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be overlooked, but as it difpofeth to an ill life otherwife, fo God readily pays it home, fo as the fin may be read in the punishment.
Secondly, I come to confider the duty of parents to their children; and I may take up this under five heads, viz. while they are yet in the womb, while in their infancy, from the time they come to the ufe of reason, at all times, and when a-dying.
1. The duty which parents owe to their children while yet in the womb.
ift, Parents are obliged to use all care for the prefervation of the child, to beware of any thing that may harm the child in the belly, and efpecially that may procure abortion, Judg. xiii. 4.
2dly, Dealing with God in behalf of the child, praying for its prefervation, and for its foul as foon as it is known to be a living foul. I think that no fooner fhould the mother or father know a living foul to be in the womb, but as foon with Rebekah they should go to God for it, Gen. xxv. 21. 22. If Hannah could de-vote her child to God before it was conceived, 1 Sam. i. 11. Chriftian parents may and ought to devote their children to God when quickened in the womb. Whofo neglect this confider not that then the child is a finful creature, under the wrath of God and the curfe of the law; that it is capable of fanctification, must live for ever in heaven or hell, and that poffibly it may never fee the light.
Laftly, Labouring by all means that it may be born within the covenant; which is to be done by parents making fure their own being within the covenant; for fo runs the promise, I will be thy God, and the God of thy feed.
2. The duty they owe to them in their infancy. Ift, Parents fhould blefs God for them when they are born, Luke i. 67. &c. Children are God's heri tage; the key of the womb is in his hand; he gives them to fome, and with-holds them from others; and
they should be received with thankfulness from the Lord's hand.
2dly, Giving them up to the Lord as foon as they are born, renewing the dedication of them to God, and accepting of the covenant for them; and procuring to them the feal of the covenant without any unneceffary delay. Under the Old Testament infants were to receive the feal on the eighth day. Now there is no fet time, but common equity bids take the first opportunity, and not delay it needlefsly. The undue delay of circumcifion was punished in Mofes, Exod. iv. 24.; and the delay of baptifm cannot but be difpleafing to God too, as a flighting of his ordinance.
3dly, Tender care of them, doing all things neceffary for them, while they are not capable to do for themselves, If. xlix. 15. And here it is the duty of the mother to nurfe the child herself, if she be able, Hof. ix. 14. And this care of infants, the burden of which lies moft on the mothers, is one great piece of their generation-work, wherein they are useful for God, and which they ought to look on as fpecial fervice for their comfort in the trouble which therein they have.
3. The duties they owe to them from the time they come to the use of reason, and fo forward.
if, They are to provide for them, and that aye and until they be in a capacity to provide for themfelves, 1 Tim. v. 8. This arifes from the natural obligation and instinct that is common to men with beafts; whereof the wildeft will feed their young till they be able to do for themselves. Thus parents are, (1.) To provide fuitable maintenance for their children for the prefent, and to lay out themselves for it, though with the fweat of their brows. (2.) And, as God profpers them, they are to lay up fomething for them, 2 Cor. xii. 14.; for though the poffeffion be their parent's entirly, yet he is ftinted to the use of a part, according to what is neceffary. Only no man is to take from prefent neceffities for future provifions; but
what God has given, let men take the comfortable ufe of it; and what remains, let them lay by for their children, Eccl. ii. 18. 19. 24. But for people to deny themselves things neceffary and comely, that they may lay them up for their children, is a curfe; and if their children fhould follow their example, to deny hemselves the use thereof, to tranfmit them to theirs, the use of it should never be had: but ordinarily what the parents narrowly gather, and keep fo as they cannot take the convenient use of it themselves, the children quickly run through.
2dly, Civil education, that they may, be useful members of the commonwealth. This we may take up in these three things.
(1.) Parents fhould polifh the rude natures of their children with good manners, fo as they may carry comely and difcreetly before themselves or others, Prov. xxxi. 28. It is the difhonour of parents to fee children rude and altogether unpolifhed as young beafts; and religion is an enemy to rudeness and ill manners, 1 Pet. iii. 8.
(2.) They fhould give them learning according to their ability, and fee that at least they be taught to read the Bible, 2 Tim. iii. 15. What is it that makes fo many ignorant old people, but that their parents have neglected this? But where parents have neglected this, grace and good nature would make a fhift to fupply this defect.
(3.) They fhould train them up to do fomething in the way of fome honeft employment, whereby they may be useful to themfelves or others. To nourish children in idleness is but to prepare them for prifons or correction houses, or to be plagues to fome one family or another, if providence do not mercifully interpofe, Prov. xxxi. 27. Chriftians fhould train up their daughters to do virtuoufly, ver. 29. For their own fakes let them be capable to make their hands fufficient for them, feeing none know what ftraits they may be brought to. And for the fake of others to
whom they may be joined, let them be virtuously, frugally, and actively educated, otherwise what they bring with them will hardly quit the coft of the mifchief that their unthriftinefs and fillinefs will produce, Prov. xiv. 3. Whether ye can give them fomething or nothing, let them not want Ruth's portion, a good name, a good head, and good hands, Ruth iii. 11. Sons fhould be brought up to fome honeft employment, whereby they may be worth their room in the world, Gen. iv. 2. This is fuch a neceffary piece of parents duty to their children, that the Athenians had a law, That if a fon was brought up to no calling at all, in cafe his father fhould come to poverty, he was not bound to maintain him, as otherwife he was.
3dly, Religious education, Eph. vi. 4. If parents provide not for their children, they are worfe than beats to their young; if they give them not civil education, they are worfe than Heathens; but if they add not religious education, what do they more than civilized Heathens? When God gives thee a child, he fays as Pharaoh's daughter to Mofes's mother, Take this child and nurse it for me, Exod. ii. 9. Though we be but fathers of their flesh, we must be careful of their fouls, otherwise we ruin them.
(1.) Parents ought to inftruct their children in the principles of religion, and to fow the feeds of godlinefs in their hearts, as foon as they are able to speak, and have the ufe of reafon, Deut. vi. 6. 7. Such early religious education is a bleffed mean of grace, 1 Kings xviii. 12. compare ver. 3. Not only is this the duty of fathers, who should teach their children, Prov. iv. 3.4. but of mothers, who, while the children are young about their hand, fhould be dropping tomething to them for their fouls good. Solomon had not only his father's leffon, but the prophecy his mother taught him, Prov. xxxi. 1. See chap. i. 8.
(2.) They should labour for that end to acquaint them with the fcriptures, 2 Tim. iii. 15. to caufe
them to read them. Let the reading of their chapters be a piece of their daily task; and cause then read the fcriptures in order, that they may be acquainted both with the precepts and hiftories of the Bible. Let them be obliged to learn their catechifin, and catechife them yourselves according to your ability. For teaching by way of queftion and anfwer is moft eafy for them.
(3.) If they afk you any questions concerning these things, do not difcourage them, but take pains to anfwer all their queftions, however weakly they may be propofed, Deut. vi. 20. 21. Children are often found to have very mishapen notions of divine things; but if they were duly encouraged to fpeak, they might vent their thoughts, which parents thus get occasion to rectify.
4thly, Labour to deter them from fin. The neglect of this was Eli's fin, for which God judged his houfe, 1 Sam. iii. 13. Endeavour to poffefs their hearts with an abhorrence of finful practices, and a dread of them. Carefully check their lying, fwearing, curfing or banning, and fabbath-breaking. If they learn these while young, they will be fair to accompany them to gray hairs. Let them not dare to meddle with what is another man's, if it were not worth a farthing. Encourage them in taking up little things, and they may come in time to bring themselves to an ill end, and you to difgrace.
5thly, Stir them up to the duties of holiness, and the practice of religion. Often inculcate on them the doctrine of their finful and miferable state by nature, and the remedy provided in Chrift. Shew them the neceffity of holinefs, pointing out Chrift to them as the fountain of fanctification. Commend religion to them, and prefs them to the study of it, as the main thing they have to do in the world, Prov. iv. 4. &c.
6thly, Pray with them, and teach them to pray. For this caufe let not the worship of God be neglect. ed in your families; but for your childrens fake main