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SERM. judgment of God, bring upon themselves sorrow, and upon LXXXIV. their country a curse, by breeding up so many children of

Satan to corrupt their neighbours.

Parents are very often the greatest enemies that their children have. Some leave them riches, not always honestly gotten ;, and these become a curse to their children, and not a blessing

Others strive all their life long to leave their children a great deal, which too often becomes a snare and a temptition; makes their children forget their dependence upon God, and the duty they owe their Maker.

Many, very many parents are so blind, that they cannot, or so perverse that they will not, see their children's faults, nor correct them. Such parents very often live to see their children, to their sorrow, disobedient, stubborn, self-willed, neither minding their commands, nor their advice.

There are parents so little concerned for their children's welfare, that they let them have their own will and ways. They see their children keep idle and wicked company; they see them given to lying, to swearing, to the taking of God's name to idle and wicked purposes, to the profaning of the Lord's day; and often without rebuking them, seldom chastising them, though they are in the ready way to destruction.

Lastly; too many parents deprive their children of a comfortable subsistence, many by drinking away their estates, others by idleness, prodigality, litigiousness, and many such extravagant ways, by which their children are exposed to hardships and misery, and are tempted to take unlawful ways to get their bread. This is a crime so barbarous, so cruel, so unnatural, that a thief, in comparison of such a parent, is a better man.

One might insist much more upon the faults of too many parents, by which they leave a miserable or a wicked posterity behind them, for which they must answer in another world. But this is not what the subject we are upon leads us to, for this is, To shew what parents ought to do,—what is in their power to do, in order to make themselves and their children happy in this and in a better world. These words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart; and

thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children;" that is, you shall take all occasions of instructing your children in the knowledge and fear of God.

God Himself compares His love for such as fear Him to the love of parents for their children. “As a father pitieth Ps. 103. 13. his own children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him."

Let us consider how parents should shew their love and pity for their children.

The first and most necessary duty of parents is, to pray for their children. Parents should know, and they should consider, that their children have from them a nature cor. rupt, and prone to evil; and that if they are not hindered by the grace or providence of God, they will ruin themselves as sure as they live; and when they die, they will be lost for ever. Wretchedly careless therefore, and wicked, are those parents, who do not carefully beg the blessing of God upon their children, and earnestly pray that God's grace may prevent and follow them all the days of their life.

It was the observation of a very good man, That the children of many prayers and tears do not often miscarrya. I would to God that every parent that hears it would remember this.

And so we proceed to the next duty of parents; which is, to watch over that corrupt nature of their children, which is prone to evil continually. We must be very particular upon this head, as ever we hope to do any great good.

A proneness to the sin of lying is one of the first fruits and signs of a corrupt nature. Whether children tell lies in jest, or to excuse their faults, or to abuse those they do not love, they ought to be told over and over again, that it is really the devil that tempts them to lie; for, saith our Lord Christ, “he is a liar, and the father of lies.” That it is one of John 8. 44. those sins which the Lord hateth in an especial manner. Prov. 6. 17. They ought to be put often in mind, that it is an odious and a shameful vice to be caught in a lie, and that it is seldom that one lie is not followed by another to excuse it. Let them know how much better it is, and becoming a good child, to tell the truth, and take blame upon themselves,

[An allusion to the reply of a holy istarum lacrymarum pereat." S. Aug. bishop to Monnica the mother of Au- Conf., lib. iii. 21. Bibliotheca Patrum gustine, “ Fieri non potest ut filius Edit. Oxon. 1838. tom. i. p. 44.]

SERM. rather than excuse a fault by a lie. Lastly; let your

child LXXXIV.

know for certain, that it is a vice much harder to be left off than they are aware of. If all this will not prevent or cure

a child of this vice, repeated correction ought to be made [Rey. 21. use of; lest, as the Spirit of God assures us, he have his 8.]

portion with liars, in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.

There is another evil which children, through bad examples, and the temptation of the devil, are very prone to; and that is, taking God's name in vain ; making use of the name of the great God on every foolish and idle occasion. Parents should be very careful to admonish and to correct their children betimes, to prevent them from falling into this sin, which is so offensive to God, that He has threatened to punish it in a most especial manner.

And indeed it very naturally leads to many more damnable sins, to cursing, to swearing, and even to perjury. They that are prone to lie, and to swear in common conversation, will be strongly tempted to forswear themselves, when a great temptation comes in their way; they having grieved the good Spirit of God, and an evil spirit having taken possession of them. That it really is so, is plain from a man's being tempted to a crime of so high a nature, that it is, in effect, the denying of God.

Too many, I am afraid, are ignorant of the greatness of this sin; otherwise no Christian would be guilty of perjury, either to gain the whole world, or to escape the greatest punishment that man can suffer.

For every man that perjures himself saith in effect, 'I do not fear what God can do unto me.' A man that takes an oath calls upon God to be a witness of what he is going to swear to. If he swears to what he knows to be false, he cannot put a greater contempt upon God: as if God did not know what men do and swear, or that He could not punish the affront.

SO HELP ME God! is an expression which should never be lightly repeated, either by such as administer an oath, or by those that take an oath; forasmuch as every man who repeats these words to countenance an untruth, renounces the help of God, and this not only for himself, but even for his family. “A curse,” (saith God, Zech. v. 4,) “A curse shall enter into the house of every one that sweareth falsely by My name, and shall consume it."

You see what reason all parents have not to suffer their children to make use of the name of God to any idle or wicked purposes, this being the ready way to perjury when they come to be men, having in their youth lost the fear of God, and a reverence for His name.

PROFANING THE LORD's Day is another great sin, which children are but too apt, if not timely restrained, to run into. They have, when young, little or no knowledge of the necessity of God's grace, or mercy, or help, or blessing; and therefore are not much concerned to go to Church to ask these favours.

This indifference, if not corrected, will grow up with them, and they will live and die in a careless neglect of the ordinances of God. Parents therefore should let their children know betimes, that they are by nature sinners, and prone to evil; that without the grace of God they will be undone for ever; that as ever they hope for God's pardon, and grace, and blessing, they must pray for them ; that God has appointed one day in seven, to the end, that men, laying aside all worldly business and care for the body, may take care of their souls, and honour their Creator and Redeemer, by going to His house, and there begging His pardon, and giving Him thanks for His mercies.

In one word; your children ought to be told over and over again, that they need not be at pains to go to hell; that they will go thither of course, if they will not go to Church, and there learn how to escape damnation.

They should be put in mind also, that the neglect of the public worship of God is the beginning of every wickedness. That even criminals at the gallows generally confess this, that the breach of the Sabbath, and the neglect of the public worship, was the beginning of those sins which brought them to an untimely end.

KEEPING OF IDLE AND LOOSE COMPANY has been the ruin of an infinite number of young people. Parents complain too late of the ill ways their children take, when they have suffered them, without reproof, and without correction, to

LXXXIV.

SERM. follow their own ways in the choice of the company they

keep.

How many wicked oaths, curses, and other blasphemous expressions, must children hear and learn, when they are suffered to keep wicked company! How often will they hear the name of God taken in vain! How often will they hear sin, and hell, and damnation, made a mock of, even till they learn to do it themselves! And then it is a miracle if they are not lost for ever.

Parents therefore should often put their children in mind, that the devil is in all wicked companies, and especially where God, or any thing that belongs to God, is dishonoured or profaned.

And lastly, they should be often put in mind, how hard it will be to leave off most of those sins which they have been accustomed to hear, and take delight in.

Pride is a vice easily seen and hated in grown people ; but it is not considered, that the seeds of pride are sown in youth. If parents will suffer their children to have their own wills in almost every thing; if they will deny them nothing they have a mind to; if they will be pleased even with their faults and failings; they must expect, that when they are grown up, they will overvalue themselves, and despise others; not suffer themselves to be contradicted right or wrong; they will be headstrong, self-willed, not to be persuaded ; they will not see their own faults, but even defend them; they will not be beholden to any body for advice; their parents' counsel shall be set little by, and the instruction and reproof of the very ministers of God shall be despised. These and many others are the instances of pride begun in youth, for want of parents teaching their children to be humble, modest, and obedient.

There is another instance of pride both pernicious and common, the making children in love with finery. Parents do not always see the evil effects of this. They will see it to their sorrow, when their children are grown up, and put them to expenses beyond their ability or condition ; when they are tempted to take unlawful ways to be finer than they ought to be; and when by this they give occasion to men of lewd lives to make attempts upon their chastity.

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