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that we, through his poverty, might be made rich." And stilt
There's ne'er a gift his hand bestows,
Further. Returns of gratitude are due to those from whom we have received peculiar instances of kindness. Elisha felt his obligation, and wished not only to express, but, if possible, some way to return it. Like Peter and John, he might say, "Silver and gold have I none ;" but if there be any way in which I can serve thee or thy husband, command ye me. What shall I render? is the language of every grateful heart, whether it have God or man for the object. To apply this lemark to ourselves :—
If children, our parents have been careful for us with a gTeat, a constant, and a long continued care; and ought it not to be a question with such of us as are grown up, What is to be done for them? Let deep rooted affection,—symp ithizing tenderness towards them, under growing infirmities, and actual support where it is needed, return the answer. Let them have full'evidence that their labours of love have not been lost upon us. M ay we honor them, comfort them, and send them to their graves rejoicing in our tiiiai affection, and in our growing concern to follow them to a better country.
Or, are we attendants under a gospel ministry? Let us not forget what a debt of gratitude we owe to those who, with much and constant care, are labouring for our souls in word and doctrine. "Remember them who have spoken to you the word of God, whose faith follow.*" For if their word has been blessed to our conversion, and if that faith be the support of our souls, as their spiritual children, they may say to us, as Paul to Philemon, •' Ye owe to us yourselves." What is to be done foroi:r ministers? The apostle shall answer the en
2uiry, " Brethren, pray for us." Yes, we will pray for them, lat their understandings may be more illumined, their hearts more enlarged, their private studies more pleasant, and their public labours more profitable. We will " pray that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified." Again,
The liberal mind will be frequently occupied in devising liberal things. "What," said Elisha,"'« shall be done for thee?" It is probable we might all of us be more useful in the world than we are, were our thoughts more, directed to the means of being useful. This key of consideration would, open many an untried lock, and admit us into many an unexplored field for usefulness. In order to this, let us look more around us, turn our thoughts more directly to the subject, and enquire of others how to become more useful in our day and generation; imitating him whom we profess to honour ; who "went about doing good," A jain,
Where a good man has interest in the favour of those whx»
&re above hitn, he will be more concerned to exert it in behalf or'others than for himself. Notwithstanding all this prophet's faithful reproofs of Jehoram,— from his interposition in. behalf of himself and his army, we may conclude that he would stand hijrh in the esteem of that prince and the captain of his host. Ihe good man therefore inquires if he can do any thing with either of these for the family? But when he is informed that peace and contentment were their lot, and that their earthly happiness could only be increased bv an heir to their estate and to their amiable qualities, the prophet pleads that this family might increase as a flock: and immediately he hands her from his God a promise of a son. How effectual is the prayer of a righteous man! Though he be ever so poor, his petitions may bring down showers of blessings upon our heads, our hearts, and our houses. The greatest kindness we can discover towards our friends and benefactors, is to pray for them.
Finally, What an invaluable blessing is a contented mind '. One who exhorts us to " be content with such things as we have," assures us, from his own experience, that he " had learned, in whatsoever state he was, therewith to be content;" and this ■woman seems to have drank deep into that spirit. "1 dwell," said she, " among mine own people." It was evident, she was Hot high-minded, nor sought great things for herself, or her husband. She dwelt in a state of the most friendly intercourse with all around her; many of whom had been the companions of her youth. She was " sober" in her desires, —" loved Iter husband, was discreet, chaste, and one that kept at home *." .Not like that person described by Solomon : —" As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place-f-" He pursues happiness; but seeks it in a wrong situation. On the contrary, this woman was happy at home, and had " many friends,—for she shewed herself friendly:" or, by " her own people,"she might intend the godly. She was a companion for those that feared God (and probably such were to be found even in Shunain). With her, " godliness, with contentment, was great gain ;" and good people, she esteemed as her people; accounting such " the excellent of the earth !— with whom she had her delight." From the whole, we learn, — that neither poverty and piety, nor greatness and godliness are incompatible with each other; and that as contentment is thatdivine art which we all need learn, so God alone can effectually teach it. Agkl». • Titus ii. 5, 6. f Prov. xxvli. 8.
Am I justified in absenting myself from the table of t!rr> Lord, when I see those attend whom I conceive (from their QUESTIONS
SUBMITTED TO THE CONSIDERATION OF
MINISTERS AND PARENTS,
©N THEIR RESPECTIVE OBLIGATIONS TO ATTEND TO THE
RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION OF YOUTH.
1. Are not children and youth important branches of families, congregations, and society?
2. Will not the rising generation be the chief actors in all human affairs, whether religious or civil, when we are removed to another-world I
3. Ought we not to use all our influence then, to prevent their being evil workers? and prepare them to act their parts with comfort to their families, credit to themselves, usefulness to the church, and advantage to society?
4. Is it not probable that a proper attention to their religious instruction, morals, and habits, may, under a divine blessing, check the growth of depraved passions, — prevent errors in doctrines,— lead to stated attendances on religious worship, — and, in the end, prove the humble means of the conversion of many?
5. Have there not been innumerable instances of religious instruction being blessed to the conversion of youth ? and, if so, does it not justify us in expecting that God will bless similar means with the same success, in a smaller or greater degree?
(5. Arc not children and youth part of your charge? and are you not bound to do something to promote their spiritual interest?
7. Have not the wisest and best of men, in all ages, recommended the religious instruction of youth? and particularly the catechizing of them in doctrines to be believed, and duties tobe discharged f
8. Have you adopted this, or any other method yon conceive better calculated to promote their moral and spiritual improvement?
y. Have the children under your charge had that share of your attention and'labour which they ought to have had ?*
10. If they have not, are you not unfaithful to your trust? and will not their blood be required at your hands?
11. Is it too late to begin this long-neglected duty? if not, are you not bound, by your relation to your family, to your flock, and your solemn engagements to God, as well its the account you must render of your stewardship, to entejr upon it ^itiiouidtfiuy i
v ON THE ADVANTAGES OP AFFLICTION TO THE YOUNG.
It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Lam. iii. 21.
The lot of Jeremiah was cast in troublesome times. He was called of God to foretell the calamities the Jews were to be subjected to when conquered, and led into captivity by the king of Babylon. Me lived to see the judgments executed which he had denounced; and was inspired by the Holy Ghost to bewail them. The Book of Lamentations exhibits Jeremiah sitting amidst the ruins of Zion; and, while his eyes ran down with water, deploring her desolations in the most melancholy strains, the spirit of cheerfulness and hope seems to have Mud frpm his bosom. The verses of this poeiw are evidently the waitings of an oppressed, nay, of a broken heart. The gloomy scenes described in this book, have, perhaps, prevented it from being so frequently read as it ought to have been. As a piece of composition, it will bear to be compared with the most finished productions of elegiac poetry. It is calculated to invigorate our zeal for the civil and religious interests of our country, and to impress us with a sense of the malignant nature and ruinous tendency of sin ; — it abounds too with many excellent sentiments, both of a, devotional and moral cast. The sentiment on which we are now to make some remarks, is certainly an important one, and well deserves to be seriously considered. In other places of Scripture we find the benefits ot^ affliction, to men. in geiveral, strongly stated; but this verse calls us to consider its peculiar advantages to the young, \oung people have, in general, very opposite impressions of afflictions; and it may be of use to those who are in the early periods of life to demonstrate the truth of the assertion, " That it is good, for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth."
1. Affliction humbles the pride of the young. To this sia they are in a peculiar manner liable. They are not thoroughly acquainted with the deficiencies of their own characters, and, are ready to over-rate any excellence which they may possess. How reaay are they tp plume themselves on the graces of their bodies, — or the talents of their minds, — or their connexions with the great, —» or on the prospects of wealth or influence which are opened before them! The encomiums which are bestowed on them, when their first appearances in the world are respectable, tend greatly to cherish the spirit of pride. This disposition is hateful to God. If not checked, it will mark their conduct in life with ingratitude to Him, and with insolence and oppression to men, |'o check this spirit, God often visiti the young with afflictions. By these they have been convinced of their entire dependence on God; and that to Ilnn they owe all
they have, and must look for all that they expect. When Nebuchadnezzar's heart was lifted up, and his nrind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from the sons of men, and Jiis heart wt.s made like the beasts', and his dwelling was with the wild asses. They fed him with grass, like oxen; and his body was wet with the clew of Heaven, — till he knew that the Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and appointeth over them whomsoever lie will. Instances might be mentioned of jung men, whose conduct was marked with disgusting mightiness and affectation, who, on the bed of sickness, and it the grave of departed friends, have learned to be meek and lowly in heart; and v ho can now appeal to God, and say, " O Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me!" Affliction is one of the great means which God makes use of to hide pride from man.
2. Affliction corrects the extravagant expectations of the voung. Their minds are prone to form high expectations of prosperity and success in life. The fancy, at this period, is active and glowing; nor is it restrained, in its operations, by the suggestions of judgment, or by the dictates of experience. How often do they say, in their hearts," The work of our hands shall be established !" — " our exertions in our callings shall be patronized by the noble; — our characters shall meet with praise from men ; — health and peace shall perpetually reside with us in our dwellings!" In forming ideas of their path thro' life, they imagine it will be through flowery meadows, or over mountains of spices. They are unwilling to suppose that they shall be called to pass through the marsh or the desert. Such expectations ait sinful and pernicious. They are sinful, because thev are inconsistent with the arrangements of that Providence w Inch has ordered it, that man is born to trouble; and they arc pernicious to ourselves, because, when distress comes, they give double weight to its stroke. To check such extravagant expectations in the bud, God often visits the young with trials. He says to them, by the messengers of affliction, " Seek iiot great things for thyself— Remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many." The disappointments and trials with which God visits the young, tend to cherish that moderation in their wishes and pursuits, which bids fair to be] productive of happiness: they awaken that caution which restrains the ardour of the fancy, and bring forward the suggestions of fear to check the flatteries of hope. The young are ready to imagine, that God deals harshly with them when he afflicts them; but, in thus crushing their extravagant hopes, he is saving them the enduring of much future misery. The pangs tkou feclcst at present^ may keep thee from after-pangs far more.