« ПредишнаНапред »
posure and satisfaction will you take leave of them! And with what full assurance of faith will you trust them with a God, whose mercy is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness to children's children! With what a transport of joy will you quit this world, when that you have left behind you children that are likely to adorn the church of Christ on earth, and make part of the general assembly and church of the firstborn in heaven!
Here the subject would have closed, if I had not intended to obviate some of the most common and material objections against this important and necessary duty. Various are the excuses that are made; but they are generally dictated by indolence, rather than by real conviction ; and therefore a few words will serve to refute them.
Some then object their want of ability. would gladly instruct our children,” you say, " but we are ignorant ourselves. Ministers are the fittest persons to undertake it, for it is a part of their office.” . If your ignorance be real, and not merely a pretence to silence conscience; if you really do not know the plain principles of religion, it is high time for you to learn. Had you your own souls only to attend to, it were a shame to continue unacquainted with the glad tidings of salvation. But if you only mean, that you know not how to communicate that little knowledge which you have, to your children; that you cannot talk to them so pertinently and fluently as others; I answer, that not strength of genius, but a willing mind, is required; and, if you once undertake it, you will find your abilities increase by exercise. Moses made this objection
when God sent him to Pharaoh to order him to let the children of Israel go : “ O my Lord,” said he. " I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken to thy servant; for I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” But the answer which the Lord gave him is sufficient to remove every difficulty.
" And the Lord said unto him, who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind ? have not I the Lord? Now, therefore, go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." Few are masters of this when they first set about it, but diligence and experience make the best teachers. Others object their want of time. “We would gladly undertake," say they, “ to teach our children ; but we are so hurried from morning to night, that we have not a moment to spare from our necessary employment. If we had as much teisure as some people, we should gladly employ it in this manner." It is true, indeed, that some have less tiine than others; but all might have sufficient for this purpose, if they would. If there were no other opportunity for this, I hesitate not to say, that it would be your duty to take it out of what you call your necessary business : for which is the one thing needful; labouring for the meat which perishes, or for that which endures to everlasting life? Caring for the body, to provide food and raiment, or attending to the improvement of the mind, and the salvation of the soul? But there is no occasion for this. The poorest in general have idle hours, which they scarcely know how to pass, Devote your broken time, then, to this profitable amusement, and your work will not be hindered,
• They who have no other opportunities, should gladly improve those precious moments, in talking seriously and closely with their children ; asking them questions, and examining their progress in learning and grace. But while you have sabbaths, you surely cannot plead want of time for the neglect of your duty. Those sacred days afford leisure, which might be most usefully and pleasantly employed in this service. Remember that you must all find time to die. Be as busy as you will, you must leave every thing for death ; and therefore let me beseech you to attend to this duty, which will contribute greatly to make your death-bed easy. Others again object their want of success. “ We have often,” say they, “ attempted it ; but have met with so many difficulties and discouragements, that it would be to no purpose to try to do it again.. Either the children are stubborn, and will not learn; or they are dull, and cannot; or they have such treacherous memories, that they soon forget all again; so that our time would only be thrown away, if we should bestow' any more labour upon them,” But do you expect to pass through the world without difficulties and discouragements? You have met with disappointments in your worldly business, and yet you did not presently give it up in despair. It is more than probable, that your want of success may be traced to some guilty defect in yourselves. Go over all the directions that have just now been given, and see if you have observed them all strictly and seriously: and if you have not done so, do not complain of your children, till you have begun to reform your own conduct. But if you have been never so diligent and faithful,, befal you
and with little apparent success, persevere notwithstanding. The last thing you say to them may reach their hearts. The last effort which you make may be successful. You will, at least,“ deliver your own souls ;” and you will have the testimony of a good conscience, which is a continual feast, and will support you under whatever trouble
may or them.
Finally. Others will say, " What does it signify, when all so entirely depends upon God? If it please him to bestow his grace upon our children, it will certainly be done; but if not, our endeavours will all avail nothing.” But if this be a sufficient excuse for parents' neglecting their childrens' education, it will equally excuse them from caring for their bodies, or, indeed, for any thing else. The meat which we eat, cannot nourish us without God's blessing; the seed which we sow, will never spring up, and ripen, if God refuse to give the early and latter rain for this purpose: But who ever neglected to eat or sow on that account? He has shown thee, O man, what is good, and wbat the Lord thy God (in this case) has required of thee:"-be you diligent, and trust God with the fulfilment of what he has promised. But to neglect plain duty, under a pretence of waiting for special grace, is tempting rather than trusting in God. You can do something towards their improvement, though you cannot ensure their salvation. You can restrain them from many sins, if you cannot give them a principle of grace. You can prevent them from contracting bad habits, if you cannot infuse those that are good: and if you suffer nature to grow wild and unoultivated, bad customs may be so firmly
rooted, as grace itself, if it should ever enter their hearts, may never wholly eradicate.
I have thus finished a subject, which compassion to children, and faithfulness to parents, induced me to undertake. In attempting to illustrate and en. force it, I have been very particular. But I hope that a' concern for the glory of God, the prosperity of the church, and the happiness of your families, will be considered as a sufficient apology. If I see parents more careful and conscientious, and children more affectionate and dutiful, I will bless God who has given me counsel, and take pleasure in being spent for Christ and for you,