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let those who have opportunity watch the beginnings of prayer and faith as displayed by children, and unless I err greatly, they will discern attainments which they may be sure that merely their own instructions could not have imparted. The untold thought has a voice for God that understandeth. Thus it appears to be at the beginning with children, and in this faith we teach them to pray. But, oh! let us both watch over them, and pray for them, and this call I make not only on parents, but on every Christian who in pious affections seeks his own improvement and happiness. In after years of trial there may come that period of dismay and abandonment when they cease to pray for themselves. If those who are or should be, so dear to us, should notwithstanding all our efforts, perish, God must be our comforter, but when the sword shall pierce through our souls, what must be the pang of the wound, if they perish through our own fault? But where there has been faithful and persevering prayer, there may justly be hope, for the building is not without foundation. In times of old, in Christ's earlier church, there arose one who proved a burning and a shining light, a star that turned many to righteousness. A pious mother watched over his childhood, prayed for him, and taught him to
pray. She marked, as she thought, the opening graces of his soul. Yet what followed ? A season of idle and wayward boyhood; of vain, wild, and profligate youth. Further years strengthened his vices, and undermined his belief. Deep were the wounds in that mother's heart. A widow, and as it might seem, worse than bereft of her son, many were her tears, but more and stronger were her prayers. The comforts of God visited her soul. Faith pictured to her a blissful vision, stretching beyond the grave, and assuring her that where she was to be, there should her son be also. In this trust she lived and prayed on, deeming that she should not depart till she had seen her son established in the faith of the Lord, and walking in the way of his commandments. Her prayer was heard, and before she was taken to her reward, she saw of the travail of her soul, and was satisfied. You may have examples nearer to your hearts and homes, but this is one which may edify all the churches of the Lord. That Christian mother should be prayerful as was Monica, who would hope that her child's spirit may be brought to rest in the faith that was in Augustin.
The way by which, through the catechism, and for children's sake, we came to this subject of prayer, has led me to speak of these, and some
what similar feelings and interests, as motives and aids to the cultivation and practice of that means of grace; but not only these, but all other kindly and elevated affections that draw us together in good will, have a voice that says “let us pray;" the object and effect being, that we may walk together, following the commandments of God, in faith and in hope ; till faith shall be lost in sight, hope cease in enjoyment, and the anxious lowly breathings of prayer be turned into the triumphal song of everlasting praise.
ON THE CHURCH CATECHISM.
THE MEANS OF GRACE. THE SACRAMENTS.
John, xiii, 7. “ Jesus answered, and said unto him, What I do thou knowest
not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.”
The chief object at which I am now aiming, is a short and comprehensive commentary on the doctrine of the Christian sacraments, as taught by questions and answers, in the concluding part of our church catechism. Let me first account for my choice of the words from scripture, with which I am introducing the subject. I have then taken them, because I think that they aptly represent the state of our knowledge of those holy mysteries which Christ instituted and ordained. The nature and effects of the sacraments are indeed in a general way revealed to us, but, (unless I fail of the truth,) in the world to come, must after all, the persons who here partake of their benefits, obtain
fuller acquaintance with their application, as instruments and means of grace. The text, taken by itself, as a disjointed passage of scripture, just serves for the expression of this opinion, and thus I now employ it, but I would not have you suppose that I particularly lean on it for foundation or support of my persuasion. That we may not pervert the sense, let us look at the context. Jesus after the last supper on the same night that he was betrayed, was proceeding to the action of washing the feet of his Apostles, which Peter, for his part, at first resisted, saying, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? The answer of Jesus was in the words which I have produced. He soon after explained that the office which he had been performing for them, was to set an example of humility and kindness, that they should act towards one another in the same spirit that he had acted towards them. Perhaps this information completed all the knowledge which the words of the text intended and promised, but as the action which led to them was an outward sign of an inward principle, however otherwise different from a Christian sacrament, and as every word uttered by Jesus on that night so much to be remembered, is so full of importance and solemnity, as likewise there may possibly be here a hint of the teaching of that