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names are enrolled under Christ, among the children of the covenant; and will you desert his cause, and deny your name as christians ? Meditate upon this subject, and you will find that your souls are, in some sense, brought under a bond to make religion your personal concern, and to honour your Lord and Saviour, by observing all his institutions, by commemorating his death, according to his appointment.
If those who have not received the initiating seal of the covenant would be disciples of Christ, and belong to his visible kingdom, they must believe and be baptized. By refusing to submit to this ordinance, they deny Christ before men; and will he own them before his father and the holy angels? He hath declared that he will not. Think, my friends, on your case, and learn what is your duty. I would not encourage an inconsiderate offer of yourselves as subjects of baptism; but if, upon serious reflection, you have a desire to come, I would say, “ If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” May you have faith and a pure conscience; and may holy ordinances be your delight and con, solation,
May I be indulged a few words to those, who have formed the tender conjugal connec
tion, and thus become heads of families? What resolution more preper for you to take than this, that, “ as for you and
your houses, will serve the Lord.” Unless you do this in practice, you may be chargeable with the murder of your offspring, not of their bodies, but souls. How often have children been destroyed by the evil examples of parents! Heart-rending reflection! enough to fill the soul with the deepest anguish! Imagine yourselves arraigned at “the judgment seat of Christ,” and that you hear your children testify, that you never dedicated them to God, never instructed them in the principles and duties of religion, never taught them to remember and honour their creator, but to their irregular propensities added the force of corrupt examples, and instilled into their tender minds the most licentious sentiments; and thus led into perdition those whom you were instruments of bringing into life! With what horrour we contemplate the deed, when a mother, to conceal her own shanie, puts. a speedy period to the life of her illegitimate offspring! But are they less cruel and unnatural, who destroy the souls of their children by wicked examples and instruction, or by the neglect of parental duty ? Think what may be the effect
of your own want of piety and virtue upon them who are yet to be born.
On the other hand, your own piety, instruction, and holy examples may be means of bringing your children to glory, and causing them to rise
up in the day of judgment, and call you blessed. How different the end! The means are as different. Pray do not give your unborn children, or those that are now objects of your affection, occasion to upbraid you with impiety, and with being the instruments of their ruin; but, as they may be given to you, strive to lead them to glory, honour, and immortality.
What has now been addressed to young heads of families is not to be construed into an intimation, that religion may be deferred to such period and connection in life. It should engage the first thoughts, the earliest attention. To early seeking, success is promised. But how, it may be asked, are we to seek ? I answer, by breaking off your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by turning to the Lord; by ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well; by setting the Lord always before your face; by the exercise of faith, repentance, and watchfulness; by humiliation, prayer, and supplication; by exerting all your powers to avoid sin, and
to honour God and keep his commandments, imploring his gracious assistance in every duty, and his acceptance through the mediator. “ Pray without ceasing. Quench not the spirit.” Be sober, and acquaint yourselves with the holy scriptures, “ which are able to make you wise unto salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus.” And may your hearts be established with grace. May the Lord be your God, and you a seed to serve him, that shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation ; who shall come and declare his righteousness to them that are yet to be born, that, in the ages to come, his name may be exalted and adored on earth.
An aspiring disposition is common to man. The youthful mind feels its influence ; nor does it cease to operate in the decline of life. Few can be found, who have no desire to be esteemed more excellent than their neighbours. This disposition, though it often prompts to measures which defeat their own end, may be rendered subservient to the great purposes of religion and virtue. To effect this object there must be just conceptions of the means by which the human character may rise, not only to comparative, but to real excellence. Did men clearly understand in what this con