Page images

to labour to persuade them that those persons, and those alone, can be absolutely safe from the tyranny of sin, who live by the faith of the Son of God. In full confirmation of this truth, your own knowledge of the world will enable you to point out to them many examples, where fine parts are utterly disgraced, where every shining accomplishment which nature and education can give, are rendered pernicious even in a high degree, by an union with lewdness or intemperance, avarice, or a proud impatient spirit: which abominable tempers be most careful to assure your offspring, maintain their tyranny, because the principles of the Gospel and the truths of God are set at nought,-tell them that in the christian alone there is no dominion of sin. This will gradually inspire them with the highest veneration for the knowledge of God in his word and Son, as the only bulwark (which in fact it is) against all the wickedness of the human heart: because only a knowledge of Christ and a belief in the Bible, can create a jealousy of the first workings of corruption, and excite a fervent application to God for power to control and subdue it.

The last method of instruction I shall mention, which is of equal benefit with those already stated, is to remark to your children, now capable of observation, the amiable behaviour of real christians. I suppose you to be ac

quainted with some who justify their title to this glorious appellation. Remark the tranquillity of their countenance, and the modesty of their conversation ; observe how free they are from passion and positiveness, from illnatured wit or ostentation; how far from despising those who want their advantages, either of education, birth, or riches; how careful to give no pain or uneasiness to any one.-In further commendation of true christianity, it will be of peculiar benefit to let your children, when grown up, see the behaviour of sincere believers in the midst of their severest trials. If you are a christian yourself in spirit and in truth, it is most probable you will know persons of the same character. When they are in affliction or tribulation of any kind, carry your children to hear for themselves the meek patient sufferers blessing God for all their afflictions: not fainting, nor discouraged, but quietly enduring chastisement. Their discourse, their

[ocr errors]

very countenance will edify. This will irresistibly con-
vince them of the value and substance of the knowledge
of Christ, and


to see that it is as much to be desired for present support and consolation in a trying hour, as to secure salvation in the eternal world. Then assure them that true faith in Jesus, shewing itself in unfeigned subjection to his gospel, leads all to the same comfortable acquaintance with God, and cheerful submission to his holy will.

And if an opportunity could be found of bringing your son or daughter to the bed-side of a departing saint, it will infinitely exceed the force of all instruction, to let them see with their own eyes, and hear with their own ears, the faithful servant of God speaking good of his name, declaring how true the Lord his strength is, proclaiming the peace of his own mind under the pains of an approaching dissolution, whilst he is looking for the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Persons of rank, or of easy fortune; those also of the ministerial, and various other professions, with merchants, and tradesmen of substance, have opportunity of using these and many other methods of the same kind with their dear children, before they arrive at man's estate. And if in their own hearts they infinitely prefer the favour of God before the praise of men, the happiness of eternity before the poor satisfaction of time-if they know there is no other way of salvation for their offspring than that which is marked out by the spirit of God in his word, then such attention to the everlasting welfare of their children will not be irksome but delightful. Their reward, generally speaking, will be “ with them” in their labours of love, and their hearts gladdened by seeing considerable impressions made upon their children.

But if instead of this attention, custom and fashion are taken for the rule and measure of what you, O parents

, will account a sufficient care of your children's education: if hours upon hours, from day to day, are consumed in amusements and mere sensual gratification, hurtful to yourselves and others, whilst your children hear from you no wholesome lectures, and see in you no prevailing, for the honour of God and the salvation of their souls,


your conduct is dreadful indeed : your regard to Scripture is worthless, whatever you profess; and your ignorance of the excellency of God, and the only way of true happiness as gross as that of an Indian savage. Examine therefore and prove your Christian faith by your works. The care you take for the salvation of your offspring or your neglect of them, is the surest test of what you esteem your supreme good,-God or the world.

I shall only add farther on this head of the duty of Christian parents towards their children, that it is absolutely necessary that the pains to instruct should be accompanied by constant prayer to God in their behalf. Without his

grace their best concerted efforts will be ineffectual, and all their counsels vain; for it is God who giveth the increase. You may take as much pains as it is possible, to make your offspring Christians altogether; but still those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ, are born not of blood, nor of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Therefore you are the more earnestly, humbly, and incessantly to pray unto God to implant early in them his grace, and give power and success to your attempts; that as by them the inhabitants of the world are increased, an addition also may be made by their names to the church of the living God, and the inhabitants of heaven."*


THE DUTY OF CHILDREN, AND SERVANTS, AND MASTERS. Having considered the domestic duties of husbands and wives to each other, and of parents towards their children ; it remains now that we complete those which concern a family, by stating such as relate to children, to servants, and to masters.

The duty of children towards their parents is,

1. To honour them by respectful language; by abstaining from every thing that may reasonably give them the least offence or disquiet. All young people who receive the scripture as the rule of their behaviour, will esteem it

* See Prayer the 11th.


their duty to be exact and conscientious in this respect: because in the Scripture, God requires children to honour their father and mother, promising his blessing to all who do so. This homage is expressly said to be “well-pleasing unto the Lord,” Colos. iii. 20. The crime of disobedience to parents is marked as the just object of the curse and judgments of God: for you read, that immediately after the prohibition of idolatry, a sin levelled directly against the glory of God himself, and after appointing all Israel to pronounce the idolater accursed : the very next offence, which at the same time is held forth as the object of universal execration, is the neglect of paying a dutiful regard to parents :

“ Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or mother, and all the people shall say Amen,” Deut. xxvii. 16. And in case any child was “stubborn and rebellious," refusing to obey the voice of his father, or of his mother, after correction; it was the special appointment of the Most High God, that his father and his mother should “lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they were to say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.

And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die : so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” Deut. xxi. 18—21.

What strong conceptions of the great guilt of disobedience to parents, must this ordinance raise in the minds of all who regard the word of God ? For though this civil and political law is not now in force against rebellious children, it remains still a sufficient proof of the detestation with which God regards the disobedience of children towards their parents.

2. It is the duty of children to conceal and extenuate the imperfections of their parents, so far as truth and justice will admit. This is but a small return for the great benefits which they have received ; and if, instead of thus acting tenderly, they join in reproaching their parents, in exposing voluntarily either their sins or their indiscretions, they are very criminal in the sight of God. It was the sin of publishing and ridiculing, instead of


covering his father's shame, which brought down a signal judgment upon Ham, the son of the righteous Noah.

3. It is the duty of children to requite their parents, as far as lies in their power, for all the comforts and benefits by their means bestowed upon them. Ingratitude is the only sin which never found one single advocate : yet of all ingratitude, the negligence of children in supporting and comforting their parents, is by far the most black and abominable that can be practised by man towards

For what care and expense, what solicitude and labour for the welfare of their offspring, are not parents usually wont cheerfully to bear? Now when, in the course of God's providence, parents stand in need of some returns of the same tender disposition towards themselves, when the infirmities of age, or the burden of affliction, come upon them, what child, that is not without feeling, as well as without


tincture of Christianity, but must rejoice to be as helpful to them, now going out of the world, as his parents were to himself when he first came into it? This exercise of gratitude is marked in Scripture as the bounden duty of children towards their parents, and a neglect of it is considered not only as a renuncia. tion of the gospel, whatever zealous professions of love for it may be pretended : but as a crime, which even pagans, void of the light and advantage of God's word, would many of them abhor. “ If any provide not for his own,” (his own near relations, and especially his own aged parents,) “ he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel,” 1 Tim. v. 8.

The exact proportion indeed which a child ought to set apart for the discharge of this duty to his parents, must be various, according to the condition of life. But if it be inadequate to the income of the child, God will regard it as a vile and despicable offering. And this rule may always be observed, that if a child can be lavish in the pursuit of pleasure, and live in expensive splendour, whilst he is satisfied with assigning to his parents a strait and bare subsistence, a sense of duty is certainly not felt : and what is given, is given rather from a fear of scandal, or from dread of remorse, than from love to God, or affection to his own parents.

4. The last duty I shall mention due from children to

« PreviousContinue »