Puslapio vaizdai

your smiles and receive your fond caresses. On the other hand, you must not forget your duty to those forlorn children whom you have appointed unto wrath and indignation. You must deprive them of food and raiment; starve them, and expose them naked to the storms and to the cold. You must be careful that no comfort is afforded them from any quarter, and you must be equally vigilant in administering to them all the misery in your power. All this, too, must be done in the presence of the children on whom your favours are bestowed, that they may more fully and more perfectly enjoy their own state of happiness. If you should hear any one in your family circle suggest the query, why your favours are so disposed of, you must let it be known, that it is so ordered that you may thereby make the greatest possible display of the parental attributes of which you are possessed, and produce the greatest quantity of happiness in your family in your power!

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Parents, you look with an earnestness which indicates surprise. Are you ready to say that the speaker seems disposed to tantalize your feelings? Far be it from him. But let me ask you the simple question, whether you can possibly thus practice in your families? You exclaim, "God forbid!" You will tell me that such conduct would outrage every feeling of your hearts, and would violate every principle of moral right of which the human mind is susceptible. Your humble servant is well aware of all this; and therefore invites you to the conclusion, that the whole scheme of doctrine which we have now put to the proof, by supposing it reduced to practice, is grossly erroneous; and is as dishonoura

ble to our Father in heaven, as it is revolting to the feelings of the parental heart, or repugnant to moral principles.

It is likely that many of this assembly may be disposed to say, "The doctrine which the speaker has laboured to put to the test, by supposing it reduced to practice, is now generally repudiated by the clergy of the church; and a more reasonable, a more scriptural, and a more liberal doctrine is now generally held forth by them." If this be in fact the case, we shall do well to give this improved system of divinity a careful examination; and after having a clear understanding of its principles, proceed to reduce it to practice.

The modern theory, which is called by the agreeable name of liberal Christianity, teaches, that with our Creator there is no partiality; that he has constituted man a moral agent, and has set life and death before him; has made ample provisions by which the whole human race may obtain his favour, and enjoy him forever, by a right use of our moral powers; that we are in this world probationers for eternity, and that our final condition hereafter depends on the improvements we make in this mortal state; that God has appointed a day of judgment in the future world, where all mankind will be impartially judged according to their works in this, and forever rewarded or punished, accordingly as

their characters shall have been formed in this mortal life. This theory does not profess to make the happiness of heaven hereafter any better than does the other theory; nor does it make the torments of the unhappy wicked, in the world to come, any


more tolerable. In respect, then, to man's eternal state, it certainly is no better. All the improvement, then, to which it can lay any claim, is to be found in the conditions on which depends our future and eternal doom. As these conditions rest with us as moral agents, it is contended that divine, impartial justice will forever shine, both in the final justification of the righteous, and in the endless condemnation of the wicked. After the day of judgment, this theory teaches, that the unhappy, the condemned, will never, to all eternity, enjoy another favour from our Creator, but will experience unspeakable misery forever.

Respected friends, we do not propose calling your attention to an investigation of this doctrine, in order to disprove it by showing that it is unscriptural; but it is consistent with the plan of this discourse, to call on the hearers to put it to the same test, to which the former has been brought. Parents are again called on to take this modern theory of divinity as a model, according to which their family economy is to be fashioned. You who are parents, will therefore proceed as follows: Go to your children, and inform them, that you love them all with an impartial love; that you have ordained to them a season of probation; that at the expiration of ten years, you shall call them to give an account of their conduct; that you shall keep a true and an exact account of all their doings, during the season of their probation, which, at the appointed day of judgment, shall decide their future destiny. Give them to understand, that those whose conduct shall be found at the judgment to have been according to your precepts, shall then receive your cordial approbation,

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and that they shall inherit all your estates, and enjoy your favour ever after; but those whose deeds shall be found at the judgment to have been faulty, and to have come short of your requirements, will then receive your disapprobation, shall be discarded and disinherited, and shall never receive the least favour from you. Give them moreover to understand, that those whose good conduct shall obtain your approbation, and who shall enjoy your favour, shall have the privilege of seeing their brethren and sisters, whose faults shall exclude them from your grace, continually in want and misery!

Parents, your countenances indicate dissatisfaction. Have you any objections to an economy of this character? What fault have you to find with this plan of family government? I am apprehensive that the following objections have already arisen in your minds:

First. This scheme would deprive you of that constant and daily discipline, which you know is indispensible in the good government of your chil dren. If your children do those things to-day which they ought not to do, or if they omit their duty today, they need an immediate attention. Suitable and needed reproof, or possibly some gentle chastisement, might be attended with reformation. Why, then, should not the delinquent be called to an account immediately? By it obedience might be obtained, and future good conduct secured. And in case of obedience, why should your approbation be withheld? It would encourage your child to persevere in well-doing, and be the means of preventing a falling away, or a departure from duty. You all know that it is necessary that rewards and chastise

ments should be constantly and daily administered, in order to encourage obedience and to prevent wrong doing. This ten years' probation is evidently contrary to a proper family government; and you find you cannot adopt it. Suppose the preceptor of a school should inform his pupils, that his determination was to reward the obedient, and to punish the disobedient, but that he should do neither until his school should be ended. Would this be the most prudent method to govern scholars? You are satisfied of the inutility of such an economy.

Secondly. You would object to the proposed plan of family government, because you remember that you were once children yourselves. And you have not forgotten that you sometimes did those things which your kind parents commanded you not to do; and sometimes you neglected to do as they bid you. And although you often felt very sorry, and were grieved that you had disobeyed, and often formed resolutions that you would not again commit such faults, yet you remember that temptations often overcame your good resolutions, and you had to experience the same wounds again. In view, therefore, of your own experience, and your knowledge of the infirmities of childhood and youth, you would not dare to suspend the future fayours you have in store for the children you love, on conditions which you have too many reasons to apprehend might fail. "Ten years' probation! The day of trial is near! Should I find at that day, that disobedience has marked the path of some of my beloved children, as it did my own path in my childhood, can I withdraw all my affections from such children? Can I doom them to perpetual sufferings? Must they never

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