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sation which he should introduce, so far as it should take place. This effect took place, in some degree, in the days of John, and his preaching tended to promote it: And this is the natural tendency of christianity ; it had this effect in the days of the apostles to a greater degree than in the days of John. And so far as christianity has been understood, and the true spirit of it has been im. bibed, in any age and nation since that time to this day, it has tended to turn the heart of the fathers to the chil. dren, and the heart of the children to the fathers. But when true religion shall Aourish, and take place universally, to a greater degree than ever it has yet done, this prediction will be accomplished in a much higher degree, and more apparently, than ever before; to which the ministry of John, and all that has taken place since, may properly be considered as an introduction ; and to which those words, therefore, have a principal reference ; and the chief accomplishment of them will be in that day, which is
yet to come. By the heart of the fathers being turned unto the children, is not meant the exercise and increase of what is called natural affection ; for this is found in a sufficient degree, in almost all parents, at all times ; and if it were increased, it would not alter their moral character, or answer any good end. It must therefore intend the exercise of a religious, pious affection towards thein, leading them to a proper and great concern for their salvation, and a zeal and engagedness to do their duty faithfully, and in all respects, as it concerns their children, and which has a tendency to promote their holiness and salvation, and to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord : Sensible of their covenant engagements to do this, and of the strong motives and great encouragement God has set before them, to be faithful and laborious in this, by the gracious promise he has given them.
The heart of the children is turned to their parents, when they are disposed to obey them in the Lord, and grow up in the exercise of piety and righteousness, or keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; following and imitating their parents in this, as the chil. dren of Abrahain did. When they hearken to their pious VOL. II.
fathers, saying, “ My son, receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee ; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways :"* Then the heart of the children will be turned to the fathers.
It is to be observed here, that the turning of the heart of the children to their parents, is in consequence of the heart of the fathers being turned unto the children, as being connected with it. This is agreeable to those scriptures which have been considered, as they have been explained ; shewing that there is a constituted or promised connection between parents keeping covenant, and doing the duty towards their children, which they have promised, which is expressed by their heart being turned towards them; and the piety and salvation of the children, which is necessarily implied in their heart being turned toward their parents, hearkening to them, and obeying them in the Lord in all things.
It is here represented, that this shall take place under the gospel dispensation, which John the Baptist should introduce, in a higher degree than it had done before ; and christianity, and true religion, should be propagated in this way, and handed down from parents to children; and that this shall take place, especially in the millennium, of which time the prophet speaks particularly, in the preceding part of this chapter ; when christianity shall have its proper and genuine effect, to a much greater degree, than ever before ; and which will therefore be, in the highest sense, the gospel day, the day of salvation ; when the heart of fathers will be turned unto their chil. dren, in the sense above explained, to a vastly higher degree than they ever were before, and consequently the hearts of children will be turned to their fathers, more universally, in the high exercise of piety, from their youth. And in this view, these words coincide with those scriptures which have been mentioned, where God promises that he will then circumcise the heart of parents and of their children, to love the Lord, &c. That he will pour his Spirit upon the seed of his people, and his blessing upon their offspring. That his church
• Prov. ü. 1, 2. xxiii. 26.
shall be established in righteousness, and all her children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of her children. And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water-courses. “ As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord ; my Spirit which is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth, and forever. I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people : `All that see then shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble ; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good ; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me."*_"Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." By these words, it is represented that the only way, according to divine constitution and appointment, to keep up true religion in the world, and transmit it down to the end of it, and so to prevent mankind becoming totally corrupt, so as to be destroyed by the curse of God, as they once were by a flood, is to turn the heart of the fathers to their children, and the heart of the children to the fathers. And that this will take place, in an eminent degree, in the millennium, by which the everlasting covenant will be maintained, and appear in its full force and operation; by which means, the curse of God on mankind, by his terrible judgments, for their wickedness, in breaking the everlasting covenant, renouncing it themselves, and with respect to their children, not training them up for God, in the ways of true piety, but for the devil, in the Deut. xxx. 6. Isa. xliv. 3, 4. liv. 13, 14. lix. 21. li. 8, 9. lxv. 23,
Jer. xxxi. 38, 39, 40.
often strictly enjoined in scripture. This is frequently inculcated on the members of the church of Israel, as a very important part of their duty. Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they de. part from thine heart all the days of thy life : But teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons. Gather the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach them their children. These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart : And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.'
"* This is so important a command that it is repeated again.T." And ye shall teach them your children, speak. ing of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
It is again and again enjoined in the following words: “ Gather the people together, men and women, and children, that they may hear, and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law. And that their children, which have not known them, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God.”I “Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify 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; because it is your life."|| It was repeatedly enjoined upon par. ents to teach their children the great works God had done for them, and the deliverances he had wrought for his people ; and to explain to them the meaning of the religious rites, which were instituted by God, and the commands and ordinances which he had given them.g
God speaks of it as an excellent and important part of the character and conduct of Abraham, That he would command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and
• Deut. iv. 9, 10. vii. 6. vi.7. + Chapxi. 19. Chap. xxxi. 12, 13. 11 Chap. xxxü, 46, 47. SEX. X. 2. xii. 25, 26, 27. xiii. 14, 15. Deut. vi. 20-25
judgment.* The Psalmist mentions the command of God to instruct and educate children, as an important article, and as necessary to transmit true knowledge and piety to posterity. « He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children : That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born ; who should arise and declare them to their childten, that they might set their hope in God, &c.”+
Solomon often speaks of the importance and advantage of the faithful and wise education of children, and inculcates it as a duty. He says, “He that spareth his rod, hateth his son: But he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes. Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. Train up a child in the way he should go : And when he is old, he will not depart from it. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Withhold not correction from a child ; for if thou beatest him with a rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. The rod and reproof give wisdom : But a child left to himself, bringeth his mother to shame. Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest : Yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.”! And the nine first chapters of the Proverbs of Solomon are designed to express the concern parents ought to have for the spiritual good of their children; and their constant attention to them in this view, watching over them, instructing, admonishing and warning them; and through the whole exhibit the importance and necessity of the childrens' hearkening and obeying their parents, in order to their good ; and the happy consequence of this to them. And the awful consequence of slighting and disobeying parents is repeatedly mentioned in that book.
This is the first command in the second table of the decalogue, “ Honour thy father and thy mother.” To which is annexed a promise of good : Which supposes the duty of parents to govern and instruct their children, Gen. ayüi, 19. + Psalm lxxviii. 5, 6, 7. # Prov. xiii, 24. xix. 18.
xxii. 6, 15. sziü. 13, 14. xxix, 15, 17.