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SERMON V.

PARENTS BESTOW EARLY YOUR BLESSING

ON YOUR CHILDREN.

GENESIS xxvii. 1-4.

Thou, God! art eternal ! but how transient are we ! How soon will the lips that now call on Thee become dumb ! How soon will the eye now raised unto Thee be closed ! How soon will the heart that now beats for Thee be stilled! All that have breath pass away; the wind passes over us, we are no more;-no more? O no! Thou all merciful Father of mankind, eternal as Thou art, eternal is Thy goodness unto those who fear Thee, eternal Thy love to our children and children's children, if they keep Thy covenant, and remember Thy commandments to do them. Grant, O Father, that we may train and form those whom Thou hast placed in our hands, whom Thou hast confided unto us as holy pledges, to be worthy of Thy goodness, and of Thy love, that they may grow up in Thy presence, to the honour and glory of Thy holy name. May they steadfastly resist all worldly temptations, and remain pure and righteous in heart and spirit. Grant that ere we are summoned hence, we may have called down on the heads of our

beloved ones a lasting blessing, rich in temporal and eternal good. All merciful Father, do Thou confirm this wish, and say Thou, “ Thus shall they be blessed now and for evermore !” Amen.

AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN Isaac WAS OLD, AND

HIS EYES WERE DIM, SO THAT HE COULD NOT SEE,
HE CALLED ESAU HIS ELDEST SON, AND SAID UNTO
HIM, My son; AND HE SAID UNTO HIM, BEHOLD,
HERE AM I. AND HE SAID, BEHOLD, NOW I AM
OLD, I KNOW NOT THE DAY OF MY DEATH: Now
THEREFORE TAKE, I PRAY THEE, THY WEAPONS,
THY QUIVER, AND THY BOW, AND OUT TO THE
FIELD, AND TAKE SOME VENISON; AND
ME SAVOURY MEAT, SUCH AS I LOVE, AND BRING
IT TO ME, THAT I MAY EAT; THAT MY SOUL MAY
BLESS THEE BEFORE I DIE.

GO

ME

MAKE

6 I AM OLD, AND KNOW NOT THE DAY OF MY DEATH,” says the aged Patriarch.

He lived however, in fact, many years after the occurrence related in the abovenamed chapter, and saw his grand-children and greatgrand-children, and rejoiced in them. But death was not to take him by surprise; therefore he would fulfil the holy duty without delay, and bestow his blessing on

his sons.

This last point is that to which I would this day direct your attention, namely; · How shall fathers and mothers render profitable the uncertainty of the day of their death ?' I will answer without farther preface. Listen, and lay it to heart.

I. There are many among us, beloved friends, still in the vigour of life and strength, who cannot exclaim with the patriarch: “ Behold, my son, I am old !” but we may all repeat his words, “I know not the day of my death !" and because, in this matter, all are enveloped in darkness, let us, as he did, early bless our children before we die ! Let us seek to improve our position without, and ourselves within. That is the first part of the blessing! Philosophers call man a world in miniature, and truly there is much to be done in this miniature world. Improve your external position, my friends! It is sweet to work for those who are dear to us, it is sweet to prepare a happy lot for the beloved ones! Therefore be active, my brethren, as long as the strength of your arm fails not, the power of your eye is not dimmed. An active life is a pious life. Be active and delay not till to-morrow what may be done to day; but foster in your activity the fair virtue of frugality. If you gain much and squander much, you fill pierced vessels ; what will remain to your family, especially if you belong not to the affluent, but to the middle class ? Be active; seek to render your every undertaking successful, and in all your occupations, let order prevail, which is the soul of all activity. Disorder is an all-devouring monster, 0 may it not become evident, after you are gone hence, what havoc this monster has made in your earthly dwelling! May there arise therein no disputes, no dissension! Let not this ravager diminish or swallow up the portions of your children! Love order, my brethren; and let your image be pleasingly reflected in your last arrangement, in your last will. When you hear the summons to “set your house in order,” it must be so

regulated that when you have ceased to direct it, it cannot again be deranged. Your earthly goods should be divided justly and fairly, so that the inheritance become not the source of enmity and strife; lest brothers and sisters dispute about mere pieces of silver, and a coat of many colours cause them to hate each other and to become as clamorous in their strife, as though they sought again to waken you from your deep sleep. No, no! wise activity, reasonable frugality, prudent order, will improve your external relations, and in them you will become a blessing unto your children. It is true, that the external relations of life can only furnish external advantages—the fatness of the earth, the dew of heaven, corn and wine ;* but our inward condition insures us much more, incomparably more: improve then the inward condition, the inward man! This object is more difficult of attainment, more fruitful in good when attained. It is incumbent on us all to seek to improve, to place in order, our inward being. I address myself not only to the frivolous, who appear wholly to disregard the fact that they have a great task to perform ere they go hence; but I must also remind those who feel the importance of their destination, how much in their inward life there yet remains to be done. Our mental constitution is so delicate and fragile, that for its due preservation constant watching is necessary. How many errors must we dismiss, how many opinions must we correct, how many habits must we discard, how many desires must we suppress, how many passions must we combat, how many truths must we receive, how many principles must we confirm! How

* Genesis xxvii. 28.

of

much have we not yet to do, if we would be pure heart, firm of spirit, upright in conduct, if we would that our sons and daughters should look up to us with reverence as well as love, and take us as examples; if we would that when we are removed from them they should mourn in us, not only their protectors, but also their instructors, the formers of their characters! Such is the only blessing we can bequeath unto them which will not pass away, which will remain, which will really work their salvation :-if even it should be impossible for us to leave them in our outward relations an outward blessing, our inward life is, and must ever be to them the greatest treasure we can bequeath to them, as an inheritance. Pious and virtuous father! when thou hast long ceased to exist, thy son will look up to thee in periods of temptation, thou wilt be unto him as a saint, thou wilt preserve him from evil, thou wilt encourage him in good, thou wilt be his blessing. When thou hast long slept in the grave, thou pious and virtuous mother! thy daughter will behold thee as often as life assumes a sad and clouded aspect; she will remember the wisdom, the foresight, the forbearance, the modesty, the indulgence, the affection, the self-devotion which characterized thee: thou wilt appear as an angel in her sight, thou wilt induce in her angelic mildness, angelic piety, thou wilt be her blessing ! Beloved friends, we often hear the complaint that departed parents are so soon forgotten by their children. Alas! there may be here and there some few miserable, ungrateful souls: but, dear friends, you need not fear that this fate will be yours, if you bequeath to them yourselves, and in yourselves something great, something imperishable, immortal. In this period of

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