential things. What immediately relates to our duty, and concerns our salvation, is lev. el to common capacities. The Apostles, considering themselves as debtors both to the wise and unwise, used great plainness of speech. They wrote to young men and little children, as well as to aged men and fathers; and they wrote with perspicuity. Think not, then, ye youths, that you may,
for the present, postpone religion, as a matter beyond your capacity. In the Saviour's day, there were children, out of whose mouths praise was perfected,
Does not every thing which you see, teach you, that there is a God; that he is powerful, wise and good; and that you are daily dependent on him, and indebted to him ? Do
any difficulty in understanding good and evil, and in determining what you ought to do, and what you ought to a. void? — When
have sinned, and doubtless you know that you sin often, Is it not a plain case, that God is dishonoured and offended, and that you
must, by repentance, apply to him for pardon The gospel teaches, you that God has sent his Son into the world to redeem sinners, by şuffering death for their sins. is not this an encourage meat to your hope, and a motive to your repentance ? —When you read the history of your Re, deemer's life, and observe the meekness, humility, patience, goodness and benevolence, which appeared in him, Are you not pleased with the example, and convinced that you ought to imitate it? When you are told, that you have immortal souls, which must live in another world, and be happy or miserable there, according to the course which you now pursue, Are you in doubt to judge what is meant by all this, or what manner of persons you ought to be ?
These are the great things, which immediately concern you; and I question not, but you well understand' them. I am sure, that by attention, you may understand them. The obligations of religion then lie on you, as well as on others. Think not to excuse yourselves from it, as a matter too high for you. Improve the advantages given you; gain the knowledge which you may, and act according to the knowledge which you have, and you will doubtless meet the approbation of your God.
3. From the example before us, we learn, that great benefit may accrue to youth, from a stated attendance on divine institutions.
At the time of the passover, these children met with Jesus in the temple.
The passover was instituted in commemoration of the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt, and in prefiguration of the redemption of mankind by Je sus Christ. One design of this festival was, that when children in time to come should inquire, what was meant by this service, the parents should instruct them, how God, by a mighty hand, saved VOL. I.
his people from bondage. As soon as children ar. rived to such an age, as to bring an offering in their hands, they were to appear with their parents at the temple, and there to celebrate the feast. Luke tells us, It was the custom of the feast for children to attend it, when they were twelve years old.
The Jews, though much degenerated in our Saviour's time, generally observed the publick forms of religion. They early brought their children to the passover. Happy it was for many of them, that they were brought to this passover. Here they met with the Saviour. They saw 'his works, and heard his words; their hearts were warmed with love to him, and their mouths were filled with his praise. What a loss they might have sustained, had they been absent now! Christ, at appointed seasons, visited the temple. He hon. oured divine institutions : 'They who would receive his blessing, must honour them too.
Publick worship is as much an ordinance of God under the gospel, as was the passover under the law.
The example of the Jews, in bringing their chil. dren to the temple, reproves the neglect of many Christians. Do you 'imagine, that your children can receive no benefit from the services of the sanc. tuary? You know not how early the grace of God may open the heart to attend to the things which are spoken, and to receive the influence of divine truths. By a regular and constant attendance, they will be found in the way of God's blessing. If they have not capacity to follow a train of thoughts through a sermon or prayer, yet their minds may be affected with the general solemnity of the appearance. They will grow up with a sense that there is something important in religion. They will be early habituated to religious order. They will, now and then, imbibe a seful sentiment.
They will gradually increase in knowledge; and, perhaps, some seasonable admonition may leave an abiding impression.
Consider, ye youths, that there is no small haz. ard in an unnecessary absence from the place of worship, and in a careless behaviour there. You see what certain youths obtained by an attendance at the passover, and what they would have missed, if they had refused to repair to the temple; when Jesus was there, or had been regardless of what they saw and heard. If you desire to know your Saviour, and to receive the blessings of his love, come to the place, where he has appointed to meet you. Do you think lightly of the stated worship of the Lord's day? Let me ask you, Is it not an institution of Christ; an institution, which his discia ples observed; and which he himself honoured with his presence ?--Is it a light matter to despise the grace, the authority, and the example of your Redeemer?
Do you not believe, that your salvation, must come from him; that you must seek it in order to obtain it ;, and seek it in the way, which he has prescribed ? You think, perhaps, that a more private attendance upon him, will be suffi. cient. This indeed, must be done ; but leave not the other undone.. While you neglect publick means, there is little room to hope for his blessing on private means, and little reason to believe, that you will regard. them.. Whatever you may pretend, as long as you are indifferent to the publick institutions of Christ, you will pay no great attenztion to the more private exercises of piety..
4. We are here taught, that the young are una der some special obligations to acknowledge and praise the Redeemer. That which was chiefly commended in these Jewish children, was, that they cried in the temple--Hosanna to the son of De:
vid. Their regard to the Saviour, led them operaly to confess him in a publick assembly.
As Jesus is the author of salvation to sinners, the mediator through whom they must come to God, so faith in him, love and gratitude to him, and an explicit acknowledgment of him, are essential to real religion. These regards and honours to him, are due no less from the young, than from others,
True religion in you, my children, will operate in pious affections and exercises of heart toward your Redeemer. You are a part of the fallen race, which he came to redeem. You have sinned and come short of the glory of God ; and your salvation must come through him. He has expressed a particular tenderness and concern for such as you. He became a child, that he might teach you how children ought to walk, and to please God. When he appeared in public life, he never overlooked those of your age and standing. He gathered the lambs with his arms, and carried them in his bosom. Many of the miracles which he wrought, to confirm the truth of his religion, were in healing the diseases, and relieving the distresses of the young. He directed that children should be brought to hiin; and those who came he graciously received. He owned little ones as his disciples, and denounced his severest wrath against those who should des. pise them, or lay stumbling blocks in their way. They had a particular share in his prayers on earth, nor can we think they are forgotten in his intercessions above. Many declarations and promises he has made in their favour; and has solemnly charged, not only parents, but ministers, to feed his lambs. In them he encouraged the small beginnings of faith and piety. He was careful not to over burden the feeble, but to assist their virtuous resolutions. In his last sufferings, he remembered