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As for the assistance of ministers in this work of education I persuade myself, you will be so wise as thankfully to embrace it, both in public and private; and let me urge you to improve it to the utmost. Accustom your children to an early constancy and seriousness in attending divine ordinances, and be often yourselves enquiring, and give us leave sometimes to enquire, how they advance in acquaintance with religion, and in love to it. And more particularly let them attend on our catechetical lectures, which are peculiarly intended for their service.
I bless God, I have seen the happy effects of this exercise, both in the places where I was educated whilst a child*, and in those where I was formerly fixed; and as I am now introducing it amongst you, with an intent to continue it as long as I am capable of public service, I promise myself your most hearty concurrence in it. I will not at large insist on the advantages which may attend it. You easily see, that it will be an engagement to the children to learn those excellent summaries of divine truth, when their progress in them is so often examined: By repeating it themselves, and hearing it rehearsed by others, it will be more deeply fixed upon their memories: The exposition of it, in a plain and familiar manner may much improve their understandings in the doctrines and duties of religion: And I will add, you that are parents may, by attending on these occasions, possibly learn something as to the way of opening and explaining things, which you may successfully practice at home. In consequence of all we may hope, that, by the divine blessing some good impressions may be made on the minds of children. And when they find a minister willing to take pains to instruct them, when they hear him seriously and tenderly pleading with them, and pleading with God for them, it may much engage their affections to him, and so promote his usefulness amongst them, in other ordinances, and in future years. And give me leave to say upon this head, that as no wise and good minister will think it beneath him, to desire the affection of the children of his congregation; so it is the duty of parents to cherish in their offspring, sentiments of respect and love to all the faithful ministers of Christ, and especially towards those
Kingston, and St. Albans On the mention of which, I cannot forbear roturning my public thanks to my reverend and worthy friends Mr. Mayo and Mr. Clark, for the many excellent instructions they gave me, both in public and private, when under their ministerial care in the years of childhood. As I would always retain a grateful and affectionate remembrance of it, I cannot but pray, that the like care may be as much the practice, as it is the duty of their
who statedly labour amongst them. Whatever mistakes you may discover in our conduct, or whatever deficiencies in our public ministrations, you should study to conceal them from the notice of your children; lest they should grow up in a contempt of those, whose services might otherwise be highly advantageous to them.
6. Lastly, Be earnest in prayer to God for his blessing on your attempts in the education of your children, if you desire to see them successful.
This I would leave with you as my last advice; and though I have had frequent occasion to hint at it before, I would now more particularly urge it on your attentive regard. God is the author of Every good and every perfect gift*; it is he, that has formed the mind and the tongue, and that Teaches man knowledge and address+. On him therefore must you fix your dependence, to teach you so to conceive of divine things, and so to express your conceptions of them, as may be most suited to the capacities, the dispositions, and the circumstances of your children; and to him you must look to Teach them to profit by allt, by his almighty grace to open their ear unto discipline§, and to bow their heart unto understanding||.
A heathen poet could teach the Romans, in a form of public and solemn devotion, to look up to heaven for influences from thence, to form their youth to the love and practice of virtue¶. Surely you, my friends, are under much greater obligations to do it, and that in a christian manner; earnestly intreating the God of grace, to send down on your rising offspring the effusions of that blessed Spirit, which was purchased by the blood of Christ, and is deposited in his compassionate hand. If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious**, you are daily living on those supplies; let it be your constant errand at the throne of grace, to plead for your children there. Wrestle with God in secret, for the life of their souls, and for those regenerating influences on which it depends; and in those family devotions, which I hope you dare not neglect, let the little ones, from their earliest infancy, have a share in your remembrance. You may humbly hope, that he, by whose encouragement and command you pray, will not suffer these supplications to be like water spilt upon the ground: And, in the nature of things,
* Jam. i. 17. † Psal. xciv. 10. ‡ Isai. xlviii. 17. § Job xxxvi. 10. || Prov. ii. 2.
-Hor. Car. Sæc. ver. 45, 46.
it may tend to make serious impressions on the minds of your children, to hear their own case mentioned in prayer, and may dispose them with greater regard, to attend on what you say to them, when they find you so frequently, so solemnly, and so, tenderly pleading with God for them.
Doubt not that every faithful minister of Christ will most heartily concur with you, in so great and necessary a request. May God return to our united addresses an answer of peace! May he Pour out his Spirit on our seed, and his blessing on our offspring that they may grow up before him as willows by the water-courses*; that they may be to their parents for comfort, to the church for a support, and to our God for a name and a praise! Amen.
Isai. xliv. 3, 4.
ON THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN.
Prov. xxii. 6.
An Address to different Relations, &c.
-Train up a Child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
N treating on this subject of education, I have all along endeavoured, according to my usual manner, to make my discourses as practical as I could. While I was describing, and recommending the way, and offering my advices, with regard to the manner of conducting children into it, most of what I said under those generals was an application to you. I have therefore left myself the less to do here; yet I was not willing to conclude my discourses on a subject, which it is probable I shall never so largely resume, without
Fourthly, A particular address to my hearers, according to your different relations, and characters in life.
This I promised as my fourth and last general, and I enter on it without farther preface; humbly begging, that God, who has so intimate an access to all our hearts, would enable me to speak in the most awakening and edifying manner; and that he would, by his blessed Spirit, apply it to your consciences, that it may be As a nail fastened in a sure place*; that hearing and knowing these things for yourselves, you may Hear and know them for your good↑.
I would here particularly address myself,-first to parents,— then to children, and-in the last place, to those young persons who are grown up to years of maturity, but not yet fixed in families of their own. I. Let me address my discourse to those of you that are parents; whether you have been negligent of the duties I have now been urging, or through grace, have been careful in the discharge of them.
1. To those who have been grossly negligent in this important.
I have here one advantage not common to every subject; I mean, that the guilty will immediately know themselves. When we apply ourselves in general to unconverted sinners, ignorance of the nature of true religion, a neglect of conversing with your own souls, or the insinuating prejudices of self-love, may disguise the true state of the case, and teach people to speak peace to themselves, under the most awful denunciations of wrath and vengeance. But here, one would imagine, that the recollection of a few moments might be sufficient to determine the case; because the question relates to past fact, and that not merely. to one particular action, but to a long train and succession of labours and attempts.
Now let your consciences witness, whether I am guilty of a breach of charity, when I take it for granted, that there are some amongst you, who have been, and are very negligent of the duty I have now been enforcing? You have probably contented yourselves with teaching your children to read, and setting them to learn, like parrots, a prayer, and perhaps too, a catechism and a creed. But I appeal to your consciences, have you from the very day of their birth to this time, ever spent one hour in seriously instructing them in the knowledge of God, and endeavouring to form them to his fear and service; in setting before them the misery of their natural condition, and urging them to apply to Christ for life and salvation; in representing the solemnities of death, and judgment, and the eternal world, and urging an immediate and diligent preparation for them? Where is the time, where the place, that can witness, that you have been pouring out your souls before God on their account, and wrestling with him for their lives, as knowing they must perish for ever, without the righteousness of his Son, and the grace of his Spirit? Where, or when, have you thus prayed with them, or for them? What sermon have you heard, what scripture have you read, with this thought, "This will I carry to my children, and communicate to them as the food of their souls?" I fear there are several of you that have been so far from doing it, that you have hardly ever seriously thought of it as a thing to be done.
And I would ask, Why have you not thought of it, and why have you not done it? Are these creatures that you have produced, like the other animals of your houses or your field, mere animated systems of flesh and blood, made to take a turn in life for a few days and months, and then to sink into everlasting forgetfulness? Or are they rational and immortal creatures, that