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Preached before the University of
OXFORD, on Acr-SUNDAY in the
DEUT. xxxit. 46, 47. And he said unto them, Set your Hearts unto
all the Words, which I teftify among you this Day; which ye shall command your Children
to observe to do, all the Words of this Law. For it is not a vain Thing for you i Because it
is your Life; and through this Thing ye shall prolong your Days in the Land whither ye go over Yordan to possess it.
OTHESÊ Words contain the last Ex
hortation, which Mofes, the great 1. Founder of the Yewish State, gave his Countrymen, on the very Day wherein he had Notice of his approaching Death. He had freed them, with infinite Danger to himself, from Egyptian Tyranny, and the worse Bondage of Idolatry and Superstition : he had received for thein, from God's own Mouth, such Laws of Life, as in their Circumstances were most conducive to Virtue and Happiness : these he had delivered to his Peo
ple, established on the surest Foundation of Regard; affectionate Reverence to the Object of all Duty, and Author of all Good: he had laboured, with infinite Patience, through a long Course of Years, to cultivate in them this important Principle of religious Obedience: and now, drawing near to the Close of a Life spent in their Service, he recommends it again; first, with all the Force of a most persuasive Eloquence; and afterwards by every Charm, that Poetry itself could add ; setting Happiness and Misery before them, in an Ode of divine Sublimity and Spirit, which they are commanded by Heaven to learn themselves, and teach their Pofterity. This therefore he communicates in a solemn Manner to the whole Congregation, as the Conclusion of all his Cares for them; and then takes his final Leave in the Exhortation of the Text, confirming once more at his Death the Importance of those Precepts, which he had been giving them through his whole Life. Set your Hearts, & c.
Their own Obfervance of God's Law. was securing the Felicity of one Generation only: but educating their Children in Religion and Virtue, this was perpetuating Blessings to each Part of the Society and to the whole : lasting Profperity and Peace, in the good Land they were going to pofless; and in that better Country*, of which it was an Emblem, Life for evermore t. .
the Heb. xi. 16. t.Pf. cxxxiii. 4.
The Words afford then a just Occasion for [peaking, I. Of the Advantages of right Education ;
and, : II. The Duty of endeavouring, that these
Advantages may be obtained. I. The Advantages, and indeed Neceffity, of right Education. . • Other Creatures arrive, without their own Care, at the small Perfection, of which they are capable, and there stop: but the whole of Man's Existence, that appears, is a State of Discia pline and Progreffion.. Youth is his Preparation for maturer Years : this whole Life, for another to come. Nature gives the Abilities to improve; but the actual Improvement, we are to have the Pleasure and the Reward of giving ourselves and one another. Some Minds indeed, as some Soils, may be fruitful without Cultivation; others, barren with it; but the general Necessity is the same in both Cases ; and in both, the richest, and most capable of producing good Fruit, will be over-run, if neglected, with the rankest and worst Weeds.
Now the only universal Precaution, that can be in this Respect, Christianity hath furnished, by introducing a stated Method of Instruction, unknown before ; which, joined
with the Parents private Care, is, to the Generality of Mankind, sufficient for the purposes of intellectual and moral Improvement. But to Persons of more extensive Influence, a more particular and appropriated Institution is necessary; for the World's Sake as well as their own. This, with regard to the Teachers of Religion, Men almost without Exception acknowledge: but too commonly forget it in another Cafe, of no less Importance; theirs I mean, whofe Authority is to inforce the Laws of Conduct, and whose Example to lead the Way in Life. Here sometimes a wrong Care, often an imperfect onė, is taken by the fondest Parents. The outward Accomplishments and Decencies of Behaviour they teach them with great Exactness, and do well : but then, with. but the least further. Provision, send them abroad ir to the School of the World, there to learn what they can. The Consequence is, what must naturally be expected: Trifles and Follies, ever readiest at hand, and best suited to the unjudging Mind, get firft into Poffeffion; and, in many, leave Place for nothing else to enter. Such, unqualified for the valuable Employments of Life, must lofe their Days in the low Amusements of a false and effeminate Politeness ; hoping for no higher a Character, than a Set of Creatures, equally contemptible, can give one another by mutual Admiration ; and happy after all, if they chance to preserve an innocent Worthlessness.
· But suppose Room left for some Attention to Knowledge ; not even the Forms of decent Carriage, though obvious Things, are fully learnt without regular Application : what fort of Acquaintance then with Science must that be, which is picked up occasionally and by Accident? A thorough one indeed we must judge it, were the first Appearance to determine us ; that Air of Sufficiency, with which a Person thus educated for the most part delivers his Sentiments. But if we examine, as the World will, what is under this Appearance to support it's then a Mind is discovered, thoughtlefily perfuaded of its own KnowJedge, where it is very ignorant; and affecting Knowledge, even though it is conscious of having none : first making haftily whatever Determination is fashionable, about Questions half understood, and not at all considered, be their Importance what it will; and then going on immediately to act upon this Determination, without the least Diffidence, or the least Thought what the Laws of human Actions are : unmoved by Reason, and scorning it; but changing frequently on mere Fancy, and fluctuating through Life without Rule or Guide, from the forward Extravagancies of a profligate Youth, to the End of an early and despicable old Age,
The Benefits of Conversation greatly depend on the previous Attainments, both of those, who are supposed to communicate
B 3. Knowledge,