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vert all other obligations. Yet many amongst us seem not to consider it as any obligation at all. This doubtless is, in a great measure, owing to dissoluteness and corrup tion of manners: but I think it is partly owing to their having reduced it to nothing in theory; whereas this obligation ought to be put upon the same foot with all other general ones, which are not absolute and without exception and our submission is due in all cases, but those which we really discern to be exceptions to this general rule. And they who are perpetually displaying the exceptions, though they do not indeed contradict the meaning of any particular text of scripture, which surely intended to make no alteration in men's civil rights, yet they go against the general tenor of Scripture. For the Scripture, throughout the whole of it, commands submission; supposing men apt enough of themselves to make the exceptions, and not to need being continually reminded of them. Now, if we are really under any obligations of duty at all to magistrates, honor and respect, in our behaviour towards them, must doubtless be their due. And they who refuse to pay them this small and easy regard, who "despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities,"* should seriously ask themselves, what restrains them from any other instance whatever of undutifulness? And if it be principle, why not from this? Indeed, free government supposes, that the conduct of affairs may be inquired into, and spoken of with freedom. Yet surely this should be done with decency, for the sake of liberty itself; for its honor, and its security. But be it done as it will, it is a very different thing from libelling, and endeavoring to vilify the persons of such as are in authority. It will be hard to find an instance, in which a serious man could calmly satisfy himself in doing this. It is in no case necessary, and in every case of very pernicious tendency. But the immorality of it increases, in proportion to the integrity and superior rank of the persons thus treated. It
* Jude 8.
is therefore in the highest degree immoral, when it extends. to the supreme authority in the person of a prince, from whom our liberties are in no imaginable danger, whatever they may be from ourselves; and whose mild, and strictly legal government, could not but make any virtuous people happy.
A free government, which the good providence of God has preserved to us through innumerable dangers, is an invaluable blessing. And our ingratitude to him, in abusing of it, must be great in proportion to the greatness of the blessing, and the providential deliverances by which it has been preserved to us. Yet the crime of abusing this blessing receives further aggravation from hence, that such abuse always is to the reproach, and tends to the ruin of it. The abuse of liberty has directly overturned many free governments, as well as our own, on the popular side; and has, in various ways, contributed to the ruin of many which have been overturned on the side of authority. Heavy, therefore, must be their guilt, who shall be found to have given such advantages against it, as well as theirs who have taken them.
Lastly, The consideration that we are the servants of God, reminds us, that we are accountable to him for our behaviour in those respects, in which it is out of the reach of all human authority, and is the strongest enforcement of sincerity; as "all things are naked, and open, unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."* Artificial behaviour might perhaps avail much towards quieting our consciences, and making our part good in the short competitions of this world; but what will it avail us, considered as under the government of God? Under his government "there is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves."+ He has indeed instituted civil government over the face of the earth," for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise," the apostle does not say the rewarding, but,
*Heb. iv. 13.
† Job xxxiv. 22.
"for the praise of them that do well."* Yet as the worst answer these ends in some measure, the best can do it very imperfectly. Civil government can by no means take cognizance of every work, which is good or evil : many things are done in secret; the authors unknown to it, and often the things themselves: then it cannot so much consider actions, under the view of their being morally good or evil, as under the view of their being mischievous, or beneficial to society; nor can it in any wise execute judgment in rewarding what is good, as it can, and ought, and does, in punishing what is evil. But "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."+
1 Pet. ii. 14.
† Eccl. xii. 14.
IN THE PARISH CHURCH OF CHRIST-CHURCH, LONDON.
On Thursday, May 9, 1745;
Being the time of the Yearly Meeting of the Children educated in the Charity Schools, in and about the Cities of London and Westminster.
PROVERBS xxii. 6.
Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.
HUMAN creatures, from the constitution of their nature, and the circumstances in which they are placed, cannot but acquire habits during their childhood, by the impressions which are given them, and their own customary actions. And long before they arrive at mature age, these habits form a general settled character. And the observation of the text, that the most early habits are usually the most lasting, is likewise every one's observation. Now, whenever children are left to themselves, and to the guides and companions which they choose, or by hazard light upon, we find by experience, that the first impressions they take, and course of action they get into, are very bad; and so, consequently, must be their habits, and character, and future behaviour. Thus, if they are not trained up in the way they "should go," they will certainly be trained up the way they should not go; and, in all probability, will persevere in it, and be
come miserable themselves, and mischievous to society : which, in event, is worse, upon account of both, than if they had been exposed to perish in their infancy. On the other hand, the ingenuous docility of children before they have been deceived, their distrust of themselves, and natural deference to grown people, whom they find here settled in a world where they themselves are strangers, and to whom they have recourse for advice as readily as for protection; which deference is still greater towards those who are placed over them: these things give the justest grounds to expect, that they may receive such impressions, and be influenced to such a course of behaviour, as will produce lasting good habits; and, together with the dangers before mentioned, are as truly a natural demand upon us to "train them up in the way they should go," as their bodily wants are a demand to provide them bodily nourishment. Brute creatures are appointed to do no more than this last for their offspring; nature forming them, by instincts, to the particular manner of life appointed them, from which they never deviate. But this is so far from being the case of men, that, on the contrary, considering communities collectively, every successive generation is left, in the ordinary course of Providence, to be formed by the preceding one; and becomes good or bad, though not without its own merit or demerit, as this trust is discharged or violated, chiefly in the management of youth.
We ought, doubtless, to instruct and admonish grown persons, to restrain them from what is evil, and encourage them in what is good, as we are able; but this care of youth, abstracted from all consideration of the parental affection; I say, this care of youth, which is the general notion of education, becomes a distinct subject and a distinct duty, from the particular danger of their ruin, if left to themselves, and the particular reason we have to expect they will do well, if due care be taken of them. And from hence it follows, that children have as much right to some proper education, as to have their lives preserved;