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which we send some small supply to the indigent and distressed; and if they discover a disposition to give something out of the little stock we allow them to call their own, we should joyfully encourage it, and should take care that they never lose by their charity, but that in a prudent manner we abundantly repay it. It is hardly to be imagined, that children thus brought up should, in the advance of life, prove injurious and oppressive; they will rather be the ornaments of religion, and blessings to the world, and probably will be in the number of the last whom providence will suffer to want.
5. Children should be trained up in the way of diligence.
This should undoubtedly be our care, if we have any regard to the welfare, either of their bodies, or their souls. In whatever station of life they may at length be fixed, it is certain there is little prospect of their acquitting themselves with usefulness, honour and advantage, without a close and resolute application; whereas the wisest of princes and of men has said, Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men*. And it is evident, that a diligent prosecution of business keeps one out of the way of a thousand temptations, which idleness seems to invite, leading a man into numberless instances of vice and folly, because he has nothing else to dot.
A prudent and religious parent will therefore be concerned, that his children may not early contract so pernicious a habit, nor enter upon life, like persons that have no business in it, but to croud the stage, and stand in the way of those who are better employed. Instead of suffering them to saunter about from place to place, (as abundance of young people do, to no imaginable purpose of usefulness, or even of entertainment) he will quickly assign them some employment for their time: An employment so moderated, and so diversified, as not to overwhelm and fatigue their tender spirits‡; yet sufficient to keep them wakeful and active. Nor is this so difficult as some may imagine; for children are a busy kind of creatures, naturally fond of learning new things, and trying and shewing what they can do. So that, I am persuaded, were perfect inactivity
* Prov. xxii. 29.
+ Thus it is said of Ægisthus,
Ne nil ageretur, amavit.
Nec sum adeo Etatum imprudens, ut instandum teneris protinus acerbe putem, exigendamque plenam operam. -Lusus hic sit, &c.- -QUINTIL. Orat. Lib. i. Cap. 1.
to be imposed upon them as a penance, but for one hour, they would be heartily weary of it, and would be glad to seek their refuge from it, in almost any business you would think fit to employ them about.
Thus should they be disciplined in their infant years, should early be taught the value of time, and early accustomed to improve it, till they grow fit for some calling in life; in which they should at length be placed with this important maxim deeply ingraven upon their minds, "That full employ in whatever service they are fixed, is a thing by no means to be dreaded, but, on the contrary, greatly to be desired."
I shall conclude this head with the mention of a very remarkable law amongst the Athenians, which ordained, "That those, who had been brought up to no employ by their parents, should not be obliged to keep them, if they came to want in their old age; which all other (legitimate) children were*. 6. Children should be trained up in the way of integrity.
Simplicity and godly sincerity† is not only a very amiable, but an essential part of the christian character; and we are every one of us indispensably obliged to approve ourselves Israelites indeed, in whom there is no allowed guile‡. And this is a circumstance that will peculiarly require our regard, in the education of our children, and of all young persons under
It is very melancholy to observe, how soon the artifices and deceits of corrupt nature begin to discover themselves. In this respect we are Transgressors from the womb, and go astray almost as soon as we are born, speaking lies§. Great care therefore should be taken to form the minds of children to a love for truth and candour, and a sense of the meanness, as well as the guilt of a lie. We should be cautious, that we do not expose them to any temptations of this kind, either by unreasonable severities, on account of little faults, or by hasty surprises when enquiring into any matter of fact, which it may seem their interest to disguise by a falsehood: And when we find them guilty of a known and deliberate lie, we should express our horror of it, not only by a present reproof or correction, but by such a conduct towards them for some time afterwards, as may plainly shew them how greatly we are amazed, grieved, and displeased. When so solemn a business is made of the
Potter's Greek Antiq. vol. i. page 142.
first faults of this kind, it may be a means of preventing many
I will farther add, that we ought not only thus severely to animadvert upon a direct lie, but likewise, in a proper degree to discourage all kinds of equivocations and double meanings, and those little tricks and artifices, by which they may endeavour to impose on each other, or on those that are older than themselves. We should often inculcate upon them that excellent scripture, He that walketh uprightly, walketh surely; but he that perverteth his way, (that twists and distorts it with the perplexities of artifice and deceit) shall at length be known*. Be shewing them every day, how easy, how pleasant, how honourable, and how advantageous it is to maintain a fair, open, honest temper; and on the other hand, what folly there is in cunning and dishonesty in all its forms; and how certain it is, that by studying and practising it, they take the readiest way to make themselves noxious and useless, infamous and odious. Above all should we remind them, that The righteous Lord loveth righteousness, and his favourable countenance beholds the upright+; but lying lips are such an abomination to him‡, that he expressly declares, All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone§.
7. Children should be trained up in the way of humility.
This is a grace, which our Lord particularly invites us to Learn of him, and most frequently recommends to us; well knowing, that without it, so humbling a scheme as he came to introduce, would never meet with a welcome reception. And with regard to the present life, it is a most lovely ornament, which engages universal esteem and affection; so that Before honour is humility¶: On the whole we find, He that exalteh himself is abased, and he that humbleth himself is exalted** both by God and man.
A regard therefore to the ease, honour, and happiness of our children, should engage us to an early endeavour of checking that pride, which was the first sin, and the ruin of our natures; and diffuses itself so wide, and sinks so deep, into all that draw their original from degenerate Adam. We should teach them to express humility and modesty in their converse with all.
* Prov. 1. 9. pyn (à py) huc illuc se flexit.
Prov. xii. 22.
§ Rev. xxi. 8.
** Mat, xxiii, 12.
They should be taught to treat their superiors with peculiar respect, and should at proper seasons be accustomed to silence and reserve before them. Hence they will learn in some degree the government of the tongue; a branch of wisdom, which, in the advance of life, will be of great importance to the quiet of others, and to their own comfort and reputation.
Nor should they be allowed to assume airs of insolence towards their equals; but rather be taught to yield, to oblige, and to give up their right for the sake of peace. To this purpose I cannot but think it desirable, that they should be generally accustomed to treat each other with those forms of civility and complaisance, which are usual among well-bred people in their rank of life. I know these things are mere trifles in themselves, yet they are the out-guards of humanity and friendship, and effectually prevent many a rude attack, which taking its rise from some little circumstance, may nevertheless be attended with fatal consequences. I thought it proper to mention this here, because, as Scougal very justly and elegantly expresses it*, "These modes are the shadows of humility, and seem intended to shew our regard for others, and the low thoughts we have of ourselves."
I shall only add farther, that it is great imprudence and unkindness to children, to indulge them in a haughty and imperious behaviour towards those who are most their inferiors. They should be made to understand, that the servants of the family are not their servants, nor to be under their government and controul. I the rather insist upon this, because I have generally observed, that where young people have been permitted to tyrannize over persons in the lowest circumstances of life, the humour has shamefully grown upon them, till it has diffused insolence and arrogance through their behaviour to all about them.
Lastly, Children should be trained up in the way of self-denial.
As without something of this temper we can never follow Christ, or expect to be owned by him as his disciples; so neither indeed can we pass comfortably through the world. For, whatever unexperienced youth may dream, a great many distasteful and mortifying circumstances will occur in life, which will unhinge our minds almost every hour, if we cannot manage, and in many instances deny our appetites, our passions, and our humours. We should therefore endeavour to teach our children
this important lesson betimes; and if we succeed in our care, we shall leave them abundantly richer and happier, in this rule and possession of their own spirits, than the most plentiful estates, or the most unlimited power over others, could make them.
When a rational creature becomes the slave of appetite, he sinks beneath the dignity of the human nature, as well as the sanctity of the christian profession. It is therefore observable, that when the apostle mentions the three grand branches of practical religion, he puts sobriety in the front; perhaps to intimate, that where that is neglected, the other cannot be suitably regarded. The grace of God, (i. e. the gospel,) teaches us, to live soberly, righteously, and godly." Children therefore, as well as young men, should be exhorted to be soberminded+: And they should be taught it, by early self-denial, It is certain, that if their own appetite and taste, wer to determine the kind and quantity of their food, many of them would quickly destroy their constitution, and perhaps their lives; since they have often the greatest desire for those things, which are the most improper. And it seems justly observed by a very wise man, who was himself a melancholy instance of it, "That the fondness of mothers for their children, in letting them eat and drink what they will, lays a foundation for most of those calamities in human life, which proceed from bodily indisposition." Nay, I will add that it is the part of wisdom and love, not only to deny what would be unwholesome, but to guard against indulging them in too great a nicety, either of food or dress. People of sense cannot but see, if they would please to consider it, that to know how to fare plainly, and sometimes a little hardly, carries a man with ease and pleasure through many circumstances of life, which to luxury and delicacy would be almost intolerable.
The government of the passions is another branch of selfdenial, to which children should early be habituated; and so much the rather, because, in an age when reason is so weak, the passions are apt to appear with peculiar force and violence. A prudent care should therefore be taken to repress the exhorbitancies of them. For which purpose it is of great importance, that they never be suffered to carry any point, by obstinacy, noise, and clamour, which is indeed to bestow a reward on a fault that deserves a severe reprimand. Nay, I will venture to add, that though it be very inhuman to take pleasure in