« السابقةمتابعة »
depravity. It is impossible, being our children, consummation of that great sacrifice, which he that they should not be depraved, as we are; was about to offer to the justice of his Father. for, to use the language of scripture, their “fa- The soul of our divine Saviour was affected thers are Amorites and their mothers are Hitt- with the dangers to which his dear disciples ites," Ezek. xvi. 13. Here I wish I could give were going to be exposed. Against these you some notion of this mortifying mystery; Igloomy thoughts he opposed two noble reflecwish I could remove the difficulties which pre- tions. First, he remembered the care which vent your seeing it; I wish I could show you he had taken of them, and the great principles what a union there is between the brain of an which he had formed in their minds: and seinfant and that of its mother, in order to con-condly, he observed that “shadow of the AB vince you that sin passes from the parent to the mighty, under which he had taught them to child.
abide," Ps. xci. 1. “I have manisested thy What! can we in cool blood behold our chil- name unto the men which thou gavest me. dren in an abyss, into which we have plunged While I was with them in the world, I kept them; can we be sensible that we have done this them in thy name, and none of them is lost but evil, and not endeavour to relieve them? Not the son of perdition. They are not of the world, being able to make them innocent, shall we not even as I am not of the world,” John xvii. (9 endeavour to render them penitent: Ah! vic-12, 16. This is the first reflection. “Now I tims of my depravity, unhappy heirs of the am no more in the world, but these are in the crimes of your parents, innocent creatures, born world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep only to suffer, I think I ought to reproach my- through thine own name those whom thou hast self for all the pains you feel, all the tears you given me, that they may be one, as we are. I shed, and all the sighs you utter. Methinks, pray not that thou shouldst take them out of every time you cry, you reprove me for my in the world, but that thou shouldst keep them sensibility and injustice. At least, it is right, from the evil. Sanctify them through thy truth, that, as I acknowledge myself the cause of the thy word is truth. Father, I will that they evil, I should employ myself in repairing it, and also, whom thou hast given me, be with me endeavour to renew your nature by endeavour-where I am,” ver. 11, 15, 17. This is the se ing to renew iny own.
cond reflection. This reflection leads us to a third point. To These two reflections are impenetrable neglect the education of our children is to be shields, and a parent should never separate wanting in that tenderness, which is so much their them. Would you be in a condition to oppose due. What can we do for them? What inhe- the second of these shields against such attacks ritance can we transmit to them? Titles They as the gloomy thoughts just now mentioned are often nothing but empty sounds without will make upon your hearts on that day in meaning and reality. Riches? They often which you quit the world and leave your chil“make themselves wings and fly away,” Prov. dren it endeavour now to arm yourself with xxiii. 5. Honours? They are often mixed with the first. Would you have them "abide under disagreeable circumstances, which poison all the shadow of the Almighty?” Inculcate his the pleasure. It is a religious education, piety, fear and his love in their hearts. Would you and the fear of God, that makes the fairest in- be able to say as Jesus Christ did, “Holy Faheritance, the noblest succession, that we can ther, I will that they whom thou hast given me leave our families.
be with me, that they may behold my glory; If any worldly care may lawfully occupy the keep them through thy name” Put yourself mind of a dying parent, when in his last mo- now into a condition to enable you then to say ments the soul seems to be called to detach it to God as Christ did, “I have given them to self from every worldly concern, and to think thy word, they are not of the world, even as I of nothing but eternity, it is that which has our am not of the world." children for its object. A Christian in such cir To neglect the education of our children is cumstances finds his heart divided between the to let loose madmen against the state, instead family, which he is leaving in the world, and of furnishing it with good rulers or good subthe holy relations, which he is going to meet in jects. That child intended for the church, heaven. He feels himself pressed by turns be- what will he become, if he be not animated tween a desire to die, which is most advan- with such a spirit as ought to enliven a minister tageous for him, and a wish to live, which seems of religion? He will turn out a trader in sacred most beneficial to his family. He says, “I am things, and prove himself a spy in our families, in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to de- a fomenter of faction in the state, who, under part, and to be with Christ, which is far better; pretence of glorifying God, will set the world nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more need on fire. That other child intended for the bar, ful for you,” Phil. i. 23, 24. We are terrified what will he become, unless as much pains be at that crowd of dangers, in which we leave taken to engage him to love justice as to make these dear parts of ourselves. The perils seem him know it, or to make him not disguise it as to magnify as we retire from the sight of them. well as understand it. He will prove himself One while we fear for their health, another an incendiary, who will sow seeds of division while we tremble for their salvation. My bre in families, render law suits eternal, and reduce thren, can you think of any thing more proper to indigence and beggary even those clients, to prevent or to pacify such emotions, than the whose causes he shall have art enough to gain. practice of that duty which we are now pressing And that child, whom you have rashly deteras absolutely necessary? A good father on his mined to push into the highest offices of state death-bed puts on the same dispositions to his without forming in him such dispositions as are children as Jesus Christ adorned himself with necessary in eminent posts, what will be bein regard to his disciples immediately before the 'come A foolish or a partial judge, who will
pronounce on the fortunes and lives of his fel- / world a sinner? was it necessary to put me in low citizens just as chance or caprice may im- arms against Almighty God? Was it not enough pel him: a public blood-sucker, who will live to communicate to me natural depravity? must upon the blood and substance of those whom you add to that the venom of a pernicious eduhe ought to support: a tyrant, who will raze cation? Was it not enough to expose me to the and depopulate the very cities and provinces misfortunes inseparable from life must you which he ought to defend.
plunge me into those which follow death? ReThe least indulgence of the bad inclinations tur me, cruel parent, return me to nothing, of children sometimes produces the most fatal whence you took me. Take from me the fata! effects in society. This is exemplified in the existence you gave me. Show me mountains life of David, whose memory may be truly re- and hills to fall on me, and hide me from the proached on this article, for he was one of the anger of my judge; or, if that divine vengeance most weak of all parents. Observe his indulg- which pursues thee, will not enable thee to do ence of Amnon. "It produced incest. Remark so, I myself will become thy tormentor; I will his indulgence of Absalom, who besought him for ever present myself, a frightful spectacle beto allow his brethren to partake of a feast, fore thine eyes, and by those eternal howlings, which he had prepared. It produced an assas- which I will incessantly pour into thine ears, I sination. See his weak fondness of the same will reproach thee, through all eternity I will Absalom, who endeavoured to make his way reproach thee, with my misery and despair.” to the throne by mean and clownish manners, Let us turn our eyes from these gloomy affecting to shake hands with the Israelites, and images, let us observe objects more worthy of to embrace and kiss them (these are the terms the majesty of this place, and the holiness of of Scripture,) and practising all such popular our ministry. To refuse to dedicate our childairs as generally precede and predict sedition. ren to God by a religious edacation, is to refuse This produced a civil war. Remark how he those everlasting pleasures, which as much surindulged Adonijah, who made himself chariots, pass our thoughts as our expressions. and set up a retinue of fifty men. The sacred It is a famous question in the schools, whehistorian tells us, that “ his father had not dis- ther we shall remember in heaven the connexpleased him at any time, in saying, why hast ions we had in this world? Whether glorified thou done so?" 1 Kings, i. 6. This produced spirits shall know one another? Whether a faa usurpation of the throne and the crown. ther will recollect his son, or a son his father?
To neglect the education of your children is And so on. I will venture to assert, that they to furnish them with arms against yourselves. who have taken the affirmative side, and they You complain that the children, whom you who have taken the negative on this question, have brought up with so much tenderness, are have often done so without any reason. the torment of your life, that they seem to re On the one side, the first have pretended to proach you for living so long, and that, though establish their thesis on this principle, that they have derived their being and support from something would be wanting to our happiness you, yet they refuse to contribute the least part if we were not to know in a future state those of their superfluities to assist and comfort you! persons, with whom we had been united by the You ought to find fault with yourselves, for tenderest connexions in this present world. their depravity is a natural consequence of such On the other hand, if we know, say the parprinciples as you have taught them. Had you tisans of the opposite opinion, the condition of accustomed them to respect order, they would our friends in a future state, how will it be not now refuse to conform to order: but they possible that a parent should be happy in the would perform the greatest of all duties; they possession of a heaven, in which his children would be the strength of your weakness, the have no share; and how can he possibly relish vigour of your reason, and the joy of your old pleasure at the right hand of God, while he age.
revolves this dreadful thought in his mind, my To neglect the education of children is to childres are now, and will for ever be torprepare torments for a future state, the bare ap- mented with the devil? prehension of which must give extreme pain to It should seem, the proof and the objection every heart capable of feeling. It is beyond a are equally groundless. The enjoyment of doubt, that remorse is one of the chief punish- God is so sufficient to satiate a soul, that it ments of the damned, and who can question, cannot be considered as necessary to the hapwhether the most excruciating remorse will be piness of it to renew such connexions as were excited by this thought; I have plunged my formed during a momentary passage through children into this abyss, into which I have this world. I oppose this against the argument plunged myself?
for the first opinion: and I oppose the same Imagine a parent of a family discovering against the objection, for the enjoyment of God among the crowd of reprobates a son, whom he is every way so sufficient to satiate a soul, that himself led thither, and who addresses to him it can love nothing but in God, and that its this terrible language. “Barbarous father, felicity cannot be altered by the miseries of what animal appetites, or what worldly views those with whom there will then be no coninclined you to give me existenced to what a nexion. desperate condition you have reduced me! See, A consideration of another kind has always wretch that you are, see these flames which made me incline to the opinion of those who burn and consume me. Observe this thick take the affirmative side of this question. The smoke which suffocates me. Behold the heavy perfections of God are here concealed under chains with which I arn loaded. These are the innumerable veils. How often does he seem fatal consequences of the principles you gave to countenance iniquity by granting a profusion me. Was it not enough to bring me into the of favours to the contrivers of the most infernal
schemes: How often does he seem to declare such a master, and saying to him, “behold me, himself against innocence by the misfortunes and the children which God hath given me,” which he leaves the innocent to suffer? How Heb. ii. 13. often have we seen tyrants on a throne, and We have been speaking of the fatal consegood people in irons. Does not this awful quences of an irreligious education; and now phenomenon furnish us with an irrefragable we wish we could put you all into a condition argument for the doctrine of a general judg- to prevent them. But, alas! how can some of ment and a future state! Which of your you reduce our exhortations to practice? you preachers has not frequently exhorted you to disconsolate fathers, you distressed mothers, "judge nothing before the time," 1 Cor. iv. from whom persecution has torn away these 5; at the end of the time comes “the restitu- dear parts of yourselves, ye weeping Davids, tion of all things,” Acts iii. 21, which will ye mourning Rachels, who, indeed, do not justify Providence?
weep because your children “are not,” but Now, it should seem, this argument, which because, though they are, and though you gave none but infidels and libertines deny, and which them existence, you cannot give them a reliis generally received by all Christians, and by gious education? Ah! how can you obey our all philosophers, this argument, I say, favours, voice? Who can calm the cruel fears, which not to say establishes in an incontestible man- by turns divide your souls? What results from ner, the opinion of those who think that the all the conflicts, which pass within you, and saints will know one another in the next life. which rend your hearts asunder? Will you Without this how could we acquiesce in the go and expose yourselves to persecution? Will justice of the sentence, which will then be you leave your children alone to be persecuted? pronounced on all? Observe St. Paul, whose Will you obey the voice that commands, "flee ministry was continually counteracted. What out of Babylon, and deliver every man his own motive supported him under so much opposi- soul,” Jer. i. 6; or that which cries, “ Take tion? Certainly it was the expectation of seeing the young child?” Matt. ji. 20. O'dreadful one day with his own eyes the conquest which alternative! Must you be driven, in some sort, he obtained for Jesus Christ; souls which he to make an option between their salvation and had plucked out of the jaws of Satan; be- yoursmust you sacrifice yours to theirs, or lievers whom he had guided to eternal happi- theirs to your own? ness. Hear what he said to the Thessalonians, Ah! cruel problem! Inhuman suspense! Thou “What is our hope, our joy, our crown of re- tyrant, is not thy rage sufficiently glutted by joicing? Are not even ye in the presence of destroying our material temples must you our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming For ye lay your barbarous hands on the temples of are our glory and joy," chap. ii. 19, 20. the Holy Ghost? Is it not enough to plunder
Now, this is the hope, this is the crown, us of our property, must you rob us of our which I propose to you, heads of families, to families? Is it not enough to render life bitter, engage you to dedicate your children to God would you make eternity desperate and intoleby a religious education.
rable? It was this thought which supported one of But, it is not to tyrants that we address the wisest of the heathens against the fears of ourselves, they are inaccessible to our voice, death, I mean Cato of Utica. No man had a or inflexible to our complaints. It is to God greater affection for a son, than he had for his. alone, who turns them as he thinks proper, No man bore the loss with greater firmness and that we address our prayers. Hagar found magnanimity. “O happy day, when I shall herself banished into a desert, and she had quit this wretched crowd, and join that divine nothing to support her but a few pieces of and happy company of noble souls, who have bread, and a bottle of water. The water being quitted the world before me! I shall there meet spent, her dear Ishmael was ready to die with not only these illustrious personages, but my thirst. She laid him under a bush, and only dear Cato, who, I will venture to say, was one desired that she might not see him die. She of the best of men, of the best natural dispo- rambled to some distance, wept as she went, sition, and the most punctual in the discharge and said, “Let me not see the death of the of his duties, that ever was. I have put his child,” Gen. xxi. 16, &c. See, she cannot body on the funeral pile, whereas he should help it, she sits “over against him, lists up her have placed mine there; but his soul has not voice, and weeps.” God heard the voice of left me, and he has only stepped first into a the mother and the child, and, by an angel, country where I shall soon join him."
said unto her, “What aileth thee, Hagar? fear If this hope made so great an impression on not, for God hath heard the voice of the lad. the mind of a pagan, what ought it not to pro- Arise, take hold of his hand, and list him up, duce in the heart of a Christian? What infinite for I will make him a great nation.” See what pleasure, when the voice shall cry, “ Arise ye a source of consolation I open to you! Lift up dead," to see those children whom God gave the voice and weep. “O Father of spirits, youWhat superior delight, to behold those God of the spirits of all flesh,” Heb. xii. 9; whom an immature death snatched from us, Numb. xvi. 22. Thou Supreme, whose essence and the loss of whom had cost us so many is love, and whose chief character is mercy, tears? What supreme satisfaction, to embrace thou who wast touched to see Nineveh repent, those who closed our eyes, and performed the and who wouldst not involve in the general last kind offices for us. O the unspeakable destruction the many infants at nurse in that joy of that Christian father, who shall walk at city," who could not discern between their the head of a Christian family, and present right hand and their left," John iv. 11; wilt himself with all his happy train before Jesus not thou regard with eyes of affection and pity Christ, offering to him hearts worthy to serve our numerous children, who cannot discern
truth from error, who cannot believe, because gentleness, if they discover, that it is not the they have not heard, who cannot “hear with fruit of our care to reward what in them is out a preacher," and to whom, alas! no worthy of reward, but of a natural inclination, preacher is sent? Rom. x. 14.
which we have not the courage to resist, and But you, happy fathers, you, mothers, fa- which makes us yield more to the motions of vourites of heaven, who assemble your children our animal machine, than to the dictates of around you as a hen gathereth her chickens reason? On the other hand, what good can under her wings,” Matt. xxiii. 37; can you they derive from our severity, if they see, that neglect a duty, which is impracticable to others? proceeds from humour and caprice more than That tyrants and persecutors should display from our hatred to sin, and our desire to free their fury by making havoc of our children, them from it? If our eyes sparkle, if we take and by offering them to the devil, is, I allow, a bigh tone of voice, if our inouths froth, when extremely shocking, but there is nothing in it we chastise them, what good can come of such very wonderful: but that Christian fathers and chastisements mothers should conspire together in such a Fourth maxim. The best means of procuring tragical design would be a spectacle incompa- a good education lose all their force, unless rably more shocking, and the horror of which they be supported by the examples of such as the blackest colours are unable to portray: employ them. Example is also a great motive,
How forcible soever the motives, which we and it is especially such to youth. Children have alleged, may be, I fear they will be inef- know how to imitate before they can speak, sectual, and such as will not influence the before they can reason, and, so to speak, before greatest part of you. It must be allowed, that, they are born. In their mothers' wombs, at if there be any case, to which the words of our the breasts of their nurses, they receive impresSaviour are applicable, it is this of which we sions from exterior objects, and take the form are speaking, "strait is the gate, and narrow of all that strikes them. What success, miseis the way, which leadeth unto life, and few rable mother, can you expect from your exhorthere be that find it,” Matt. vii. 14.
tations to piety, while your children see you A reformation of the false ideas which you yourself all taken up with the world, and its form on the education of children, is, so to amusements and pleasures; passing a great speak, the first step which you ought to take part of your life in gaming, and in forming in the road set before you this day. No, it is criminal'intrigues, which, far from hiding from not such vague instructions as you give your your family, you expose to the sight of all children, such superficial pains as you take to mankind? What success can you expect from make them virtuous, such general exhortations your exhortations to your children, you wretchas you address to them, is it not all this, that ed father, when they hear you blaspheme your constitutes such a religious education as God Creator, and see you living in debauchery, requires you to give them. Entertain notions drowning your reason in wine, and gluttony, more rational, and remember the few marims, and so on? which I am going to propose to you as the Fifth marim. A liberty, innocent when it is conclusion of this discourse.
taken before men, becomes criminal, when it First maxim. Delays, always dangerous in is taken before tender minds, not yet formed. cases of practical religion, are peculiarly fatal What circumspection, what vigilance, I had in the case of education. As soon as children almost said, what niceties does this maxim ensee the light, and begin to think and reason, gage us to observe? Certain words spoken, as we should endeavour to form them to piety. it were, into the air, certain imperceptible alluLet us place the fear of God in these young sions, certain smiles, escaping before a child, hearts, before the world can get possession of and which he has not been taught to suspect, them, before the power of habit be united to are sometimes snares more fatal to his innothat of constitution. Let us avail ourselves cence than the most profane discourses, yea, of the flexibility of their organs, the fidelity of they are often more dangerous than the most their memories, and the facility of their con- pernicious examples, for them he has been ceptions, to render their duty pleasing to them taught to abhor. by the ease with which they are taught to dis Sixth maxim. The indefatigable pains, which charge it.
we ought always to take in educating our chilSecond maxim. Although the end of the dren, ought to be redoubled on these decisive divers methods of educating children ought to events which influences both the present life, be the same, yet it should be varied according and the future state. For example, the kind to their different characters. Let us study our of life to which we devote them, is one of children with as much application as we have these decisive events. A good father regustudied ourselves. Both these studies are at- lates his views in this respect, not ac
according tended with difficulties; and as self-love often to a rash determination made when the child prevents our knowing ourselves, so a natural was in the cradle, but according to observafondness for our children renders it extremely tions deliberately made on the abilities and difficult for us to discover their propensities. manners of the child.
Third maxim. A procedure, wise in itself, Companions too are to be considered as de and proper to inspire children with virtue, may ciding on the future condition of a child. A sometimes be rendered useless by symptoms of good father with this view will choose such sopassion, with which it is accompanied. We cieties as will second his own endeavours, he cannot educate them well without a prudent will remember the maxim of St. Paul, “ Evil mixture of severity and gentleness. But on communications corrupt good manners,'' 1 Cor. the one hand, what success can we expect from | xv. 33; for he knows, that a dissolute compan
ion has often eradicated from the heart of a youth all the good seeds which a pious family
SERMON LVI. had sown there. Above all, marriage is one of these decisive
GENERAL MISTAKES. steps in life. A good father of a family, unites his children to others by the two bonds of vir
Romans xii. 2. tue and religion. How can an intimate union be formed with a person of impious principles,
Be not conformed to this world without familiarizing the virtuous by degrees Of all the discourses delivered in this pulpit with impiety, without losing by little and little those which deserve the greatest deference, that horror which impiety would inspire, and and usually obtain the least, are such as treat without imbibing by degrees the same spirit of general mistakes. What subjects require a So necessary is a bond of virtue. That of re- greater deference? Our design in treating of ligion is no less so, for the crime which drew them, is to dissipate those illusions, with which the most cutting reproofs upon the Israelites the whole world is familiar, which are authorafter the captivity, and which brought upon ized by the multitude, and which, like epidemithem the greatest judgments, was that of con- cal diseases, inflicted sometimes by Providence tracting marriages with women not in the cove on public bodies, involve the state, the church, nant. Are such marriages less odious now, and individuals. Yet are any discourses less when by a profane mixture people unite "light respected than such as these? To attack geneand darkness, Christ and Belial, the temple of ral mistakes is to excite the displeasure of all God and idols.” 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15. Are such who favour them, to disgust a whole auditory, marriages less hateful now, when, by a horrible and to acquire the most odious of all titles, I partition, the children, if there be any, are mu mean that of public censor. A preacher is tually ceded before hand, and in cold blood dis- then obliged to choose either never to attack posed of thus: the sons shall be taught the truth, such mistakes as the multitude think fit to authe daughters shall be educated in error, the thorize, or to announce the advantages which boys shall be for heaven, the girls for hell, a he may promise himself, if he adapt his subson for God, a daughter for the devil. jects to the taste of his auditors, and touch their
Seventh maxim. The best means for the edu- disorders only so far as to accommodate their cation of children must be accompanied with crimes to their consciences. fervent prayer. If you have paid any atten Let us not hesitate what part to take. St. tion to the maxims we have proposed, I shall Paul determines us by his example. I am gonot be surprised to hear you exclaim, “Who ing, to-day, in imitation of this apostle to guard is sufficient for these things?" 2 Cor. ii. 16. you against the rocks, where the many are But, if it be the fear of not succeeding in edu- shipwrecked. He exhorts us, in the words of cating your children, which dictates this lan- the text, not to take “the world for a model!" guage, and not that indolence, which tries to the world,” that is, the crowd, the multitude, get rid of the labour, be you fully persuaded, society at large. But what society has he in that the grace of God will triumph over your view? Is it that of ancient Rome, which he great infirmities. Let us address to him the describes as extremely depraved in the beginmost fervent prayers for the happiness of those ning of this epistle? Does he say nothing of children, who are so dear to us, and let us be our world, our cities and provinces. We are lieve that they will return in benedictions upon going to examine this, and I fear I shall be them. Let each parent collect together all his able to prove to you, that our multitude is a piety, and then let him give himself up to the dangerous guide to show us the way to heaven; tenderest emotions towards his children. O and, to confine ourselves to a few articles. I God! who didst present thyself to us last Lord's shall prove that they are bad guides to direct day under the amiable idea of a parent “pity- us, first, in regard to faith; secondly, in regard ing them that fear thee as a father pitieth his to the worship which God requires of us;children,” Ps. ciii. 13. O God! who thyself thirdly, in regard to morality; and lastly, in relovest thy Son with infinite tenderness and ve- gard to the hour of death. In these four views, hemence: O God! author of the tender affec- I shall enforce the words of our text, “Be not tions, which unite me to the children thou hast conformed to this world.” This is the whole given me, bless the pains I take in their edu- plan of this discourse. cation: disobedient children, my God, I disown. 1. The multitude is a bad guide to direct our Let me see them die in infancy, rather than go faith. We will not introduce here the famous along with the torrent of general immorality, controversy on this question, whether a great and “ run” with the children of the world to number form a presumption in favour of any their “excess of riot,” 1 Pet. iv. 4. I pray religion, or whether universality be a certain evifor their sanctification with an ardour a thou-dence of the true Christian church? How often sand times more vehement than I desire their has this question been debated and determined! fortune: and the first of all my wishes is to be How often have we proved against one commuable to present them to thee on that great day, nity, which displays the number of its professors when thou wilt pronounce the doom of all with so much parade, that is the pretence were mankind, and to say to thee then, “Lord, be- well-founded, it would operate in favour of pahold, here am I, and the children thou hast ganism, for pagans were always more numergiven me.” May God excite such prayers, ous than Christians! How often have we told and answer them! To him be honour and them, that in divers periods of the ancient glory for ever. Amen.
church idolatry and idolaters have been en