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PROVERBS, VIII. 32.
Now, therefore, hearken unto me, O ye Children, for blessed are they that keep my ways.
My dear children, I am now to speak to you about God and religion; and I will try to be as plain as I can, so that a child of three or four years old may know what I mean. The text I have read was spoken by Jesus Christ, who in this chapter is called Wisdom; for he is the Wisdom of God. Therefore you must attend to what Jesus Christ says; and if you do this, you will be happy.
There are two things which I shall talk to you about. I will show you,
I. WHAT IT IS THAT JESUS CHRIST SAYS TO CHILDREN.
II. WHAT IS THE BLESSEDNESS OF THOSE CHILDREN WHO HEARKEN TO HIM.
We will, then, first consider Jesus Christ as speaking to CHILDREN.
Now all the great things taught you in the Bible, of the way of being saved and going to heaven, may be considered as spoken to you by Jesus Christ. I will mention a few particulars.
1. Hearken, then, my children, to what Jesus Christ says, when he bids you to be serious.
By being serious I mean being in earnest, and attentive to the things of God and salvation. There is no harm in your being gay and cheerful. It quite gives me pleasure to see children happy and playing about at their little sports. But then, my dear children, you must be serious at proper times. You must be willing to learn the way to heaven. You must not trifle and jest with religion; but take pains about it. A good child will be as earnest to learn the will of Jesus Christ, as a sick man is to know the will of his doctor or physician.
2. Hearken to what Jesus Christ tells you
of the value of your souls.
For you have souls as well as bodies. The soul is that which thinks and understands. When the body dies and is eaten by worms, the soul will go back to God and be judged; and then live for ever in heaven or in hell. The body is only like the scaffolding of a building,
or those boards and poles and ladders which you see put up about a house while the workmen are building it, and which are taken down when the house is done; but the soul is like the house itself. Your souls are of such great value, that Jesus Christ himself came down from heaven and died upon the cross in order to save them from everlasting death. Be not, then, like the horse or the mule which have no souls, and therefore no understanding; but attend to what the Bible teacheth you of the value and worth of your souls.
3. Hearken, O my children, to what Jesus
Christ speaks to you about your sins.
Whatever is wrong and against God's command is a sin. Now sin is a most dreadful thing. It is like a fever or plague which catches all it comes near to. And yet you are sinners. The youngest child in church is a sinner, and guilty before God. Every sin you commit is like a debt you owe to God. Every wicked work, every wicked thought, and every wicked desire, is put down in God's book against you. All bad passions, such as envy, discontent, malice, hatred, are sins; and so are quarrelling, disobedience, sulkiness, selfishness: all these things are sins against God. And you have been breaking God's laws every day of your lives. You live in a sinful world. You were born in
sin, and shapen in iniquity.
There is not one
child before me but knows he has often done things which were wrong. Hearken, then, O ye children, to Jesus Christ, telling you about your sins. Be sorry for them. Confess them in your prayers before God. Feel the guilt of them. Do not try to hide your sins, as Adam and Eve hid themselves among the trees of the garden; but acknowledge all you have done amiss, and pray to God to forgive you.
For Jesus Christ tells you in the Bible,
4. Of his sufferings and death upon the cross for such sinners as you.
Jesus Christ died for you. He is the lamb of God which shed his blood for your salvation. Think, my children, of the sufferings of the Son of God. Think how the cruel soldiers nailed him to the cross, and then mocked him. Now Jesus Christ died that he might save you from God's wrath and eternal death. He died in your place and stead. He suffered what you deserved to suffer. His merits are like a robe or garment, which must be put upon you to cover and hide your guilt. And every child that is truly sorry for his sins, and prays to God in the name of Jesus Christ, will be forgiven. This is faith. By faith I mean a child's putting his trust in the merits of Jesus Christ. It is just like Noah, who was warned by God of the flood, and so, being moved with fear, prepared an ark; and being shut in the ark, he and his family were
saved when the deluge of waters drowned the world. So a little child who comes to Christ and believes on him, will be put, as it were, in the ark, and will be saved when the flood of God's wrath comes upon the world of the ungodly. Now, therefore, hearken unto Jesus Christ, O ye children. He speaks to you with all gentleness and love. He calls you to himself. Come to him, and pray for pardon. Say to him in your prayers, O Lord Jesus, thou didst die upon the cross to save sinners; save my soul; teach me how to trust in thee; give me grace to believe in thee for pardon, and make me a good child.'
5. You must listen to what Jesus Christ
says, when he promises to give you his Holy Spirit to change your hearts.
For, my dear children, you cannot be good of yourselves. You cannot be serious of yourselves. You cannot think of the value of
your souls, and be sorry for your sins, and put your trust in the death of Jesus Christ, of yourselves. You ought to do all this: but you are so unwilling and so weak and so sinful that you can never do it by your own power. Our hearts are like the ground in the winter when there is a hard frost; they are quite hard and cannot be moved. And therefore the Bible says, our hearts are hearts of stone. But Jesus Christ can change our hearts and make them new. As