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the children of men ? How is this fed by the generality of parents, even those that love, or, at least, fear God; while, in spending hours, perhaps days with their children, they hardly name the name of God? Meantime, they talk of a thousand other things in the world that are round about them. Will not then the things of the present world, which surround these children on every side, naturally take up their thoughts, and set God at a greater distance from them, (if that be
possible,) than he was before ? Do not parents feed the atheism of their children farther, by ascribing the works of creation to nature ? Does not the common way of talking about nature, leave God quite out of the question ? Do they not feed this disease, whenever they talk in the hearing of their children, of any thing happening so or so? Of things coming by chance ? Of good or ill fortune ? As also when they ascribe this or that event to the wisdom or power of men; or, indeed, to any other second causes, as if these governed the world ? Yea, do they not feed it unawares, while they are talking of their own wisdom, or goodness, or power to do this or that, without expressly mentioning, that all these are the gift of God? All tends to confirm the atheism of their children, and to keep God out of their thoughts.
14. But we are by no means clear of their blood, if we only go thus far, if we barely do not feed their disease. What can be done to cure it? From the first dawn of reason continually inculcate, God is in this and every place. God made you, and me, and the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and every thing. And every thing is his: heaven, and earth, and all that is therein. God orders all things: he makes the sun shine, and the wind blow, and the trees bear fruit. Nothing comes by chance: that is a silly word : there is no such thing as chance. As God made the world, so he governs the world, and every thing that is in it. Not so much as a sparrow falls to the ground, without the will of God. And as he governs all things, so he governs all men, good and bad, little and great. He gives them all the power and wisdom they have. And he overrules all. He gives us all the goodness we have: every good thought, and word, and work, are from him. Without him we can neither think any thing right, nor do any thing right. Thus it is, we are to inculcate upon them,
that God is all in all. 15. Thus may we counteract, and, by the grace of God assisting us, gradually cure the natural atheism of our children. But what can we do to cure their self will? It is equally rooted in their nature, and is, indeed, the original idolatry, which is not confined to one age or country, but is common to all the nations under heaven. And how few parents are to be found even among Christians, even among them that truly fear God, who are not guilty of this matter? Who do not continually feed and increase this grievous distemper in their children? To let them have their own will, does this most effectually. To let them take their own way, is the sure method of increasing their self will seven fold. But who has the resolution to do otherwise? One parent in a hundred? Who can be so singular, so cruel, as not, more or less to humour her child ? “And why should you not ? What harm can there be in this, which every body does ?” The harm is, that it strengthens their will more and more, till it will neither bow to God por man, To humour children, is, as far as in us lies, to make their disease incurable. A wise parent, on the other hand, should begin to break their will, the first moment it appears. In the whole art of Christian education there is nothing more important than this. The will of a parent is to a little child in the place of the will of God. Therefore studiously teach them to submit to this while they are children, that they may be ready to submit to his will, when they are men. But in order to carry this point, you will need incredible firmness and resolution : for after you have once begun, you must never more give way. You must hold on still in an even course; you must never intermit your attention for one hour; otherwise you will lose your labour.
16. If you are not willing to lose all the labour you have been at, to break the will of your child, to bring his will into subjection to yours, that it may be afterwards subject to the will of God, there is one advice, which, though little known, should be particularly attended to. It may seem a small circumstance; but it is of more consequence than one can easily imagine. It is this: never, on any account, give a child any thing that it cries for. For it is a true observation, (and you may make the experiment as often as you please,) if you give a child what he cries for, you pay him for crying; and then he will certainly cry again. “But if I do not give it him when he cries, he will scream all day long." If he does, it is your own fault; for it is in your power effectually to prevent it: for no mother need suffer a child to cry aloud after it is a year old. Why it is impossible to hinder it.” So many suppose ; but it is an entire mistake. I am a witness of the direct contrary; and so are many others. My own mother had ten children, each of whom had spirit enough. Yet not one of them was ever heard to cry aloud, after it was a year old. A gentlewoman of Sheffield, (several of whose children I suppose are alive still) assured me she had the same success with regard to her eight children. When some were objecting to the possibility of this, Mr. Parson Greenwood, (well known in the north of England) replied, “this cannot be impossible ; I have had the proof of it in my own family. Nay, of more than this. I had six children by my former wife: and she suffered none of them to cry aloud, after they were ten months old. And yet none of their spirits were so broken, as to unfit them for any of the offices of life." This, therefore, may be done by any woman of sense, who may thereby save herself abundance of trouble, and prevent that disagreeable noise, the squalling of young children, from being heard under her roof. But I allow, none but a woman of sense will be able to effect this. Yea, and a woman of such patience and resolution as only the grace of God can give. However, this is doubtless the more excellent way: and she that is able to receive it, let her receive it!
17. It is hard to say, whether self will or pride be the more fatal distemper. It was chiefly pride that threw down so many of the stars of heaven, and turned angels into devils. But what can parents do, in order to check this until it can be radically cured ?
First: Beware of adding fuel to the flame; of feeding the disease which you should cure. Almost all parents are guilty of doing this, by praising their children to their face. If you are sensible of the folly and cruelty of this, see that you sacredly abstain from it. And in spite of either fear or complaisance, go one step farther. Not only do not encourage, but do not suffer others to do what you dare not do yourself. How few parents are sufficiently aware of this? Or, at least,
sufficiently resolute to practise it. To check every one at the first word, that would praise them before their face. Even those who would not, on any account, sit attentive to their own applause, nevertheless do not scruple to sit attentive to the applause of their children. Yea, and that to their face! Oh consider ! Is not this the spreading a net for their feet? Is it not a grievous incentive to pride, even if they are praised for what is truly praiseworthy? Is it not doubly hurtful, if they are praised for things not truly praiseworthy: things of an indifferent nature, as sense, good breeding, beauty, elegance of apparel ? This is liable not only to hurt the heart, but their understanding also. It has a manifest and direct tendency, to infuse pride and folly together : to pervert both their taste and judgment; teaching them to value what is dung and dross in the sight of God.
18. If, on the contrary, you desire without loss of time to strike at the root of their pride, teach your children as soon as possibly you can, that they are fallen spirits; that they are fallen short of that glorious image of God, wherein they were first created ; that they are not now, as they were once, incorruptible pictures of the God of glory; bearing the express likeness of the wise, the good, the holy Father of spirits; but more ignorant, more foolish, and more wicked, than they can possibly conceive. Show them that, in pride, passion, and revenge, they are now like the devil. And that in foolish desires and grovelling appetites, they are like the beasts of the field. Watch over them diligently in this respect, that whenever occasion offers, you may, “pride in its earliest motions find," and check the very first appearance of it.
If you ask, “But how shall I encourage them when they do well, if I am never to commend them ?" I answer, I did not affirm this: I did not say, "you are never to commend them.” I know many writers assert this, and writers of eminent piety. They say, “To commend man is to rob God;" and therefore condemn it altogether. But what say the Scriptures ? I read there, that our Lord himself frequently commended his own disciples; and the great apostle scruples not to commend
the Corinthians, Philippians, and divers others to whom he writes. We may not, therefore, condemn this altogether. But I say, use it exceeding sparingly. And when you use it, let it be with the utmost caution,
directing them, at the same moment, to look upon all they have as the free gift of God; and with the deepest self abasement
“Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name give the praise !" 19. Next to self will and pride, the most fatal disease with which we are born, is “ love of the world.” But how studiously do the generality of parents cherish this in its several branches? They cherish “ the desire of the flesh,” that is, the tendency to seek happiness in pleasing the outward senses, by studying to enlarge the pleasure of tasting in their children to the uttermost; not only giving them before they are weaned other things beside milk, the natural food of children ; but giving them both before and after, any sort of meat or drink that they will take. Yea, they entice them, long before nature requires it, to take wine, or strong drink; and provide them with comfits, gingerbread, raisins, and whatever fruit they have a mind to. They feed in them" the desire of the eyes,” the propensity to seek happiness in pleasing the imagination, by giving them pretty playthings, glittering toys, shining buckles, or buttons, fine clothes, red shoes, laced hats, needless ornaments, as ribbands, necklaces, ruffles; yea, and by proposing any of these as rewards for doing their duty, which is stamping a great value upon them. With equal care and attention they cherish in them the third branch of the love of the world, “the pride of life;"! the propensity to seek their happiness in the “honour that cometh of men." Nor is the love of money forgotten : many an exhortation do they hear, on securing the main chance; many'a lecture, exactly agreeing with that of the old heathen, “ Si possis, recte; si non, quocunque modo rem :".“ Get money, honestly if you can; but if not, get money.” And they are carefully taught to look on riches and honour as the reward of all their labours.
20. In direct opposition to all this, a wise and truly kind parent will take the utmost care, not to cherish in her children the desire of the flesh; their natural propensity to seek happiness in gratifying the outward sense.
With this view she will suffer them to taste no food but milk, till they are weaned; which a thousand experiments show is most safely and easily done at the seventh month. And then accustom them to the most simple food, chiefly of vegetables. She may inure them to taste only one kind of food, beside bread, at dinner, and constantly to breakfast and sup on milk, either cold or heated, but not boiled. She may use them to sit by her at meals; and ask for nothing, but take what is given them. She need never, till they are at least nine or ten years old, let them know the taste of tea; or use any other drink at meals, but water or small beer. And they will never desire to taste either meat or drink between meals, if not accustomed thereto. If fruit, comfits, or any thing of the kind be given them, let them not touch it but at meals. And never propose any of these as a reward; but teach them to look higher than this. .
But herein a difficulty will arise, which it will need much resolution to conquer. Your servants, who will not understand your plan, will be continually giving little things to your children, and thereby undoing all your work. This you must prevent, if possible, by warning them when they first come into your house, and repeating the warning from time to time. If they will do it notwithstanding, you must turn them away. Better lose a good servant than spoil a good child.
Possibly you may have another difficulty to encounter, and one of a still more trying nature. Your mother, or your husband's mother may live with you; and you will do well to show her all possible respect. But let her on no account have the least share in the management of your children. She would undo all that you had done; she would give them their own will in all things. She would humour them to the destruction of their souls, if not their bodies too. In four scare years I have not met with one woman that knew how to manage grand children. My own mother, who governed her children so well, could never
govern one grand child. In every other point obey your mother. your will to hers. But with regard to the management of your children, steadily keep the reins in your own hands.
21. A wise and kind parent will be equally cautious, of feeding "the desire of the eyes” in her children. She will give them no pretty playthings, no glittering toys, shining buckles or buttons, fine or gay clothes ; no needless ornaments of any kind ; nothing that can attract the eye. Nor will she suffer any other person to give them what she
will not give them herself
. Any thing of the kind that is offered, may be either civilly refused, or received and laid by. If they are displeased at this, you cannot help it. Complaisance, yea, and temporal interest, must needs be set aside, when the eternal interests of your children are at stake.
Your pains will be well requited, if you can inspire them early with a contempt of all finery; and, on the other hand, with a love and esteem for neat plainness of dress. Teaching them to associate the ideas of plainness and modesty; and those of a fine and a loose woman. Likewise, instil into them, as early as possible, a fear and contempt of pomp and grandeur; an abhorrence and dread of the love of money; and a deep conviction, that riches cannot give happiness. Wean them, therefore, from all these false ends: habituate them to make God their end in all things; and inure them, in all they do, to aim at knowing, loving, and serving God.
22. Again : The generality of parents feed anger in their children ; yea, the worst part of it; that is, revenge. The silly mother says,
What, hurt my child ? Give me a blow for it.” What horrid work is this! Will not the old murderer teach them this lesson fast enough? Let the Christian parent spare no pains to teach them just the contrary. Remind them of the words of our blessed Lord : “ It was said of old, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil." Not by returning evil for evil. Rather than this, “ If a man take away thy cloak, let him take thy coat also.” Remind him of the words of the great apostle : “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves. For it is written, Vengeance is mine : I will repay, saith the Lord.”
23. The generality of parents feed and increase the natural falsehood of their children. How often may we hear that senseless word: “No, it was not you ; it was not my child that did it: say, it was the cat." What amazing folly is this! Do you feel no remorse, while you are putting a lie in the mouth of your child, before it can speak plain? And do not you think, it will make a good proficiency when it comes to years of discretion ? Others teach them both dissimulation and lying, by their unreasonable severity; and yet others, by admiring and applauding their ingenious lies and cunning tricks. Let the wise parent, on the contrary, teach them to "put away all lying ;' and, both in little things and great, in jest or earnest, speak the very truth from their heart. Teach them that the author of all falsehood is the devil, who .“ is a liar and the father of it.” Teach them to abhor and despise, not only lying, but all equivocating, all cunning and dissimulation. Use every means to give them a love of truth; of veracity, sincerity, and simplicity; and of openness both of spirit and behaviour.
24. Most parents increase the natural tendency to injustice in their children, by conniving at their wronging each other; if not laughing at, or even applauding their witty contrivances to cheat one another. Beware of every thing of this kind : and from their very infancy, sow the seeds of justice in their hearts; and train them up in the exactest practice of it. If possible, teach them the love of justice, and that in the least things as well as the greatest. Impress upon their minds the old proverb; "He that will steal a penny, will steal a pound.” Habituate them to render unto all their due, even to the uttermost farthing.