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this important lesson betimes; and if we succeed in our care, we shall leave them abundantly richer and happier, in this rule and possession of their own spirits, than the most plentiful estates, or the most unlimited power over others, could make them.
When a rational creature becomes the slave of appetite, he sinks beneath the dignity of the human nature, as well as the sanctity of the christian profession. It is therefore observable, that when the apostle mentions the three grand branches of practical religion, he puts sobriety in the front; perhaps to intimate, that where that is neglected, the other cannot be suitably regarded. The grace of God, (i. e. the gospel,) teaches
to live soberly, righteously, and godly*.” Children therefore, as well as young men, should be exhorted to be sobermindedt : And they should be taught it, by early self-denial. It is certain, that if their own appetite and taste, were to determine the kind and quantity of their food, many of them would quickly destroy their constitution, and perhaps their lives; since they have often the greatest desire for those things, which are the most improper. And it seems justly observed by a very wise man, who was himself a melancholy instance of it, “ That the fondness of mothers for their children, in letting them eat and drink what they will, lays a foundation for most of those calamities in human life, which proceed from bodily indispositions.” Nay, I will add that it is the part of wisdom and love, not only to deny what would be unwholesome, but to guard against indulging them in too great a nicety, either of food or dress. People of sense cannot but see, if they would please to consider it, that to know how to fare plainly, and sometimes a little hardly, carries a man with ease and pleasure through many circumstances of life, which to luxury and delicacy would be almost intolerable.
The government of the passions is another branch of selfdenial, to which children should early be habituated ; and so much the rather, because, in an age when reason is so weak, the passions are apt to appear with peculiar force and violence. A prudent care should therefore be taken to repress the exhorbitanties of them. For which purpose it is of great importance, that they never be suffered to carry any point, by obstinacy, noise, and clamour, which is indeed to bestow a reward on a fault that deserves a severe reprimand. Nay, I will venture to add, that though it be very inhuman to take pleasure in
Tit. ii, 11, 12
+ Tit. ï. 6. 1 Baxter's Practical Works, vol. iii. page 746.
making them uneasy by needless mortifications, yet when they are eagerly and intemperately desirous of a trifle, they ought, for that very reason, sometimes to be denied it, to teach them more moderation for the future. And if by such methods, they gradually learn to conquer their little humours and fancies, they learn no inconsiderable branch of true fortitude and wisdom. I cannot express this better, than in the words of Mr. Locke*, in his excellent treatise on the subject before us; “ He that has found out the way to keep a child's spirit easy, active and free, and yet at the same time to restrain him from many things which he has a mind to, and draw him to things uneasy to him, has got the true secret of education.”
I have sometimes been surprised to see, how far a sense of honour and praise has carried some children of a generous temper, in a long and resolute course of self-denial. But undoubtedly the noblest principle of all is a sense of religion. Happy would it indeed be, if they were led to see, that there is but very little in this kind of gratification and indulgences; that the world itself is but a poor empty trifle ; and that the great thing a rational creature should be concerned about, is to please God, and get well to heaven. May divine grace teach us this important lesson for ourselves, that we may transmit it with greater advantage to our children! Amen.
Locke on Education, § 46.
ON THE EDUCATION OF CHILDEN.
Arguments to enforce the Duty.
Prov. xxii. 6.-Train up a Child in the way he should go; and when he is
old, he will not depart from it. It is certainly a very pleasing reflection to every faithful minister of the gospel, that the cause, in which he is engaged, is the most benevolent, as well as the most religious; subserving the glory of God, by promoting the happiness of mankind. It must be a great satisfaction to a man of integrity and humanity, to think that it is not his business to dazzle and confound his hearers with the artifices of speech, to give the appearances of truth to falsehood and importance to trifles; but to teach them to weigh things in an impartial balance, and by the words of truth and soberness, to lead them into the paths of wisdom and of goodness.
This is a satisfaction which I peculiarly find this day, while I am urging you to that religious care in the education of children, which I have at large opened in the former discourse. And it is a circumstance of additional pleasure, that I am pleading the cause of the weak and the helpless ; of little tender creatures, who are incapable of pleading for themselves, and know not how much their interest is concerned. Nor am I withoạt a secret hope, that if the Divine Spirit favour us with his assistance, some who are yet unborn
have eternal reason to rejoice in the fruits of what you are now to hear. Amen,
Having already endeavoured to describe the way in which children are to be trained up; I now proceed,
Secondly, To propose some arguments to engage parents to this pious care.
And here I would intreat you distinctly to consider,—that the attempt itself is pleasant ;--you have great reason to hope it may be successful ;-and that success is of the highest importance. 1. The attempt itself is pleasant.
I speak not merely of the pleasure arising from the consciousness of discharging present duty, and a probable view of future success; such a satisfaction may attend those aqtions, which are in themselves most painful and mortifying. But I refer to the entertainment immediately flowing from the employment itself, when rightly managed. This is undoubtedly one of those ways of wisdom, which are ways of pleasantness, as well as a path, which in its consequences is peace and happiness* : It is a commandment, in keeping of which there is great rewardt.
The God of nature has wisely annexed a secret unutterable delight, to all our regular cares for the improvement of our rising offspring. We rejoice to see our tender plants flourish, to observe how the stock strengthens, and the blossoms and the leaves successively unfold. We trace with a gradually advancing pleasure, their easy smiles, the first efforts of speech on their stammering tongues, and the dawnings of reason in their feeble minds. It is a delightful office to cultivate and assist opening natures, to lead the young strangers into a new world, and to infuse the principles of any useful kind of knowledge, which their age may admit, and their circumstances require. But when we attempt to raise their thoughts to the great Father of Spirits, to present them, as in the arms of faith, to Jesus the compassionate Shepherd, and teach them to enquire after him ; when we endeavour to instruct them in the principles of divine truth, and form them to sentiments of prudence, integrity and generosity ; we find a pleasure superior to what any other labour for their improvement can give.
On this occasion, my friends, I persuade myself I may appeal to the repeated experience of many amongst you. Do you not find, that the sweetest truths of christianity, which are your hope and your joy in this house of your pilgrimage, are peculiarly sweet when you talk them over with your children? Do you not find, that your instructions and admonitions to them return into your own bosom with a rich increase of edification and refreshment ? Thus while you are watering these domestic plantations, you are watering also yourselvess; and from these
• Prov, jii, 17.
+ Psal. xix. 11. | Delightful task! To rear the tender thought,
To teach the young idea how to shoot,
and plant The generous purpose in the glowing breast.
THOMPSOY'S SPRING, p. 57. s Prov. xi. 25.
holy converses with your children, you rise to more endearing communion with your heavenly Father : God by his Spirit visiting your souls in the midst of those pious cares, and giving you immediate comfort and strength, as a token of his gracious acceptance, and perhaps as a pledge of future suc
This leads me to urge the religious education of children, II. By the probability there is, that it will be attended with such
success, as to be the means of making them wise and good.
This is the arrangement urged by Solomon in the text, train up a child in the way in which he should go : and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Being early initiated into the right way, he will pursue it with increasing pleasure ; so that with regard to the prosperity of the soul, as well as of the body, his path will be like the morning light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day*
It is true, this assertion is to be understood with some limia tation, as expressing the probability, rather than the certainty of the success; otherwise experience would contradict it in some melancholy instances. Would to God there were none untractable under the most pious and prudent methods of education ; none, who Like deaf adders stop their ears against the voice of the most skilful charmerst, and have been accustomed to do it from their infancy! Would to God there were none of those, who appeared to set out well, and seemed eager in enquiring the way to Zion with their faces thitherwards, who have forgotten The guides of their youth, and the covenant of their Gods, and are to this day wandering in the paths of the destroyer, if they are not already fallen in them! But do you throw by every medicine, which some have used without being recovered by it; or decline every profession, of which there are some who do not thrive? What remedy must you then take? What calling must you then pursue » The application is obvious. It would be folly to pretend to maintain, that religious education will certainly obtain its end; but let me intreat you to consider, that it is in its own nature a very rational method, that it is a method which God has appointed, and a method which in many instances has been found successful. Attend seriously to these remarks, and then judge whether prudence and conscience will not oblige you to pursue it.
* Prov. iv, 18.
1 Jer, l. 5.
§ Prov, ii, 17.
+ Psal, lvii. 4, 5.