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Introduction to Alethea In Heart Ministries

The Right Way to

"Train up a Child"

Select wisdom from some of the greatest Revivalists
and Teachers of the Great Awakenings:

The Rev. and President Charles G. Finney;

The Rev. and Reformer John Wesley;

The Rev. and President Asa Mahan;

The Rev. and President Jonathan Edwards;

The Rev. George Whitefield.


Edited and Printed by Rick Friedrich of

Alethea In Heart Ministires

First Edition: April 2001.



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Introduction by the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.

Part I.

Finney's Letters to Parents

Letter I. What is implied in training up children in the way they should go? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.

Letter II. Notice several other things to be avoided and attended to in the training of children. . . . 9.

Letter III. Parents should remember their children's nature, and that their will is in the first
instance influenced by senses, and not by moral considerations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.

Letter IV. Keep children, as much as possible, with yourself and under your own eye. . . . . . . . . . 14.

Letter V. Cultivate natural affection among your children. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18.

Letter VI. Some of the difficulties in the way of training up children in the way they should go. . 22.

Letter VII. If the condition is fulfilled, that is, if a child is trained up in the way he should go,
it is certain that when he is old, he will not depart from it. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. 25.

Part II.

Family Government. By C. G. Finney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29.

Forms of Duty arising from the Parental and Filial Relations. By Asa Mahan. . . . 38.

I. Duties of Parents to Children. II. Violations of Parental Obligation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39- 42.
III. Duties of Children their Parents. IV. The use of the Rod in Family Government. . . . . . - 45.

On the Education of Children. By John Wesley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46.

On Obedience to Parents. By John Wesley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53.

Part III.

On Family Religion. By John Wesley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61.

The Duty of Family Religion. By George Whitefield . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70.

The Conversion of Children. By C. G. Finney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80.

Young Conversions. (The remarkable piety of a four year old child.) By Jonathan Edwards . . 91.

Part IV.

The Sabbath School - Conditions of Success. By C. G. Finney . . . . . . . . . . . . 97.

The Sabbath School - Conditions of Success. (Continued) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111.



IN this day, when more than ever America is more miserable for its rejection of conscience, and when She is sorely embittered by disintegrating families for the same reason, it is time to remember the words of our Fathers and come back home to the family alter. God will restore purity and peace to this nation only as we pick up the pieces and honor Him in every area of life. Our lives begin at home, and how shall we recover from this present darkness if we do not seriously set up our homes as He requires? This was the foundation of all the success America has ever had; and it was therefore the result of the teaching from our greatest preachers. Our authors were not interested in worldly gain and honor, and so have no appeal to those concerned only for the present; but for all who long to do the will of God and live as citizens of a much nobler country, their words are finer than gold, promising true peace, contentment and well-being. Truly America has not progressed as we might think; on the contrary, we have not even remembered the moral wisdom of the enlightenment. Ours is the day of ignorance, and everyone will be alarmed at the extent of our fall as we read the instruction of our Fathers.

Reading the subsequent chapters will reveal how shallow our affections and standards in the home really are. Yesterday our values were dependent and centered around the home, today they are around the world. Will this really be seen to be progress on that day when we stand before our Lord and Father to give an account of the quality of our service? It will be remembered that our Lord, as impartial discerner of the hearts, accepted no cheep commitments, nor shallow obedience.

But today is the day of speed and our object is to get as much of what we want as Time allows us. This idol of quick and infinite convenience has so deceived this world that even the professing church is greedily stuffing itself with religion (among many other things). Not that "true religion" is unworthy of pursuit; but if we are going to be religious it would seem that it must not be done in the same way as the world seeks pleasure. Does the church not "have eyes to see" that it is only those "who do the will of God," who "live forever"?

The big question for us all, the most common among Christian youth is "What is the will of God?" It is not some place on this earth, nor some one or few outward actions as many really think. "The will of God is your sancti- fication." We are to be "a holy people" "set apart for God" in everything at all times. In the same book we read: "See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess. 5:15-18. As we see here, true religion is not doing some outward action or going some place far away, but doing everything God's way with the same spirit and temper of the Lamb of God.

Now if these things must be done at all times, then surely the home is not exempt. Even further, if one is going to live in this way that God requires of them, then they must be taught from infancy by example that this is normal and really desirable. No one can be pressured into adopting God's will as a rule of action unless it is so understood to be trust-worthy and desirable. Can any parent therefore rightly expect a child to one day choose God's way if they do not make His way seem so appealing in their own lives. No parent has the right to expect that any of their children will even understand "the will of God", much less keep from departing from it, unless they learn to "Train up a child" God's way; that is, by being a living example and making every arrangement to make their lives instruct in this matter.

But how can we begin to do the will of God and so train up our children? May I recommend the following chapters to deeply ponder. In brief, these godly men, were so, because they took the time to know God and were sensitive enough to receive His will and ways into their lives. They had a time and place for every needful activity, and reflected deeply about every value given from heaven. Their physical and spiritual children were of the same quality because they taught them the secret of all real learning. Unlike our day of quantity, they instilled quality at every point in their little ones. They gave all the quality they could and must give, and insisted upon the same. If you can, envision their homes as they really were: great schools for the finest future teachers and leader. Now reflect upon the principles that gave rise to this.

You will see that the only way to really "train up a child," or to even become a child fit for heaven's rule, is to insist upon the abandonment of former shallow modes of learning, and learn the secrets of reflecting upon truth till we begin to see things as they really are and treat things as they should be treated. No man can receive any truth to his eternal benefit unless so "received from heaven." And no parent properly teaches their children in the way God commands them unless they so educate such reflectors to impartially behold truth and respond appropriately to it. The problem with parents is the same as in the kingdom of heaven, they do not have the time to patiently and sensitively examine every relevant activity and truth, and so fundamentally misunderstand their duties and ideas. Truth cannot be found and digested as easy as the local newspaper. And as anyone who does such with the truths of salvation becomes fatally hardened and deluded, so does any parent so prepare the way for the hardening and delusion of their children who does not make more than just surface readers and heartless students.

We must never move on to another subject until we have received the truth God is endeavoring to show us in the manner He is wanting to show it. God is impartial, and it will be found in the end that the highest education and the greatest missions for God will be all in vain if we fail to adopt this vital principle. Let us therefore further reflect upon the lives and teaching of those who have lived for God according this His will and begin to do the same.

We conclude with a quote from Finney's biographer that reveals not only the possibility of a godly home, but the fact that if one discovers The Right Way to "Train up a child" they can expect that they will loath departing from it:

"The children look back upon their home life with great tenderness and satisfaction. While specially solicitous to keep them from evil associations, their father was by no means severe in the restrictions to which he subjected them. His occasional strong utterances against amusements were really aimed against their abuse, and against engaging in them when they interfered with spiritual development. But, according to his theory, everything was sinful when out of its place, and when permitted to usurp the position of the supreme end of being. His grandchildren loved to be in his family while attending school, and are fond of relating the pranks which they played upon their grandfather, and the good-natured way he accepted them. One of the marked fea- tures of his later life, observed by all his acquaintances and all his guests, was his special fondness for a beautiful little granddaughter who was for some time in his family.

"As illustrating the confidence and freedom of communication between himself and his children, the following letter, found among his most valued documents, is not without interest. It was written to him in 1843, when he was in Boston, by a little daughter, then six years old, and relates to a painful discovery that a man who had been esteemed and trusted by his general acquaintances, and especially by her father, was dishonest and a totally unworthy character. The grief and dismay of the little child is thus expressed: -

"MY DEAR FATHER,—I will write you a few lines, dear father. Come, let us converse about thieves. Mr.—is a thief! Will you pray for me, dear father? We suppose him one of the most wicked men in—Oh! I would not be a wicked thief like him. We suppose that he has stolen hundreds of dollars. Oh, oh! I will just tell you all my heart. I feel very sad, dear father. What shall I say? What shall I do? Your own dear friend is a villain! I feel as if I should cry every minute! Oh, oh! I don't know what—Oh, father, I hope you will not be such a thief! Do pray for me in time, that I may not be such a villain as he is.

"Your affectionate daughter,


G. F. Wright, Charles Grandison Finney, 1891.

Rick Friedrich April 2001,

Editor of The Complete Works of Finney and Mahan.


Part I.

Letters To Parents

(From The Oberlin Evangelist)

Letter I.

August 12, 1840

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

In compliance with a suggestion given some time ago that I should, God willing, address some letters to parents, I will now commence the series with the hope of promoting the interests of the rising generation. I shall begin with remarks upon Proverbs 6:22: "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it," and shall develop my letters from this text, somewhat in the form of a sermon. In doing so, I shall endeavor to: show what is implied in training up children in the way they should go; notice several things to be avoided in training up children in the way they should go; mention several things to be attended to in the training of children; call attention to some of the difficulties in the way of training up children in the way they should go; observe that if the condition is fulfilled, that is, if a child is trained up in the way he should go, it is certain that when he is old he will not depart from it; and finally I will give some closing remarks.

What is implied in training up children in the way they should go? It implies such thorough instruction as to root and ground them in correct views of truth, and in right principles of action. If you consult the marginal reading of your Bible you will find the word rendered "train" in the text is, in the margin, rendered "catechize." The idea is that which I have suggested, to thoroughly instruct them in the great principles of righteousness.

It implies such thorough government as to root and ground them in correct habits in all respects, such as habits of cheerful obedience to parents, correct habits in respect to early rising, early retiring to rest, correct habits in regard to taking their meals at stated hours, and in respect to the quantity and quality of their food, habits of exercise and rest, study and relaxation. In short, all their habits comprising their whole conduct.

It implies the training of them in a knowledge of and conformity to all the laws of their being, physical and moral. This is the way in which they should go, and it is in vain to expect to train them in the way they should go without giving them thorough instruction in respect to the laws of their bodies and minds, the laws of natural and spiritual life and health.

It implies not only giving them thorough instruction in these respects, but the thorough government of them and training them in all things to observe these laws.

Next, I will notice several things to be avoided in training up children in the way they should go. Avoid for yourself whatever would be injurious for them to copy, and do not suppose that you can yourself be guilty of pernicious practices, and by your precept prevent their falling into the same. Remember that your example will be more influential than your precept. I knew a father who himself used tobacco but warned his children against its use, and even commanded them not to use it, and yet every one of them did use it sooner or later. This was as might be expected. I knew a mother who used tea herself but warned her children against it as something unnecessary and injurious1, especially to young people, but all her children naturally fell into the use of it. The fact is that her example was the most influential and impressive teaching.
1 Finney was not speaking here about the nutritious teas in his day, such as herbal, but about the commonly known teas with caffeine and other harmful substances in them. Even today Webster's dictionary reveals that tea usually has caffeine in it: "caffeine: a bitter alkaloid C8H10N4O2 found esp. in coffee, tea, and kola nuts".

Avoid all conversation in their presence upon topics that may mislead them and generate in them a hypercritical and wicked spirit, such as all sectarian conversation, unguarded conversation upon the doctrine of decrees and election, speaking of neighbors' faults, or speaking derogatorily of any human being; in short whatever may be a stumbling block to their infant minds.

Avoid all disagreement between the parents in regard to the government of the children.

Avoid all partiality or favoritism in the government of them.

Avoid whatever may lessen the respect of the children for either parent.

Avoid whatever may lessen the authority of either parent. Avoid whatever may tend to create partiality for either parent.

Avoid begetting in them the love of money. Diligently remember that the love of money is the root of all evil.

Avoid the love of money yourself, for if you have a worldly spirit yourself, your whole life will most impressively inculcate the lesson that the world should be the great object of pursuit. A wealthy man once said to me, "I was brought up from my very infancy to love the world and make money my god." When we consider how impressively and constantly this lesson is taught by many parents, is it surprising that there is so much fraud, theft, robbery, piracy, and selfishness under every abominable form? Many parents seem to be engaged in little else, so far as their influence with their children is concerned, than making them as selfish and worldly as possible. Nearly their whole conversation at the table, and in all places where they are, the whole drift and bent of their lives, pursuits, and everything about them, are calculated to make the strongest impression upon their little minds, that their parents conceive the world to be the supreme good. Unless all this be avoided, it is impossible to train up a child in the way he should go.

Avoid begetting within them the spirit of ambition to be rich, great, learned, or anything else but good. If you foster a spirit of selfish ambition it will give birth, of course, to anger, pride, and a whole herd of devilish passions.

Avoid begetting or fostering the spirit of vanity in any way: in the purchase of clothing or any articles of apparel, in dressing them or by any expressions relating to their personal appearance. Be careful to say nothing about your own clothes, or the apparel of anybody else or of the personal attractions or beauty of yourself, your children, or of anybody else in such a way as to beget within them the spirit of ambition, pride and vanity.

Guard them against any injurious influence at home. Allow nobody to live in your family whose sentiments, habits, manners, or temper may corrupt your children. Guard the domestic influence as the apple of your eye. Have no person in your house that will tell them foolish stories, sing them foolish songs, talk to them about witches, or anything of any name or nature which ought not to come before their youthful minds.

Be careful under what influences you leave them when you go from home, and let not both parents take a journey at the same time, leaving their children at home, without apparent necessity.

Avoid every evil influence from outside the home. Let no children visit them whose conversation or manners may corrupt them. Let them associate with no children by going to visit where they will run the hazard of being in any way corrupted. Avoid the cultivation of artificial appetites. Accustom them to no non-nutritious stimulants or condiments of any kind, for in so doing you will create a craving for stimulants that may result in beastly intemperance.

Avoid creating any artificial needs. The great majority of human needs are merely artificial, and children are often so brought up as to feel as if they needed multitudes of things, which they do not need, and which are really injurious to them, and if they ever become poor, their artificial needs will render them extremely miserable, if indeed they do not tempt them. Consider how simple and few the real needs of human beings are, and whatever your worldly circumstances may be, for your children's sake, for truth's sake, for righteousness' sake, and for Christ's sake, habituate them to being satisfied with the supply of their real needs.

Avoid by all means their being the subjects of evil communications. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." This is the testimony of God. If your domestics, your hired hands, your neighbors' children or anybody else, are allowed to communicate to them things which they ought not to know, they will be irrecoverably injured and perhaps forever ruined.

Avoid their reading books that contain pernicious sentiments, anything indecent, vulgar, or of ill report.

Avoid their reading romances, plays, and whatever may beget within them a romantic and feverish state of mind.

Avoid allowing gluttony or any sort of intemperance, eating at improper times, improper foodstuffs, improper quantities of food, and everything that shall work a violation of the laws of life and health.

Avoid all unnecessary occasion of excitement. Children are naturally enough excited. Pains should be taken to quiet and keep them calm rather than to increase their excitement. This is imperiously demanded both by their health and minds. Clubs are often started among children, and great pains taken to stir up an interest and excitement, insomuch that it is often attended with a loss of appetite and sleep, and a serious injury to their health and morals. Parents should be on their guard, against allowing their children to be drawn into such excitement or having any unnecessary connection with or knowledge of them. *

This subject will be resumed.

Your brother in the bonds of the gospel,

Charles G. Finney

* Lest the reader get a wrong impression of Mr. Finney's advice we add the following lifetime observation of one of his first students and later 3rd President after him at Oberlin College:

"Perhaps the most characteristic feature of the inner man was the depth and intensity of his emotional nature. This gave energy and power to every movement and every expression; every thought radiated both heat and light, and the two were to him inseparable. To see and to feel a truth were to him one and the same thing; and his hearers were, to a great extent, impressed in the same way. His range of feeling was as broad and varied as his thought. He was not only stern and solemn as a prophet, from his sympathy with God and with all righteousness and holiness, but in turn as gentle and affectionate as a child, attracting children to himself as if he were one of them. In his own family and with his friends, his manner was characterized and tempered by a genial playfulness which set aside constraint, and made all feel at home in his presence."

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Letter II.

August 26, 1840

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

In pursuing this subject I will notice several other things to be avoided in the training of children.

Avoid everything that can be construed by them into insincerity on any subject, especially everything that may make the impression that your word is not to be depended upon.

Avoid every appearance of impatience or fretfulness in their presence.

Wholly abstain from scolding at them. If you have occasion to reprove them, let it be done with deliberation, and not in such haste and in such tones of voice as to have even the appearance of anger.

If you have occasion to punish them, first converse and pray with them, and avoid proceeding to severe measures until you have fully made the impres- sion upon their minds that it is your solemn and imperative duty to do so.

Avoid in your conversation whatever might have a tendency to beget in them the spirit of slander and evil speaking. Never let them hear you speak evil of any man. But always, in their presence, as on all other occasions, "be gentle, showing all meekness to all men."

Avoid as far as possible whatever may be a temptation to them to indulge evil tempers. "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger," is both the counsel and the command of God. If you find your children naturally irritable and easily made angry, be sure to keep this verse always in your mind, that you may readily and certainly practice it whenever there is occasion to do so. If, therefore, you find your children inclined to the exercise of any evil temper whatever, be sure, as far as possible, to avoid all occasions that may prove too great a trial for them, and cause them to fall into their besetting sin.

Avoid unnecessarily exciting their fears upon any subject. Allow no one to make them afraid of the dark, or of Indians, or of witches, or of wild animals. Children are often very seriously injured by creating a morbid excitability upon such subjects, insomuch that from that time on they are afraid to be alone in the dark. And their foolish fears are often excited even at an older age, in view of things with which they were foolishly persecuted in their youth.

Never give them anything because they cry for it. If they find that they can get anything by crying for it, or that they are any more apt to get it because they cry for it, you will find yourselves continually annoyed by their crying. Children should be taught that if they cry for a thing, for that very reason they cannot have it.

I will now proceed to mention several things to be attended to in the training of children. First, be honest, and thorough, and correct in forming your own views and opinions on all subjects. This is of great importance. For if your children find you often mistaken in your views upon some important subjects, your opinions will soon cease to have much weight with them. It is immensely important that you be well instructed, and know how to answer their questions, especially on all moral subjects. Your opinions ought to carry great weight with them. It is for their own good. Your opinions will naturally carry great weight with them unless they find you in error. Be careful, then, as you wish to preserve your own influence over them for their good, and as you would not want to mislead them to their ruin, to be thorough and diligent in the use of means to obtain correct information on all moral questions.

Let your own habits be both right and regular: your rising in the morning, your retiring at night, the hours at which you take your meals, together with all your domestic arrangements. Let order pervade everything, and be sure to have a time and a place for every work, and everything around you. Have a place for every tool, and let every member of your family be constrained to keep everything in its place. And if they have occasion to use any tool, they ought to be sure to return it to its place before they put it out of their hands. By insisting upon this, you will soon save yourself and them a great deal of unnecessary trouble.

Be sure that they are up early in the morning, and retire early at night. This is imperiously demanded by their health and almost universally by their morals. If children are allowed to be up late in the evening, they will not only lie in bed late in the morning, but almost always get into the habit of either making or receiving visits from neighboring children. This will bring in its train a host of evils.

See that your temper and spirit are right. "Let the peace of God that passeth all understanding dwell in your hearts, that you may possess your soul in patience." And never allow your angry feeling to come into collision with theirs.

Let the influence which you have over them be an ever present consideration with you. Do not forget it. Do not be unmindful of it, even for an hour or a moment. In whatever you say and do in their presence, have an eye to its influence upon them.

Your brother in the bonds of the gospel,

Charles G. Finney

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Letter III.

September 9, 1840

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

In addressing you further on this subject of what is implied in training up children in the way they should go, I call to your attention that in training children, parents should remember their nature, and that their will is in the first instance influenced by senses, and not by moral considerations. Their bodily appetites come to have a strong influence over the will before moral truth can reach the heart through the conscience, unless their minds are enlightened by a supernatural divine agency.

Therefore, parents should remember that physical training must precede moral training. Pains should be taken to keep their bodily appetites in a perfectly natural state. And as far as possible, prevent the formation of artificial appetites, and do all that the nature of the case admits to restrain the influence of the appetites over the will.

Parents should remember that all artificial stimulants lead directly to intemperance; that tea, coffee, tobacco, spices, ginger and indeed the whole family of non-nutritious stimulants, lead directly and powerfully to the formation of intemperate habits, create a morbid hankering after more and more stimulants, until both body and soul are swallowed up in the terrible vortex of intemperance.

Parents should remember that the least stimulating kinds of diet are best suited to the formation of temperate habits in all respects. And just as far as they depart from a mild, bland, unstimulating diet, they are laying, for the perversion of the child's constitution, a foundation for any and every degree of intemperance.

Parents should remember that the temper of the child is in a great measure dependent upon and intimately connected with his physical habits. If, during the period of nursing, the mother makes a free use of non-nutritious stimulants, she is continually poisoning the infant at her breast, and rasping up its nervous system into a state of extreme irritability. The certain consequence sooner or later will be the development of an irritable temper, with many disagreeable and even disgusting traits of character. If, when the child is weaned from the breast, the irritating process is still kept up, if it is fed with much pastry, unripe fruits, at unseasonable hours and in improper quantities—nothing else can be expected than that it will be a spoiled child.

Parents should secure the earliest opportunity to get the mastery of the will. The very first time, at whatever age children manifest temper and set up their will, they should be calmly but firmly resisted. It matters not how young they are. If they manifest a disposition to obtain a thing by crying, or in any way insist upon having their will, the parent should at once adopt some method of steadily and perseveringly opposing their will in that particular. To press the hand upon them and hold them still when they are struggling and screaming to get up, or even to let them lie and scream is vastly better than to yield any point to them when their spirit is stirred and their will is stubborn.

Parents should begin at the outset to get the mastery over the will and then keep it. The most steadfast and uniform perseverance is essential to retaining the mastery of their will. I have always observed that persons whose will has not been early subdued and kept under, are either never converted, or if hopefully converted, make but little progress in piety. I have had so much opportunity of making observation in this respect that if I find a person lingering under conviction and finding it very difficult to submit to God, if I find him grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, and if converted, given to perpetual backsliding, I often make inquiry, and with scarcely a solitary exception, find that parental authority has never had a thorough influence over him: his will was not early subdued, and ever after, while still a minor, he was not kept in a state unqualified submission and obedience.

Parents should lay great stress upon the unconditional submission and obedience of their children. Some parents seem to have adopted the principle of not subduing the will of their children until they are old enough to be reasoned with, when they expect to govern them by reason, and moral suasion as they say. Now it should be understood that anything is moral suasion that acts as a motive, that the rod is one of the most powerful and even indispensable forms of moral suasion. It acts as a most commanding motive when the mind is very insensible to the voice of reason. It is no doubt the duty of parents to teach their children in the outset that it is their right and their duty to insist upon unconditional submission to their will, to make the child understand from the very first, that the will of the parent is a good and sufficient reason for the child's pursuing a required course of conduct. If the child is not taught that this is a good and sufficient reason, if he is left to demand other reasons, and if the parent only succeeds in gaining the child over to any course of conduct in proportion as he satisfies or fails to satisfy the child with the proffered reasons, the child is inevitably ruined. For in such cases, if the reason satisfies the child, and he yields obedience, it is not filial obedience, it is not rendered out of respect for the authority of the parent. It is no recognition of the parent's right to govern or of the child's duty to obey the parent. It is simply yielding to the offered reasons, and not to parental authority. Parents must, therefore, commence the government of the child, and perfect their influence over its will, if they ever expect to do so, long before the child can be reasoned with. In this respect the parent stands to the child in the place of God, lays his influence upon the will, and holds it in a state of submission to parental authority until the higher claims of God can come in, until moral considerations can be thrown in upon the mind as the regulator of the will. And ordinarily moral truth will have greater or lesser influence with the will just in proportion to the perfection or imperfection with which parental authority has influenced the will. *

Your brother in the bonds of the gospel,

Charles G. Finney

* In contrast to the harshly authoritarian discipline of many supposed 'strict religious' men, Mr. Finney, though as resolute and determined, was all the while affectionate and gentle with the feelings of children. Such was the verdict of another one of his students, fellow professor, and biographer:

"An important element in Finney's influence was the strength and warmth of his personal friendships, and the tenderness of his family life. It is interesting, in looking over the file of his letters to his warm friend, Deacon Lamson, of the Park Street Church, Boston, to find them concluding with such expressions as these: "Love to Mary, and a thousand kisses to the children;" "Love to all your dear ones;" "With oceans of love to our dear Mary and the children, and as much for yourself as you can desire;" "I hope Mary is not ill. I thought if she had been seriously ill you would have informed us, but do relieve our suspense and anxiety upon this point."

G. F. Wright, Charles Grandison Finney. 1891.

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Letter IV.

October 7, 1840

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

In continuing my remarks upon what to attend to in the training of children, let me emphasize that you must keep them, as much as possible, with yourself and under your own eye. Make yourself, as far as possible, the companion of your own children. There is perhaps no greater error among parents than to allow the children of a neighborhood to mingle with each other, and without restraint find their own sports and employ themselves as they please. There is scarcely a neighborhood in which there are not, more or less, children who have heard various degrees of filthy conversation, vulgar, hateful, polluting, immoral, and perhaps profane and blasphemous things; and whose minds have become deeply imbued, perhaps, with the spirit of the pit or some other abomination, which, if left without restraint, will corrupt all the children in the neighborhood. Thus, one wicked child, left to mingle freely with the whole neighborhood of playful, confiding and unsuspecting children, will defile and ruin them all. Therefore, beloved, keep your children at home. Allow no children of your neighbors to come within your yard, or upon their play ground, without your consent. And be careful not to give your consent, unless you or some responsible adult member of your family can be with them. Be sure that you do not trust in the purity of a neighbor's children just because their parents are good people, nor assume that the minister's or the deacon's children may be left to mingle with your children safely. You should remember that the best of parents may have their children corrupted by contact with other wicked children, and you cannot be sure that they have not been. Therefore, be on your guard, or perhaps from the children of pious parents an influence may flow in upon your family that will deeply corrupt and finally destroy your children.

"But," most parents are apt to object, "we cannot give up our time to our children. We are obliged to attend to other matters." To this I reply that very seldom is this necessarily so. If the parents would satisfy themselves with a moderate supply of this world's goods, and abandon their fastidious and fashionable ways of living, they would, in almost all cases, have abundant time for companionship with their children.

But again it is objected, "Our children need the society of each other. The children of a neighborhood are benefited by contact with each other. Without this contact, they are apt to be selfish, proud, and to lack interest in others besides themselves." To this I answer, to be sure children need society. They need contact with other minds. They need to be so associated with other human beings as to take an interest in them, to witness the developments of character, and to develop their own characters. But it is believed, at least by me, that children are vastly more benefited by contact with adult minds than with the minds of children. I mean of course, those adults whose spirit, conversation and conduct are what they ought to be. And, to be sure, it ought to be in contact with those who take an interest in them. The example of adults has more influence with children than that of children with each other. And I honestly say, I would not care to have my children ever see any other children, could they be favored with the right kind of adult contact.

Provide means for engaging their attention at home. Children must have amusement. They must and will be involved in activities. They must have a room and grounds to play in. They must have means and things with which to occupy themselves. And parents can never make a more just and appropriate use of their money than providing with it the means of occupying, employing and educating their children. It is a vast mistake in parents to consider their money thrown away or misapplied when it is expended in the purchase of hobbyhorses, little carts, wagons, sleds, dolls, sets of furniture for their playhouses, needles, thimbles, scissors, boards, hammers, saws, augers, and tools with which their children may busy themselves, and with which to begin to design for themselves the structures which they see around them.

It should be remembered, however, that children love variety; they are never satisfied long with any one thing. They should not, therefore, be provided with too many things at once. For should you purchase many things at a time, you will soon find it impossible to provide novelties for them. Generally, a single new item at a time is sufficient to occupy their attention. A child will find a great many things to do with a gimlet. When he has busied himself with this, and finally lays it aside, add a pocketknife. With his gimlet and knife he can peg pieces of wood together. If to these you add, after a time, a hammer, then a little saw, and thus proceed carefully, but with due attention to just what is needed to sustain their attention, you will render them content at home without occupying much of your own time.

You will find it very important to let your children each have some place for his tools; and let it be an invariable rule, that whenever he has finished using them, they are to be put every one in its place. Let the child be made to feel that it is of great importance that nothing should be lost or mislaid. Thus you will cultivate a habit that will be of vast service to him through life. If he has little carts or wagons, be sure that he never leaves them out in the rain or dew, but has them securely housed; and the reasons why tools should not be exposed to the weather should be made familiar to his mind. If you have but one child, he will be lonesome, unless you take a little trouble in teaching him how to amuse himself. You must play with him, take him with you when it is convenient, go into his playroom or playground, show him how to use his little blocks, his little tools, his hobbyhorse, and try to give his little mind a start in the direction of inventing his own activities.

If you have several children, endeavor to make them satisfied with each other's companionship, without feeling a disposition either to go away from home for companions, or to invite those from outside to come to them. They must be restrained and kept from doing these things or they are certainly undone. This, then, must be a subject of study, of prayer, of much consideration on your part, how you may make your children love each other, be willing to stay at home, and be satisfied with their books, playthings, home, and siblings without roving the neighborhood for their amusements and activities.

Cultivate in them a taste for reading. To this end you must read to them yourself, or employ some judicious and excellent reader to read to them. You should yourself continue, from time to time, to search out and purchase such books as will interest and edify them, from which you can read to them from time to time such stories and things as will interest them and make a deep and right impression on their minds. But, beloved, be sure to be judicious in the selection of books and stories. Read nothing to them which you have not read over yourself. Consider what your children are, and ponder well what will be the natural influence of the material which you intend to read or to have read to them. And in all your selections have the moral bearings of whatever you in any way communicate to them strongly before your mind. Be sure to let no one at any time give your children books, tell stories, read things, or sing songs, or in any way make communications to them, the moral tendency of which is injurious.

Encourage them in employing themselves usefully; that is, in doing whatever may be beneficial to themselves or others. In the summer they may keep a little garden. At all times they may be involved in imitating the mechanical arts, making any pieces of machinery or tools for their own use, little tables, chairs, bedsteads, and in doing, in short, whatever can contribute to the well-being of their species.

Make your children your confidential friends. In other words, you be the confidential friends and companions of your children. Accustom them to confide to you all their secrets and everything that passes in their minds. On multitudes of occasions, they have thought, and not infrequently you will find obvious suggestions from Satan, which, if known to you, might enable you to do them immense good. Now, if you accustom them to throw their little minds open to you, and to feel that you, in everything sympathize with them, they may have the most perfect confidence in you; you will naturally come to be, as you ought to be, their confidant and their counselor. But if you will not give your time to this, if you turn them off and say, "Oh, I cannot attend to you," or if you treat them harshly, or sarcastically; if you humiliate, embarrass, and treat them with unkindness, if you manifest no sympathy with and for them after repeated attempts to get at your heart, finding themselves baffled, they will turn sadly away, and by degrees seek sympathy and counsel from others. Thus you will lose your own influence over them and give them over to other influences that may ruin them. How amazingly do parents err in these respects. Father, Mother, how sadly do you err, how grievously do you injure your children; no, how almost certainly you will ruin them, if you drive them, by your own wickedness, or leave them to seek for confidential companionship away from home. *

Your brother in the bonds of the gospel,

Charles G. Finney

    * Well did Finney know his children and value their interests. It was no wonder why they did not seek other counsel and companionship. They had a good father, who, as will be enlarged upon in later chapters, fulfilled his needful roles as Prophet, Priest, and King of the home:

    "Mr. Finney's faith and power in prayer were a prominent characteristic. At the family altar he seemed to know instinctively the wants of every member of the family. In a few concise, comprehensive phrases the petition was laid before the Throne and the answer came right away."

Remarks of Rev. Joseph Adams. In, Reminiscences of Rev. Charles G. Finney. Speeches and Sketches at the Gathering of his Friends and Pupils, in Oberlin, July 28th, 1876.

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Letter V.

October 21, 1840

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

I will continue my remarks on what to attend to in the training of children by urging you to cultivate natural affection among your children. Remember, natural affection is natural in no other sense than that it is natural for children to love those who love them. Therefore, what is generally called natural affection is cultivated affection. Therefore, great pains should be taken by parents to cultivate among children not only an affection for themselves, but for each other. Many parents, and fathers especially, treat their children in such a manner that their children have very little affection for them, and in many instances, it is to be feared that they have none at all. And then, perhaps, the children are reproved for the lack of natural affection. But parents should have consideration enough not to wonder at the absence of natural affection, as they call it, in their children, when they take little or no pains to be worthy of or to cultivate their affection.

Again, encourage inquiry on the part of your children. They come into a world of novelties. Before they are a week old, they may be seen staring around the room, as if they would inquire who, and what, and where they are. As soon as they are able to talk, they display the most intense desire to be instructed in regard to everything around them. Now parents, and all others who have the care of children, should encourage their inquiries and as far as is possible, or proper, give them satisfaction on every subject of inquiry. Give them reasons, discerningly detailed, as shall satisfy their little minds.

Parents will find their children inquisitive on those subjects that are by many supposed to be of too delicate a nature to be conversed upon by children. For example, what constitutes a breach of the seventh commandment, and things of this nature. At a very early age, it is no doubt proper to inform children that they are yet too young to be instructed upon such subjects; but that, at a suitable time, you will give them the necessary information, requesting them at the same time not to converse with others than their parents about such things as these. But prior to the age of puberty, and before an explanation of such things will excite improper feelings, parents should, beyond all question, give their children necessary instruction and caution upon all such subjects. When instruction is given, caution and admonition should be frequently repeated, accompanied with solemn prayer and instructions from the Word of God, so as to make a deep impression on the mind, and thoroughly to sensitize and awaken the conscience. Parents cannot neglect to do this without guilt in as much as this is a responsibility plainly enjoined upon parents by the authority of God, to teach their children the law and commandments of God. "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."

Parents, and the guardians of children, should never allow themselves to evade the inquiries of children by falsehood. For example, when an infant is born in the family, telling them the physician brought it, or that it was found in a hollow tree, or, in short, telling them anything false about it. There is nothing improper, unnatural, or indecent, in letting them know so much upon the subject, as that it was born of their mother.

To tell children falsehoods about such things is only still further to excite their curiosity, and create the necessity either of telling them the truth or still more falsehoods.

Be especially careful of the influences that act upon your children at public schools. It often seems to me that parents hardly dream of the amount of corruption, filthy language and conduct often witnessed in public schools. Little children of the same, as well as of opposite sexes, deeply corrupting and defiling each other. These things are often practiced to a most shocking extent, without parents seeming even so much as to know of it. I would rather pay any price at all within my means, or even to satisfy myself with one meal a day, to enable me to educate my children at home sooner than give them over to the influence of public schools as they are often arranged and conducted.

Remember that your children will be educated, either by yourself or by someone else. Either truth or error must posses their minds. They will have instruction, and if you do not secure to them right instruction, they will have that which is false.

Prove yourselves in all respects worthy of the confidence of your children. Let them always witness in you the utmost integrity of character. Let them, in no instance, see in you the appearance of deceit, falsehood, or unkindness. Let your whole heart stand open to them; and in return, you will find that their little hearts will stand open to you. If you show yourselves worthy of their confidence, you can depend on having it.

Deal thoroughly with their consciences. As soon as they are able to be instructed on moral questions, give yourself to a thorough enlightening of their minds upon every precept of the law of God. Put their minds as fully as possible in possession of those truths that will make their consciences quick and as sharp as a two-edged sword.

Guard against the cultivation of so legal a spirit, as to drive them to despair when they have sinned. While you cultivate the most discriminating conscience, be sure also to instruct the little one thoroughly in respect to the plan of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

Add physical discipline to moral instruction. I have referred to this subject before, but wish to say in addition that it is doubtless one of the greatest errors in the education of children to overlook the fact that at that early age the discipline of the rod will often present to them a more powerful motive than can be brought to bear upon them by moral truth presented to their uninformed minds. The rod cannot safely be laid aside until the powers of the mind are so fully developed and the mind so thoroughly instructed that the whole range of moral truth may be brought to exert its appropriate influence upon the mind without the infliction of pain. It seems to me that some parents presume to be wiser than God, taking it upon themselves to decide that it is not wise to use the rod upon children. Remember Proverbs 19:18 and 23:13,14: "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."

Let them see that your religion is your life—that it is your joy and rejoicing from day to day, and not that it fills you with gloom and melancholy. Many professing Christians have such a kind of religion as to render them miserable rather than happy. They are almost constantly in bondage to sin, and consequently under a sense of condemnation. They are wretched, and exhibit this wretchedness daily before their children. This creates the impression on their little minds that religion is a gloomy thing, fit only for funerals and deathbeds; and only to be thought of on a near prospect of death. Now this is making the most false and injurious impression upon their minds that can be conceived. It is a libel upon the religion of Christ. But shocking to say, it is almost as common as it is false. Your children should see that you are religious in everything, and that in all things you are not reluctantly but joyfully acquiescent in the will of God.

By all means let them daily see that you are not creatures of appetite—that you are not given up to the pursuit of wealth, or to the pursuit of fashion, not seeking worldly reputation or favor, that neither good eating, nor good drinking, nor good living, in any other sense than holy living, is the object at which you aim. Let them see that you are cheerful and contented with plain, simple food, that you are strictly temperate in all things, in respect to the quality and quantity of whatever you eat, drink, do, or say. In short, let your whole life inculcate impressive lesson that a state of entire consecration to God is at once the duty and the highest privilege of every human being.

Be sure to pray with and for them. Never punish them without praying with them. Whenever you give them serious admonition pray with them. Pray with them when they lie down and when they rise up. And enforce the lesson by your own example, that they are never to do anything without prayer.

Lay hold on the promises of God for them. Search the Bible for promises. Lay your Bible open before you. Kneel over it, and spread out the case of your children before God. Begin with the covenant of Abraham, and understand that God made the covenant as well with the children as with the parents. And remember that an inspired Apostle has said, "The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Take the promise in Isaiah 44:3-5: "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel." Remember that this promise was made more especially to the Church under the Christian dispensation, and respects the children of Jewish parents. Throw your souls into these promises, and wrestle until you prevail.

Your brother in the bonds of the gospel,

Charles G. Finney

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Letter VI.

November 4, 1840

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

I will now call your attention to some of the difficulties in the way of training up children in the way they should go.

One difficulty is a lack of the requisite information on the part of parents, and especially on the part of mothers, to whose care and management they are principally committed. Thus far, as a general fact, female education has been so much neglected that only a few women have the necessary information for the proper training of children. There is a most sad deficiency in this respect, in the training of young women in reference to their being future mothers. Why, the education of daughters is one of the most important things in the world. That women should be educated is wholly indispensable to the salvation of the world. An enlightened and sanctified generation of mothers would exert the greatest influence upon future generations that ever was exerted upon human beings. It is one of "guilt's blunders," to educate the sons and allow the daughters to go with little or no education.

Another difficulty is the frequent lack of education, and still more frequently of consideration, on the part of fathers. Most fathers seem to be so much engaged in business, politics, or personal pleasure and recreation as to leave very little time for deep consideration in respect to their responsibility and influence with their children. This is all wrong; for if there is anything that demands the attention and time of the father, it is those things that concern the well-being of his children. If he neglects his own household, whatever else he does he virtually "denies the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

A lack of a sense of responsibility in both parents often prevents their training up their children in the way they should go. Without a keen and efficient sense of responsibility, parents will never do their duty to their children, however much they may love them.

A lack of agreement between the parents in regard to training their children becomes another difficulty; for if the parents do not agree upon the course to be pursued, if they do not lend to each other the whole weight of their influence, children will soon see it and parental influence will soon lose its power over them.

Also to be noted is the ruinous notions that are prevalent among parents in regard to training up children. Many parents have given themselves so little to consideration upon this subject that their opinions are little more than dreams and old wives' tales upon the subject of training children.

There is often a great difficulty on account of the irrational thinking and habits of neighborhoods in regard to their children. If a parent who is anxious to preserve the morals of his children makes up his mind to keep them at home, it is often unjustly thought and said that it is because he thinks his children are better than the neighbors' children. Or, if he keeps his children at home, the neighbors' children are allowed to come in throngs to visit them. In this case they must be either sent home, at which their parents are often offended; or they must be allowed to remain, introducing the hazard of all those evils that arise from permitting children to mingle together without restraint. Or, to avoid this, the time of the father or mother, or of some adult member of the family, must be given up to superintend and accompany them in their play. It should be always understood by parents that they have no right to allow their children to go to a neighbor's house to play with his children without first obtaining the consent of the parents of such children. And, if they do, they ought to be willing to have them sent home at the discretion of those whose children they visit. Certainly no man has a right to inflict on me or my family the visit of his children without my knowledge or consent. Nor have I any right to do so to him. And I would much prefer my neighbor to turn his horse into my yard to feed without my consent, than to turn his children into my yard to play with my children without my consent. I say much prefer. I might say, almost infinitely prefer, as the horse would only devour the feed; but who can calculate the evil that may result from one hour's unrestrained and unobserved interaction of children with each other.

Another great evil is the recklessness of parents in respect to training their children. Many parents seem to allow their children to run here and there, to wander like a wild ass's colt. As long as their children are out of the way, it matters little to these parents where they are, or with whom they are keeping company. Now if there is anything in the universe that deserves the severest reprehension, and I must add, the deepest damnation, it is such a reckless spirit in parents. It is tempting God. No language can describe its guilt.

A great lack of firmness on the part of parents in training their children is another great evil. By firmness I refer to: the government and discipline of their children; guarding them against evil influences from outside the home; resisting the commonly accepted practices of society that would subject their children to the kind and degree of contact with other children which will positively ruin them; and, deciding against those fashions, in regard to dress and many other things, that tend to carry their children away from God.

Another difficulty in the way is a lack of faith and deep piety in parents. Many parents seem to have no practical confidence in the promises of the Bible in respect to their children. They have very little piety; and many of them seem not to know that there are such multitudes of exceeding great and precious promises upon which they may rely.

Another difficulty is a lack of a sense of responsibility to the neighborhood, in parents. An ill-managed family is the greatest nuisance that can infest any neighborhood. No man has a right to neglect the proper training of his children, and thereby render them a pest to society, any more than he has a right to build a mill dam that will flood a timbered country and thereby destroy the lives of the people. Now the former is a sin of an infinitely greater degree than the latter. And if a man deserves to be indicted for building such a mill dam, as is often the case, how much more does he deserve to be indicted for a common nuisance in allowing an uninstructed and unmanaged family to pour their abominations over the neighboring children. Such a family ought to be regarded as a public nuisance. Such fathers and mothers ought to be worked with, advised, admonished, and if need be, rebuked and even indicted. And the influence of such families should be as strictly and religiously guarded against as we would guard against the influence of the devil.

Another great difficulty is the influence of the flesh in the present state of the human constitution. The bodies of infants generally come into the world saturated with tea, coffee, and often with alcohol. They are born of mothers who have lived on the most stimulating kinds of diet, and from their very birth nurtured upon whatever is calculated to pamper their appetites and rasp their nervous system into a state of the utmost excitability. This promotes a precocious development of all their organs, and gives great power to their animal propensities. It is almost sure to deliver them over, at a very early age, to the dominion of appetite and lust.

Your brother in the bonds of the gospel,

Charles G. Finney

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Letter VII.

November 18, 1840

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

I now come to my fifth observation on Proverbs 6:22: If the condition is fulfilled, that is, if a child is trained up in the way he should go, it is certain that when he is old, he will not depart from it.

First of all, because God has said it.

Secondly, because He has laid the foundation of this certainty in the very nature of human beings. It is a fact, well known to everybody, that human beings form habits by the repetition of any given course of conduct, or feeling, until their habits become too confirmed to be counteracted and put down by anything but Almighty Power. It is the law of habit that lies at the foundation of the difficulty of bringing sinners to abandon their sins. A long indulged and confirmed habit is, in the Bible, compared to the strength and stability of nature itself. God says, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spot? Then can ye, who are ACCUSTOMED to do evil learn to do well." Here the law of habit is compared to the strength and permanency of nature itself. Now if a child be trained up in the way he should go, the uprightness of his future conduct is secured, not only by the promise and grace of God, but by this law of habit, which is laid deep in the foundation of his constitution.

Thus God has put the destiny of the child into the hand of the parent, who naturally loves it more than any other human being.

But again, God has established the law of parental affection for the benefit of the child, and so far as possible, to secure the training up of the child in the way it should go. I might quote a great many passages of scripture in confirmation of this doctrine; but if the text itself does not satisfy your mind, no multiplication of texts would do so.

Here I must notice an objection to the view of the subject I have taken. There is one common and grand difficulty, which has seemed to stumble Christians, in respect to their laying hold on the promises in regard to their children, and counting upon their being converted, sanctified, and saved with any sort of certainty. It is this: Many good men have, in all ages, had shameless and reprobate children. To answer this, I point out that good men are not always perfect in judgment, and therefore may be, and sometimes doubtless have been guilty of some primary error in training their children.

A great many good men have been so occupied with the concerns of the Church and the world as to pay comparatively little attention to the training of their own children. Their children have been neglected and therefore almost certainly lost. Whatever the case, when they have been neglected, they have not been trained up in the way they should go. So, the condition has not been fulfilled.

Many good men have lived in bad neighborhoods, and found it nearly or quite impossible to train up their children in the way they should go without changing their locations. And though they saw the daily contact of their children was calculated to ruin them, and did, as a matter of fact, prevent their training them up in the way they should go, yet they have, probably from a sense of duty, remained where they were, to the destruction of their children. In such cases, the ruin of their children may be chargeable to their neighbors, because the influence of their neighbor's children prevented their bringing them up in the way they should go.

A few remarks must conclude what I have to say to parents at this time. You see the great importance of mothers' organizations. Mothers must make the training of their children the subject of much consideration, study and prayer. If any mind should be well stored with knowledge, it is the mind of a mother. If anyone needs to understand philosophy—mental, natural, and moral—it is a mother. If anyone needs the wisdom of a serpent and the harm- lessness of a dove, it is a mother. It is, therefore, all important that mothers should meet together, exchange views and books, and converse, pray, and devise every measure for training up their children in the way they should go.

There should also be fathers' organizations. If there is anything important to the interests of this world, it is that children should be universally trained up rightly. And how amazing it is that fathers are so slow to perceive the necessity of deep study and research, prayer, discussion, reading, and conversation on the subject of training their children. There are organizations among men for almost everything else, and yet, I hesitate not to say that organizations for this end are as necessary and important as for any other object whatever. Pious mothers are often at their wits' end to know what to do to secure the salvation of their children. They are greatly at a loss to know what course of training will most likely result in their sanctification. They go to their husbands; but their minds are engaged in everything else. They have paid very little or no attention to the subject of training their children. And, as a general thing, if a father governs his family at all, it is only by a legal system, more or less rigid, according to his natural temper, habits, and way of doing things. And, notwithstanding, the wife needs the counsel of her husband, and the father of her children; fathers are, as a general thing, little prepared to give them counsel. There should be a great deal of consultation between the father and mother of every family in relation to training the children, and a great deal of consideration and forethought.

But another thing that renders both fathers' and mothers' organizations of the utmost importance is that there may be cooperation and unanimity in the neighborhood on the subject of training children. If possible, every father and every mother should be enlisted in these organizations, so as to secure the right training of all the children in the neighborhood. For, as I have said in a former letter, one unmanaged family will often, in spite of all that can be done, corrupt a whole neighborhood. Parents, therefore, ought to be instructed throughout whole neighborhoods in respect to training their children. For if some families of children are allowed to run about and visit, both by day and by night, it will be difficult to restrain other children; and just as moral influences reveal themselves quickly, so the results will spread as naturally and as certainly as a contagious disease. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance to secure the attention and hearty cooperation of every parent in the neighborhood.

Permit me here again to revert to a topic, which I have mentioned in a former letter, and say again, that it is of the utmost importance that care should be taken to secure the right kind of domestic help. As you value the souls of your children, do not receive into your family any filthy girl or young man, or old man, that will tell falsehoods to your children, tell them vile stories, use vulgar language, or in any way corrupt the morals or their manners. I would sooner have the plague in my family than to have such influences as these. I would not allow the nearest relative I have on earth to remain in my family unless he would refrain from corrupting my children.

Again, see the great importance of selecting the right kind of Sunday school teachers.

You see the great importance of selecting the right kind of books and periodical literature for your children. There are many books and periodicals, and those too that are extensively circulated, that I regard as of a very pernicious and highly dangerous tendency. They are calculated to form anything but right thinking and character among children.

All the domestic arrangements of every family should have a special regard to the training of their children. The right training of them should be a prime objective, and every other interest of the family should be made to bend to this. The hours of retiring in the evening and rising in the morning, the hours at which meals are taken, kinds of food, and in short all the habits of the family should have a direct reference to the right training of the children. Nothing should be allowed to enter into the family arrangements that has a tendency to injure their health, their intellect or their heart. No company should at any time be received and entertained whose conduct may endanger the manners or morals of the children.

Mothers should never, under any pretense whatever, neglect their own children for the purpose of attending to other matters. Mother, remember that nothing can compensate for the neglect of your duty to your children. This is your first great indispensable duty, to train your children in the way they should go. Attend to this then, whatever else you neglect.

Do not suppose that you can attend to this without being yourself devotedly pious. No mother has begun to do her duty to her children, who is not supremely devoted to God, and not endeavoring to train them up for God. Some mothers will neglect their children under the pretense of going to meeting and especially attending seminary, leaving it, as they say, "with God," to take care of their children while they do His work. They seem to think the time spent in taking care of their children is almost thrown away. And even some seem unwilling to have children because they shall have to "throw away" so much time in taking care of them. Now woman, you ought to know that a leading objective of your life is to bear and train up children for God—time which you spend in this employment is as far as possible from lost.

Other women, instead of neglecting their children to attend to their devotions, are neglecting their devotions almost altogether, and pretending to discharge their duty to their children while they are neglecting God and religion. Now this is equally erroneous in the other direction. No parent can train up children in the way they should go, without maintaining a spirit of deep devotion to God on the one hand, and on the other hand, without paying the most rigorous and unremitted attention to their personal training— physical, intellectual, and moral. Mothers should be emphatically "keepers at home." While the children are yet minors, mothers should consider it their business to train them up in the way they should go.

But in doing this they should consult God at every step, and should not imagine that they begin to do their duty any further than they consult the Word of God and live under the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit.

If you would train your children in the way they should go, be invincibly firm in training your own family, let other families do as they may.

Remember that if you resist the true light, or neglect your duty to your children, God "will visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generations."

Your brother in the bonds of the gospel,

Charles G. Finney

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Part II.


By the Rev. Professor Finney of Oberlin College, U. S.

At the Tabernacle, Moorfields. A sermon delivered on Monday evening, Dec. 23, 1850.

I SHALL not detain you long this evening as I am anxious to recover from the hoarseness under which I am at present laboring, but I shall confine my remarks to the connection of family government with the early conversion of children. For a long time it has been impressed on my mind and the impression is a growing one that parents do not sufficiently appreciate the importance of family government or the potency of its influence on the spiritual well being of their children. It is one of the most efficient means of grace. Family government, I say, when properly managed, is one of the most efficient means of grace mankind possesses if parents will only understand and weigh well the great object to be secured by it.

The family should be the nursery of piety; the family is the place where it ought to begin and where its earliest development ought to take place. I do not mean by this that the pulpit is by any means to be excluded, but that everything done in the pulpit must be seconded in the family, so that what is brought before the vast congregation in public shall be supported by paternal influence in the family and there concentrated to a focal point. With respect to family government, it is very important that parents should have a proper idea of the nature of their powers and responsibilities. With reference to the case I mentioned in my last, I may add that the story got abroad, and finally into the papers, that the lady had whipped the child to compel it to submit to the Almighty. Now I need not say that there is not the least foundation for this, but it is true that she used her parental authority kindly, and brought its whole force to induce the child to yield its immediate and unqualified submission to God. God said of Abraham, "I know him that he will command his household after him to follow me;" and God blamed Eli for not exercising a religious authority over his children.

The end of parental government the great object to be secured is self-government. Children need to be taught to govern themselves, and to do so by the revealed will of God. The great object to be attained is to teach the child to lay restraints upon himself in other words, to take upon himself the observance of God's law, and then to teach the child. The great object of family government is to secure this, and in order to do so it is indispensable that parents should govern themselves and thus afford an example to their children. Precept will never effect this object; parents must be what they would desire to have their children be. They are not likely to secure their end if they contradict by example what they teach by precept; for the instruction of the former is far more powerful and effective than that of the latter: if persons give good instructions and themselves neglect to follow them, they are sure to fall to the ground; and the parent cannot think it strange if he does not govern himself, if he does not obey his own rules of morality and propriety that his children are not better than they are. It would be ridiculous for him to complain and say he had taught them better. How did he teach them? both by precept and example? No, but neglecting the stronger power of example, he trusted almost wholly to the weaker power of precept.

I have had ample opportunities from the nature of my employment perhaps no man living more so of forming an acquaintance with multitudes of families. Before I was of age, I left my father's house, and ever since, in various ways, I have had unusual means of acquainting myself with the state of things in this respect in multitudes of families; and in all my experience, I may say, I have seldom if ever, known a family turn out badly, in which, when I searched out the matter, I could not trace it directly or indirectly to the manner they had brought the children up to some fundamental defect in family government. One member of a family perhaps has not had sufficient care taken of his temper, another has experienced some other defect of management.

Parents should be exceedingly careful over their own tempers. Never address your children in a loud, angry, scolding tone, but affectionately exercise your governmental power over them. Let the children see by all means, that you are not in a passion with them; for if you speak in a surly, scolding tone of voice, it only rouses the temper of the child, and almost always fails in securing permanently the object sought; such commands are given with a bad grace, and when obeyed, are obeyed in a bad temper.

Parents should be sure to govern their own tongues in this respect. Be careful to avoid censoriousness and not allow yourselves or them to dwell upon the faults of others; apply this principle moreover to everything else that may seem objectionable; for whatever you are, your children, to a large extent, will reflect your image, and breathe your spirit. Parents must also learn to govern their appetites; if you do not do this, your children are almost sure to be misgoverned. Your language, manners, and habits of life must be such as you wish your children's to be.

Parents should always make the impression on their families that their government is not despotic and arbitrary, but that it is for the child's own good. Let this impression be secured: let the children understand that you exercise your authority not arbitrarily but simply with a view to accomplish the good of the family compact. This was God's design in establishing it, and this is his end in the government of the universe. The good of the governed ought to be the end of all governments. Where this is not the case, all pretended government is nothing less than a continual warfare; the governed obey as far as they are absolutely compelled to obey and no further. They regard the government as a tyranny. But let it be understood that the end and object of the government was the highest good of the governed, and then you secure their consciences on your side, then you have effected a footing and will attain your object. Let your child see that the object of your government is not your pleasure merely, but his own benefit that in punishing and restraining him, your object is to teach him to govern and restrain himself in short, endeavour to keep before his mind the fact that the end at which you are aiming is to promote his own interest.

Do this and you will always keep his conscience on your side, and ten to one if you do not secure your object. Ungoverned wills can never dwell in any family without quarreling. No community can exist where there are independent wills acting without reference to any one will whose decisions are law. Let me explain this: government is a necessity of human nature. Communities of persons living together must agree in some way to act in concert; but inasmuch as in such communities all persons are not equally well informed in fact, they have not all the means of obtaining the same degree of knowledge in order to have peace, there must always be some will supreme: for if there be several independent wills, each acting on its own responsibility in his own way, of course, such a body of persons is no community at all; and if a family is made up of a number of persons whose wills are unsubdued, all attempts at government are utterly useless and must be abandoned, or else there must be a quarrel.

I know a family, for instance, in the United States, which had been brought up in this manner: in the first place, the husband himself was a remarkably unreasonable man and the wife was unfortunately just as bad. Both were remarkably self-willed and neither would acknowledge the will of the other as law, so that between them, of course, there was incessant strife. They have three children, not one of which ever had its will subdued, for the plain reason that one of the parents would never suffer the other to attempt it without interfering, and thereby nullifying the effect. I am well acquainted with the family. Neither endeavoured to govern them unless when angry, and they had all been foolishly petted while very young, so that when their wills became developed they were unreasonable and capricious. One parent at a time would fly into a passion and attempt to punish them, and the other on such occasions invariably interposed, and thus they went on. The young persons grew up to manhood and womanhood in such a state of mind towards each other that they found it wholly impossible for them to live together. The father came to me time after time to know what he could do. He was a man of property sufficient to make the whole of his family comfortable and was perfectly willing to do so, but they were incessantly quarrelling, child with child and parent with parent, or parents and children together. Said I, "The difficulty is that you yourself are an unreasonable man and your family knows it. You are a very self-willed man and your family knows that. Your wife is just like you, and your children are the very image of you both, and there's the difficulty. There you are a family of independent wills, no one of which is willing to submit to another. You did not teach them to obey you till they became so old that to attempt to govern them was to quarrel with them." `I have ruined my family I see,' said he, `and must give up keeping house' and he absolutely did so. For a time he even separated from his wife for they could no longer live together.

Now I admit that this is a strong case, but I have known multitudes like it, and from similar causes. Sometimes the wife is unwilling to respect the position of the husband; he may be an unreasonable man, or he may not. But I cannot enlarge.

Let me relate another striking circumstance: some twenty years ago I was labouring with a minister in one of the cities of the United States who had a family of young children. The eldest son was a boy about fifteen years of age, and there were three or four girls and boys along below. There was this peculiarity in that family the wife would take occasion at the table to criticize her husband's preaching, and dispute with him on points of theology. In short, she carried those things to such an extent as really to break the power of the father over the children. She was a good natured, pleasant woman but after all, she never allowed her husband to maintain his proper position; instead of teaching the children to respect whatever their father said, she almost invariably took some exceptions to it, so that he never could get hold of the children. I saw this at the time; and some years after, I had seen the family; a lady came to——— to live, who had spent two or three years in that family. Said she, "Mr. Finney, I have made up my mind that I will never dispute with my husband, especially when there are young persons in the family." "Why," said I; "I lived in such and such a family and I always observed such and such things: (just what I have described.) Now mark the result of this conduct: "The eldest son" she continued, "died a miserable wretch, and the rest of the family are going in the same direction. The father was never allowed to govern in his proper position, and there was always a want on the part of the wife of giving him the place assigned to him by the Almighty and the result has been a great lesson to me."

Where there is any fault of this kind any neglect or opposition with regard to putting things in their natural place, any want of letting families be governed wherever there is a want of proper concord between parents, in bringing both their influences to bear on the same point, it will almost always ruin that family. Both parents should understand this; the mother should second the authority of the father, while the father should always support the power of the mother. And parents should remember that if they would subdue the little wills of their children, they must begin very early; for if you permit those wills to develop themselves, then your efforts to subdue them will only make them angry, and, therefore, not only prove abortive but drive them from home or to some abominable course to deceive their parents.

With respect to the conversion of children, let me ask, my brethren, what do you think is the reason that so many families with pious parents grow up unconverted? It is a remarkable fact that this is a very common occurrence. Ought it to be so? Ought so many families, with professing Christian parents, to grow up unconverted? One great reason is that parents do not make it their business soon enough and steadily enough to use the proper means to secure it at the earliest possible moment that the children are able to understand their duty to God. The longer a child goes on in sin, by so much the more difficult is he to get at. Once more, parents often do not understand, believe, and use the promises of the Almighty; they do not take hold of God in relation to their children; they do not feel their duties and responsibilities and throw themselves on God for assistance and direction as he has required them to do. He has furnished them with promises suited to the relation they sustain, and the peculiar responsibilities devolving upon them; and if parents will but understand, take hold upon, and make use of these promises for which they were designed, they will undoubtedly find in early life that God will convert the children. There is another error which parents ofttimes fall into: some parents are not aware of the pernicious influence of a fastidiously critical spirit in relation to preaching and the means of grace. Look around in any circle you please and observe a family where, on coming home from worship on the Sabbath, the parents are in the habit of criticizing the preacher and calling the attention of the family to anything they may think out of good taste. "The sermon on the whole was well enough," say they, for instance, "but there were such and such things," and they proceed to quibble on certain points either of manner or matter. Perhaps it was "too personal," perhaps "not personal enough." This is the species of conversation which they freely indulge before the children. Now all men of prudence who give such a conduct a moment's reflection will see at once what influence it must have on unconverted children. Go into families where this is the case, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred they will be found to be unconverted. Some parents do this without appearing to be aware of it, and never hear a sermon without finding some fault with it in the presence of the children.

A few years since, there was a person of this kind in my own household, and whenever a certain individual preached for me as he often did, for I frequently put someone into my pulpit once on the Sabbath this person would take occasion to criticize him. In fact, he dealt thus with them all, but particularly with the minister in question who was, by the way, the very best amongst them, and the one from whose preaching I hoped the most, both with respect to my own children and other persons; yet this individual was always in the habit of speaking against this man. But I could not bear it long. I would not endure it. I would not have such an individual in my family. His criticisms were ofttimes just enough, and it was natural enough for a critical mind to make them; but mark instead of being impressed by the numerous excellencies his sermons always had, almost always the things objected to were the only theme of his discourse. I told him at length that I could not have it; I had also noticed the few defects, but they were so completely over-balanced by the good, that I completely overlooked them, and should never think of them again. Another family in the place was in a similar condition in this respect. It was a gentleman who had a number of young persons boarding with him, and who was in the habit, I was told, of speaking at the table severely of the preaching from time to time. Let who would preach, he went home and criticized them and hence, such was his influence on the family, that it was just as plain to everybody as possible that the young people in that family were out of the way; in this case, it was so plain that it was impossible that it could be mistaken or overlooked, and it was the natural result of such a state of things.

The fact is, that to mention even actual faults in those who preach the Gospel to persons who are not prepared to appreciate their excellencies is a dangerous thing for a family of children. The thing needed to be done is to feel and use it himself and carry home everything that is good and bring it to bear in a focal blaze on the minds of children. But if he does not feel it himself if he is critical and fault-finding, he will ruin his family. Go where you will and you will find these fastidious parents with unconverted children. Now, if there are fastidious parents here in this congregation, you mark their families, and you will see they are not converted. Your minister may labor and labor with them, but the effect of his ministry is broken by this fastidious, censorious spirit, the attention being directed to the exceptional things in manner or matter, while the good points are largely or wholly unheeded.

But let me say once more that families who would have a blessing during a revival of religion must set their house in order. Parents must take the matter up, and if they have laid stumbling blocks before their families, confess their ex- istence and betake themselves to remove them. Parents often fancy that as they have been going on wrongly, it will lessen their influence over their family to call them round the family altar and confess it; but the fact is that such is by no means the case; the effect is quite the contrary. The house must be set in order so that God may come in and be honoured in abiding there and not dishonour- ed. Those who do not get blessed in their family during the times of revival you will find, as a general rule, are those who have not done this; and if you search into the matter you will find some one or more of the hindrances I have specified. I could mention a very large number of cases in which I have myself actually made such inquiries, as to what the stumbling block really was. Some- times I have seen the children deeply impressed and yet not converted, and so they have passed along from day to day. In a great many instances I have found in inquiry, that family prayer was neglected and the spirit grieved in various ways in that household, both by sins of omission and sins of commission.

But let me state a case. In one of the towns of the United States a few years since, I was labouring in a revival of religion when a young lady came to me for inquiry. I saw she was deeply convicted of sin. Her parents, she told me, were professedly pious, and accordingly, I expected her soon to be converted. But she came again and again without getting fully through till at length, her excitement was such that I feared lest she became deranged from the power of her convictions. I thought there must be some stumbling block. The next time she came, the following conversation took place;" Is there family prayer in your household?" I asked, "There used to be," she replied, "but for some time it has been wholly discontinued." "Oh! indeed," said I, "well what time in the day now do you think I could see your father?" She stated a time and I searched him out the very next morning. I found the young lady in a melancholy state of despondency. The mother was within, and the father some little way from the house. I began to converse with the mother and soon made the discovery that she was in a backsliding state. I asked her to call in her husband which she immediately did and he was in a similar condition. I then set before them the state of their daughter: God had convicted her right before them and with such force that she was on the verge of despair and destruction. "Why she tells me," said I, "that you don't pray in your family. How's that? Do you not see that you are standing right in the way of her conversion? Now until you confess your sins and break your hearts and set up again your family alter, I don't mean to leave your house! What? Is this child to be allowed to remain under conviction right before your eyes? Don't you see what a countenance she has already while you are going about here and there grieving the Holy Spirit?" They both began to weep, knelt down, and made a confession of their sins before the Lord, and it was but a very short time before their hearts were broken as the Spirit had previously broken their daughter's.

This I have found in all my experience, that if the Spirit of God does not work in a family, there is some such stumbling block in the way. Sometimes the elder children in the family, though professors of religion, are right in the way. They ofttimes set a bad example where the elder children are backsliding professors and the younger unconverted, the former often exercise a most pernicious influence over the latter. They are worldly minded, and if any of the younger children become serious, they laugh and talk it all away. Why? They are looked up to as Christians by their younger brethren; but instead of praying for them and watching over them, they conduct themselves in such a light-minded outrageous manner as to stand right in their way. I have often had occasion to expostulate with such. "What if your younger brothers and sisters are impressed by the Spirit of God, and instead of praying for them, your prayerlessness is one of the greatest obstacles in the way!" In fact, inquirers have often let this out in their conversations with me; they have said, "my eldest brother" does this or "my eldest sister" says that; indeed much observation has satisfied me that it is one of the most fearful things in the world for a family to be passed by, whether from this or any other cause; and this I believe to be often one of the most powerful obstacles.

If you see a family thus passed by unblessed, you may expect that it will be marked as was the village of Meroz. "Curse ye Meroz," says the angel, "curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." It seems to be a great and guiding principle of the government of God that, whenever a church is called into a conflict with the enemies of the Lord of Hosts to make an onslaught on the powers of darkness it is an awful thing for any family of that church to withhold its influence. Look at the whole history of the Jewish nation, how it reveals the great principles of God's government! He will act on the same principles now if he is the same God now as he was then. The spirit of God's government is the same under the present as under the former dispensations. God always would have rebuked a family for withholding its influence at such times, and he always will do it.

Sometimes the ministers of the same locality stand out and will have no connection with revivals, but mark! in my own experience I have uniformly seen that the curse of God follows such men. Were it necessary, I could substantiate this assertion by the names of persons and places. I could tell you some very striking facts, both with regard to ministers of various denominations as well as presbyterian elders and the deacons of congregational churches. This is a great principle of God's government, who can deny it? No man who knows his Bible and understands the dealings of God. When God calls upon the sacramental hosts to rally at the sound of his coming when his voice is heard in the tops of the mulberry trees if any family neglects to invite the Saviour to become its guest, what will become of that family? I suppose I have been reminded of the curse on Meroz thousands of times; it is a fearful thing that the Spirit of God should breathe over a community, and here and there a family shall go unblessed? Such families may expect their children to go unconverted; for it is remarkable that in this respect, God sometimes visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children; and upon the children's children; a son turns out perhaps a gambler; a daughter runs away and marries without her parent's consent, or something of that kind.

The fact is, brethren, God is a jealous God, and when he comes, he expects to be received. Now, brethren, have your families been blessed? Some of you have I known. But do not let any child in your families who has come to the age of intelligence escape. Be sure also to remember your servants, for if they are neglected, God's Spirit is grieved. Where they are not cared for, where pains are not taken to get them to meeting and converted, there is not the Spirit of Christ. I have often observed that servants sustain a relation to families that God acknowledges. Abraham, for example, was commanded to circumcise everyone belonging to his household. This is a principle of God's government and has always been so; God always looks upon every member of your household as a member of your family for the time being; and God has given you a certain relation to them which binds you to secure their conversion to God. I have always felt a great responsibility concerning those who come to live in my family. I aim and expect to aim at promoting the conversion of these souls a thousand times more than anything else. I have often said to my wife: "Is that girl converted? Let us arrange everything with respect to that girl being converted and see whether we cannot secure it."

Now is not this right? Yes. If parents and masters would rightly use the promises of influence God has given them, rely upon it, religion would spread in a manner which it by no means does now. Let there be no fault on your part, brethren, let your children see that you aim at doing all the good to each other you can. You should understand how great a part of religion consists in the relative duties we owe to each other. Let no child forget the relation in which God has placed him with regard to his parents, and the same with parents in regard to their children. Let every member of every family be what he ought to be, and you will see what hold religion takes of the community.

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By Rev. President Asa Mahan.

From chapter XIV of Moral Philosophy 1848.

I. Duties of Parents to Children.

II. Violations of Parental Obligation.

III. Duties of Children their Parents.

IV. The use of the Rod in Family Government.

FROM the fixed laws of our constitution, as moral agents, action in harmony with the law of duty, is not only a good to those upon whom such action directly terminates, but is to ourselves also the highest source of subjective good. Hence the great truth announced in the scriptures, that it is a source of higher blessedness to ourselves, to act benevolently towards others, than to be the objects of such action from them. This holds in a special sense, in respect to benevolent activity in the domestic relations, and not the least in such action on the part of parents towards their offspring. The parent has been voluntarily instrumental in the existence of the child, and when the latter was first entrusted to the care of the former, he received it in a state of the most profound helplessness and dependence. Its entire mortal and immortal powers were all received as a sacred trust to be developed and educated under his fostering care. In the constitution of both parent and child is laid the foundation, when the mutual duties of each toward the other, are fully met, for the strongest mutual affection and esteem. In the child, the parent sees himself projected and represented, and what he does for his offspring, he cannot but feel that he is doing in a pre-eminent degree for himself. In the parent too, the child, with feelings of the deepest veneration, contemplates the continual representation of his future self. How the heart of the child bounds at the thought of attaining to the dignity and prerogatives of manhood, as represented in the character of a venerated parent.

Nor is there any form of virtue more beautiful and attractive than that which is developed, through parental care prompted by affection, and controlled by the idea of duty, on the one hand, and by sanctified filial love, respect and obedience, on the other.

For these reasons, no form of duty results in greater objective good, and subjective blessedness. Domestic bliss next to that derived from a union with the infinite and eternal mind, is one of the purest sources of happiness of which even sanctified humanity participates.

In no department of activity, however, is impulse to be our law. Even the exercises and manifestations of the domestic affections are to be regulated by the idea of duty. The questions, then, which I shall now endeavor to answer, are, what are the duties of parents to children, on the one hand, and of children to parents, on the other?

I. Duties of Parents to Children.

1. The parent should contemplate himself as the educator of the child. The powers of the child were entrusted to his care for the great end of receiving, under his fostering and plastic control, a full and harmonious development. This is the great duty involved in the parental relation, to give the powers of the child, physical and mental, the most full and perfect development possible. This every parent who would realize the idea or law of parental duty, will definitely present to himself, as the end of all his cares and efforts relative to the child.

2. As a means of attaining the great end of parental influence, the parent should aim to be in himself and before the child, a living exemplification of what the child should aim to become in his own character. The child, especially, is more influenced by example than by precept, example in one occupying the sphere and dignity of manhood. How important then that parental example especially, should exemplify before the child all those forms of virtue and excellence which he is required to embody in his own character.

3. Early and implicit subjection to wholesome authority is also one of the first and most important habits which a parent is bound to generate in the child. If there is a failure here, there is little hope in respect to the future existence of the child. Due respect for all forms of authority lawfully existing and wisely and justly administered, is one of the cardinal elements of all real virtue, it should be a cardinal aim of every parent, therefore, to induce this internal respect, in the mind, and to secure that of habitual subjection in the conduct of the child.

4. Another fundamental aim of the parent should be, to generate, confirm, and establish in the child the principle of self-control. Next to the fear of God, "the beginning of wisdom" in man, is the dominion of his own spirit. When passion rules, ruin, total and remediless, is the inevitable result. A parent has not attained to the very first idea of parental responsibility, whose fixed fundamental aim is not to induce in the child the principle and habit of self-control, the government of his temper, his appetites, and various propensities.

5. The habit of self-reliance is another principle which the parent should aim to generate in the child. The child should early be made sensible of the great truth, that under God, his standing in society, as well as his destiny hereafter, depends upon himself. The parent should make it a primary aim to induce in the child the spirit of manly independence, and to prepare him to form his own destiny in life, on the principles of self-support and self-reliance. A child that is suffered to grow up a stranger to the principle of sustaining the weight of personal responsibilities in respect to thought, speech, and action, has not received the very first rudiments of an education properly so called. A child should be early habituated to the personal management of important interests, the management of which is adapted to his capacities.

6. To induce in the mind a sacred respect for the idea of duty in all its forms, should be the supreme object of a parent, in the education of a child. This idea the child should be taught to render the fixed and undeviating law of his entire activity, in all the varied circumstances of his existence.

7. All parents who would realize the idea of duty in the parental relations, will make it their first and leading object, in all departments of education, to develop and give the religions sentiment a supreme control over the entire existence and activity of the child.

8. Another aim of the parent should be to qualify the child to occupy some particular sphere of activity in which he may accomplish his destiny. Here respect should be had to the special adaptations of the child, and to the special indications of providence. It is worse than useless to attempt to force a child into any one particular sphere contrary to his natural adaptations and the fixed inclinations of his mind.

9. It should be a fixed aim of the parent so to enlighten the mind of the child in respect to the principle of moral obligation, and then to exercise authority upon such principles, that, in obeying the parent, the child shall ever obey, at the same time, the dictates of his own intelligence. Nothing is more destructive of all the best interests of the child than mere arbitrary rule.

10. Lastly, in the final disposal of his estate, the parent is bound to regard himself as the special guardian of the interests of the child.

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II. Violations of Parental Obligation.

Among the varied forms of violation of parental obligation, the following only need be specified in this connection.

1. Subjecting the child to arbitrary tyrannical rule on the one hand, or leaving him to the dominion of his own passions and propensities, without subjection to wholesome restraint, on the other. It is difficult to say which of these extremes is most destructive to morals. Each alike tends in but one direction, and that is ruin. "A child left to itself," or broken and crushed in spirit by parental oppression, will, with almost absolute certainty, "bring his mother to shame."

2. Permitting children to grow up without the formation of confirmed habits of mental improvement, on the one hand, and of useful industry, on the other, is another form of violation of parental duty too common in community, especially among the wealthy portions of society. To qualify children only for a state of utter uselessness to themselves or mankind, to disqualify them, as far as possible, for self-support, or active usefulness, seems to be the great aim of many parents, as far as they have any aims at all, in the education of their offspring. Among the principles which all parents should feel themselves most sacredly bound, as early as possible, to instill into the minds of children, is the sentiment that idleness, and the want of habits of active, useful, productive industry, is the disgrace of humanity, whatever its external condition may be, and that the practice and care of useful activity is its highest honor. A mother in New England, whose husband was possessed of great wealth, made it a fixed law of her household, that each of her three daughters, when they came to years, should, every third week, take her place in the kitchen, and there do the appropriate duties of that department of household industry. The other two weeks were to be spent in mental cultivation, and in different forms of useful activity. I need not add that the hands of those daughters were early sought by the first men in their state, and that their "husbands were known in the gates when sitting among the elders of the land." Thrice happy would it be for all the daughters of this land, and for our country too, if they were educated by such mothers.

3. Another too common form of violation of parental duty, is permitting children to grow up in the unrestrained indulgence of their appetites. While it should be the object of the parent to meet fully and in the best manner, all the real wants of the child, he should continually bear in mind, that the control of all the propensities, especially the appetites, is one the first habits which he should aim to form in the child. Early habits of sensual indulgence lay the foundation for all forms of vice in subsequent years. Respect for law, in all its forms, and not the least for the laws of our physical constitution, is one of the earliest sentiments which a parent is bound to instill into the mind of a child.

4. Leaving a child to the influence of vicious associates, or to select his associates at his own will, is another form of parental neglect of most ruinous tendency. A parent is bound to understand the character of the associates of his child, associates who will hardly fail to instill their own principles and mental associations, to a greater or less extent, into his mind.

5. Leaving the care of the education of children to others, without a direct superintendence of it himself, is another too common form of parental neglect. A parent should know who the educators of his children are, and what are the habits and principles which they are forming, in all the varied stages of their education. Parents are bound to consider themselves as the appropriate educators of their own offspring, and to choose as co-laborers in this sacred employment, those only in whose fidelity reasonable confidence can be wisely reposed.

6. Parents also, whose example before, and influence over their children tend to generate in their minds a higher respect for external show than for internal worth, for wealth and station than for character, will find themselves at last to have been most fearfully wanting on the score of parental faithfulness.

7. The parent also who has not made the idea of immortality the leading, all-controlling principle in the education of his children, will find that he has been wholly wanting in his duty as a parent. There is nothing which has, or can have its proper place in the mind of a child, till this idea becomes the controlling law of his existence. All forms of right education must have a fundamental reference to it.

8. The parent, also, who has failed to exemplify in his own example the varied forms of excellence which the child is required to possess, whatever else such parent may have done, has wholly failed in his duty as an educator of his offspring.

9. Finally, I hardly need to add, that the intentional generation in the child of any vicious or immoral habit or principle, is the consummation of all violation of parental duty.

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III. Duties of Children their Parents.

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth."—Eph. 6: 1-3. "Cursed be he that setteth light by [dishonors] his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen."—Deut. 27: 16. "A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent."—Prov. 15: 5. "The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it."—Prov. 30: 17.

Such is the character of the teachings of inspiration on this subject, teachings sanctioned by the united sentiments of the race, wherever human depravity and guilt have not extinguished natural affection. Among the specific forms of duty devolving upon the child through the parental and filial relations, I will barely specify the following:

1. Cherishing an internal, sacred respect for the rights of a parent, rights growing out of the parental relations—such for example, as the right to the cherished affection, esteem, gratitude, and obedience of the child. The whole duty of the child to his parent is really comprehended in this internal respect. To cherish and preserve incorrupt, inviolate, and sacred, this respect, is one of the first duties of the child. Without it no form of virtue can have a dwelling place in his mind. A child void of respect for the rights and venerable name of parent, presents one of the darkest forms of depravity that sin has ever generated.

2. Another form of duty devolved upon a child is an intentional external manifestation of this internal respect, in appropriate acts relative to the parent, especially in all acts of proper and cheerful obedience to all specific commands of the parent, commands not requiring what is morally wrong. Prompt, cheerful obedience in all the circumstances supposed, should be the fixed law of all the child's activities, relatively to the express will of the parent. So also, to study, for the purpose of manifesting, all the appropriate expressions of internal respect for the parental relations, should be regarded as a sacred duty on the part of the child. How beautiful in a child, for example, is manifested independence of thought associated with proper deference for the opinions of a parent.

2. Sacred respect for the honor of the parent in his intercourse with the world, is another form of duty binding the child relatively to the parent. Filial affection is never to bias the judgment of the child, in respect to the parent. Yet the honor really due to the parent, should be as dear to the child as the apple of his eye.

4. Cheerful submission to any restraints imposed by parental authority is another most sacred duty, which the child owes to the parent. Never does filial duty manifest itself in a more beautiful and attractive form than in this.

5. Respect for the rights of property in the parent is another special form of filial duty. Filial purloining is an odious form of theft, and the fruitful source of all other forms of crime. The child should never entertain the secret wish to appropriate to himself any of the property of the parent, without his full approbation and consent. Character perfected here will usually put on the perfection of beauty in all its other manifestations.

When the parent arrives to the era of second childhood, the child should regard it not merely as a duty, but as the highest privilege to receive him under his roof for protection and support. No form of right in the parent, or duty in the child is more sacred than this, and no call of duty should be more joyfully responded to on the part of the child.

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IV. The use of the Rod in Family Government.

If we may credit the testimony of inspiration, the use of the rod will always to a greater or less extent, obtain in all well regulated families. Some in modern times, however, profess to have discovered that its use is wholly tyrannical and pernicious. For myself I hold with ancient, inspired wisdom on this subject, and hold thus for the following considerations, among others:

1. The best forms of filial character have ever been developed under its prudent and faithful use. This, I believe to be an undeniable fact in the history of humanity.

2. No other form of influence is so perfectly adapted to secure in the child, in its very early years, the great end of parental discipline, self-control. A parent meets a child when it is in a fit of passion. What the child now needs is some influence which shall induce him to assume, at once, the reigns of self-government, and bring and hold that excited temper in complete subjection. Now, no influence in many instances, is so immediate and effective in its operations, under such circumstances, as the stern command of the parent, and the application of the rod, when the former fails of it desired effect. The parent that foregoes this influence at such a crisis, often does the child a fatal injury. Shutting of a child, as is often done, in a room by itself where it may rave and stamp with its feet, till its temper passes off, and it then appears subdued, is of most fatal tendency, a tendency to strengthen the dominion of passion rather than subdue it. Self-control must be secured at the moment when passion is excited, or the opportunity to benefit the child is forever lost.

2. Equally effectual is the rod in many instances, in subduing the will, when the child has erected it into the attitude of direct resistance to parental authority. When a child refuses obedience to some specific command of the parent, some expedient like that above referred to, may often be resorted to with great benefit, instead of the rod. In such case, perhaps, excepting where the opposition of the will is induced by excited passion, the rod had better not, in most instances, be used. When the determination not to obey is deliberate, forms of punishment which will certainly secure submission in a deliberate form are generally best, as they tend most effectually to prevent the recurrence of such acts in future.

4. As a symbol of parental reprobation of crime, when committed by the child, the rod is often most efficient in its influence in preventing the future recurrence of such acts. To use the rod in anger is one thing. To use it deliberately as a symbol of deep reprobation of the guilt of wrong-doing in the child is quite another. Here its use is often indispensable.

5. The feelings of the child towards the parent when the rod has been properly and effectually applied, shows its perfect adaptation to the laws of human nature, in childhood. The moment self-government or voluntary obedience to authority has been secured, under its influence, do the warmest and strongest affections of the child spontaneously flow out towards the parent. This is a known universal fact, a fact most undeniably indicating the adaptation of the influence exerted on the nature of the child. "I am happy now," said a little child, as it looked up with the sweetest affection into its mother's face. "What makes you happy, my child?" "Because I have been whipped." What must we think of a philosophy that would hold up the use of the rod in-inducing self-government in that child, the very end for which it had been effectually used, as a violation of its nature.

Of course, the rod should be used sparingly, and never in anger. And when used, there must be no sparing till the end is fully accomplished.

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By John Wesley.

"Train up a child in the way wherein he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it." Prov. 22: 6.

What is "the way wherein a child should go?" and how shall we "train him up" therein? The ground of this is admirably well laid by Mr. Law, in his "Serious Call to a Devout Life." Part of his words are,—

"Had we continued perfect as God created the first man, perhaps the perfection of our nature had been a sufficient self-instructor for every one. But as sickness and diseases have created the necessity of medicines and physicians, so the disorders of our rational nature have introduced the necessity of education and tutors.

"And as the only end of a physician is, to restore nature to its own state, so the only end of education is, to restore our rational nature to its proper state. Education, therefore, is to be considered as reason borrowed as second-hand, which is, as far as it can, to supply the loss of original perfection. And as physic may justly be called the art of restoring health, so education should be considered in no other light, than as the art of recovering to man his rational perfection.

"This was the end pursued by the youths that attended upon Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. Their every-day lessons and instructions were so many lectures upon the nature of man, his true end, and the right use of his faculties; upon the immortality of the soul, its relation to God; the agreeableness of virtue to the divine nature; upon the necessity of temperance, justice, mercy, and truth; and the folly of indulging our passions.

"Now, as Christianity has, as it were, new created the moral and religious world, and set everything that is reasonable, wise, holy, and desirable in its true point of light; so one would expect the education of children should be as much mended by Christianity, as the doctrines of religion are.

"As it has introduced a new state of things, and so fully informed us of the nature of man, and the end of his creation; as it has fixed all our goods and evils, taught us the means of purifying our souls, of pleasing God, and being happy eternally; one might naturally suppose that every Christian country abounded with schools, not only for teaching a few questions and answers of a catechism, but for the forming, training, and practicing children in such a course of life as the sublimest doctrines of Christianity require.

"And education under Pythagoras or Socrates had no other end, but to teach children to think and act as Pythagoras and Socrates did.

"And is it not reasonable to suppose that a Christian education should have no other end but to teach them how to think, and judge, and act according to the strictest rules of Christianity?

"At least one would suppose, that in all Christian schools, the teaching them to begin their lives in the spirit of Christianity,—in such abstinence, humility, sobriety, and devotion as Christianity requires,—should not only be more, but a hundred times more, regarded that nay or all things else.

"For those that educate us should imitate our guardian angels; suggest nothing to our minds but what is wise and holy; help us to discover every false judgment of our minds, and to subdue every wrong passion in our hearts.

"And it is as reasonable to expect and require all this benefit from a Christian education, as to require that physic should strengthen all that is right in our nature, and remove all our diseases."

Let it be carefully remembered all this time, that God, not man, is the physician of souls; that it is He, and none else, who giveth medicine to heal our natural sickness; that all "the help which is done upon earth, he doeth it himself;" that none of all the children of men is able to "bring a clean thing our of an unclean;" and, in a word, that "it is God who worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure." But is generally his pleasure to work by his creatures; to help man by man. He honours men to be, in a sense, "workers together with him." By this means the reward is ours, while the glory redounds to him.

. . . .

To come to particulars. What can parents do, and mothers more especially, to whose care our children are necessarily committed in their tender years, with regard to the Atheism that is natural to all the children of men? How is this fed by the generality of parents, even those that love, or at least fear, God; while, in spending hours, perhaps days, with their children, they hardly name the name of God! Meantime, they talk of a thousand other things in the world that is round about them. Will not then the things of the present world, which surround these children on every side, naturally take up their thoughts, and set God at a greater distance from them (if that be possible) than he was before? Do not parents feed the atheism of their children farther, by ascribing the works of creation to nature? Does not the common way of talking about nature leave God quite out of the question? Do they not feed this disease, whenever they talk in the hearing of their children, of anything happening so or so? Of things coming by chance? Of good or ill fortune? As also when they ascribe this or that event to the wisdom or power of men; or, indeed, to any other second causes, as if these governed the world? Yea, do they not feed it unawares, while they are talking of their own wisdom, or goodness, or power to do this or that, without expressly mentioning, that all these are the gift of God? All this tends to confirm the Atheism of their children, and to keep God out of their thoughts.

But we are by no means clear of their blood, if we only go thus far, if we barely do not feed their disease. What can be done to cure it? From the first dawn of reason continually inculcate, God is in this and every place. God made you, and me, and the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and everything. And everything is his; heaven, and earth, and all that is therein. God orders all things: he makes the sun shine, and the wind blow, and the trees bear fruit. Nothing comes by chance; that is a silly word; there is no such thing as chance. As God made the world, so he governs the world, and everything that is in it. Not so much as a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of God. And as he governs all things, so he governs all men, good and bad, little and great. He gives them all the power and wisdom they have. And he over-rules all. He gives us all the goodness we have; every good thought, and word, and work, are from him. Without him we can neither think anything right, or do anything right. Thus it is, we are to inculcate upon them, that God is all in all.

Thus may we counteract, and, by the grace of God assisting us, gradually cure, the natural Atheism of our children. But what can we do to cure their self-will? It is equally rooted in their nature, and is, indeed, the original idolatry, which is not confined to one age or country, but is common to all the nations under heaven. And how few parents are to be found even among Christians, even among them that truly fear God, who are not guilty in this matter! Who do not continually feed and increase this grievous distemper in their children! To let them have their own will, does this most effectually. To let them take their own way, is the sure method of increasing their self-will sevenfold. But who has the resolution to do otherwise? One parent in a hundred! Who can be so singular, so cruel, as not, more or less, to humour her child? "And why should you not? What harm can there be in this, which everybody does?" The harm is, that it strengthens their will more and more, till it will neither bow to God nor man. To humour children is, as far as in us lies, to make their disease incurable. A wise parent, on the other hand, should begin to break their will the first moment it appears. In the whole art of Christian education there is nothing more important than this. The will of the parent is to a little child in the place of the will of God. Therefore studiously teach them to submit to this while they are children, that they may be ready to submit to his will when they are men. But in order to carry this point, you will need incredible firmness and resolution; for after you have once begun, you must never more give way. You must hold on still in an even course; you must never intermit your attention for one hour; otherwise you lose your labour.

If you are not willing to lose all the labour you have been at, to break the will of your child, to bring his will into subjection to yours, that it may be afterward subject to the will of God, there is one advice which, though little known, should be particularly attended to. It may seem a small circumstance; but it is of more consequence than one can easily imagine. It is this: Never, on any account, give a child anything that it cries for. For it is a true observation, (and you may make the experiment as often as you please,) if you give a child what he cries for you pay him for crying; and then he will certainly cry again. "But if I do not give it to him when he cries, he will scream all day long." If he does it it is your own fault; for it is in your power effectually to prevent it: For no mother need suffer a child to cry aloud after it is a year old. "Why, it is impossible to hinder it." So many suppose, but it is an entire mistake. I am a witness of the direct contrary; and so are many others. My own mother had ten children, each of whom had spirit enough; yet not one of them was ever heard to cry aloud after it was a year old. A gentlewoman of Sheffield (several of whose children I suppose are alive still) assured me she had the same success with regard to her eight children. When some were objecting to the possibility of this, Mr. Parson Greenwood (well-known in the north of England) replied, "This cannot be impossible: I have had the proof of it in my own family. Nay, of more than this. I had six children by my former wife; and she suffered none of them to cry aloud after they were ten months old. And yet none of their spirits were so broken, as to unfit them for any of the offices of life." This, therefore, may be done by any woman of sense, who may thereby save herself abundance of trouble, and prevent that disagreeable noise, the squalling of young children, from being heard under her roof. But I allow, none but a woman of sense will be able to effect this; yea, and a woman of such patience and resolution as only the grace of God can give. However, this is doubtless the more excellent way: and she that is able to receive it, let her receive it!

. . . .

If you desire without loss of time to strike at the root of their pride, teach your children as soon as possibly you can that they are fallen spirits; that they are fallen short of that glorious image of God wherein they were at first created; that they are not now, as they were once, incorruptible pictures of the God of glory; bearing the express likeness of the wise, the good, the holy Father of spirits; but more ignorant, more foolish, and more wicked, than they can possibly conceive. Show them that in pride, passion, and revenge, they are now like the devil. And that in foolish desires and grovelling appetites they are like the beasts of the field. Watch over them diligently in this respect, that whenever occasion offers you may "pride in its earliest motions find," and check the very first appearance of it.

If you ask, "But how shall I encourage them when they do well, if I am never to commend them?" I answer, I did not affirm this. I did not say, "You are never to commend them." I know many writers assert this, and writers of eminent piety. They say, to commend man is to rob God, and therefore condemn it altogether. But what say the scriptures? I read there that our Lord himself frequently commended his own disciples; and the great Apostle scruples not to commend the Corinthians, Philippians, and divers others to whom he writes. We may not therefore condemn this altogether. But I say, use it exceeding sparingly. And when you use it let it be with the utmost caution, directing them at the same moment to look upon all they have as the free gift of God, and with the deepest self-abasement to say, "Not unto us! Not unto us! But unto thy name give the praise!"

19. Next to self-will and pride, the most fatal disease is "love of the world." But how studiously do the generality of parents cherish this in its several branches! They cherish "the desire of the flesh," that is, the tendency to seek happiness in pleasing the outward senses, by studying to enlarge the pleasure of tasting in their children to the uttermost; not only giving them before they are weaned other things beside milk, the natural food of children; but giving them, both before and after, any sort of meat or drink that they will take. Yea, they entice them, long before nature requires it, to take wine or strong drink; and provide them with comfits, gingerbread, raisins, and whatever fruit they have a mind to. They feed in them "the desire of the eyes," the propensity to seek happiness in pleasing the imagination, by giving them pretty playthings, glittering toys, shining buckles or buttons, fine clothes, red shoes, laced hats, needless ornaments, as ribbons, necklaces, ruffles; yea, and by proposing any of these as rewards for doing their duty, which is stamping a great value upon them. With equal care and attention they cherish in them the Third branch of the love of the world, "the pride of life;" the propensity to seek their happiness in "the honour that cometh of men." Nor is the love of money forgotten; many an exhortation do they hear on securing the main chance; many a lecture, exactly agreeing with that of the old Heathen, _____ "Get money, honestly if you can; but if not, get money." And they are carefully taught to look on riches and honour as the reward of all their labours.

In direct opposition to all this, a wise and truly kind parent will take the utmost care, not to cherish in her children the desire of the flesh; their natural propensity to seek happiness in gratifying the outward senses. With this view she will suffer them to taste no food but milk, till they are weaned; which a thousand experiments show is most safely and easily done at the end of the seventh month. And then accustom them to the most simple food, chiefly of vegetables. She may inure them to taste only one kind of food, beside bread, at dinner . . . She may use them to sit by her at meals; and ask for nothing, but take what is given them. She need never, till they are at least nine or ten years old, let them know the taste of tea; or use any other drink at meals but water or small beer. And they will never desire to taste either meat or drink between meals, if not accustomed thereto. If fruit, comfits, or anything of the kind be given them, let them not touch it but at meals. And never propose any of these as a reward; but teach them to look higher than this.

But herein a difficulty will arise; which it will need much resolution to conquer. Your servants, who will not understand your plan, will be continually giving little things to your children, and thereby undoing all your work. This you must prevent, if possible, by warning them when they first come into your house, and repeating the warning from time to time. If they will do it notwithstanding, you must turn them away. Better lose a good servant than spoil a good child.

Possibly you may have another difficulty to encounter, and one of a still more trying nature. Your mother or your husband's mother, may live with you; and you will do well to show her all possible respect. But let her on no account have the least share in the management of your children. She would undo all that you had done; she would give them their own will in all things. She would humour them to the destruction of their souls, if not of their bodies too. In fourscore years I have not met with one woman that knew how to manage grandchildren. My own mother, who governed her children so well, could never govern one grandchild. In every other point obey your mother. Give up your will to hers. But with regard to the management of your children, steadily keep the reins in your own hands.

A wise and kind parent will be equally cautious of feeding "the desire of the eyes" in her children. She will give them no pretty playthings, no glittering toys, shining buckles or buttons, fine or gay clothes; no needless ornaments of any kind; nothing that can attract the eye. Nor will she suffer any other person to give them what she will not give them herself. Anything of the kind that is offered may be either civilly refused, or received and laid by. If they are dis- pleased at this, you cannot help it. Complaisance, yea, and temporal interest, must needs be set aside when the eternal interest of your children is at stake.

Your pains will be well requited, if you can inspire them early with a contempt of all finery; and, on the other hand, with a love and esteem for neat plainness of dress: Teaching them to associate the ideas of plainness and modesty; and those of a fine and a loose woman. Likewise, instill into them, as early as possible, a fear and contempt of pomp and grandeur; an abhorrence and dread of the love of money; and a deep conviction; that riches cannot give happiness. Wean them therefore from all these false ends; habituate them to make God their end in all things; and inure them, in all they do, to aim at knowing, loving, and serving God. . . .

The generality of parents feed and increase the natural falsehood of their children. How often may we hear that senseless word, "No, it was not you; it was not my child that did it; say, it was the cat." What amazing folly is this! Do you feel no remorse, while you are putting a lie in the mouth of your child, before it can speak plain? And do not you think, it will make good proficiency when it comes to years of discretion? Others teach them both dissimulation and lying, by their unreasonable severity; and yet others, by admiring and applauding their ingenious lies and cunning tricks. Let the wise parent, on the contrary, teach them to "put away all lying," and both in little things and great, in jest or earnest, speak the very truth from their heart. Teach them that the author of all falsehood is the devil, who "is a liar and the father of it." Teach them to abhor and despise, not only all lying, but all equivocating, all cunning and dissimulation. Use every means to give them a love of truth,—of veracity, sincerity, and simplicity, and of openness both of spirit and behaviour.

Most parents increase the natural tendency to injustice in their children, by conniving at their wronging each other; if not laughing at, or even applaud- ing, their witty contrivances to cheat one another. Beware of everything of this kind; and from their very infancy sow the seeds of justice in their hearts, and train them up in the exactest practice of it. If possible, teach them the love of justice, and that in the least things as well as the greatest. Impress upon their mind the old proverb: "He that will steal a penny will steal a pound." Habituate them to render unto all their due, even to the uttermost farthing.

Many parents connive likewise at the ill-nature of their children, and thereby strengthen it. But truly affectionate parents will not indulge them in any kind or degree of unmercifulness. They will not suffer them to vex their brothers or sisters, either by word or deed. They will not allow them to hurt, or give pain to, anything that has life. They will not permit them to rob birds' nests; much less to kill anything without necessity,—not even snakes, which are as innocent as worms, or toads, which, notwithstanding their ugliness, and the ill name they lie under, have been proved over and over to be as harmless as flies. Let them extend in its measure the rule of doing as they would be done by, to every animal whatsoever. Ye that are truly kind parents, in the morning, in the evening, and all the day beside, press upon all your children, "to walk in love, as Christ also loved us, and gave himself for us;" to mind that one point, "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him."

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By John Wesley.

"Children, obey your parents in all things." Col. 3:20

1. IT has been a subject of controversy for many years, whether there are any innate principles in the mind of man. But it is allowed on all hands, if there be any practical principles naturally unplanted in the soul, that "we ought to honour our parents," will claim this character almost before any other. It is enumerated among those universal principles by the most ancient authors and is undoubtedly found even among savages in the most barbarous nations. We may trace it through all the extent of Europe and Asia, through the wilds of Africa, and the forests of America. And it is not less, but more observable in the most civilized nations. So it was first in the eastern parts of the world, which were for so many ages the seat of empire, of learning and politeness, as well as of religion. So it was afterwards in all the Grecian states, and throughout the whole Roman Empire. In this respect, it is plain, they that "have not the" written "law, are a law unto themselves," showing "the work," the substance, "of the law" to be "written in their hearts."

2. And wherever God has revealed his will to man, this law has been a part of that revelation. It has been herein opened afresh, considerably enlarged, and enforced in the strongest manner. In the Jewish revelation, the notorious breakers thereof were punishable with death. And this was one of the laws which our blessed Lord did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Accordingly he severely reproved the Scribes and Pharisees for making it void through their traditions; clearly showing that the obligation thereof extended to all ages. It is the substance of this which St. Paul delivers to the Ephesians: (Eph. 6:1:) "Children, obey your parents in the Lord;" and again in those words to the Colossians, "Children, obey your parents in all things." [Col. 3:20]

3. It is observable, that the Apostle enforces this duty by a threefold encouragement: First. To the Ephesians he adds, "For this is right:" It is an instance of justice as well as mercy. It is no more than their due: it is what we owe to them for the very being which we have received from them. Secondly. "This is acceptable to the Lord;" it is peculiarly pleasing to the great Father of men and angels that we should pay honour and obedience to the fathers of our flesh. Thirdly. It is "the first commandment with promise;" the first to the performance whereof a peculiar promise is annexed: "that it may be well with thee, and that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." This promise has been generally understood to include health and temporal blessings, as well as long life. And we have seen innumerable proofs, that it belongs to the Christian as well as the Jewish dispensation: Many remarkable instances of its accomplishment occur even at this day.

But what is the meaning of these words, "Children, obey your parents in all things?" I will endeavour, by the assistance of God, First, to explain, and, Then to apply them.

I. 1. First. I will endeavour to explain these words; and the rather, because so few people seem to understand them. Look round into the world, not the heathen but the Christian world, nay, the Reformed part of it; look among those that have the Scriptures in their own tongue; and who is there that appears even to have heard of this? Here and there a child obeys the parent out of fear, or perhaps out of natural affection. But how many children can you find that obey their fathers and mothers out of a sense of duty to God? And how many parents can you find that duly inculcate this duty upon their child- ren? I doubt, a vast majority both of parents and children are totally ignorant of the whole affair. For the sake of these I will make it as plain as I can: But still I am thoroughly sensible, those that are not willing to be convinced will no more understand what I say than if I was talking Greek or Hebrew.

2. You will easily observe, that by parents the Apostle means both fathers and mothers, as he refers us to the Fifth Commandment, which names both the one and the other. And, however human laws may vary herein, the law of God makes no difference; but lays us under the same obligation of obeying both the one and the other.

. . . .

5. But what is implied in, "Children, obey your parents in all things?" Certainly the First point of obedience is to do nothing which your father or mother forbids, whether it be great or small. Nothing is more plain than that the prohibition of a parent binds every conscientious child; that is, except the thing prohibited is clearly enjoined of God. Nor indeed is this all; the matter may be carried a little farther still: A tender parent may totally disapprove what he does not care flatly to forbid. What is the duty of a child in this case? How far is that disapprobation to be regarded? Whether it be equivalent to a prohibition or not, a person who would have a conscience void of offence should undoubtedly keep on the safe side, and avoid what may perhaps be evil. It is surely the more excellent way, to do nothing which you know your parents disapprove. To act otherwise seems to imply a degree of disobedience, which one of a tender conscience would wish to avoid.

6. The Second thing implied in this direction is, Do every thing which your father or mother bids, be it great or small, provided it be not contrary to any command of God. Herein God has given a power to parents, which even sovereign princes have not. The King of England, for instance, is a sovereign prince; yet he has not power to bid me do the least thing, unless the law of the land requires me so to do; for he has no power but to execute the law. The will of the king is no law to the subject. But the will of the parent is a law to the child, who is bound in conscience to submit thereto unless it be contrary to the law of God.

7. It is with admirable wisdom that the Father of spirits has given this direction, that as the strength of the parents supplies the want of strength, and the understanding of the parents the want of understanding, in their children, till they have strength and understanding of their own; so the will of the parents may [should] guide that of their children till they have wisdom and experience to guide themselves. This, therefore, is the very first thing which children have to learn,—that they are to obey their parents, to submit to their will, in all things. And this they may be inured to, long before they understand the reason of it; and, indeed, long before they are capable of understanding any of the principles of religion. Accordingly, St. Paul directs all parents to bring up their children "in the discipline and doctrine of the Lord." For their will may be broken by proper discipline, even in their early infancy; whereas it must be a considerable time after, before they are capable of instruction. This, therefore, is the first point of all: Bow down their wills from the very first dawn of reason; and, by habituating them to submit to your will, prepare them for submitting to the will of their Father which is in heaven.

8. But how few children do we find, even of six or eight years old, that understand anything of this! Indeed, how should they understand it, seeing they have none to teach them? Are not their parents, father as well as mother, full as ignorant of the matter as themselves? Whom do you find, even among religious people, that have the least conception of it? Have not you seen the proof of it with your own eyes? Have not you been present when a father or mother has said, "My child, do so or so?" The child, without any ceremony, answered peremptorily, "I won't." And the parent quietly passes it by, without any further notice. And does he or she not see, that, by this cruel indulgence, they are training up their child, by flat rebellion against their parents, to rebellion against God? Consequently they are training him up for the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! Did they duly consider this they would neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, till they had taught him a better lesson, and made him thoroughly afraid of ever giving that diabolical answer again.

9. Let me reason this case a little farther with you parents that fear God. If you do fear God, how dare you suffer a child above a year old to say, "I will do" what you forbid, or, "I won't do" what you bid, and to go unpunished? Why do not you stop him at once, that he may never dare to say so again? Have you no bowels, no compassion for your child? No regard for his salvation or destruction? Would you suffer him to curse or swear in your presence, and take no notice of it? Why, disobedience is as certain a way to damnation as cursing and swearing. Stop him, stop him at first, in the name of God. Do not "spare the rod, and spoil the child." If you have not the heart of a tiger, do not give up your child to his own will, that is, to the devil. Though it be pain to yourself, yet pluck your offspring out of the lion's teeth. Make them submit, that they may not perish. Break their will, that you may save their soul.

10. I cannot tell how to enforce this point sufficiently. To fix it upon your minds more strongly, permit me to add part of a letter on the subject, printed some years ago:—

"In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will. To inform their understanding is a work of time, and must proceed by slow degrees; but the subjecting the will is a thing which must be done at once; and the sooner the better. For by our neglecting timely correction they contract a stubbornness which is hardly ever to be conquered, and never without using that severity which would be as painful to us as to the children. Therefore, I call those cruel parents who pass for kind and indulgent; who permit their children to contract habits which they know must be afterwards broken.

"I insist upon conquering the wills of children betimes; because this is the only foundation for a religious education. When this is thoroughly done, then a child is capable of being governed by the reason of its parent, till its own understanding comes to maturity.

"I cannot yet dismiss this subject. As self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes this in children, ensures their after-wretchedness and irreligion; and whatever checks and mortifies it, promotes their future hap- piness and piety. This is still more evident if we consider that religion is nothing else but the doing the will of God, and not our own; and that self-will being the grand impediment to our temporal and eternal happiness, no indulg- ence of it can be trivial; no denial of it unprofitable. Heaven or hell depends on this alone. So that the parent who studies to subdue it in his children, works together with God in the saving of a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil's work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable; and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body, for ever!

"This, therefore, I cannot but earnestly repeat,—break their wills betimes; begin this great work before they can run alone, before they can speak plain, or perhaps speak at all. Whatever pains it cost, conquer their stubbornness: break the will, if you would not damn the child. I conjure you not to neglect, not to delay this! Therefore, (1.) Let a child, from a year old, be taught to fear the rod and to cry softly. In order to this, (2.) Let him have nothing he cries for; absolutely nothing, great or small; else you undo your own work. (3.) At all events, from that age, make him do as he is bid, if you whip him ten times running to effect it. Let none persuade you it is cruelty to do this; it is cruelty not to do it. Break his will now, and his soul will live, and he will probably bless you to all eternity.

11. On the contrary, how dreadful are the consequences of that accursed kindness which gives children their own wills, and does not bow down their necks from their infancy! It is chiefly owing to this, that so many religious parents bring up children that have no religion at all; children that, when they are grown up, have no regard for them, perhaps set them at nought, and are ready to pick out their eyes! Why is this, but because their wills were not broken at first?—because they were not inured from their early infancy to obey their parents in all things, and to submit to their wills as to the will of God?—because they were not taught from the very first dawn of reason, that the will of their parents was, to them, the will of God; that to resist it was rebellion against God, and an inlet to all ungodliness?

II. 1. This may suffice for the explication of the text: I proceed to the application of it. And permit me, First, to apply to you that are parents, and, as such concerned to teach your children. Do you know these things yourselves? Are you thoroughly convinced of these important truths? Have you laid them to heart? and have you put them in practice, with regard to your own children? Have you inured them to discipline, before they were capable of instruction? Have you broken their wills from their earliest infancy; and do you still continue so to do, in opposition both to nature and custom? Did you explain to them, as soon as their understanding began to open, the reasons of your proceeding thus? Did you point out to them the will of God as the sole law of every intelligent creature; and show them it is the will of God that they should obey you in all things? Do you inculcate this over and over again till they perfectly comprehend it? O never be weary of this labour of love! and your labour will not always be in vain.

2. At least, do not teach them to disobey, by rewarding them for disobedience. Remember! you do this every time you give them anything because they cry for it. And herein they are apt scholars: If you reward them for crying, they will certainly cry again. So that there is no end, unless you make it a sacred rule, to give them nothing which they cry for. And the shortest way to do this is, never suffer them to cry aloud. Train them up to obedience in this one instance, and you will easily bring them to obey in others. Why should you not begin to-day? Surely you see what is the most excellent way; best for your child, and best for your own soul. Why then do you disobey? Because you are a coward; because you want resolution. And doubtless it requires [no small resolution to begin and persist herein. It certainly requires] no small patience, more than nature ever gave. But the grace of God is sufficient for you; you can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth you. This grace is sufficient to give you diligence, as well as resolution; otherwise laziness will be as great a hindrance as cowardice. For without much pains you cannot conquer: Nothing can be done with a slack hand; labour on; never tire, lay line upon line, till patience has its perfect work.

3. But there is another hindrance that is full as hard to be conquered as either laziness or cowardice. It is called fondness, and is usually mistaken for love: But, O, how widely different from it! It is real hate; and hate of the most mischievous kind, tending to destroy both body and soul in hell! O give not way to it any longer, no, not for a moment. Fight against it with your might! for the love of God; for the love of your children; for the love of your own soul!

4. I have one word more to say to parents; to mothers in particular. If, in spite of all the Apostle can say, you encourage your children by your example to "adorn" themselves "with gold, or pearls, or costly apparel," you and they must drop into the pit together. But if they do it, though you set them a better example, still it is yours, as well as their fault; for if you did not put any ornament on your little child that you would not wear yourself, (which would be utter distraction, and far more inexcusable than putting it on your own arms or head), yet you did not inure them to obey you from their infancy, and teach them the duty of it, from at least two years old. Otherwise, they would not have dared to do anything, great or small, contrary to your will. Whenever, therefore, I see the fine-dressed daughter of a plain-dressed mother, I see at once the mother is defective either in knowledge or religion. Either she is ig- norant of her own or her child's duty, or she has not practised what she knows.

5. I cannot dismiss this subject yet. I am pained continually at seeing religious parents suffer their children to run into the same folly of dress, as if they had no religion at all. In God's name, why do you suffer them to vary a hair's breadth from your example? "Why, they will do it?" They will! Whose fault is that? Why did not you break their will from their infancy? At least do it now; better late than never. It should have been done before they were two years old: It may be done at eight or ten, though with far more difficulty. However, do it now; and accept that difficulty as the just reward for your past neglect. Now, at least carry your point, whatever it costs. Be not mealy-mouthed; say not, like foolish Eli, "Nay, my children, it is no good report which I hear of you," instead of restraining them with a strong hand; but speak (though as calmly as possible, yet) firmly and peremptorily, "I will have it so;" and do as you say. Instill diligently into them the love of plain dress, and hatred of finery. Show them the reason of your own plainness of dress, and show it is equally reasonable for them. Bid defiance to indolence, to cowardice, to foolish fondness, and at all events carry your point; if you love their souls, make and keep them just as plain as yourselves. And I charge you, grandmothers before God, do not hinder your daughters herein. Do not dare to give the child anything which the mother denies. Never take the part of the children against their parent; never blame her before them. If you do not strengthen her authority, as you ought to do, at least do not weaken it; but if you have either sense or piety left, help her on in the work of real kindness.

6. Permit me now to apply myself to you, children; particularly you that are the children of religious parents. Indeed if you have no fear of God before your eyes, I have no concern with you at present; but if you have, if you really fear God, and have a desire to please him, you desire to understand all his commandments, the fifth in particular. Did you ever understand it yet? Do you now understand what is your duty to your father and mother? Do you know, at least do you consider, that by the divine appointment their will is law to you? Have you ever considered the extent of that obedience to your parents which God requires? "Children, obey your parents in all things." No exception, but of things unlawful. Have you practised your duty in this extent? Did you ever so much as intend it?

7. Deal faithfully with your own souls. Is your conscience now clear in this matter? Do you do nothing which you know to be contrary to the will either of your father or mother? Do you never do anything (though ever so much inclined to it) which he or she forbids? Do you abstain from everything which they dislike, as far as you can in conscience? On the other hand, are you careful to do whatever a parent bids? Do you study and contrive how to please them, to make their lives as easy and pleasant as you can? Whoever you are that add this to your general care to please God in all things, blessed art thou of the Lord! "Thy days shall be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."

8. But as for you who are little concerned about this matter, who do not make it a point of conscience to obey your parents in all things, but sometimes obey them, as it happens, and sometimes not; who frequently do what they forbid or disapprove, and neglect what they bid you do; suppose you awake out of sleep, that you begin to feel yourself a sinner, and begin to cry to God for mercy, is it any wonder that you find no answer, while you are under the guilt of unrepented sin? How can you expect mercy from God till you obey your parents? But suppose you have, by an uncommon miracle of mercy, tasted of the pardoning love of God, can it be expected, although you hunger and thirst after righteousness, after the perfect love of God, that you should ever attain it, ever be satisfied therewith, while you live in outward sin, in the willful transgression of a known law of God, in disobedience to your parents? Is it not rather a wonder, that he has not withdrawn his Holy Spirit from you? that he still continues to strive with you, though you continually grieve his Spirit? O grieve him no more! By the grace of God, obey them in all things from this moment! As soon as you come home, as soon as you set foot within the door, begin an entirely new course! Look upon your father and mother with new eyes; see them as representing your Father which is in heaven: Endeavour, study, rejoice to please, to help, to obey them in all things: Behave not barely as their child, but as their servant for Christ's sake. O how will you then love one another! In a manner unknown before. God will bless you to them, and them to you: All around will feel that God is with you of a truth. Many shall see it and praise God; and the fruit of it will remain when both you and they are lodged in Abraham's bosom.

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Part III.


By John Wesley.

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Josh. 24:15.

1. IN the foregoing verses we read that Joshua, now grown old, "gathered the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, for their heads, for their judges and officers; and they presented themselves before the Lord." (Josh. 15:1.) And Joshua rehearsed to them the great things which God had done for their fathers; (Josh. 15:2-13;) concluding with that strong exhortation: "Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side the flood, (Jordan,) and in Egypt." (Josh. 15:14.) Can anything be more astonishing than this? that even in Egypt, yea, and in the wilderness, where they were daily fed, and both day and night guided by miracle, the Israelites, in general, should worship idols, in flat defiance of the Lord their God! He proceeds: "If it seemeth evil to you to serve the Lord, choose ye this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods your fathers served on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell: But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

2. A resolution this worthy of a hoary-headed saint, who had had large experience, from his youth up, of the goodness of the Master to whom he had devoted himself, and the advantages of his service. How much is it to be wished that all who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, all whom he has brought out of the land of Egypt, out of the bondage of sin,—those especially who are united together in Christian fellowship,—would adopt this wise resolution! Then would the work of the Lord prosper in our land; then would his word run and be glorified. Then would multitudes of sinners in every place stretch out their hands unto God, until "the glory of the Lord covered the land, as the waters cover the sea."

3. On the contrary, what will the consequence be, if they do not adopt this resolution?—if family religion be neglected?—if care be not taken of the rising generation? Will not the present revival of religion in a short time die away? Will it not be as the historian speaks of the Roman state in its infancy,—res unius aetatis?—"an event that has its beginning and end within the space of one generation?" Will it not be a confirmation of that melancholy remark of Luther's, that "a revival of religion never lasts longer than one generation?" By a generation, (as he explains himself,) he means thirty years. But, blessed be God, this remark does not hold with regard to the present instance; seeing this revival, from its rise in the year 1729, has already lasted above fifty years.

4. Have we not already seen some of the unhappy consequences of good men not adopting this resolution? Is there not a generation arisen, even within this period, yea, and from pious parents, that know not the Lord? that have neither his love in their hearts, nor his fear before their eyes? How many of them already "despise their fathers, and mock at the counsel of their mothers!" How many are utter strangers to real religion, to the life and power of it! And not a few have shaken off all religion, and abandoned themselves to all manner of wickedness! Now, although this may sometimes be the case, even of children educated in a pious manner, yet this case is very rare: I have met with some, but not many, instances of it. The wickedness of the children is generally owing to the fault or neglect of their parents. For it is a general, though not universal rule, though it admits of some exceptions, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

5. But what is the purport of this resolution, "I and my house will serve the Lord?" In order to understand and practice this, let us, First, inquire, what it is to "serve the Lord." Secondly, Who are included in that expression, "my house." And, Thirdly, What can we do, that we and our house may serve the Lord.

I. We may inquire, First, what it is to "serve the Lord," not as a Jew, but as a Christian; not only with an outward service, (though some of the Jews undoubtedly went farther than this,) but with inward, with the service of the heart, "worshipping him in spirit in truth."

1. The First thing implied in this service is faith; believing in the name of the Son of God. We cannot perform an acceptable service to God, till we believe on Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. Here the spiritual worship of God begins. As soon as any had the witness in himself; as soon as he can say, "The life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me;" he is able truly to "serve the Lord."

2. As soon as he believes, he loves God, which is another thing implied in "serving the Lord." "We love him because he first loved us;" of which faith is the evidence. The love of a pardoning God is "shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Indeed this love may admit of a thousand degrees: But still every one, as long as he believes, may truly declare before God, "Lord, thou knowest that I love thee." Thou knowest that my desire is unto thee, and unto the remembrance of thy name."

3. And if any man truly love God, he cannot but love his brother also. Gratitude to our Creator will surely produce benevolence to our fellow-creatures. If we love Him, we cannot but love one another, as Christ loved us. We feel our souls enlarged in love toward every child of man. And toward all the children of God we put on "bowels of kindness, gentleness, longsuffering, forgiving one another," if we have a complaint against any, "even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven us."

4. One thing more is implied in "serving the Lord," namely, the obeying him; the steadily walking in all his ways, the doing his will from the heart. Like those, "his servants" above, "who do his pleasure, who keep his command- ments, carefully avoid whatever he has forbidden, and zealously do whatever he has enjoined; studying always to have conscience void of offense toward God and toward man.

II. "I and my house will serve the Lord," will every real Christian say.

But who are included in that expression, "my house?"

This is the next point to be considered.

1. The person in your house that claims your first and nearest attention, is, undoubtedly, your wife; seeing you are to love her, even as Christ hath loved the Church, when he laid down his life for it, that he might "purify it unto himself, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." The same end is every husband to pursue, in all his intercourse with his wife; to use every possible means that she may be freed from every spot, and may walk unblamable in love.

2. Next to your wife are your children; immortal spirits whom God hath, for a time, entrusted to your care, that you may train them up in all holiness, and fit them for the enjoyment of God in eternity. This is a glorious and important trust; seeing a soul is of more value than all the world beside. Every child, therefore, you are to watch over with the utmost care, that, when you are called to give an account of each to the Father of Spirits, you may give your accounts with joy and not with grief.

3. Your servants, of whatever kind, you are to look upon as a kind of secondary children: These, likewise, God has committed to your charge, as one that must give account. For every one under your roof that has a soul to be saved is under your care; not only intended servants, who are legally engaged to remain with you for a term of years; not only hired servants, whether they voluntarily contract for a longer of shorter time; but also those who serve you by the week of day: For these too are, in a measure, delivered into you hands. And it is not the will of your Master who is in heaven, that any of these should go out of your hands before they have received from you something more valuable than gold or silver. Yea, and you are in a degree accountable even for "the stranger that is within your gates." As you are particularly required to see that he does "no manner of work" on the Lord's day, while he is within your gates; so, by parity of reason, you are required to do all that is in your power to prevent his sinning against God in any other instance.

Let us inquire, in the Third place,

III. What can we do that all these may "serve the Lord?"

1. May we not endeavour, First, to restrain them from all outward sin; from profane swearing; from taking the name of God in vain; from doing any needless work, or taking any pastime, on the Lord's day? This labour of love you owe even to your visitants; much more to your wife, children, and servants. The former, over whom you have the least influence, you may restrain by argument or mild persuasion. If you find that, after repeated trials, they will not yield either to one or the other, it is your bounden duty to set ceremony aside, and to dismiss them from your house. Servants also, whether by the day, or for a longer space, if you cannot reclaim, either by reasoning added to your example, or by gentle or severe reproofs, though frequently repeated, you must, in anywise, dismiss from your family, though it should be ever so inconvenient.

2. I cannot find in the Bible that a husband has authority to strike his wife on any account, even suppose she struck him first, unless his life were in imminent danger. I never have known one instance yet of a wife that was mended thereby. I have heard, indeed, of some such instances; but as I did not see them, I do not believe them. It seems to me, all that can be done in this case is to be done partly by example, partly by argument of persuasion, each applied in such a manner as is dictated by Christian prudence. If evil can ever be overcome, it must be overcome by good. It cannot be overcome by evil: We cannot beat the devil with his own weapons. Therefore, if this evil cannot be overcome by good, we are called to suffer it. We are then called to say, "This is the cross which God hath chosen for me. He surely permits it for wise ends; `let him do what seemeth him good.' Whenever he sees it to be best, he will remove this cup from me." Meanwhile continue in earnest prayer, knowing that with God no word is impossible; and that he will either in due time take the temptation away, or make it a blessing to your soul.

3. Your children, while they are young, you may restrain from evil, not only by advice, persuasion, and reproof, but also by correction; only remembering, that this means is to be used last,—not till all other have been tried, and found to be ineffectual. And even then you should take the utmost care to avoid the very appearance of passion. Whatever is done should be done with mildness; nay, indeed, with kindness too. Otherwise your own spirit will suffer loss, and the child will reap little advantage.

4. But some will tell you, "All this is lost labour: A child need not be cor- rected at all. Instruction, persuasion, and advice, will be sufficient for any child without correction; especially if gentle reproof be added, as occasion may re- quire." I answer, There may be particular instances, wherein this method may be successful. But you must not, in anywise, lay this down as an universal rule; unless you suppose yourself wiser than Solomon, or, to speak more properly wiser than God. For it is God himself, who best knoweth his own creatures, that has told us expressly, "He that spareth the rod, hateth his son: But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." (Prov. 13:24.) And upon this is grounded that plain commandment, directed to all that fear God, "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." (Prov. 19:18.)

5. May we not endeavour, Secondly, to instruct them? to take care that every person who is under our roof have all such knowledge as is necessary to salvation? to see that our wife, servants, and children be taught all those things which belong to their eternal peace? In order to this you should provide that not only your wife, but your servants also, may enjoy all the public means of instruction. On the Lord's day in particular, you should so forecast what is necessary to be done at home, that they may have an opportunity of attending all the ordinances of God. Yea, and you should take care that they have some time every day for reading, meditation, and prayer; and you should inquire whether they do actually employ that time in the exercises for which it is allowed. Neither should any day pass without family prayer, seriously and solemnly performed.

6. You should particularly endeavour to instruct your children, early, plainly, frequently, and patiently. Instruct them early, from the first hour that you perceive reason begins to dawn. Truth may then begin to shine upon the mind far earlier than we are apt to suppose. And whoever watches the first openings of the understanding, may, by little and little, supply fit matter for it to work upon, and may turn the eye of the son, toward good things, as well as toward bad or trifling ones. Whenever a child begins to speak, you may be assured reason begins to work. I know no cause why a parent should not just then begin to speak of the best things, the things of God. And from that time no opportunity should be lost, of instilling all truths as they are capable of receiving.

7. But the speaking to them early will not avail, unless you likewise speak to them plainly. Use such words as little children may understand, just such as they use themselves. Carefully observe the few ideas which they have already, and endeavour to graft what you say upon them. To take a little example: Bid the child look up; and ask. "What do you see there?" "The sun." "See, how bright it is! Feel how warm it shines upon you hand! Look, how it makes the grass green! But God, though you cannot see him, is above the sky, and is a great deal brighter than the sun! It is he, it is God that makes the grass and the flowers grow; that makes the trees green, and the fruit to come upon them! Think what he can do! He can do whatever he pleases. He can strike me or you dead in a moment! But he loves you; he loves to do you good. He loves to make you happy. Should not you then love him? And he will teach you how to love him."

8. While you are speaking in this, or some such manner, you should be continually lifting up your heart to God, beseeching him to open the eyes of their understanding, and to pour his light upon them. He, and he alone, can make them to differ herein from the beasts that perish. He alone can apply your words to their hearts; without which all your labour will be in vain. But whenever the Holy Ghost teaches, there is no delay in learning.

9. But if you would see the fruit of your labour, you must teach them not only early and plainly, but frequently too. It would be of little or no service to do it only once or twice a week. How often do you feed their bodies? Not less than three times a day. And is the soul of less value than the body? Will you not then feed this as often? If you find this a tiresome task, there is certainly something wrong in your own mind. You do not love them enough; or you do not love Him who is your Father and their Father. Humble yourself before him! Beg that he would give you more love; and love will make the labour light.

10. But it will not avail to teach them both early, plainly, and frequently, unless you persevere therein. Never leave off, never intermit your labour of love, till you see the fruit of it. But in order to this, you will find the absolute need of being endued with power from on high; without which, I am persuaded, none ever had, or will have, patience sufficient for the work. Otherwise, the inconceivable dullness of some children, and the giddiness or perverseness of others, would induce them to give up the irksome task, and let them follow their own imagination.

11. And suppose, after you have done this, after you have taught your children from their early infancy, in the plainest manner you could, omitting no opportunity, and persevering therein, you did not presently see any fruit of your labour, you must not conclude that there will be none. Possibly the "bread" which you have "cast upon the waters" may be "found after many days." The seed which has long remained in the ground may, at length, spring up into a plentiful harvest. Especially if you do not restrain prayer before God, if you continue instant herein with all supplication. Meantime, whatever the effect of this be upon others, your reward is with the Most High.

12. Many parents, on the other hand, presently see the fruit of the seed they have sown, and have the comfort of observing that their children grow in grace in the same proportion as they grow in years. Yet they have not done all. They have still upon their hands another task, sometimes of no small difficulty. Their children are now old enough to go to school. But to what school is it advisable to send them?

13. Let it be remembered, that I do not speak to the wild, giddy, thoughtless world, but to those that fear God. I ask, then, for what end do you send your children to school? "Why, that they may be fit to live in the world." In which world do you mean,—this or the next? Perhaps you thought of this world only; and had forgot that there is a world to come; yea, and one that will last for ever! Pray take this into your account, and send them to such masters as will keep it always before their eyes. Otherwise, to send them to school (permit me to speak plainly) is little better than sending them to the devil. At all events, then, send your boys, if you have any concern for their souls, not to any of the large public schools, (for they are nurseries of all manner of wickedness,) but private school, kept by some pious man, who endeavours to instruct a small number of children in religion and learning together.

14. "But what shall I so with my girls?" By no means send them to a large boarding-school. In these seminaries too the children teach one another pride, vanity, affectation, intrigue, artifice, and, in short, everything which a Christian woman ought not to learn. Suppose a girl were well inclined, yet what would she do in a crowd of children, not one of whom has any thought of saving her soul in such company? especially as their whole conversation points another way, and turns upon things which one would wish she would never think of. I never yet knew a pious, sensible woman that had been bred at a large boarding-school, who did not aver. One might as well send a young maid to be bred in Drury-Lane.

15. "But where, then, shall I send my girls?" If you cannot breed them up yourself, (as my mother did, who bred up seven daughters to years of maturity,) send them to some mistress that truly fears God; one whose life is a pattern to her scholars, and who has only so many that she can watch over each as one that must give account to God. Forty years ago I did not know such a mistress in England; but you may now find several; you may find such a mistress, and such a school, at Highgate, at Deptford, near Bristol, in Chester, or near Leeds.

16. We may suppose your sons have now been long enough at school, and you are thinking of some business for them. Before you determine anything on this head, see that your eye be single. Is it so? Is it your view to please God herein? It is well if you take him into your account! But surely, if you live or fear God yourself, this will be your first consideration,—"In what business will your son be most likely to love and serve God? In what employment will he have the greatest advantage for laying up treasure in heaven?" I have been shocked above measure in observing how little this is attended to, even by pious parents! Even these consider only how he may get most money; not how he may get most holiness! Even these, upon this glorious motive, send him to a heathen master, and into family where there is not the very form, much less the power of religion! Upon this motive they fix him in a business which will necessarily expose him to such temptations as will leave him not a probability, if a possibility, of serving God. O savage parents! unnatural, diabolical cruelty.—if you believe there is another world.

"But what shall I do?" Set God before your eyes, and do all things with a view to please him. Then you will find a master, of whatever profession, that loves, or at least fears, God; and you will find a family wherein is the form of religion, if not the power also. Your son may nevertheless serve the devil if he will; but it is probable he will not. And do not regard, if he get less money, provided he get more holiness. It is enough, though he have less of earthly goods, if he secure the possession of heaven.

17. There is one circumstance more wherein you will have great need of the wisdom from above. Your son or you daughter is now of age to marry, and desires your advice relative to it. Now you know what the world calls a good match,—one whereby much money is gained. Undoubtedly it is so, if it be true that money always brings happiness: But I doubt it is not true; money seldom brings happiness, either in this world or the world to come. Then let no man deceive you with vain words; riches and happiness seldom dwell together. Therefore, if you are wise, you will not seek riches for your children by their marriage. See that your eye be single in this also: Aim simply at the glory of God and the real happiness of your children, both in time and eternity. It is a melancholy thing to see how Christian parents rejoice in selling their son or their daughter to a wealthy Heathen! And do you seriously call this a good match? Thou fool, by parity of reason, thou mayest call hell a good lodging, and the devil a good master. O learn a better lesson from a better Master! "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," both for thyself and thy children; "and all other things shall be added unto you."

18. It is undoubtedly true, that if you are steadily determined to walk in this path; to endeavour by every possible means, that you and your house may thus serve the Lord; that every member of your family may worship him, not only in form, but in spirit and in truth; you will have need to use all the grace, all the courage, all the wisdom which God has given you; for you will find such hinderances in the way, as only the mighty power of God can enable you to break through. You will have all the saints of the world to grapple with, who will think you carry things too far. You will have all the powers of darkness against you, employing both force and fraud; and, above all, the deceitfulness of your own heart; which, if you will hearken to it, will supply you with many reasons why you should be a little more conformable to the world. But as you have begun, go on in the name of the Lord, and in the power of his might! Set the smiling and the frowning world, with the prince thereof, at defiance. Follow reason and the oracles of God; not the fashions and customs of men. "Keep thyself pure." Whatever others do, let you and your house "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour." Let you, your yoke-fellow, your children, and your servants, be all on the Lord's side; sweetly drawing together in one yoke, walking in all his commandments and ordinances, till every one of you "shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour!"

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By George Whitefield.

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

THESE words contain the holy resolution of pious Joshua, who having in a most moving, affectionate discourse recounted to the Israelites what great things God had done for them, in the verse immediately preceding the text, comes to draw a proper inference from what he had been delivering; and acquaints them, in the most pressing terms, that since God had been so exceeding gracious unto them, they could do not less, than out of gratitude for such uncommon favors and mercies, dedicate both themselves and families to his service. "Now therefore, fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth, and put away the Gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood." And by the same engaging motive does the prophet Samuel afterwards enforce their obedience to the commandments of God, 1 Sam. 12:24, "Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth, with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you." But then, that they might not excuse themselves (as too many might be apt to do) by his giving them a bad example, or think he was laying heavy burdens upon them, whilst he himself touched them not with one of his fingers, he tells them in the text, that whatever regard they might pay to the doctrine he had been preaching, yet he (as all ministers ought to do) was resolved to live up to and practice it himself: "Choose you therefore, whom you will serve, whether the Gods which your fathers served, or the Gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." A resolution this, worthy of Joshua, and no less becoming, no less necessary for every true son of Joshua, that is entrusted with the care and government of a family in our day: and, if it was ever seasonable for ministers to preach up, or people to put in practice family-religion, it was never more so than in the present age; since it is greatly to be feared, that out of those many households that call themselves Christians, there are but few that serve God in their respective families as they ought.

It is true indeed, visit our churches, and you may perhaps see something of the form of godliness still subsisting amongst us; but even that is scarcely to be met with in private houses. So that were the blessed angels to come, as in the patriarchal age, and observe our spiritual economy at home, would they not be tempted to say as Abraham to Abimilech, "Surely, the fear of God is not in this place?" Gen. 20:11.

How such a general neglect of family-religion first began to overspread the Christian world, is difficult to determine. As for the primitive Christians, I am positive it was not so with them: No, they had not so learned Christ, as falsely to imagine religion was to be confined solely to their assemblies for public worship; but, on the contrary, behaved with such piety and exemplary holiness in their private families, that St. Paul often styles their house a church: "Salute such a one, says he, and the church which is in his house." And, I believe, we must for ever despair of seeing a primitive spirit of piety revived in the world, till we are so happy as to see a revival of primitive family religion; and persons unanimously resolving with good old Joshua, in the words of the text, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." From which words, I shall beg leave to insist on these three things.

I. And First, I am to show that it is the duty of every governor of a family to take care, that not only he himself, but also that those committed to his charge, should serve the Lord.

And this will appear, if we consider that every governor of a family ought to look upon himself as obliged to act in three capacities as a prophet, to instruct: as a priest, to pray for and with; as a king, to govern, direct, and provide for them. It is true indeed, the latter of these, their kingly office, they are not so frequently deficient in, (nay in this they are generally too solicitous) but as for the two former, their priestly and prophetic office, like Gallio, they care for no such things. But however indifferent some governors may be about it, they may be assured, that God will require a due discharge of these offices at their hands. For if, as the apostle argues, "He that does not provide for his own house," in temporal things, "has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel;" to what greater degree of apostasy must he have arrived, who takes no thought to provide for the spiritual welfare of his family!

But farther, persons are generally very liberal of their invectives against the clergy, and think they justly blame the conduct of that minister who does not take heed to and watch over the flock, of which the Holy Ghost has made him overseer: but may not every governor of a family, be in a lower degree liable to the same censure, who takes no thought for those souls that are committed too his charge? For every house is as it were a little parish, every governor (as was before observed) a priest, every family a flock; and if any of them perish through the governor's neglect, their blood will God require at their hands.

Was a minister to disregard teaching his people publicly, and from house to house, and to excuse himself by saying, that he had enough to do to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, without concerning himself with that of others; would you not be apt to think such a minister, to be like the unjust judge, "One that neither feared God, nor regarded man?" And yet, odious as such a character would be, it is no worse than that governor of a family deserves, who thinks himself obliged only to have his own soul, without paying any regard to the souls of his household. For (as was above hinted) every house is as it were a parish, and every master is concerned to secure, as much as in him lies, the spiritual prosperity of every one under his roof, as any minister whatever is obliged to look to the spiritual welfare of every individual person under his charge.

What precedents men who neglect their duty in this particular, can plead for such omission, I cannot tell. Doubtless not the example of holy Job, who was so far from imagining that he had no concern, as governor of a family, with any one's soul but his own, that the scripture acquaints us, "When the days of his children's feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and offered burnt-offerings, according to the number of them all; for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts: thus did Job continually." Nor can they plead the practice of good old Joshua, whom, in the text, we find as much concerned for his household's welfare, as his own. Nor lastly, that of Cornelius, who feared God, not only himself, but with all his house: and were Christians but of the same spirit of Job, Joshua, and the Gentile centurion, they would act as Job, Joshua, and Cornelius did.

But alas! If this be the case, and all governors of families ought not only to serve the Lord themselves, but likewise to see that their respective households do so too; what will then become of those who not only neglect serving God themselves, but also make it their business to ridicule and scoff at any of their house that do? Who are not content with "not entering into the kingdom of heaven themselves; but who also that are willing to enter in, they hinder." Surely such men are factors for the devil indeed. Surely their damnation slumbereth not: for although God, is in his good providence, may suffer such stumbling-blocks to be put in his children's way, and suffer their greatest enemies to be those of their own households, for a trial of their sincerity, and improvement of their faith; yet we cannot but pronounce a woe against those masters by whom such offenses come. For if those that only take care of their own souls, can scarcely be saved, where will such monstrous profane and wicked governors appear?

But hoping there are but few of this unhappy stamp, proceed we now to the Second thing proposed:

II. To show after what manner a governor and his household ought to serve the Lord.

1. And the first thing I shall mention, is READING THE WORD OF GOD.

This is a duty incumbent on every private person. "Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life," is a precept given by our blessed Lord indifferently to all: but much more so, ought every governor of a family to think it in a peculiar manner spoken to himself, because (as hath been already proved) he ought to look upon himself as a prophet, and therefore agreeably to such a character, bound to instruct those under his charge in the knowledge of the word of God. This we find was the order God gave to his peculiar people Israel: for thus speaks his representative Moses, Deut. 6:6-7, "These words," that is, the scripture words, "which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children," that is, as it is generally explained, servants, as well as children, "and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house." From whence we may infer, that the only reason, why so many neglect to read the words of scripture diligently to their children is, because the words of scripture are not in their hearts: for if they were, out of the abundance of the heart their mouth would speak.

Besides, servants as well as children, are, for the generality, very ignorant, and mere novices in the laws of God: and how shall they know, unless some one teach them? And what more proper to teach them by, than the lively oracles of God, "which are able to make them wise unto salvation?"

And who more proper to instruct them by these lively oracles, than parents and masters, who (as hath been more than once observed) are as much concerned to feed them with spiritual, as with bodily bread, day by day.

But if these things be so, what a miserable condition are those unhappy governors in, who are so far from feeding those committed to their care with the sincere milk of the word, to the intent they may grow thereby, that they neither search the scriptures themselves, nor are careful to explain them to others? Such families must be in a happy way indeed to do their Master's will, who take such prodigious pains to know it! Would not one imagine that they had turned converts to the Church of Rome, that they thought ignorance to be the mother of devotion; and that those were to be condemned as heretics who read their Bibles? And yet how few families are there amongst us, who do not act after this unseemly manner! But shall I praise them in this? I praise them not; Brethren, this thing ought not so to be.

2. Pass we on now to the second means whereby every governor and his household ought to serve the Lord, FAMILY-PRAYER.

This is a duty, though as much neglected, yet as absolutely necessary as the former. Reading is a good preparative for prayer, as prayer is an excellent means to render reading effectual. And the reason why every governor of a family should join both these exercises together, is plain, because a governor of a family cannot perform his priestly office (which we before observed as is in some degree invested with) without performing this duty of family prayer.

We find it therefore remarked, when mention is made of Can and Abel's offering sacrifices, that they brought them. But to whom did they bring them? Why, in all probability, to their father Adam, who, as priest of the family, was to offer sacrifice in their names. And so ought every spiritual son of the second Adam, who is entrusted with the care of an household, to offer up the spiritual sacrifices of supplications and thanksgivings, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, in the presence and name of all who wait upon, or eat meat at his table. Thus we read our blessed Lord behaved, when he tabernacled amongst us: for it is said often, that he prayed with his twelve disciples, which was then his little family. And he himself has promised a particular blessing to joint supplications: "Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." And again, "If two or three are agreed touching any thing they shall ask, it shall be given them." Add to this, that we are commanded by the Apostle to "pray always, with all manner of supplication," which doubtless includes family prayer. And holy Joshua, when he set up the good resolution in the text, that he and his household would serve the Lord, certainly resolved to pray with his family, which is one of the best testimonies they could give of their serving him.

Besides, there are no families but what have some common blessings, of which they have been all partakers, to give thanks for; some common crosses and afflictions, which they are to pray against; some common sins, which they are all to lament and bewail: but how this can be done, without joining together in one common act of humiliation, supplication, and thanksgiving, is difficult to devise.

From all which considerations put together, it is evident, that family prayer is a great and necessary duty; and consequently, those governors that neglect it, are certainly without excuse. And it is much to be feared, if they live without family prayer, they live without God in the world.

And yet, such an hateful character as this is, it is to be feared, that was God to send out an angel to destroy us, as he did once to destroy the Egyptian first-born, and withal give him a commission, as then, to spare no houses but where they saw the blood of the lintel, sprinkled on the door-post, so now, to let no families escape, but those that called upon him in morning and evening prayer; few would remain unhurt by his avenging sword. Shall I term such families Christians or heathens? Doubtless they deserve not the name of Christians; and heathens will rise up in judgment against such profane families of this generation: for they had always their household gods, whom they worshipped and whose assistance they frequently invoked. And a pretty pass those families surely are arrived at, who must be sent to school to pagans. But will not the Lord be avenged on such profane households as these? Will he not pour out his fury upon those that call not upon his name?

3. But it is time for me to hasten to the third and last means I shall recommend, whereby every governor ought with his household to serve the Lord, CATECHIZING AND INSTRUCTING their children and servants, and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

That this, as well as the two former, is a duty incumbent on every governor of an house, appears from that famous encomium or commendation God gives of Abraham: "I know that he will command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." And indeed scarce any thing is more frequently pressed upon us in holy writ, than this duty of catechizing. Thus, says God in a passage before cited, "Thou shalt teach these words diligently unto thy children."

And parents are commanded in the New Testament, to "bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." The holy Psalmist acquaints us, that one great end why God did such great wonders for his people, was, "to the intent that when they grew up, they should show their children, or servants, the same." And in Deut. 6 at the 20th and following verses, God strictly commands his people to instruct their children in the true nature of the ceremonial worship, when they should inquire about it, as he supposed they would do, in time to come. And if servants and children were to be instructed in the nature of Jewish rites, much more ought they now to be initiated and grounded in the doctrines and first principles of the gospel of Christ: not only, because it is a revelation, which has brought life and immortality to a fuller and clearer light, but also, because many seducers are gone abroad into the world, who do their utmost endeavor to destroy not only the superstructure, but likewise to sap the very foundation of our most holy religion.

Would then the present generation have their posterity be true lovers and honorers of God; masters and parents must take Solomon's good advice, and train up and catechize their respective households in the way wherein they should go.

I am aware but of one objection, that can, with any show of reason, be urged against what has been advanced; which is, that such a procedure as this will take up too much time, and hinder families too long from their worldly business. But it is much to be questioned, whether persons that start such an objection, are not of the same hypocritical spirit as the traitor Judas, who had indignation against devout Mary, for being so profuse of her ointment, in anointing our blessed Lord, and asked why it might not be sold for two hundred pence, and given to the poor. For has God given us so much time to work for ourselves, and shall we not allow some small pittance of it, morning and evening, to be devoted to his more immediate worship and service? Have not people read, that it is God who gives men power to get wealth, and therefore that the best way to prosper in the world, is to secure his favor? And has not our blessed Lord himself promised, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all outward necessaries shall be added unto us?

Abraham, no doubt, was a man of as great business as such objectors may be; but yet he would find time to command his household to serve the Lord. Nay, David was a king, and consequently had a great deal of business upon his hands; yet notwithstanding, he professes that he would walk in his house with a perfect heart. And, to instance but one more, holy Joshua was a person certainly engaged very much in temporal affairs; and yet he solemnly declares before all Israel, that as for him and his household, they would serve the Lord. And did persons but redeem their time, as Abraham, David, or Joshua did, they would no longer complain, that family duties kept them too long from the business of the world.

III. But my Third and Last general head, under which I was to offer some motives, in order to excite all governors, with their respective households, to serve the Lord in the manner before recommended, I hope, will serve instead of a thousand arguments, to prove the weakness and folly of any such objection.

1. And the first motive I shall mention is the duty of GRATITUDE, which you that are governors of families owe to God. Your lot, every one must confess, is cast in a fair ground: providence hath given you a goodly heritage, above many of your fellow-creatures, and therefore, out of a principle of gratitude, you ought to endeavor, as much as in you lies, to make every person of your respective households to call upon him as long as they live: not to mention, that the authority, with which God has invested you as parents and governors of families, is a talent committed to your trust, and which you are bound to improve to your Master's honor. In other things we find governors and parents can exercise lordship over their children and servants readily, and frequently enough can say to one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; to a third, Do this, and he doeth it. And shall this power be so often employed in your own affairs, and never exerted in the things of God? Be astonished, O heavens, at this! Thus did not faithful Abraham; no, God says, that he knew Abraham would command his servants and children after him. Thus did not Joshua: no, he was resolved not only to walk with God himself, but to improve his authority in making all about him do so too: "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Let us go and do likewise.

2. But Secondly, If gratitude to God will not, methinks LOVE AND PITY TO YOUR CHILDREN should move you, with your respective families, to serve the Lord.

Most people express a great fondness for their children: nay so great, that very often their own lives are wrapped up in those of their offspring. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?" says God by his Prophet Isaiah. He speaks of it as a monstrous thing, and scarce credible; but the words immediately following, affirm it to be possible, "Yes, they may forget" and experience also assures us they may. Father and mother may both forsake their children: for what greater degree of forgetfulness can they express towards them, than to neglect the improvement of their better part, and not bring them up in the knowledge and fear of God?

It is true indeed, parents seldom forget to provide for their children's bodies, (though, it is to be feared, some men are so far sunk beneath the beasts that perish, as to neglect even that) but then how often do they forget, or rather, when do they remember, to secure the salvation of their immortal souls? But is this their way of expressing their fondness for the fruit of their bodies? Is this the best testimony they can give of their affection to the darling of their hearts? Then was Delilah fond of Samson, when she delivered him up into the hands of the Philistines? Then were those ruffians well affected to Daniel, when they threw him into a den of lions?

3. But Thirdly, If neither gratitude to God, nor love and pity to your children, will prevail on you; yet let a principle of COMMON HONESTY AND JUSTICE move you to set up the holy resolution in the text.

This is a principle which all men would be thought to act upon. But certainly, if any may be truly censured for their injustice, none can be more liable to such censure, than those who think themselves injured if their servants withdraw themselves from their bodily work, and yet they in return take no care of their inestimable souls. For is it just that servants should spend their time and strength in their master's service, and masters not at the same time give them what is just and equal for their service?

It is true, some men may think they have done enough when they give unto their servants food and raiment, and say, "Did not I bargain with thee for so much a year?" But if they give them no other reward than this, what do they less for their very beasts? But are not servants better than they?

Doubtless they are: and however masters may put off their convictions for the present, they will find a time will come, when they shall know they ought to have given them some spiritual as well as temporal wages; and the cry of those that have mowed down their fields, will enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

4. But Fourthly, If neither gratitude to God, pity to children, nor a principle for common justice to servants, are sufficient to balance all ob- jections; yet let that darling, that prevailing motive of SELF-INTEREST turn the scale, and engage you with your respective households to serve the Lord.

This weighs greatly with you in other matters: be then persuaded to let it have a due and full influence on you in this: and if it has, if you have but faith as a grain of mustard-seed, how can you avoid believing, that promoting family-religion, will be the best means to promote your own temporal, as well as eternal welfare? For "Godliness has the promise of the life that now is, as well as that which is to come."

Besides, you all, doubtless wish for honest servants, and pious children: and to have them prove otherwise, would be as great a grief to you, as it was to Elisha to have a treacherous Gehazi, or David to be troubled with a rebellious Absolom. But how can it be expected they should learn their duty, except those set over them, take care to teach it to them? Is it not as reasonable to expect you should reap where had not sewn, or gather where you had not strawed?

Did Christianity, indeed, give any countenance to children and servants to disregard their parents and masters according to the flesh, or represent their duty to them, as inconsistent with their entire obedience to their father and master who is in heaven, there might then be some pretense to neglect instructing them in the principles of such a religion.

But since the precepts of this pure and undefiled religion, are all of them holy, just, and good; and the more they are taught their duty to God, the better they will perform their duties to you; methinks, to neglect the improvement of their souls, out of a dread of spending too much time in religious duties, is acting quite contrary to your own interest as well as duty.

5. Fifthly and Lastly, If neither gratitude to God, love to your children, common justice to your servants, nor even that most prevailing motive self-interest, will excite; yet let a consideration of the terrors of the Lord persuade you to put in practice the pious resolution in the text. Remember, the time will come, and that perhaps very shortly, when we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; where we must give a solemn and strict account how we have had our conversation, in our respective families in this world. How will you endure to see your children and servants (who ought to be your joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ) coming out as so many swift witnesses against you; cursing the father that begot them, the womb that bare them, the paps which they have sucked, and the day they ever entered into your houses? Think you not, the damnation which men must endure for their own sins, will be sufficient, that they need load themselves with the additional guilt of being accessory to the damnation of others also? O consider this, all ye that forget to serve the Lord with your respective households, "lest he pluck you away, and there be none to deliver you!"

But God forbid, brethren, that any such evil should befall you: no, rather will I hope, that you have been in some measure convinced by what has been said of the great importance of FAMILY-RELIGION; and therefore are ready to cry out in the words immediately following the text, "God forbid that we should forsake the Lord;" and again, ver. 21, "Nay, but we will (with our several households) serve the Lord."

And that there may be always such a heart in you, let me exhort all governors of families, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, often to reflect on the inestimable worth of their own souls, and the infinite ransom, even the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which has been paid down for them. Remember, I beseech you to remember, that you are fallen creatures; that you are by nature lost and estranged from God; and that you can never be restored to your primitive happiness, till by being born again of the Holy Ghost, you arrive at your primitive state of purity, have the image of God restamped upon your souls, and are thereby made meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light. Do, I say, but seriously and frequently reflect on, and act as persons that believe such important truths, and you will no more neglect your family's spiritual welfare than your own. No, the love of God, which will then be shed abroad in your hearts, will constrain you to do your utmost to preserve them: and the deep sense of God's free grace in Christ Jesus, (which you will then have) in calling you, will excite you to do your utmost to save others, especially those of your own household. And though, after all your pious endeavors, some may continue unreformed; yet you will have this comfortable reflection to make, that you did what you could to make your families religious: and therefore may rest assured of sitting down in the kingdom of heaven, with Abraham, Joshua, and Cornelius, and all the godly householders, who in their several generations shone forth as so many lights in their respective households upon earth. Amen.

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By the Rev. Professor Finney of Oberlin College, U. S.

At the Tabernacle, Moorfields. A lecture delivered on Monday, Dec. 16, 1850.

I HAVE so many things to say to parents that I hardly know where to begin. It is one of those subjects upon which so much needs to be said. The greatest influence in the whole government of God, exercised over the destinies of the world, is exercised in the family. The mother begins the work. The parents' influence is no doubt the supreme influence. God designed it should be so. This was one object in establishing the family relation. It was not only to secure among human beings temporal blessings, the care and nurture of the young, but that they should have a spiritual influence, and exert it over their offspring; the great end God had in view was their spiritual well-being. This was one of his great designs, no doubt, but it is not kept in view by parents; and therefore, the great object of the Almighty in establishing the family relation so far, at least as children are concerned, is defeated.

It should always be remembered that this influence, whatever it may be, takes place in very early life and is generally decisive, one way or the other; the after life is in most cases, little more than the development of what has been thus commenced. The mother, as I have said, begins the work; she heads the undertaking and exerts more influence over the child at first than everything else; and if she understands what she is about, if she is a pious woman, if she avails herself of the facilities God has put into her hands, she will be, under God, the greatest possible blessing to that child. Parents stand in such peculiar relations that their children naturally have more confidence in their father and mother than in anyone else. Their position gives them an influence over the youthful mind, for good or for evil, with which no other influence in the world can compare. Whatever is done in this direction, is done and will be done in very early life, and the results are only developing themselves ever after.

But to explain what I mean; parents have a mighty influence over little children, they lead them to their earliest thoughts and give them most of their first ideas. The spirit of the parent teaches the child a great deal, even before his words can teach him. The example and influence of the parent is not confined to mere verbal teaching; everything he does has an influence over the child; every word the parent says before it can fully tell the meaning of words, has an influence over it; and when it comes to understand language, the little mind weighs all that it hears and thus the child is educated. Now if the parents' influence is of a worldly character, if there is not that in the parent which early leads the child to think about its soul and God, if it does not see in the parent a concern for his own soul, its education has begun in the wrong direction. If the parent neglects to let his child see in very early life, that he is concerned for its salvation, if the idea of religion is not a prominent idea if the child does not see that the subject is working in the parent's mind, if he does not see that the will of God is the parents' life, and that to glorify God is the parents' end, if he does not see these things in the parents, but the contrary, the child will understand it, think of it, and it will have its influence over him much earlier than parents are in the habit of believing.

The first of two Addresses to Christian Parents on their duties and responsibilities in relation to the early conversion of their children. I have known children, for instance, whose temperament was such that, when very young, they talked much about religion, and were constantly asking questions about it; so thoroughly indeed were their little minds engrossed with the subject, that they scarcely seemed to know that there were any other places than those to which their parents were accustomed to resort for religious worship. Even when strangers have come in, they have been accustomed to ask, "is that person a Christian?"

The early conversion of children materially depends on the parents securing a lodgment for religious truth among the earliest thoughts which are developed in the mind. It is curious to see how children observe when parents pray and recognize God in all their ways. It is remarkable to see the effect of this on their infant minds; they get their little chairs, kneel down and try to pray. They see their parents pray. Their mother is in the habit of taking them and praying with them, from their very birth; and as soon as they can understand her, she leads them into her closet, reads the Bible to them, talks about the Saviour, and prays with them daily, sometimes several times a day and in consequence of this, you will see them get their little chairs, and have their little meetings, and go down on their knees and pray for themselves. One mother recently writing to me says:" Little Willy gets his chair, kneels down, and clasping his little hands, says, "O Lor" (he could not articulate Lord)." Every little thing would he begin to pray about if he had such a mother. Now the tendency of all this is to keep the little one's thoughts awake; from the spirit and temper of the parent, he perceives that religion is something of supreme importance. God comes to be in all his little thoughts. He sees that religion is the great concern of the parents' life, and where this is the case, I do not believe that there is one case in a thousand, in which children are not very early converted that is of course, unless there be some error in the teaching or conception of the parent that gets in the way, and keeps this influence from producing its natural results. I have known pious parents who have said much to their children on the subject of religion, but who, from holding certain erroneous views, have laid stumbling blocks in their way; the parents taught them some things which were false, and which consequently proved hindrances to them.

It is important that parents should understand that there is only one of two courses open to them with regard to their children; they must either exert a worldly influence which would give their little minds an entirely wrong direction, or a spiritual one, which will set them after religion; the child's mind will be caused to ferment on the subject of religion; its earliest thoughts will be about religion; the earliest influences they can remember will be convictions of sin; Heaven and Hell, Christ and Eternity will put their little minds into a state of effervescence. These influences commence ere the child has left the lap of its loving mother.

For the few moments I can spend in addressing you, I shall turn your attention to a few things which parents must avoid, if they would secure the salvation of their children.

1. Be sure you don't stumble yourself by the idea that "you can't expect" the early conversion of your children. A worthy deacon from Birmingham called on me a few hours ago at Dr. Campbell's. His family were all converted and united to the church; his youngest child was only about ten years of age. He told me that he had been introduced to the deacon of one of the City churches, who had a large family, not one of whom were converted, and who on being apprised of the happy condition of the Birmingham family, said "Well you know we cannot give grace to our children." "O no," said the Birmingham brother, "but we can use the means in our possession to make them Christians." When the fact came out that the youngest child was only ten years old, the City deacon shook his head. "Ah!" said he, "I don't believe in forcing people into the church." "Nor do I" was the response, "I did all I dare do, and said all I dare say, but what could anyone do or say, but let her profess her faith in Christ as other people do?"

I know that one of the greatest stumbling blocks is cast in the way of families by the idea, that to expect the early conversion of children, is to say the least, rather enthusiastic "idea of a child of ten years of age being converted! why we cannot believe it!" But suppose I were to preach the funeral sermon of such a child and to say, "it is gone to hell no doubt." "What makes you say so?" you would say. Why, you do not pretend that the child is not a sinner at ten years of age? This is the greatest error that can be entertained. If a child has intelligence enough to sin, has it not intelligence enough to be converted? If not, what becomes of children old enough to sin, but not old enough to be converted? The fact is that it is easier, so to speak, for the Holy Spirit to convert a child, than it is for him to convert a man.

Now do let me ask, what is in the way of the child's conversion? When its little conscience first wakes up, sin takes such a twinging hold of it, that it goes into the greatest agony at the thought of it. This is natural; for the little conscience has not yet been trifled and tampered with. Now, cannot the Spirit of God teach such children? What? Cannot those who understand the nature of faith in the parent understand the nature of faith in God? Cannot those who understand parent protection and love, understand the protection and love of their heavenly father? Cannot those who know so well how to depend on a parent, depend on God? They can surely do it more easily then, than if they wait until they have learned, from contact with the world, to mistrust everybody and everything. Cannot they, whose tender hearts are so ready to trust, be taught to exercise faith in Christ? Why, this is the most likely time in their lives. It is much more likely then, that they will be converted than it is that if you allow them to grow up and form bad habits, those habits will be more easily corrected, than if you had used the best and earliest means to prevent their formation. The fact is, the Spirit of God is always ready to cooperate with the judicious use of means, just as ready to cooperate with children as with adults. But parents allow children to grow up and escape from under their influence, with the false impression, that such is not the case. I have observed that, just so far as parents have intelligently used the best means in their power to secure the early conversion of their children, just so far have they been successful in their endeavors. But when the contrary has been the case, I have not been surprised to find that the children have grown up to manhood and womanhood unconverted.

I have sometimes asked parents if they ever made it a great pressing business to secure the early conversion of their children. "O no; we never set ourselves to make it a pressing business to secure them for God." You don't eh? Then is it any wonder that they are not converted? There are multitudes of persons who are obliged to admit that they never, in good earnest, set about promoting the conversion of their children and securing it under God. I wish I had time, I could tell you of numbers of cases, where such sons and daughters have turned out badly. Oh! What stories have I listened to, of the awful results of the neglect of parents with regard to this matter!

2. Many persons entertain ideas of God's sovereignty which are a great stumbling block in the way of the early conversion of their children. The man who said, "We cannot give grace to our children" had doubtless an idea that God's sovereignty was, in some way, peculiarly connected with the act. Such persons associate God's sovereignty with conversion in a way that they associate it with nothing else. In every other matter, they exert themselves as though there were some connection between means and ends in the government of God but with respect to conversion. They seem to take it for granted that there is no connection between means and ends in the act of conversion, that God sets aside, in the conversion of men, all the laws by which he invariably operates at other times, and that he exercises a peculiar kind of sovereignty in that particular instance. I have been not a little surprised to find that multitudes of persons have such ideas of God's sovereignty and agency, that they can recognize his hand in nothing short of an absolute miracle.

For example, a person goes and talks to a child in such a manner as to make a deep impression on its infant mind, and the impression is made accordingly; the child awakes to a deep sense of sin and importance of religion. But what does the parent say? "Let it alone now, and we will see whether you have been merely playing upon the child's feelings, or whether the spirit has been cooperating." The fact is, the child is talked to in the very way to produce the effect predicted. If a preacher so discourses as to affect the minds of his audience in a certain way, and accordingly, they are so affected. Ah? then God has nothing to do with it? So I suppose, in your idea, it must be something in which there can be no perceivable relation between the means and the ends in order to have God recognized? But, if there really is any natural and necessary connection between the means and the end, why then is not God recognized, unless in an act in which he is supposed to set aside this connection, and act in a manner entirely inconsistent with it?

But when persons talk in this way, why are they not consistent in carrying the matter right out? Now if you sit down and converse with a child about playing marbles, who could expect that such conversation would be followed by any religious result? And if a minister got into a pulpit and preached about politics, would you expect anybody to be converted? It seems therefore to be necessary that the subject of the discourse should have a religious leaning in order to expect a religious effect. It must not be some historical facts in no way connected with what the sinner has to do; you could not expect that to have the desired results. He must press the matter home till the sinner fully feels that he is virtually saying, "Thou art the man." Ah! and now what is this? "Oh!" you say, "you have been playing upon his sympathies." But if you reason so, where are we to stop? The fact is, you cannot expect God to convert anyone when there is no sort of relevancy in the means used; and if some relevancy, even according to your own ideas of divine sovereignty, is necessary in the means employed, pray how much relevancy is absolutely indispensable? When God works, he can never be expected to commit any infraction of the laws which he himself has ordained for the government of the universe; and if he does operate according to his own laws, why should it be doubted that he is operating at all? For my part, I am always expecting to see God work in accordance with his own established laws, and I recognize him all the more when I see how nicely he adapts the means to the end.

He created mind and established its relations to truth, and when he presents truth to the mind, and it is received in accordance with principles he has ordained, am I not to recognize the hand of God in them?

Parents do not seem to feel the necessity of their applying themselves to secure the early conversion of their children with as much earnestness as they seek their recovery when sick. A little error in nursing will often have a most dangerous influence on the health of the patient, and a little error in instruction may induce a serious turn in the thoughts, and perhaps, present a fatal stumbling block. If God allows things to take this course in the physical world, he will permit it in the moral world. Why not? If certain laws are violated in the physical world, God allows the thing to take its natural course, why should he adopt a different policy towards the moral world? This is the very way in which God's sovereignty really manifests itself. If you look round on the natural world, you will see that God permits immense results to turn on the most trifling violation of natural laws. A ship would sink though filled with devoted missionaries, if the natural law is neglected. In fact—if they have neglected to take compass or chart, or some such necessary precaution on the pretence of trusting to the sovereignty of God, they have in reality been tempting God by not taking care to adjust themselves to his physical laws; and that ship, although, as I have said, it is filled with missionaries, must go to the bottom! And in such a case perhaps, the salvation of thousands of souls might be suspended on that ship's reaching its destination in safety. It is the same in the moral world, let mother or father make a mistake, either moral or physical; in one instance, it is death to the body, in the other, to the soul. This is the teaching of the Bible, and it is borne out by experience. Men should know that they can as certainly ruin the soul, as they can kill the body.

3. Care should be taken not to cause the child to stumble through bad government, or no government at all.

Some govern their families too much others not at all. Now I should like to write a book on such a question as this instead of talking to you for half an hour. It is really dreadful to see; ofttimes the spirit of the whole family government is such as to make a false impression; it is not a Christian government a government of love; it is not the firm spirit of God's government; it is either despotism on the one hand, or on the other hand, no government at all. In other cases, there is one half of the time too much rigour, and the other half too much laxity.

Let me say again. All the impressions thus made affect the children in connection with religion. If the general impression of your deportment should give them to understand that you are "in God's stead" to them, you cannot conceive the importance of thus early seizing their little minds and will and bring them under proper control. Oh! that little will! If unsubdued, what will it cost that child to be converted, if it ever is converted! When parents permit the will to pass unsubdued, their little ones get into such a habit of self-will as to render it extremely doubtful whether they will ever bow either to God or man to say the least, it will render it far more difficult for them to do so, than it would have been had a contrary course been pursued. When I see children affected to an agony at their position, and still unable fully to yield and come into the kingdom, I always suspect they have never been properly taught to yield to parental authority in their childhood.

It is of the utmost importance to take hold of this will, as soon as it de- velops itself, and hold it as the representative of the Almighty, to exert the first moral influence under God's moral government. Take hold of that little will kindly, and hold it as a sacred trust under God. Hold it by parental authority and love so kindly and firmly, that it is, as it were, lost in your will, and control led by it. Even a look, or a motion of the hand, when understood, should be immediately and willingly obeyed; and by and bye, when it can understand about God, give the whole weight of your will to lead the child's will to submit to God. Did you ever think what a powerful influence you posses? Where the little will from the first has been held under control, and the child is old enough to be talked to about God, bring all your powers to bear upon it, to induce it to yield itself up to God, and you will find yourself, as it were, almost handing it over to God. I could tell you some extraordinary things of the amazing pow- er of parents in this position, and how God uses this influence to accomplish his purposes. You are not to suppose that because your influence is used as a means, that God has nothing to do with it; he has placed you where you are in order to use you. He has stationed you there to watch over the development of that little will, and kindly to control it, so that in due season, you may be prepared to hand it over to God through the teaching of the Holy Ghost.

This is the great work which you are sent to do, fathers! Let your parental heart draw the little one close to it, and let your mind draw the little mind into close connection with it, and let the little will be as far as possible subject to, and guided by your will. Do it with prayer before God, and you need not fear a failure. As soon as the little will can be influenced by religious truth, pour it in with all the weight of your parental authority, and carry that will to God. A Christian lady once informed me that she had found her daughter under conviction of sin. "I have so trained her," she said, "from her infancy, that she regards my will as her law; a look from me is enough. I did not at first understand properly my relation to her with reference to her conversion; but as soon as the thought came before my mind, that I could exert a direct and powerful influence in the matter, and that the Spirit of God would use that influence, I took the child with me to my closet, and prayed with her. I there showed her what it was her duty to do with regard to yielding up herself to Christ; I talked and prayed with her, and urged the matter in this light" Now, my child, you never hesitate to obey your mother in other things, and I want you now at once to renounce yourself, and give yourself fully up to Christ." Before they left the closet, she said she had reason to believe that her child had really given herself up to God. Said she, "Never before had I any idea that the Spirit of God would so use this influence." Now mark; this was not any such authority as would threaten to whip the child! but that proper parental influence which can carry the little mind with an amazing power; and when the whole weight of this parental influence is concentrated upon the single question of "my child give your heart this moment to Christ," what human influence can be more powerful? And this, of course, is backed up by the word of God, and seconded by the Spirit of God all this in addition to that will to which the child has always been accustomed to yield. I have seen the infinite importance of this not only in my own, but in many other families.

4. Parents are very apt to stumble their children by their temper. It destroys the confidence of the child in their piety, and causes him to doubt their sincerity; and thus, the parent loses all hold on him. Few things more surely and speedily destroy the influence of a parent than to scold them peevishly, or even to speak to them snappishly, and call them hard names. Anything that savours of ill temper has a dreadfully powerful influence in leading the child away from Christ, and counteracting well meant endeavors.

5. Parents must be careful to feel and manifest concern for their spiritual welfare, for if they do not, a child at that age cannot be expected to feel a concern for himself.

Suppose a parent felt truly concerned to keep a child out of bad company, he would keep this before the mind of the child if concerned for his health, he would keep that before the little one, and teach him how to take care of it. It is just the same with anything else of this kind. Now the parent ought to feel and manifest a supreme interest in the child's salvation. Let all your conversation plainly indicate that it is so. Let your children see that health, worldly prospects and everything else must be subordinate to religion. Do these things, and you are beginning right; and by a natural law, you can hardly fail to see their early conversion.

6. Parents often manifest great error, in not seeing to it that their children are punctual and regular at public worship.

I have been in a great many churches, and have known the history of a great many families. Sometimes, I have found households, the children of which were both punctual and regular. At chapel you would see in the pews, where some families sat, all the children able to come out, always there. Where their parents were, there were they. They felt that they were no more expected to absent themselves from chapel when their parents went, than from the dinner table. It was a thing of course; they were not suffered to wander about and absent themselves, their parents not knowing where they went. For where this is suffered, parents have little or no religious influence over them. Parents must also guard against laxity with reference to the due observance of the Lord's Day. It is not right to throw up everything into the hands of the sovereignty of God, assuming that that alone will convert them, whatever influence may be brought to bear upon them, than which there is not a greater falsehood; a more damning error never entered the world. It is true other influences may possibly convert the child, and as other influences may save the child in sickness, but no thanks to the parents in either case.

There is another fault of parents which I must notice. They do not take sufficient pains to render home happy; and the children not finding friendship and sympathy at home, run about elsewhere in search of it. Their home is not a happy one, and they consequently rove about, and come under bad influences. Now a happy home is one of the principal things at which a parent should aim. The home should be rendered so pleasant that the child would rather remain there than go about. Dear parents! are you aware how often a child's life is embittered by the neglect of this? They must be made happy, and have something to love at home, or they will naturally seek company and happiness somewhere else. Oh! that parents would see the necessity of using this and every other means they can devise to secure and retain their proper influence of the little minds! They ought to feel towards you so that they would sooner tell you than anybody else their little thoughts. Fathers are more apt to neglect this than mothers; children often seem afraid of their fathers, so that they cannot tell him the workings of their little minds. He treats them with a kind of despotism, manifests no interest in their little concerns; and as he does not sympathize with them, they turn to someone else. Thus, those whose hearts ought always to run in sympathy with them have shut them out; and what do they do? They turn away and fall under some other influence, and they are gone! How many parents who have had to lament the evil conduct of their children, who if they could look back might attribute it largely to this! The father has been sharp, has not kept his influence over their little hearts. Oh! how often religious people, and even ministers, have been so busy with other matters, that they have neglected their children in this respect, and have so shut them out, as it were from their hearts, that they have fallen into other hands, and under evil influences.

Now, dear parents, one of the first things God wishes you to do, is to secure and retain the affections and confidence of your children, and to use your influence over them for him. In order to keep their hearts open to you, let yours be open to them. Let them know that if there is any burden on their minds, you will be the very first to sympathize with them. You will surely secure your end if you do so. But on the contrary, if they are afraid to approach you because you keep them at such a distance, then if they are not ruined, no thanks to you; and instead of telling you all the temptations and trials they fall into, all their plans, the books they read, instead of feeling that in you they have advisers who can and will sympathize with them, they will manifest the same reserve to you on these matters that you have displayed to them, and you have therefore failed in a vital point. I would that time did not so press, for I have ten times more than this to say, but I must pass rapidly on.

Another point I wish to notice is, the evil practice of allowing children to wander about where they will in the evening. Now, if as I have said, you would make the home what it should be, they would never want to do this; they would rather be with you than anywhere; but if you suffer them to go out and keep late hours, they are sure to go in the way of temptation. I have often seen too, the injurious influence of holidays being so numerous and protracted, and of the difference parents make at such times with regard to their control over the children. They are allowed to do things then because it is a holiday, which you would not permit at other times, and this leads them astray. But I cannot enlarge upon this point just now, time forbids; but the holidays are near, and what will be your influence over them during that period? Parents, think of this!

Once more. Parents should always be wide awake to secure the conversion of their children during revivals of religion. If I had time, I could tell you many remarkable things, which have come under my own observation, connected with families, who have allowed revivals to take place and pass away without endeavoring to turn them to account in this direction. Sometimes the parents themselves will not enter into these revivals, although they are professors of religion; on the contrary, many speak against them, or cast a slight on something connected with the movement; and thus, as far as their influence is concerned, they shut the children out from blessings they might otherwise probably have received. Other persons, although they do not actually speak against it, yet refrain from entering into the work. They come and go again and again, and while multitudes are blessed, they seem never to have taken up the subject as if they had any personal concern in it. They have never endeavoured to secure a blessing for themselves and their households. They never seem to say, "Oh, is not Christ to visit our family?" They pass it by and let it go.

It is in fact, just tantamount to this; Christ comes into the neighbourhood and passes along, but they never invite him into their house, and they, with their households, are passed by and remain unblessed. I have inquired into some of these cases, and it has become a matter of remark, that the children often turn out badly; this is true, I believe in eight cases out of ten. I have not before my mind a case in point. Some years back, I spent a short time in Philadelphia, and knew a family that did this. The husband and wife were both professors, but she was a worldly-minded woman. He felt considerably for his children, and I talked with him on the subject several times. He very delicately hinted to me that his wife did not sympathize with the movement, and that the daughters were under her influence, and like-minded with herself, and regarded her opinion in preference to his. Now mark: I inquired about this family some years after, and what had become of them? One of the daughters had married, and after a year or two eloped from her husband with another man. Some time after, the others went in the same direction all turned out in a wretched manner. And this is only a specimen of a multitude of cases which have actually come under my own observation.

It is therefore of the utmost moment that children should be immediately brought to Christ. The parents should say, "Now, Lord Jesus, thou art passing by; do thou have mercy on my children!" If you have hitherto exerted an improper influence, try at once to repair the evil done as well as you can. Do all that lies in your power; set your heart fully on securing the conversion of your children, and do it now! Begin at once with all your children, and especially those that have reached an intelligent age; and oh! I beseech you, do not let the Spirit manifest itself in this church and congregation, and you remain at a distance from the work! What do you think the Almighty will say about your family? What do you think he will say if you have not taken precautions to preserve yourselves in the visit of the destroying angel, by sprinkling the blood on the lintels and posts of your doors? Do every thing according to the rule which God has laid down; if you do not, when the destroying angel passes by, what will become of you and your family?

But I cannot continue these remarks tonight. There are thousands of things I might say, but I must reserve them for a future opportunity.

A. M. Hills, in Life of Charles G. Finney, wrote fitting words for how Finney lived his words: "In this picture of this great soul-winner, we should have made him more lifelike and human if we had dwelt more upon his personal characteristics, and given a few of the quaint incidents of his life, But the purpose of this brief story was too grave to admit of it. It possibly might be thought that this stern preacher of righteousness, with his unbending integrity and awful sense of obligation to God and the sacredness of duty, would be hard and unlovely in the home. Precisely the opposite was true. He was simple and tender, and sweet as a child, in his home life. His affection for his family was unbounded, and they almost idolized him, He was a mighty man of prayer; and prayer is one of the most sacred and precious privileges vouchsafed to mortals."

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Young Conversions

By Jonathan Edwards.

From "A faithful narrative of a surprising work of God"

BUT I now proceed to the other instance, that of the little child before mentioned. Her name is Phebe Bartlet, [She was living in March, 1789, and maintained the character of a true convert.] daughter of William Bartlet. I shall give the account as I took it from the mouth of her parents, whose veracity none who know them doubt of. She was born in March, 1731. About the latter end of April, or beginning of May, 1735, she was greatly affected by the talk of her brother, who had been hopefully converted a little before, at about eleven years of age, and then seriously talked to her about the great things of religion. Her parents did not know of it at that time, and were not wont, in the counsels they gave to their children, particularly to direct themselves to her, being so young, and, as they supposed, not capable of understanding. But after her brother had talked to her, they observed her very earnestly listen to the advice they gave to the other children; and she was observed very constantly to retire, several times in a day, as was concluded, for secret prayer. She grew more and more engaged in religion, and was more frequent in her closet; till at last she was wont to visit it five or six times a day: and was so engaged in it, that nothing would at any time divert her from her stated closet exercises. Her mother often observed and watched her, when such things occurred as she thought most likely to divert her, either by putting it out of her thoughts, or otherwise engaging her inclinations; but never could observe her to fail. She mentioned some very remarkable instances. She once of her own accord spake of her unsuccessfulness, in that she could not find God, or to that purpose. But on Thursday, the last day of July, about the middle of the day, the child being in the closet, where it used to retire, its mother heard it speaking aloud; which was unusual, and never had been observed before. And her voice seemed to be as of one exceedingly importunate and engaged; but her mother could distinctly hear only these words, spoken in a childish manner, but with extra- ordinary earnestness, and out of distress of soul, pray, blessed Lord, give me salvation! I pray, beg, pardon all my sins! When the child had done prayer, she came out of the closet, sat down by her mother, and cried out aloud. Her mother very earnestly asked her several times what the matter was, before she would make any answer; but she continued crying, and writhing her body to and fro, like one in anguish of spirit. Her mother then asked her, whether she was afraid that God would not give her salvation. She then answered, Yes, I am afraid I shall go to hell! Her mother then endeavored to quiet her, and told her she would not have her cry, she must be a good girl, and pray every day, and she hoped God would give her salvation. But this did not quiet her at all; she continued thus earnestly crying, and talking on for some time, till at length she suddenly ceased crying, and began to smile, and presently said with a smiling countenance, Mother, the kingdom of heaven is come to me! Her mother was surprised at the sudden alteration, and at the speech; and knew not what to make of it; but at first said nothing to her. The child presently spake again, and said, There is another come to me, and there is another, there is three; and being asked what she meant, she answered, One is, Thy will be done, and there is another, Enjoy Him for ever; by which it seems, that when the child said, There is three come to me; she meant three passages of her catechism that came to her mind. After the child had said this, she retired again into her closet, and her mother went over to her brother's, who was next neighbor; and when she came back, the child, being come out of the closet, meets her mother with this cheerful speech; I can find God now! referring to what she had before com- plained of, that she could not find God. Then the child spoke again and said, I love God! Her mother asked her, how well she loved God, whether she loved God better than her father and mother. She said, Yes. Then she asked her, whether she loved God better than her little sister Rachel. She answered, Yes, better than any thing! Then her elder sister, referring to her saying she could find God now, asked her, where she could find God. She answered, In heaven. Why, said she, have you been in heaven? No, said the child. By this it seems not to have been any imagination of any thing seen with bodily eyes, that she called God, when she said, I can find God now. Her mother asked her, whether she was afraid of going to hell, and if that had made her cry? She answered, Yes, I was; but now I shan't. Her mother asked her, whether she thought that God had given her salvation: she answered, Yes. Her mother asked her. When? She answered, Today. She appeared all that afternoon exceed- ing cheerful and joyful. One of the neighbors asked her, how she felt herself. She answered, I feel better than I did. The neighbor asked her, what made her feel better. She answered, God makes me. That evening, as she lay a-bed, she called one of her little cousins to her, who was present in the room, as having something to say to him; and when he came, she told him, that heaven was better than earth. The next day, her mother asked her what God made her for? She answered, To serve him; and added, Every body should serve God, and get an interest in Christ. The same day the elder children, when they came home from school, seemed much affected with the extraordinary change that seemed to be made in Phebe. And her sister Abigail standing by, her mother took occasion to counsel her, now to improve her time, to prepare for another world. On which Phebe burst out in tears, and cried out, Poor Nabby! Her mother told her, she would not have to cry; she hoped that God would give Nabby salvation; but that did not quiet her, she continued earnestly crying for some time. When she had in a measure ceased, her sister Eunice being by her, she burst out again, and cried, Poor Eunice! and cried exceedingly; and when she had almost done, she went into another room, and there looked upon her sister Naomi: and burst out again, crying, Poor Amy! Her mother was greatly affected at such a behavior in a child, and knew not what to say to her.

One of the neighbors coming in a little after, asked her what she had cried for. She seemed at first backward to tell the reason: her mother told her she might tell that person, for he had given her an apple: upon which she said, she cried because she was afraid they would go to hell. At night, a certain minister, who was occasionally in the town, was at the house, and talked with her of religious things. After he was gone, she sat leaning on the table, with tears running from her eyes; and being asked what made her cry, she said, I was thinking about God. The next day, being Saturday, she seemed a great part of the day to be in a very affectionate frame, had four turns of crying and seemed to endeavor to curb herself, and hide her tears, and was very backward to talk of the occasion. On the Sabbath-day she was asked, whether she believed in God; she answered, Yes. And being told that Christ was the Son of God, she made ready answer, and said, I know it.

From this time there appeared a very remarkable abiding change in the child. She has been very strict upon the Sabbath; and seems to long for the Sabbath-day before it comes, and will often in the week time be inquiring how long it is to the Sabbath-day, and must have the days between particularly counted over, before she will be contented. She seems to love God's house, and is very eager to go thither. Her mother once asked her, why she had such a mind to go? whether it was not to see fine folks? She said, No, it was to hear Mr. Edwards preach. When she is in the place of worship, she is very far from spending her time there as children at her age usually do, but appears with an attention that is very extraordinary for such a child. She also appears very desirous at all opportunities to go to private religious meetings; and is very still and attentive at home, during prayer, and has appeared affected in time of family-prayer. She seems to delight much in hearing religious conversation.

When I once was there with some strangers, and talked to her something of religion, she seemed more than ordinarily attentive; and when we were gone, she looked out very wistfully after us, and said, I wish they would come again! Her mother asked her, Why? Says she, I love to hear 'em talk. She seems to have very much of the fear of God before her eyes, and an extraordinary dread of sinning against Him; of which her mother mentioned the following remarkable instance.

Some time in August, the last year, she went with some bigger children to get some plums in a neighbor's lot, knowing nothing of any harm in what she did; but when she brought some of the plums into the house, her mother mildly reproved her, and told her that she must not get plums without leave, because it was sin: God had commanded her not to steal. The child seemed greatly surprised, and burst out in tears, and cried out, I won't have these plums! and turning to her sister Eunice, very earnestly said to her, Why did you ask me to go to that plum tree? I should not have gone, if you had not asked me. The other children did not seem to be much affected or concerned; but there was no pacifying Phebe. Her mother told her, she might go and ask leave, and then it would not be sin for her to eat them; and sent one of the children to that end; and, when she returned, her mother told her that the owner had given leave, now she might eat them, and it would not be stealing. This stilled her a little while; but presently she broke out again into an exceeding fit of crying. Her mother asked her, What made her cry again? Why she cried now, since they had asked leave? What it was that troubled her now? And asked her several times very earnestly, before she made any answer; but at last said, It was because, because it was sin. She continued a considerable time crying; and said she would not go again if Eunice asked her an hundred times; and she retained her aversion to that fruit for a considerable time, under the remembrance of her former sin.

She sometimes appears greatly affected, and delighted with texts of Scripture that come to her mind. Particularly about the beginning of November, that text came to her mind, Rev. 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in, and sup with him, and he with me." She spoke of it to those of the family with a great appearance of joy, a smiling countenance, and elevation of voice; and afterwards she went into another room, where her mother overheard her talking very earnestly to the children about it; and particularly heard her say to them, three or four times over, with an air of exceeding joy and admiration, Why, it is to sup with God.

Some time about the middle of winter, very late in the night, when all were a-bed, her mother perceived that she was awake, and heard her, as though she was weeping. She called to her, and asked her what was the matter. She answered with a low voice, so that her mother could not hear what she said; but thinking that it might be occasioned by some spiritual affection, said no more to her: but perceived her to lie awake, and to continue in the same frame, for a considerable time. The next morning she asked her, whether she did not cry the last night. The child answered, Yes, I did cry a little, for I was thinking about God and Christ, and they loved me. Her mother asked her, whether to think of God and Christ loving her made her cry? She answered, Yes, it does sometimes.

She has often manifested a great concern for the good of others' souls: and has been wont many times affectionately to counsel the other children. Once, about the latter end of September, the last year, when she and some others of the children were in a room by themselves, husking Indian corn, the child, after a while, came out and sat by the fire. Her mother took notice that she appeared with a more than ordinary serious and pensive countenance; but at last she broke silence, and said, I have been talking to Nabby and Eunice. Her mother asked her what she had said to them. Why, said she, I told them they must pray, and prepare to die; that they had but a little while to live in this world, and they must be always ready. When Nabby came out, her mother asked her, whether she had said that to them. Yes, said she, She said that, and a great deal more.

At other times, the child took opportunities to talk to the other children about the great concern of their souls, so as much to affect them. She was once exceeding importunate with her mother to go with her sister Naomi to pray: her mother endeavored to put her off; but she pulled her by the sleeve, and seemed as if she would by no means be denied. At last her mother told her, that Amy must go and pray by herself; but, says the child, she will not go; and persisted earnestly to beg of her mother to go with her.

She has discovered an uncommon degree of a spirit of charity, particularly on the following occasion. A poor man that lives in the woods, had lately lost a cow that the family much depended on; and being at the house, he was relating his misfortune, and telling of the straits and difficulties they were reduced to by it. She took much notice of it, and it wrought exceedingly on her compassion. After she had attentively heard him awhile, she went away to her father, who was in the shop, and entreated him to give that man a cow: and told him, that the poor man had no cow! that the hunters, or something else, had killed his cow! and entreated him to give him one of theirs. Her father told her that they could not spare one. Then she entreated him to let him and his family come and live at his house: and had much more talk of the same nature, whereby she manifested bowels of compassion to the poor.

She has manifested great love to her minister: particularly when I returned from my long journey for my health, the last fall. When she heard of it, she appeared very joyful at the news, and told the children of it, with an elevated voice, as the most joyful tidings; repeating it over and over. Mr. Edwards is come home! Mr. Edwards is come home!

She still continues very constant in secret prayer, so far as can be observed, for she seems to have no desire that others should observe her when she retires, being a child of a reserved temper. Every night, before she goes to bed, she will say her catechism, and will by no means miss. She never forgot it but once, and then, after she was a-bed, thought of it, and cried out in tears, I hav't said my catechism! and would not be quieted till her mother asked her the catechism as she lay in bed. She sometimes appears to be in doubt about the condition of her soul; and when asked, whether she thinks that she is prepared for death, speaks something doubtfully about it. At other times she seems to have no doubt, but when asked, replies, Yes, without hesitation.

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Part IV.



By the Rev. Professor Finney of Oberlin College, U. S.

A sermon delivered on Wednesday, August 28, 1850,

To the members of the Sunday School Union, at the Tabernacle, Moorfields.

"We are laborers together with God." I Cor. III. 9.

MAN is sometimes a mere instrument in bringing about certain events; and in bringing about certain other events, he acts as a responsible agent. When he does anything without rendering an intelligent cooperation, he is more properly an instrument; but when he is a sympathizing, intelligent, designing, co-operating agent he is a co-laborer with God in producing results by such combined agency. There are multitudes of cases in which men may be said to combine with God. For instance, in raising the productions necessary for his subsistence, man is a co-worker with God; for he makes use not only of man instrumentally, but as a designing, active agency—aiming to secure a result as, really as God is—sympathizing with him in the great end at which he aims—without the loss of his own responsibility, liberty, cooperating with him designedly and understandingly. It is enough to say, that when men have the same end in view—when they sympathize with him, and take the same means to secure the end in view, they may be said to be "laborers together with God."

In speaking to the subject before us, I shall notice—


The particular work to which the apostle here alludes, is the conversion and sanctification of sinners. In bringing about their salvation, God has, of course, done much without man's co-operation—Christ has made atonement without him; still, however, there was the applying of this atonement, and this was the particular work in which the apostle was engaged.


The apostle in this case is speaking of himself and his fellow-laborers in the gospel; his eye was particularly upon them; but from the very nature of the case, and what is said in other places, we understand that all persons engaged in religious teaching—every one designing to accomplish the great end, and engaged in giving instruction for the purpose of accomplishing it—sympathizing with God in the grand end in view—endeavoring to accomplish it by the means he has appointed—all such persons are "laborers together with God." Now, not only all teachers, but all those who are employed in any department of labor necessary to the accomplishment of this result, may be said to be "laborers together with God." Such, for example, are editors and others, laboring, directly or indirectly, to attain the desired object; but I shall notice more particularly this evening, one class—Sabbath-school Teachers, who are co-workers with God in the highest sense. The next inquiry is,


We should never forget that God always acts wisely. Whatever he does, we are bound to assume that no other course than the one he pursues, would be so wise and good, if wise and good at all. Now, God cannot depart from the path of wisdom. First, then, God has chosen to associate man with him in this matter; we are, therefore, bound to infer that he has acted wisely in so doing; and that another course would not have been wise. To doubt this, is to call in question his goodness; and we are to infer, therefore, from the fact that he has chosen this method of doing this work, that he could not wisely attempt to do it alone. I will not speak of the possibility or impossibility of it; but the fact that such is the way God takes, shows that, in his judgment, this is the wisest way. It follows, therefore, that as this is God's way, he will not do it any other way; and that if there is not this cooperation on the part of man, we have no right to look for the promised result.

But let me say again: Another reason why this is so, is, because we need this labor. It is just the very exercise we want in order to prepare us for heaven. We need to cultivate our benevolent feeling and affections; this is just the kind of culture that is necessary for our spiritual well-being, these are just the channels in which our thoughts should be directed.

Again, it is honorable to God and man. If he requests any such feeble instrumentality as man's, why, the excellency will be seen to be entirely of God, and not be ascribed, even in part, to the instrument, as might be the case even were angels employed in man's place. Furthermore, man can sympathize with man. God will get glory by bringing about so great a work by such means. Man will be benefited; and surely he is greatly honored by such an association with God, in so great a work.

But I must not enlarge here; I shall now proceed to point out, The Conditions of Success, and then the Hindrances which stand in the way.


The conditions of success are, first, sympathy on the part of those who labor to this end with God. You must enter into his designs and views, having confidence in his wisdom and judgment, deeply sympathizing with the self-sacrificing spirit of Christ. There must be deep sympathy with him in regard to his passion for souls universally. Deep sympathy on the part of those who are co-workers with him, is indispensable to success. Who doubts but that one of the greatest secrets of the success of the early Christian ministry was this deep sympathy with Christ in his work. Their self-denying labors—their self-sacrificing spirit, showed that they entered deeply into sympathy with their Divine Master in this work. Now, until men really enter into sympathy with Christ in this matter, as the apostles and primitive Christians did, do not let them pretend that there is some Divine Sovereignty, or anything else, preventing similar success.

Again: Man must understand what is to be done. If he conceives that to save a soul is entirely an act of Divine creation, what has he to do with it? What cooperation has he? But it is not so, and man must, therefore, understand what is the nature of the work which has to be done. Again: He must understand the laws under which it takes place, and how it ought, therefore, to be done. If he has to take any part in it, he needs to understand clearly what part he has to take, and how it is to be performed, whether men are converted by persuasion accompanied by a presentation of the truth, or by a physical act of creation. If he makes a mistake here, he is not of much service in carrying forward the work; he must not go blindly forward without caring to ascertain the part devolving upon him.

But, again: He must possess the requisite skill. He must himself be divinely taught. He must know God's truth himself. He must understand what it is to be converted himself, or how can he labor for the conversion of others? What infinite folly for such a one to attempt to undertake the conversion of others! As well might a man with a beam in his own eye, attempt to pluck out the mote from his brother's eye; let him first cast out the beam from his own eye, and then he will see clearly to pluck the mote out of his brother's eye. He should have some knowledge by experience of what it is to be converted. If he is going to teach the sinner to obtain a new heart, let him understand what it is himself; for if he undertakes the work without knowing anything about it in his heart, he will prevent the work. So does a minister who pretends to point out the way of salvation, without himself having walked therein.

But let me remark again: He must understand the means necessary to this end. Having the end in view, knowing the means appointed by God to secure it, let him apply the means to the end, in an intelligent manner. Would you expect a man to be converted by talking to him about the Bey of Algiers? Yet this is as nearly connected with the subject in hand, as are the methods some take to effect the conversion of sinners. If you are to be co-workers with God, you must know what God is aiming to do—what particular mistakes you have fallen into—as wisely adapting the means to the end as a physician, who inquires into the habits of his patient, what caused the disease, what prolongs it, and the difficulties in the way of its removal. Now, suppose a physician, pretending to be a co-worker with God, should give up the use of means, sending one and the same prescription to all his patients, getting up a common panacea for all their ailments—what would you think of such quackery? But is not spiritual quackery even worse than this? Has not God ordained that man shall be converted by the truth? What then, is most calculated to impress the sinner with a consciousness of his necessity and with faith in his remedy?—what to teach him to get present hold of it?

Therefore, if men would be co-laborers with God, let them be sure to adapt their means to their end. They have no more right to expect to secure their end without the use of suitable means, than has the physician who does not adapt his means to his end, or any other man, attempting any other thing. God is perfectly wise in the selection of the instrumentality by which he does things. He has told us that he converts men by the truth; he has made us understand this. From the Bible and the universal conscience of all who ever were convinced by the truth, everybody can see that there is a Divine philosophy in every step—proper means to every end—all things conspire so that there is a divine, a philosophic beauty throughout the whole. The man who does not comply with the prescribed conditions is just as absurd as one who should undertake, in his business, to neglect the means from which certain results are always expected, and by which they are naturally accomplished, and yet expect to succeed.

Again: I do not mean to say that this result comes to pass by natural causes without the direct interposition of the Almighty; but that it is effected by laws with which he never interferes. His natural laws are everywhere present, and he will no more violate them in the spiritual, than in the material world. Do not let me be misunderstood; I do not think the means accomplish the end without Divine interposition, but the means are adapted to the end. Who would expect God would convert a man by the preaching of some truth which has no manner of connection with him? Nobody. Suppose I go to an impenitent sinner, and attempt to convince him of sin by discoursing on some purely abstract truth, without any particular bearing on his conduct and responsibility. How could I expect him to be converted by such means? Would any of you expect it? No indeed! But why not just as well convert him when talking about some irrelevant, as well as some relevant matter? Or, suppose you talk of things partly relevant and partly irrelevant. But you must necessarily come to the conclusion that the more you adapt the means to the end, the more certain you are of securing it. You would not expect Divine interference unless you acted wisely. Suppose a minister should preach from week to week about Cicero, or Demosthenes, and other such matters? You would never expect him to be instrumental in conversion. You say God will not make use of such means as these in the conversion of men. Now, carry this out in all your teaching, Sabbath-school instruction, and preaching; and never forget that when you do not apply the proper means to the accomplishment of your object, you not only do not act wisely, but you are not likely to secure your end.

Again: Another condition is diligence. God himself is diligent, and he loves to see you so. If I take my own individual case, I may say that, since I have been in the ministry, I have been pressed, I cannot say how many times, to spare myself and take more rest, and take more care of myself. But Jesus Christ laid down his life, and I can afford, if necessary, to lay down mine. It is not the point how long any one lives, but what he does. If a man is endeavoring to spare his own health, and to make that a primary object, setting it before his duty,—he is not doing very much.

It is necessary for persons under some circumstances, to lay themselves fully out, or to do nothing at all. Suppose, for instance, you see a man out upon the Niagara in a little boat, some two or three miles above the Falls, drifting gradually onwards to that mighty cataract. He has oars, but the day is warm, and he does not like to exert himself too much, as it would injure his health. The longer he delays, the greater his speed, and therefore, the greater his danger; at length, it increases visibly at every step, till he comes to the Falls, when the whole river seems to roll back in mighty volume, and to struggle lest it precipitate him into the profound abyss beneath. Now suppose, under such circumstances, that he should only take moderate strokes with his oars, lest he injure himself by over-exertion! Why, he might just as well not move at all.

He is placed in circumstances where he must work arduously and continuously, or it is of little use his working at all. He must lay himself fully out. To preserve one's life is a duty, when it can be done consistently with other and more important duties. But it is often our duty to sacrifice life, or at least, to risk it; and the man who cannot do this will never accomplish very great things. The work must be done, come life or come death.

Another condition is, faith in the Divine presence and co-operation. Christ has told his Church to accomplish this work, and he has promised to be with them—not sometimes, but always, even unto the end. They were to go forth, and to make disciples of all nations; and "lo," he says, very emphatically, "lo I am with you always," and everywhere to the end of the world. Now, it is of great moment that those who attempt this work should understand that God is always with them, and that they may rely on his co-operation with as much certainty as that he will not lie, if they will only lay themselves out upon the alter as they ought to do. I do not believe that a solitary instance could be adduced in which the proper means have been perseveringly used in a true spirit, where success has not crowned the efforts. The promise here given may be depended upon, just as much as a natural or physical law. It is the Divine promise of an omnipresent Jehovah to be always with those who engage in his work—always, to the end of the world. It is just as if he had said—Whatever there may be for me to do, I shall not be wanting; I shall be always with you. We are to assume then, I say, that God will interpose, as confidently as an engineer in the construction of his mechanism expect it to obey natural laws, which will cause it to act when it is constructed in accordance with those natural laws. Mark me! I do not confound this Divine interposition with natural laws. But look at the facts in all history. When there has been a deep sympathy with God—means wisely adjusted to the end—in short, when God's commandments and requirements have been complied with in the proper spirit—when has it been found that God did not fulfill his promise? But let me say again: It is very easy for men to put it upon Divine sovereignty when they have gone to work absurdly, and then say, "I have done my duty, and I must leave the rest in the hands of the Almighty!" But even if you have complied with God's requirements, who does not see that you must follow it up! It never will do to faint with a single effort!

Another condition of success in this work is—we must leave nothing to miracles—we must not assume that God is going to convert men by miracles—we must not leave men to be convinced by miracles. Miracles never did convert men; they were only used to confirm their faith in the message that was sent from God. This having been once accomplished, they had the same gospel that we have. We do not need direct revelation as they did. I have said we must not leave anything to miracles; this is done wherever God is left to work without instrumentality. "How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent?" Now, the apostle reasoned that no such thing was to be expected unless means were used. If, therefore, we expect God to work miracles, and leave things to be done by him miraculously, we as really tempt God as farmers would if they waited for him to raise their crops by miracles.

Again: We are to expect nothing without Divine interposition. We are to remember that sinners so obstinate and stubborn will not turn to God except as he interposes to persuade them. Our persuasion will not suffice without his enlightenment. Again: We are also to understand that we are not to expect God to do this alone; he has chosen to do it by means of cooperation with us; we are to be co-laborers with him in it; and while we are not to expect that we can do it without his aid, we are not to expect him to do it without ours.

But this leads me, in the next place, to remark, that we must not stop short in seeking our end. We must not confine ourselves to sowing the seed, and neglect the watering of it. We must press our suit till we obtain our object, and not leave it for God to go on with it alone.

Another important condition is, we must take care not to hinder the work, by throwing obstacles in the way; but as this subject will come up for notice under the head of "hindrances," I will not further enlarge here.

In the next place, if we would secure this end, we must pray to be instructed, study the laws by which it is accomplished, and the means best adapted to secure it. We must adjust the means to the end as nicely as a chemist would do the various substances on which he is to experiment, and as confidently expect the results. We must study the state of mind in a man or child. What is the child taught at home? What does it know? What does it fail to know? We must thus endeavor to remove every obstacle, as a chemist in his laboratory would prepare all the component parts in a mixture, to secure the result of his experiments. Unless he adjusts these things in their exact proportions, his experiments will not succeed. To be sure it is a natural law, but if he does not comply with it, he will not secure his end. Now, who does not see in the gospel this nice adjustment of the truth to the end which it is designed to accomplish? Now, suppose you are going to endeavor to do your part towards the conversion of a certain child to God. What are you going to do? Are you going to tell him some story with no manner of connection with the subject? How can you wake him up to a sense of sin—set his mind fermenting on the subject? How can you best explain to him the atonement? Who does not see that there must be the nicest adjustment of the means to the end? If this is done in a proper spirit, you may expect the result, and you will not be disappointed either.


The first great hindrance to this work which I shall notice, is the many false assumptions which are made; and consequently, the amount of false instruction which is given,—a course which is extremely mischievous. For example: How often is it presumed that God does his work alone? Now, I do not say he cannot possibly do it alone, but I do say he cannot wisely do it alone; but to say that the Almighty cannot wisely do a thing is, virtually to say he cannot do it at all, for he cannot act unwisely. This hindrance is extremely powerful; for of course, where men think God does it alone, they do not care to co-operate.

Another assumption is, that his sovereignty is of such a character as to render it extremely doubtful whether he will co-operate with us. Where this is the case, men have but little expectation of success—they care but little to adapt the means in the end—and the result is naturally a failure. Show me a man who, though doing the best he can, as he thinks, does not feel certain of success, and you will show me an unsuccessful man; for he, instead of being duly impressed with a sense of the presence and cooperation of God—of the fact that God is most minutely watching his efforts, and ever ready to apply his seal to the result—instead, in short, of addressing himself right to the work with the expectation of seeing it accomplished,—he will do no such thing. This is one of the greatest errors in the Christian Church. Why did not the apostles assume God's sovereignty in this sense? Everybody can see that the primitive Christians went right to the work, as if they expected God's agency might be depended upon, taking it for granted that the Divine cooperation would by no means be wanting. Is there anything in the prophecies, in the gospels, in the epistles—is there anything in the entire Word of God to warrant our saying that the time for such things is gone past? No indeed; judging from the Bible, we have a right to expect more and more of the Divine cooperation and power. Such a supposition as the mistake I have noted, dampens the energies of the saints; and prevents their securing the end.

Another mistake is: It is assumed that the want of success is to be ascribed to God's sovereignty. Now, this is tempting God. There are men not half awake to the subject, ascribing the want of success to God's sovereignty!—men who have actually not employed the proper means! Indeed, the entire affair is nothing more or less than overlooking the fact, that God's government is a moral government. They confound physical with moral government, and physical with Divine influence, confusing and bewildering their minds; no wonder, then that their efforts are not crowned with success.

Another hindrance may be found in the assumption that if the work is God's work, there is no such thing as HINDERING it! "No such thing as hindering it!" Indeed! In what part of the Bible have you made that discovery? Was there "no such thing as hindering" conversion in the days of the apostles? The fact is, that if the means are not suitable to the object which is sought to be attained, it never will be attained; and to say that the means "will be sure to be adjusted to the end," is just as reasonable as would be the parent who forsook his child, on the plea that "if God designed him to get well, he would be sure to get well; he need not, therefore send for a physician—it was no use his doing anything!" To be sure I know," he says, "that God has settled in his own mind whether he shall or shall not get well, and the means will not be neglected if the end is to be secured." But it is just as easy to devote one's self to the conversion of the soul, as to the healing of the sick. Why then do men apply rules to the salvation of the soul, which would not entitle them to be considered sane if they applied them to anything else?

Again: Children are told to pray for the Spirit, when all the time they are resisting it. Instead of throwing all the blame on the sinner, and making him see that he is always resisting the Holy Ghost, they make it appear to him as if he were in reality more willing to receive the Holy Ghost than God was to bestow it! Whereas, if he would but yield to the convictions of the Holy Ghost, he is a converted child, or man, that moment. Yielding to the truth presented to the spirit, is conversion.

Again: He is set to pray for a new heart, instead of being told at once to give his heart to God—thus completely confusing the whole question, by assuming that he has nothing to do except to wait for God to make him a new heart, which they expect to come, like an electric shock, or something of that kind. Now, what is this assuming? Why, that he is really willing to be a Christian, and waiting for it! Now, does the Bible teach this? If so, where? It is in fact, telling the child that he is willing enough to be converted, and that he must pray to God and get him to be equally willing! Now, this is as gross an error as it is possible to propagate. Conversion is an act of the will in turning from sin unto God. The truth is, the sinner is not willing; the moment he is willing—that is conversion. The very act of being willing is the act which constitutes conversion. Now, to set a sinner to do what pre-supposes willingness on his part, is to throw the responsibility upon God. Now, my dear hearts, what can be a more deadly error than that?

Said a lawyer to me in one of the great cities of Pennsylvania, "Mr. Finney, is there any hope for me? When at college, I and two or three of my fellow students waited on the president, and asked him what we should do to be converted. He told us to keep out of bad company, to read the Scriptures, pray for a good heart, and in God's good time, we should either be converted or go back again into the world." As he said, they did "go back into the world." Bursting into tears, he continued, "My two companions are now in a drunkard's grave, and I have but just escaped! Now, is there any hope for me?" I told him, your president was probably a good man, but he taught you just what the devil wished you to be taught. Instead of at once accepting Christ, believing the truth, breaking down before him, he set you to read the Bible and to pray, thus throwing all the responsibility upon God. You were waiting for God to convert you without your cooperation. That was just what the devil wanted! "Oh! I see it," said he, "I see it!" Now, how many souls have been ruined in this way? Is that the way to trifle with immortal souls?—to assume that they are willing, when Christ says they will not come unto him. I know not, brethren, to what extent you are guilty of this; but this I know, that these are errors which are now doing incalculable mischief among children and others.

Again: ofttimes the instruction given to children places them in a false position with regard to the Spirit of God, the use of means, and their own duty. It places them in a position of being willing to do their duty; although impenitent and unbelieving, it gives them to understand that they are willing, and that it is God who is causing the delay—it gives them to understand that they are using means, and doing all they can to procure their own conversion; but it is false!—unutterably false, and pernicious! It is as false as to teach universal salvation. Why, I would just as soon teach infidelity right out, or any other error that can be taught, as to delude people with the idea that they are willing to come to Christ—that if the Spirit of God will only help them, all would be right now, when every single breath they breathe, they are resisting the Holy Ghost, and nothing else. What man was ever converted that did not learn that he had been all along wrong in thinking he was using means with God, instead of God's using means with him? Now, if a man has not learned this, I do not believe he is converted at all. When persons are truly converted, they see that the difficulty is not in God, but in their own blind resistance—perseveringly holding on to their sins, trying to make themselves better—trying to do something else than coming at once to Christ.

Another great hindrance is this,—the immediate conversion of children is not so much as expected. Why, how strange it is! So far from its being expected, such expectations have been discouraged. I doubt now whether there are many Sabbath-school teachers in this house that would dare to tell of it if his children were converted. No; if he should have the highest confidence possible without direct revelation from God, he would be himself astonished, and would not expect his fellow teachers to believe it. His fellow teachers would say, "Don't say that. Don't get up any animal excitement here! We don't believe in it." Why, now, who does not see that it is not wonderful they do not succeed; their failure is just what might reasonably be expected under such circumstances.

But let me say again: The idea whether young children can or cannot be converted, is still a matter of doubt to many. How infinitely strange this is! In the first place, children are exceedingly susceptible of conviction of sin, their little consciences are exceedingly tender. Their sins, if pressed upon them, will sometimes throw them into utter agony. I have seen the times when my own dear little ones could not commit sin without its causing them to perspire and tremble! I have seen this also in others. You can recollect, doubtless, many of you, some sin which your parents almost overlooked, but which, it may be, stung your little heart to a high degree. Again: Children are more inclined to believe than persons who have put it off and gone on hardening themselves. They can see they are sinners, that they need a Savior, and that Christ is that Savior. I do not mean to say that children when they become moral agents are not unholy; I believe they are, but they have not become so inveterately hardened as many older persons; consequently, everything would teach us to expect the conversion of little children. They are the most hopeful objects; they are the most likely to be converted; the work of conversion, as far as man's agency is concerned, is most easy in them, because it takes less instruction to work their conversion than those who are settled down. Again: some of them think that when they get older, they will be better—that their conversion will then be easier. Some ministers have actually refused children solely on the ground of their age.

There was a case of this in New York. One of the principal physicians in the place was himself an infidel, but his wife was a Christian. They had a little girl between seven and ten years of age. There was a great revival in the church to which the lady belonged; and this little Hannah, one of the most beautiful little children I ever beheld—became seriously anxious about her soul. The father found this out and was bitterly opposed to the mother for cherishing it, and reprimanded her for it. He said he "could not understand it, and he did not believe the child could." He would not, therefore, have the mother encourage such a delusion. However, one day, some time after this, as he was on his way to a patient's house, he began to think seriously on the subject, and saw at a single glance his relation to the Savior; he altered his mind, went home and confessed to his wife that he saw his error—that his pride of intellect had led him to overlook what the child in her simplicity at once had seen. Now, who does not see that this is the true teaching of the Bible? There are truths in religion, which the more lofty men's minds are, the more will they be impressed by them; but the simple truth of the way of salvation is so simple, that they are less likely, as we have seen, to understand and receive them.

Another hindrance is, that teachers have sometimes been flattered, puffed up, made proud when they needed reproof. What would you think of a minister who should always be flattered? Why, he must be a man of great grace, or he would speedily be a ruined man. Would you not expect such a man to be ruined, to lose his unction and power? Sabbath-school teachers are often spoken to in such a manner as to puff them up, when they were doing more harm than good. I shall produce some terrible facts before I am done, which will show that they are often doing almost unmingled mischief, whereas they flatter themselves they are doing an incalculable amount of good! The children are becoming hardened, while all the time, the teachers think they are doing great good. I always love to comfort those who need, deserve, and can legitimately be comforted; but far be it from me to plaster where probing is needed. If you would be flattered, you must go somewhere else; for I cannot flatter those who are not bringing about the great end to which Christ has told them to direct their efforts!

Another hindrance is, the best talents are not engaged in the work. Let matrons that know how to deal with children—men of mind and talent—parents acquainted with the management of the young—let such come forward, and take hold of the work. They ought to be leaders in it. Again: ofttimes Sabbath-school teachers have not the sympathy, cooperation, and prayers of the Church, but are left to themselves, all but uncared for by the body of Christians with which they are more immediately connected. Again: they have not by precept and by example warned the young of the sin and danger of their course.

I said I must present some facts. Now, I have some documents before me, containing statistics compiled by one who has long been engaged in Sabbath-school operations, which go to show that a vast proportion of the inmates of our prisons, have at one time or other, for various lengths of time, been under instruction in our Sabbath-schools! Nay, some of them have actually been teachers in them! In one prison it was found that thirteen out of sixteen had been in a Sunday-school. The total number of inmates of the goals from which these returns have been collected is 9,960; of these, 6,261 have been under Sabbath-school instruction! This is almost two-thirds! From the matrons of a number of penitentiaries, similar facts have been elicited:—number of inmates, 431; of these, 311 had been under Sabbath-school instruction; and thirteen had been teachers! Thus, more than two-thirds of these degraded males had been in Sabbath-schools; and more than three-fourths of the females! In the Wakefield House of Correction, for instance, 310 of the inmates had been in Sabbath-schools, 93 of whom had attended them over five years! 68 between 3 and 5, 59 between 2 and 3, 47 between 1 and 2, and 43 under 1 year. Now, what have we here? Just the very opposite of what we might naturally expect from Sabbath-school instruction. If it secured what it is expected to secure, the figures would just be reversed.

Making all allowance then for the diversity of agencies and other matters, when the inquiry came to be made, it was found that a large proportion of these fell through strong drink. One of the chaplains says: "Put away strong drink, and these institutions may speedily be shut up." All of them bear similar testimony. I have here a copious arrangement of judicial testimony to the same effect. Pains were taken to inquire of these poor children, Did your teacher teach you temperance? Did he by precept and example endeavor to guard you against a custom so dangerous? "No!" Thus, their greatest danger they were never warned against. This mighty maelstrom swallowing up all—never so much as warned! Is this the way?

Now let me say, brethren, in America, precisely an opposite state of things has been the result of Sabbath-school instruction. At least such has been my experience; and I consulted my friend, Brother Beecher, the son of the Rev. Dr. Beecher, and his testimony coincides with mine; and the uniform testimony of our country is that, seldom is a Sabbath-scholar found to be a criminal. The facts of the cases in our country, are actually quoted to defend and support Sabbath-schools. In every instance that I am aware of, total abstinence is pressed upon Sunday school children, and indeed also upon a very large proportion of the pupils of our common schools. Mr. Beecher agrees with me that, as far as our united experience goes, we are not aware of a single Sabbath-school where this is not so.

In seeking to promote revivals of religion among children, we must take care to make use of the great law of sympathy, and the laws of mind to work our end. It has been absurdly assumed that, what is effected through the law of sympathy, is not from God. But this is untrue; for the law of sympathy has a great deal to do with actuating the mind of man. One man's conversion is frequently instrumental in effecting the conversion of another. This is just what might be expected; and to bring a whole mass of children to act together and on one another is the true philosophy of converting children; and in the conversion of the world, it is God's method to bring men to act upon one another. Scores of thousands of American children have been converted in revivals of religion. If children are instructed without securing this result, they are hardened, and wax worse and worse. See how awfully this is the case in this country!

Now, I do not know how you have tried to secure revivals among the children of this country, or whether you have done so at all; and since I read the facts I have stated, I cannot tell you how my mind has been burdened that such should be the results of the Sabbath-schools in this land. I never heard anything of the kind before. Now, what is the matter? Can these facts be denied?

I have right before me the name of the man who informed me—what shall I say?—why, that the Sunday-school Union does not favor the Temperance movement! That some of its most influential members are engaged in the traffic, and set their faces against inculcating such principles. Now, I speak with kindness; but if this is so, it is too bad. It is awful; and although the voice is here coming from the prison and from the tomb—although the earth is loaded with wailing and lamentation and consequence of this traffic—yet they will not give it up. Oh! tell it not in Gath! Can such people expect the blessing of God? No indeed! It would be tempting God to expect it!—it would be tempting God to expect it!—IT WOULD BE TEMPTING GOD TO EXPECT IT!

Now, beloved, will you suffer such facts to go forth, and yet make no efforts to guard the children against this danger? Will the teachers now in this house let this state of things go on and on! Will you not say it shall be put a stop to forever.

In many parts of the United States, it is as much expected that young children should be converted, as their parents and the elder children. Sabbath-school teachers labor for it, expect to secure it, and do secure it. Everything favors the idea of the conversion of little children. We find them reputable members of our churches. They are the most hopeful subjects in the world; and the Church should expressly lay themselves out to secure their conversion to God.

But I have already trespassed too long on your time. I will conclude the subject next Wednesday evening.

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By the Rev. Professor Finney of Oberlin College, U. S.

To the Members of the Sunday-School Union At the Tabernacle, Moorfield.

A sermon delivered on Wednesday, September 4, 1850.

"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; to continue in them; for in doing this thou shall save both thyself and them that hear thee. I Timothy IV: 16

SUCH were the instructions given to Timothy. But what was true of Timothy in these respects is true of all ministers and persons who give themselves to Sabbath-school teaching and religious instruction generally. If the conditions above set forth be complied with, in a proper spirit and from proper motives, success is certainly to be relied on.

In speaking to the words before me, I shall notice what is implied—


I am addressing myself more particularly this evening to teachers of religion, who sustain a most important relation to all classes of the community. What, then, is implied in a religious teacher's, "taking heed to himself?"

First, let him see to it that his motive is right in undertaking the great work—that the state of his heart is such that he is really in sympathy with Christ. If he embarks in this business without, "taking heed to himself" in these respects, he involves himself in deep condemnation, and must inevitably fail in saving either himself or those that hear him.

But let me say again: Not only must religious teachers take care that their motive of action, but that their spirit and temper, is of a proper character, lest by either of these being bad, they counteract their own efforts, and the efforts of their fellow-workers. They must take heed lest, by their frivolous and worldly lives, they counteract their own teaching. This is the case, in compar- ative proportions, both with the teachers of the churches, and the teachers of the Sunday-schools—with the latter, of course, the injury is smaller, his influ- ence being confined to a more limited circle. If the teacher, however, manifests a worldly spirit before the children of his class, he is equally culpable with the pastor whose example is so deleterious to his flock, and for the same reason.

But again: You must take heed to your qualifications. See that you are really qualified—spiritually and intellectually suited to the work, at least in such a measure as to warrant a rational hope of your giving correct instruction to the children.

Again: Take heed that you yourself believe what you attempt to teach. If you don't believe it yourself, it is of no use to attempt to persuade them. They will find you out. You will betray your unbelief in your very manner, and the discovery of it will be their principal stumbling-block. Show them that you personally realize the importance of what you are teaching—that you believe it with all your soul. If you do not attend to this, you do not "take heed to yourself" in any such sense as will warrant expectation of success in your mission.

Take heed, also, that you personally know Christ, so as not to be obliged to teach by hearsay, like the sons of Sceva, who attempted to cast out devils through Christ whom Paul taught, not through anything with which they themselves were connected. Satan, of course, has little difficulty in overcoming those who are preaching a hearsay gospel. They are but poorly prepared to urge it upon others, and they are themselves without any firm expectation of its being accepted. Without any personal communion with Christ on their part, how can they expect to persuade others? Be careful, then, that you know yourself the true way of salvation—how to come at the gospel—how to avail yourself of it—and how to teach others the manner in which they may avail themselves of it. There is a vast mistake among teachers on this subject; instead of teaching others how to avail themselves of the way of life, they teach them the exact opposite of what they ought to teach them.

Take heed that you are taught of God. You must have the spirit of the gospel to explain it to you. You need to be ministers of the spirit as well as ministers of the letter,—instructed by the Holy Spirit himself. Take heed to this, for you certainly may be thus instructed, seeing that God never sets men to make bricks without straw, and if, therefore, he has really called you to instruct others, he will instruct you, if you will allow him to do so. But he will only instruct you on certain conditions—(1) that you believe, and (2) that you renounce your selfishness and have a single eye to his glory in seeking your instruction, and not any selfish motive. In the prayer, you will recollect I mentioned two passages in Scripture. "If a man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not;" and again, that "except a man forsake all that he hath, and follow me, he cannot be my disciple." To be a disciple is to be a pupil. You cannot have him for a teacher unless you forsake all that you have. This means that you must renounce selfishness, not seeking to be taught from any selfish motive, but for the same reason that he would impart instruction. Do this and you may be sure you will be taught of God. Only seek to be instructed for God's glory; pray in faith, and you will certainly receive instruction according to your need.

Take heed not to be skeptical with regard to your work. Do not allow yourself to get into a skeptical state of mind in teaching religious truth. This very skepticism will defeat the end in view, and actually tend to confirm itself. For example, suppose you go and teach children without expecting their conversion, and they are not converted,—why, they are only confirming you in your skepticism. "Then," you say, "I did not expect it; I had no reason to expect it." Indeed, you had no reason, as we shall presently see.

Take heed that you are not indolent, careless—in your preparation for the labors of the class—take care you are not wanting in diligence, because this, too, will defeat the work. God loves to see you diligent, and unless you really are so, you need not expect to succeed.

Take heed, also, that you are not discouraged, and by that means defeat the work. Nothing is more important than that you should confidently expect to secure the object which he has set you to secure.

Take heed that your life and manner do not contradict your teaching, so as to make a bad impression rather than a good one. But I must pass very rapidly over this department of the subject, and come to the second consideration.


There are a vast number of points about which persons will dispute and disagree; setting all these aside, however, there are many so plainly revealed as to be wholly beyond the dispute of any reasonable man. Yet, without being at all aware of it, multitudes of persons teach things entirely inconsistent with them, while, if you should put the proposition plainly and ask them if they believed it, they could not deny it. They would assent to the doctrine in the form of a proposition, while,—unconsciously perhaps,—they are continually making an impression diametrically opposed to it. I will give a few examples of doctrines which are thus treated, and to which it is important, therefore, that teachers should take heed.

First; that the blame of sin belongs to the sinner. Now, you Sunday-school teachers, and other religious instructors, must not only understand this, and believe it yourselves, but you must be sure to lodge it in the mind of the sinner. Impress on the little minds of the Sabbath-school children that they have no excuse for their antagonistic position towards God and that they must, therefore, take at once the full blame of their sins—that they stand before God as rebels against his government, without the least excuse to plead in mitigation of their offence. If you do not believe this, you deny one of the first and fundamental principles of the gospel; you are wholly unfit to be teachers, but need yourselves to be taught the first principles of the oracles of God. Take heed then, that, although not actually denying it with your lips, the impression made is not opposed to it.

Take heed, again, that you don't convey the impression that the awful position of the sinner is not a crime, but a misfortune. It is a situation calling for pity it is true, but it is not pity, for his misfortune, but because he has been so infinitely to blame. There is no way in which he can make excuse for himself and his sinful courses.

These things are unqualifiedly and universally true, of every sinner, under heaven, and you must not fail to lodge them in the minds of those whom you instruct. Be sure that nothing drops from your lips which a child could construe into any sort of apology for his antagonism to the Almighty. I have known scholars to say such things, even to their teachers themselves, as would make you all feel the great importance of this point, had I but time to relate them. Some have declared that the influence of the tuition in those places had well nigh made them infidels. A child when once allowed to think he is not to blame, will draw an inference at once natural and irresistible—a logical little mind will never fail to do this, and entrench itself in the results of such a conclusion.

Again: Be sure to know and feel that the carnal mind is at enmity against God; that, therefore, children as well as adults, as soon as they are moral agents, are enemies of God; and that this is, moreover, a voluntary state of mind. It is a minding of the flesh and fleshly appetites. They should understand this, and not be left under a mistake. Their carnal minds are at enmity against God,—a voluntary state of enmity—the committal of themselves to a search after their own particular gratifications instead of serving God. Take heed also to teach them that the will of every impenitent sinner is entirely opposed to God's will, and that in this lies his moral depravity. None of you will deny this. You should tell the sinner that the voluntary opposition of his will to God's is his sin.

You will not deny, also, that no impenitent sinner is willing to obey God. In short, the very words are a contradiction—the proposition that an impenitent sinner is willing to obey God involves a direct contradiction in terms. What is impenitence but resistance? How, then, can an impenitent mind be willing, in any sense, to obey God? Every man, woman, and child who is impenitent, is unwilling to obey God, and this is their only difficulty. Let there be no mistake about this. Let it be so amplified, enlarged, and dwelt upon, in every direction, that every sinner shall understand that he is stubborn, and will not obey God.

Now, I suppose as I have said, that these are truths you will all admit; but are you sure that you teach nothing inconsistent with them?

Again: Be sure to teach that sin can never be forgiven without repentance. You will admit that no sinner has a right to be forgiven while he remains impenitent. I suppose—you will admit, that while impenitent, God has no right to forgive them, and that he has informed them that he will not do so. I suppose you also admit that they have no right to expect any such thing under such circumstances. But do not people sometimes teach things inconsistent with this admission?

Again: Take heed to the doctrine in this respect—that repentance consists in the heart's forsaking sin, and turning to God. It is not a mere involuntary state of turning, while the heart cleaves to sin in opposition to God, but consists in the heart and will rejecting sin and turning to God.

Now, in the next place, take heed to this—without faith it is impossible to please God; and that whatever is not of faith is sin. No one, I should think, would pretend to dispute this. It is a plain proposition—without faith it is impossible to please God, and what is not faith is sin. But take heed that you do not teach something inconsistent with this; after all, for if individuals pray in unbelief and impenitence, they not only mock God, but commit sin, and that as really as they have done at any other period of their lives,—they only pray hypocritically—it is but sin. This cannot be denied, unless the Bible and all common sense be denied.

Take heed and teach that all men should pray—that they are bound to pray, and to pray invariably,—to pray in penitence and in faith. Even children are bound to pray; and they must be taught to pray—taught always, that unless they do pray, and pray with a penitent heart, that they mock God; and that they never are sincere when they pray, unless they do so in faith,—without this, they cannot possibly be sincere. Every will that is opposed to God, does not want to be converted, does not want the things it asks for, if it knew what they really were. Take heed to press their present obligation to repent and believe, and the disastrous consequences of refusing or neglecting to attend to these matters. Be sure to make them clearly comprehend that there is no escape from this responsibility. God requires all men, everywhere to repent, and regards every moment's delay wickedness—it's neglect is wickedness so great as to be considered by him as deserving a complete damnation. These things you teachers must believe yourselves—if you don't, you are wholly unfit to teach, for in so doing, you tell lies in the name of the Lord. Press upon them, then, as I have said, their present obligation. Now is the accepted time it is God's accepted time; now is the day of salvation, God himself being judge—therefore none need wait either for God to be ready or for anything else to be done. God calls upon all men everywhere to repent, and to repent now. He tells them that now is the "accepted time," in the sense that it is the "day of salvation."

Again: Teach sinners that they are impenitent—that they do invariably and universally resist the Holy Ghost whenever he approaches them, or has anything to do with them. As long as they reject the truth, and do not unqualifiedly receive it as the truth of God, they resist the Holy Ghost.

Again: It is remarkable to what an extent teachers fail to make themselves understood. When you explain anything to a person so that he fully comprehends you, how often does he exclaim, "Why, how strange! Shouldn't I have thought it. Never heard such a thing before." Never heard such a thing before, do you say? Why, there is little doubt but that you have heard the very same thing announced, in other words hundreds and even thousands of times. Pains have not been taken to amplify the subject for the public, and, consequently, they are in great ignorance. Persons brought up in the gospel, are used to hearing the phrases of Scripture repeated, but not expounded as they ought to be, and turned over and over, analyzed, and displayed in their various aspects, so that even children may understand them. This should be the great object of religious teaching. The religious teacher falls far short of his duty by merely talking to the sinner in orthodox phrase without clearly expounding it's meaning. A man may be perfectly orthodox in his teaching as far as words are concerned, but the people may, nevertheless, be as ignorant of his real meaning as if he had spoken in Greek, or in Hebrew, or any other language; for they fail to understand the one he uses.

Some of the most common words for instance which are used by religious men, have no sort of meaning attached to them by worldly men. Some time ago, the question of sanctification came up for discussion in the United States, and not one out of forty of the ministers could give any clear definition of what it really was. Some of the strangest and most absurd things were said about it by the press. We had consequently, as many definitions of it almost as there were men to write upon it. The same may be said of numerous other words, such as regeneration, repentance, faith, and many of the words most commonly used. Many persons have failed to form a definite idea of the state of mind expressed by these words; few, comparatively speaking, have an accurate idea of what that state of mind really is. A child has a mind and consciousness, and is just as really able to understand these words as any person in the world.

If you were going to tell a child anything requiring great logic and penetration, you might find some difficulty to show him what you mean; but matters involving consciousness—such as the terms, love and faith,—these you can explain to a child just as well as you can to an adult. You can teach a child what it is to believe. If his father, yielding to his worrying, should promise to purchase him a knife—such promise would satisfy the child—he would rest on it, believing that his father really would get him one. Well, what is this but faith? Now, if you ask a child, "do you know what faith is," he would most probably say "no, I cannot say." Well then, just tell him—"suppose you wanted a knife. That you were much distressed for one. That your little playfellow had one. That you tease your father to get you one till he promises he will. You leap for joy. What ails you—you have not got it? No, but your father has promised you, and you believe him." I mention this simply as an illustration of what may be done in this way. Be sure to take pains that you yourself really analyze these questions, and sift them to the bottom, making yourself so familiar with them, that you can illustrate them in such a manner as invariably to secure the attention of the children, and enable them to comprehend your meaning.

Again: Beware of leaving a false impression. For instance, do not let them think that they are not expected to believe just yet. By no means let them think they need not do it now. Do not let them think this—do not leave this impression, either directly or indirectly, by anything in your teaching, either in matter or manner. If you do so, as we shall see presently, you have done them the greatest evil it was in your power to inflict upon them. Beware of this, as you would beware of ruining their souls. Be sure; lodge the impression in their minds, and keep it before them, that they are expected to do it now. By all means encourage the idea, should they manifest a disposition to obey now.

Again: Be careful not to let them run away with the idea that they are unable to obey the truth; for, if you do, by a law natural and irresistible, they will come to the very natural conclusion that they are under no obligation to do it. If they are impressed with their inability, it is impossible they can feel any sense of moral obligation. There never was, nor can there ever be such a thing as a human mind believing or affirming it's moral obligation to perform an impossibility. If, therefore, you leave an impression on a child's mind that he is unable to do what he is required to do, you have done him the greatest possible injury. Why? Because, by an irresistible law in his heart, he will throw off the responsibility, and you cannot help it. He will not only do that, but he will charge God with being a tyrant. He will do this in his heart, if he dare not with his lips. If you tell him God will send him to hell because he did not perform that which he is naturally unable to perform why,—a child cannot believe this! They have minds, and their minds have laws; they will make such inferences, and you cannot prevent it.

Again: Do not leave the impression on their minds that they are willing to be Christians. In conversing with parents with regard to young persons, I have often found them saying, "Oh, he wants to be a Christian, he is friendly towards religion, he is trying to be a Christian"—not one word of which is true! I have had to tell such persons, in hundreds of instances, "what! Do you teach your children that? Do they want to be Christians? Does God say so? No indeed. You say they are friendly to God—he says they are at enmity against him; you teach their willingness—he their unwillingness." Now, what can parents do worse than this?—what can they do worse than this? Nothing! They teach the direct opposite of the truth, and what every orthodox Christian knows and allows to be truth. It is not uncommon for Sabbath-school teachers to teach this, and to leave such impressions.

Again: Do not teach them that they can do their duty in any case, or under any circumstances, before they have given their hearts unqualifiedly to God; therefore, instead of setting them to do something to get a new heart, teach them at once to give their hearts to God. A new heart—what is it? A mind devoted to God by a voluntary act, repenting, believing—in short, submitting its whole being to God. I would just as soon tell a man to go right straight along a road when I knew that, in fifteen minutes, he would precipitate himself from the top of a cliff into the abyss beneath. What! Does God require the sinner to do something by way of persuading God to make in him a new heart? No indeed; he is all the time entreating the sinner to yield himself up to him. Now, this is just what he is unwilling to do. Why do you not yield, when God is entreating you, "My son, give me thy heart?" "Why will you die?" This is what God says; and do you throw it upon God? Instead of teaching him to do his duty, accepting Christ and giving himself up to God, you send him away with the idea that he already does his duty. Now, he will never be converted till he finds such teaching is false. It must be, not because of the teaching, but in spite of it. Until he loses sight of the idea that he is going, in some way, to persuade God to do something for him in the way he thinks, he will never be converted.

Take the history of such a soul: He has been praying and praying, struggling and struggling, pretending to wait for God, and all this; by and by, he suddenly sees that he ought at once to believe; he does believe—that he ought at once to submit; he does submit—and now the thing is done. Thus, in multitudes of cases, I have known individuals struggling for a long time under false teaching, and finally, in a moment, the Spirit has turned their thoughts away from their false teaching, and they beheld what they ought to do. Now, you can easily see that if you teach anything inconsistent with these certain and universally admitted truths, you are going right against the Spirit of God—you are putting weapons into the little sinner's hand to fight against his God, to stand and cavil with him!

But again: Be sure to make children understand the nature of their dependence on God. Now, if you talk to them much, as you naturally will, and as the Bible does, about the Spirit of God converting them, and about his agency, and do not explain to them the nature and necessity of this agency, you will commit two mistakes which, if not fatal, no thanks to you. The Bible does not overlook this question; it is stated clearly and repeatedly as much so as anything else that is in the Bible. If you teach them that the Spirit of God has something to do with them, and that there is a necessity for his agency, and do not teach them what it is, they think it is some electric shock, or something of that kind, which they have to wait for. But teach them that while they thus wait for this electric shock, they are resisting the Spirit of God—it is very obstinate wickedness—this is the very reason why they do not at once turn to God. Ask them" Don't you know you ought to turn to God?" "Yes." "That it is wicked for you to live in sin?" "Yes."

Now, then, why do you grieve the Spirit of God by refusing? Why, just for the same reason as if you had made up your mind to resist your father. He tells you not to go down to the river; never to play near the water. You are determined to go off with the boys and do so. It happened that you have made up your mind so strongly, that, unless some person comes in and presses the matter home till he prevails with you, you will certainly go. Now, in what sense do you need such a person's agency? You will certainly go, and he knows it, unless he can influence you. You can easily show this to the child—that his dependence on this agency is his crime. It is only owing to his obstinate wickedness; and in proportion to the certainty of his not being without this influence is the greatness of his wickedness. The thing needed is to make him willing. It is, therefore, quite clear that he cannot justify himself because of his dependence, which, on the contrary, is an evidence of his guilt. The influence of the Spirit must be acknowledged as a matter of course; if any of you should think of denying it—mark the consequences; if you deny the necessity of the Spirit's agency, because of the sinner's obstinacy, and that his dependence upon the Spirit suits his wickedness, you deny that the Spirit's agency is a gracious one. If you think the sinner is, unfortunately, rather unable than unwilling, then the Spirit's agency is not grace but justice.

Furthermore: Another error, is, failing to let the sinner understand the nature of this agency. If you fail to do this, he will resist the Spirit, and all the while think he is doing no such thing. He says, "How can I who am a man, resist Omnipotence?" He does not know that resisting truth, when clearly presented to the mind, is resisting the Spirit. He will not admit that he is resisting it. If you do not teach him the nature of the agency, he will not see that, while he is praying for this agency, all the while he is resisting it. Seeing these points are so momentous, warn the little sinners against delay, and against throwing the blame on God, because they have not the Spirit—do this in a proper spirit and suitable manner, and you will make their little consciences quiver. You will feel sorry for them. So does Christ, and that is the reason he wants you to press them to come up. Take the little fellow up, appeal to his little conscience, draw him kindly to you, cut him off from his refuges of lies, shut him up to Jesus alone—that is the way to do with him to save him.

Be sure to make him feel the justice of his condemnation; for in proportion as you fail in this, you throw a veil over the gospel—it must be understood by the sinner that his "condemnation is just." Just in proportion as this is understood, the necessity and glory of the gospel is understood. Fail in this, and you may talk to the sinner to the day of his death. How can he understand God's love without understanding his own guilt? How can he understand the necessity for Jesus dying unless he knows that he deserved to die himself—and that Jesus died for him. Pinch the little sinner's conscience on this point, for upon it hangs the whole question. It will not be denied that the child deserves to be condemned, for if it were not so, what need was there for a Savior or an atonement? If he did not deserve to die himself, Jesus would not have died for him. This should be always taught and insisted upon; in fact, it should never be kept out of sight.

Once more: Be sure to expect to secure the early conversion of children. Aim at it and be wise in the selection of means. And again, let me say, take head to yourself and the doctrine, and persevere in presenting it.


What is meant by the promise? Simply this,—that if you do what is commanded in the right spirit, the promised results shall follow, from which it may be plainly inferred that the connection between conversion and the use of means, on the part of the church, and of those who instruct the people, is invariable. What else can it mean? Now, whatever people may say about God's sovereignty, one thing is certain—that if religious teachers take heed to themselves and to the doctrine, and continue in them in so doing, they shall both save themselves and those who hear them. This is the law of God's government; it is God's absolute truth, and is as true as God is true.

A few remarks must conclude what I have to say. What a tremendous responsibility devolves upon the religious teacher! But there is something better than this—there is a glorious encouragement held out to him. When I preach to parents about their responsibility in relation to the conversion of their children, I endeavor to impress them with the fact, that God has made them responsible for the conversion of their children. On one occasion, after a sermon on this subject, in which I had been showing the responsibility of parents, a man came to me in the vestry, and told me he did not like my view of the matter. But he was soon reminded of the fact, that God had laid this responsibility upon them, and that it was a most glorious encouragement, for God had connected their salvation with the persevering use of means within their reach. If this subject were regarded in its proper aspect, instead of mourning, parents would leap for joy and say, "Well, in the name of the Lord, my children shall not be lost!" "By the grace of God," the teacher might say, "my class shall not be lost!" Here is your privilege—will you shrink from your responsibility? No indeed!

Suppose a mother with a sick child shall be told, "Your child is sick unto death, unless you comply with certain conditions." Would she say, "Oh, that's such a responsibility!" Oh! no; you know what she would say. You tell her the conditions, how she would catch at them, exclaiming, "if there is anything I can do, how gladly will I do it!" All the mother is awake in her to secure the end.

I remark again: Unbelief in teachers of religion is the greatest of all their stumbling-blocks. Sinners would be very much better off without any teachers at all than an unbelieving one. I would rather trust them with the Bible alone, a thousand times. Suppose, for example, a minister should always leave the impression that he did not expect the conversion of his hearers—that it would be unreasonable to expect it. Suppose he were to preach and pray as if he did not expect it—that he had no rational reason to do so. Why, such a man is the greatest curse a congregation can have! Just as it is with the Sunday-school teacher, who does not believe that his children will be converted. I would never send my children to such a school as that. No! I would as soon send them to no place whatever to be taught.

I remark again: It is common for people to teach children that they ought to be converted now, while it is very evident from their way of proceeding, that they do not expect them to be converted now. They expect it "by and by." Is this right? If the child is old enough to be taught, why is it not old enough to be converted? If he is old enough to sin, why is he not old enough to repent? It is more natural to expect persons to be converted early, when they first get the doctrines of the gospel into their minds, because then they are naturally more impressed with the subject. They afterwards lose their hold of it. If I believed my child could not be converted young, I would not teach him religion while young. If they must be men or women first, I won't teach them a word of religion till then. Why? Why, I should state these truths merely to harden their hearts and increase their guilt!—Why should I do this before I expect them to obey the truth? How absurd!

What a great evil it is that little children should die if they are old enough to sin, and not old enough to repent—if they can be taught now, and yet not be converted till by and by! Bring up a child from its very infancy to the use of alcohol. Be sure that the mother, while nursing it, takes enough to keep the child drunk. Give it a little after awhile—let it sip a little out of it's cup and thus bring it up to the use of it. Do not teach it temperance till it becomes older, when fairly hardened in its course, bewildered, and stupefied by drink. Then try to reform it! Is this the way? Yet, this is just as true of other forms of sin, as of this. When first a sense of sin afflicts their little consciences, teach them to come to Christ at once for forgiveness.—then, if ever, is the time you may expect it. Every moment's delay only makes sin a habit, hardening the heart, and stupefying the conscience. Oh! what a mistake it is to let children grow up in sin, expecting them to be converted when they become more hardened.

I had intended to have enlarged here on the method of promoting revivals of religion among children—how it may be done, how it has been done, and what the results have been. I wish I had time to state my views of the importance of getting masses of them to think and act together—to move in one direction. There is nothing on which the great law of sympathy has so powerful, direct, and glorious a bearing as in bringing masses of men to inquire with regard to religious truth—in bringing them to rise up and act together. Especially is this true with regard to children; it is the most elevating, fascinating, and glorious thing conceivable to see masses of children turning to God.

Another great difficulty in the way, is the unbelief of the Church with regard to the willingness of God and the certainty there is that he will immediately put his hand in the work. One day, in conversing with a brother minister, he said, "I bless God for the idea of the truth of which I have now no doubt, that when I do just what he has told me to do, I can depend upon his immediately seconding my efforts and cooperating with me." While thinking thus, it occurred to me that to doubt this, or to leave the question open to debate were to doubt God's own word, and to throw a stumbling-block before my own feet. Now, the truth is, that Christ has said he will be with us in all places, at all times—and for what? Why, to secure the very end he has sent us to accomplish—the salvation of men.

Now, dearly beloved, we ought to expect this cooperation as really as we believe in the natural laws which govern the universe. It is as certain as the operation of the law of gravitation—as certain, and may be depended upon just as much as any natural law may be depended upon, when all the conditions of it's fulfillment are strictly and fully complied with. Whenever this is tried and tested—whenever we can truly say we have in all respects done our duty—God has never failed. If he has, let cases be brought forward! It cannot be done. How long, then, shall this unbelief stand in the way of the work?

I had much more to say on this and kindred branches of my subject, but time will not permit; but let me remark that if you take heed unto yourself, and to the doctrine, and continue in them, your classes must be saved! Does not God distinctly tell you so? I ask for no more than this one thing—in regard to my ministry, I want no higher assurance than this. To be sure I know very well that I am dependent upon Divine grace, but I know that I am dependent upon it in such a sense as that I shall be sure to have it. God has not sent me to preach the gospel as the Israelites in Egypt had to make bricks without straw. God said to Paul—and it is true of every preacher—"My grace is sufficient for thee;" he has said again, "As thy day is, so shall thy strength be." Beloved, then, hold on— hold on—oh! hold on to this! Amen.


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The Right Way to "Train Up A Child." - Select wisdom from some of the greatest Revivalists and Teachers of the Great Awakenings