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love you. Therefore, you should love him. And he will teach you how to love him."
8. While you are speaking in this, or some such manner, you should be continually lifting up your heart to God, beseeching him to open the eyes of their understanding, and to pour his light upon them. He, and he alone, can make them to differ herein from the beasts that perish. He alone can apply your words to their hearts : without which all your labour will be in vain. But whenever the Holy Ghost teaches, there is no delay in learning.
9. But if you would see the fruit of your labour, you must teach them not only early and plainly, but frequently too. It would be of little or no service to do it, only once or twice a week. How often do you feed their bodies? Not less than three times a day. And is the soul of less value than the body? Will you not then feed this as often? If you find this a tiresome task, there is certainly something wrong in your own mind. You do not love them enough: or you do not love Him, who is your Father and their Father. Humble yourself before him! Beg that he would give you more love; and love will make the labour light.
10. But it will not avail to teach them both early, plainly, and frequently, unless you persevere therein. Never leave off, never intermit your labour of love, till you see the fruit of it. But in order
to this, you will find the absolute need of being endued with power from on high: without which, I am persuaded, none ever had, or will have patience sufficient for the work. Otherwise the inconceivable dulness of some children, and the giddiness or perverseness of others, would induce them to give up the irksome task, and let them follow their own imagination.
11. And suppose after you have done this, after you have taught your children from their early infancy, in the plainest manner you could, omitting no opportunity, and persevering therein, you did not presently see any fruit of your labour, you must not conclude that there will be none. Possibly the "bread which you have cast upon the waters" may be "found after many days." The seed which has long remained in the ground, may, at length, spring up into a plentiful harvest. Especially if you do not restrain prayer before God, if you continue instant herein with all supplication. Meantime, whatever the effect of this be upon others, your reward is with the Most High.
12. Many parents, on the other hand, presently see the fruit of the seed they have sown, and have the comfort of observing, that their children grow in grace in the same proportion as they grow in years. Yet they have not done all. They have still upon their hands another task, sometimes of no small difficulty. Their children are now old enough to go to school. But to what school is it advisable to send them?
13. Let it be remembered, that I do not speak to the wild, giddy, thoughtless world, but to those that fear God. end do you send your children to school? "
I ask, then, For what Why, that they may be
fit to live in the world." In which world do you mean? This or the next? Perhaps you thought of this world only and had forgot that there is a world to come: yea, and one that will last for ever! Pray take this into your account, and send them to such masters, as will keep it always before their eyes. Otherwise to send them to school, (permit me to speak plainly,) is little better than sending them to the devil. At all events, then, send your boys, if you have any concern for their souls, not to any of the large, public schools, (for they are nurseries of all manner of wickedness,) but a private school, kept by some pious man, who endeavours to instruct a small number of children in religion and learning together.
14. "But what shall I do with my girls ?" By no means send them to a large boarding-school. In these seminaries too the children teach one another pride, vanity, affectation, intrigue, artifice, and in short, every thing which a Christian woman ought not to learn. Suppose a girl were well inclined, yet what would she do in a crowd of children, not one of whom has any thought of God, or the least concern for her soul? Is it likely, is it possible, she should retain any fear of God, or any thought of saving her soul in such company? Especially as their whole conversation points another way, and turns upon things which one would wish she would never think of. I never yet knew a pious, sensible woman that had been bred at a large boarding-school, who did not aver, one might as well send a young maid to be bred in Drury-lane.
15. "But where then shall I send my girls ?"-If you cannot breed them up yourself, (as my mother did, who bred up seven daughters, to years of maturity,) send them to some mistress that truly fears God, one whose life is a pattern to her scholars, and who has only so many, that she can watch over each, as one that must give an account to God. Forty years ago I did not know such a mistress in England: but you may now find several: you may find such a mistress, and such a school at Highgate, at Deptford, near Bristol, in Chester, or near Leeds.
16. We may suppose your sons have now been long enough at school, and you are thinking of some business for them. Before you determine any thing on this head, see that your eye be single. Is it so? Is it your view to please God herein? It is well, if you take him into your account. But surely if you love or fear God yourself, this will be your first consideration; in what business will your son be most likely to love and serve God? In what employment will he have the greatest advantage, for laying up treasure in heaven? I have been shocked above measure, in observing how little this is attended to, even by pious parents! Even these consider only how he may get most money: not how he may get most holiness! Even these, upon this glorious motive, send him to a Heathen master, and into a family, where there is not the very form, much less the power of religion! Upon this motive, they fix him in a business, which will necessarily expose him to such temptations, as
will leave him not a probability, if a possibility, of serving God. O savage parents! Unnatural, diabolical cruelty!-If you believe there is another world.
"But what shall I do?" Set God before your eyes, and do all things with a view to please him. Then you will find a master, of whatever profession, that loves, or, at least, fears God; and you will find a family, wherein is the form of religion, if not the power also. Your son may, nevertheless, serve the Devil if he will; but it is probable, he will not. And do not regard, if he get less money, provided he get more holiness. It is enough, though he have less of earthly goods, if he secure the possession of heaven.
17. There is one circumstance more wherein you will have great need of the wisdom from above. Your son or your daughter is now of age to marry, and desires your advice relative to it. Now you know what the world calls a good match, one whereby much money is gained. Undoubtedly it is so, if it be true, that money always brings happiness. But I doubt it is not true: money seldom brings happiness, either in this world or the world to come. Then let no man deceive you with vain words: riches and happiness seldom dwell together. Therefore, if you are wise, you will not seek riches for your children, by their marriage. See that your eye be single in this also aim simply at the glory of God, and the real happiness of your children, both in time and eternity. It is a melancholy thing, to see how Christian parents rejoice, in selling their son or their daughter to a wealthy heathen! And do you seriously call this a good match! Thou fool, by parity of reason, thou mayest call hell a good lodging, and the Devil a good master. O learn a better lesson from a better Master. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," both for thyself and thy children, "and all other things shall be added unto you.'
18. It is undoubtedly true, that if you are steadily determined to walk in this path; to endeavour by every possible means, that you and your house may thus serve the Lord; that every member of your family may worship him, not only in form, but in spirit and in truth; you will have need to use all the grace, all the courage, all the wisdom which God has given you. For you will find such hinderances in the way, as only the mighty power of God can enable you to break through.. You will have all the saints of the world to grapple with, who will think you carry things too far. You will have all the powers of darkness against you, employing both force and fraud: and, above all, the deceitfulness of your own heart, which, if you will hearken to it, will supply you with many reasons why you should be a little more conformable to the world. But as you have begun, go on in the name of the Lord, and in the power of his might! Set the smiling and the frowning world, with the prince thereof, at defiance. Follow reason and the Oracles of God; not the fashions and customs of men. "Keep thyself pure." Whatever others do, let you and your house "adorn the doctrine of GoD our Saviour."
Let you, your yoke-fellow, your children, and your servants be ali on the Lord's side; sweetly drawing together in one yoke, walking in all his commandments and ordinances, till every one of you "shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour."
ON THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN.
"Train up a Child in the Way wherein he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."-PROVERBS XXii. 6.
1. WE must not imagine, that these words are to be understood in an absolute sense, as if no child that had been trained up in the way wherein he should go, had ever departed from it. Matter of fact will by no means agree with this. So far from it, that it has been a common observation, Some of the best parents have the worst children. It is true, this might sometimes be the case, because good men have not always a good understanding. And without this, it is hardly to be expected that they will know how to train up their children. Besides, those who are in other respects good men, have often too much easiness of temper; so that they go no farther in restraining their children from evil, than old Eli did, when he said. gently, "Nay, my sons, the report I hear of you is not good." This then is no contradiction to the assertion; for their children are not "trained up in the way wherein they should go." But it must be acknowledged, some have been trained therein with all possible care and diligence and yet before they were old, yea, in the strength of their years, they did utterly depart from it.
2. The words then must be understood with some limitation, and then they contain an unquestionable truth. It is a general, though not an universal promise, and many have found the happy accomplishment of it. As this is the most probable method for making their children pious, which any parents can take, so it generally, although not always, meets with the desired success. The God of their fathers is with their children; he blesses their endeavours; and they have the satisfaction of leaving their religion, as well as their worldly substance, to those that descend from them.
3. But what is the Way wherein a child should go? And how shall we train him up therein? The ground of this is admirably well laid down by Mr. Law, in his Serious Call to a Devout Life. Part of his words are,
"Had we continued perfect, as God created the first man, perhaps the perfection of our nature had been a sufficient self-instructer for every one. But as sickness and diseases have created the necessity of medicines and physicians, so the disorders of our rational nature have introduced the necessity of education and tutors.
"And as the only end of a physician is, to restore nature to its own state, so the only end of education is, to restore our rational nature to its proper state. Education, therefore, is to be considered as reason borrowed at second-hand, which is, as far as it can, to supply the loss of original perfection. And as physic may justly be called the art of restoring health, so education should be considered in no other light, than as the art of recovering to man his rational perfection.
"This was the end pursued by the youths that attended upon Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. Their every-day lessons and instructions were so many lectures upon the nature of man, his true end, and the right use of his faculties: upon the immortality of the soul, its relation to God; the agreeableness of virtue to the divine nature; upon the necessity of temperance, justice, mercy, and truth, and the folly of indulging our passions.
"Now as Christianity has, as it were, new created the moral and religious world, and set every thing that is reasonable, wise, holy, and desirable, in its true point of light: so one would expect the education of children should be as much mended by Christianity, as the doctrines of religion are.
"As it has introduced a new state of things, and so fully informed us of the nature of man and the end of his creation: as it has fixed all our goods and evils, taught us the means of purifying our souls, of pleasing God, and being happy eternally; one might naturally suppose that every Christian country abounded with schools, not only for teaching a few questions and answers of a catechism, but for the forming, training, and practising children in such a course of life, as the sublimest doctrines of Christianity require.
"An education under Pythagoras or Socrates, had no other end but to teach children, to think and act as Pythagoras and Socrates did.
"And is it not reasonable to suppose that a Christian education should have no other end but to teach them how to think, and judge, and act according to the strictest rules of Christianity?
"At least one would suppose, that in all Christian schools, the teaching them to begin their lives in the spirit of Christianity, in such abstinence, humility, sobriety, and devotion, as Christianity requires, should not only be more, but a hundred times more regarded than any or all things else.
"For those that educate us should imitate our guardian angels, suggest nothing to our minds, but what is wise and holy; help us to discover every false judgment of our minds, and to subdue every wrong passion in our hearts.
"And it is as reasonable to expect and require all this benefit from