Images de page
[ocr errors]

This happiness is not universal. It was not the case in this family. Nevertheless, it does not appear, that Timothy's father obstructed those who depended upon bim in following their own convictions: nor that he hindered them from embracing any farther discoveries. Nay, it does not appear, that he opposed his son Timothy's undertaking the ottice of an evangelist, and accompanying the apostle Paul in his journies for promoting the gospel.

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 carth? I tell you, nay; but rather divisions; 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,” Luke xii. 51-53.

Sometimes children are disobedient, stubborn, and refractory. They forsake the guides of their youth, and are a grief of heart to those who have the most tender affection for them, and show 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 progress of virtue is obstructed or discouraged by superiors in age and station; and the serious and well disposed bring upon themselves hardships 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 smallest 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 discouraged, 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 laboured 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 made a deep impression, to be encouraged and animated in their religious studies and inquiries by those whom they love, honour, and esteem.

In a word, it is a very agrecable circumstance, contributing as much to the happiness of this state of imperfection, as any thing that can be thought of, when there is agreement between friends and relatives in the great thing's of religion, with forbearance as to differences about lesser matters; when real holiness and true virtue have the highest regard ; and difference of opinion about things of small moment, whether proceeding from want of understanding, or from greater measures 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 molestation from others, is a delightful privilege. Such bave the persuasion of the divine favour and acceptance, and enjoy also the good will, approbation, and encouragement of earthly friends. This makes duty easy. If it had been otherwise, they could not

, have drawn back. They would bave been obliged, for the sake of Christ and his kingdom, to forsake father and mother, and all worldly possessions. But they have both the favour of God and of men; or at least the favour and good will of those whom they most esteem.

I have mentioned these thing's as useful hints. Parents usually love those children best that advance themselves in the world. But true virtue and goodness ought to be the greatest recommendation; nor ought any advances therein to be discouraged.

APPLICATION. I hope the words of the text may be 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 satisfaction.

But there can be no harm in recommending to you to cherish, maintain, and improve the principle of goodness. I apprehend that what has been now said, must have excited in you thanksgivings to God for the advantage you have had of a religious education; and that you have renewed your resolutions to improve it. And it is indeed prudent to be very serious and deliberate in resolving to walk with God, and persevere in the way of his commandments, all


[merged small][ocr errors]

the days of our life. You should continue in the use of all the means of your establishment; and should carefully decline the snares that are dangerous to your virtue. If unawares you meet with them, and sinners entice you to evil, resolutely withhold your consent, and withstand their enticements and solicitations.

You need not to be told, that children of such parents, of so many prayers, of such hopes and expectations, cannot sin at so easy a rate as others. In every step you should take, in the way of folly and sin, you would meet with checks and rebukes. And if you should break through, and harden yourselves against all the remonstrances of your enlightened conscience and understanding, the issue would be unutterable remorse and anguish. But this, I trust, shall not be your case. Your goodness,

, I hope, shall not be like a "morning cloud, or the early dew, that soon passeth away,” Hos. vi. 4, but rather be as the “ dawning light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” Prov. iv. 18.

May you then willingly admit and entertain the wholesome instructions of those who wish you well: and may you in the way

of virtue ever have countenance and encouragement. But if you should meet with obstacles, may you surmount thein, and be faithful to God. And having experienced some good portion of peace in the way of God's commandments on earth, may you and yours partake with all the people of God in the full rewards and everlasting joys of religion and virtue, which are sure, and are reserved for the world to come.




But I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.

1 Kings xviii, 12. THOUGH this good character be here given by the person himself, we are not immediately to admit the suspicion of pride and vanity. What he says is only for the sake of selfpreservation. If we never commend ourselves for a less

weighty reason, we shall not incur the just censure of boasting and vain-glory.

The person is Obadiah, whose history we have in the former part of this chapter. He is now speaking to the prophet Elijah: and the thing happened in the time of the long dearth in the reign of Ahab king of Israel.

At the beginning of the chapter it is said : “ And it came to

pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying: Go, shew thyself unto Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth. And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab : and there was a sore famine in Samaria. And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house."

Some have put the question, wliether this be the same as Obadiah the prophet. "But it does not appear that this person had at all the prophetical character. And Obadiah, whose short book of prophecies we have among the lesser prophets near the end of the Old Testament, seems to have lived a good deal later than the reign of Ahab.

It follows in verse third and fourth : “ Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly. For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and gave them bread and water."

By prophets, as is generally supposed, we are not here to understand inspired persons, with a special commission from God; but men educated in the schools of the prophets. These Jezebel looked upon as her enemies, because they opposed her idolatrous worship, and taught the people the true religion. And, possibly, she suspected them of favouring the interests of the kingdom of Judah, where was the appointed place of worship for all the tribes of Israel.

It was therefore an act of great piety, and much resolution, in Obadiah, in a time of such danger, to protect those prophets. “ He hid them by fifty in a cave, and gave them bread and water :” that is, all needful provisions, sending them meat and drink privately every day,

Ver. 5, 6, “ And Ahab said unto Obadiah: Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks. Peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts. So they divided the land between them, to pass through it. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself."

Obadiah was the only person in the service of Ahab whom he could confide in upon this occasion. It is a proof of the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

great regard which even this wicked prince had for him. And it affords good reason for us to suppose, that Obadiah had been wont to behave with singular fidelity, and uncommon discretion, in all affairs in which he was employed.

Ver. 7–12, “ And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him. And he knew him, and fell on his face and said : Art thou my lord Elijah ?" He was not a little surprised to meet Elijah, who for some time had lived very privately out of the reach of Abab. “ And he answered him: I am. Go tell thy lord: Behold, Elijah is here. And he said : What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab to slay me? As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord has not sent to seek thee. And when they said, he is not here, he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. And thou sayest: Go, tell thy lord, behold, Elijah is here. And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not. And so when I come, and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me.”

The message, with which Elijah sent Obadiah, would be very grateful to king Ahab who had earnestly sought for him. But Obadiah, supposing that the prophet could not appear before Abab with safety, feared, lest by divine direction, he should, when he was gone away, remove to some other place. He excuseth bimself therefore from delivering this message. And he pleads with the prophet, that he should not expose him to so imminent danger of death, by provoking the displeasure of Ahab. Thus he speaks in the text, and the words following : ver. 12-16, “But, I thy servant, fear the Lord from my youth. Was it not told my lord what I did, when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord; how I hid an hundred men of the Lord's prophets, by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now thou sayest, Go tell thy lord : behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me. And Elijah said: As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand,” or whom I serve, “ I will show myself to him this day. So Obadiah went to meet Abab, and told him. And Ahab went to meet Elijah.”

“ But I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.” Or, “ But thy servant feareth the Lord from his youth.” Which is a more literal translation : for the word 1 is not in the original.

I. I now propose first to explain the words, and show what is implied " in fearing the Lord from the youth."

II. Si condly, to show the virtue of so doing.

« PrécédentContinuer »