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versing with the plain people of this country, distinguished for their good sense, and careful observation of facts, I have found them, to a great extent, firmly persuaded of the verification of this promise in our own days; and ready to produce a variety of proofs from cases, in which they have seen the blessing realized. Their opinion on this subject is mine; and with their experience my own has coincided.
Indeed, no small measure of prosperity seems ordinarily interwoven with a course of filial piety. The comfort which it insures to parents, the harmony which it produces in the family, the peace which it yields to the conscience, are all essential ingredients of happiness. To these it adds the approbation of every beholder, the possession of a fair and lasting reputation; the confidence, and good-will of every worthy man; and, of consequence, an opportunity of easily gaining those useful employments, which worthy men have to give. Beyond this, it naturally associates with itself that temperance, moderation, and sobriety, which furnish a solid foundation for health and long life. In my own apprehension, however, these are not all its blessings. 'I do not believe, that miracles are wrought for its reward. Neither will I say, that purer gales breathe, to preserve its health; nor that softer suns arise, or more timely rains descend, to mature its harvests; nor that more propitious winds blow, to waft its ships home in safety. But I will say, that on the tide of providence multiplied blessings are borne into its possession, at seasons when they are unexpected, in ways unforeseen, and by means unprovided by its own forecast, which are often of high importance ; which altogether, constitute a rich proportion of prosperity; and which, usually, are not found by persons of the contrary character:
At the same time, those, who act well as children, almost of course act well as men and women; and thus have taken, without design, the cion of happiness from the parental stock, and grafted it upon other stems, which bear fruit abundantly to themselves. Here, in the language of Dr. Watts,
“It revives, and bears
It is also never to be forgotten, that filial piety, if derived from an evangelical source, is entitled to the peculiar favour of God in the present world, and to the everlasting blessings of the world to come.
5. The Declarations of God concerning this important subject, furnish reasons at once alluring and awful, for the exercise of filial piety.
The text is an illustrious example of this nature, of the most persuasive kind. Deut xxi. 18, gives us a terrible one concerning the stubborn and rebellious son. The eye, says Agur, that Vol. III.
mocketh at his father, and refuseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.
One of the most interesting accounts of this subject to be found in the Scriptures, as it has struck my mind, is exhibited in the 35th Chapter of Jeremiah. Jonadab, the son of Rechab, commanded his children, and their posterity, neither to drink wine, nor to build houses, nor to sow seed, nor to plant vineyards, but to dwell in tents from generation to generation. The Rechabites obeyed his voice; and, at the time of Jeremiah, had, for three hundred years, lived in the manner which their Ancestor enjoined. As a reward of their filial obedience, the Prophet Jeremiah was sent unto the Rechabites with this remarkable message. Thus saith JEHOVAH of hosts, the God of Israel; because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab, your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according to all that he hath commanded you ; therefore thus saith Jehovau of hosts, the God of Israel, Jonadab the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.
6. The Erample of Christ is a reason, of the highest import, to compel the exercise of filial piety.
This wonderful person, notwithstanding his great and glorious character, and sublime destination, was the fairest specimen of obedience to parents, ever seen in the present world. Let children remember, that, if they have not the Spirit of Christ, they are none of his. He was subject to his parents, as a child of their family, until he was thirty years of age, and forgot not, when he hung on the cross, to provide an effectual support and protection for his Mother. Let all children remember, when they are weary of labouring for their parents, that Christ laboured for his ; when they are impatient of their commands, that Christ cheerfully obeyed; when they are reluctant to provide for their parents, that Christ forgot himself, and provided for his mother, amid the agonies of crucifixion. The affectionate language of this Divine example to every child is, Go thou, and do likewise.
FIFTH COMMANDMENT.-DUTY OF PARENTS.
PROVERBS Xxii. 6.-Train up a child in the way he should go ; and when he is old he
will not depart from it.
IN the preceding discourse, I gave a brief account of the Duties of Children. I shall now proceed to consider the Duties of Parents. This, also, I must consider in a very summary manner, notwithstanding the copiousness, and importance, of the subject.
In this passage of Scripture, parents are directed to train up their children in the way in which they should go : and, to encour
them to this duty, a promise is given, that their children, if trained in this way, will not depart from it. The word, train, originally denotes to draw along by a regular and steady course of exertions ; and is, hence, very naturally used to signify drawing from one action to another by persuasions, promises and other efforts, continually repeated. In a loose and general sense, therefore, it may easily include all the duties of Parents to their children.
The way in which a child should go, is undoubtedly the way, , in which it is best for him to go, with respect both to his temporal and eternal well-being.
These duties are customarily, and justly, distributed under three heads :
The Maintenance of Children must unquestionably be such, as the circumstances of the parents will admit, consistently with the dictates of prudence; and such as will secure comfort to their children. Their food and raiment, their employments and gratifications, ought to be all such, as to promote their health. They are carefully to be nursed in sickness, and guarded from danger. Their enjoyments of every kind ought invariably to be innocent ; reasonable in their number and degree ; evident testimonies of parental wisdom, as well as of parental affection ; such as shall prevent them from suffering unnecessary mortification ; and such as shall not flatter pride, foster avarice, or encourage sloth or sen. suality. They ought also to be such, as to place them upon the same level with the children of other discreet parents in similar circumstances.
The education of children involves their Instruction, and Government.
The Instruction of children includes,
The Things, which they are to be taught; and,
The Things, which Children are to be taught, may be distributed under the two heads of Natural Knowledge; and Moral Knowledge.
Natural Knowledge includes, 1. Their Learning.
By this I intend every thing, which they are to gain from books ; whether it be Learning, appropriately so called, or the knowledge of Arts and Sciences. Of this subject I observe, generally, that, like the Maintenance of Children, it must comport with the circumstances of the Parents. It ought, also, to be suited to the character, talents, and destination, of the Child. But an acquaintance with Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, is indispensably necessary to every Child. It is indispensable, that every child should read the Scriptures; highly important, that he should read other religious books; and very useful, that he should enlarge his mind by such diversified knowledge, as may render him beneficial to himself and to mankind.
2. Natural Knowledge includes, also, an acquaintance with at least some one kind of useful Business.
Ordinarily, this acquaintance can be gained only in the practical manner ; that is, by placing the child, at an early period of life, in the business, which is to be learned. After he has been instructed in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, which are indispensable to the advantageous prosecution of every kind of business, he should be required to do the very business, in which he is to be educated.
There is no greater mistake on the part of rich parents, than their neglect of educating their children to the thorough knowledge of some useful business. It is often observed, and generally felt, that such an education is unnecessary, because their children are to inherit fortunes. The children also feel and are taught by their parents to feel, that such an education is utterly unnecessary for themselves. Both, at the same time, are but too apt to consider active employments, and even the knowledge necessary to direct them, as humiliating, and disgraceful, to the children. These are very great mistakes; the dictates of pride and vanity, and not of good sense. Were nothing but the present prosperity of children to be regarded; they ought invariably to be educated in the knowledge of useful business. Almost all the wealth in this country is in the hands of those, who have acquired it by their own industry: and almost all those, who inherit fortunes, dissipate them in early life; and spend their remaining days in poverty and humiliation. Ignorance of business; and its consequences, idleness and profusion; will easily, and in a short time, scatter any estate. A fortune is a pond, the waters of which will soon run out: well-directed industry is a spring, whose streams are perennial.
Besides, the man, who pursues no useful business, is without significance, and without reputation. The sound common sense of mankind will never annex character to useless life. He who merely hangs as a burden on the shoulders of his fellow-men; who adds nothing to the common stock of comfort, and merely spends his time in devouring it; will invariably, as well as justly, be accounted a public nuisance.
Beyond all this, every parent is bound by his duty to God, and his children, to educate them to useful business, in order to enable them to perform their own duty; to become blessings both to themselves and mankind; and to possess the rational enjoyments, furnished by a life of industrious activity; in their very nature incomprehensibly superior to sloth and profusion. Moral Knowledge is all included, as well as enjoined, in the Scrip
It is also, in its own nature, either directly, or indirectly, all practical.
Knowledge of this kind is naturally distributed under the following heads :
To this head belongs Reverence to God. Every child should be taught, from the beginning, to fear that great and glorious Being, to whom he owes his existence, his blessings, and his hopes. This knowledge is indispensable to all rectitude of character. “As I have considered the general nature of this subject in a former discourse; I shall only observe here, that nothing will, in an equal degree, secure a child from sin; strengthen him against the force of temptation ; or fix his feet immoveably in the path of righteousness.
Inseparably connected with this subject is a sense of Accountableness. Every child should know, as soon as he is capable of knowing, that he is a Moral being in a state of probation, for his conduct, in which he will be hereafter judged and rewarded; that God is an eye-witness to all his secret and open conduct alike; and that every thing, which he speaks, thinks, or does, will be the foundation of his final reward. Proper impressions of these two great subjects, habitually made in the early periods of childhood, will influence the life more than any other considerations; will revive, after they have been long thought to have been forgotten; and will produce happy effects, when all other causes have lost
With the same care, should children be accustomed to read the Scriptures, whenever they have become able to read. Here they will find these great subjects, as well as all others of a similar nature, placed in the strongest light, and taught in the most perfect manner: a manner suited to every mind, capable of understanding such subjects at all. Here, particularly, facts, and characters, of a moral nature, are exhibited with a felicity altogether unrivalled. With both of these, children are delighted; and fasten on both