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and an earnest desire of their happiness. Study therefore to address them in the most endearing language, as well as with the softest and sweetest arguments. Endeavour, according to the practice of Solomon, To find out acceptable words*. And if tears should rise while you are speaking, do not suppress them. There is a language in them, which may perhaps affect beyond words. A weeping parent is both an awful, and a melting sight.

Endeavour therefore to look upon your children in such a view, as may be most likely to awaken these tender sentiments. Consider them as creatures whom you (as instruments) have brought into being, tainted with innate corruption, surrounded with snares, and, on the whole, in such apparent danger, that if not snatched as brands out of the burning, they must perish for ever. And that And that your hearts may be further mollified, and you may be formed to the most gentle and moving manner of address, let me intreat you to study the scripture in this view, and to observe the condescending and endearing forms in which the blessed God speaks to us there. Observe them for yourselves, and point them out to your children. Tell them, how kindly he has demanded, how graciously he has encouraged their services; while he says, Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth+; and elsewhere, I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me‡. Tell them, that the Lord Jesus Christ hath invited them to come to him ; for he hath said, Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest§: Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out|| : And whosoever will, let him

take of the water of life freely¶. Such scriptures as these should be often repeated to them, and should be early inculcated on their memory, with an attempt, as far as possible, to let them into the spirit and force of them.

Nor will it be improper sometimes to set before them, how,. much you have done, how much you are ready to do for them; how many anxious thoughts you entertain, how many fervent prayers you offer on their account. Thus Lemuel's mother addressed him, What my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows**? As if she had said, "My dear child, for whom I have borne so much, for whom I have prayed so earnestly; in what words shall I address thee, to express what my heart feels on thy account? How shall I speak my

Eccles. xii. 10. John vi. 37.

+ Eccles xii. 1.
Rev. xxii, 17.

Prov. viii. 17. ** Prov. xxxi. 2.

§ Mat. xi. 28.

affectionate overflowing concern for thy happiness both in time and eternity?" So Solomon pleads, My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine*: As if he should have said, "Think how much is comprehended in that argument, that a parent's happiness is in great measure to be determined by thy character and conduct." And the apostle Paul lays open his heart to the Galatians in those pathetical words, My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, till Christ be formed in yout. Yet these were, comparatively, strangers to him. And should not you, my friends, feel, should not you express, an equal tenderness for those, who are so nearly allied to you in the bonds of nature, for those who are indeed parts of yourselves? But further,

4. Children should also be instructed patiently.

You know, when the husbandman has committed the seed to the ground, he patiently expects the fruit of his labours. So must ministers, when instructing their people: So must parents, when instructing their children. You must not imagine, my friends, that a plentiful harvest will spring up in a day. The growth of nature is slow, and by insensible degrees Nor are you to wonder, if advances in knowledge and grace be still slower. Be upon your guard therefore against fretfulness and impatience. Your children will forget what you have once taught them; repeat it a second time; and if they forget it the second time, repeat it the third. It is thus that the great God deals with you; and you have daily reason to rejoice that he does. He knows the frailty and weakness of your minds and therefore acts by a rule, which seems to be laid down with a peculiar regard to the very point I am urging: Whom shall he teach knowledge, and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts? for precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, and line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a littleţ: As if he should have said, "God has treated you like little children, who must have the same short easy lesson repeated again and again." And is it not indeed thus with regard to you? Does not the patience and condescension of your heavenly Father send to you his ministers sabbath after sabbath, frequently inculcating the same things, that what you have forgot may be brought to mind again? Thus should you do by those committed to your care.

Prov. xxiii. 15.


+ Gal. iv. 19.


Isai. xxviii. 9, 10.

Be teaching them every sabbath: That is remarkably a good day for the purpose. Then you have leisure for it; then you have peculiar advantage to pursue the work; then you are furnished with some new matter by what you have heard in public; and I would hope, your spirits are then quickened by it, so that you can speak Out of the abundance of your heart; and you may, by discoursing with them on what has been addressed to you, revive the impression on your own souls.


I add Be teaching them every day, by occasional discourses, when you have not an opportunity of doing it by stated addresses. Drop a word for God every day and often in a day. You will probably find your account in it, and your children theirs. A sudden glance of thought towards God in the midst of the world. is often a great refreshment to the christian; and a sudden turn to something serious and spiritual in conversation, is frequently very edifying to others. It strikes the memory and the heart, and is, perhaps, As a nail fixed in a sure place*, when many a solemn admonition, and many an elaborate sermon is lost. It is with pleasure that I frequently hear good christians speaking of such occasional hints, which have been dropped by saints of the former generation: Those transient passages, which the pious parents might forget in a few moments, their children have distinctly remembered for many future years, and repeated for their own edification, and I might add for mine. Let this therefore be an encouragement to you; and in this respect, In the morning sow this precious seed, and in the evening withhold not your hand, since you know not whether you shall prosper, or whether both shall be alike good+.

Once more, let me intreat you to repeat your pious instructions and admonitions, even though your children should grow up to years of maturity, without appearing to profit by them. Say not, that you can teach them no more than they already know; or, that you can try no new methods which you have not already attempted. You see, that in your assemblies God often brings back souls to himself, by setting home on the conscience truths, which, with regard to the speculative part of them, they know as well as their teachers; and adds a divine efficacy to those institutions, which, for a long succession of years, they had attended in vain. Be not therefore weary in well-doing; but Let patience, in this instance, have its perfect works:

Thus let your children be instructed plainly, seriously,

*Isai, xxii. 23.

+ Eccles. xi. 6.

Gal. vi. 9.

Jam. i. 4.


tenderly, and patiently; I wave some other particulars, which I might have added to these, concerning the manner of instructing them, because I apprehend they will more properly fall under the second branch of these directions: Where I am further to advise you,

II. As to the precautions you must use, if you desire that these attempts in the religious education of your children may be attended with success.

Here I would particularly advise,—that a prudent care be taken to keep up your authority over them, and at the same time to engage their affections to you; that you may be solicitous to keep them out of the way of temptation ;-that you confirm your admonitions by a suitable example ;-that you cheerfully accept of proper assistances in this important attempt;-and that you humbly and constantly look up to God for his blessing on all.

1. If we desire to succeed in our attempts for the religious education of our children, we must take care to keep up our authority over them.

To this purpose, we must avoid, not only what is grossly vicious and criminal, (which will more properly be mentioned under a following head,) but also those little levitics and follies which might make us appear contemptible to them. Whatever liberties we may take with those who are our equals in age and station, a more exact decorum is to be preserved before our children. Thus we are to reverence them, if we desire they should reverence us*; for, as Dr. Tillotson very justly observes, "there is a certain freedom of conversation, which is only proper amongst equals in age and quality, which if we use before our superiors we seem to despise them, and if we do it before our inferiors, we teach them to despise ust."

I will not insist on this hint, which your own prudence must accommodate to particular circumstances, but shall here introduce the mention of correction, which, in some cases, may be absolutely necessary to the support of parental authority, especially where admonitions and counsels are slighted.

You know, that the scriptures expressly require it on proper occasions; and Solomon, in particular, enlarges on the head, and suggests some important thoughts with regard to it..

Maxima debetur puero reverentia.-
Tillotson's Serin vol. 1. p. 541.

-JUVEN. Sat. xiv. v. 47.

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Foolishness, says he, is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it from him*. Nay, he speaks of it as a matter in which life is concerned, even the life of the soul: Withhold not correction from a child; for if thou beat him with the rod, he shall not die: Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hellt. And is it kindness, or cruelty, in a parent, to spare the flesh to the hazard of the soul? Parents are therefore exhorted to an early care in this respect, lest vicious habits growing inveterate should render the attempt vain or hurtful; and they are cautioned against that foolish tenderness, which would lead them to regard the tears of a child, rather than his truest and highest interest. Correct thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying : He that spareth the rod, hateth his son: but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimess. Nor can we imagine a more lively commentary on the words than the melancholy story of Eli, who, though he was a very eminent saint in a degenerate age, yet erred here, and by a fatal indulgence, brought ruin, as well as infamy, on himself and family. He reproved the abominable wickedness of his son; but did not make use of those severe methods, which, in such a case, the authority of a parent might have warranted, and the office of judge did undoubtedly require. Observe the sentence which God pronounced against him for it, and which he executed upon him in a very awful manner. The Lord said unto Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle: In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house; when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him, that I will judge his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not: And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. Take heed, I intreat you, as you love your children, as you love yourselves, that it may not be said of you, that yours have made themselves vile, and you have neglected to restrain them. Let mothers, in particular, take heed, that they do not, as it were, smother their children in their embraces; as a French author smartly expresses it¶. And let me remind you all particularly to be

† Prov. xxiii. 13, 14.

* Prov. xxii. 15.
Prov. xiii. 24.
1 Sam. iii. 11—14.
Superville, Serm. vol. iii. p. 374.

Prov. xix. 18.

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