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hor their own resemblance; they will||He does not consider with what abhorregard it with tenderness, if not with|rence God beholds his criminal indifcomplacency; they will palliate what|ference to the growing sinfulness of his they cannot entirely 'excuse, and butoffspring; nor the dreadful impiety of feebly rebuke what they dare not whol- treating those sins as trifling imbecilily pass over without notice. This is ties, which the Most High declares on the supposition that the evil is real-worthy of eternal punishment. Did ly, though dimly seen; but this is not the parent look upon sin as exceedingone half of the mischief. Human de- ly sinful, he would not regard with inpravity renders the subject of it blind, difference, and even with complacence, and callous, it makes him insensible of those strong indications of it, which ev. the disorder which is upon him, and de- ery child exhibits, as soon as it begins liriously fond of his dangerous condi-|| to express its feelings at all. tion. It is a mad disease which allows But are children indeed so depraved its victim but few lucid intervals; and from the birth; are they naturally so the glimpses which he then has at his corrupt; that the parent's regarding true situation, serve only, in general, to their little foibles, and occasional salbring on a recurrence of his disorder. lies of harmless passion without any
Others, too, languish around him un very strong disapprobation, is to be acder the pressure of the same complaint;|| counted sinful, and as affording evibut their example does not abate his dence of his own depravity ? Such, own malady, but rather adds to its vi-l and similar questions are often asked, olence. Such being the case, how and they amount to pretty strong evishall the parent correct the child for a dence that the person, who asks them, fault, which he is not perceived to pos- is himself very far gone in depravity; sess: or which, if perceived, is lightly or at the least has been a very inattenestimated, and possibly approved ?- tive observer of his children's temper Even the best of parents have very in- and disposition. We often hear paadequate conceptions of the extensiverents calling their children" harmless evil of sin; and those conceptions, in- creatures," "pretty innocents," and adequate as they are, are rendered still other fond endearing names which figmore vague and feeble, when applied (uratively denote the same thing, such to the tender objects of parental affec- || as “ little doves," "harmless birds, tion. The parent, indeed, sees his with a thousand other equivalent apchild conducting amiss; but then it is pellations; and, I confess, I never only a weakness deserving commiser- hear them without trembling, lest those, ation rather than censure; a moment their unfledged offspring, should prove ary impulse which could not be avoid birds of evil omen, if not birds of prey, ed, and which will readily cease with fitted to be taken themselves at last the occasion which produced it. But in the snare of the fowler, Take an this infantile weakness, inconsiderable infant yet unable to walk, and offend as it is deemed, soon becomes gigan-him. With every natural member of tic, and bids defiance to the puny ef-|| annoyance, which he is able to exert, forts which may afterwards be made he will give you proof palpable and for its coercion. The truth is, the pa-l positive, that he has other attributes rent cannot, or will not, believe, that than those which are purely innoxious. his child, his offspring, his darling, is No sooner does a child begin to take naturally dead in trespasses and sins; notice of objects so as to be pleased that his nature is corrupt, and the ima- with them, than he covets them, and gination of his heart is evil, and that no sooner does he covet, than he enonly, and continually. He does not deavors, by all means in his power, to consider with what abhorrence God be possess them, not by gentle methods, holds those actions which he himself but by force. Completely selfish, he looks upon with so much indulgence. I admits no opposite rights, nor claims.
Nor can any
His object is to gratify himself; and attachments and good offices are forevery thing in opposition to this is as gotten; his impotence, and not his saulted with violence, and the interfer-gratitude, will prove his own restraint, ence of others is treated with turbulent and your protection. Offer him food resentment. Persons many times which he does not want, or when he is wonder, that infants should come into sullen; will he be pleased with it, or the world, and continue a great length will he thank you ? Caress him when of time, weak and helpless, while the he is angry; will he return you his cayoung of other creatures are either im- resses, before he has gained his object, mediately, or within a very short peri- or until he has forgotten the cause of od of time, strong and active. But|his anger ? When he plays, is it to gratsurely a little reflection would teach us ify another, or himself? Will he give the goodness of God in this particular. up his play things before he is tired of Were infants from the birth endowed them, in order that another may play with strength and activity like the with them? Or will he scruple to deyoung of some animals, the most fatal mand, and forcibly to take, another's effects would follow. Give the child play things, whether the latter has done the strength of manhood without aba- with them or not ? To prove a child's ting aught from the violence and per- depravity, it cannot be necessary to verseness of his temper; who would show, that he is constantly in a passion, wiilingly be his nurse, or his attend that he is every moment a fury, which ants ? In such a case, instead of the nothing can withstand. present milder measures of restraint, argument against his depravity bè de: you would be compelled, for your own rived from the fact, that he often plays, safety, to resort to chains and fetters, and sports and prattles. Were he inand to invent new methods of coercion capable of pleasure, and of expressing in order to reduce him to obedience. it, he would not be human. His deIn his paroxisms of rage at some dis- |pravity is always ready to manifest itappointment in his pleasures, would he self, whenever there is an occasion to hesitate, do you think, to take your life, draw it forth; and when there is no were you the cause of his exasperation;|| such occasion, the disposition is as reor, failing in this attempt, would heally there, as if it were in exercise. scruple to lay violent hands on himself, If, then, both parents and children or to do some other act of direful im- are depraved, it becomes important port! Did you never see a child in that the former should be well aware, some fit of passion, who wanted noth- that this moral distemper is upon them, ing but the power to make such scenes They should not deceive themselves in real? And from what can such a dis- | a matter of so much moment. The position proceed, except from the most fact will remain unaltered, whatever deep-rooted depravity? But this, you credit they may please to attach to it; reply, is an extreme case, and cannot|nor is their responsibility diminished, prove a generally depraved disposition. because they do not choose to open Does he not at other times sport and their eyes to conviction. True wisplay ; is he not pleased with my cares- ||dom would teach them to adapt themses; is he not attached to those by|selves to the real state of things; to whom he is fed, and by whom he is foresce the evil, and guard against it. fondled ? Undoubtedly; and the de- Let the parent be convinced, that he pravity of his temper is, for this very has in hinn a disposition, to that which reason, the more conspicuous. On is evil, and which, if not corrected, will these very objects of his affection, that lead him to ruin; he will then the more is, objects of affection, so long as they readily believe that his children posplease him, it is, that on turning the sess the same disposition, and will feel tables, he will vent the utmost of his the more strongly their need of his paresentment. Offend him, and all pastilrental guidance. Let him once obtain
the mastery 'over this disposition in and impeaches the veracity of the Most himself, he will then the better under- | High. In such a controversy, whose stand how to apply proper correc-decisions shall stand ? In such an istives to the same malady in his chil-| sue, whose cause shall be maintained ? dren. Let him be very cautious how But to thwart and control the inclihe indulges himself in the very com- nations of children is cruel and unmon fault of discrediting every thingkind. Yet in what does this cruelty which impeaches the innocence of his consist? To be cruel, is to infliet unchildren; of imagining his children to necessary pain. To confer a benefit, is be faultless. Let him take the fact as to be kind. If your children possess it is; let him believe, feel, and ac- dispositions that lead them into sin, it knowledge, that even his offspring, his surely cannot be cruel to check those darlings, are naturally perverse; that dispositions, or give them a new and they are by nature just as bad as the better direcöion. It is very strange children of other people ; that they are that Christian parents should deem it possessed of the same natural temper, cruel and unkind, to refuse their chilhave the same malignant passions, and dren the pleasures of sin; for to this that their faults are viewed with no the indulgence of their perverse and greater complacency by the eye of froward tempers actually amounts. Him, who can never be a respecter of, They, certainly, ought to know that all persons.
children,, their own included in the Some parents from a false affection number, have naturally corrupt pasó for their children, have always some sions and propensities ; that such passort of excuse ready at hand for every sions and propensities, without restraint, error which they commit. The child will certainly lead to sin; and sin conis sick, is fatigued, is affrighted, is abu-ducts to endless rain. They, certainly sed, is grieved, or is something else, ought to know, that the Most High rewhich is sure to have no harm in it,' gards whatever tends to sin with utter whenever he manifests any ill humor. abhorrence, and that sin is that abomThough he should rave and storm likeinable thing which his soul hates. How a maniac, still human corruption has then can they view with such complano hand in it; some common place a-cency, what he regards with indignapology is made in his behalf; and the tion; or deem that as cruel, which child, half smothered with caresses, is saves their children from the effect of pronounced sweet-tempered as a lamb. His displeasure ? Can they deem it an Exactly in proportion as he is ill-natur- act of unkindness to teach their chiled, he is indulged; and the more in-dren habits of obedience, both to didulgence he receives, the more he devine and parental authority; and for mands; till at length it becomes a this purpose to give them lessons of question of no oubtful solution, which self-denial in the ways of sin, or even governs, the parent or the child? But to compel them to cease to do evil, and let it be remembered, that every palli-| to learn to do well? Is it an act of unation of a fault gives countenance to it kindness to attempt to save a soul from -is a premium set upon iniquity; and death ? Yet such, let it be remembered, that no parent can offer such a premi-is the natural tendency of parental disum and be guiltless. To his guidance cipline when properly directed. I do and carc are committed the interests of not say that it will of itself infallibly an immortal soul; he is deeply respon-produce this desirable effect; but cersible for the trust. If he allows and tain it is, that it tends that way, and fosters that which God abhors; if he that it serves to prevent their progress calls that innocent and good, which in the opposite course, which leads to God pronounces evil; and justifies that the chambers of death. Here then are which God condemns, he opposes the powerful motives to attempt the propdivine constitution of right and wrong;ller government of children; motives
which all parents, and especially Chris- || The connexion between your comtian parents, ought most sensibly to mand, and his obedience, should be as feel. Yet strange as it may seem, ma- certain as that between cause and efny, who call themselves Christians, fect; the one should be the unfailing are, in these matters, as greatly delin-| consequence of the other. It is hardquent as the mere people of the world ; || ly necessary to say, that your comas prone to complain of the cruelty of mands should respect things lawful and enforcing their commands on their off-|| proper to be done ; for surely unlawspring, and equally indulgent to their ful commands have very little to do wayward caprices. Some, who make with good government. Your comno pretensions to religion, often excel mands may indeed respect things prethis class of persons, in correct and viously indifferent; but the moment wholesome discipline ; more effectual- you command them they lose that l-y restrain their children from evil character, and become positive duties, courses; better accustom them to use the performance of which is as indisful habits; and with more scrupulosi- pensable, as your authority to enjoin ty bar the avenues to sin and ruin. But them was proper and unquestionable. Christianity, if rightly understood and But you will ask, am I to whip and applied, ought to insure, and will n- torture my children for every little insure, a better education, than mere fraction of my orders, and play the tymorality, or a mere sense of propriety,|| rant in order to enforce their obedience? can ever produce. When those, there- A hard case surely—but one of your fore, who are styled Christians, fail to own making. Habitual obedience has train up their children to virtuous and no need of such severities; it is yielduseful habits, it is very apparent thated readily, and as a matter of course. they neglect their trust, and poorly Nothing short of very obstinate and employ the talents committed to their habitual disobedience can bring matkeeping. They wound the cause of ters to such extremities. Parents, who religion, and lead the 'ungodly to say, || govern well, never suffer their children if not actually to believe, that religion|to arrive at such a pass, that nothing tends to lieentiousness, and presents short of torture will coerce them. less imposing motives to obedience, They.commence the business in seathan the maxims of mere human pru- son, and enforce obedience by gentler dence and invention.
methods; they master the disease at But to insure, as far as may be, the its first appearance, and so avoid the proper behavior of his children, let necessity of desperate remedies. A every parent make it his inflexible de moderate, but equable regimen, aftertermination that he will be obeyed-wards succeeds; such as is calculated invariably obeyed. An uniform adhe-to prevent relapses, and to invigorate rence to this resolution will save him the system. It is worthy of observafrom a multitude of difficulties, and|tion that parents, who govern badly, produce incalculable good. The sum|usually correct their children most; and substance of good government is and how should it be otherwise ? If to be obeyed ; not now and then, when children are not taught to obey habitthe humor suits; but always, and in-ually, how can obedience be expected "variably. The child should know on from them occasionally, without resort what it has to depend, and should not to compulsory measures. The child be lost in uncertain conjectures, wheth- that is accustomed to disobey in nine er you really intend to be obeyed; cases out of ten, will always rememwhether you merely propose obedience, ber that the chance of escaping punor actually command it. If you do not ishment is in his favor, and nothing mean to enforce obedience, it ought short of actual smarting will suffice to not to be commanded; if you mean convince him that obedience is really to command itgit ought to be enforced.) demanded. The truth is, children al
ways learn to obey, at first, from a || all the excuses which parents make, sense of necessity, not from a sense of to cover their neglect of training up moral duty. If they consider this ne-Hthcir children to obedience, have their cessity to be uniform, their obedience origin in sheer selfishness; in their own will be so; if the necessity be only self-gratification and caprice, more than occasional, such also will be their obe-l in any real tenderness towards those dience. Hence it happens, that those objects of their indulgence; and that parents who suffer their children to dis- they in fact prefer their own humors obey them generally with impunity, to their children's welfare. find themselves really obliged to resort But what says Divine truth on the to severe methods, in order to enforce subject of correcting children? The their commands.
Spirit of inspiration, surely, has given I am no friend to frequent and se- no improper directions on this topic; tere punishment; I neither consider it nor can their Heavenly Parent be supnecessary, nor an evidence of proper posed to have a less tender and suitadiscipline. But to abstain wholly from ble regard to his children, than have correction, except in some extraordi-their earthly ones. By consulting the nary cases, when probably both parent Scriptures, we shall find that those pa and child are extremely exasperated, |rents do not best consult their chilaffords surely no proof of suitable paren- || dren's welfare, who withhold correctal affection. It may,however,prove onetion from them, when they forsake point, that this parental tenderness, so their duty. He that sparelh the rod, ha. much extolled, can be dispensed with, teth his son; but he that loteth him, when the gratification of other pas-chasteneth him belimes. He begins in sions comes into competition ; while itseason, and repeats the chastening so affords little evidence of any great pro-often as there is occasion; and this, ingress in the art of self-government. stead of showing that he has no affec
But, says one, I too am of opinion |tion for his son, proves that he loves that it does no good to chastise chil-|| him. Foolishness is bound in the heart dren perpetually; the little things, as of a child; but the rod of correction they grow in years, will grow in dis- shall drive it far from him. Withhold not cretion, and will of themselves sooncorrection from the child, for if thou learn to lay aside improper habits, and beatest him with a rod, he shall not die. to conduct correctly. I never use the A very different sentiment from one rod; when they arrive at a proper age,often peevishly intimated-shall I kill I endeavor to reason them into their my child to make him obey me? It is duty. My feelings are too tender to believed, however, that few children suffer
my children to be put to unne- die in that way. The rod and reproof cessary pain.
give wisdom; but a child left to himsel, This very sensitive parent must per-bringelh his mother lo shame. Another mit me to ask him one or two ques-| sentiment altogether opposed to one tions. Is it out of regard to yourself, very prevalent among parents, that disor to your child; to save yourself or cipline makes a child jumpish and stuhim, from pain, that you never chas- pid, impairs his mental faculties, and tise him ? Is it not more from a regard oppresses his animal spirits. But it to your own feelings, than to his good, seems that the plainest declarations of that you are so very lenient in a plain Scripture are to pass for nothing, procase of duty ? Are you willing to have | vided our criminal negligence can find the trouble of doing your duty to your a covering. Many affect to believe, children? Have you not some whim, that a child left to himself will bring some prejudice, some conceit, of which his parents to honor; will grow up a you are, in reality, more tender, than you man of spirit, superior to low and Tulare of your children's welfare? To be gar prejudices. The experience of all frank, my own opinion is, that almost ages, however, proves them to be mis