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how many lies and curses he would have uttered, and how beastly and fleshly a life he would have lived, how much wrong he would have done to God and men, and how much he would have pleased the devil, and what torments in hell he must have endured as the reward of all; and then to think how mercifully God hath prevented all this; and what service he may do God in the world, and finally live with Christ in glory: what a joy is this to a considering, believing parent, that taketh the mercies of his children as his own? 4. Religion will teach your children to be more dutiful to yourselves, than nature can teach them. It will teach them to love you, even when you have no more to give them, as well as if you had the wealth of all the world: it will teach them to honour you, though you are poor and contemptible in the eyes of others. It will teach them to obey you, and if you fall into want, to relieve you according to their power: it will fit them to comfort you in the time of your sickness and distress; when ungodly children will be as thorns in your feet and eyes, or cut your hearts, and prove a greater grief than any enemies to you. A gracious child will bear with your weaknesses, when a Ham will not cover his father's nakedness: a gracious child can pray for you, and pray with you, and be a blessing to your house; when an ungodly child is fitter to curse, and prove a curse to those he lives with. 5. And is it not an exceeding joy to think of the everlasting happiness of your child? and that you may live together in heaven for ever? When the foreseen misery of a graceless child may grieve you whenever you look him in the face. 6. Lastly, it will be a great addition to your joy, to think that God blessed your diligent instructions, and made you the instrument of all that good that is done upon your children, and of all that good that is done by them, and of all the happiness they have for ever. To think that this was conveyed to them by your means, will give you a larger share in the delights of it. Motive VII. Remember that your children's original sin and misery is by you; and therefore in justice you that have undone them, are bound to do your best to save them.' If you had but conveyed a leprosy, or some hereditary disease to their bodies, would you not have done your best to cure them? O that you could do them but as much good as you
do them hurt! It is more than Adam's sin that runneth down into the natures of your children, yea, and that bringeth judgments on them: and even Adam's sin cometh not to them but by you.
Motive VIII. Lastly, Consider what exceeding great need they have of the utmost help you can afford them.' is not a corporal disease, an easy enemy, a tolerable misery, that we call unto you for their help: but it is against sin, and satan, and hell-fire. It is against a body of sin: not one, but many; not small, but pernicious, having seized on the heart: deep-rooted sins, that are not easily plucked up. All the teaching, and diligence, and watchfulness that you can use, is little enough, and may prove too little. They are obstinate vices that have possessed them: they are not quickly nor easily cast out: and the remnants and roots are apt to be still springing up again, when you thought they had been quite destroyed: O then what wisdom and diligence is requisite to so great and necessary a work!
And now let me seriously speak to the hearts of those careless and ungodly parents, that neglect the holy education of their children: yea, and to those professors of godliness, that slubber over so great a work with a few customary formal duties and words, that are next to a total omission of it. O be not so unmerciful to the souls that you have helped to bring into the world! Think not so basely of them, as if they were not worth your labour. Make not your children so like your beasts, as to make no provision but only for their flesh. Remember still that it is not beasts but men, that you have begotten and brought forth: educate them then and use them as men for the love and obedience of their Maker: O pity and help the souls that you have defiled and undone! Have mercy on the souls that must perish in hell, if they be not saved in this day of salvation! O help them that have so many enemies to assault them! Help them that have so many temptations to pass through; and so many difficulties to overcome; and so severe a judgment to undergo! Help them that are so weak, and so easily deceived and overthrown! Help them speedily while your advantages continue; before sin have hardened them, and grace have forsaken them, and satan place a stronger garrison in their hearts. Help them while they are tractable, before they are grown up to despise your
help before you and they are separated asunder, and your opportunities be at an end. You think not your pains from year to year, too much to make provision for their bodies: O be not cruel to their souls! Sell them not to satan, and that for naught! Betray them not by your ungodly negligence to hell. Or if any of them will perish, let it not be by you, that are so much bound to do them good: the undoing of your children's souls is a work much fitter for satan, than for their parents. Remember how comfortable a thing it is, to work with Christ for the saving of souls. You think the calling of ministers honourable and happy; and so it is, because they serve Christ in so high a work: but if you will not neglect it, you may do for your children more than any minister can do. This is your preaching place: here God calleth you to exercise your parts; even in the holy instruction of your families: your charge is small in comparison of the minister's, he hath many hundred souls to watch over, that are scattered all abroad the parish: and will you think it much to instruct and watch over those few of your own that are under your roof? You can speak odiously of unfaithful, soul-betraying ministers; and do you not consider how odious a soul-betraying parent is? If God intrust you but with earthly talents, take heed how you use them, for you must be accountable for your trust; and when he hath intrusted with souls, you even your children's souls, will you betray them? If any rulers should but forbid you the instructing and well-governing of your families, and restrain you by a law, as they would have restrained Daniel from praying in his house, then you would think them monsters of impiety and inhumanity and you would cry out of a satanical persecution, that would make men traitors to their children's souls, and drive away all religion from the earth. And yet how easily can you neglect such duties, when none forbid them you, and never accuse yourselves of any such horrid impiety or inhumanity? What hypocrisy, and blind partiality is this? Like a lazy minister that would cry out of persecution, if he were silenced by others, and yet will not be provoked to be laborious, but ordinarily by his slothfulness silence himself, and make no such matter of it: would it be so heinous a sin in another
c Dan. vi.
to restrain you? And is it not as heinous for you, that are so much obliged to it, voluntarily to restrain yourselves? O then deny not this necessary diligence to your necessitous children, as you love their souls, as you love the happiness of the church or commonwealth, as you love the honour and interest of Christ, and as you love your present and everlasting peace. Do not see your children the slaves of satan here, and the firebrands of hell for ever, if any diligence of yours may contribute to prevent it. Do not give conscience such matter of accusation against you, as to say, 'All this was long of thee! If thou hadst instructed them diligently, and watched over them, and corrected them, and done thy part, it is like they had never come to this.' You till your fields; you weed your gardens: what pains take you about your grounds and cattle? And will you not take more for your children's souls? Alas, what creatures will they be if you leave them to themselves? How ignorant, careless, rude and beastly? O what a lamentable case have ungodly parents brought the world into? Ignorance and selfishness, beastly sensuality, and devilish malignity have covered the face of the earth as a deluge, and driven away wisdom, and self-denial, and piety, and charity, and justice, and temperance almost out of the world, confining them to the breasts of a few obscure humble souls, that love virtue for virtue's sake, and look for their reward from God alone, and expect that by abstaining from iniquity, they make themselves a prey to wolves. Wicked education hath unmanned the world, and subdued it to satan, and made it almost like to hell. O do not join with the sons of Belial in this unnatural, horrid wickedness!
The mutual Duties of Husbands and Wives towards each other.
It is the pernicious subversion of all societies, and so of the world, that selfish, ungodly persons enter into all relations with a desire to serve themselves there, and fish out all that gratifieth their flesh, but without any sense of the
d Isa. lix. 15.
duty of their relation. They bethink them what honour, or profit, or pleasure their relation will afford them, but not what God and man require or expect from them". All their thought is, what they shall have, but not what they shall be, and do. They are very sensible what others should be, and do to them; but not what they should be, and do to others. Thus it is with magistrates, and with people, with too many pastors and their flocks, with husbands and wives, with parents and children, with masters and servants, and all other relations. Whereas our first care should be to know and perform the duties of our relations, and please God in them, and then look for his blessing by way of encouraging reward. Study and do your parts, and God will certainly do his.
Direct. 1. The first duty of husbands is to love their wives (and wives their husbands) with a true, entire conjugal love." "Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.-- So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies; he that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. Let every one of you in particular so love his wife, even as himself." It is a relation of love that you have entered. God hath made it your duty for your mutual help and comfort: that you may be as willing and ready to succour one another, as the hand is to help the eye or other fellow member, and that your converse may be sweet, and your burdens easy, and your lives may be comfortable. If love be removed but for an hour between husband and wife, they are so long as a bone out of joint; there is no ease, no order, no work well done, till they are restored and set in joint again. Therefore be sure that conjugal love be constantly maintained.
The sub-directions for maintaining conjugal love are such as these. Direct. 1. Choose one at first that is truly amiable, especially in the virtues of the mind. 2. Marry not till you are sure that you can love entirely. Be not drawn for sordid ends, to join with one that you have but ordinary affections for. 3. Be not too hasty, but know beforehand, all the imperfections, which may tempt you aftera Gen. ii. 18. Prov. xviii. 22. b Eph. v. 25. 28, 29. 33. See Gen. ii. 22.