AN ADMONITION PROPER FOR PARENTS.
MOST parents are concerned for their children's present welfare, and too often renounce a good conscience rather than not provide for them, while few are careful to give them such instructions and examples, as by the grace of God may secure them an eternal inheritance.
They should therefore be often put in mind of their duty in this particular, that they may not have the torment of seeing their children for ever ruined by their negligence.
It is a strange stupidity, and they should be told of it, for parents to be much concerned to have their children dedicated to God in baptism, and yet utterly unconcerned how they behave themselves afterwards.
The least that a parent can do is, to instruct, or get their children instructed, in the principles of the Christian religion;--to pray for them daily, and to see that they pray daily for themselves: to possess their minds with a love of goodness, and with an abhorrence of everything that is wicked;--and to take care that their natural corruption be not increased by evil examples.
It is a sad thing to see children under the very eye of their parents and too often by their examples, getting habits of vanity, of idleness, of pride, of intemperance, of lying and pilfering, of talebearing, and often of uncleanness, and of many other sins, which might be prevented by a Christian education.
Parents therefore should be made sensible of their great guilt, in suffering their children to take evil ways. They should be often told that, human nature being extremely corrupt, we need not be taught and be at pains to go to hell; we shall go thither of course, if we do not make resistance and are not restrained by the grace of God and our own care and endeavour.
They should know (however loath they are to hear it) that they are their children's worst enemies, when they will see no faults in them,--connive at what to be corrected,-- and are even pleased with what ought to be reproved.
He that spareth his rod, saith Solomon, hateth his son (that is, acts as if he really did so); but he that loveth his son chasteneth him betimes, that is, before he grows headstrong, and before he is corrupted by evil habits. For a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
In short, a parent, who has any conscience of his duty, will not suffer the least sin to go unreproved or without due correction; but then he will take the Apostle's advice, not to provoke their children to wrath, by a causeless or too great severity, lest they be discouraged, and thereby their children's "love, both for religion and for themselves, be lessened.
When children are grown up to years of discretion, parents should be admonished to fit them for confirmation;--a privilege which both parents and children would very highly value, if they were made to understand the worth of it, which of all things a pastor should take care to explain to them.
In the next place, it would be great charity for a clergyman to interpose his good offices (at least to offer his advice) when parents are about to dispose of their children in marriage upon mere worldly considerations, and very often for little conveniences of their own, without any regard to their children's future ease and welfare.
It is seldom that either parents or children pray for God's direction and blessing upon an undertaking which is to last as long as life; but run on headlong, as humour, or passion, or worldly interest lead them, which is the true occasion of so many indiscreet choices and unfortunate marriages, which a pastor should prevent, as much as may be, by admonishing Christians of their duty in this particular, both publicly and in private conversation.
And when parents are providing for their children, let this consideration be always present with them, both for their own and their children's sake: Better is a little with righteousness, (that is, honestly gotten), than great revenues without right.
When a curse goes along with a portion, it is often the ruin of the whole family. These were the remarkable words of the pious Judge Hale to his children: "I leave you but little, but it will wear like iron."
Lastly, A pastor's advice would be very seasonable and should be often repeated to such parents as are squandering away the inheritance which was left them by their forefathers, and left them in trust only for those that should come after them; depriving their children of their right, exposing them to hardships, to temptations, and to curse their memory. Considerations which should make their hearts to ache, and force them to put an end to that idleness and intemperance which are the occasion of so much sin and mischief.