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II. Tim. i., part of verse 5. — i call to bemembeance the unfeigned FAITH THAT IS IN THEE ; WHICH DWELT FIRST IN THY GRANDMOTHER AND THY MOTHER, AND I AM PERSUADED IN THEE ALSO.
The disciple to whom Paul addresses these words was eminent for his piety. He is frequently mentioned by the apostle in terms of commendation, and two epistles are directed to him full of counsel and affectionate encouragement. ' From a child he had learned the Scriptures,' and was thus the better prepared to receive the truths of Christianity. He was converted by the instructions of Paul, and was his frequent companion in travel and in suffering.
It was the privilege of this young convert to have a pious mother and grandmother. From that source he, doubtless, received his early impressions of piety. The unfeigned faith that was in him had dwelt first in his parents ; and, through the influence of maternal counsel and example, had descended to him.
We are led, then, to reflect, in the first place, on the advantage of having pious parents, especially a pious mother ; in the second place, on the responsi-
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bility which rests on children, who are thus favored; in the third place, on the obhgation which rests on parents, especially mothers, to confer this benefit on their children.
1. It is a privilege to have pious parents, especially a pious mother. This position will not be denied or doubted in this assembly. It is not because it is either new or questionable, that I advance it ; but to remind you of it, and enforce it, and derive instruction from it.
The relation in which parents stand to their children, gives them an influence which no other relation confers. The characters of the children partake more
or less of the qualities which belong to the characters of the parents. The instruction, good or bad, which is du-ectly or indirectly conveyed ; the example, beneficial or injurious, which is exhibited ; never reaches, without effect, the eye or the ear of the child. In many comparatively trifling particulars, parents contemplate in their children, in very early life, a portraiture of themselves. They become conscious of habits of which they were not before aware, by beholding the miniature transcript in these faithful copyists. It is so in higher matters ; in the intellectual and moral habits. Hence the importance and value of good instructions, and a good example. In both parents it is of vast moment; for, as the united effort to give a proper direction must be doubly efficacious, so the failure, on either part, will tend to counteract the fidelity of the other part. But especially is piety important in that parent
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from whom the child receives its first impressions ;
who traces the first characters on its ductile mind, and gives the first impulse to its onward course. Early impressions are proverbially deep. Good precepts and good principles, inculcated and instilled as the mind is first developing its powers, are perhaps never wholly lost. They are so many lights set up in the mind to direct the conduct through the maze of life, and they are seldom, if ever, extinguished. The giddiness of youth, the blind impulse of unruly passions, may dim their lustre, and cause them to burn with a faint and flickering flame ; but still the light remains, though nearly gone, and something may rekindle it, and restore all its purity and lustre. When the tumult and infatuation are over, the mind may be calmed by the dictates of reason, and they who have wandered far ' from the way in which they should go,' may return to it, and not depart from it again. How many can ti*ace to the faithful, assiduous attention of a mother, in their early instruction, their having been preserved, by the blessing of God, from becoming a prey to the temptations which have assailed them in the world ! — How many their having been led to pursue the path of religious
wisdom, in which they have found their highest happiness ! — How many their return to God and duty, when they had gone astray ! — I might say? how many have looked back on the early neglect of their parents ; or on the bad influence they had early exerted, with deep and bitter anguish; if
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not . But I forbear. They to whom God, in
his merciful providence, has given good parents ; — who have been blessed with the early counsels and prayers of a pious mother, cannot feel, with too much gratitude, their obligations. And on them I remark, in the second place, a great responsibility rests.
2. You who now enjoy the blessing ! — Children ! whose parents are diligent in forming you to piety and virtue, and in securing you from the corruptions and miseries of impiety and vice ; whose
mothers are anxiously sowing, and anxiously watering the seeds, which, if you are faithful to them and yourselves, will, with a divine blessing, bring forth the rich fruits of holiness; let me tell you how much you are favored, and how anxious you should be to improve under the pious culture you are receiving; to learn the lessons of heavenly wisdom which are taught you. When your mother is engaged in the sacred work of instructing you in your duty to God and man ; in teaching you to be good, that you may be happy ; listen to her instructions, think of them, and when you say your prayers, pray that you may be all that she is thus laboring to make you. The time is precious to you, children, for the season of childhood is fast passing away. The time is precious to you, children, for the bud may be nipped as it is opening, or may open but to die.
You who have o"owe out from a parentis guidance^ and look back upon the precious hours that were
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given to the counsels of parental love and fidelity, how great is your responsibility ! How much have you received, and how much should you return in gratitude and holy obedience! Amidst the labors, and cares, and temptations of life, often recur to this period. Call up, again, and again, the lessons you have been taught by precept and example ; and let them still admonish and guide you. If your parents are alive to witness your faithfulness to the obligations they had imposed upon you, it will gladden their hearts. If they are gone, you will have the consciousness, and how delightful will it be to you, that you are honoring the memory of those to whom you owe so much.
How interesting to us, my hearers, is the remembrance of those early counsels and prayers, when they who offered them are gone from us ! We look back with a melancholy satisfaction on their anxieties for us, when we had no care for ourselves ; on their solicitude to protect or to warn us ; on the instruction and discipline by which they endeavored
to form us for the duties of coming life ; on the earnestness with which they spake to us of the pleasures and rewards of religion, on the hopes they indulged of the progress of our talents, or from our good conduct, or success, from our duty and affection to them, and our fidelity to God.
There are no recollections so useful to us as these. We should often call them up to our minds. They will instruct and admonish us as long as we live. Who of us that has had a pious mother does
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not bless God for it fervently? How sacred are the recollections that come up to us with this dear object of our earliest love !
Has our conduct been worthy of all that has been done for us ? Do we still feel its influence, and do we labor to revive and strengthen it more and more ? — We must answer before God.
Alas I What shall we say of those who disregard these recollections ; on whom they have no influence to guide or restrain them ? If their parents are alive to witness their conduct, are they not ashamed to meet them ; to converse with them ; to receive favors from them? And if they are gone, how little, — thoughtless, degenerate, ungrateful children, — how little did they anticipate this, when you hung about them with your infant arms, answered their fond smiles, and lisped out the first broken accents of affection! Oh! that you would have compassion on them, if they are witnessing your conduct with unspeakable anguish ; that you would have regard to their memory, if they no longer witness it ; that you would have mercy on yourselves !
3. In the third place, how great an obligation rests on parents to confer on their children the advantage of early religious instruction, the benefit of pious counsel and example !
Do I address a mother who needs to be reminded of her duty ? Is there one who now hears me, who
forgets that she is intrusted with the care of immortal beings, and that it is for her^ by early instruction and discipline, to direct and guide their feet in the
VOL. II. 2
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path of immortality ? Is there one who hears me who is not anxious, above all things, next to her own salvation, — and I had hardly said next, — to promote the spiritual benefit and eternal welfare of her children ? Can such a mother be found ? — When * the dead, small and great,' shall appear before the throne of God, the mother who has been faithless to her charge, the father who has impeded or counteracted the efforts of a faithful mother, may meet their child ; and how dreadful the interview ! May we never know ! May God enable us to be faithful ; that our children may cherish our memory with respect and tenderness ; and that we may look forward with joyful expectation to the day when we
shall be able to say before the throne of God, ' Behold, here are we, and here are the children thou hast given us ! '
Mothers ! would you have your memory precious to yom* children? — would you be embalmed in their remembrance? — would you be associated with their best recollections, blended with their highest enjoyments of earth, and their surest hopes of heaven ? — Be faithful to their instruction in piety and virtue.
Christian mother! Never despair of the success of thy early labors for the spiritual benefit of thy child, whilst life remains. They may seem to have been fruitless, but the time may come when thou shalt reap a rich and joyful harvest.
On a foreign shore, friendless and solitary, thy wandering, erring child may look back to the home
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of childhood, and hear again the warning voice of maternal tenderness ; and the light, thus early imparted, may bm-st again upon the mental vision, and serve as a beacon to conduct him to the haven of peace and safety.
On the bed of sickness and death, when this world is passing away, and another world is opening on the view, the dreadful picture of the recompenses of guilt which thou hast portrayed, and the delightful visions of heavenly felicity which thou hast gone, perhaps, long before to realize, may be permitted, in the mercy of God, to come up before the awakened conscience with an overpowering energy, and thy child be saved.
Christian mother ! Never despair of the success of thy early labors for the spiritual benefit of thy child whilst life remains ; for though thou shouldst never be permitted to reap thy reward in this world, thou mayest find in heaven that thou hast not labored in vain.
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