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there were many that were his servants, who, by the blessing of God upon his endeavours, got those good impressions upon their souls which they retained ever after; and blessed God with all their hearts that ever they came under his roof. Few went from his service till they were married, and went to families of their own; and some after they had been married and buried their yoke.fellows, returned to his service again, saying, , “Master it is good to be here."
He brought up his children in the fear of God, with a great deal of care and tenderness, and did by his practice, as well as upon all occasions in discourses, condemn the indiscretion of those parents who are partial in their affections to their children, making a difference between them, which he observed did often prove of ill consequence in families; and lay a foundation of envy, contempt, and discord, which turns to their shame and ruin. His carriage towards his children was with great mildness and gentleness, as one who desired rather to be loved than feared by them. He was as careful not to provoke them to wrath, nor to discourage them, as he was to bring them up in the nurture and ad
monition of the Lord. He ruled indeed, and kept up his authority, but it was with wisdom and love and not with a high hand. He allowed his children a great degree of freedom with him, which gave him the opportunity of reasoning them, not frightening them into that which is good. He did much towards the instruction of his children in the way of familiar discourse, according to that excellent directory for religious education, Deut. vi. 7. Thou shalt whet these things (so the word is, which he said noted frequent repetition of the same things) upon thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, &c. which made them love home and delight in his company, and greatly endeared religion to them.
He did not burthen his children's memories by imposing upon them the getting of chapters and psalms without book; but endeavoured to make the whole word of God familiar to them, (especially the Scripture stories) and to bring them to understand and love it, and then they would easily remember it. He used to observe from Psal. cxix. 93; “I will never forget thy precepts, for with them thou hast quickened me;” that we are then likely to remember the word of God when it doth us good.
He taught all his children to write himself, and set them betimes to write sermons and other things that might be of use to them. He taught his eldest daughter the Hebrew tongue when she was about six or seven years old, by an English Hebrew grammar, which he made on purpose for her: and she went so far in it, as to be able readily to read and construe a Hebrew psalm.
He drew up a short form of the baptismal covenant, for the use of his children; it was this:
“ I take God the Father to be my chiefest good and highest end.
I take God the Son to be my Prince and Saviour.
I take God the Holy Ghost to be my sanctifier, teacher, guide, and comforter.
I take the word of God to be my rule in all my actions.
And the people of God to be my people in all conditions.
I do likewise devote and dedicate unto the
Lord, my whole self, all I am, all I have, and all I can do.
And this I do deliberately, sincerely, freely, and for ever.”
This he taught his children, and they each of them solemnly repeated it every Lord's day in the evening, after they were catechised, he putting his Amen to it, and sometimes adding, “so say, and so do, and you are made for ever.'
He also took pains with them, to lead them into the understanding of it, and to persuade them to a free and cheerful consent to it. And when they grew up, he made them all write it over severally with their own hands, and very solemnly set their names to it, which he told them he would keep by him, and it should be produced as a testimony against them, in case they should afterwards depart from God, and turn from following after him.
He was careful to bring his children betimes (when they were about sixteen years of age) to the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, to take the covenant of God
selves, and to make their dedication to God their own act and deed; and a great deal of pains he took with them, to prepare them for that great ordinance, and so to transmit them into the state of adult church-membership. And he would often blame parents, who would think themselves undone if they had not their children baptized, and yet took no care when they grew up and made a profession of the Christian religion, to persuade them to the Lord's Supper. 'Tis true (he would say) buds and blossoms are not fruit, but they give hopes of fruit, and parents may and should take hold of the good beginnings of grace which they see in their children, by those who bind them so much the closer to and lead them so much the faster, in the way that is called holy. By this solemn engagement the door which stood half open before, and invited the thief, is shut and bolted against temptation. And to those who pleaded that they were not fit, he would say, that the further they went into the world, the less fit they would be. Qui non est hodie cras minus aptus erit.
Not that children should be compelled to it, nor those that are wilfully ignorant, untoward, and perverse, admitted