Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

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 ali 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. Torty 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 beliere 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 age to marry, and desires your advice relative to it. Now you know what the world calls a good match ; one whereby much money is gained. Undoubtedly it is so, if it be true, that money always brings happiness. But I doubt it is not true : money seldom brings happiness, either in this world or the world to come. Then let no man deceive you with vain words: riches and happiness seldom dwell together. Therefore, if you are wise, you will not seek riches for your children, by their marriage. See that your eye be single in this also : aim simply at the glory of God, and the real happiness of your children, both in time and eternity. It is a melancholy thing to see how Christian parents rejoice, in selling their son or their daughter to a wealthy heathen! And do you seriously call this, a good match! Thou fool, by parity of reason, thou mayest call hell a good lodging, and the devil a good master. . Oh learn a better lesson from a better Master! “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” both for thyself and thy children," and all other things shall be added unto you.”

.18. It is undoubtedly true, that if you are steadily determined to walk in this path ; to endeavour by every possible means, that you and your house may thus serve the Lord ; that every member of your family may worship him, not only in form, but in spirit and in truth; you will have need to use all the grace, all the courage, all the wisdom which God has given you. For you will find such hinderances in the way, as only the mighty power of God can enable you to break through. You will have all the saints of the world to grapple with, who will think, you carry things too far. You will have all the powers of darkness against you, employing both force and fraud; and, above all, the deceitfulness of your own heart; which, if you will hearken to it, will supply you with many reasons, why you should be a little more conformable to the world. But as you have begun, go on in the name of the Lord, and in the power of his might! Set the smiling, and the frowning world, with the prince thereof, at defiance. Follow reason, and the oracles of God; not the fashions and customs of men. Keep thyself pure." Whatever others do, let you and your house “ adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour." Let you, your yoke fellow, your children, and your servants, be all on the Lord's side; sweetly drawing together in one yoke, walking in all his commandments and ordinances, till every one of you “shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour !”

SERMON C.-- On the Education of Children. “ Train up a child in the way wherein he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” Prov. xxii, 6.

1. We must not imagine, that these words are to be understood in an absolute sense, as if no child that had been trained up in the way wherein he should go, had ever departed from it. Matter of fact will by no means agree with this. So far from it, that it has been a common observation, Sor of best parents have the worst children. It is true, this might sometimes be the case, because good men have not always a good understanding. And without this, it is hardly to be expected that they will know how to train up their children. Besides,

those who are in other respects good men, have often too much easiness of temper; so that they go no farther in restraining their children from evil, than old Eli did, when he said gently, “Nay, my sons, the report I hear of you is not good.” This then is no contradiction to the assertion ; for their children are not “trained up in the way wherein they should go.” But it must be acknowledged, some have been trained therein with all possible care and diligence; and yet before they were old, yea, in the strength of their years, they did utterly depart from it.

2. The words then inust be understood with some limitation, and then they contain an unquestionable truth. It is a general, though not a universal promise, and many have found the happy accomplishment of it. As this is the most probable method for making their children pious, which any parents can take, so it generally, although not always, meets with the desired success. The God of their fathers is with their children: he blesses their endeavours; and they have the satisfaction of leaving their religion, as well as their worldly substance, to those that descend from them.

3. But what is “the way wherein a child should go ?” And how shall we “train them up" therein ? The ground of this is admirably well laid down by Mr. Law, in his “Serious Call to a Devout Life." Part of his words are :-

“Had we continued perfect, as God created the first man, perhaps the perfection of our nature had been a sufficient self instructer for every one. But as sickness and diseases have created the necessity of medicines and physicians, so the disorders of our rational nature have introduced the necessity of education and tutors.

And as the only end of a physician is, to restore nature to its own state, so the only end of education is, to restore our rational nature to its proper state. Education, therefore, is to be considered, as reason borrowed at second hand, which is, as far as it can, to supply the loss of original perfection. And as physic may justly be called the art of restoring health, so education should be considered in no other light, than as the art of recovering to man his rational perfection.

“This was the end pursued by the youths that attended upon Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. Their every day lessons and instructions were so many lectures upon the nature of man, his true end, and the right use of his faculties: upon the immortality of the soul, its relation to God; the agreeableness of virtue to the divine nature: upon the necessity of temperance, justice, mercy, and truth, and the folly of indulging our passions.

“Now as Christianity has, as it were, new created the moral and religious world, and set every thing that is reasonable, wise, holy, and desirable, in its true point of light; so one would expect, the education of children should be as much mended by Christianity, as the doctrines of religion are.

“ As it has introduced a new state of things, and so fully informed us of the nature of man and the end of his creation; as it has fixed all our goods and evils, taught us the means of purifying our souls, of pleasing God, and being happy eternally; one might naturally suppose that every Christian country abounded with schools, not only for teaching a few questions and answers of a catechism, but for the forming,

training, and practising children in such a course of life, as the sublimest doctrines of Christianity require.

“An education under Pythagoras or Socrates had no other end, but to teach children to think and act as Pythagoras and Socrates did.

“And is it not reasonable to suppose that a Christian education should have no other end but to teach them how to think, and judge, and act, according to the strictest rules of Christianity ?

" At least one would suppose, that in all Christian schools, the teach-' ing them to begin their lives in the spirit of Christianity, in such abstinence, humility, sobriety, and devotion, as Christianity requires, should not only be more, but a hundred times more regarded than any or all things else.

“For those that educate us should imitate our guardian angels ; suggest nothing to our minds, but what is wise and holy; help us to discover every false judgment of our minds, and to subdue every wrong passion in our hearts.

“And it is as reasonable to expect and require all this benefit from a Christian education, as to require that physic should strengthen all that is right in our nature, and remove all our diseases."

4. Let it be carefully remembered all this time, that God, not man, is the physician of souls; that it is he, and none else, who giveth medicine to heal our natural sickness; that all “the help which is done upon earth, he doeth it himself;" that none of all the children of men is able to “bring a clean thing out of an unclean;" and, in a word, that, “it is God who worketh in us, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure." But it is generally his pleasure to work by his creatures ; to help man by man. He honours men, to be in this sense, “ workers together with him.” By this means the reward is ours, while the glory redounds to him.

5. This being premised, in order to see distinctly what is the way wherein we should train up a child, let us consider, what are the diseases of his nature ? What are those spiritual diseases, which every one that is born of a woman, brings with him into the world?

Is not the first of these atheism ? After all that has been so plausibly written concerning “the innate idea of God;" after all that has been said, of its being common to all men, in all ages and nations; it does not appear, that man has naturally any more idea of God, than any of the beasts of the field : he has no knowledge of God at all ; no fear of God at all ; neither is God in all his thoughts. Whatever change may afterwards be wrought, (whether by the grace of God, or by his own reflection, or by education, he is, by nature, a mere atheist.

6. Indeed it may be said, that every man is by nature, as it were, his own god. He worships himself. He is, in his own conception, absolute lord of himself. Dryden's hero speaks only according to nature when he says, “ Myself am king of me.He seeks himself in all things. He pleases himself. And why not? Who is lord over him? His own will is his only law: he does this or that because it is his good pleasure. In the same spirit as the “son of the morning” said in old times, “I will sit upon the sides of the north,” he says, I will do thus or thus.” And do we not find sensible men on every side, who are of the self same spirit ? who if asked, “Why did you do this ?will readily answer," because I had a mind to it.'

7. Another evil disease which every human soul brings into the world with him, is pride; a continual proneness to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. Every man can discern more or less of this disease, in every one,—but himself. And, indeed, if he could discern it in himself, it would subsist no longer; for he would then, in consequence, think of himself just as he ought to think.

8. The next disease, natural to every human soul, born with every man, is love of the world. Every man is, by nature, a lover of the creature, instead of the Creator: a "lover of pleasure,” in every kind,

more than a lover of God.” He is a slave to foolish and hurtful desires, in one kind or another; either to the “ desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, or the pride of life.” “ The desire of the flesh,” is a propensity to seek happiness in what gratifies one or more of the outward senses. “ The desire of the eyes,” is a propensity to seek happiness in what gratifies the internal sense, the imagination, either by things grand, or new, or beautiful. “The pride of life," seems to mean a propensity to seek happiness in what gratifies the sense of honour. To this head is usually referred, “the love of money;" one of the basest passions that can have place in the human heart. But it may be doubted whether this be not an acquired, rather than a natural distemper.

9. Whether this be a natural disease or not, it is certain, anger is. The ancient philosopher defines it

, “ a sense of injury received, with a desire of revenge.' Now, was there ever any one born of a woman, who did not labour under this ? Indeed, like other diseases of the mind, it is far more violent in some than in others. But it is furor brevis, as the poet speaks: it is a real, though short madness, wherever it is.

10. A deviation from truth is equally natural to all the children of men. One said in his haste, “ All men are liars :" but we may say, upon cool reflection, all natural men will, upon a close temptation, vary trom, or disguise the truth. If they do not offend against veracity, if they do not say what is false, yet they frequently offend against simplicity. They use art; they hang out false colours; they practise either simulation or dissimulation. So that you cannot say truly of any person living, till grace has altered nature, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.”

11. Every one is likewise prone by nature, to speak or act contrary to justice. This is another of the diseases which we bring with us into the world. All human creatures are naturally partial to themselves, and, when opportunity offers, have more regard to their own interest or pleasure, than strict justice allows. Neither is any man by nature merciful, as our heavenly Father is merciful; but all, more or less, transgress that glorious rule of mercy as well as justice, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, the same do unto them.”

12. Now if these are the general diseases of human nature, is it not the grand end of education to cure them ? And is it not the part of all those to whom God has entrusted the education of children, to take all possible care, first not to increase, not to feed any of these diseases; (as the generality of parents constantly do ;) and next, to use every possible means of healing them?

13. To come to particulars. What can parents do, and mothers more especially, to whose care our children are necessarily committed in their tender years, with regard to the atheism that is natural to all

« AnteriorContinuar »