Imatges de pÓgina

the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me," he is able truly to serve the Lord."


2. As soon as he believes, he loves God, which is another thing implied in "serving the Lord." "We love him, because he first loved us;" of which faith is the evidence. The love of a pardoning God is "shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Indeed this love may admit of a thousand degrees: but still every one, as long as he believes, may truly declare before God. "Lord, thou knowest that I love thee." Thou knowest that " my desire is unto thee, and unto the remembrance of thy name."

3. And if any man truly love God, he cannot but love his brother also. Gratitude to our Creator will surely produce benevolence to our fellow creatures. If we love him, we cannot but love one another, as Christ loved us. We feel our souls enlarged in love towards every child of man. And towards all the children of God we put on bowels of kindness, gentleness, long suffering, forgiving one another," if we have a complaint against any, "even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven us."


4. One thing more is implied in "serving the Lord," namely, the obeying him; the steadily walking in all his ways, the doing his will from the heart. Like those "his servants" above," who do his pleasure, who keep his commandments, and hearken to the voice of his words;' these, his servants below, hearken unto his voice, diligently keep his commandments, carefully avoid whatever he has forbidden, and zealously do whatever he has enjoined; studying always to have a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.

II. "I and my house will serve the Lord," will every real Christian say. But who are included in that expression, "my house?" This is the next point to be considered.

1. The person in your house that claims your first and nearest atten tion, is, undoubtedly, your wife: seeing you are to love her, even as Christ hath loved the church, when he laid down his life for it, that he might "purify it unto himself, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." The same end is every husband to pursue, in all his intercourse with his wife: to use every possible means, that she may be freed from every spot, and may walk unblamable in love.


2. Next to your wife are your children: immortal spirits whom God hath, for a time, entrusted to your care, that you may train them up in all holiness, and fit them for the enjoyment of God in eternity. This is a glorious and important trust; seeing one soul is of more value than all the world beside. Every child, therefore, you are to watch over with the utmost care, that when you are called to give an account of each to the Father of spirits, you may give your accounts with joy and not with grief.

3. Your servants, of whatever kind, you are to look upon as a kind of secondary children: these, likewise, God has committed to your charge, as one that must give account. For every one under your roof that has a soul to be saved, is under your care: not only indented servants, who are legally engaged to remain with you for a term of years; not only hired servants, whether they voluntarily contract for a longer or shorter time; but also those who serve you by the week or day for these too are, in a measure, delivered into your hands.


it is not the will of your Master who is in heaven, that any of these should go out of your hands, before they have received from you something more valuable than gold or silver. Yea, and you are in a degree accountable, even for "the stranger that is within your gates." As you are particularly required, to see that he does no manner of work" on the Lord's day, while he is within your gates; so by parity of reason, you are required, to do all that is in your power, to prevent his sinning against God in any other instance.


III. Let us inquire, in the third place, What can we do, that all these may 66 serve the Lord ?”

1. May we not endeavour, first, To restrain them from all outward sin? From profane swearing; from taking the name of God in vain ; from doing any needless work, or taking any pastime, on the Lord's day? This labour of love you owe even to your visitants: much more to your wife, children, and servants. The former, over whom you have the least influence, you may restrain by argument or mild persuasion. If you find that, after repeated trials, they will not yield either to one or the other, it is your bounden duty to set ceremony aside, and to dismiss them from your house. Servants also, whether by the day, or for a longer space, if you cannot reclaim, either by reasoning, added to your example, or by gentle or severe reproofs, though frequently repeated, you must, in any wise, dismiss from your family, though it should be ever so inconvenient.

2. But you cannot dismiss your wife, unless for the cause of fornication, that is, adultery. What can then be done, if she is habituated to any other open sin? I cannot find in the Bible, that a husband has authority to strike his wife on any account: even suppose she struck him first; unless his life were in imminent danger. I never have known one instance yet of a wife that was mended thereby. I have heard, indeed, of some such instances; but as I did not see them, I do not believe them. It seems to me, all that can be done in this case, is to be done partly by example, partly by argument or persuasion, each applied in such a manner as is dictated by Christian prudence. If evil can ever be overcome, it must be overcome by good. It cannot be overcome by evil: we cannot beat the devil with his own weapons. Therefore, if this evil cannot be overcome by good, we are called to suffer it. We are then called to say, "this is the cross which God hath chosen for me. He surely permits it for wise ends: 'let him do what seemeth him good.' Whenever he sees it to be best, he will remove his cup from me." Meantime continue in earnest prayer, knowing that with God no work is impossible; and that he will either in due time take the temptation away, or make it a blessing to your soul.

3. Your children, while they are young, you may restrain from evil, not only by advice, persuasion, and reproof, but also by correction; only remembering, that this means is to be used last not till all other have been tried, and found to be ineffectual. And even then you should take the utmost care to avoid the very appearance of passion. Whatever is done should be done with mildness; nay, indeed, with kindness too. Otherwise your own spirit will suffer loss; and the child will reap little advantage.

4. But some will tell you, "all this is lost labour; a child need not to be corrected at all. Instruction, persuasion, and advice, will be suf

ficient for any child without correction: especially if gentle reproof be added, as occasion may require." I answer, there may be particular instances, wherein this method may be successful. But you must not, in any wise, lay this down as a universal rule: unless you suppose yourself wiser than Solomon, or, to speak more properly, wiser than God. For it is God himself, who best knoweth his own creatures, that has told us expressly, " He that spareth the rod, hateth the child: but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes," Prov. xiii, 24. And upon this is grounded that plain commandment, directed to all that fear God, "Chasten thy son while there is hope; and let not thy soul spare for his crying," Chap. xix, 18.

5. May we not endeavour, secondly, to instruct them? To take care that every person who is under our roof, have all such knowledge as is necessary to salvation? To see that our wife, servants, and children, be taught all those things which belong to their eternal peace? In order to this you should provide that not only your wife, but your servants also, may enjoy all the public means of instruction. On the Lord's day in particular, you should so forecast what is necessary to be done at home, that they may have an opportunity of attending all the ordinances of God. Yea, and you should take care, that they have some time every day for reading, meditation, and prayer. prayer. And you should inquire whether they do actually employ that time, in the exercises for which it is allowed. Neither should any day pass without family prayer, seriously and solemnly performed.

6. You should particularly endeavour to instruct your children, early, plainly, frequently, and patiently. Instruct them early, from the first hour that you perceive reason begins to dawn. Truth may then begin to shine upon the mind far earlier than we are apt to suppose. And whoever watches the first openings of the understanding, may, by little and little, supply fit matter for it to work upon, and may turn the eye of the soul towards good things, as well as towards bad or trifling ones. Whenever a child begins to speak, you may be assured reason begins to work. I know no cause why a parent should not just then begin to speak of the best things, the things of God. And from that time no opportunity should be lost, of instilling all truths as they are capable of receiving.

7. But the speaking to them early, will not avail, unless you likewise speak to them plainly. Use such words as little children may understand, just such as they use themselves. Carefully observe the few ideas which they have already, and endeavour to graft what you say upon them. To take a little example: bid the child look up; and ask, "What do you see there?" "The sun?" "See how bright it is! Feel how warm it shines upon your hand! Look, how it makes the grass and the flowers to grow, and the trees and every thing look green! But God, though you cannot see him, is above the sky, and is a deal brighter than the sun! It is he, it is God that made the sun, and you and me, and every thing. It is he that makes the grass and the flowers grow; that makes the trees green, and the fruit to come upon, them! Think what he can do! He can do whatever he pleases. He can strike me or you dead in a moment! But he loves you: he loves to do you good. He loves to make you happy. Should not you then love him? You love me, because I love you and do you good. But it is God

that makes me love you. Therefore you should love him. And he will teach you how to love him."

8. While you are speaking in this, or some such manner, you should be continually lifting up your heart to God, beseeching him to open the eyes of their understanding, and to pour his light upon them. He, and he alone, can make them to differ herein from the beasts that perish. He alone can apply your words to their hearts: without which all your labour will be in vain. But whenever the Holy Ghost teaches, there is no delay in learning.

9. But if you would see the fruit of your labour, you must teach them not only early and plainly, but frequently too. It would be of little or no service to do it only once or twice a week. How often do you feed their bodies? Not less than three times a day. And is the soul of less value than the body? Will you not then feed this as often? If you find this a tiresome task, there is certainly something wrong in your own mind. You do not love them enough; or you do not love him, who is your Father and their Father. Humble yourself before him! Beg that he would give you more love; and love will make the labour light.

10. But it will not avail to teach them both early, plainly, and frequently, unless you persevere therein. Never leave off, never intermit your labour of love, till you see the fruit of it. But in order to this, you will find the absolute need of being endued with power from on high without which, I am persuaded, none ever had, or will have patience sufficient for the work. Otherwise the inconceivable dulness of some children, and the giddiness or perverseness of others, would induce them to give up the irksome task, and let them follow their own imagination.

11. And suppose after you have done this, after you have taught your children from their early infancy, in the plainest manner you could, omitting no opportunity, and persevering therein, you did not presently see any fruit of your labour, you must not conclude that there will be none. Possibly the "bread which you have cast upon the waters" may be "found after many days." The seed which has long remained in the ground, may, at length, spring up into a plentiful harvest. Especially if you do not restrain prayer before God, if you continue instant herein with all supplication. Meantime whatever the effect of this be upon others, your reward is with the Most High.

12. Many parents, on the other hand, presently see the fruit of the seed they have sown, and have the comfort of observing, that their children grow in grace in the same proportion as they grow in years. Yet they have not done all. They have still upon their hands another task, sometimes of no small difficulty. Their children are now old enough to go to school. But to what school is it advisable to send them?

13. Let it be remembered, that I do not speak to the wild, giddy, thoughtless world, but to those that fear God. I ask, then, for what end do you send your children to school? "Why, that they may be fit to live in the world." In which world do you mean? This or the next? Perhaps you thought of this world only; and had forgot that there is a world to come: yea, and one that will last for ever! Pray take this into your account and send them to such masters as will keep it always before their eyes. Otherwise to send them to school, (permit me to speak plainly,) is little better than sending them to the devil. At all VOL. II.


events, then, send your boys, if you have any concern for their souls, not to any of the large public schools; (for they are nurseries of all manner of wickedness ;) but a private school, kept by some pious man, who endeavours to instruct a small number of children in religion and learning together.


14. But what shall I do with my girls ?" By no means send them to a large boarding school. In these seminaries too the children teach one another pride, vanity, affectation, intrigue, artifice, and in short, every thing which a Christian woman ought not to learn. Suppose a girl were well inclined, yet what would she do in a crowd of children, not one of whom has any thought of God, or the least concern for her soul? Is it likely, is it possible she should retain any fear of God, or any thought of saving her soul in such company? Especially as their whole conversation points another way, and turns upon things which one would wish she would never think of. I never yet knew a pious, sensible woman that had been bred at a large boarding school, who did not aver, one might as well send a young maid to be bred in Drury Lane.

15. "But where then shall I send my girls ?"-If you cannot breed them up yourself, (as my mother did, who bred up seven daughters to years of maturity,) send them to some mistress that truly fears God; one whose life is a pattern to her scholars, and who has only so many, that she can watch over each, as one that must give account to God. Forty years ago I did not know such a mistress in England; but you may now find several: you may find such a mistress, and such a school, at Highgate, at Deptford, near Bristol, in Chester, or near Leeds.

16. We may suppose your sons have now been long enough at school, and you are thinking of some business for them. Before you determine any thing on this head, see that your eye be single. Is it so? Is it your view, to please God herein? It is well, if you take him into your account! But surely, if you love or fear God yourself, this will be your first consideration ;--In what business will your son be most likely to love and serve God? In what employment will he have the greatest advantage, for laying up treasure in heaven? I have been shocked above measure, in observing how little this is attended to, even by pious parents! Even these consider only how he may get most money; not how he may get most holiness! Even these, upon this glorious motive, send him to a heathen master, and into a family where there is not the very form, much less the power of religion! Upon this motive they fix him in a business, which will necessarily expose him to such temptations as will leave him not a probability, if a possibility, of serving God. Oh savage parents! Unnatural, diabolical cruelty!-If you believe there is another world.

"But what shall I do?" Set God before your eyes, and do all things with a view to please him. Then you will find a master, of whatever profession, that loves, or, at least, fears God; and you will find a family, wherein is the form of religion, if not the power also. Your son may, nevertheless, serve the devil if he will; but it is probable, he will not. And do not regard, if he get less money, provided he get more holiness. It is enough, though he have less of earthly goods, if he secure the possession of heaven.

17. There is one circumstance more, wherein you will have great need of the wisdom from above. Your son or your daughter is now of

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