Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

people shall say, Amen.” Pro. xx. 20. “ Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness." And Pro. xxx. 17. “ The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out and the young eagles shall eat it.” This last text is probably not so much to be understood literally as of the fearful end to which such wicked children generally come.

And all these texts show God's great displeasure against undutiful children.

5. Once more, this duty is enforced by examples which we have on record. Christ has set an example, which it is the duty of children to follow. Though he was the son of God as well as the son of Mary, yet of him it is recorded Luk. ii. 51..“ and he went down with them (that is Joseph and Mary) and came to Nazareth, and was subject : unto them." The obedience of the children of Jonadab to the commands of their father, met with the marked approbation of God, and he greatly blessed them for it. As we learn from Jer. xxxv. 18, 19. “And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you : therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me forever.” Here we have an instance of the blessing of God signally following obedience to parents. And we have also in the Scriptures instances of the divine vengeance in asignal manner overtaking disobedient children in this life. Absalom was a disobedient son, and he came to an untimely end. Hophni and Phinehas the sons of Eli were disobedient children, and the vengeance of God in a remarkable manner overtook them; and Ham the son of Noah was an undutiful son, and a curse fell upon him and his posterity. Children and youth, these examples were recorded for your instruction, take warning from them, and do your duty to your parents. And I believe that every age has witnessed examples, wherein God has signally blessed obedience, and frowned on disobedience to the fifth commandment. Inquire into the history of those who are now vagabonds in our streets, and I believe you will generally find, they were disobedi

ent children. Go to our state prisons, and inquire into the history of the younger years of the miserable culprits, there confined, and I believe you will generally find they were disobedient children. Go to the gallows and inquire of the unhappy wretch who is just about to be launched into eternity for his crimes, what was his conduct in early life towards his parents, and I believe, you will generally find, he was a disobedient child.

My young friends, consider all these weighty motives, and if any of you have heretofore been undutiful children, cease this wicked and dangerous course, and be induced ever to honour your father and mother, in all the extent of this command. To this you are urged, by the reasonableness of the duty, by the authority of God, by his promises to the obedient, by his threatenings against the disobedient, and by the examples which occur in his word, and which we see or hear of in the world around us.

SERMON LXXII.

DUTIES OF PARENTS

TO CHILDREN.

EPHESIANS VI. 4.

" And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath : but bring them

ир in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

These words contain one class of relative duties included in the fifth commandment, viz. those of parents towards their children. Fathers only are here mentioned ; but undoubtedly, both parents are intended. The phrase “provoke not your children to wrath,” signifies, not that parents should never cross their children; but that they should not by passionate or unreasonable commands or correction, irritate their tempers.

66 The nurture and admonition of the Lord,” include the whole duty of parents towards their children. Nurture may embrace nourishment in its utmost extent, as it relates to both bo

25

VOL. II.

dy and mind. The word admonition expresses counsel and reproof, especially with regard to religion.

The object of the ensuing discourse is to point out the duties of parents to children.

The duties of parents begin very early. As soon as children are born, it is the duty of parents to take a tender care of them. Even irrational animals manifest a tender care of their young offspring ; but of all the kinds of animals, the human species are the most helpless, and most and longest need the care of parents. And God has for their security, while in this helpless state, wisely implanted in parents, a natural love of their children. Hence a want of tender care in parents, towards their infant children, would prove them to be more brutish than the irrational animals. And such parents are monsters in human form.

It is the duty of parents also to provide for their children, during their younger years, things necessary for their support and comfort. For" if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” 1 Tim. v. 8. Hence the indolent, who through idleness neglect to provide for their families ; and the prodigal, who through dissipation waste their property, and deprive their children of a comfortable living, transgress the fifth commandment. Of this sin are those especially guilty, who spend a portion of their daily earnings, at tipling houses, while their children are crying for bread at home, to satisfy the cravings of hunger.

Again, it is the duty of parents to bring up their children in such a way, that they may be fitted to gain a livelihood and be useful in the world, when they come to act for themselves. They ought to give them the opportunity, to obtain, at least so much of an education, as to fit them for business in life. They ought to endeavour early to lead them into habits of industry and frugality. And however independent the prospects of children may be, they ought to be brought up in such an acquaintance with business of some kind, as to be prepared for a reverse in their circumstances, in this changing world. Many persons, who once had fair prospects have had great reason to deplore the neglect of parents in this respect.

Again it is the duty of parents, to make provision fortheir

in their pow

children, if they have property, by an equitable division of it among them after their death. For Paul tells us, “ the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children." 2 Cor. xii. 14.

The above duties, which relate only to the temporal good of children are important ; but there are other duties incumbent on parents, which are far more important, I mean those which relate to their spiritual and eternal welfare. These are as much more important than the former, as eternity exceeds time in importance and duration.

We proceed to point out the duties of parents towards their children in regard to their spiritual and eternal welfare. It is their duty to do every thing in their er, which, under the blessing of God, may operate as means, to bring them to the knowledge, love, and practice of true piety, and fit them for everlasting happiness. More particularly,

1. It is the duty of parents early to dedicate their children to God in his holy ordinance of baptism ; and thus acknowledge God's right to them, and put upon them the seal of the righteousness of faith, which he has appointed, that they may be taken into visible covenant with him, and become partakers of the privileges and blessings connected with this relation. This dedication of children to God in baptism, ought to be done in sincerity and truth, and with a hearty self-dedication. And unless it be done with the heart, it is solemn mockery instead of an acceptable dedication : and the act is offensive to God instead of well-pleasing in his sight. For, “ unto the wicked God saith, what hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth.” Ps. L. 16. They who manifest by their lives that they are enemies of God, if they are disposed to rush thoughtlessly into his presence, and take his covenant upon their lips, ought not to be permitted to do it. But, at the same time, parents who neglect the baptism of their children live in sin ; for it is the duty of all immediately to be reconciled unto God, and to have right tempers towards him, and thus wait upon him in his ordinances. It is a very wrong conclusion, that our want of preparation takes away our obligation to observe the divine institu. tions. Unpreparedness is a sin, and one sin will not form an excuse for another. It is our indispensable duty, immediately to love God; and loving him, it is our duty, and our high privilege to wait upon him in his ordinances.

And here permit me to remark, that what has been said, administers solemn reproof, especially to those parents who profess to have given themselves to God, and yet can neglect for months and years to acknowledge God's right to their children, by bringing them to baptism, and thus deprive them of what the word of God teaches to be an important privilege and benefit. The seal of the righteousness of faith was required to be applied to the children of the Old Testament church, as early as the eighth day, which intimates to us that children ought to be early brought to God in the ordinance of baptism.

Do you ask, of what advantage can this ordinance, be to my child ? This is not the place, to say much on this subject. But the question may be answered in a few words. Is it not an advantage to have them interested in the prayers for the church, and to be under its watch and care ? Is it not an advantage to have them interested in that great promise, “ I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thec, and to thy seed after thee.' Gen. xvii. 7.? Is it not an advantage to belong to that visible family to which is secured the oracles of God, and the means of religious instruction and grace? And is it not an advantage to make a part of that body, “ to whom pertain the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the service of God, and the promises.” Rom. xix. 4. ? All these advantages the Scriptures teach us are connected with the right performance of this duty. Let christian parents, who delay or entirely neglect the baptism of their children, seriously think on this subject, and reform their conduct in this respect. If you neglect to give your children to God in baptism, you neglect a very important part of parental duty.

2. It is the duty of parents to instruct their children in the things of religion. This is frequently enjoined in the word of God. Thus in the coinmandments given to the ancient church we find,“ teach them thy sons, and thy son's sons. And I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their child

« ForrigeFortsæt »