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tendeth not to drown him ; or traineth him up in robbing or thievery, and saith, he intendeth not to have him hanged; but if you intend to make a thief of him, it is all one in effect, as if you intended his hanging; for the law determineth it, and the judge will intend it. So if you intend to train up your children in ungodliness, as if they had no God, nor souls to mind, you may as well say, you intend to have them damned. And were not an enemy, yea, and is not the devil more excusable, for dealing thus cruelly by your children, than you
that are their parents, that are bound by nature to love them, and prevent their misery? It is odious in ministers that take the charge of souls, to betray them by negligence, and be guilty of their everlasting misery; but in parents it is more unnatural, and therefore more inexcusable.
Motive in. · Consider that God is the Lord and owner of your children, both by the title of creation and redemption : therefore in justice you must resign them to him, and educate them for him.' Otherwise you rob God of his own creatures, and rob Christ of those for whom he died, and this to give them to the devil, the enemy of God and them. It was not the world, or the flesh, or the devil that created them, or redeemed them, but God; and it is not possible for any right to be built upon a fuller title, than to make them of nothing, and redeem them from a state far worse than nothing. And after all this, shall the very parents of such children steal them from their absolute Lord and Father, and sell them to slavery and torment?
Motive 111. 'Remember that in their baptism you did dedicate them to God; you entered them into a solemn vow and covenant, to be wholly his, and to live to him.' Therein they renounced the flesh, the world and the devil; therein you promised to bring them up virtuously to lead a godly and Christian life, that they might obediently keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of their lives. And after all this, will you break so solemn a promise, and cause them to break such a vow and covenant, by bringing them up in ignorance and ungodliness? Did you understand and consider what you then did? How solemnly you yourselves engaged them in a vow to God, to live a mortified and holy life? And will you
so solemnly do that in an hour, which all their life after with you, you will endeavour to destroy ?
Motive iv. Consider how great power the education of children hath upon all their following lives ;' except nature and grace, there is nothing that usually doth prevail so much with them. Indeed the obstinacy of natural viciousness doth often frustrate a good education; but if any means be like to do good, it is this; but ill education is more constantly successful, to make them evil. This cherisheth those seeds of wickedness which spring up when they come to age; this maketh so many to be proud, and idle, and flesh-pleasers, and licentious, and lustful, and covetous, and all that is naught. And he hath a hard task that cometh after to root out these vices, which an ungodly education hath so deeply radicated. Ungodly parents do serve the devil so effectually in the first impressions on their children's minds, that it is more than magistrates and ministers and all reforming means can afterwards do, to recover them from that sin to God. Whereas if you would first engage their hearts to God by a religious education, piety would then have all those advantages, that sin hath now. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from ita.” The language which you teach them to speak when they are children, they will use all their life after, if they live with those that use it. And so the opinions which they first receive, and the customs which they are used to at first, are very hardly changed afterward. I doubt not to affirm, that a godly education is God's first and ordinary appointed means, for the begetting of actual faith, and other graces in the children of believers : many may have seminal grace before, but they cannot sooner have actual faith, repentance, love, or any grace, than they have reason itself in act and exercise. And the preaching of the Word by public ministers is not the first ordinary means of grace, to any but those that were graceless till they come to hear such preaching: that is, to those on whom the first appointed means hath been neglected, or proved in vain: that is, it is but the second means, to do that which was not done by the first. The proof is undeniable: because God appointeth parents diligently to teach their children the doctrine of his
1 Prov. xxii 6.
holy Word, before they come to the public ministry : parents' teaching is the first teaching: and parents' teaching is for this end, as well as public teaching, even to beget faith, and love, and holiness : and God appointeth no means to be used by us, on which we may not expect his blessing. Therefore it is apparent, that the ordinary appointed means for the first actual grace, is parents' godly instruction and education of their children. And public preaching is appointed for the conversion of those only that have missed the blessing of the first appointed means. Therefore if you deny your children religious education, you deny them the first appointed means of their actual faith and sanctification; and then the second cometh upon disadvantage.
Motive v. Consider also how many and great are your advantages above all others for your children's good. As 1. Nothing doth take so much with any one, as that which is known to come from love: the greater love is discerned in your instruction, the greater success may you expect. Now your children are more confident of their parents' love, than of any others; whether ministers and strangers speak to them in love, they cannot tell; but of their parents' love they make no doubt. 2. And their love to you is as great a preparative to your success. We all hearken to them that we dearly love, with greater attention and willingness than to others. They love not the minister as they do their parents. 3. You have them in hand betime, before they have received any false opinions, or bad impressions : before they have any sin but that which was born with them: you are to make the first impressions upon them: you have them while they are most teachable, and flexible, and tender, and make least resistance against instruction : they rise not up at first against your teaching with self-conceitedness and proud objections. But when they come to the minister, they are as paper that is written on or printed before, ninapt to receive another impression; they have much to be untaught, before they can be taught: and come with proud and stiff resistance, to strive against instruction, rather than readily to receiveit. 4. Your children wholly depend on you for their present maintenance, and much for their future livelihood and portions : and therefore they know that it is their interest to obey and please you ; and as interest is the
common bias of the world, so is it with your children; you may more easily rule them that have this handle to hold them by, than any other can do that have not this advantage. They know they serve you not for nought. 5. Your authority over your children is most unquestionable. They will dispute the authority of ministers, yea, and of magistrates, and ask them who gave them the power to teach them, and to command them? But the parent's authority is beyond all dispute. They will not call you tyrants or usurpers, nor bid you prove the validity of your ordination, or the uninterruptedness of your succession. Therefore father and mother as the first natural power, are mentioned rather than kings or queens in the fifth commandment. 6. You have the power of the rod to force them. "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him b.” And your correction will be better understood to come from love, than that of the magistrate or any other. 7. You have best opportunity to know both the diseases and temperature of your children : which is a great advantage for the choosing and applying of the best remedy. 8. You have opportunity of watching over them, and discerning all their faults in time : but if a minister speak to them, he can know no more what fault to reprehend, than others tell him, or the party will confess. You may also discern what success your former exhortations had, and whether they amend or still go on in sin, and whether you should proceed to more severe remedies. 9. You have opportunity of speaking to them in the most familiar manner; which is better understood than the set speech of a minister in the pulpit, which few of them mark or understand. You can quicken their attention by questions which put them upon answering you, and so awaken them to a serious regard of what you say. 10. You are so frequently with them, that you can repeat your instructions, and drive them home, that what is not done at one time, may be done at another : whereas other men can seldom speak to them, and what is so seldom spoken is easily neglected or forgotten. 11. You have power to place them under the best means, and to remove many impediments out of their way which usually frustrate other men's endeavours.
b Prov. xxii, 15.
12. Your example is near them and continually in their sight, which is a continual and powerful sermon. By all these advantages God hath enabled you above all others, to be instruments of your children's good, and the first and greatest promoters of their salvation.
Motive vi. “Consider how great a comfort it would be to you, to have your children such as you may confidently hope are the children of God, being brought to know him, and love, and serve him, through your own endeavours in a pious education of them. 1. You may love your children upon an higher account than as they are yours; even as they are God's, adorned with his image, and quickened with a divine celestial life; and this is to love them with a higher kind of love, than mere natural affection is. It would rejoice you to see your children advanced to be lords or princes; but O how much greater cause of joy is it, to see them made the members of Christ, and quickened by his Spirit, and sealed up for life eternal ? 2. When once your children are made the children of God, by the regeneration of the Spirit, you may be much more free from care and trouble for them than before. Now you may boldly trust them on the care of your heavenly Father, who is able to do more for them than you are able to desire: he loveth them better than you can love them: he is bound by promise to protect them, and provide for them, and to see that all things work together for their good. He that cloatheth the lilies of the fields, and suffereth not the young lions or ravens to be unprovided for, will provide convenient food for his own children, (though he will have you also do your duty for them, as they are your children). While they are the children of satan, and the servants of sin, you have cause to fear, not only lest they be exposed to miseries in this world, but much more lest they be snatched away in their sin to hell: your children while they are ungodly are worse than among wolves and tigers. But when once they are renewed by the Spirit of Christ, they are the charge of all the blessed Trinity, and under God the charge of angels : living or dying they are safe: for the eternal God is their portion and defence. 3. It may be a continual comfort to you to think what a 'deal of drudgery and calamity your child is freed from : to think how many oaths he would have sworn, and