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ject. Instead of submitting to be governed by their children, they should teach their children to govern themselves. If it can be done by mildness well : if not, severity must be tried. The author of this law perfectly understood human nature, and wisely directed a parent how to avoid a penalty, which might at once be both a motive and a law. If when they have chastened him he will not hearken to them; then shall they bring him out,
Yea, in case of a public execution, the worst issue that parental negligence and youthful obstinacy could come to here ; even in such a case, the statute is stamped with the legislator's wisdom : the carelessness of one might rouse thousands into activity ; the death of one might spare an infinite number of lives; for all Israel shall hear and fear.
Aļl Israelshall hear and fear. Should Israel refuse attention to this important subject; should Israel count the things of God's law strange things ; should Israel'lothe her husband and her children, she would deserve the keen reproach of the prophet, Thou hast not walked after the ways of the heathen, nor done after their abominations ; but as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they all in thy ways : for the heathens abounded with sage maxins on this head, and thought“ the most diligent use of them “ scarcely sufficient to restrain the corruption of * human nature."* Some of their wisest lawgivers * Μολις γαρ αν τις εκ ταύτης της επιμελειας τας της ΦΥΣΕΩΣ επικρατησειεν. .
Isoc. ad. Demon. Idem ad Nicoc. l. Xenoph. Memorab. Lib. I. cap. 2. Lib. iv. cap. 2. Plut. de educ. lib.
precluded the ill consequences of parental weakness by forbidding a private education, by making the instruction of children an affair of state, and by imposing laws of this kind under the most rigorous penalties : so far from tolerating a careless loose education, they have been thought to carry their severities even too far. * Heathens of the highest rank, and of both sexes have educated their children themselves :f and knowing the futility of precept without example, have governed themselves with a scrupulous delicacy for their children's sakes. Their historians ascribe their national grandeur to an universal virtue instilled in childhood; and to the want of it, the worst agree with the wisest in ascribing their national ruin.
* Solon, Lycurgus, &c.
of As Aurelia the mother of Julius Cæsar. Attia the mother of Augustus. Cornelia the mother of the Gracchi. Dial. de orat. cap. xxviii.-The mother of Agricola. Tacit. vit. . Agric. cap. iv.-The father of Atticus. Corn. Nép. in vita Attici. cap. 1.- The Emperor Augustus himself educated Caius, and Lucius, whom he had adopted. Sueton. in vit. Aug. cap. Ixiv.
| Cato Censor tanti exempli fuit, ut Manlium senatu moverit, quod interdiu PRÆSENTE FILIA uxorem suaviasset : asseren's se a sua nunquam nisi cum tonaret præ timore complexum esse. Et H. Epicharmum comicum mulctasse et pæna affecisse dicitur, quod CORAM FIL1A lascivos edidisset
Alex. ab Alex. gen. dier. lib. ii. cap. xxv. Plut. vit. Catonis Cens. Utinam liberorum nostrorum mores non ipsi perderemus, &c. Quint. Inst. lib. i. cap: 2. See Juv. Sat, xiv.
Bello et pace, foris et domi, omnem in partem Romana virtus tum se approbavit. . Flor. i. 18.
Postquam, remoto metu punico, majorum mores non paulatim, ut antea, sed torrentis modo præcipitati : adeo JUVEN
David, who, besides possessing all the natural sagacity and penetration of a great prince in common with the heathens, was inspired with the holy spirit; David, I say, knew the importance of a good education, and in this psalm tells you, how closely personal, domestic, and national happiness, are connected with it.
This psalın is the language of a prince who wished his people's prosperity: that their garners might be full of all manner of stores; that their sheep might bring forth thousands and ten thousands in their streets : that their oren might be fat for slaughter, or strong for labour: that there might be neither robbery nor beggary in their
Tus luxu atque avaritia corrupta est, uti merito dicatur, genitos esse, qui neque ipsi habere possent res familiares, neque alios pati. Inter fragm. Sallustii, —To the same purpose, Polybius, Livy, Tacitus, and others; the last of whom hath this remarkable sentence : nec enim unquam atrocioribus pop. R. caldibus, magisve justis judiciis approbatum est, none esse curæ deis securitatem nostram, essę Ultionem. Hist. I. 3. Hence the Satyrist,
Esse aliquos manes, et subterranea regna,
Juv. Sat. II. v. 149.
Hor. de art. poet. 161.
streets : no oppressive magistrates, nor complaining people: and as if all these blessings were to be derived from the character of the people, and the character of the people from the education they had received, our text is a prayer for the youth of Judea. · Deliver me from the hand of strange children, that our sons may be as plants, and so
If this psalm was composed in David's old age, it was the voice of his own experience, as well as of observation, history, and inspiration. Not only had he observed the happiness of him whose wife was a fruitful vine by the sides of his house; whose children were like olive plants round about his table, thriving under a wise culture: not only had he heard the fatal effects of Eli's negligence; but his own indulgence of his son Adonijah, had well nigh cost him his crown and life: him, his father had not displeased at any time, in saying, why hast thou done so : a sad experience therefore had taught him, that it is not enough for God to give a man victory over his enemies ; (this indeed he is thankful for) but he must also have æconomy in his family to make him truly happy. What parent in this assembly is insensible to this? Yes, young people; children which God hath graciously given his servants; we bow our knees to the Father of heaven, and bless him for our past deliverances, present enjoyments, and future hopes ; yet how shall we sing the Lord's song, when he calleth as in a solemn day our terrors round about, when those that we have swaddled and brought up, the enemy of souls consumeth? Now therefore stand still that we may reason with you before the Lord. Blessed spirit, who knowest our utter inability to speak or hear as we ought; whose wisdom alone can dictate, whose power alone can impress thy word to saving purposes, mercifully enlighten our minds, and sanctify our hearts in this service. Amen.
To explain and inforce our text is all that will be attempted. It is necessary to explain it, that we may form a clear idea of the nature of early obedience : and to inforce it, that we may feel the necessity of reducing our knowledge to practice. These are the means of God's appointing, but as they are only means, I trust you will pray while we speak, that the Lord would make them effectual. May he that dwelleth between the cherubims come and save you !
Rid and deliver me from strange children. Strange children, either means foreigners, not natives of Judea,* but young people of neighbouring idolatrous nations; consequently, people whose notions about the deity and divine things, were erroneous, and whose company might therefore be dangerous to the sound principles of the Jewish youth; this perhaps is meant by their mouth speaking vanity. Or, by strange children we are to
* Alienum pro alienigena, seu peregrino ponitur. Ut in Isa. Ixii. 8. in eodem sensu passim fere apud ethnicos sumitur. Πτωχοι μεν ημεις και ΞΕΝΟΙ, ΞΕΝΟΣ δε συ.
Sophoc. Oed. Col. 1400.