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being almost unceasingly occupied in his ministerial work, the charge of the family chiefly devolved upon my mother. One day, when he was going to spend some time in the country parts of the circuit, she requested him to commit to writing for her use his thoughts upon this important subject. The following are the most material parts of the letter written on that occasion, embodying sound principles of general application. The writer of this Memoir feels himself under infinite obligations to that kind Providence which blessed him with parents, who transcribed such truly Christian principles into their living conduct day by day. The greater part of the letter is given in the hope that it may be of service to many Christian parents who are engaged in the same arduous and important work.
"Gumberthorne, May 15, 1801. · MY DEAREST COMPANION IN PROSPERITY AND
ADVERSITY, “ The subject on which you desired me to write my thoughts, is of the utmost importance both to our children and to ourselves; and very much indeed depends on the part we act. From the conviction I have of the necessity of parents rightly understanding and properly attending to their duty towards their offspring, I have exercised my thoughts upon it. What I have in view is some particular plan and regular mode of conduct, which by the divine blessing, shall be most conducive to the improvement and happiness of our children in both worlds. I am aware it is much easier to make rules than to observe them; to form theories than to reduce them to practice. However, we often say, (and it is a true saying,) discouragement never does any good. Let us, then, at least, attempt to form their minds to wisdom and piety, and use our utmost endeavours to fit them, under God, for useful stations in life, and train them up for heaven. It is well to begin betimes. Early impressions, whether good or bad, are generally deep and lasting. There is much truth in the words of the poet :
Just as the twig is bent, the tree 's inclined.' I rejoice, my dear love, that your heart is with mine in this business : nay, you are before me! for it is by your
desire, that I bend my thoughts at this time to the subject. May Infinite Wisdom direct us.
It will not be improper to consider, first, the business of education as it respects our children collectively; and secondly, as it relates to each child separately.
· With regard to the former,-1. Let us never forget, our children are intrusted to our care by the Father of the spirits of all flesh. Important trust! He says, in effect, • Take these children, and nurse them, and bring them up for me.' Besides, they are flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, our other selves, dearer to us than life ; for life is estimable chiefly on their account. Here then, our duty is clear; it is so marked, that we cannot possibly doubt. However we may be perplexed respecting the calls of duty in other respects, in this we are fully satisfied. Reason, Scripture, conscience. the universal consent of mankind, parental feelings, all combine to impress upon our minds the indispensable duty of training up our children in the way in which they
“ 2. We should consider that our children, like ourselves, are related to two worlds, and are to act in reference to both. The eternal world should engage their first and principal attention. But, at the same time, a due regard should be had to temporal things. These two things are not incompatible. Nay, the man shines to the glory of God, in whom are united the diligent tradesman, mechanic, &c. and the devout Christian. Diligence in business and fervour of spirit in the service of God constitute true excellence of character. Let it be our habitual care to impress upon their minds a sense of the infinite importance of things eternal. Let it appear from our spirit and deportment, that in our estimation, all that the world can afford is vanity, when compared with the comforts of religion even in this life; and much more when opposed to an eternal weight of glory in the world to come. And let our conversations frequently turn upon topics that have a direct tendency to fasten our Lord's words upon their hearts; • What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' When these things have their due influence upon the mind, it will be easy to convince them, that such situations in life are most desirable as afford the greatest spiritual helps, and offer the fewest hinderances to the well-being of the better part. It certainly is of great moment to have this sentiment wrought into the very soul as soon as possible. For it will be like the compass to the mariner on the wide-extended ocean. When this point is gained, we shall have little difficulty, if any, in prevailing upon them to be content with moderate things in life ; and to be willing to serve God and their generation in any way that Providence may appoint. At present, however, they are too young to think of employments for themselves; nor can we as yet judge for them. If God spare us and them, we shall see the openings of their minds, their particular genius and inclinations, and the openings of Providence. And should they be so wise as to seek first the kingdom of God, &c. all other things shall be added unto them.' In the mean time, be it our care to 'rear the infant thought, and teach the young idea how to shoot;'—to get and keep them in a progressive state of improvement, and to make them truly acquainted with the world.
63. Let us not, however, be too sanguine in our expectations, nor think of cultivating our children's minds without some difficulty. Their nature is corrupted and depraved. Like the earth, their minds are sterile, or produce briars and thorns. Sometimes we shall find them listless and indolent; at other times, forward and self-willed. Various evils, which lie concealed in the heart, will be drawn forth by outward temptations as they present themselves from time to time. The world has very powerful attractions to young minds: every thing is new to them, and many things which would hurt them, have flattering appearances. The maxims and fashions of the world, to which there is too much conformity among the professors of religion, are directly opposed to a Christian education. And Satan, who is never unemployed, knows how to represent these things in the most ensnaring point of view, and is too successful in blinding the minds and inflaming the passions of young people to their ruin. We see, then, my dear, what a work we have before us. Who is sufficient for these things? What shall we do to fill up our important stations aright? We must, first of all, set them a good example : avoid ourselves what they should avoid ; and
be ourselves what we wish them to be. Example has a powerful influence upon others, especially children. Precepts without example will have little effect. We should imitate the good parson of whom it is said,
For this by rules severe his life he squar'd
That all might see the doctrines which they heard.' Great vigilance and steadiness are necessary, that we may observe, at all times, what is wrong and what is right; what is a deliberate fault, and what only an error; that we may guard equally against severity and indulgence; and be neither lax nor severe in discipline. By this means, too, we shall perceive the gradual openings of their minds, and know how to assist them in forming right judgments of men and things, and may justly indulge a hope of seeing them pass through life with credit and safety, and that they shall be our crown of rejoicing in the great day of the Lord. Above all, it behoves us to be much engaged in fervent supplication for ourselves and our children. Divine grace alone can enable us to do our part, and make our efforts successful. Let us then pray for them more frequently and more fervently than ever.
Remember, my dear love, who hath said, Whatever two shall agree to ask in my name, it shall be done unto them. See Matt. xviii. 19. And it would be well also frequently to pray with them.
With regard to the children separately considered, we must frequently converse about them, and treat them according to their different tempers and degrees of knowledge.
But we must consider more at large when we meet, the particular tempers, &c. of each child. I give you these hints, that you may exercise your thoughts upon them. I would just observe, before I conclude, that we shall find it of singular use to establish regularity in our family as to meals, prayer, and improvement, which we must fix upon, and firmly and steadily pursue. A remark you made the other day has been much upon my mind,—that we should make home agreeable. Let us study how we may do this. One thing more strikes me—the necessity of promoting mutual affection and delight in the children, so that they may be happy in
each other's company, and find a pleasure in doing kind offices for each other; and, if it be possible, cheerfully give up their own will to please each other.
Now, my dear, let us commit ourselves and our children to that God whose providence first united us. We are rendered more dear to each other than we could once conceive, by the pledges of our mutual love, and by an interchange of kind offices for upwards of nine years. Thanks to divine grace. May it please God to continue us together, till we have finished the work assigned to us; and may all our little ones be fellow-heirs with us of eternal life. No words in human language can express the value and esteem I have for my dearer self, and the desire I feel that we and our offspring may for ever celebrate the praises of redeemiug mercy. Adieu, my precious companion. I bear you continually on my heart. My blessing to the children.
I am, your own
"J. E." His journal proceeds :
“ Sat. May 16. Rimswell.—This has been a day of much prayer and renewed engagements with my
Lord. Dr. Gillies' account of Mr. Welch, a pious Scotch minister, has been a means of quickening my soul. He is said to have spent one third of his time in prayer. convinced that I have not prayed half enough, and I reSO through grace, to pray more than ever.
Wed. July 1.-1 perceive a need of a more vigilant spirit. Our adversary the devil is going about; his malice is peculiarly levelled at preachers; and if he cannot draw or drive us into sin, and thereby fix a stigma on religion, he will labour to keep us quiet and lukewarm. O may I constantly watch and PRAY, that I enter not into temptation.
“ This evening much assisted in public. I have lately found the truth of a saying of that highly honoured servant of Christ, Mr. Livingston, a Scotch minister in the seventeenth century. "I found,' said he, “that much studying did not so much help me in preaching, as the getting of my heart brought to a spiritual disposition ; yea, sometimes I thought the hunger of my hearers helped me more than my own preparations. My soul, learn wisdom by this.