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"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 ribands, 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 senses. 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-resolua. tion 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 fourscore years I have not met with one woman that knews how to manage grandchildren. My own mother, who governed her children so well, could never govern one grandchild. In every other point obey your mother. Give up your will to her's. But with regard to the management of your children, steadily keep the reins in your own hands.
21. A wise aud 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 sufler 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.
25. Many parents connive, likewise, at the ill-nature of their children, and thereby strengthen it. But truly affectionate parents will not indulge them in any kind or degree of unmercifulness. They will not suffer them to vex their brothers or sisters, either by word or deed.
They will not suffer them to hurt or give pain to any thing that has life. They will not permit them to rob birds' nests, much less to kill any thing without necessity': not even snakes, which are as innocent as worms, or toads, which, notwithstanding their ugliness, and the ill name they lie under, have been proved over and over, to be as harmless as flies. Let them extend in its measure, the rule of doing as they would be done by, to every animal whatsoever. Ye that are truly kind parents; in the morning, in the evening, and all the day beside, press upon all your children, “ to walk in love, as Christ also loved us, and gave himself for us ;" to mind that one point, “ God is love: and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him."
ON OBEDIENCE TO PARENTS.
** Children, obey your Parents in all things.”_COLOssians iï. 20:.
1. IT has been a subject of controversy for many years, Whether there are any innate principles in the mind of man? But it is allowed on all hands, if there be any practical principles naturally implanted in the soul, that we ought to honour our Parents, will claim this character almost before any other. It is enumerated among those universal principles by the most ancient authors, and is, undoubtedly, found even among most savages, in the most barbarous nations. Wo may trace it through all the extent of Europe and Asia, through the wilds of Africa, and the forests of America. And it is not less, but more observable in the most civilized nations. So it was, first in the Eastern parts of the world, which were for so many ages, the seat of empire, of learning, and politeness, as well as of religion. So it was afterwards, in all the Grecian States, and throughout the whole Roman Empire. In this respect it is plain, they that have not the written law, are a law unto themselves; showing the work (the substance) of the law, to be written in their hearts.
2. And wherever God has revealed his will to man, this law has heen a part of that revelation. It has been herein opened afresh, considerably enlarged, and enforced in the strongest manner. In the Jewish Revelation, the notorious breakers thereof were punishable with death. And this was one of the laws which our blessed Lord did not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Accordingly he severely reproved the Scribes and Pharisees, for making it void through their traditions : clearly showing that the obligation thereof extended to all ages. It is the substance of this which St. Paul delivers to the Ephesians, (chap. vi. 1,) “ Children, obey your Parents in the Lord :"8 and again in these words to the Colossians, “ Children, obey your Parents in all things.”
3. It is observable, that the Apostle enforces this duty by a threefold encouragement: First, to the Ephesians he adds, “ For this is right :” it is an instance of justice as well as mercy.' It is no more than their due: it is what we owe to them, for the very being which we have received from them. Secondly, « This is acceptable to the Lord ;" it is peculiarly pleasing to the great Father of men and angels, that we should pay honour and obedience to the fathers of our Aesh. Thirdly, It is “ the First Commandment with Promise ;" the first to the performance whereof a peculiar promise is
annexed, “ that it may be well with thee, and that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” This promise has been generally understood, to include health and temporal blessings, as well as long life. And we have seen innumerable proofs that it belongs to the Christian as well as the Jewish Dispensation : many remarkable instances of its accomplishment occur even at this day.
But what is the meaning of these words, " Children, obey your Parents in all things ?” I will endeavour, by the assistance of God, first, to explain, and then to apply them.
I. 1. First, I will endeavour to explain these words : and the rather, because so few people seem to understand them. Look round into the world, not the Heathen, but the Christian world, nay, the reformed part of it. Look among those that have the Scriptures in their own tongue: and who is there that appears even to have heard of this ? Here and there a child obeys the parent out of fear, or perhaps out of natural affection. But how many children can you find that obey their fathers and mothers, out of a sense of duty to God? And how many parents can you find, that duly inculcate this duty upon their children? I doubt, a vast majority both of parents and children are totally ignorant of the whole affair. For the sake of these I will make it as plain as I can: but still I am thoroughly sensible, those that are not willing to be convinced, will no more understand what I say, than if I was talking Greek or Hebrew.
2. You will easily observe, that by Parents, the Apostle means both Fathers and Mothers, as he refers us to the Fifth Commandment, which names both the one and the other. And however human laws may vary herein, the law of God makes no difference; but lays us under the same obligation of obeying both the one and the
oth. But before Wow long we are they go to sch
3. But before we consider, How we are to obey our parents, it may be inquired, How long we are to obey them ? Are children to obey, only till they run alone ? Till they go to school ? Till they can read and write? Or till they are as tali as their parents? Or attain to years of discretion ? Nay, if they obey only because they fear to be beaten, or because otherwise they cannot procure food and raiment, what avails such obedience? Those only who obey their parents, when they can live without them, and when they neither hope nor fear any thing from them, shall have praise from God.
4. “ But is a man that is at age, or a woman that is married, under any farther obligation to obey their parents ?” With regard to marriage, although it is true, that a man is to leave father and mother, and to cleave unto his wife: and, by parity of reason, she is to leave father and mother, and cleave unto her husband; (in consequence of which there may be some particular cases wherein conjugal duty must take place of filial;) yet I cannot learn, either from Scripture or reason, that marriage either cancels or lessens the general obligation of filial duty, Much less does it appear, that it is either can