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Fath. Do that, child! the Spirit of God is God, and therefore can do all things. But it is the peculiar work of the Spirit in this case. The Spirit is your sanctifier; it is the light of your path ; it works faith and gives repentance ; it puts every good thing into you, and works every good work for you: it gives a saving efficacy to every ordinance, and it brings you to Christ, to rely on him for salvation; he brings you to God the Father, whose acceptance in Christ is your life.
Child. And will this Spirit be had by praying to God fo: it?
Fath. Yes, child ; for you cannot pray to God in faith without the help of the Spirit; and when the Spirit works in you a disposition to pray, it cannot but answer its own image, and the breathings of the soul, which itself has created : “ for the longing scul shall be satisfied.”
Child. But, father, you say the Spirit of God has given the word, which you say is the Bible, for my teaching; and yet you say the Spirit teaches: what, do they both teach the same thing?
Fath. Child, the Bible is your rule of life. Though the Spirit is the secret instructor, the scripture is the key of instruction. There you are to learn how God is to be worshipped: how to order your conversation aright: how to perform your duty, and“ what it is the Lord thy God requires of thee." There you have an historical account of the whole world : of its creation, the fall, the first condemnation of it to a general deluge, typical of the great deluge of God's wrath, which shall drown all ungodly men for ever. There you have the history of God's church, from the beginning to the fulness of the time, and the fulfilling Old Testament types, and Old Testament promises. There you have the history of our Saviour, of bis miraculous conception and birth, holy life, wondrous doctrine, stupendous miracles; his death, passion, resurrection, and glorious as. cension. There you have an account of the first mission of the Holy Ghost, and at last the whole doctrine of the
gospel of truth founded on the redemption purchased by Christ. There you have the whole mystery of godliness unfolded; the great wonder of wonders ! the immortal to die! and the eterual to begin! the great destruction of sin, the condemnation of the devil, and the salvation of the world. All this is to be seen in the Bible: which being the word of God, you are to read it with reverence, regard it with faith as the word of God, and obey it as your rule.
Child. And to pray for the Spirit to help me to do so, must I not, father? for you told me I could not believe or understand it without the Spirit to assist me.
Fath. That is true, child.
Child. But, father, are you sure that the Bible is the word of God?
Fath. Yes, child, very sure of it.
Child. And that the Spirit of God can only teach us to understand it?
Fath. Yes, child.
Child. Why, don't the ministers understand it, and teach folks to understand it? What do they go to church for?
Fath. The ministers are called ministers of the word, that is, expounders of the scriptures; and the preaching of the gospel is one of the ordinary means, as the reading of the word is another, by which the blessed Spirit of God instructs the hearts of bis people, and turns them to himself. Reading the word written, that is, the Bible, and bearing the word preached, that is, the sermons preached by God's ministers, are the common methods appointed, by which the knowledge of God is conveyed to us.
Child. Then I must go to church, and hear the ministers preach, as well as read the Bible ?
Fath. Yes, child.
Child. Why, father, my mother bas carried me to churcla a great many times; but I thought I was carried there only to show my new coat, and my fine hat. I don't know what the man said, when I went.
Falh. But you were a daughty boy then : you should
have minded what he said; you were not carried there to show your fine clothes.
Child. Why, father, I thought so; for when it rained, and I could not wear my best clothes, my mother would not let me go out; or when the wind blowed the powder out of my hair, my mother would not let me go. And I heard you say, father, last Sunday, that you could not go to church, because the barber had not brought your new perriwig home: and another Sunday, for want of a pair of gloves, you stayed at home, and played with me all Sunday long, or lay down on the couch to sleep. I thought father, I had gone thither for nothing but to show my fine clothes.
Fath. No, child, there is other work to be done there.
Child. What, father, to remember what fine clothes other folks bave on, is not that it? I know
to church, and they do nothing but look about them, to see how every body is dressed; and when they come home, my mother and they, you know, father, take up the whole night in telling one another what every body had on: and they do it so well, I wondered, father, and I thought I'd try is I could do so too: but I could not remember half of it.
Fath. They might have been better employed, my dear.
Child. What, my mother? Indeed, father, I thought it had been all they went for; and I could not think any thing else, you know, when
mother did so too. I am sure my mother would not have done so, if it had not been good : for 'tis my dear mother, and I love her dearly; and I am sure she would not do a naughty thing.
[O see here the mischief of evil examples in parents.]
Fath. Well, child, thou wilt know better in time. The business of going to church is quite of another nature. It is to hear the word of God expounded and preached; and it is bearing for thy life. It is a duty in the ministers to preach: they were first sent by our Saviour himself, who appointed apostles and prophets for the work of the miDistry, and gave them their errand in his command, “Go,
preach the gospel to every creature :” and it is a duty to us to hear, and to hear diligently, and not to forsake assembling ourselves together.
Child. Why, father, you seldom go yourself. It is only for little boys to learn then, is it?
Fath. No, child, it is every one's duty to bear the word preached, and to mix it with faith in the hearing.
Child. Then you will let me go to church: won't you, father? for sometimes my mother won't let me go to church, if it be but a little ill weather, and if a little wind does but blow: and if God requires me to go, and my mother won't let me, what must I do? Won't God be
with me for not going to hear his word preached?
Fath. If your mother won't let you go, then, child, it is none of your
fault. Child. But will not God be angry with my mother, dear father, for not letting me go? that's all one.
Fath. Well, child, be not troubled at that: thou shalt go to church every day, and not be hindered. Come, my dear, thou wilt catch cold to be so long out; let us go
home to your
mother. The father, as may be well imagined, warmed with the various thoughts that occurred to him upon this surprising discourse, was willing to get the child away, that he might give vent to his own mind: and bringing the child in, walks out again, till he was got to retirement, and then breaks out in a most passionate manner upon himself, giving full vent to convictions in such a manner as this:
“ What an ungrateful creature bave I been to the goodness and bounty of God! that goodness and bounty which have given me so much advantage, and so many ways to glorify him and honour him in the world, and to whom I owe my life, my being, and well-being in the world! And how has God reproyed me in this little dear creature !
Wretch that I am! how I have lived as without God in the world, and in my family! that I have not so much as told my children who made them, or let them know or
guess, by my behaviour, that there is such a thing as a God in the world, or that any worship is due to a sovereign Almighty Beiug! How has the little lamb complained to me, that he has never heard me pray to God in all his life! and it is but too true! How did it reproach me when I spoke to it of Jesus Christ, to hear the little creature say, 'Who is that, father?' and of the Holy Ghost, . Who is that, father?' and of serving God, Do you serve him, father?'
“ What a life have I led! Good Lord, what bave I been doing! How shall I account to thee for the souls committed to my charge! that I should have the blessing of chil. dren given to me, and my children have the curse of a prayerless uninstructing father to them!”
Tears followed the parent's speech; and he prays earnestly to God to forgive him the neglect and omission of his duty to his children and family; and enters into a secret engagement between God and his own soul, and that for the future he will set up the due and daily worship of God in his family, and will diligently and carefully instruct his children, teaching them the knowledge of God, and how to serve him, and walk in his ways.
After some composure of mind upon this resolution, a new trouble breaks in upon him. He had elder children than this; and he had lived in a continual neglect of his duty, either in teaching them the knowledge of God, or showing them a religious example. These children bad contracted a profane habit, both in words, manners, and constant practice: bad little inclination to religion ; less knowledge, and no thoughts at all about their souls ; and began to be too old and too big to be wrought upon by instruction, or persuasion, much less by violence and correction.
When this reflection came upon the parent's thoughts, after the convictions he had met with from the little inquirer aforesaid, it brought a second flood of tears from him, and he breaks out thus :
Lord, what will become of my poor wretched family ;