« PreviousContinue »
the virtues, which you teach. And let them neither see nor hear any thing from you which you would not desire to have copied by them. Even an heathen, and none of the most virtuous, could say, Maxima debetur pueris reverentia. We ought to reverence and stand in awe of children, that nothing may be spoken or done in their sight, which may taint their tender minds. They are prone to imitate any; but more especially those who are so nearly related to them: which undoubtedly they will be most ready to do, when example strikes in with their natural propensity to evil.
6. If neither good examples nor instructions will prevail, then correction becomes a duty. And this should first be given in words, before you proceed to severer methods: yet not in railing, or foul or bitter language, but in calm and sober reproof. If that fail too, then use the rod. But whenever this correction is given, let it be with all the expressions of love and concern which the nature of the thing will admit., Let it be timely, before ill habits are contracted, at least, before they have room to take root : and let it be moderate, not exceeding the quality of the fault, or the tenderness of the child. Immoderate, or ill-natured and passionate correction, is so far from profiting children, that it very frequently frets and sharpens their spirits, and makes them more stubborn and untractable. · If they are of a softer temper, it frights and dispirits them. This is also a natural effect of a sour, harsh, unkind behaviour. Hence those solemn cautions of the Apostle, “ Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath,” Eph. vi. 4. Avoid whatever tends thereto. Use no demeanor, no actions, or words, or way of speaking, which has such a tendency. And again, "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged,” Col. iii. 21. , It is a different word from that used in the former text, Mnepedi YETE. Do not purposely fret or tease them, lest you should dishearten them to much, lest you should destroy their courage and vigour of mind, and make them of a faint, fearful,
dastardly spirit. The direction doubtless belongs to both the parents, but is more immediately addressed to fathers, as they are generally of rougher and harsher spirits than the mothers, and not so much restrained by natural fondness. Lastly, correction must not be given in anger; if it be so, it will lose its effect on the child, who will think he is corrected, not because he has done a fault, but because the parent is angry.
7. These directions chiefly relate to young children. But even after they are grown up, you are still engaged to watch over their souls, to observe how they practise the precepts which have been inculcated upon them from time to time, and to exhort, encourage, and reprove them accordingly. You are also to bless them, first by your pray
Parents are under a peculiar obligation, by daily and earnest prayer to commend their children to God's protection and blessing. You are, Secondly, to bless them by your piety. See that you be such persons in all holy conversation, that from you the blessing of God may descend upon your posterity.
8. As masters, you are, 1, To be just to your servants, whether apprentices, journeymen, or household servants, in faithfully and exactly performing the conditions on which they engaged to serve you: particularly with regard to food, and the other necessaries and conveniences of life. You are, 2, To admonish and reprove them for their faults, more especially faults against God. But let this be done with all tenderness and mildness, forbearing not only bitter and opprobrious language, but even threatening, knowing that your Master is in heaven, and that there is no respect of persons with him. You are, 3, To set a good example to your servants, otherwise reproving will be but lost labour. It is your duty, 4, To provide them with all means of necessary instruction, and to allow them sufficient time to worship God in private as well as in public. You are, 5, To beware that you give them only reasonable and moderate commands, that you do not make their service toilsome to them, by laying on them greater burdens than they can bear, or greater than you would impose, or they would bear, if they were not of the household of faith. Lastly, You are to encourage them in well-doing, by using them with that kindness which their faithfulness, diligence, and piety, deserve: in all your dealings with them remembering, you are to give an account to your Master of the usage of your meanest servant.
DIRECTIONS TO CHILDREN.
1." CHILDREN,” says the Apostle, writing to the Ephesians, chap. vi. ver. 1, “ Obey your parents in the Lord.” To which he adds, “Honour thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise,” (with a particular promise annexed; for the promise annexed to the second commandment, does not belong to the keeping that command in particular, but the whole law :) “ that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long upon the earth.” And this promise is by no means to be confined to the time of the Jewish dispensation. On the contrary, there are not wanting many instances, even in later times, of persons eminently dutiful to their parents, who have been rewarded with eminent health and prosperity. Though still it is acknowledged, that this promise, as most others, may be understood under the christian dispensation, in a spiritual and more exalted sense.
2. But how are children to honour their fathers and mothers? First, by reverencing them. This is an unquestionable duty, manifestly contained in the very term Honour. And this inward reverence is to appear, in the whole outward behaviour. It is to be expressed both in their speeches and gestures, in their words and actions. Their speech should always testify honour, giving them the most respectful titles which their condition will bear. Likewise (unless on some peculiar occasions) your words before them should be few. For talkativeness before any person, has the appearance of disrespect. You should also conduct yourself with all lowliness and modesty, while in the presence of your parents : so that your whole carriage may be the natural expression of the respect lodged in your hearts.
3. This reverence is not to be with-held, on account of
either their supposed or real infirmities. For be the faults of the parents ever so great, this gives the children no authority to despise them: seeing whatever their tempers or their behaviour be, they are your parents still. Neither are you to take any step which might cause others to despise them. You cannot, therefore, mention their faults to others, without bringing guilt upon your own soul. You cannot mention them behind their back, and be guiltless. It is your part to conceal all their faults and infirmities, to the uttermost of your power. Be not like Ham, who betrayed his father's nakedness, and was cursed of God to his latest posterity. Rather imitate the piety of Japheth and Shem : cover with all care whatever you disapprove of in a parent. Hide it from every one else, and, if it were possible, even from yourself.
4. A second duty which children owe to their parents is love. We are to bear them a deep, real kindness, and earnest, tender good-will, heartily desiring all manner of good to them, and abhorring to speak or do any thing, which might give them uneasiness. This will appear no more than common gratitude, if we remember, what our parents have done for us. That they were the instruments not only of bringing us into the world, but also of sustaining us aftèr: and certainly they that weigh the cares and fears which attend the bringing up of a child, will judge the love of the child to be but a moderate return for them. This love is to be expressed several ways. First, in all kindness of behaviour, carrying ourselves, not barely with awe and respect, but with tenderness and affection. It is to be expressed, Secondly, in praying for them. The debt which a child owes to a parent, is so inconceivably great, that he can never hope fully to discharge it himself. He is, therefore, to seek the assistance of God, and continually to beg him that has all power in heaven and earth, to return, whatever good his parents have done him, seven-fold into their own bosom.
5. A third duty which children owe to their parents, is obedience. As this is plainly implied in the fifth command