« PreviousContinue »
mind; and send thy Spirit, that he may be light and life to me."
But, mind! I would not have you suppose that Samuel was the only child taught by the Holy Spirit; for many are the instances of young children, that have early sought the Lord and found him : they have been made wise unto salvation, have known the way of life, and have taken fast hold of wisdom and not let it go. They have talked of religion to children older than themselves, and have even been their instructors; and I should tell you, as a witness, that I have known several of them who have lived ornaments to the Church, and died rejoicing in Christ, and went undoubtedly to a better world.
4. I will tell you one thing more that has been said with respect to you. It has been said, when we conversed about it,--for we think of you, when
you think not that we do,-it has been said, that, notwithstanding all that has been done for you, in teaching you, giving you books, preaching sermons to you, and talking with you, it has been said, that GENERAL INSTRUCTION IS NOT SUFFICIENT; that there must be other helps: you must be taught at home; and every thing, that can be thought of, should be done to impress religion on your minds. Now if this be necessary, then be thankful to any friend for any help afforded you. Say of such“ Here is one, who cares for me,
Here is one,
who loves me; who loves my eternal interest; who would keep me from poisonous examples.”
But especially, my Dear Children, you should hear the instruction of a father, with respect to your Parents, who are particularly appointed to instruct you.' I shall not now be able to say enough on this subject to you, nor should I if I were to take up a whole discourse in preaching on this point: I could not sufficiently shew you the deep and lasting obligations, under which you
lie to your parents ; and how you ought to be studying, on every occasion, to shew them how much you feel yourselves indebted to them. None can love
you like a parent. None cares for your interest like a parent. None thinks of you awake or asleep like a parent. When you are at play, their hearts are often aching for you: and never know the value of your parents, till them.
And I should tell you, that God has set a mark on children, 'who honour their parents; and a mark upon them, who slight them :-and I declare to you, that I never saw a child which behaved perversely and disobediently to its parents, on whom God did not set a black mark, for whom he did not raise up plagues and scourges.
On the other hand, if a child has been obedient and affectionate, and has had a dutiful regard for his parents, I have often had occasion to think of those words, Honour thy father and thy mother; VOL II.
you will you lose
that thy days may be longe in the land, which the Lörd thy God giveth thee.
Buts to return to the point from whence I just now: set out if the instruction of your Minister needs to be followed up at home,--if this has been said among us, that general instruction wants following up at home, that things must not be left in the pulpit or the chapel--if this be the case, I ought to speak
IJ. TO PARENTS and HEADS OF FAMILIES...
And I say to such parents as are present, your own salvation is your first concern; and, till you are in earnest and anxious about that, I shall never hope to see you anxious about the salvation of your children.
But of this you hear continually. You hear continually impressed on you the importance of fleeing from the wrath to come ; and that to purpose, by fleeing to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I must now pass by your own personal concern for salvation to speak to you of that special charge committed to you in your dear children. If they were only to live here for a little while, and then die for ever, and go as the atheist talks into an eternal sleep, then indeed you need only be concerned for their well-being here. But the children committed to you are immortals. It is true, they live but a little while, here; but they will live for ever, in a future world. And what does : the word of God say to the conscience of a parent
concerning every child committed to his trust? that which Pharaoh's daughter said to the nurse, Take this child, and nurse it for me—“ Take this child,” God says to every parent," and nurse it for me. I give it you in charge. I commit it to your hand.” And, though you do right to call in all the help you can, carrying it to the ministers of Christ or to institutions set up to instruct it, yet you have the charge; and I must tell you that there is no solid ground for your hope of any happiness for it, even in this world, till religion takes hold of its heart.
I have especial reason for speaking thus, because I look back with shame, and confess how many years I was a torment and distress to my parents; and therefore I speak as a public witness : and the Royal Preacher is also a witness; for, while he calls others to hear his doctrine, he says, I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thy heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom: get understanding: and it is as if he had added, “ The Lord gave a blessing to my father and mother; and here I stand, a witness to the success of such conduct.”
I would speak a word to the hearts of you parents. I would appeal to you; for I am a parent also, and I know how discouraging it is, after striving to turn the hearts of children, to see them return back again, and start aside like a broken bow. Our hearts are ready to faint in this work'; and to plead, “ It never can be done:" but this is a great temptation.
I would have you all despair, indeed, of doing any thing to purpose without God, either for your own souls or your children's. I smile at the man who comes forward and says, “ I have an infallible plan! I have a sure method of education! I can bend the mind, and teach to purpose !” The man is blind, and knows not that God only can change and direct the heart.
Yet, while we should despair of effecting any thing by our own power and wisdom, I charge it upon you in the name of God, I charge it upon you as one that would secure you from the temptations of Satan, never to despair respecting your children: and for this reason; because you may put your trust in a Divine Power, when you can hope in nothing else.
The question is this, Has God spoken to us in his word ? Has he not said, Train up a child in the
way he should go, and when he is old-mark that, when he is old, if not before-he shall not depart from it?
On the other hand, has he not spoken of neglecting them?-of giving them up to their own lusts? Has he not said, that, As a man soweth, so