Page images

would be called a good, and religious man: high in office over God's people, and entrusted with intimations of His divine will; a man, too, of deep personal humility; patient, and resigned under the announcement of the ruin of his house; and in the manner of his death giving an affecting proof of piety and devotion to his God. In all these respects he stands before us, an object for our reverence, and love. But in one particular part of his duty he was wanting-namely, in his duty towards his children. There he failedand how many thousands have failed in the same way since his day! Through mistaken indulgence, through an over easiness of temperament, which would not allow him to use sufficient severity in the correction of their faults-" His sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." Not that he sanctioned their wickedness-not that he was blind to the consequences of it, for we read how he rebuked them and pointed out to them their folly, saying." If one man sin against another the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?" But the mischief lay in this; that he did not restrain them betimes; he did not exercise his just authority as a father in disciplining his sons when young, and so, when they came to riper age, they were beyond the reach of his control-" they would have none

of his counsel, nor hearken at all to his reproofs," their sins cried to God for punishment-and in that punishment was involved, not themselves only, but their father and their wives, and their little ones, and their whole posterity for ever.

It will not require many words to make the application of this history to ourselves. In it there is a lesson-a lesson traced by the finger of the Almighty-and in characters so plain that none can fail to understand it: a lesson useful to us all, but more especially suitable for parents—and that is, a lesson to beware of over indulgence; to beware of saving our own feelings, at the expense of ruining our children-ruining them for want of timely restraint.

A spoilt child is a trouble to itself, to its parents, and to all within its reach. It is spoilt for this world; and what is far worse, it is spoilt, in many cases, for heaven. Yes, my brethren, Scripture and reason alike require of you to restrain your children from following their own wills, and humours, and to punish them when punishment is necessary. To punish them not in anger-not with undue hardness-but at proper times, and for proper causes.

It is for your interest so to do: there is no sorer sight than that of old age made wretched by the misconduct of unruly children. It is a sight, alas ! but too common; because men will not be guided

by others in the management of their children; they will not be counselled, either by what they find written in the word of God, or by what they see in the world. They will wait till experience-bitter experience teaches them how true it is, that tempers unrebuked in youth become ungovernable in manhood—that “ foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child," and to neglect to drive it out by wise treatment, and salutary correction, is to heap up sorrow against a later day-is to expose themselves and their offspring" to tribulation, and anguish, and woe."

Let it not be so with you; but rather "give all diligence," to avail yourselves both of example and of advice, for the proper treatment of your children. Especially be forward to take all the help which God's holy book supplies towards the fulfilling of so anxious and so responsible a duty. Read in that book, and mark well, and digest what is written concerning Abraham, the Father of the Faithful; whom the Almighty honoured above all of his time, because (as we see in the eighteenth chapter of Genesis) God knew "that he would" command his children, and his household after him, "that they should keep the way of the Lord, and do justice, and keep judgment," so that all He had promised might be accomplished in his race. Read of his prosperity in life, and his happiness in death; how


[ocr errors]

he died in a good old age, an old man and full of years; and was gathered to his people,”—attended by both his sons, Ishmael and Isaac, to the grave. Read, I say, of him, and compare with his lot that of Eli-dishonoured in his old age, and visited with the direst affliction; solely for having neglected that for which Abraham was blessed; for having neglected to order his children and household to keep the way of the Lord-" because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.”

Read of him, and be warned by his example. Do not suppose that it is enough to serve God yourselves: let us not think that all that can be required towards attaining salvation through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is to shape our course according to the Gospel, to keep our own souls diligently by its precepts: no-we must indeed seek to do this; but we must do more withal: we must serve God with our whole house; we must walk in His way ourselves, and take all the care we can that our families, our sons and our daughters,yes, and our men-servants and maid-servants, walk in that way as well. And how can we expect that this will be the case, unless we bring them up betimes, "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?" Unless in their tender years, while their minds are soft, and pliant, we endeavour to counter

act their evil tendencies and humours, and to instil into them sound principles and sober habits-in short, unless we endeavour to bring them up as Christian children ought always to be brought up, virtuously, religiously, and in the fear of God?

An education like this, our children, as beings born for immortality, claim at our hands; and on us will be visited the evil that may arise for lack of it-and justly too-for in a christian land, with a christian church, and christian schools, close at our doors, what possible excuse can there be for any one, if he or his children go astray, in ignorance of the one true God, and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent? There is no one so poor that he cannot, if he will, obtain for his children the knowledge necessary to their salvation. Besides, after all, the most important part of their education rests in your own hands. There is no teaching nearly so effectual as the teaching of example. In religious teaching, this is far above all others in value and what example, I would ask you-what example has half such weight with a child as the example of its parents?

Bear this in mind, I beseech you, for it is the key that opens the door to true wisdom, the readiest path to all right learning. By your constant and early attention to the temper and disposition of

« PreviousContinue »