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omitted for the day, as sometimes is the case when deferred to a later hour. This would give opportunity to the whole family to assemble, which cannot afterwards be done, without encroaching upon the hours appointed to business; and we frequently find that one or other of the family, in most houses, are absent on that solemn occasion, when late and untimely.
2. Another thing very irregular in family worship is, referring it till late at night, when the body becomes sluggish and sleepy through the fatigues of the day'; such a lassitude relaxes the whole frame, that the family may be said to come together to yawn, rather than to worship. Instead of kneeling, they stretch demselves to rest; instead of worshipping God with the heart, they are asleep, or else yawning out their amens. Masters are apt to blame their servants for sneaking privately to bed before family worship is begun, without reflecting, that their own disorder is the cause. And in my judgment, the laborious servant, who must be up in the morning, to do his master's business, is more excusable in going to bed before family worship is over, than his master is in deferring it till an unseasonable hour. The master and mistress can indulge themselves a little in the morning, which is not the case of servants; and the calls of nature must be obeyed. If masters, therefore, were to study the health, vigour, and activity of their servants, and the dispatch of their own business, they would see their families to rest in an early hour, utterly avoiding all late suppers and unseasonable visitings. How can it be thought that servants, having been up till twelve or one in the morning, can go about their business next day with that vigour and diligence, as if they had enjoyed their natural rest, and been in bed by ten over night. Now,
III. In order to shew the importance and necessity of family religion, I shall point out some things which are to be ascribed to the want and neglect of it.
1. The ignorance of children untaught and unprincipled, left an easy prey to cunning papists, and other ministers of error, who lie in wait to deceive and to lead captive the unwary mind. And none so likely to become a prey, as the unhappy young ones, who are destitute of any settled principles. Parents cannot indeed give grace to their offspring ; but by acting a consistent part may be of excellent use to them, in leading them externally into the way they should go, according to the divine direction. Many parents have had the pleasure of seeing their endeavours succeed to their utmost wishes, and many children have had reason to bless God for a religious education, under the inspection of their faithful parents.
2. Where family religion is totally neglected, or where worship is performed in a slight unmeaning manner, children and servants are led into a contempt of all religion, seeing no traces of its power in the spirits and conduct of their superiors. And can
a worse thing be done for young ones in any capacity? If we sincerely sought their final ruin, could we take a more likely way to effect it; seeing children are so very prone to imitate whatever is vicious in their parents ? Especially where the parent is under a profession of religion, the case is yet more fatally pernicious; as the young people will be naturally led to conclude, either that the heads of the family are hypocrites, or that there is, in reality, no weight or importance in religion itself.
3. Church assemblies are disregarded, and church encouragement is withheld. For the congregation of the faithful in a great measure, under God, depends for supplies upon religious families; which families ought to be considered as nurseries for her special growth. But if the young plantation is entirely neglected; if the children of the godly are not taught to walk in the ways of the Lord externally, what but desolation is likely to befall the vineyard itself? 0, what need have parents to be conscientious and circumspect before their children and servants ! What need to resolve, through divine grace, with Joshua, that we and our houses will serve the Lord, that their blood be not required at our hands.
Give me leave now, my dear reader, to point out some things, which seem to me naturally implied in Joshua's resolution, ali of which are requisite to a godly form of household government.
1. It supposeth that Joshua had given, or would give, sound instruction to the various members of his family. For how shall they serve him of whom they have not heard ? Him with whose will and law they are altogether 'unacquainted? The service of God necessarily implies an antecedent knowledge of his will. All service of the Divine Being must be according to some certain rule or standard. We know of no rule besides his given word, which parents and masters are commanded to open and expound. to their children and servants.
It can never be deemed sufficient, that our children are taught to know our own will; apprentices taught their trades; and servants their proper business, after all these are done one great lesson still remains to be learned, and that is the law of their God. That of Deut. vi. 6, 7. deserves the attention of all heads of families; · These words which I command thee this day shall • be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them diIGENTLY unto thy children; thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. What diligence is here required of masters of families ! Considered under the notion of priests and prophets in the midst of their several households. A similar precept is given, or rather this is repeated in a more concise manner by Paul, the apostle, Eph. vi. 4. · Fathers, pro
voke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.' So that if family religion
capable of great vices, the parents think they may safe enough indulge their little irregularities and make themselves sport with their pretty perverseness, which they think well enough becomes that innocent age.'
“ The fondling must be taught to strike and call names, must have what he calls for, and do what he pleases. Thus parents, by humouring and cockering them when little, corrupt and vitiate the principles of their children; and wonder afterwards to taste the bitter waters, although they themselves have poisoned the fountain. For when their children are grown up, and these ill habits along with them; when they are now too big to be dandled, and their parents can no longer make use of them as playthings; then they complain that the brats are untoward and perverse ; then they are offended to see then, wilful, and are troubled with those ill humours which they themselves infused and fomented in them; and then, perhaps too late, would be glad to get out those weeds which their own hands have planted, and which now have taken too deep root to be easily extirpated."
“For he that has been used to have his will in every thing, whilst he was in petticoats, why should we think it strange that he should desire it, and contend for it still when he is in breeches. Indeed, as he grows towards a man, age shews his faults the more; so that there be few parents then, so blind, as not to see them ; few so insensible as not to feel the ill effects of their own indulgence. He had the will of his maid before he could speak or go; he had the mastery of his parents ever since he could prattle; and why not now he is stronger and wiser than he was then, why now of a sudden must he be restrained and curbed. Why must he, at seven, fourteen, or twenty years old, lose the privilege, which the parents' indulgence till then so largely allowed him ? Try it on a dog, an horse, or any other creature, and see whether the ill and rusty tricks they have learned when young, are easy to be mended when they are knit ? And yet none of those creatures are half so wilful and proud, or half so desirous to be masters of themselves and others as man.”
Continues this very sensible author, page 44, “ Those that intend ever to govern their children, should begin it then when they are very little, and look that they perfectly comply with their parents' will. Would you have your son obedient to you when past a child ? Be sure then to establish the authority of a parent as soon as he is capable of submission, and can understand in whose power he is. If you would have him stand in awe of you, imprint it in his infancy; and as he approaches more to a man, admit him into nearer familiarity with you. So shall you have him your obedient subject whilst a child, and your affectionate friend when he is a man. Methinks they mightily miss place the treatment due to children, who are indulgent and
familiar when they are little, but severe to them, and keep them at a distance, when they are grown up. Liberty and indulger.ce can do no good to children. Their want of judgment makes them stand in need of restraint and discipline. And on the contrary, imperiousness and severity is but an ill way of treating them when grown up, and have reason of their own to guide them. Parents should avoid this, unless you have a mind to make your children weary of you, and secretly to say within themselves, Father, I wish you were dead.”
It is the opinion of some, and I could almost side with them, that if a child does not learn submission before he is two years of age, it is much if he ever learns it at all; therefore, as Mr. Locke observes, he that would govern his children at all, must begin with the earliest dawn of reason.
2. Discipline should be constantly maintained without relaxation, as well as be begun by times. Notwithstanding David well knew this part of paternal duty, it is clear to a demonstration, that his family suffered by his frequently being absent in foreign wars; which, I doubt not, was one principal cause of the disorders he complains of on his death bed. There should not, at any time, be the least abatement of the parents' authority on one hand, nor of the child's obedience and submission on the other. In the duties of family religion there ought to be no interruption. Nothing whatever ought to be suffered to break in upon those sacred moments, or to turn aside the duty. As the least neglect on the part of the parent, lessens the importance of the thing itself in the estimation of the child. Children reason upon, and draw conclusions from the conduct of their parents, much sooner, and more striking than most parents are aware of. I knew a man, then in a state of widowhood, who received one of the most severe reproofs he ever met with, from an infant of three years old. Family prayer had been, by some means, neglected on a certain morning, the little child was, as it were, out of his element all the morning ; fuzzled about the knee of his father, as if he had something to say that he was afraid to utter. At last, when the family were going to sit down to dinner, this little reprover, leaning on his parent's knee, fetched a sigh, and said, “ Pa---you were used to go to prayer with us; but
did not to-day.”---“ No, my dear,” said the parent, "I did not.”---"But, papa, you ought; why did you not ?" In short, the father had not a word to reply; and this infantminister's rebuke, was as home, and as effectual, as if it had been administered by the most respectable prelate in the land; and it may be added, I trust, had as permanent an influence.
3. A proper medium between the over fond and doting parent on one hand, and the tyrannical governor on the other, ought to be observed. As over fondness and indulgence have a very Laneful influence upon the morals of young ones, so in like
manner tyranny and severity have their peculiar evils cleaving to them. The lazy, the short and ready way of the tyrant to procure subjection in his children and dependants, by the whip, rod, cane, and ferula, may procure the subjection of a slave, but has not the least tendency to conquer the vicious propensities of young ones. It is possible to make even play itself disagreeable to young ones, and it soon would be so, if every mistake they made was to be punished with a rod; hence it follows, that an undesigned mistake, made by young ones, or any little unhappy accident falling out in their hands, should not even be reproved; or meet with so much as a chiding. The design and spirit of their conduct are the objects of our proper regard, and when these are right, the conduct itself, however faulty, must be passed by. Reproof and correction for what was quite involuntary, and perhaps unavoidable, must produce a timorous dejection and incapacity for business. Besides, giving too much opportunity to the child, to see that the parent, in inflicting of punishment, is not guided by reason but by passion ; and that it was not so much the good of the child that was aimed at, as to give scope to revenge and boundless anger, so unbecoming the parent. For this reason a parent ought never to correct a child, but when he has the most perfect command of himself ; nor should the least degree of anger ever be discovered, or indeed, be felt on the occasion; for if the child has but the notion that you only vend your own anger instead of seeking his good, your whipping labour is altogether lost; and he is hardened instead of being reformed.
The Scylla of over fondness, and the Charibdis of severity and tyranny, are equally to be guarded against, as equally dangerous to the principles of young ones. The tyrant may gain fear from his dependants, but unhappily their hatred of him arises in an equal proportion to their fear. This is what a wise man would wish by all means possible to avoid ; and indeed for a parent to render himself the object of his children's hatred, is something extremely shocking. On the other hand, that parent or master who lays aside his authority, and ceaseth to rule in his own proper department, becomes the object of just contempt. It is as much the duty of the parent to command, as it is the duty of the child to obey; and so closely is the mutual happiness of each linked, with their acting properly in their different departments, that it is not to be expected, but in an exertion of themselves in parental authority on one hand, and in filial submission on the other. Happy is that parent who is feared because he is beloved, obeyed cheerfully, because of the equity and reasonableness of his commands. Happy is he who has attained Bathsheba's address in tutoring her son Solomon, Prov. xxxi. 2---5. • What, my son ? and what, the son of my womb ? and what, • the son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, nor