Page images

Secondly, The great influence and authority of those whose duty it is to impart it.

Parents have the fullest opportunity to observe the genius and capacity of their children, the gradual opening of their faculties, what counsels and cautions are most adapted to their situation and disposition, or the employment and rank in life for which they may be fitted and designed. Parental authority has great weight at this early period. There is, therefore, the highest reason for a discreet, faithful use of the influence which the relation of parents gives them. This influence will sensibly lefsen, should the opportunity of early instruction in the best things be neglected.While their children should be advancing in wisdom and virtue, propensities to folly and vice will grow up with them.

Thirdly, Parents should constantly attend to the duty of imparting religious instruction.

Their children being constantly with them, useful hints may be dropped on every occasion and occurrence. No opportunity fhould be omitted, in a case of such moment, and where there are such advantages to form and improve the tender' mind. Thou shalt talk of them when thou lieft down, and when thou riseft up ; when thou

fittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way. In whatever ways or business you or your children may be employed, instructions in piety and found morals may be pertinently and usefully given. The fame inftructions may be repeated, and others ad. ded, as circumftances may suggest. Thus will appear the weight which the inftructions have with the parents. When they teach these things diligently, as commanded, they are instant in season and out of season, imparting fome {piritual gift to their children. These are apt to forget the good things they have been taught; and are, moreover, exposed to various snares and allurements. They need precept upon precept.When the counsels given are supposed by the parents

to be the counsel of God, with what care and seriousness should they be inculcated at all seasons ? “ Set

your hearts unto them, and command your children s to observe and do them.”

Fourtbly, the parental is the happieft way of imparting and impressing these things, and the best mean of transmitting a favour of religion.

By an affectionate manner of inculcating it, by carefully observing how the faculties of children expand, what directions they can receive, and what are called for, he who has the heart of a parent takes a sure course, if there is any, to have his instruction drop on the tender mind as the rain and dew on the thirsty earth. The blessed Jesus never broke a bruised reed, nor quenched the fmoking flax. Grace was poured into his lips. His instructions, weighty in themselves, were imparted in the most persuasive manner. Of him let parents learn to teach the truths of God, to inculcate divine, social and personal virtues, as their children are able to bear.

Beside personal instruction, let parents, according to their ability, furnish their children with school education, and with books for their improvement. Let them accompany you to the house of God, to receive public instruction; and enquire of them how they remember and are affected with the truths they hear. The sacred fcriptures should be read in your families. Advantage should be taken of providential events, of all means to awaken their attention to their duty and engage their hearts in it-whether the bible or other good books—of all inftruments, whether parents, ministers or others. The meaning and intent of the two facraments should be explained ; that, having been devoted to God in their infancy, they may see their obligations to put off the old man, and put on the new; and, as they may become capable of that fervice, may recognize the vows made at their baptism, and come to the communion,

Upon the whole ; parents “ should labour gradually “ and pleasingly to infuse into their minds the cleareft “ and most affecting views of God; his universal pre“ fence and Almighty power; his goodness, truth and “'overruling providence ; his regard to pious men, “ and attention to their prayers”—and to “ imprint “ these things by striking examples.” They should 6 take care that their children frequently hear conver« fation upon serious and heavenly subjects. Few “ people are sensible of the advantage derived to “ children from suitable and serious conversation.” They should have the amiableness of virtue and turpitude of vice held up to view “the vanity of & the world, the frailty of the body, the corruption “ of our fallen nature; the dignity and infinite worth “ of the foul, and what God hath done for it. The “ riches and mercy of redemption should be set before “ them.” They should be “ habituated from their in“ fancy to sanctify the Lord's day, to reverence the “ word and ordinances of God.” Parents should spare no endeavours to give them “ a deep sense of “ truth and integrity, and an abhorrence of all man“ ner of falsehood, fraud, craft, fubterfuges and dif“ simulation, as base, dishonourable, and highly offen“ five to God.”

Parents may call to mind the affection, diligence and solicitude with which they were taught the principles and duties of religion in their childhood-how they were exhorted, charged and comforted—the prayers which were offered up with and for them. Have you shewn the same pious care to educate your children in the true fear of the Lord ? the same prudence ? the fame regard to family devotion and order, and instruction in general ? the same difcreet and grave deportment? If you have dedicated your children to God in baptism, have you fulfilled the engagements made at their dedication, and exemplified the. Christian profession before them? You may then trust with God the issue of your pray

ers and endeavours. He will not forsake them, though you may shortly. If you have not thus dedicated and taught them, the most important part of your duty has been neglected. The account you must give how you educate them; their temporal and eternal welfare; the debt you owe to your people, are considerations which should ever be present to your minds, and influence you to a faithful care in this matter.

Considering himself as answerable, in a degree, for the principles and conduct of his children and household, the wife parent and head of a family will embrace that scheme of religion and education in it, which he is convinced, upon due deliberation, best accords with the sacred oracles. These permit him not to adopt a mode of worship, which interferes with the order and peace of society, or with the religious liberty of other denominations. Do any members of his house, who discover a thoughtful, serious mind, differ from him ? he will endeavour to shew them their errour. For they err at least in his opinion. But he will be cautious how he interposeth a command in what may be a matter of conscience. He will not degrade, but honour, himself by condescension to serious scruples. If calm reasoning out of the scriptures doth not convince, he will indulge them in acting according to the persuasion of their own mind—always supposing that this will be no breach upon good family order. It is happy when the members of an house have one heart and one way_Happy also when different opinions and practice do not interrupt or impair domestic order and love.

We proceed to evince the great IMPORTANCE of the faithful discharge of the duty enjoined in the text.

The high motives to religion are taken from the life to come; but it is also profitable to the present life. Parents should inculcate it on their children from a regard to their souls and bodies, to this world and a future. He who neglects to “provide for his own house, is “ worse than an infidel. If a fon shall ask bread of any

“ of you that is a father, will you give him a stone. Children ask of their parents what is more than food and raiment-direction in religion, that their fouls may not famifh for want of fpiritual food—direction which inexperienced and uninformed years need. Left without such direction, what must be the consequence, considering their native depravity and the allurements of the world? They may be plunged in lusts which will injure their health and reputation, prevent their use. fulness, lay waste their conscience, link them in infa. my and distress in this world, and destroy them foul and body in the next.

Public and private fchools of education, and the maintenance of public teachers of religion and morals, have evinced the sentiment of mankind on the neceffity of good morals to the welfare of fociety. Families are the nurseries of piety and found morals, or of impiety and vice. Children, transplanted from these private nurseries into schools, higher or lower; or formed into distinct families, and entered on any employment in life, produce the fruits of their native foil.

Inattentive or indifferent to the moral and religious instruction of their children, what answer can parents make to them in time to come? what anfwer to the community? or to the great Judge at the last day? They cannot, indeed, give grace to their children. But unremitting parental care of their religious education, together with fervent prayer, encourage them to hope that God will impart his grace. Should all their pains and prayers be unavailing, through the folly and obftinacy of their children, the reflection that parental duty has been faithfully attended will be comfortable, After the wisest and best care of their education, children may thrust daggers into the hearts of parents. It is enough to see or hear that they make themselves vile. But how infupportable the reflection, that all may be owing to the neglect of parental duty ? the neglect of counsel, restraint and warning in childhood and early

« PreviousContinue »