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pious and prudent Christians, than themselves to give instructions, or engage in arguments with them, except in very particular circumstances; for parents will seldom become docile scholars to their own children, especially if they teach in magisterial and reproving language. The most conclusive argument they can use consists in an uniform, conscientious conduct, an obliging attention, silent submission to undeserved rebukes, diligence in business, fidelity to every trust reposed in them, and a disinterested regard to the temporal advantage of the whole family. When a young person uniformly acts in this manner, he will have opportunities of speaking or writing a few words with weight and propriety, which, being joined with persevering prayer, may at length be crowned with the desired success; whilst a contrary conduct will close a parent's ear against the choicest arguments, and most zealous discourse. But however that may be, in this way he will adorn the gospel, and will be sure of meeting with the gracious acceptance and blessing of his heavenly Father.
On the Believer's Attention to Relative Duties.
'In Continuation of the preceding Essay.)
Having given some brief hints on the conduct to which the principles of the gospel will influence the true believer in the filial relation, we must subjoin a few observations on the reciprocal duties of parents, whom reason and revelation unite in appointing to be the guardians of their offspring, in respect of their present and future welfare. Their attention therefore, must not only commence from the time when they actually become parents, but many things should previously be arranged, with reference to the probability of this important event; important, because every human being that is brought into existence must be completely happy or miserable to all eternity. From the very first, conscientious parents will do nothing for the sake of ease, indulgence, or other selfish purpose, which may endanger the life, limbs, senses, constitution, understanding, or morals of their children: they will personally attend to every thing relating to them, as far as they can ; and will be very careful not to entrust them with such persons as are merely influenced by worldly interest in what they do for them. They will perceive the importance of inuring them early to action, application, and observation, and of storing their minds, as they become capable of it, with information on every subject which can conduce to render them useful members of the community. They will endeavour to accustom them to such things as are of beneficial tendency, to preserve them from habits of indolence or self-indulgence, and to prevent their forming improper connections. Many difficulties, indeed, must be encountered in adhering to such a plan of education, and the success will not always answer the expectations which have been excited by it; but more may be done than many parents so much as attempt ; and the general education of both sexes at present, seems calculated to answer any purpose, rather than that of regulating the judgments and improve ing the minds of the rising generation, of preserving their principles and morals from contamination, and of qualifying them for usefully filling up the station in life for which they are designed.
The word of God directs parents to rule their children during their tender years, by compulsion, and to repress their self-will and rebellious spirits by correction: that they may be early habituated to obedience and submission to authority, which will be of the greatest advantage to them during their whole lives, both in secular and religious matters ; for the more any man studies human nature, and repeats the actual experiment, the fuller will be his conviction, that all attempts to educate children without correction, and to treat them as rational and independent agents, before they are able to use their reason or liberty, arise from forgetfulness of their innate depravity, and oppose the wisdom of man to that of God: and let modern manners evince with what success this has been attended, (Prov. xiii. 24 ; xix. 18; xxii. 15; xxiii. 13, 14; xxix. 17; Heb. xii. 5-11). Chastisement should indeed be inflicted at an early period, dispassionately, and in moderation, yet sufficient eventually to attain the end proposed by it, viz. to establish the parent's authority over the mind of the child. It is therefore generally improper to contest a trivial matter, for that will either give the correction the appearance of undue severity, or induce the parent to desist before the child has completely submitted. The frequency, severity, and passion, with which children have been corrected, and the bad effects occasioned by these abuses, have prejudiced numbers against the use of any correction, but to argue from the abuse of any thing against the use of it, is universally allowed to be bad logic: and if children were early taught in this manner to know that the parent would be obeyed, when he gave a decided command, correction need not be often repeated, and much less severity, all circumstances considered, would be requisite in education than is generally used. For when children become reasonable creatures, that authority which correction has established, may be maintained by arguments, reproofs, commendations, and expostulations: whereas, too many leave their indulged children without correction, till age and habit have confirmed them in stubborn self-will, and then, by an unseasonable severity, complete their ruin; for, being exasperated by their ingratitude, they find fault with their very attempts to please them; and by harsh language and usage drive them into bad company and destructive courses ; to which case the apostle especially referred, when he said, “ Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be disconraged,” (Eph. vi. 4; Col. iii. 21). On the contrary, parents ought to use every method to render their children, as they grow up, easy and happy in their company, and confident of a favourable reception in every attempt to please them; for this tends exceedingly to keep them out of temptation, to improve their minds, and to render the parental authority of wisdom and love respectable and amiable in their eyes : and if they can allure their children to choose them for companions, counsellors, and friends in all their undertakings, a most important point indeed will be carried.
It is also incumbent on parents to bring up their children in that manner, and (if they can do it consistent with other duties) to make that moderate provision for them, which may, at all events, enable them to live comfortably in society, without being a burthen to others, or to themselves. The Christian cannot consistently seek great things for his family, or be desirous of advancing them much above his own rank in life; but he will judge it best (if the Lord will), that they should not be depressed very much below it, at least by his fáult; for that condition in which men have been brought up is generally the safest for them.
But the principles of the gospel will especially influence those who are actuated by them, to desire the blessings of salvation for their beloved offspring. This will induce them to recommend them to God in fervent, constant prayer, from the time that they receive their being; and to instil instruction into their minds as soon as they become capable of receiving it. They will early begin to store their memories with wholesome words; to lead their attention to the simpler parts of the Holy Scripture ; and to impress them with a sense of their relation to God, and to an eternal state (especially by means of family worship): to bring them under the public and private instructions of faithful ministers ; to watch for opportunities of speaking seriously to them, and of inquiring what they have learned ; and to encourage them in proposing questions on religious subjects, by answering such as they cao with propriety, (Exod. xii. 26–28; Deut. vi. 6–9; Psalm lxxviii. 6–8).
They will also endeavour to keep them from all places and companies, and to remove out of their way all books, &c., by which their principles may be corrupted, their imaginations polluted, or their passions inflamed, even as they would lay poison out of their reach. They will more decidedly reprove vice or impiety, than any childish neglect or waywardness; and avoid all converse or behaviour in their presence, which may counteract the tendency of such instructions, or sanction the pride, avarice, sensuality, love of grandeur, envy, or malignity of their nature.
It is peculiarly incumbent on religious parents to convince their children, as they approach to maturity, not only that they act in all other things conscientiously, but also that they are more attentive to their comfort and interest, and more ready to forgive their faults, than irreligious parents would be, though they cannot tolerate their vices, or concur in exceptionable plans of advancing or enriching them, because the Scripture holds forth such alarming examples to warn men not to gratify their children by dishonouring God, or injuring their neighbours, (1 Sam. ii. 22—36). It behoves parents however to remember the time when they were young, and not to thwart the inclinations of their children when grown up, without substantial reasons, lest they should throw snares in their way: they should rather endeavour to manifest a disposition to concur in every thing conducive to their satisfaction, if it can be done consistently ; that by thus encouraging their confidence in them, they may have the salutary influence of experienced counsellors, when the direct exercise of authority would endanger opposition. In particular, they certainly should rather aim to guide, caution, and advise them, in respect to marriage, than to compel or restrain them in an absolute manner; remembering, that peace of mind, a good conscience, domestic harmony, and a connection favourable to piety, conduce more to happiness, even in this world, than wealth, or a confluence of all earthly distinctions. Many directions might be added, in respect of the conduct to be adopted by parents, when children appear to be under serious impressions; but the subject is too copious to be discussed in this place.
This is the most important perhaps of all relative duties; and the neglect of it is productive of the most fatal consequences : for, besides those parents who in various ways are accessary to the murder of the souls of their own offspring, even they, who seem to regard other parts of Scripture, often overlook the command “to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” (Eph. vi. 4); and either by neglect leave their minds like uncultivated field, or by example and harsh treatment prejudice them against the gospel, or indiscreetly lead them into such distorted views of it as are of fatal tendency. Indeed the methods are innumerable by which parents fail of their duty in this respect; and whilst numbers act as if they did not much care, whether their offspring were happy or miserable hereafter, it is to be feared that few, if any, are free from blame in this important concern.
It may here be proper to add, that they, who in any way undertake to bring up the children of others, are required in many respects to perform the duties of parents to them: and on the other hand, such young persons owe a measure of that respect, gratitude, obedience, and affection to them, which have been described as the duties of children to their parents: and this case is not altered, even when elder brothers or sisters are the persons on whom this charge has devolved. In like manner, the other superior relations are entitled to a measure of filial deference and attention; and ought to perform many parts of the parental office to their junior relatives, especially if their parents be dead, or incapable of performing it, or be wholly inattentive to them; and they have the power of bringing them up, without burthening strangers.
III. The duties of brethren in the same family towards each other, should not be wholly omitted on this occasion. The love which is supposed to subsist among such endeared relations, is the Scriptural standard of that pure
and fervent affection which Christians ought to bear one towards another: the former therefore should not be treated as an instinctive propensity, but regulated by precept as a Christian duty. The children of one family, when they live much together, cannot, in the present state of human nature, fail to meet with many little affronts and injuries among themselves, which may interrupt domestic harmony, unless great circumspection be used not to give offence even by rudeness and uncourteous familiarity; and a constant endeavour be made to oblige, and to render each other easy and comfortable, joined with persevering forbearance, forgiveness, and various concessions. For want of these attentions, perpetual bickerings and lasting animosities supplant brotherly love; and they who should be, through life, faithful and tender friends, are often more estranged from each other than from almost any other persons: of such bad consequences are the competitions, envies, and jealousies that take place in families ; and so careful ought parents to be, not to lay a foundation for them by an injudicious partiality, and not to treat them as matters of no moment, (Gen. xxxvii. 3, 4; Prov. xviii. 19). Moreover, they who associate so much together, as young persons in this relation commonly do, must have many opportunities of influencing each other's principles and conduct: these are frequently made a very bad use of; and false principles are often instilled, and encouragement given to various things contrary to their duty to God, their parents, or others, even where. no gross immorality or impiety appear. But that love which evangelical principles increase and direct, will not only be disinterested, conceding, self-denying, liberal, and peaceful, but prudent, pious, and holy: and they who are influenced by it, will aim, by seasonable caution, counsel, or expostulation, enforced by kindness and a consistent example, and accompanied by fervent prayer, to guard such dear relations from snares and dangers, to instil good principles, and to win them to attend to the concerns of their souls. Nor will it be improper in this case to speak more plainly, and debate the matter more fully with them, (especially those who are younger than themselves), than they should do with parents or superior relations: and it is very common for the Lord to bless such endeavours, and thus to make them the foundation of the most permanent friendship. The duties of the other collateral relations who dwell much together, are in a great measure the
IV. The reciprocal duties of servants and masters are the last of those that belong to domestic life. The condition of servants differs widely at present from what it was when the New Testament was penned : for then they were generally slaves, the property of their masters; whose service they could not leave, but who might dispose of them as they pleased, or punish them with almost uncontrolled severity. This could never consist with the law of " loving our neighbour as ourselves ;” though it pleased the Lord to tolerate and regulate it, in the judicial law of Moses, (as he did polygamy and divorces); and the state of things, at the first opening of the Christian dispensation, rendered it improper for the ministers of religion directly to attack a system, which was inseparable from the foundations of every government then existing in the world. This difference, however, gives the greater energy to the exhortations which the sacred writers address to servants professing the gospel : except, that they may now leave those places, where they are ill used, or in which they are restrained from attending on Divine ordinances, or hallowing the Lord's day. Yet this liberty should be used with much caution : for every place has its disadvantages, and every master (as well as servant) his faults; and men often incur much detriment, and forfeit manifold advantages, through impatience under a single inconvenience : especially servants sometimes purchase a trivial increase of wages at an enormous price. The believer, therefore, “who is called, being a servant,” or who finds it necessary for him to enter upon this kind of life, should remember, that the Lord hath constituted these different situations in society, for the same reasons as he hath allotted the several members ip
the body their distinct offices, viz. for the common benefit of the whole : and that he hath chosen servitude as the best situation for him; to which appointment he requires his unreserved submission. He should also consider the place in which he lives, as the post for the present assigned him, which he must not relinquish without substantial reasons, and fervent prayer for direction'; and if this be determined on, he ought to perform the duties of his place without remission, whilst he continues in it. If he want a place, he should seek a suitable one from the Lord, in dependence on his providence and promises, and prefer that which affords the greatest advantages for religious improvement, though it be somewhat more laborious or less lucrative. And here it may be proper to remind both servants and masters, that though there are many vain talkers and deceivers, yet there are also true Christians: it is therefore the height of absurdity for believers to prefer the society of ungodly persons in any relation, because they have been disgusted and ill used by hypocrites. Men do not throw away bank-notes because they have been cheated by forged bills; and no disappointment should cause them to despair of finding the far more valuable treasure of a Christian master or servant, unless any one should fancy himself to be the only true Christian in the land.
If pious servants be favoured with a situation in a religious family, they should remember, that’equality in Christian privileges by no means implies èquality in domestic life ; instead therefore of behaving with an unbecoming familiarity, or neglecting their masters' orders “as if they despised them ;' they should “ count them worthy of all honour, and rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit,” (1 Tim. vi. 1–5). And as they are conscious of much imperfection in themselves, they ought to make allowances for it in them also. They should value the privilege of family worship very highly, even though it be not in all respects conducted exactly to their mind; and they ought so to order all their business, that it may not interfere with it, or with the regular observance of the Lord's day. Should pious servants find themselves placed in families, in which they cannot but deem the profession of religion to be vain ; they ought not hastily to mention their opinion, or speak about it with harshness; on the contrary, they should aim by a good example to exhibit the difference between the form and the power of godliness. Even when they live in families where ignorance and ungodliness prevail, they ought not to speak freely on the faults of their masters, or assume the office of an authoritative teacher; for no man would be pleased to have a spy or a reprover in the character of a servant. Yet the Christian, thus situated, will especially aim to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour," by cheerful obedience to every lawful command, diligence in all the duties of his station, and faithfulness to the trust reposed in him; remembering that his
maintenance and wages are the price his master pays for his time and skill. Consistency will require him to prefer the credit, advantage, or comfort of his master or family, to his own ease or indulgence, and especially to manifest sympathy and tenderness in times of sickness and affliction; to speak exact truth on all occasions; not to purloin, or join with those who defraud his master in small matters; or even connive at such petty dishonesty, however sanctioned by custom, or whatever contempt and ill-will he may incur by his conscientiousness. It will dispose him to strict frugality, and to see that no waste be made; and also to consult his master's inclination in the manner of doing his work. If he be justly blamed, he will learn to bear it quietly, owning himself wrong, and doing better another time; if he be blamed without cause, or rebuked with harshness, (not to speak of more outrageous treatment), he will endeavour to recollect the Scriptural rule “ of not answering again,” (the neglect of which is productive of innumerable evils, especially to servants themselves): (Tit. ii. 9, 10:) and that the apostle says, " servants, be subject to your masa ters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward,” (1 Pet. ii. 18—25); for though such usage may excite his passions, he will