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not welcome to man; but as no disposition of mind is more favorable 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 neighbor, 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, I were 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 God-even 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 ful extent of this connection between 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 encouragements, 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 remem
bered, that, as Children have everything to learn, it is absolutely necessary that there should be one quarter, in which they may and must place implicit 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 especially, at certain seasons, how peculiar to him, while he sits on your knee, is the very tone of your 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,
* Here I am fully aware, that there is scarcely a more common complaint in regard to a disobedient child, than that he will not listen to advice, to remonstrance, or entreaty. But this complaint, I am afraid, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, is very far from being fair. As well might the negligent keeper of an orchard complain, that his branches will not yield to be trained. In such a case you would say—“My friend, all this is idle talk; your season is over and gone; you have been absent, or unequal, or negligent, at a former period. Where were you when these branches were twigs? Where, when they might have been trained with a hair,
Now, with a power such as this in possession, should Parents prove, I do not say disobedient, but merely inattentive to the order of heaven and the appointment of the Almighty ; surely, surely, you can feel no surprise if you see the curse scatter itself from them by virtual contact and the channel of relationship-no surprise when you see such Parents leave behind them a series of crimes, with their appropriate punishments, to be divided, by entail, among their Children ; ay, and if these Children approve the deeds of their Parents, I may safely add, among their Children's Children! Nor, however much this sad entail may be lamented by other relations, and they may somewhat mitigate its pressure, can even their united efforts ever entirely break it! An appeal to the Almighty himself alone, on the
and when they bent at your breath ? So is it in general with these inattentive or regardless Children, now indeed so loudly complained of. They are proofs of some previous delinquency on the part of their ordained guardians-assuredly not proofs of the powerlessness or inefficacy of parental instruction."
But is there no contrast to all this? Certainly there is—many a triumphant one; and many more there might be. Observe that Parent who assiduously improves his earliest opportunities; his family illustrates the truth of all that has been said : for what is the reason that the Parent has such a hold of the Infant and Child, and so little of the Youth? And what the reason, that his instructions or warnings are so marvellously powerful in the one case, and so powerless in the other? Why, because in the latter case, the season of God's appointment had in some way been disregarded; in the former, it had been seized and improved, when instruction was easily taken in and hardly lost again. Hardly, did I say? I may go farther than this, and with great safety. If due care is taken, to your joy you will find that, so far from your early impressions on your Child failing, subsequent impressions serve rather to indent the former, than to efface them. Other instructions may be contained in the mind, and be of great service, but those of the Father and the Mother were imbibed. That which comes first, takes almost absolute possession, and carries with it all the authority you could wish; there being no antecedent notions to dispute the title or call the truth in question.