Duties of Parents
by J. C. Ryle
"Train up a child in the way he should go—and when he is old, he will not
depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
I suppose that most professing Christians are acquainted with the text at
the head of this page. The sound of it is probably familiar to your ears,
like an old tune. It is likely you have heard it, or read it, talked of it,
or quoted it, many a time. Is it not so?
But, after all, how little is the substance of this text regarded! The
doctrine it contains appears scarcely known, the duty it puts before us
seems fearfully seldom practiced. Reader, do I not speak the truth?
It cannot be said that the subject is a new one. The world is old, and we
have the experience of nearly six thousand years to help us. We live in days
when there is a mighty zeal for education in every quarter. We hear of new
schools rising on all sides. We are told of new systems, and new books for
the young, of every sort and description. And still for all this, the vast
majority of children are manifestly not trained in the way they should go,
for when they grow up to man's estate, they do not walk with God.
Now how shall we account for this state of things? The plain truth is, the
Lord's commandment in our text is not regarded—and therefore the Lord's
promise in our text is not fulfilled.
Reader, these things may well give rise to great searchings of heart. Permit
then a word of exhortation from a minister, about the right training of
children. Believe me, the subject is one that should come home to every
conscience, and make every one ask himself the question, "Am I in this
matter doing what I can?"
It is a subject that concerns almost all. There is hardly a household that
it does not touch. Parents, teachers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters—all
have an interest in it. Few can be found, I think, who might not influence
some parent in the management of his family, or affect the training of some
child by suggestion or advice. All of us, I suspect, can do something here,
either directly or indirectly, and I wish to stir up all to bear this in
It is a subject, too, on which all concerned are in great danger of coming
short of their duty. This is preeminently a point in which men can see the
faults of their neighbors more clearly than their own. They will often bring
up their children in the very path which they have denounced to their
friends as unsafe. They will see motes in other men's families, and overlook
beams in their own. They will be quick sighted as eagles in detecting
mistakes abroad, and yet blind as bats to fatal errors which are daily going
on at home. They will be wise about their brother's house, but foolish about
their own flesh and blood. Here, if anywhere, we have need to suspect our
own judgment. This, too, you will do well to bear in mind.
As a minister, I cannot help remarking that there is hardly any subject
about which people seem so tenacious as they are about their children. I
have sometimes been totally astonished at the slowness of sensible Christian
parents to admit that their own children are in fault, or deserve blame.
There are not a few people to whom I would far rather speak about their own
sins—than tell them their children had done anything wrong.
Come now, and let me place before you a few hints about right training. God
the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit bless them, and make them words
in season to you all. Reject them not because they are blunt and simple;
despise them not because they contain nothing new. Be very sure, if you
would train children for heaven, they are hints that ought not to be lightly
1. First, then, if you
would train your children rightly, train them in the way they SHOULD go—and
not in the way that they desire.
Remember—children are born with a decided bias towards evil—and
therefore if you let them choose for themselves, they are certain to choose
The mother cannot tell what her tender infant may grow up to be—tall or
short, weak or strong, wise or foolish—he may be any of these things or
not—it is all uncertain. But one thing the mother can say with certainty—he
will have a corrupt and sinful heart! It is natural to us to do wrong.
"Foolishness," says Solomon, "is bound in the heart of a child" (Proverbs
22:15). "A child left to himself brings his mother to shame" (Proverbs
29:15). Our hearts are like the earth on which we tread; let it alone,
and it is sure to bear weeds.
If, then, you would deal wisely with your child, you must not leave him to
the guidance of his own will. Think for him, judge for him, act for him,
just as you would for one weak and blind; but for pity's sake, give him not
up to his own wayward tastes and inclinations. It must not be his likings
and wishes that are consulted. He knows not yet what is good for his mind
and soul, any more than what is good for his body. You do not let him decide
what he shall eat, and what he shall drink, and how he shall be clothed. Be
consistent, and deal with his mind in like manner. Train him in the way
that is scriptural and right, and not in the way that he desires.
If you cannot make up your mind to this first principle of Christian
training—it is useless for you to read any further. Self-will is
almost the first thing that appears in a child's mind—and it must be your
first step to resist it.
2. Train up your child
with all tenderness, affection, and patience.
I do not mean that you are to spoil him—but I do mean that you should let
him see that you love him.
Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct!
Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a
willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in
childish joys—these are the cords by which a child may be led most
easily—these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his
Few are to be found, even among grown-up people, who are not more easy to
draw than to drive. There is that in all our minds which rises in arms
against compulsion; we set up our backs and stiffen our necks at the very
idea of a forced obedience. We are like young horses in the hand of a
breaker—handle them kindly, and make much of them, and by and by you may
guide them with thread; use them roughly and violently, and it will be many
a month before you get the mastery of them at all.
Now children's minds are cast in much the same mold as our own. Sternness
and severity of manner chill them and throw them back. It shuts up their
hearts, and you will weary yourself to find the door. But let them only see
that you have an affectionate feeling towards them—that you are really
desirous to make them happy, and do them good—that if you punish them, it is
intended for their profit, and that, like the pelican, you would give your
heart's blood to nourish their souls; let them see this, I say, and they
will soon be all your own. But they must be wooed with kindness, if their
attention is ever to be won.
And surely reason itself might teach us this lesson. Children are weak and
tender creatures, and, as such, they need patient and considerate treatment.
We must handle them delicately, like frail machines, lest by rough fingering
we do more harm than good. They are like young plants, and need gentle
watering—often, but little at a time.
We must not expect all things at once. We must remember what children
are—and teach them as they are able to bear. Their minds are like a lump
of metal—not to be forged and made useful at once, but only by a succession
of little blows. Their understandings are like narrow-necked vessels—we must
pour in the wine of knowledge gradually, or much of it will be spilled and
lost. "Line upon line, and precept upon precept, here a little and there a
little," must be our rule. The whetstone does its work slowly, but frequent
rubbing will bring the scythe to a fine edge. Truly there is need of
patience in training a child, but without it nothing can be done.
Nothing will compensate for the absence of this tenderness and love!
A minister may speak the truth as it is in Jesus, clearly, forcibly,
unanswerably; but if he does not speak it in love, few souls will be won.
Just so you must set before your children their duty—command, threaten,
punish, reason—but if affection be lacking in your treatment, your
labor will be all in vain.
Love is one grand secret of successful training! Anger and harshness
may frighten, but they will not persuade the child that you are right; and
if he sees you often out of temper, you will soon cease to have his respect.
A father who speaks to his son as Saul did to Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:30), need
not expect to retain his influence over that son's mind.
Try hard to keep up a hold on your child's affections. It is a dangerous
thing to make your children afraid of you. Anything is almost better than
reserve and constraint between your child and yourself; and this will come
in with fear. Fear puts an end to openness of manner—fear leads to
concealment—fear sows the seed of much hypocrisy, and leads to many a lie.
There is a mine of truth in the Apostle's words to the Colossians—"Fathers,
provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged" (Col. 3:21).
Let not the advice it contains be overlooked.
3. Train your children with an abiding persuasion on your
mind that much depends upon you.
Grace is the strongest of all principles. See what a revolution grace
effects when it comes into the heart of an old sinner—how it overturns the
strongholds of Satan—how it casts down mountains, fills up valleys—makes
crooked things straight—and new creates the whole man. Truly nothing is
impossible to grace.
Nature, too, is very strong. See how it struggles against the things
of the kingdom of God—how it fights against every attempt to be more
holy—how it keeps up an unceasing warfare within us to the last hour of
life. Nature indeed is strong.
But after nature and grace, undoubtedly, there is nothing more powerful than
education. Early habits (if I may so speak) are everything with us,
under God. We are made what we are by early training. Our character takes
the form of that mold into which our first years are cast.
"He has seen but little of life who does not discern everywhere the effect
of education on men's opinions and habits of thinking. The
children bring out of the nursery that which displays itself throughout
We depend, in a vast measure, on those who bring us up.
We get from them a color, a taste, a bias which cling to us more or less all
our lives. We catch the language of our nurses and mothers, and learn to
speak it almost insensibly, and unquestionably we catch something of their
manners, ways, and mind at the same time. Time only will show, I suspect,
how much we all owe to early impressions, and how many things in us may be
traced up to seeds sown in the days of our very infancy, by those who were
about us. A very learned Englishman, Mr. Locke, has gone so far as to
say—"That of all the men we meet with, nine parts out of ten are what they
are, good or bad, useful or not, according to their education."4. Train with this
thought continually before your eyes—that the SOUL of your child is the
first thing to be considered.
And all this is one of God's merciful arrangements. He gives your children a
mind that will receive impressions like moist clay. He gives them a
disposition at the starting-point of life to believe what you tell them, and
to take for granted what you advise them, and to trust your word rather than
a stranger's. He gives you, in short, a golden opportunity of doing them
good. See that the opportunity is not neglected, and thrown away. Once let
slip, it is gone forever.
Beware of that miserable delusion into which some have fallen—that parents
can do nothing for their children, that you must leave them alone, wait for
grace, and sit still. These people have wishes for their children in
Balaam's fashion—they would like them to die the death of the righteous man,
but they do nothing to make them live his life. They desire much, and have
nothing. And the devil rejoices to see such reasoning, just as he always
does over anything which seems to excuse indolence, or to encourage neglect
I know that you cannot convert your child. I know well that they who are
born again are born, not of the will of man, but of God. But I know also
that God says expressly, "Train up a child in the way he should go," and
that He never laid a command on man which He would not give man grace to
perform. And I know, too, that our duty is not to stand still and dispute,
but to go forward and obey. It is just in the going forward that God will
meet us. The path of obedience is the way in which He gives the blessing. We
have only to do as the servants were commanded at the marriage feast in
Cana, to fill the water-pots with water, and we may safely leave it to the
Lord to turn that water into wine.
Precious, no doubt, are these little ones in your eyes; but if you love
them, think often of their souls. No interest should weigh with you so
much as their eternal interests. No part of them should be so dear to you as
that part which will never die. The world, with all its glory, shall pass
away; the hills shall melt; the heavens shall be wrapped together as a
scroll; the sun shall cease to shine. But the spirit which dwells in those
little creatures, whom you love so well, shall outlive them all, and whether
in happiness or misery (to speak as a man) will depend on you.
This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for
your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme,
and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question,
"How will this affect their souls?"
Love for the souls of your children is the quintessence of all love. To
pet and pamper and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to
look to, and this life the only season for happiness—to do this is not true
love, but cruelty. It is treating him like some beast of the earth,
which has but one world to look to, and nothing after death. It is hiding
from him that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very
infancy—that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul.
A true Christian must be no slave to fashion, if he would train his child
for heaven. He must not be content to do things merely because they are the
custom of the world; to teach them and instruct them in certain ways, merely
because it is usual; to allow them to read books of a questionable sort,
merely because everybody else reads them; to let them form habits of a
doubtful tendency, merely because they are the habits of the day. He must
train with an eye to his children's souls. He must not be ashamed to hear
his training called singular and strange. What if it is? The time is
short—the fashion of this world passes away. He that has trained his
children for heaven, rather than for earth—for God, rather than for man—he
is the parent that will be called wise at last.
5. Train your child to a
knowledge of the BIBLE.
You cannot make your children love the Bible, I allow. None but the Holy
Spirit can give us a heart to delight in the Word. But you can make your
children acquainted with the Bible; and be sure they cannot be acquainted
with that blessed book too soon, or too well.
A thorough knowledge of the Bible is the foundation of all clear views of
religion. He that is well-grounded in it will not generally be found a
waverer, and carried about by every wind of new doctrine. Any system of
training which does not make a knowledge of Scripture the first thing is
unsafe and unsound.
You have need to be careful on this point just now, for the devil is abroad,
and error abounds. Some are to be found among us who give the Church the
honor due to Jesus Christ. Some are to be found who make the sacraments
saviors and passports to eternal life. And some are to be found in like
manner who honor a catechism more than the Bible, or fill the minds of their
children with miserable little story-books, instead of the Scripture of
truth. But if you love your children, let the simple Bible be everything in
the training of their souls; and let all other books go down and take the
Care not so much for their being mighty in the catechism, as for their being
mighty in the Scriptures. This is the training, believe me, that God will
honor. The Psalmist says of Him, "You have magnified Your Word above all
Your name" (Ps. 138:2); and I think that He gives an especial blessing to
all who try to magnify it among men.
See that your children read the Bible reverently. Train them to look
on it, not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God,
written by the Holy Spirit Himself—all true, all profitable, and able to
make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
See that they read it regularly. Train them to regard it as their
soul's daily food—as a thing essential to their soul's daily health. I know
well you can not make this anything more than a form; but there is no
telling the amount of sin which a mere form may indirectly restrain.
See that they read it all. You need not shrink from bringing any
doctrine before them. You need not fancy that the leading doctrines of
Christianity are things which children cannot understand. Children
understand far more of the Bible than we are apt to suppose.
Tell them of sin—its guilt, its consequences, its power, its
vileness. You will find they can comprehend something of this.
Tell them of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His work for our
salvation—the atonement, the cross, the blood, the sacrifice, the
intercession. You will discover there is something not beyond them in all
Tell them of the work of the Holy Spirit in man's heart, how
He changes, and renews, and sanctifies, and purifies—you will soon see they
can go along with you in some measure in this. In short, I suspect we have
no idea how much a little child can take in of the length and breadth of the
glorious gospel. They see far more of these things than we suppose.
As to the age when the religious instruction of a child should begin, no
general rule can be laid down. The mind seems to open in some children much
more quickly than in others. We seldom begin too early. There are wonderful
examples on record of what a child can attain to, even at three years old.
Fill their minds with Scripture. Let the Word dwell in them richly. Give
them the Bible, the whole Bible, even while they are young.
Train them to a habit of PRAYER.
Prayer is the very life-breath of true religion. It is one of the first
evidences that a man is born again. "Behold," said the Lord of Saul, in the
day he sent Ananias to him, "Behold, he prays" (Acts 9:11). He had begun to
pray, and that was proof enough.
Prayer was the distinguishing mark of the Lord's people in the day that
there began to be a separation between them and the world. "Then men began
to call upon the name of the Lord" (Gen. 4:26).
Prayer is the distinguishing trait of all real Christians now. They pray—for
they tell God their needs, their feelings, their desires, their fears; and
mean what they say. The nominal Christian may repeat prayers, and good
prayers too, but he goes no further.
Prayer is the turning-point in a man's soul. Our ministry is unprofitable,
and our labor is vain, until you are brought to your knees. Until then, we
have no hope about you.
Prayer is one great secret of spiritual prosperity. When there is much
private communion with God, your soul will grow like the grass after rain.
When there is little prayer, all will be at a standstill, you will barely
keep your soul alive. Show me a growing Christian, a going forward
Christian, a strong Christian, a flourishing Christian, and sure am I, he is
one that speaks often with his Lord. He asks much, and he has much. He tells
Jesus everything, and so he always knows how to act.
Prayer is the mightiest resource God has placed in our hands. It is
the best weapon to use in every difficulty, and the surest remedy in every
trouble. It is the key that unlocks the treasury of promises, and the hand
that draws forth grace and help in time of need. It is the silver trumpet
God commands us to sound in all our necessity, and it is the cry He has
promised always to attend to, even as a loving mother to the voice of her
Prayer is the simplest means that man can use in coming to God. It is
within reach of all—the sick, the aged, the infirm, the paralytic, the
blind, the poor, the unlearned—all can pray. It avails you nothing to plead
lack of memory, and lack of learning, and lack of books, and lack of
scholarship in this matter. So long as you have a tongue to tell your soul's
state, you may and ought to pray. Those words, "You have not, because you
ask not" (James 4:2), will be a fearful condemnation to many in the day of
Parents, if you love your children, do all that lies in your power to train
them up to a habit of prayer. Show them how to begin. Tell them what to say.
Encourage them to persevere. Remind them if they become careless and slack
about it. Let it not be your fault, at any rate, if they never call on the
name of the Lord.
This, remember, is the first step in religion which a child is able to take.
Long before he can read, you can teach him to kneel by his mother's side,
and repeat the simple words of prayer and praise which she puts in his
mouth. And as the first steps in any undertaking are always the most
important, so is the manner in which your children's prayers are prayed, a
point which deserves your closest attention. Few seem to know how much
depends on this. You must beware lest they get into a way of saying them in
a hasty, careless, and irreverent manner. You must beware of giving up the
oversight of this matter to servants and nurses, or of trusting too much to
your children doing it when left to themselves. I cannot praise that mother
who never looks after this most important part of her child's daily life
herself. Surely if there be any habit which your own hand and eye should
help in forming, it is the habit of prayer. Believe me, if you never hear
your children pray yourself, you are much to blame. You are little wiser
than the bird described in Job, "which leaves her eggs in the earth, and
warms them in the dust, and forgets that the foot may crush them, or that
the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones, as
though they were not hers—her labor is in vain without fear" (Job 39:14-16).
Prayer is, of all habits, the one which we recollect the longest. Many a
grey-headed man could tell you how his mother used to make him pray in the
days of his childhood. Other things have passed away from his mind perhaps.
The church where he was taken to worship, the minister whom he heard preach,
the companions who used to play with him—all these, it may be, have passed
from his memory, and left no mark behind. But you will often find it is far
different with his first prayers. He will often be able to tell you where he
knelt, and what he was taught to say, and even how his mother looked all the
while. It will come up as fresh before his mind's eye as if it was but
Reader, if you love your children, I charge you, do not let the seed-time of
a prayerful habit pass away unimproved. If you train your children to
anything, train them, at least, to a habit of prayer.
7. Train them to habits
of diligence, and regularity about public means of grace.
Tell them of the duty and privilege of going to the house of God, and
joining in the prayers of the congregation. Tell them wherever the Lord's
people are gathered together, there the Lord Jesus is present in an especial
manner, and that those who absent themselves must expect, like the Apostle
Thomas, to miss a blessing. Tell them of the importance of hearing the Word
preached, and that it is God's ordinance for converting, sanctifying, and
building up the souls of men. Tell them how the Apostle Paul enjoins us not
"to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is"
(Heb. 10:25); but to exhort one another, to stir one another up to it, and
so much the more as we see the day approaching.
I call it a sad sight in a church when nobody comes up to the Lord's table
but the elderly people, and the young men and the young women all turn away.
But I call it a sadder sight still when no children are to be seen in a
church, excepting those who come to the Sunday School, and are obliged to
attend. Let none of this guilt lie at your doors. There are many boys and
girls in every parish, besides those who come to school, and you who are
their parents and friends should see to it that they come with you to
Do not allow them to grow up with a habit of making vain excuses for not
coming. Give them plainly to understand, that so long as they are under your
roof it is the rule of your house for everyone in health to honor the Lord's
house upon the Lord's day, and that you reckon the Sabbath-breaker to be a
murderer of his own soul.
See to it too, if it can be so arranged, that your children go with you to
church, and sit near you when they are there. To go to church is one thing,
but to behave well at church is quite another. And believe me, there is no
security for good behavior like that of having them under your own eye.
The minds of young people are easily drawn aside, and their attention lost,
and every possible means should be used to counteract this. I do not like to
see them coming to church by themselves—they often get into bad company by
the way, and so learn more evil on the Lord's day than in all the rest of
the week. Neither do I like to see what I call "a young people's corner" in
a church. They often catch habits of inattention and irreverence there,
which it takes years to unlearn, if ever they are unlearned at all. What I
like to see is a whole family sitting together, old and young, side by
side—men, women, and children, serving God according to their households.
But there are some who say that it is useless to urge children to attend
means of grace, because they cannot understand them. I would not have you
listen to such reasoning. I find no such doctrine in the Old Testament. When
Moses goes before Pharaoh (Ex. 10:9), I observe he says, "We will go with
our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters—for we must
hold a feast unto the Lord." When Joshua read the law, I observe, "There was
not a word which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with
the women and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among
them." "Thrice in the year," says Ex. 34:23, "shall all your men and
children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel." And when I turn to
the New Testament, I find children mentioned there as partaking in public
acts of religion as well as in the Old. When Paul was leaving the disciples
at Tyre for the last time, I find it said (Acts 21:5), "They all brought us
on our way, with wives and children, until we were out of the city—and we
kneeled down on the shore, and prayed."
Samuel, in the days of his childhood, appears to have ministered unto the
Lord some time before he really knew Him. "Samuel did not yet know the Lord,
neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him" (1 Sam. 3:7). The
Apostles themselves do not seem to have understood all that our Lord said at
the time that it was spoken—"These things understood not His disciples at
the first—but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these
things were written of Him" (John 12:16).
Parents, comfort your minds with these examples. Do not be cast down because
your children see not the full value of the means of grace now. Only train
them up to a habit of regular attendance. Set it before their minds as a
high, holy, and solemn duty, and believe me, the day will very likely come
when they will bless you for your deed.
8. Train them to a habit
I mean by this, you should train them up to believe what you say. You should
try to make them feel confidence in your judgment, and respect your
opinions, as better than their own. You should accustom them to think that,
when you say a thing is bad for them, it must be bad, and when you say it is
good for them, it must be good; that your knowledge, in short, is better
than their own, and that they may rely implicitly on your word. Teach them
to feel that what they know not now, they will probably know hereafter, and
to be satisfied there is a reason and a needs-be for everything you require
them to do.
Who indeed can describe the blessedness of a real spirit of faith? Or
rather, who can tell the misery that unbelief has brought upon the world?
Unbelief made Eve eat the forbidden fruit—she doubted the truth of God's
word—"You shall surely die." Unbelief made the old world reject Noah's
warning, and so perish in sin. Unbelief kept Israel in the wilderness—it was
the bar that kept them from entering the promised land. Unbelief made the
Jews crucify the Lord of glory—they believed not the voice of Moses and the
prophets, though read to them every day. And unbelief is the reigning sin of
man's heart down to this very hour—unbelief in God's promises—unbelief in
God's threatenings—unbelief in our own sinfulness—unbelief in our own
danger—unbelief in everything that runs counter to the pride and worldliness
of our evil hearts. Reader, you train your children to little purpose if you
do not train them to a habit of implicit faith—faith in their parents' word,
confidence that what their parents say must be right.
I have heard it said by some, that you should require nothing of children
which they cannot understand—that you should explain and give a reason for
everything you desire them to do. I warn you solemnly against such a notion.
I tell you plainly, I think it an unsound and rotten principle. No doubt it
is absurd to make a mystery of everything you do, and there are many things
which it is well to explain to children, in order that they may see that
they are reasonable and wise. But to bring them up with the idea that they
must take nothing on trust, that they, with their weak and imperfect
understandings, must have the "why" and the "wherefore" made clear to them
at every step they take—this is indeed a fearful mistake, and likely to have
the worst effect on their minds.
Reason with your child if you are so disposed, at certain times, but never
forget to keep him in mind (if you really love him) that he is but a child
after all—that he thinks as a child, he understands as a child, and
therefore must not expect to know the reason of everything at once.
Set before him the example of Isaac, in the day when Abraham took him to
offer him on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22.). He asked his father that single
question, "Where is the lamb for a burned-offering?" and he got no answer
but this, "God will provide Himself a lamb." How, or where, or where, or in
what manner, or by what means—all this Isaac was not told; but the answer
was enough. He believed that it would be well, because his father said so,
and he was content.
Tell your children, too, that we must all be learners in our beginnings,
that there is an alphabet to be mastered in every kind of knowledge—that the
best horse in the world had need once to be broken—that a day will come when
they will see the wisdom of all your training. But in the meantime if you
say a thing is right, it must be enough for them—they must believe you, and
Parents, if any point in training is important, it is this. I charge you by
the affection you have to your children, use every means to train them up to
a habit of faith.
9. Train them to a habit
This is an object which it is worth any labor to attain. No habit, I
suspect, has such an influence over our lives as this. Parents, determine
to make your children obey you—though it may cost you much trouble—and cost
them many tears! Let there be no questioning, and reasoning, and
disputing, and delaying, and answering back. When you give them a command,
let them see plainly that you will have it done.
Obedience is the only reality. It is faith visible, faith acting, and faith
incarnate. It is the test of real discipleship among the Lord's people. "You
are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14). It ought
to be the mark of well-trained children, that they cheerfully do whatever
their parents command them. Where, indeed, is the honor which the fifth
commandment enjoins, if fathers and mothers are not obeyed cheerfully,
willingly, and at once?
Early obedience has all Scripture on its side. It is in Abraham's praise,
not merely he will train his family, but "he will command his children, and
his household after him" (Gen. 18:19). It is said of the Lord Jesus Christ
Himself, that when "He was young He was subject to Mary and Joseph" (Luke
2:51). Observe how implicitly Joseph obeyed the order of his father Jacob
(Gen. 37:13). See how Isaiah speaks of it as an evil thing, when "the child
shall behave himself proudly against the ancient" (Isa. 3:5). Mark how the
Apostle Paul names disobedience to parents as one of the bad signs of the
latter days (2 Tim. 3:2). Mark how he singles out this grace of requiring
obedience as one that should adorn a Christian minister—"a bishop must be
one that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with
all gravity." And again, "Let the deacons rule their children and their own
houses well " (1 Tim. 3:4, 12). And again, an elder must be one "having
faithful children, children not accused of riot, or unruly" (Titus 1:6).
Parents, do you wish to see your children happy? Take care, then, that
you train them to obey when they are spoken to—to do as they are told.
Believe me, we are not made for entire independence—we are not fit for it.
Even Christ's freemen have a yoke to wear, they "serve the Lord Christ"
(Col. 3:24). Children cannot learn too soon that this is a world in which we
are not all intended to rule, and that we are never in our right place until
we know how to obey our betters. Teach them to obey while young, or else
they will be fretting against God all their lives long, and wear themselves
out with the vain idea of being independent of His control.
Reader, this hint is only too much needed. You will see many in this day who
allow their children to choose and think for themselves long before they are
able, and even make excuses for their disobedience, as if it were a thing
not to be blamed. To my eyes, a parent always yielding, and a child always
having its own way, are a most painful sight—painful, because I see God's
appointed order of things inverted and turned upside down—painful, because I
feel sure the consequence to that child's character in the end will be
self-will, pride, and self-conceit. You must not wonder that men refuse to
obey their Father which is in heaven, if you allow them, when children, to
disobey their father who is upon earth.
Parents, if you love your children—let obedience be a motto and a watchword
continually before their eyes.
10. Train them to a habit of always speaking the TRUTH.
Truth-speaking is far less common in the world than at first sight we are
disposed to think. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is a golden
rule which many would do well to bear in mind. Lying and prevarication are
old sins. The devil was the father of them—he deceived Eve by a bold lie,
and ever since the fall it is a sin against which all the children of Eve
have need to be on their guard.
Only think how much falsehood and deceit there is in the world! How much
exaggeration! How many additions are made to a simple story! How many things
left out, if it does not serve the speaker's interest to tell them! How few
there are about us of whom we can say, we put unhesitating trust in their
word! Verily the ancient Persians were wise in their generation—it was a
leading point with them in educating their children, that they should learn
to speak the truth. What an awful proof it is of man's natural sinfulness,
that it should be needful to name such a point at all!
Reader, I would have you notice how often God is spoken of in the Old
Testament as the God of truth. Truth seems to be especially set before us as
a leading feature in the character of Him with whom we have to do. He never
swerves from the straight line. He abhors lying and hypocrisy. Try to keep
this continually before your children's minds. Press upon them at all times,
that less than the truth is a lie; that evasion, excuse-making, and
exaggeration are all halfway houses towards what is false, and ought to be
avoided. Encourage them in any circumstances to be straightforward, and,
whatever it may cost them, to speak the truth.
I press this subject on your attention, not merely for the sake of your
children's character in the world—though I might dwell much on this—I urge
it rather for your own comfort and assistance in all your dealings with
them. You will find it a mighty help indeed, to be able always to trust
their word. It will go far to prevent that habit of concealment, which so
unhappily prevails sometimes among children. Openness and
straightforwardness depend much upon a parent's treatment of this matter in
the days of our infancy.
11. Train them to a habit
of always redeeming the TIME.
Idleness is the devil's best friend! It is the surest way to give him
an opportunity of doing us harm. An idle mind is like an open door, and if
Satan does not enter in himself by it, it is certain he will throw in
something to raise bad thoughts in our souls.
No created being was ever meant to be idle. Service and work are the
appointed portions of every creature of God. The angels in heaven work—they
are the Lord's ministering servants, ever doing His will. Adam, in Paradise,
had work—he was appointed to dress the garden of Eden, and to keep it. The
redeemed saints in glory will have work, "They rest not day and night
singing praise and glory to Him who bought them." And man, weak, sinful man,
must have something to do, or else his soul will soon get into an unhealthy
state. We must have our hands filled, and our minds occupied with something,
or else our imaginations will soon ferment and breed mischief.
And what is true of us, is true of our children too. Alas, indeed, for the
man that has nothing to do! The Jews thought idleness a positive sin—it was
a law of theirs that every man should bring up his son to some useful
trade—and they were right. They knew the heart of man better than some of us
appear to do.
Idleness made Sodom what she was. "This was the iniquity of your sister
Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her"
(Ezek. 16:49). Idleness had much to do with David's awful sin with the wife
of Uriah—I see in 2 Sam. 11 that Joab went out to war against Ammon, "but
David tarried still at Jerusalem." Was not that idle? And then it was that
he saw Bathsheba—and the next step we read of is his tremendous and
Truly, I believe that idleness has led to more sin than almost any other
habit that could be named! I suspect it is the mother of many a work of
the flesh—the mother of adultery, fornication, drunkenness—and many other
deeds of darkness that I have not time to name. Let your own conscience say
whether I do not speak the truth. You were idle, and at once the devil
knocked at the door and came in.
And indeed I do not wonder—everything in the world around us seems to teach
the same lesson. It is the still water which becomes stagnant and impure—the
running, moving streams are always clear. If you have steam machinery, you
must work it, or it soon gets out of order. If you have a horse, you must
exercise him; he is never so well as when he has regular work. If you would
have good bodily health yourself, you must take exercise. If you always sit
still, your body is sure at length to complain. And just so is it with the
soul. The active moving mind is a hard mark for the devil to shoot at. Try
to be always full of useful employment, and thus your enemy will find it
difficult to get room to sow tares.
Reader, I ask you to set these things before the minds of your children.
Teach them the value of time, and try to make them learn the habit of using
it well. It pains me to see children idling over what they have in hand,
whatever it may be. I love to see them active and industrious, and giving
their whole heart to all they do; giving their whole heart to lessons, when
they have to learn—giving their whole heart even to their amusements, when
they go to play.
But if you love them well—let idleness be counted a sin in your family!
12. Train them with a
constant fear of over-indulgence.
This is the one point of all on which you have most need to be on your
guard. It is natural to be tender and affectionate towards your own flesh
and blood, and it is the excess of this very tenderness and affection which
you have to fear. Take heed that it does not make you blind to your
children's faults—and deaf to all advice about them. Take heed lest it make
you overlook bad conduct—rather than have the pain of inflicting punishment
and correction. I know well that punishment and correction are disagreeable
things. Nothing is more unpleasant than giving pain to those we love, and
bringing forth their tears. But so long as hearts are what hearts are, it is
vain to suppose, as a general rule, that children can ever be brought up
Spoiling is a very expressive word—and sadly full of meaning. Now it
is the shortest way to spoil children—to let them have their own way—to
allow them to do wrong and not to punish them for it. Believe me, you must
not do it, whatever pain it may cost you unless you wish to ruin your
You cannot say that Scripture does not speak expressly on this subject—"He
that spares his rod, hates his son; but he that loves him, chastens him
often" (Proverbs 13:24). "Chasten your son while there is hope, and let not
your soul spare for his crying" (Proverbs 19:18). "Foolishness is bound in
the heart of a child—but the rod of correction shall drive it from him"
(Proverbs 22:15). "Withhold not correction from the child, for if you beat
him with the rod he shall not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and
deliver his soul from hell" (Proverbs 23:13, 14). "The rod and reproof give
wisdom—but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame." "Correct
your son, and he shall give you rest—yes, he shall give delight to your
soul" (Proverbs 29:15, 17).
How strong and forcible are these texts! How melancholy is the fact, that in
many Christian families they seem almost unknown! Their children need
reproof, but it is hardly ever given—they need correction, but it is hardly
ever employed. And yet this book of Proverbs is not obsolete and unfit for
Christians. It is given by inspiration of God, and profitable. It is given
for our learning, even as the Epistles to the Romans and Ephesians. Surely
the believer who brings up his children without attention to its counsel is
making himself wise above that which is written, and greatly errs.
Fathers and mothers, I tell you plainly, if you don't punish your children
when they are in fault, you are doing them a grievous wrong. I warn you,
this is the rock on which the people of God, in every age, have only too
frequently made shipwreck. I would sincerely persuade you to be wise in
time, and keep clear of it. See it in Eli's case. His sons Hophni and
Phineas "made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." He gave them no
more than a tame and lukewarm reproof, when he ought to have rebuked them
sharply. In one word, he honored his sons above God. And what was the end of
these things? He lived to hear of the death of both his sons in battle, and
his own grey hairs were brought down with sorrow to the grave (1 Sam. 2:22-
See, too, the case of David. Who can read without pain the history of
his children, and their sins? Amnon's incest—Absalom's murder and proud
rebellion—Adonijah's scheming ambition—truly these were grievous wounds for
the man after God's own heart to receive from his own house. But was there
no fault on his side? I fear there can be no doubt there was. I find a clue
to it all in the account of Adonijah in 1 Kings—"His father had not
displeased him at any time in saying, Why have you done so?" There was the
foundation of all the mischief. David was an over-indulgent father—a father
who let his children have their own way—and he reaped according as he had
Parents, I beseech you, for your children's sake, beware of over-indulgence.
I call on you to remember, it is your first duty to consult their real
interests, and not their fancies and likings—to train them, not to amuse
them—to profit them, not merely to please them.
You must not give way to every wish and caprice of your child's mind,
however much you may love him. You must not let him suppose his will is to
be everything, and that he has only to desire a thing and it will be done.
Do not, I beg you, make your children idols—lest God should take them away,
and break your idol, just to convince you of your folly!
Learn to say "No" to your children. Show them that you are able to refuse
whatever you think is not fit for them. Show them that you are ready to
punish disobedience, and that when you speak of punishment, you are not only
ready to threaten, but also to perform. Do not merely threaten. Threatened
folks, and threatened faults, live long. Punish seldom—but really and
earnestly. Frequent and slight punishment is a wretched system indeed.
Some parents have a way of saying, "Naughty child," to a boy or girl on
every slight occasion, and often without good cause. It is a very foolish
habit. Words of blame should never be used without real reason.
As to the best way of punishing a child, no general rule can be laid down.
The characters of children are so exceedingly different, that what would be
a severe punishment to one child, would be no punishment at all to another.
I only beg to enter my decided protest against the modern notion that no
child ought ever to be spanked. Doubtless some parents use bodily correction
far too much, and far too violently—but many others, I fear, use it far too
Beware of letting small faults pass unnoticed under the idea "it is a
little one." There are no little things in training children—all are
important. Little weeds need plucking up as much as any. Leave them alone,
and they will soon become giants!
Parents, if there be any point which deserves your attention, believe me, it
is this one. It is one that will give you trouble, I know. But if you do not
take trouble with your children when they are young—they will give you
trouble when they are old! Choose which you prefer.
13. Train them
remembering continually how God trains His children.
The Bible tells us that God has an elect people—a family in this world. All
poor sinners who have been convinced of sin, and fled to Jesus for peace,
make up that family. All of us who really believe on Christ for salvation
are its members.
Now God the Father is ever training the members of this family for their
everlasting abode with Him in heaven. He acts as a husbandman pruning his
vines, that they may bear more fruit. He knows the character of each of
us—our besetting sins—our weaknesses—our peculiar infirmities—our special
needs. He knows our works and where we dwell, who are our companions in
life, and what are our trials, what our temptations, and what are our
privileges. He knows all these things, and is ever ordering all for our
good. He allots to each of us, in His providence, the very things we need,
in order to bear the most fruit—as much of sunshine as we can stand, and as
much of rain—as much of bitter things as we can bear, and as much of sweet.
Reader, if you would train your children wisely, mark well how God the
Father trains His. He does all things well; the plan which He adopts must be
See, then, how many things there are which God withholds from His
children. Few could be found, I suspect, among them who have not had desires
which He has never been pleased to fulfill. There has often been some one
thing they wanted to attain, and yet there has always been some barrier to
prevent attainment. It has been just as if God was placing it above our
reach, and saying, "This is not good for you; this must not be." Moses
desired exceedingly to cross over Jordan, and see the goodly land of
promise; but you will remember his desire was never granted.
See, too, how often God leads His people by ways which seem dark and
mysterious to our eyes. We cannot see the meaning of all His dealings with
us; we cannot see the reasonableness of the path in which our feet are
treading. Sometimes so many trials have assailed us—so many difficulties
encompassed us—that we have not been able to discover the needs-be of it
all. It has been just as if our Father was taking us by the hand into a dark
place and saying, "Ask no questions, but follow Me." There was a direct road
from Egypt to Canaan, yet Israel was not led into it; but round, through the
wilderness. And this seemed hard at the time. "The soul of the people," we
are told, "was much discouraged because of the way" (Exod. 13:17; Num.
See, also, how often God chastens His people with trial and
affliction. He sends them crosses and disappointments. He lays them low with
sickness. He strips them of property and friends. He changes them from one
position to another. He visits them with things most hard to flesh and
blood—and some of us have well-near fainted under the burdens laid upon us.
We have felt pressed beyond strength, and have been almost ready to murmur
at the hand which chastened us. Paul the Apostle had a thorn in the flesh
appointed him, some bitter bodily trial, no doubt, though we know not
exactly what it was. But this we know—he besought the Lord thrice that it
might be removed; yet it was not taken away (2 Cor. 12:8, 9).
Now, reader, notwithstanding all these things, did you ever hear of a single
child of God who thought his Father did not treat him wisely? No, I am sure
you never did. God's children would always tell you, in the long run, it was
a blessed thing they did not have their own way, and that God had done far
better for them than they could have done for themselves. Yes! And they
could tell you, too, that God's dealings had provided more happiness for
them than they ever would have obtained themselves, and that His way,
however dark at times, was the way of pleasantness and the path of peace.
I ask you to lay to heart the lesson which God's dealings with His people is
meant to teach you. Fear not to withhold from your child anything you think
will do him harm, whatever his own wishes may be. This is God's plan.
Hesitate not to lay on him commands, of which he may not at present see the
wisdom, and to guide him in ways which may not now seem reasonable to his
mind. This is God's plan.
Shrink not from chastising and correcting him whenever you see
his soul's health requires it—however painful it may be to your feelings;
and remember medicines for the mind must not be rejected because they
are bitter. This is God's plan.
And do not be afraid, above all, that such a plan of training will make your
child unhappy. I warn you against this delusion. Depend on it, there is no
surer road to unhappiness than always having our own way. To have our wills
checked and denied is a blessed thing for us; it makes us value enjoyments
when they come. To be indulged perpetually is the way to be made selfish;
and selfish people and spoiled children, believe me, are seldom happy.
Reader, do not be wiser than God—train your children as He trains His.
14. Train them
remembering continually the influence of your own EXAMPLE.
Instruction, and advice, and commands will profit little, unless they are
backed up by the pattern of your own life. Your children will never believe
you are in earnest, and really wish them to obey you, so long as your
actions contradict your counsel. Tillotson made a wise remark when he said,
"To give children good instruction, and a bad example, is but beckoning
to them with the head to show them the way to heaven; while we take them by
the hand and lead them in the way to hell!"
We little know the force and power of example. No one of us can live
to himself in this world; we are always influencing our children, in one way
or another, either for good or for evil, either for God or for sin. They see
our ways, they mark our conduct, they observe our behavior, and what they
see us practice, that they may fairly suppose we think right. And never, I
believe, does example show so powerfully as it does in the case of parents
Fathers and mothers, do not forget that children learn more by the eye
than they do by the ear. No school will make such deep marks on
character as home. The best of school-teachers will not imprint on their
minds as much as they will pick up at your fireside. Imitation is a
far stronger principle with children than memory. What they see
has a much stronger effect on their minds than what they are told.
Take care, then, what you do in front of your child. It is a true proverb,
"Who sins before a child, sins double." Strive rather to be a living epistle
of Christ, such as your families can read, and that plainly too. Be an
example of reverence for the Word of God, reverence in prayer, reverence for
means of grace, reverence for the Lord's day. Be an example in words, in
temper, in diligence, in temperance, in faith, in charity, in kindness, in
humility. Do not think your children will practice what they do not see you
do. You are their model picture—and they will copy what you are.
Your reasoning and your lecturing, your wise commands and your good
advice—all this they may not understand, but they can understand your
Children are very quick observers—very quick in seeing through
some kinds of hypocrisy—very quick in finding out what you really
think and feel—very quick in adopting all your ways and opinions. You
will often find as the father is—so is the son.
Remember the word that the conqueror Caesar always used to his soldiers in a
battle. He did not say "Go forward," but "Come!" So it must be with you in
training your children. They will seldom learn habits which they see you
despise, or walk in paths in which you do not walk yourself. He that
preaches to his children what he does not practice, is working a
work that never goes forward. It is like the fabled web of Penelope of old,
who wove all day, and unwove all night. Even so, the parent who tries to
train without setting a good example is building with one hand—and
pulling down with the other!
15. Train them,
remembering continually the power of SIN.
I name this shortly, in order to guard you against unscriptural
You must not expect to find your children's minds a sheet of pure white
paper, and to have no trouble if you only use right means. I warn you
plainly you will find no such thing. It is painful to see how much
corruption and evil there is in a young child's heart, and how soon it
begins to bear fruit. Violent tempers, self-will, pride, envy, sullenness,
passion, idleness, selfishness, deceit, cunning, falsehood, hypocrisy, a
terrible aptness to learn what is bad, a painful slowness to learn what is
good, a readiness to pretend anything in order to gain their own ends—all
these things, or some of them, you must be prepared to see, even in your own
flesh and blood. In little ways they will creep out at a very early age; it
is almost startling to observe how naturally they seem to spring up.
Children require no schooling to learn to sin.
But you must not be discouraged and cast down by what you see. You must
not think it a strange and unusual thing—that their little hearts are
so full of sin. It is the only portion which our father Adam left us; it
is that fallen nature with which we come into the world; it is that
inheritance which belongs to us all. Let it rather make you more diligent in
using every means which seem most likely, by God's blessing, to counteract
the mischief. Let it make you more and more careful, so far as in you lies,
to keep your children out of the way of temptation.
Never listen to those who tell you your children are good. Think rather that
their hearts are always inflammable as tinder. At their very best, they only
need a spark to set their corruptions on fire. Parents are seldom too
cautious. Remember the natural depravity of your children, and take care.
16. Train them
remembering continually the PROMISES of Scripture.
I name this also shortly, in order to guard you against discouragement.
You have a plain promise on your side, "Train up your child in the way he
should go—and when he is old he shall not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
Think what it is to have a promise like this. Promises were the only lamp of
hope which cheered the hearts of the patriarchs before the Bible was
written. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph—all lived on a few
promises, and prospered in their souls. Promises are the cordials which in
every age have supported and strengthened the believer. He that has got a
plain text upon his side need never be cast down. Fathers and mothers, when
your hearts are failing, and ready to halt, look at the word of this text,
and take comfort.
Think who it is that promises. It is not the word of a man, who may
lie or change his mind; it is the word of the King of kings, who never
changes. Has He said a thing, and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken, and
shall He not make it good? Neither is anything too hard for Him to perform.
The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. Reader, if we
get not the benefit of the promise we are dwelling upon, the fault is not in
Him, but in ourselves.
Think, too, what the promise contains, before you refuse to take
comfort from it. It speaks of a certain time when good training shall
especially bear fruit—"when a child is old." Surely there is comfort in
this. You may not see with your own eyes the result of careful training, but
you know not what blessed fruits may not spring from it, long after you are
dead and gone. It is not God's way to give everything at once. "Afterward"
is the time when He often chooses to work, both in the things of nature and
in the things of grace. "Afterward" is the season when affliction bears the
peaceable fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12:11). "Afterward" was the time when
the son who refused to work in his father's vineyard repented and went
(Matt. 21:29). And "afterward" is the time to which parents must look
forward if they see not success at once—you must sow in hope and plant in
"Cast your bread upon the waters," says the Spirit, "for you shall find it
after many days" (Eccles. 11:1). Many children, I doubt not, shall rise up
in the day of judgment, and bless their parents for good training, who never
gave any signs of having profited by it during their parents' lives. Go
forward then in faith, and be sure that your labor shall not be altogether
thrown away. Three times did Elijah stretch himself upon the widow's child
before it revived. Take example from him, and persevere.
17. Train them, lastly,
with continual prayer for a blessing on all you do.
Without the blessing of the Lord, your best endeavors will do no good. He
has the hearts of all men in His hands, and except He touch the hearts of
your children by His Spirit, you will weary yourself to no purpose.
Water, therefore, the seed you sow on their minds, with unceasing prayer.
The Lord is far more willing to hear than we to pray; far more ready to give
blessings than we to ask them—but He loves to be entreated for them. And I
set this matter of prayer before you, as the top-stone and seal of all you
do. I suspect the child of many prayers is seldom cast away.
Look upon your children as Jacob did on his; he tells Esau they are "the
children which God has graciously given your servant" (Gen. 33:5). Look on
them as Joseph did on his; he told his father, "They are the sons whom God
has given me" (Gen. 48:9). Count them with the Psalmist to be "an heritage
and reward from the Lord" (Ps. 127:3). And then ask the Lord, with a holy
boldness, to be gracious and merciful to His own gifts. Mark how Abraham
intercedes for Ishmael, because he loved him, "Oh that Ishmael might live
before you" (Gen. 17:18). See how Manoah speaks to the angel about Samson,
"How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?" (Judg. 13:12).
Observe how tenderly Job cared for his children's souls, "He offered
burned-offerings according to the number of them all, for he said, It may be
my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job
continually" (Job 1:5). Parents, if you love your children, go and do
likewise. You cannot name their names before the mercy-seat too often.
And now, reader, in conclusion, let me once more press upon you the
necessity and importance of using every single means in your power, if you
would train children for heaven.
I know well that God is a sovereign God, and does all things according to
the counsel of His own will. I know that Rehoboam was the son of Solomon,
and Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, and that you do not always see godly
parents having a godly seed. But I know also that God is a God who works by
means, and sure am I, if you make light of such means as I have mentioned,
your children are not likely to turn out well.
Fathers and mothers, you may take your children to church—you may send them
to the best of schools, and give them Bibles and prayer books, and fill them
with head knowledge—but if all this time there is no regular training at
home, I tell you plainly, I fear it will go hard in the end with your
children's souls. Home is the place where habits are formed—home is the
place where the foundations of character are laid—home gives the bias to our
tastes, and likings, and opinions. See then, I beg you, that there be
careful training at home. Happy indeed is the man who can say, as Bolton did
upon his dying bed, to his children, "I do believe not one of you will dare
to meet me before the tribunal of Christ in an unregenerate state."
Fathers and mothers, I charge you solemnly before God and the Lord Jesus
Christ, take every effort to train your children in the way they should go.
I charge you not merely for the sake of your children's souls; I charge you
for the sake of your own future comfort and peace. Truly it is your interest
so to do. Truly your own happiness in great measure depends on it. Children
have ever been the bow from which the sharpest arrows have pierced man's
heart! Children have mixed the bitterest cups that man has ever had to
drink! Children have caused the saddest tears that man has ever had to shed!
Adam could tell you so; Jacob could tell you so; David could tell you so.
There are no sorrows on earth like those which children have brought upon
their parents! Oh! take heed, lest your own neglect should lay up misery for
you in your old age. Take heed, lest you weep under the ill-treatment of a
thankless child, in the days when your eye is dim, and your natural force
If ever you wish your children to be the restorers of your life, and the
nourishers of your old age—if you would have them blessings and not
curses—joys and not sorrows—Judahs and not Reubens—Ruths and not Orpahs—if
you would not, like Noah, be ashamed of their deeds, and, like Rebekah, be
made weary of your life by them—if this be your wish, remember my advice
betimes, train them while young in the right way.
And as for me, I will conclude by putting up my prayer to God for all who
read this paper, that you may all be taught of God to feel the value of your
own souls. This is one reason why baptism is too often a mere form, and
Christian training despised and disregarded. Too often parents feel not for
themselves, and so they feel not for their children. They do not realize the
tremendous difference between a state of nature and a state of grace, and
therefore they are content to let them alone.
Now may the Lord teach you all that sin is that abominable thing
which God hates. Then, I know you will mourn over the sins of your children,
and strive to pluck them out as brands from the fire.
May the Lord teach you all how precious Christ is, and what a mighty
and complete work He has done for our salvation. Then, I feel confident you
will use every means to bring your children to Jesus, that they may live
May the Lord teach you all your need of the Holy Spirit, to renew,
sanctify, and quicken your souls. Then, I feel sure you will urge your
children to pray for Him without ceasing, and never rest until He has come
down into their hearts with power, and made them new creatures.
If the Lord grants this, and then I have a good hope that you will indeed
train up your children well—train well for this life, and train well for the
life to come—train well for earth, and train well for heaven—train them for
God, for Christ, and for eternity!