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THE DUTIES OF PARENTS
AUTHOR: Ryle, J.C.
PUBLISHED ON: April 1, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Sermons

                                  Preface

For more than 100 years, J. C. Ryle’s (John Charles Ryle) sermons have been
consistently recognized, and their usefulness and impact have continued to
the present day, even in the outdated English of the author’s own day. 

Why then should expositions already so successful and of such stature and
proven usefulness require adaptation, revision, rewrite or even editing?
The answer is obvious.  To increase its usefulness to today’s reader, the
language in which it was originally written needs updating.

Though his sermons have served other generations well, just as they came
from the pen of the author in the nineteenth century, they still could be
lost to present and future generations, simply because, to them, the
language is neither readily nor fully understandable.

My goal, however, has not been to reduce the original writing to the
vernacular of our day.  It is designed primarily for you who desire to read
and study comfortably and at ease in the language of our time.  Only
obviously archaic terminology and passages obscured by expressions not
totally familiar in our day have been revised.  However, neither J. C.
Ryle’s meaning nor intent have been tampered with.

                                            Tony Capoccia

All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of
Zondervan Bible Publishers. 

                  ****************************************

                          THE DUTIES OF PARENTS
                                    by
                                J. C. Ryle
                                (1816-1900)

       
            “Train a child in the way he should go, and when
                  he is old he will not turn from it.” 
                              Proverbs 22:6
       

I suppose that most professing Christians are acquainted with the text at the
head of this page.  The sound of it is probably familiar to your ears, like
an old tune.  It is likely you have heard it, or read it, talked of it, or
quoted it, many a time.  Is this not true?

But, after all, how little is the substance of this text regarded!  The
doctrine it contains appears scarcely known, the duty it puts before us seems
seldom practiced.  Reader, am I not speaking the truth?

It cannot be said that this is a new subject.  The world is old, and we have
the experience of over six thousand years of civilization to help us.  We
live in days when there is a great zeal for education in every quarter.  We
hear of new schools rising on all sides.  We are told of new systems, and new
books for the young, of every sort and description.  And still for all this,
the vast majority of children are clearly not trained in the way they should
go, for when they grow up to an adult, they do not walk with God.

Now how shall we account for this state of things?  The plain truth is, the
Lord’s commandment in our text is not regarded; and therefore, the Lord’s
promise in our text is not fulfilled.

Reader, these things may well give rise to great searching’s of the heart. 
Please listen to a word of exhortation from a minister, about the right
training of children.  Believe me, the subject is one that should come home
to every conscience, and make every one ask himself the question, “Am I
doing all that I can in the training of children in the way they should go?”

It is a subject that concerns almost all of us.  There is hardly a household
that it does not touch.  Parents, nurses, teachers, uncles, aunts, brothers,
sisters–all have an interest in it.  Few can be found, I think, who might
not influence some parent in the management of his family, or affect the
training of some child by suggestion or advice.  All of us, I suspect, can do
something here, either directly or indirectly, and I wish to stir up everyone
so they can learn the proper way to train children.

It is a subject, too, on which all concerned are in great danger of coming
short of their duty.  This is preeminently a point in which men can see the
faults of their neighbors more clearly than their own.  They will often bring
up their children in the very path which they have denounced to their friends
as unsafe.  They will see minor problems in other men’s families, and
overlook catastrophes in their own.  They will be quick sighted as eagles in
detecting mistakes in other families, and yet blind as bats to fatal errors
which are daily going on at home.  They will be wise about their brother’s
house, but foolish about their own flesh and blood.  Here, if anywhere, we
have need to suspect our own judgment.  This, too, you will do well to bear
in mind.

As a minister, I cannot help remarking that there is hardly any subject about
which people seem so stubborn as they are about their own children.  I have
sometimes been perfectly astonished at the slowness of sensible Christian
parents to believe that their own children are at fault, or deserve blame. 
There are many persons to whom I would rather speak about their own sins,
than tell them their children had done anything wrong.

Come now, and let me place before you a few hints about right training. 
Bless God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and make their
words appropriate in all of you.  Do not reject them because they are blunt
and simple; do not despise them because they contain nothing new.  Be very
sure, if you would train children for heaven, that these hints are not
lightly set aside.

1.  If you would train your children rightly, train them in the way they
should go, and not in the way that they would.

Remember children are born with a decided bias towards evil, and therefore,
if you let them choose for themselves, they are certain to choose wrong.

The mother cannot tell whether her tender infant will grow up to be tall or
short, weak or strong, wise or foolish: he may be any of these things or none
of them, it is all uncertain.  But one thing the mother can say with
certainty: he will have a corrupt and sinful heart.  It is natural for us to
do wrong.  “Folly,” says Solomon, “is bound up in the heart of a child”
(Proverbs 22:15).  “A child left to himself disgraces his mother” (Proverbs
29:15).  Our hearts are like the earth on which we walk–let it alone, and it
is sure to bear weeds.

If, then, you would deal wisely with your child, you must not leave him to
the guidance of his own will.  Think for him, judge for him, act for him,
just as you would for someone weak and blind; but for pity’s sake, do not
give him up to his own wayward tastes and inclinations.  It must not be his
likings and wishes that guide him.  He does not yet know what is good for his
mind and soul, any more than what is good for his body.  You do not let him
decide what he will eat, and what he will drink, and how he will be dressed. 
Be consistent, and deal with his mind in like manner.  Train him in the way
that is scriptural and right, and not in the way that he fancies.

If you cannot make up your mind to this first principle of Christian
training, it is useless for you to read any further.  Self-will is almost the
first thing that appears in a child’s mind; and it must be your first
priority to resist it.

2.  Train up your child with all tenderness, affection, and patience.

I do not mean that you are to spoil him, but I do mean that you should let
him see that you love him.

Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct. 
Kindness, gentleness, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into
childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys–these are the
cords by which a child may be led most easily–these are the clues you must
follow if you would find the way to his heart.

Few are to be found, even among grown-up people, who are not more easy to
draw than to drive.  There is that in all our minds which rises with
resistance against compulsion; we straighten our backs and stiffen our necks
at the very idea of a forced obedience.  We are like young horses in the hand
of a breaker: handle them kindly, and make them do what you desire, and in
time you may guide them with thread; use them roughly and violently, and it
will be many months before you get mastery over them–if at all.

Now children’s minds are cast in much the same mold as our own.  Sternness
and severity of manner make them cold and cause them to back away.  It shuts
up their hearts, and you will weary yourself to find a way in.

But let them see that you have an affectionate feeling towards them–that you
are really desirous to make them happy, and do them good–that if you punish
them, it is intended for their profit, and you would give your heart’s blood
to nourish their souls; let them see this, and they will soon be all your
own.  But they must be wooed with kindness, if their attention is ever to be
won.

And surely reason itself might teach us this lesson.  Children are weak and
tender creatures, and, as such, they need patient and considerate treatment. 
We must handle them delicately, like frail machines, lest by rough handling
we do more harm than good.  They are like young plants, and need gentle
watering–often, but a little at a time.

We must not expect all things at once.  We must remember what children are
and teach them as they are able to bear.  Their minds are like a lump of
metal–not to be forged and made useful at once, but only by a succession of
little blows.  Their understandings are like narrow-necked vessels: we must
pour in the wine of knowledge gradually, or most of it will be spilled and
lost.  “Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a
little there” (Isaiah 28:10) must be our rule.  The sharpening stone does its
work slowly, but frequent rubbing will bring the knife to a fine edge.  Truly
there is need of patience in training a child, but without it nothing can be
done.

Nothing will compensate for the absence of this tender ness and love.  A
minister may speak the truth as it is in Jesus, clearly, forcibly,
unanswerably; but if he does not speak it in love, few souls will be won. 
Just so you must set before your children their duty–command, threaten,
punish, reason–but if love is missing in your treatment, your labor will be
all in vain.

Love is one grand secret of successful training.  Anger and harshness may
frighten, but they will not persuade the child that you are right; and if he
sees you angry often, you will soon cease to have his respect.  A father who
speaks to his son as Saul did to Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:30), need not expect
to retain his influence over that son’s mind.

Try hard to keep a hold on your child’s affections.  It is a dangerous thing,
to make your children afraid of you.  Anything is almost better than
reservation and constraint between your child and yourself; and this will
come with fear.  Fear puts an end to openness; fear leads to
concealment–fear sows the seed of hypocrisy, and leads to many lies.  There
is much truth in the Apostle’s words to the Colossians: “Fathers, do not
embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). 
Do not let the advice it contains be overlooked.

3.  Train your children with an abiding persuasion of your mind that much
depends upon you.

Grace is the strongest of all principles.  See what a revolution grace
effects when it comes into the heart of an old sinner–how it overturns the
strongholds of Satan–how it throws down mountains, fills up valleys, makes
crooked things straight–and creates the new man.  Truly nothing is
impossible for grace.

Nature, too, is very strong.  See how it struggles against the things of the
kingdom of God–how it fights against every attempt to be more holy–how it
keeps up an unceasing warfare within us to the last hour of life.  Nature
indeed is strong.

But after nature and grace, undoubtedly, there is nothing more powerful than
education.  Early habits (if I may say so) are everything with us, under God. 
We are made what we are by training.  Our character takes the form of that
mold into which our first years are cast.  He has seen only a little of life
who does not discern everywhere the effect of education on men’s opinions and
habits of thinking.  The children bring out of the nursery that which
displays itself throughout their lives.

We depend, in a vast measure, on those who bring us up.  We get from them a
color, a taste, a bias which cling to us more or less all our lives.  We
catch the language of our babysitters and mothers, and learn to speak it
naturally, and unquestionably we catch something of their manners, ways, and
mind at the same time.  Time will only tell, I suspect, how much we all owe
to early impressions, and how many things in us may be traced to the seeds
sown in the days of our very infancy by those who were around us.  A very
educated Englishman, Mr. Locke, has gone so far as to say: “That of all the
men we meet with, ninety percent of what they are, good or bad, useful or
not, is directly related to their education.”

And all this is one of God’s merciful arrangements.  He gives your children a
mind that will receive impressions like moist clay.  He gives them a dis-
position at the starting point of life to believe what you tell them, and to
take for granted what you advise them, and to trust your word rather than a
stranger’s.  He gives you, in short, a golden opportunity of doing them good. 
See that the opportunity is not neglected and thrown away.  Once we let it
slip away, it is gone for ever.

Beware of that miserable delusion into which some have fallen–that parents
can do nothing for their children, that you must leave them alone, wait for
the grace of God, and sit still.  These persons would like them to die the
death of the righteous man, but they do nothing to make them live his life. 
They desire much and have nothing.  And the devil rejoices to see such
foolish reasoning, just as he always does over anything which seems to excuse
idleness, or to encourage neglect.

I know that you cannot convert your child.  I know very well that they who
are born again are born, not of the will of man, but of God.  But I know also
that God says expressly, “Train a child in the way he should go” and that He
never laid a command on man which He would not give man grace to perform. 
And I know, too, that our duty is not to stand still and argue, but to go
forward and obey.  It is just in the going forward that God will meet us. 
The path of obedience is the way in which He gives the blessing.  We have
only to do as the servants were commanded at the marriage feast in Cana, to
fill the water-pots with water, and we may safely leave it to the Lord to
turn that water into wine.

4.  Train with this thought continually before your eyes–that the soul of
your child is of the utmost importance.

Precious, no doubt, are these little ones in your eyes; but if you love them,
think often of their souls.  Nothing should interest you so much as their
eternal destiny.  No part of them should be so dear to you as that part which
will never die.  The world, with all its glory, will pass away; the hills
will melt; the heavens will rolled away like a scroll; the sun shall cease to
shine.  But the spirit which dwells in those little creatures, whom you love
so well, shall outlive them all, and whether in blissful happiness or
agonizing misery will mostly depend on you.

This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for
your children.  In every action you take for them, in every plan, and
program, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty
question, “How will this affect their souls?”

Soul love is the soul of all love.  To pet and pamper and indulge your child,
as if this world was all he had to live for and this life the only time for
happiness–to do this is not true love, but cruelty.  It is treating him like
some animal of the earth, which has only one world to look forward to, and
nothing after death.  It is hiding from him that great truth, which he ought
to be made to learn from his very infancy–that the chief end of his life is
the salvation of his soul.

A true Christian must not be a slave to this world if he wants to train his
child for heaven.  He must not be content to do things merely because they
are the custom of the world; to teach them and instruct them in certain ways,
merely because it is normal; to allow them to read books of a questionable
sort merely because everybody else reads them; to let them form bad habits
merely because they are the habits of the day.  He must train with an eye to
his children’s souls.  He must not be ashamed to hear his training called odd
or strange.  What if it is?  The time is short, the ways of this world will
pass away.  He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for
earth–for God, rather than for man–he is the parent that will be called
wise in the end.

5.  Train your child to have a knowledge of the Bible.

You cannot make your children love the Bible, I will admit.  No one but the
Holy Spirit can give us a heart to delight in the Word.  But you can make
your children familiar with the Bible; and be they cannot be acquainted with
that blessed book too soon, or too well.

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is the foundation of all clear views of
religion.  He that is well-grounded in it will not generally be found to be a
person who wavers or one who is carried about by every wind of new doctrine. 
Any system of training which does not make a knowledge of Scripture the
first thing is unsafe and unsound.

You need to be careful on this point just now, for the devil is busy in this
world and error abounds.  Some are to be found among us who give the Church
the honor due to Jesus Christ.  Some are to be found who make the religious
duty saviors and passports to eternal life.  And some are to be found in like
manner who honor a the Church’s traditions more than the Bible, or fill the
minds of their children with worthless little story books, instead of the
Scripture of truth.  But if you love your children, let the simplicity of the
Bible be everything in the training of their souls; and let all other books
take second place.

Don’t worry so much about them being involved in Church activities, as for
their being mighty in the Scriptures.  This is the training, believe me, that
God will honor.  The Psalmist says of Him, “You have exalted above all things
your name and your word.” (Psalm 138:2) and I think that He gives a special
blessing to all who try to magnify His Word among men.

See that your children read the Bible reverently.  Train them to look on it,
not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, written by
the Holy Spirit Himself–all true, all profitable, and able to make us wise
unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

See that they read it regularly.  Train them to regard it as their soul’s
daily food–as a thing essential to their soul’s daily health.  I know well
you cannot make this anything more than a form; but there is no telling the
amount of sin which a mere form may indirectly restrain.

See that they read it all.  You need not shrink from bringing any doctrine
before them.  You need not fancy that the leading doctrines of Christianity
are things which children cannot understand.  Children understand far more of
the Bible than we are apt to suppose.

Tell them of sin, its guilt, its consequences, its power, its vileness: you
will find they can comprehend some thing of this.

Tell them of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His work for our salvation–the
atonement, the cross, the blood, the sacrifice, the intercession: you will
discover that this is not beyond them.

Tell them of the work of the Holy Spirit in man’s heart, how He changes, and
renews, and sanctifies, and purifies: you will soon see they can go alone
with you in some measure in this.  In short, I suspect we have no idea how
much a little child can take in of the length and breadth of the glorious
gospel.  They see far more of these things than we suppose.  (As to the age
when the religious instruction of a child should begin, no general rule can
be laid down.  The mind seems to open in some children much more quickly than
in others.  We seldom begin too early.  There are wonderful examples on
record of what a child can attain to, even at three years old).

Fill their minds with Scripture.  Let the Word dwell in them richly.  Give
them the Bible, the whole Bible, even while they are young.

6.  Train them to make a habit of prayer.

Prayer is the very life-breath of true religion.  It is one of the first
evidences that a man is born again.  “Ananias!” said the Lord of Saul, in
the day he sent Ananias to him, “He is praying” (Acts 9:11).  He had begun to
pray, and that was proof enough.

Prayer was the distinguishing mark of the Lord’s people in the day that there
began to be a separation between them and the world.  “At that time men began
to call on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:26).

Prayer is the characteristic of all real Christians.  They pray, telling God
their wants, their feelings, their desires, their fears and they mean what
they say.  The person who is a Christian in name only may repeat prayers, and
good sounding prayers too, but he goes no further.

Prayer is the turning-point in a man’s soul.  Our ministry is unprofitable,
and our labor is vain till you are brought to your knees.  Till then, we have
no hope concerning you.

Prayer is one great secret of spiritual prosperity.  When there is
considerable private communion with God, your soul will grow like the grass
after a rain; when there is only a little prayer then all will be at a
standstill, you will barely keep your soul alive.  Show me a growing
Christian, a Christian moving forward, a strong Christian, a flourishing
Christian, and I am sure that he is one that often speaks with His Lord.  He
asks much, and he has much.  He tells Jesus everything, and so he always
knows how to act.

Prayer is the mightiest power God has placed in our hands.  It is the best
weapon to use in every difficulty, and the surest remedy for every trouble. 
It is the key that unlocks the treasury of promises, and the hand that
reaches out and grabs hold of grace and help in time of need.  It is the
silver trumpet God commands us to sound whenever we have need, and it is the
cry He has promised always to respond to, even as a loving mother would to
the voice of her child.

Prayer is the simplest means that man can use in coming to God.  It is within
reach of all–the sick, the aged, the weak, the paralytic, the blind, the
poor, the illiterate–all can pray.  It does no good for you to excuse the
lack of prayer based upon the fact that you have a weak memory, or that you
lack education, or that you have not read enough books on prayer, or that you
have not been adequately taught in this matter.  As long as you have a tongue
to tell the state of your soul to God, you can and must pray.  Those words,
“You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2), will be a fearful
condemnation to many in the day of judgment.

Parents, if you love your children, do all that lies in your power to train
them up to a habit of prayer.  Show them how to begin.  Tell them what to
say.  Encourage them to persevere.  Remind them if they become careless and
slack about it.  Let it not be your fault, at any rate, if they never call on
the name of the Lord.

This, remember, is the first step in Christianity which a child is able to
take.  Long before he can read, you can teach him to kneel by his mother’s
side, and repeat the simple words of prayer and praise which she puts in his
mouth.  And as the first steps in any undertaking, are always the most
important, so is the manner in which your children’s prayers are prayed, a
point which deserves your closest attention.  Few seem to know how much
depends on this.  You must be careful that they don’t get into a habit of
saying them in a hurried, careless, and irreverent manner.  You must beware
of giving up the supervision of this matter to others, or of trusting too
much to your children doing it when left to themselves.  I cannot praise that
mother who never looks after this most important part of her child’s daily
life herself.  Surely if there be any habit which your own hand and eye
should help in forming, it is the habit of prayer.  Believe me, if you never
hear your children pray yourself, you are much to blame.  You are little
wiser than the bird described in Job, “She lays her eggs on the ground and
lets them warm in the sand, unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some
wild animal may trample them.  She treats her young harshly, as if they were
not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain” (Job 39:14-16).

Prayer is, of all habits, the one which we remember the longest.  Many a
grey-headed man could tell you how his mother used to make him pray in the
days of his childhood.  Other things have passed away from his mind perhaps. 
The church where he was taken to worship, the minister whom he heard preach,
the companions who used to play with him–all these, it may be, have passed
from his memory, and left no mark behind.  But you will often find it is far
different with his first prayers.  He will often be able to tell you where he
knelt, and what he was taught to say, and even how his mother looked all the
while.  It will come up as fresh before his mind’s eye as if it was but
yesterday.

Reader, if you love your children, I charge you, do not let the opportunity
of developing a prayerful habit pass away.  If you train your children to
anything, train them, at least, to a habit of prayer.

7.  Train them to habits of diligence, and regularity about gathering
together with God’s people.

Tell them of the obligation and privilege of going to church and joining in
the prayers of the congregation.  Tell them that wherever the Lord’s people
are gathered together, there the Lord Jesus is present in a special way, and
that those who fail to attend church must expect, like the Apostle Thomas, to
miss a blessing.  Tell them of the importance of hearing the Word preached,
and that it is God’s method for converting, sanctifying, and building up the
souls of men.  Tell them how the Apostle Paul enjoins us not to “Give up
meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but to encourage one
another–and all the more as we see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

Do not allow them to grow up with a habit of making vain excuses for not
coming to church.  Plainly make them understand, that so long as they live
under your roof it is the rule of your house for every one in health to honor
the Lord on the Lord’s day by attending services, and that you consider
anyone who purposely avoids the gathering of God’s people to be a murderer
of his own soul.

See to it too, if it can be arranged, that your children sit near you in
church when they are there.  To go to church is one thing but to behave well
at church is quite another.  And believe me, there is no guarantee for good
behavior like that of having them under your own eye.

The minds of young people are easily distracted, and their attention lost and
every possible means should be used to counteract this.  I do not like to see
what I call “a young people’s corner” in a church.  They often catch habits
of inattention and irreverence there, which it takes years to unlearn, if
they ever really unlearn it at all.  What I like to see is a whole family
sitting together, old and young side by side–men, women, and children,
serving God according to their households.

But there are some who say that it is useless to urge children to pay
attention in church because they cannot understand what is being said.

Do not listen to such reasoning.  I find no such doctrine in the Old
Testament.  When Moses goes before Pharaoh (Exodus 10:9), I observe he says,
“We will go with our young and old, with our sins and daughters, and with our
flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the Lord.”  When
Joshua read the law (Joshua 8:35), I observe, “There was not a word that
Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and
children, and the aliens who lived among them.”  And when I turn to the New
Testament, I find children mentioned there as partaking in public acts of
religion as well as in the Old Testament.  When Paul was leaving the
disciples at Tyre for the last time, I find it said (Acts 21:5), “We left and
continued on our way.  All the disciples and their wives and children
accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.”

Samuel, in the days of his childhood, appears to have ministered unto the
Lord some time before he really knew Him.  “Samuel did not yet know the Lord:
The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3:7).  The
Apostles themselves do not seem to have understood all that our Lord said at
the time that it was spoken: “At first his disciples did not understand all
this.  Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had
been written about him” (John 12:16).

Parents, comfort your minds with these examples.  Do not be depressed because
your children do not see the full value of the Christianity now.  Only train
them up to a habit of regular attendance.  Set it before their minds as a
high, holy, and solemn duty, and believe me, the day will very likely come
when they will bless you for your work.

8.  Train them to have a habit of faith.

I mean by this, you should train them up to believe what you say.  You should
try to make them feel confidence in your judgment, and respect your opinions,
as better than their own.  You should make them accustom to thinking that,
when you say that something is bad for them, it must be bad, and when you
say it is good for them, it must be good; that your knowledge, in short, is
better than their own, and that they may rely implicitly on your word.  Teach
them to feel that what they don’t know now, they will probably know later,
and to be satisfied there is a reason for everything you require them to do.

Indeed, who can describe the blessedness of a real spirit of faith?  Or
rather, who can tell the misery that unbelief has brought upon the world? 
Unbelief made Eve eat the forbidden fruit–she doubted the truth of God’s
word: “You will surely die.”  Unbelief made the old world reject Noah’s
warning, and so perish in sin.  Unbelief kept Israel in the wilderness–it
was the wall that kept them from entering the promised land.  Unbelief made
the Jews crucify the Lord of glory–they did not believe the voice of Moses
and the prophets, though it was read to them every day.  And unbelief is the
reigning sin of man’s heart down to this very hour–unbelief in God’s
promises–unbelief in God’s warnings–unbelief in our own
sinfulness–unbelief in our own danger–unbelief in everything that runs
counter to the pride and worldliness of our evil hearts.  Reader, you are
wasting your training of your children if you do not train them to a habit of
implicit faith–faith in their parents’ word, confidence that what their
parents say must be right.

I have heard it said by some, that you should require nothing of children
which they cannot understand: that you should explain and give a reason for
everything you desire them to do.  I warn you solemnly against such notion. 
I tell you plainly, I think it an unsound and rotten principle.  No doubt it
is absurd to make a mystery of everything you do, and there are many things
which it is well to explain to children in order that they may see that these
are reasonable and wise.  But to bring them up with the idea that they must
take nothing on trust, that they, with their weak and imperfect under-
standings, must have the “why” and the “wherefore” made clear to them at
every step they take–this is indeed a fearful mistake, and likely to have
the worst effect on their minds.

Reason with your child if you are so disposed, at certain times, but never
forget to keep him in mind (if you really love him) that he is but a child
after all–that he thinks as a child, he understands as a child and therefore
must not expect to know the reason of every thing at once.

Set before him the example of Isaac, in the day when Abraham took him to
offer him on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). He asked his father that single
question, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  and he got no answer
but this, “God himself will provide the lamb.”  How, or where, or when, or in
what manner, or by what means–all this Isaac was not told; but the answer
was enough.  He believed that it would be well, because his father said so,
and he was content.

Tell your children, too, that we must all be learners in our early
years–that there is an alphabet to be mastered in every kind of
knowledge–that the best horse in the world had to be at one time
broken–that a day will come when they will see the wisdom of all your
training.  But in the meantime if you say something is right, it must be
enough for them–they must believe you, and be content.

Parents, if any point in training is important, it is this.  I charge you by
the love you have for your children, use every means to train them up to a
habit of faith.

9.  Train them to a habit of obedience.

This is an object which is worth any labor to attain.  No habit, I suspect,
has such an influence over our lives as this.  Parents, determine to make
your children obey you, though it may cost you a lot of trouble, and cost
them many tears.  Let there be no questioning, and reasoning, and disputing,
and delaying, and answering again.  When you give them a command, let them
see plainly that you will have it done.

Obedience is the only reality.  It is faith visible, faith acting, and faith
incarnate.  It is the test of real discipleship among the Lord’s people. 
“You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14).  It ought to be
the mark of well-trained children, that they do whatever their parents
command them.  Where, indeed, is the honor which the fifth commandment
enjoins, if fathers and mothers are not obeyed cheerfully, willingly, and at
once?

Early obedience has all Scripture on its side.  It is in Abraham’s praise,
not merely he will train his family, but “He will direct his children and his
household” (Genesis 18:19).  It is said of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
that when “He was obedient to His parents” (Luke 2:51).  Observe how
implicitly Joseph obeyed the order of his father Jacob (Genesis 37:13).  See
how Isaiah speaks of it as an evil thing, when “The young will rise up
against the old” (Isaiah 3:5).  Note how the Apostle Paul names disobedience
to parents as one of the evil sins of the last days (2 Timothy 3:2)  Note how
he singles out this grace of requiring obedience as one that should adorn a
Christian minister: “The overseer must manage his own family well and see
that his children obey him with proper respect.”  And again, “A deacon must
manage his children and household well” (1 Timothy 3:4, 12).  And again, an
elder must be one “whose children believe and are not open to the charge of
being wild and disobedient” (Titus 1:6).

Parents, do you wish to see your children happy?  Take care, then, that you
train them to obey when they are spoken to–to do as they are told.  Believe
me, we are not made for entire independence–we are not fit for it.  Even
Christ’s freeman have a yoke to wear–“It is the Lord Christ they are serving”
(Colossians 3:24).  Children cannot learn too soon that this is a world in
which we are not all intended to rule, and that we are never in our right
place until we know how to obey our elders.  Teach them to obey while young,
or else they will be fretting against God all their lives long, and wear
themselves out with the vain idea of being independent of His control.

Reader, you need to see that many in this day allow their children to choose
and think for themselves long before they are able, and even make excuses for
their disobedience, as if it were something not to blame them for.  In my
eyes, a parent that always yields, and a child that always has its own way is
a most painful sight–painful, because I see God’s appointed order of things
inverted and turned upside down–painful, because I feel sure the consequence
to that child’s character in the end will be self-will, pride, and self-
conceit.  You must not wonder that men refuse to obey their Father which is
in heaven if you allow them, when children, to disobey their earthly father.

Parents, if you love your children, let obedience be a motto and a watchword
continually before their eyes.

10.  Train children to have the habit of always speaking the truth.

Speaking the truth is far less common in the world than one would think.  The
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is a golden rule which many would
do well to remember.  Lying and falsification are old sins.  The devil was
the father of them–he deceived Eve by a bold lie, and ever since the fall it
is a sin which all the children of Eve need to be on their guard against.

Only think how much falsehood and deceit there is in the world! How much
exaggeration!  How many additions are made to a simple story!  How many
things are left out, if it does not serve the speaker’s interest to tell
them!  How few there are around us of whom we can say, we put unhesitating
trust in their word!  Truly the ancient Persians were wise in their
generation: it was a leading point with them in educating their children that
they should learn to speak the truth.  What an awful proof it is of man’s
natural sinfulness, that it should be necessary to name such a point at all!

Reader, I would remind you how often God is spoken of in the Old Testament as
the God of truth.  Truth seems to be especially set before us as a leading
feature in the character of God.  He never swerves from the straight line. 
He hates lying and hypocrisy.  Try to keep this continually before your
children’s minds.  Press upon them at all times, that anything less than the
truth is a lie; that evasion, excuse-making, and exaggeration are all half-
way houses towards what is false, and ought to be avoided.

Encourage them in any circumstances to be straightforward, and, whatever it
may cost them, to speak the truth.

I bring this subject to your attention, not merely for the sake of your
children’s character in the world–though I might dwell a lot on this–I
urge it rather for your own encouragement and assistance in all your dealings
with them.  You will find it a mighty help indeed, to be able always to trust
their word.  It will go far to prevent that habit of concealment, which so
unhappily prevails sometimes among children.  Openness and
straightforwardness depend much upon a parent’s treatment of this matter in
the days of our infancy.

11.  Train them to have a habit of always redeeming the time.

Idleness is the devil’s best friend.  It is the surest way to give him an
opportunity of doing us harm.  An idle mind is like an open door, and if
Satan does not enter in himself by it, it is certain he will throw in
something to arouse bad thoughts in our souls.

No created being was ever meant to be idle.  Service and work is the
appointed portion of every creature of God.  The angels in heaven work–they
are the Lord’s ministering servants, ever doing His will.  Adam, in
Paradise, had work–he was appointed to care for the garden of Eden.  The
redeemed saints in glory will have work–“They do not rest day and night”
singing praise and glory to Him who bought them.  And man, weak, sinful man,
must have something to do, or else his soul will soon get into an unhealthy
state.  We must have our hands filled, and our minds occupied with something,
or else our imaginations will soon ferment and breed mischief.

And what is true of us, is true of our children too.  The Jews thought
idleness was a serious sin: it was their law that every man should bring up
his son to some useful trade–and they were right.  They knew the heart of
man better than some of us appear to do.

Idleness made Sodom what she was.  “This was the sin of your sister Sodom:
She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned” (Ezekiel
16:49).  Idleness had much to do with David’s awful sin with the wife of
Uriah–I see in 2 Samuel 11 that Joab went out to war against Ammon, “but
David remained in Jerusalem.”  Wasn’t that idleness?  And then it was that he
saw Bathsheba–and the next step we read of is his tremendous and miserable
fall.

Truly, I believe that idleness has led to more sin than almost any other
habit that could be named.  I suspect it is the mother of many a work of the
flesh–the mother of adultery, fornication, drunkenness, and many other deeds
of darkness that I don’t have the time to name.  Let your own conscience say
whether I speak the truth or not.  You were idle, and all at once the devil
knocked at the door and came in.

And, indeed, I do not wonder–everything in the world around us seems to
teach the same lesson.  It is the still water which becomes stagnant and
impure: the running moving streams are always clear.  If you have a piece of
machinery, you must take care of it or it soon will begin to malfunction.  If
you have a horse, you must exercise him; he is never so well as when he has
regular workouts.  If you would have good bodily health yourself, you must
exercise.  If you always sit still, your body is sure in time to complain. 
And just so is it with the soul.  The active moving mind is a hard target for
the devil to shoot at.  Try to be always full of useful employment, and thus
your enemy will find it difficult to get room to plant evil thoughts.

Reader, I ask you to set these things before the minds of your children. 
Teach them the value of time, and try to make them learn the habit of using
it well.  It pains me to see children with nothing but time on their hands. 
I love to see them active and industrious, and giving their whole heart to
all they do; giving their whole heart to their schoolwork, when they have to
learn–giving their whole heart even to their amusements, when they go to
play.

But if you love your children, let idleness be counted a sin in your family.

12.  Train them with a constant fear of over-indulgence.

This is the one point of all on which you have most need to be on your guard. 
It is natural to be tender and affectionate towards your own flesh and blood,
and it is the excess of this very tenderness and affection which you have to
fear.  Take care that it does not make you blind to your children’s faults,
and deaf to all advice about them.  Take care lest it makes you overlook bad
conduct, rather than have the pain of inflicting punishment and correction.

I know well that punishment and correction are unpleasant things.  Nothing
is more unpleasant than giving pain to those we love, and calling forth
their tears.  But so long as hearts are what hearts are, it is vain to
suppose, as a general rule, that children can ever be brought up without
correction.

Spoiling is a very expressive word, and sadly full of meaning.  Now it is the
shortest way to spoil children to let them have their own way–to allow them
to do wrong and not to punish them for it.  Believe me, you must not do it,
whatever pain it may cost you unless you wish to ruin your children’s souls.

You cannot say that Scripture does not speak expressly on this subject: “He
who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to
discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24).  “Discipline your son, for in that there is
hope; do not be a willing party to his death” (Proverbs 19:18).  “Folly is
bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far
from him” (Proverbs 22:15).  “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you
punish him with the rod, he will not die.  Punish him with the rod and save
his soul from death” (Proverbs 23:13-14).  “The rod of correction imparts
wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.”  “Discipline your
son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul”
(Proverbs 29:15, 17).

How strong and forcible are these texts!  How sad is the fact, that in many
Christian families they seem almost unknown!  Their children need reproof,
but it is hardly ever given; they need discipline, but it is hardly ever
employed.  And yet this book of Proverbs is not obsolete and unfit for
Christians.  It is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable.  It is
given for our learning, even as the Epistles to the Romans and Ephesians. 
Surely the believer who brings up his children without attention to its
counsel is making himself wise above that which is written, and greatly errs.

Fathers and mothers, I tell you plainly, if you never punish your children
when they are at fault, you are doing them a grievous wrong.  I warn you,
this is the mistake which the saints of God, in every age have made.  See it
is true in Eli’s case.  His sons Hophni and Phinehas were wicked their father
did not restrain them.  He grave them no more than a lukewarm reproof, when
he ought to have rebuked them sharply.  In one word, he honored his sons
above God.  And what was the end of these things?  He lived to hear of the
death of both his sons in battle, and his own gray hairs were brought down
with sorrow to the grave (1 Samuel 2:22-29; 3:13).

See, too, this is the case with David.  Who can read without pain the history
of his children, and their sins?  Amnon’s incest–Absalom’s murder and proud
rebellion–Adonijah’s scheming ambition: truly, these were grievous wounds for
the man after God’s own heart to receive from his own house.  But was there
no fault on his side?  I fear there can be no doubt there was.  I find a clue
to it all in the account of Adonijah in I Kings 1:6, “His father had never
interfered with him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?'”  There was the
foundation of all the trouble.  David was an over-indulgent father–a father
who let his children have their own way–and he reaped according as he had
sown.

Parents, I beseech you, for your children’s sake, beware of over-indulgence. 
I call on you to remember, it is your first duty to consult their real
interests, and not their fancies and likings–to train them, not to humor
them–to profit them, not merely to please them.

You must not give way to every wish and fancy of your child’s mind, however
much you may love him.  You must not let him suppose his will is to be
everything, and that he has only to desire a thing, and it will be done.  Do
not, I pray you, make your children idols, lest God should take them away and
break your idol, just to convince you of your folly.

Learn to say “No” to your children.  Show them that you are able to refuse
whatever you think is not fit for them.  Show them that you are ready to
punish disobedience, and that when you speak of punishment, you are not only
ready to threaten, but also to perform.  Do not threaten too much.  Some
parents have a way of saying, “Naughty child,” to a boy or girl on every
slight occasion, and often without good cause.  It is a very foolish habit. 
Words of blame should never be used without real reason.  Threatened folks,
and threatened faults, do not change.  Punish seldom, but punish with a
purpose and in earnest–frequent and slight punishment is a wretched system
indeed.

As to the best way of punishing a child, no general rule can be laid down. 
The characters of children are so exceedingly different, that what would be a
severe punishment to one child, would be no punishment at all to another.  I
only beg to enter my decided protest against the modern notion that no child
ought ever to be whipped.  Doubtless some parents use bodily correction far
too much, and far too violently; but many others, I fear, use it far too
little.

Beware of letting small faults pass unnoticed under the idea “it is a little
one.”  There are no little things in training children; all are important. 
Little weeds need plucking up as much as any.  Leave them alone, and they
will soon be great.

Reader, if there be any point which deserves your attention, believe me, it
is this one.  It is one that will give you trouble, I know.  But if you do
not take the time to discipline your children when they are young, they will
give you trouble when they are old.  Choose which you prefer.

13.  Train them remembering continually how God trains His children. 

The Bible tells us that God has an elect people–a family in this world.  All
poor sinners who have been convinced of sin, and fled to Jesus for peace,
make up the family.  All of us who really believe on Christ for salvation are
its members.

Now God the Father is ever training the members of this family for their
everlasting life with Him in heaven.  He acts as a gardener pruning his
vines, that they may bear more fruit.  He knows the character of each of
us–our besetting sins–our weaknesses, our peculiar ways–our special wants. 
He knows our works and where we live, who our companions are in life, and
what our trials are, what our temptations are, and what our privileges are. 
He knows all these things, and is always working out everything for our good. 
He allots to each of us, in His providence, the very things we need, in order
to bear the most fruit–as much sunshine as we can stand, and as much
rain–as much bitter things as we can bear, and as much sweet.  Reader, if
you would train your children wisely, mark well how God the Father trains
His.  He does all things well; the plan which He adopts must be right.

See, then, how many things there are which God withholds from His children. 
Few could be found, I suspect, who have not had desires which God has never
been pleased to fulfill.  There has often been some one thing they wanted to
attain, and yet there has always been some barrier to prevent attainment.  It
has been just as if God was placing it above our reach, and saying “This is
not good for you; this must not be.”  Moses intensely desired to cross over
the Jordan, and see the land of promise; but you will remember his desire was
never granted.

See, too, how often God leads His people by ways which seem dark and
mysterious to our eyes.  We cannot see the meaning of all His dealings with
us; we cannot see the prudence of the path in which our feet are walking. 
Sometimes so many trials have beset us–so many difficulties encircle
us–that we have not been able to discover the purpose of it all.  It has
been just as if our Father was taking us by the hand into a dark place and
saying, “Ask no questions, but follow Me.”  There was a direct road from
Egypt to Canaan, yet Israel was not led into it; but round, through the
wilderness.  And this seemed hard at the time.  “The people grew impatient on
the way” (Exodus 13:17; Numbers 21:4).

See, also, how often God chastens His people with trial and affliction.  He
sends them crosses and disappointments; He knocks them down with sickness; He
strips them of property and friends; He changes them from one position to
another; He visits them with things that are most difficult for flesh and
blood; and some of us have almost fainted under the burdens laid upon us.  We
have felt pressed beyond strength, and have been almost ready to murmur at
the hand which chastened us.  Paul the Apostle had a thorn in the flesh given
to him by divine appointment, some bitter bodily trial, no doubt, though we
do not know exactly what it was.  But this we know–he pleaded with the Lord
three times that it might be removed; yet it was never taken away (2
Corinthians 12:8-9).

Now, reader, notwithstanding all these things, did you ever hear of a single
child of God who thought his Father did not treat him wisely?  No, I am sure
you never did.  God’s children would always tell you, in the long run, it was
a blessed thing they did not have their own way, and that God had done far
better for them than they could have done for themselves.  Yes! And they
could tell you, too, that God’s dealings had provided more happiness for them
than they ever would have obtained themselves, and that His way, however dark
at times, was the way of pleasantness and the path of peace.

I ask you to take to heart the lesson which God’s dealings with His people is
meant to teach you.  Do not be afraid to withhold from your child anything
you think will harm him, whatever his own wishes may be.  This is God’s plan.

Do not hesitate to give him commands, even though he may not presently see
the wisdom, and to guide him in ways which may not now seem reasonable to his
mind.  This is God’s plan.

Do not shrink from chastising and correcting him whenever you see his soul’s
health requires it, however painful it may be to your feelings; and remember
medicines for the mind must not be rejected because they are bitter.  This is
God’s plan.

And do not be afraid, above all, that such a plan of training will make your
child unhappy.  I warn you against this delusion.  Depend on it, there is no
surer road to unhappiness than always having our own way.  To have our wills
checked and denied is a blessed thing for us; it makes us value enjoyments
when they come.  To be indulged perpetually is the way to be made selfish and
selfish people and spoiled children, believe me, are seldom happy.

Reader, do not be wiser than God–train your children as He trains His.

14.  Train them remembering continually the influence of your own example.

Instruction, and advice, and commands will profit little, unless they are
backed up by the pattern of your own life.  Your children will never believe
you are sincere, and really wish them to obey you, so long as your actions
contradict your counsel.  A holy man of God once made a wise remark, “To give
children good instruction, and a bad example, is the same as convincing them
in their minds of the way to heaven, while we take them by the hand and lead
them along the path to hell.”

We do not realize the force and power of example.  Not one of us can live to
himself in this world; we are always influencing those around us, in one way
or another, either for good or for evil, either for God or for sin.  They see
our ways, they note our conduct, they observe our behavior, and what they see
us practice, they assume is right.  And never, I believe, does example tell
so powerfully as it does in the case of parents and children.

Fathers and mothers, do not forget that children learn more by the eye than
they do by the ear.  No school will make such deep marks on character as
home.  The best of school teachers will not imprint on their minds as much as
they will pick up in your living room.  Imitation is a far stronger principle
with children than memory.  What they see has a much stronger effect on their
minds than what they are told.

Take care, then, what you do before a child.  It is a true proverb, “Whoever
sins before a child, sins double.”  Strive rather to be a living epistle of
Christ that your families can read, and read it clearly too.  Be an example
of reverence for the Word of God, reverence in prayer, reverence for the
Lord’s day.  Be an example in words, in temper, in diligence, in restraint,
in faith, in love, in kindness, and in humility.  Do not think your children
will practice what they do not see you do.  You are their model picture, and
they will copy what you are.  Your reasoning and your lecturing, your wise
commands and your good advice; all this they may not understand, but they can
understand your life.  Children are very quick observers; very quick in
seeing through some kinds of hypocrisy, very quick in finding out what you
really think and feel, very quick in adopting all your ways and opinions. 
You will often find as the father is, so is the son.

Remember the word that the conqueror Caesar always used to his soldiers in a
battle.  He did not say “Go forward,” but “Come,” So it must be with you in
training, your children.  They will seldom learn habits which they see you
condemn, or walk in paths in which you do not walk yourself.  He that
preaches to his children what he does not practice is working a work that
never goes forward.  It is like the fabled web of Penelope of old, who wove
all day, and unwove all night.  Even so, the parent who tries to train
without setting a good example is building with one hand, and pulling down
with the other.

15.  Train them remembering continually the power of sin.

Guard against unscriptural expectations.  You must not expect to find your
children’s minds like a sheet of pure white paper, and that you will have no
trouble if you only use right means.  I warn you plainly you will find no
such thing.  It is painful to see how much corruption and evil there is in a
young child’s heart, and how soon it begins to bear fruit.  Violent tempers,
self-will, pride, envy, irritability, anger, laziness, selfishness, deceit,
slyness, falsehood, hypocrisy, an ability to learn what is bad, a slowness
to learn what is good, a readiness to pretend anything in order to gain their
own ends–all these things, or some of them, you must be pre pared to see,
even in your own flesh and blood.  In little ways they will creep out at a
very early age; it is almost startling to observe how naturally they seem to
spring up.  Children require no schooling to learn to sin. 

But you must not be discouraged and cast down by what you see.  You must not
think it a strange and unusual thing, that little hearts can be so full of
sin.  It is the only portion which our father Adam left us; it is that fallen
nature with which we come into the world; it is that inheritance which
belongs to us all.  Let it rather make you more diligent in using every means
which seem most likely, by God’s blessing, to counteract the mischief.  Let
it make you more and more careful, so far as it lies with you, to keep your
children out of the way of temptation.

Never listen to those who tell you your children are good, and well brought
up, and can be trusted.  Think rather that their hearts are always flammable
as tinder.  At their very best, they only need a spark to set their
corruptions on fire.  Parents are seldom too cautious.  Remember the natural
depravity of your children, and take care.

16.  Train them remembering continually the promises of Scripture.

I name this one next to last in order to guard you against discouragement.

You have a clear promise on your side, “Train a child in the way he should
go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  Think what
it is to have a promise like this.  Promises were the only light of hope
which cheered the hearts of the patriarchs before the Bible was written. 
Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph–all lived on a few promises, and
prospered in their souls.  Promises are the gracious hopes which in every age
have supported and strengthened the believer.  He that has got a plain text
upon his side need never be cast down.  Fathers and mothers, when your hearts
are failing and ready to stop, look at the word of this text, and take
comfort.

Think who it is that promises.  It is not the word of a man, who may lie or
change his mind; it is the word of the King of kings, who never changes.  Has
He said anything that He will not do?  Or has He spoken, and will He not make
it good?  Neither is anything too hard for Him to perform.  The things that
are impossible with men are possible with God.  Reader, if we don’t get the
benefit of the promise we are dwelling upon, the fault is not in Him, but in
ourselves.

Think, too, what the promise contains, before you refuse to take comfort from
it.  It speaks of a certain time when good training will surely bear
fruit–“when the child is old.”  Surely there is comfort in this.  You may
not see with your own eyes the result of careful training, but you don’t know
what blessed fruits may spring from it, long after you are dead and gone.  It
is not God’s way to give everything at once.  “Later on” is the time when He
often chooses to work, both in the things of nature and in the things of
grace.  “Later on” is the season when affliction bears the peaceable fruit of
righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).  “Later” was the time when the son who refused
to work in his father’s vineyard repented and went (Matthew 21:29).  And
“later” is the time that parents must look forward to if they do not see
success at once–you must sow in hope and plant in hope.

“Cast your bread upon the waters,” says the Spirit, “for after many days you
will find it again” (Ecclesiastics 11:1).  Many children shall rise up in the
day of judgment, and bless their parents for good training, who never gave
any signs of having profited by it during their parents’ lives.  Go forward
then in faith, and be sure that your labor will not be altogether thrown
away.  Three times Elijah stretched himself upon the widow’s child before it
revived.  Take example from him, and persevere.

17.  Train them, lastly, with continual prayer for a blessing on all you do.

Without the blessing of the Lord your best endeavors will do no good.  He has
the hearts of all men in His hands, and unless He touches the hearts of your
children by His Spirit, you will weary yourself to no purpose.  Water,
therefore, the seed you sow on their minds with unceasing prayer.  The Lord
is far more willing to hear than we are to pray; far more ready to give
blessings than we to ask them–but He loves to be asked for them.  And I set
this matter of prayer before you, as the capstone and seal of all you do. 
The child of many prayers is seldom cast away.  Look upon your children as
Jacob did on his; he tells Esau they are “The children God has graciously
given your servant” (Genesis 33:5).

Look on them as Joseph did on his; he told his father, “They are the sons God
has given me” (Genesis 48:9).  Count them with the Psalmist to be “a heritage
from the Lord, children a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3).  And then ask the
Lord, with a holy boldness, to be gracious and merciful to His own gifts. 
Note how Abraham intercedes for Ishmael, because he loved him, “If only
Ishmael might live under your blessing!” (Genesis 17:18).  See how Manoah
spoke to the angel about Samson, “What is to be the rule for the boy’s life
and work?” (Judges 13:12).  Observe how tenderly Job cared for his children’s
souls, “He would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking,
‘Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.  This was
Job’s regular custom” (Job 1:5).  Parents, if you love your children, go and
do likewise.  You cannot name their names before the mercy-seat too often.

And now, reader, in conclusion, let me once more press upon you the necessity
and importance of using every single means in your power if you want to train
children for heaven.

I know well that God is a sovereign God, and does all things according to the
counsel of His own will.  I know that Rehoboam was the son of Solomon, and
Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, and that you do not always see godly parents
having godly offspring.  But I know also that God is a God who works by
means, and I am sure if you make light of such means as I have mentioned,
your children are not likely to turn out well.

Fathers and mothers, you may take your children to be baptized, and have them
enrolled in the local Church; you may have godly Christians help you by
praying for them; you may send them to the best of schools and give them
Bibles and other Christian books, and fill them with head knowledge: but if
all this time there is no regular training at home, I tell you plainly, I
fear it will go hard in the end with your children’s souls.  Home is the
place where habits are formed–home is the place where the foundations of
character are laid; home gives the bias to our tastes, and likings, and
opinions.  See then, I pray you, that there be careful training at home. 
Happy indeed is the man who can say, as Bolton did upon his dying bed, to his
children, “I don’t believe one of you will dare to meet me before the
tribunal of Christ in an unregenerate state.”

Fathers and mothers, I charge you solemnly before God and the Lord Jesus
Christ, take every opportunity to train your children in the way they should
go.  I charge you not merely for the sake of your children’s souls; I charge
you for the sake of your own future comfort and peace.  Truly it is your
interest to do so.  Truly your own happiness in great measure depends on it. 
Children have ever been the bow from which the sharpest arrows have pierced
man’s heart.  Children have mixed the bitterest cups that man has ever had to
drink.  Children have caused the saddest tears that man has ever had to shed. 
Adam could tell you so; Jacob could tell you so; David could tell you so. 
There are no sorrows on earth like those which children have brought upon
their parents.  Oh! take heed, lest your own neglect should lay up misery for
you in your old age.  Take heed, lest you weep under the ill-treatment of a
thankless child, in the days when your eye is dim, and your natural force
abated.

If ever you wish your children to be the restorers of your life, and the
nourishers of our old age–if you would have them to be blessings and not
curses–joys and not sorrows–Judahs and not Reubens–Ruths and not
Orpahs–if you would not, like Noah, be ashamed of their deeds and, like
Rebekah, be made weary of your life by them: if this be your wish, remember
my advice, train them while they are young in the right way.

And as for me, I will conclude by offering my prayer to God for all who read
this paper, that you may all be taught of God to feel the value of your own
souls.  This is one reason why baptism is too often a mere form, and
Christian training despised and disregarded.  Too often parents don’t even
care about themselves, and so they don’t really care for their children. 
They don’t realize the tremendous difference between the natural state and
the state of grace, and therefore they are content to let them alone.

Now may the Lord teach you all that sin is, that abominable thing which God
hates.  Then I know you will mourn over the sins of your children, and strive
to pluck them out of the fire.

The Lord teach you how precious Christ is, and what a mighty and complete
work He has done for our salvation.  Then I feel confident you will use every
means to bring your children to Jesus, that they may live through Him.

The Lord teach you your need of the Holy Spirit, to renew, sanctify, and
quicken your souls.  Then I feel sure you will urge your children to pray to
Him without ceasing, and never rest till He has come down into their hearts
with power, and made them new creations.

The Lord grant this, and then I will have a good hope that you will indeed
train up your children well–trained well for this life, and trained well for
the life to come; trained well for earth, and trained well for heaven; train
them for God, for Christ, and for eternity.

Transcribed by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
Box 130
Shreveport, LA 71110-5000

Baud 300/1200/2400/9600/19200/38400

       

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