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miracles ceased; and for perpetuating the knowlege of God and of his truth in the world, the natural and ordinary methods of teaching and instructing received an additional strength, by an order of men set apart for that purpose. This was an additional strength to the ordinary means of instruction, but was never meant to supersede them ; for parents are obliged by the law of the gospel and of nature to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and where this care has been neglected, it is rarely that the other can take place.
What then is there in the present circumstances of things that we can do to promote virtue and religion ? We have only natural and ordinary means within our power. May we use them ? or must the care of virtue and religion be given up? If not, the properest, if not the only way to preserve them, is to lay a foundation for the youth of the country. But these general reflexions arise so naturally, that we may go on to consider the particular case now before us.
The state of religion in Ireland well deserves the attention of every man in this kingdom, who has a concern either for the purity of the gospel, or the security of our government.
The Reformation was very imperfectly carried on in that country; so that the bulk of the people have ever been, and still are, papists: state of Ireland from this circumstance, as well as from the peculiar language of the people, which renders it difficult to enlighten them, considered. Uncomfortable state of the protestant clergy there described : feeling exhortation addressed Ło all who may have it in their power to alleviate this state of things. Encouragement to do this, arising from a consideration of the prosperity and welfare of our own constitution. The present government and the protestant religion must stand or fall together : papists are by principle enemies to both; and by the lowest computation they are in Ireland as five to two. Civil and military power indeed are in the hands of protestants; and in times of peace perhaps they
are able to preserve public tranquillity; but in public commotions the strength of popery has always been grievously experienced : this point enlarged on.
What then shall we say to this state of the case ? Shall these numbers continue still to be our enemies ? or shall we try to gain their affections, and make them friends to the government ? Shall we allow them even to remain untaught, uncultivated, and therefore useless to themselves and to the world ? or shall we show them the arts of life and honest industry, teach them to be happy, and serviceable to themselves and to the public ? There can be no doubt which part is to be chosen. Concluding observations.
DISCOURSE XII. .
Preached before the Society, corresponding with the Incor
porated Society in Dublin, for promoting English Protestant Schools in Ireland, at St. Mary-le-Bow, March 17, 1738.
DEUTERONOMY, CHAP. XXXII. - VERSES 45. 46.
And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel: And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I
testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
You have in the text the last piece of advice which Moses gave to the people of Israel; for on the self-same day on which he made this exhortation, he was summoned by God to depart from this world ; accordingly he died on the mountain of Nebo, and was gathered to his people.
The last advice of dying friends naturally makes a strong impression on the minds of those who survive them; and it is as natural for those who are leaving this world, to make the thing which they esteem to be of the greatest consequence and importance to their friends, who are to stay behind them, the subject matter of their last advice.
Consider now the character of Moses ; the many years he spent in conducting the people of Israel from Egypt to the land of promise; the high office he bore, by being appointed by God a prophet and lawgiver to his people : consider him, after a long course of teaching and exhortation, giving his last advice before he died; and you must needs think the happiness of the people to be extremely concerned in the matter
recommended to them by so great a friend, by one of such authority, and under such circumstances.
The advice is no less interesting than is to be expected : it aims at laying a solid foundation of happiness for that and all succeeding generations; by instructing the people how to perpetuate to their posterity the knowlege of God and his law, and to make him their constant friend and protector; namely, by instilling into the minds of their children a sense of the great things which God had done for them and their forefathers, and by forming them early to obedience to the divine law under which they lived : · Ye shall command your children to observe and do all the words of this law.'
The Jews had still a greater reason to be careful and constant in discharging this duty towards their children; they had not only the last command of their great lawgiver for it, but they well knew that they were distinguished from the rest of the world by Providence for the sake of this duty. Their great ancestor Abraham was chosen to be the head of a great nation, that he might, and because God knew he would, be diligent to transmit to his posterity the knowlege of God's laws, and to breed them up in obedience to them. In the eighteenth chapter of the book of Genesis, God declares his purpose of making · Abraham a great and mighty nation ;' and that all the ations of the earth should be blessed in him. At the 19th verse, the reason of this peculiar regard to Abraham is given : For I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.'
That the command of Moses lays an obligation on parents to make use of their authority with their children to bring them into subjection to the law of God, is put out of all doubt by the language of the text. They were to command their children to observe and do all the words of the law. But this precept had a larger and more extensive view, being given not merely as the advice of a preacher, but as the injunction of a great lawgiver, prescribing a proper method to establish and secure the prosperity of a nation. The education therefore of the children of a country may, and ought, in all wise governments, to be considered as a national concern.
This conclusion may appear perhaps with greater force, as supported by the declaration of God concerning Abraham, just before mentioned. God saw that Abraham would command his children and household after him to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment; and therefore he determined to make him a great and mighty nation. Now if this disposition, seen and approved in Abraham, has no relation to the office of a public magistrate, the reason given for making Abraham head of a great people is a very strange one. For if the magistrate has, and ought to have, no concern in seeing the youth of the country brought up in the fear of God, Abraham's disposition to take this care on bim could be no reason for making him the head of a great nation.
To judge of the methods which have been or may be applied to propagate or preserve religion and the fear of God in the world, we must consider the nature, capacities, and circumstances of men in general ; the influences under which they act; and which of them may be properly made use of in the case in question. Religion being the service of a free agent, all external force is excluded as absolutely improper : instruction is the proper application to a reasonable mind; and were men under no influence but that of reason, instruction would be the only proper application : but men are born with passions as well as reason, and the passions grow strong and turbulent, much sooner than reason comes to such maturity as to be able to correct and restrain them; and therefore authority is wanted as well as instruction, to form the minds of men to virtue and religion.
I am sensible there are some, who have their objections to this method of propagating religion, who think all men should be left free to judge for themselves, without having the prejudices of education thrown into the scale on either side. They see that in Christian countries all are, through the power of education, Christians; in Mahometan countries they are, for the same reason, Mahometans; and they think true religion should reject the use of those means which serve indifferently to promote truth and falsehood.
It is no uncommon thing for men to pursue their speculations till they Jose sight of nature; the consequence of which