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ter-ways are but remedies, which do always suppose some neglect and omission of timely care.
And because our laws leave so much to parents, our care should be so much the greater : and we should remember, that we bring up our children for the publick ; and that, if they live to be men, as they come out of our hands, they will prove a publick happiness or mischief to the age. So that we can no way better deserve of mankind, and be greater benefactors to the world, than by peopling it with a righteous offspring. Good children are the hopes of posterity; and we cannot leave the world a better legacy than well-disciplined children. This gives the world the best security, that religion will be propagated to posterity, and that the generations to come shall know God; and the children that are to be born, fball fear the Lord.
This was the great glory of Abraham, next to his being the friend of God, that he was the father of the faithe ful. And the careful education of children, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, is so honourable to parents, that God himself would not pass it by in Abraham without special mention of it to his everlasting commendation : I know Abraham, (says God), that he will command his children, and his houshold after him, to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgneni, Gen. xviii. 19.
5. Consider yet further the great evils consequent upon this neglect. And they are manifold. But, not to enlarge particularly upon them, they all end in this, the final miscarriage and ruin of children. Do but leave depraved corrupt nature to itself, and it will take its own course; and the end of it, in all probability, will be miserable.
If the generous seeds of religion and virtue be not carefully sown in the tender minds of children, and those seeds be not cultivated by good education, there will certainly spring up briers and thorns; of which parents will not only feel the inconveniences, but every body else that comes near them.
Negleftis urenda filix innafcitur agris. If the ground be not planted with something that is
good, good, it will bring forth that which is either useless or hurtful, or both : for nature is seldom barren ; it will either bring forth useful plants, or weeds.
We are naturally inclined to evil; and the neglect of education puts children upon a kind of necessity of becoming what they are naturally inclined to he: Do but let them alone, and they will soon be habituated to sin and vice. And when they are once accustomed to do evil, they have lost their liberty and choice. They are then hardly capable of good counsel and instruction; or, if they be patient to hear it, they have no power to follow it, being bound in the chains of their sins, and led captive by Satan at his pleasure. And, when they have brought themselves into this condition, their ruin seems to be sealed; and, without a miracle of God's grace, they are never to be reclaimed.
Nor doth the mischief of this neglect end here; but it extends itself to the publick, and to posterity. If we neglect the good education of our children, they will, in all probability, prove bad men; and these will neglect their children: and so the foundation of an endless mischief is laid ; and our posterity will be bad members both of church and commonwealth.
If they be neglected in matter of instruction, they will either be ignorant or erroneous; either they will not mind religion, or they will disturb the church with new and wild opinions. And I fear that the neglect of instructing and catechizing youth, of which this age hath been so grossly guilty, hath made it fo fruitful of errors and strange opinions.
But if, besides this, no care be taken of their lives and manners, they will become burdens of the earth, and pests of human society, and so much poison and infection let abroad into the world.
6. and lastly, Parents should often consider, that the neglect of this duty will not only involve them in the inconvenience, and shame, and forrow of their childrens miscarriage, but in a great measure in the guilt of it: they will have a great share in all the evil they do, and be in some fort chargeable with all the sins they commit. If the children bring forth wild and sowre grapes,
paTents teeth will be set on edge.
The temporal mischiefs and inconveniences which come from the careless education of children, as to credit, health, and estate, all which do usually suffer by the vitious and lewd courses of your children; these, methinks, should awaken your care and diligence. But what is this to the guilt which will redound to you upon their account? Part of all their wickedness will be put upon your score; and possibly the sins which they commit many years after you are dead and gone,
will follow you into the other world, and bring new fuel 10 hell, to heat that furnace hotter upon you.
However, this is certain, that parents must one day be accountable for all their neglects of their children : and so likewise shall ministers and masters of families, for their people and servants, so far as they had the charge of them.
And what will parents be able to say to God at the day of judgment, for all their neglects of their children, in matter of instruction, and example, and restraint from evil ? How will it make your ears to tingle, when God fhall arise terribly to judgment, and say to you,
Be" hold, the children which I have given you ; they
were ignorant, and you instructed them not; they “ made themselves vile, and you restrained them not.
Why did you not teach them at home, and bring them “ to church, to the publick ordinances and worship of
God, and train them up to the exercise of piety and “devotion ? But you did not only neglect to give them
good instruction, but you gave them bad example : " and lo, they have followed you to hell, to be an ad“ dition to your torment there,
“ Unnatural wretches ! that have thus neglected, and,
by your neglect, destroyed those, whose happiness, by “ so many bonds of duty and affection, you were obliged
procure. Behold, the books are now open, and " there is not one prayer upon record that ever you put up for
your children : there is no memorial, no not “ fó much as of one hour, that ever was seriously spent
to train them up to a sense of God, and to the know
ledge of their duty ; but, on the contrary, it appears, " that you have many ways contrived their mifery, and “ contributed to their ruin, and helped forward their.
66 had you
“ damnation. How could you be thus un natural ? how “ could you thus hate your own flesh, and hate your
own souls? How much better had it been for them, 6 and how much better for you, that they had never 6 been born ? "
Would not such a heavy charge as this make every joint of you to tremble? Will it not cut you to the heart, and pierce your very fouls, to have your children challenge you in that day; and say to you, one by one,
you been as careful to teach me the good know“ ledge of the Lord, as I was capable of learning it;
been but as forward to instruct me in my duty, as I was rcady to have hearkened to it, it had not “ been with me as it is at this day; I had not now stood
trembling here in a fearful expectation of the eternal “ doom which is just ready to be passed upon me. Cur“ fed be the man that begat me, and the paps that gave 66
me fuck: it is to you that I must in a great measure owe my everlasting undoing ? ” Would it not strike
with horror to be thus challenged and reproached by our children in that great and terrible day of the Lord ?
I am not able to make so dreadful a representation of this matter as it deserves. But I would, by all this, if it be possible, awaken parents to a sense of their duty, and terrify them out of this gross and shameful neglect which so many are guilty of. For when I seriously consider how supinely remiss and unconcerned many parents are as to the religious education of their children, I cannot but think of that saying of Augustus concerning Herod, “ Better be his dog than his child. I think it was spoken to another purpofe ; but it is true likewise to the purpose I am speaking of. Better be some mens dogs, or hawks, or horses, than their children: for they take a greater care to breed and train up these to their several ends and uses, than to breed up their children for eternal happiness.
Upon all these accounts, train up a child in the way he mould go, that when he is old, he may not depart from it ; that neither
be miserable by your fault, nor you by the neglect of so natural and necessary a duty towards them. God grant, that all that are concerned VOL. III.
may may lay these things seriously to heart, for his mercies fake in Jesus Christ. To whom, with thee, O Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, both now and ever. Amen.
S E R M ON
Of the advantages of an early piety.
Preached in the church of St. Lawrence-Jewry, in the
ECCLES. xii. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while
the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh wl.cn thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. N the former discourses, concerning the education of
children, I have carried the argument through the
state of childhood to the beginning of the next step of their age, which we call youth, when they come to exercise their reason, and to be fit to take upon themfelves the performance of that solemn vow which was made for them by their sureties in baptism.
To encourage them to set seriously and in good earnest about this work, I shall now add another discourse concerning the advantages of an early piety. And to this purpose I have chosen for the foundation of it these words of Solomon, in his book called Ecclesiastes, or The
Preacher : Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy g'outh, while the evil days come not, nor
draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.
It will not be necessary to give an account of the context, any further than to tell you, that this book of the Royal preacher is a lively description of the vanity of the world in general, and particularly of the life of man. This is the main body of his serion; in which there are here and there scattered many serious reflexions upon ourselves; and very weighty considerations to quicken