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men may expose themselves to probable, if not to certain death, for the general safety of their nation. But, though we see in this hero, great-and-inexcusable faults, still it is to be remembered, that, while he lay in confinement, he had time for reflection and repentance. And the return of his strength, with the future growth of his hair, affords a proba ble argument of the sincerity of his humiliation, in that painful period.

But whatever may be his religious character, the errours of his life, and the calamities, which they brought on him, will suggest to us some useful warnings and instructions.

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By a conduct inconsistent with his solemn dedication to God, he lost his strength; not only the strength of his body, but, which was of more im portance, the strength of his mind, and of his vir tue; and suddenly, in the torpor of an artificial sleep, he fell under the power of his enemies. He lay down a freeman, and awoke a captive and at slave. While he thought his strength remained, he attempted to exercise it, for his deliverance, but in vain, he was weak as another man.

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I. We are here, taught, that the young should ever act under a sense of their religious dedication to God.

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Samson was, by his parents, consecrated as a Nazarite. Their act he considered as binding on him, because it, was in consequence of a divinę command.

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It is sometimes asked, How are children bound. by an act of their parents, to which they have nev er consented, and of which they are not even conscious?

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But, Can you tell me, how Samson was bound by the act of his

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parents?

You will say, "It was the authority of God, which obliged him to be a Nazarite, and which

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obliged his parents to set him apart in this charac. ter

It is well answered. Remember, too, God requires the Christian parent to bring up his chil dren in the knowledge and practice of the religion of the gospel; and to make an early dedication of them to him, in a particular instituted form, as an acknowledgment of his obligation thus to educate them; and as a token of their future obligation, to walk worthy of their Christian education. To ask then, how a parent's act binds his children, is only to ask, How they are bound by the command of God? A question which surely needs no answer.

If you have been dedicated to God, it is because you are bound to live to him. Your obligation to virtue does not originate from your baptism; but the reason of your baptism is founded in your ob ligation to virtue. If you live in opposition to the will of God, you contradict the great design, for which you have been consecrated to him.

uncommon.

Samson was much more concerned to keep the token of his Nazaritism, than to observe the duties of it. He never voluntarily parted with his locks : but he often violated that purity of life, to which his parents had consecrated him, and which his locks denoted. An inconsistency this, which is not Few would, in a formal manner, re nounce their baptism; but thousands live contrary to it. While they choose to be considered in the character of baptised Christians, in the character of disciples of Christ, whose name has been called on them, and on whose name they call, they indulge those corruptions of heart, and impurities of life, which his gospel expressly forbids. But, Will their baptism save them, while in works they deny it? It verily profiteth, if they obey the gospel. Otherwise, in effect, it becomes no baptism. He is not a Christian, who is only one outwardly,

in name and form. He is a Christian, who is one inwardly, in heart and spirit, whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The parent is solicitous, that his children should be baptised, and visibly introduced into the church and kingdom of Christ. But if he is not solicitous to furnish their minds with religious knowledge, and form their lives to virtuous manners, he is no more consistent with himself, than Samson's pa rents would have been, to have consecrated him as a Nazarite, and then fed him with wine, and cut off his hair.

II. We see in the case of Samson, the unhappy effects of sensuality.

By the law of Nazaritism, he was bound to special purity of life: From this purity he early began to depart: The consequence was, he fell into temptation and a snare, and involved himself in misery and ruin.

The youth should come forward into the world, with an apprehension of the various dangers to which his virtue is exposed. There are dangers arising from the gaiety of his spirits, the warmth of his passions, the vivacity of his imagination, the flattering charms of outward objects, the examples of the world, the enticements of wicked men, and, perhaps, of those whom he makes his intimate friends. Sensible of these dangers, he should arm himself with the strongest resolutions; watch the first approach of temptation, and early repel it, before it has taken possession of his mind. He should stand peculiarly on his guard against the facinating influence of the pleasures of sense. These, when they have gained dominion, will claim unlimited obedience, and induce an absolute slavery. They take away the heart, stupify the conscience, obliterate the sentiments of honour, enfeeble every virtuous resolution, subjugate the noblest powers of

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the soul, and drown men in destruction and wretchedness.

Samson, long celebrated for his singular strength and courage, sunk, at last, by his criminal indulgence, into the most despicable weakness of mind, as well as body, and fell an impotent captive into the hands of his enemies: And they, who once trembled at his arm, now triumphed in his weak

ness.

See the man, who rent a lion, as he would a kid, who plucked up the gates of Gaza, who, submitting to be bound with cords, burst them, when his enemies shouted, and, with a contemptible weapon, spread slaughter among them at his pleas.re; see him now listening to the enticements of a lewd enchantress, betraying to her the most important secrets of his soul, yielding himself to her pow er, when she had given him full reason to distrust her fidelity; and thus deprived of his strength, and made the sport of his inveterate foes. Alluding to his catastrophe, Solomon says, Hearken to me, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister, and call understanding thy kinswoman, that they may keep thee from the stranger who flattereth with her words. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths; for she hath cast down many wounded; many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death."

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In language equally strong and expressive, he warns the youth of the fatal effects of intemperance.

Be not among wine bibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh; for so shalt thou come to poverty, and be clothed with rags. Thou shalt have woe, disease, sorrow, contention, and wounds without cause, thine heart shall utter perverse things, thou shalt be as he who lieth down in the midst of the VOL. I. I i

sea, or sleepeth on the top of a mast. They have beaten me, shalt thou say, and I felt it not: When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.'

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III. The case of Samson shews us the fatal consequences of criminal connexions.

From this cause the errours and calamities of his life took their rise. Our virtue, honour and happiness depend on nothing more, than the character of the friends whom we choose, and the company which we keep. Sensible of this, David resolved, that he would say to evil doers, Depart from me; and would be the companion of them who feared God, and observed his commandments.

The youth, who has enjoyed the benefit of a virtuous education, will form some virtuous resolutions. While he hears parental instruction, or while he indulges his serious thoughts in solitude, he feels these resolutions operating powerfully in his mind. He thinks he shall easily retain them. When first he happens into licentious company, the conversation which he hears, and the examples which he sees, shock his mind. But, in the mean time, some circumstance may occur to invite him again into similar company. He goes, however, with a resolution to keep himself clear of the vices which he sees. By degrees the scene is familiarized. Vice seems to divest itself of some part of its deformity, his watch is slackened, and his resolution droops. He sees, perhaps, in an ungodly companion, some agreeable accomplishments, which half conceal the deformity of the character. As he attaches himself more closely to the person, he has less power to resist the influence of the example. He can now with patience, and by and by he will with pleasure, hear those virtuous principles and manners bantered and ridiculed, which once he regarded with veneration. Thus gradually and in

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