Use II. LEt this serve therefore for exhor∣tation to Parents, when they have ridings that a Child is born unto them; Take the mercy, but remember your duty, lest this or that Child be not one day thy greatest shame and reproach, which is at present thy joy and comfort, for according to thy fatherly duties, so will thy comfort, or thy sorrows be. Do ye desire your Children may be your joy, and not your sorrows; your glory and crown, and not your reproach and shame, then walk wisely towards them, and before them: be thou a glory to them, so may they prove thy glory and crown. Now that you and they may be crowns and ho∣nours to each other, consider these following duties.
I. Give a good example of an holy life to your Children: be frequent in the exer∣cise of holy duties and graces before them. Thus David did, Psal. 101. 2. He would walk within his house with a perfect heart,* and behave himself wisely in a perfect way: that i• godly, in a perfect way of godliness before his Children and Servants. Examples of Parents have a strong influence into the manners of Page 163 their Children. Personal sins are usually derived from Parents to Children by their bad lives: for a Father to lie, to swear, to be drunk, to neglect holy duties, this hath a great influence upon the Children. A Son may inherit the Father's sin by imi∣tation, by following his example, and doing the same sin, and the proverb is, The young birds will do, as they see the old ones do before them. We read that more than forty Children were destroyed by two she-bears for mocking the Prophet Elisha, 2 Kings 2. 23, 24. One hath this Query upon it, Why did the Prophet call for re∣venge upon the Children, who scarce under∣stood what they did, much less did act any thing upon design? He answer∣eth;* Though we might suppose that they were of such a tender age, that they were ignorant of the evil of this action, yet having learn'd this from their Parents, God sent this judge∣ment upon them to punish the Children and the Parents at once: for doubtless they had learn'd that mocking Language from their Parents, at least by hearing them say so to the Prophet Elisha, Go up thou bald-head, go up thou bald-head, if they had not taught them to say so. Which scoff they cast upon Page 164Elisha, in allusion to the rapture, or carrying up of Elijah to Heaven. As if they had said, Go thou up also to Heaven as Elijah did that we may be rid of thee, as we are of him. Children are apt to imitate their Parents i• every thing, and are best at imitating them in the worst. It is written of Jeroboam, that he caused Israel to sin; so it may be spoken of wicked Parents, that they cause their Children to sin. It is said of Abijan the Son of Rehoboam, that he walked in all the sins of his Father, which he had done be∣fore him, 1 Kings 15. 3. Ye that give ill examples to your Children, you shall answer both for your own sins, and the sins of yo•• Children, occasioned by your bad example.
II. Ye that are Parent•, be often deho••∣ing your Children from sin and vain compa∣ny. The Book of the Proverbs is full of sus•∣pious dehortations. My Son, saith Solomn, enter not into the path of the wicked, and g• not inot the way of evil men, avoid it, pass 〈◊〉 by it, turn from it, and pass away. What most affectionate dehortation is that of Solo∣mon's Mother unto him, Prov. 31. 2. Who my Son! and what, the Son of my womb! 〈◊〉 what, the Son of my vowes! Give not 〈◊〉 strength unto women, nor thy wayes to th• which destroyeth Kings. It is not for King Page 165 O Lemuel, to drink wine, nor for Princes strong drink, lest they drink, and forget the Law, and pervert the judgement of any of the afflicted, ver. 3, 4, 5. Parents should often tell their Children, that such and such ungod∣ly courses will be their reproach; bring down the gray hairs of their Parents with sorrow to the grave, and their own Souls down into the pit of everlasting destruction.
III. Instruct them in the worship, word, and way of God and godliness, ye Fathers, bring up your Children in the nurture and ad∣monition of the Lord, Eph. 6. 4, in the nur∣ture, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, it signifies it the Child∣hood. Beza renders it in the doctrine of the Lord: and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is, in admonition drawn from the word of God. Henoch had his name, as one taught from his Youth, and consecrate unto God. God commanded his people, Deut. 6, 7. Thou shalt rehearse these words continually unto thy Children. The word is, Thou shalt whet them conti∣nually upon thy Children: as when an Ar∣row, or other Instrument is sharpened, that it may pierce the deeper. It implyeth two duties, 1. That the Parent make his Instru∣ctions delivered, plain and piercing, by per∣spicuity giving it an edge, that it may the more easily enter into the dull heads, and Page 166 pierce the hard hearts of his Children. 2. That he repeat it again and again, going often o∣ver the same thing, as the Knife goeth often over the whet-stone, as the beast in chewing the Cud. Abraham is highly commended of God for instructing his Family. I know Abraham will command his Sons, and his houshold after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, Genes. 18. 19. He taught them the substance of the Law, in command∣ing them to do Righteousness and Judge∣ment: and the substance of the Gospel, in declaring unto them the tenour of the Evan∣gelical promises: that in him, or his seed, that is in Christ (the promised seed, who was to come of his loins) all the Nations of the earth should be blessed: as also the mean∣ing of Circumcision. Genes. 17. 23. Jo∣shua professed, that he and his house would serve the Lord, Jes. 24. 15. Intimating, that he would instruct his Family in the true knowledge, and right manner of the worship of God, without which they could not per∣form any acceptable service unto him. Da∣vid taught his Son Solomon, and laid this Charge upon him, And thou Solomon my Son, know the God of thy Father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind, 1 Chron. 28: 9. So others, Psal. 34. Page 167 11. Come ye Children, hearken to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Thus Solo∣mon instructeth his Son Rehoboam in the be∣ginning of the Book of the Proverbs. Heze∣kiah professeth as much of himself. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: The Father to the Son shall declare thy truth, Isai. 38. 19. He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a Law in Israel, which he commanded our Fathers, that they should make them known to their Children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his Commandements, and might not be as their Fathers, a stubborn, and rebellious generation, &c.
IV. Have a watchful eye over the duties, practices and conversations of your Chil∣dren. David would not suffer a worker of deceit to dwell in his house, nor a teller of lies to carry in his sight, Psal. 101. 7. Oh, take heed of countenancing or allowing your Children in any sin. Their sins, and thy neglect of godly reproof, will make thee stink in the Land as Simeon and Levi made Jacob their Father to stink, his name to stink among the people of the Land. Take heed of cockering, and over-much indulging your Children. It is observed, that usually Page 168 that Child which the Parent cockereth most, regardeth the Parent least; and many times proveth the heaviest cross unto it: making him to speak in bitterness of Soul, Why died it not from the womb? Job 3. 11. One saith,* That the bloody knife of Parents unconscionable and cruel neglect in training up their Chil∣dren religiously, doth stick full deep in their Souls. We have read and heard of some Children that have been loosely trained up, who have pierced their Parents hearts with sorrow, yea and their throats too, who have stuck the knife in the bowels of their Parents. A certain fond Mother must not have her Child corrected at School when he deserved correction.* Not long after the Child angred the Mother, and the Mother struck the Child: he runs to the fire, and up with the fire-fork, and at the Mother he makes, threatning what he would do. The Mother would not have her Child struck with a rod, to let out his fol∣ly, and the Child offers to strike the Mother with the fire-fork. Then the Mother ha∣stens to the School-master, as much displea∣sed with the Child, as ever before she was pleased with it. Another Parent so doted upon her Child, that she could not endure it Page 169 out of her sight: but at last he proved so dis∣solute, that she would have sent this Son to the remorest Islands: any where, so he were on ship-board (that would keep him in com∣pass, which a Prison did not) or out of her sight. That Child which the Parent so coc∣kereth, that it must not be out of his sight, is the Child that is most like to be an eye-sore, and heart-grief to the Parent, to whom the Parent is most like to say, Stand out of my sight, thou art a burden to me. S. Augustine gives us a sad relation of one Cyrillus, a man mighty both in word and work,* but a very fond and indulgent Father. One Son he had, and but one, and because but one, he must have his will; he must not feel the rod, he must not be crossed. He might have what he would, and do what he listed; he might go forth, and return when he plea∣sed; he gave no account either of his purse or time: we read in the story, that this Child brought his Mother to shame; nay, more than so. This Child came home drunk, and in the day time he violently and shameful∣ly abused his Mother great with Child, he killed his Father out-right, and mortally wounded two Sisters. Hereupon a great Assembly was called, that all Parents hear∣ing Page 170 so sad and lamentable a Tragedy, might for ever beware of this loose and sottish in∣dulgence, which brings woe to the Parent, and ruine to the Child.
V. Pray for your Children, that they may glorifie God▪ and so be your glory and crown, this was Job's practice, Job 1. 5. Job sent, and sanctified his Children, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all. Whiles his Children were feasting, he was fasting: while they were merry, he was mourning and sacrificing, lest his Sons should blaspheme and dishonour God. A godly Father's Pray∣ers do fly to Heaven, and return into the bo∣som of his posterity with rich and pretious blessings. If these rules I have propounded here, were well and conscionably observed, Parents and Children would be a crown and glory to one another: and God would set an incorruptible crown of glory upon the heads both of Parents and Children.