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Serm, morose and severe, and to stretch their auVIII. thority beyond the bounds of reason : nothing

hinders, but that they may aim at escaping, that mistake, and exceed them in mildnesse and gentlenesse. There can be no good reason assigned, why children should not be better than their parents, if they are able: still preserving a humble and dutiful respect to a superior relation, which is a neceffarie

part of true goodnesse, without which they cannot excell.

V. It is a great and singular happinesse,

when there is a general agreement and harmonie in things of religion among friends and relatives, and the several

branches of a familie. This happinesse is not universal. It was not the case in this familie. Nevertheless, it does not appear, that Timothie's father obstructed those who depended upon him in following their own convictions : he hindred them from embracing any farther discoveries. Nay it does not appear, that he opposed his fun Timothie's undertaking the office of an Evangelist, and accompanying


nor that



the Apostle Paul in his journeys for promot- Serm. ing the gospel.

VIII. However, upon some occasions, there will be not only differences of sentiment, but much animosity in families, on account of the principles of religion. Says our Lord : Suppose ye, that I am come to send peace on Luke xii. earth! I tell you, nay : but rather divisons. For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father : the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother:

Sometimes children are disobedient, stubborn, and refractorie. They forsake the guides of their youth, and are a grief of heart to those, who have the most tender affection for them, and shew a wise concern for their true interest. They will not submit to authority, nor hearken to reason. They will not be persuaded by the most earnest and affectionate importunity to attend to the things that make for their welfare here or hereafter,

On the other hand, sometimes the progresse of virtue is obstructed or discouraged



Serm. by superiors in age and station. And the VIII. serious and well disposed bring upon them

selves hardlhips by being more than ordinarily diligent and inquisitive in things of religion. Their superiors are not duly apprised of the rights of conscience. And the smalla est difference of opinion is thought to deserve the keenest resentment. They who are the most sincere in their regard to the general obligations of religion, and most dutiful and respectful to their parents, from a principle of conscience, are nevertheless difcouraged, because of difference in opinion upon

some speculative points. This is an evil. And it is a trial, which the virtue of some meets with.

There are also happy and desirable cases. When children readily receive the great truths and doctrines of religion, and the grounds of them, from their parents, or other instructors: When they embrace the commandment, and walk therein, that they may live. This is most agreeable to those who have been concerned for them, and have labored for their welfare. It must likewise be exceeding comfortable to those younger persons, or others in a state of dependence,


upon whom the principles of religion have Serm.
made a deep impression, to be encouraged VIII.
and animated in their religious studies and.
enquiries by those, whom they love, honor
and esteem.

In a word it is a very agreeable circum-
stance, contributing as much to the happi-
nesle of this state of imperfection, as any
thing that can be thought of: When there
is agreement between friends and relatives in
the great things of religion, with forbearance,
as to differences about leffer matters : When
real holinesse and true virtue have the high-
est regard : and difference of opinion about
things of small moment, whether proceed-
ing from want of understanding, or from
greater ineasures of light and knowledge,
produce no alienation of affection. For such
a situation every one who enjoys it, ought
to be thankful. To be at liberty to do what
our conscience dictates, without molesta-
tion from others, is a delightful privilege.
Such have the persuasion of the divine favour
and acceptance, and enjoy also the good will,
approbation and encouragement of earthly
friends. This makes duty easie. If it had
been otherwise, they could not have drawn

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Serm. back. They would have been obliged for VIII. the sake of Christ and his kingdom, to for

fake father and mother, and all worldly porsessions. But they have both, the favour of God, and of men: or at left the favour and good will of those, whom they most efteem.

I have mentioned these things, as useful hints. Parents usually love those children best, that advance themselves in the world. But true virtue and goodnesse ought to be the greatest recommendation.

Nor ought any advances therein to be discouraged,


I hope the words of the text may


applied to you, my friends. I have no reason to doubt, but that the unfeigned faith, which first dwelt in your pious parents, is in you also, according to your years, and upon

the ground of a rational evidence and conviction. And such a consideration gives joy and fatisfaction.

But there can be no harm in recommending to you, to cherish, maintain, and emprove the principle of goodnesse. I


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