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strong. They despise you, they treat you with contempt; and the more indiscreetly fond
have been of them, the less do they regard you. Indeed they cannot bear to be controuled in any part of their conduct, and particularly in any article of expense. Nobody will deny that, in regard to many, this is a true representation : Nobody can deny the fact: We all see and lament the dismal prospect which seems to be opening upon the rising generation. But there still remains a question, which parents ought to put to their own consciences most seriously and without evasion :—“ The conduct of our children, it is true, is afflicting to us beyond measure or description ; but are not we ourselves in a very high degree accountable for their evil habits and evil practices?” Now if conscience do its duty, the answer, I fear, must, in many instances, be, “ Yes, you are accountable : you would not take the trouble to watch over and instruct your rash, incautious, inexperienced offspring: you would not exert your parental authority over them: To you it appeared a very cruel thing to correct them.” So you
have left them to be corrected by their own wickedness, and its consequences, in the course of God's Providence; and you yourselves feel the smart of bitter reflections. All humane persons pity you exceedingly, but cannot help you. May you hence learn your own sin against God in neglecting their education ; and may others take warning from you to discipline their children!
How things are with the dregs of the poor, is but too plain. The children of abandoned, unprincipled parents, naturally learn and follow every evil! and humanly speaking, there seems no hope for them, except by the friendly aid of charity-schools, or of similar institutions: The benefit of which is so great ; and the meanness of refusing to encourage and assist them, in those who have it in their power, is so very culpable, that I cannot repent of the severity with which I have this day treated those who are guilty in these respects. I wish they may tremble at the thoughts of death and judgment; and learn and feel at length that they are accountable to God for the use they make of riches.
Lastly: Having now seriously exhorted you to imitate Abraham in commanding your household to keep the way of the Lord, I must very briefly intreat you to consider, before all things, whether you are keeping it yourselves. If you pity not your own souls, you will not pity, you cannot be expected to pity, those of your fellow-creatures, not even the souls of your own children. No man will, to any great purpose, discharge this duty, who neglects his own soul. See its value ; consider that Christ died for it; repent, and believe the Gospel.
THE LIFE OF FAITH.
Habakkuk, ii. 3, 4.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end
it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it ; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
If we be enabled to see the full force of these words, and to taste the real goodness of the Lord, as he has been pleased to discover himself in this passage, we shall find no portion of the sacred Scriptures more comfortable or instructive. It is three times made use of in the New Testament. Only may the Lord, whose word it is, open it unto us in its beauty and power, and teach us the true use and exercise of that faith by which the just shall live!
We are by nature in a state of death. With man, since the fall, all is darkness and disorder. It is by faith in the Redeemer that he lives, and is restored to the true life of God in " the inward man*,” and to the profitable and comfortable exercise of all the faculties which God hath given him. Light and wisdom, health and peace, joy and strength, take possession of his soul, as soon as it is engrafted into Christ. It mounts upward to God in faith; and, no longer stopping short at earthly things, with a keen and eager eye surveys a large prospect of the unmeasurable riches of a happy eternity. We will,
* Rom. vii. 22. I delight in the law of God after the inward
ist, Endeavour to throw all the light upon our subject, that is to be learnt from the Book of Habakkuk : We will then call to our aid those passages of the New Testament in which the Text is quoted: And, after having collected all the instruction and authority of Scripture that we are able, we would, lastly, attempt, under several suitable heads of application, to make such useful reflections, in the way of advice, admonition and exhortation, as may naturally arise from the information we shall have obtained.
Habakkuk begins his prophecy with complaining, “ O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou will not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!” He is not the only righteous man, whose faith, hope, and patience have been weakened by the view of the prosperity of the wicked, and the afflictions of the godly. Asaph's sore trial on the same head you may read in Psalm lxxiii. But the Lord, who means at length to bring those that love him to complete eternal bliss, generally suffers their faith to be much tried in the course of their spiritual warfare. He knows what is fittest for himself to do; and what is best for his people to bear: He loves them no less on account of the trials which he sees it fit that they should undergo: At length, they shall see how all things work together for their
good * "
* Rom. viii. 28.
The Lord answers Habakkuk's prayers, by a declaration of the vengeance soon to be inflicted on his wicked countrymen the Jews, by the Chaldeans. This contents not Habakkuk. He now complains that “ the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he!” The Chaldeans are worse than the Jews! “ Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?” After this second complaint, he says, “ I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved *." Though there is a blamable mixture of impatience and unbelief in his general conduct, nevertheless here he deserves to be imitated. He does not, after praying, forget the subject of his petition, as if he trifled with God, like too many. He composes himself to wait for an answer, as a guard that keeps watch on a tower. The Lord does answer him, bidding him write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that “ he may run that readeth it.” And accordingly there follows a plain denunciation of divine vengeance to be inflicted on the Chaldeans also, which takes up the greatest part of the second chapter. But it required strong faith to believe that this proud, warlike, successful people would ever be brought to ruin, and the poor distressed people of God be delivered from their hands. Therefore it behoved Habakkuk not to be staggered by difficulties or improbabilities, but to believe what he heard from God, who cannot lie. Neither should he be impatient: but consider that “the vision,” that is, the subject of the prophecy, “ is yet for an appointed
* Habak. ii. 1.