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To Christian Parents-extent of that authority which has been con
ferred by God—the power of affirmation or testimony lodged in the Parent's hands alone—the signal blessing, promised from above, upon their exertions.—To the Ministers of Christ-powerful aid afforded to them by the Domestic Constitution, without either invading the peculiarity of their office, or relieving them from the assiduous discharge of any of its duties the interesting aspect of the primitive Church in relation to Families the beauty and value of Christianity when possessed by Children those Fa. milies where the Domestic Constitution ought to be seen, in all its beauty and its moral power.
TO CHRISTIAN PARENTS.
The character with which, as Parents, you have been invested, were it duly considered, is, of itself, sufficient to induce frequent reflection on that constitution of things, at the head of which you stand. You may not, however, have observed before, that in the very constitution of a Family, there is involved so much of solemn and sacred duty ;-solemn, inasmuch as the authority conferred upon you, approaches nearer to absolute authority, than that of
other which man can lawfully sustain ;-and sacred, inasmuch as this authority has not only been conferred upon you by God, but to Him, for the exercise or neglect of it, you are at last to render an account.
Solemnity of mind, I admit, is not natural, and often not welcome, to man; but as no disposition of mind is more favourable for the accomplishment of duty, surely you will not object to the means of promoting it? -Contemplate then, at least occasionally, the extent of your authority as a Parent. This will not only evince the truth of all that has been advanced, so far as that is consonant with Scripture, but it will solemnize and prepare your mind for the various duties imposed upon you. Say to yourself,
Although the extent of my dominion is the smallest upon earth, why is the authority given me the most extensive out of heaven? Within my own family, there is no one who can, none who should dispute this with me; and of those around my dwelling, from the highest authority in the state to my next door neighbour, there is no one disposed to interfere. Above myself, upon earth, there is none; and to myself I sometimes feel as though, in this matter, only next under God." True, as it regards mankind in general, whatever be your station, low or high, as Parents, unquestionably, you are next under Godeven that God whose name is “ Jealous” and “ the Father of Mercies.” An office-bearer in the kingdom of God, the Minister of Christ, who has to watch for souls, stands on more serious ground; but with this one exception-a position more solemn than yours, as it regards relative duty, I confess I am unable to conceive.
The extent of your authority, however, is not the only consideration, which is calculated to increase in you solemnity of mind. By whom was this authority lodged in you, and for what end was it so deposited ?
No human power, however extensive, can be absolute: nor was there ever conferred by God any authority on man, but upon conditions expressed or implied; and if much is implied in your very character as Parents, certainly also, in the Word of God, much has been expressed, in direct reference to that authority with which he has clothed you.
To the word of God, therefore, would I most earnestly and affectionately commend you; and should this attempt only induce you to use it, with greater care, as your invariable and habitual Family-book, my end is gained. The Scriptures alone, be assured, at once properly and perfectly can instruct you, into the real character and full extent of this connexion be. tween Father and Child. They alone, without mistake, impartially and fully explain the obligations of either party; and they alone furnish motives sufficiently powerful to secure the regular, and even delightful performance of all that is incumbent: they alone strikingly paint to you, without exaggeration, instances of failure, whether of bad or even good men, ending in exquisite misery to themselves, and in the recorded displeasure of God himself; as well as instances of remarkable success, ending in blessings to unborn generations.
Thus, after all, you observe the advantages conferred upon you, as far as monition and encouragement go, are equal to all your responsibility, great, confessedly, as that responsibility is. Nor is even this all : there are two considerations to which, in concluding this volume, I would invite your particular attention, as involving the most powerful encouragements which can be conceived. They are encourage
ments, too, which, as with outstretched hand and pointing finger, are presented to you from above ; while, at the same time, they still farther unfold the interesting and singular character of that constitution of things, which it has been the design of these pages to illustrate. I refer to the power of affirmation or testimony, which is lodged in your hands alone, with reference to your Children; and the promised blessing of God, upon your exertions as a Parent.
1. In illustration of the first of these, let it be remembered, that, as Children have every thing to learn, it is absolutely necessary that there should be one quarter, in which they may and must place im. plicit confidence. These earliest years are the most important of human existence; and yet, during these years, the Child must depend almost entirely upon you. What does the dear little prattler know about evidence, or the degrees of it? and if his faith were to depend on evidence, what would become of himself personally, and what would become of the time and patience of his Parents ?-In short, the stock of faith, or implicit dependence, which he requires, until he reach, perhaps, his twelfth or fourteenth year, may be said to be more than he requires afterwards.
Now, who is it that has instinctively qualified him for reliance, for implicit reliance on your testimony? For see, if you conduct yourself wisely, notwithstanding all the corruption of human nature, see how absolute is your sway over this little immortal being ! See how instinctively he watches you, and follows, and imitates ! See how he looks at your face, and your hands, and all your motions ! Observe espe
very tone of
cially, at certain seasons, how peculiar to him, while he sits on your knee, is the
voice! And what use are you to make of that voice? What influence are those tones to have on his ear?-tones which cannot be supplied by any other individual ? And how singularly providential is the adaptation of this infant's mind to your instructions, when it is observed that mere testimony or affirmation is all that is wanted—for upon your simple affirmation he confidently, and without hesitation, relies ? Only treat him with fairness and integrity; inform yourself, accurately, of what you wish to inform him; and though he will charm you, and affect you, and even puzzle you with inquiries, still he will receive your testimony. Though he may, and will, early evince that he is a sinner-that he has a will of his own, and is but too prone to disobedience; still, after all, acting as has been stated, long will it be before he will doubt your word! Go on then.
If you really desire to make the most of the day, set out early in the morning. Go on, filling and informing his mind-storing it with truth and facts, but, above all, heavenly truth; and he will receive all, without
hesita. tion, as far as his memory and understanding can go. Yield to the glow of parental love, and pour forth valuable instruction on his infant mind, with all the tenderness and warmth of which you are capable. Long after you are cold in the grave will these tones of yours, and these truths, and all your favourite maxims, nay, your very smiles, and sighs, or tears, will return upon him. Then, too, will these facts, which he is daily verifying, and these truths, enforced in the days of infancy, by all that was tender and im