Chapter 9. Fathers.

"And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" Ephesians 6:4.

"Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged" Colossians 3:21.

"Father!" — word, encircling untold treasures of divine love, divine mercy and pity, divine tender and ever watchful care, divine unerring wisdom in rule and discipline towards the objects of such love! It expresses the nearest and dearest relationship to Him, in which the redeeming love of God could bring us, through the ineffable gift of His own dear Son . . . "FATHER!" — next to the ever blessed name of "JESUS," His well beloved Son, there is no name, the sound of which is so sweet to the divine ear as is the name of "Abba, Father," when first uttered by the stammering lips of the saved child of rebellion and wrath, who has learnt, through grace, to call on that precious name of "JESUS," as his only passport, and to trust in His precious blood, as his only title to glory, and for access to the full favour of Him, Whom he now addresses as "Abba, Father," though as a stammering babe, yet with all the liberty of the Spirit of adoption, by Whom the love of God has been shed abroad in his heart.
"Abba," Father — Lord! we call Thee,
 (Hallowed name!) from day to day; —
'Tis Thy children's right to know Thee,
 None but children, "Abba," say.
This high honour we inherit,
 Thy free gift, through Jesu's blood;
God, the Spirit, with our spirit
 Witnesseth we're sons of God."

Well may the Spirit of God invite us, beloved, to "behold that manner of love, which the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we called the children of God!" What exhaustless stores, what a fathomless abyss of our divine Father's love do those words open unto us!
"Love that no tongue can teach,
Love that no thought can reach,
  No love like His.
God is its blessed source,
Death ne'er can stop its course,
Nothing can stay its force;
Matchless it is."

When the blessed Saviour and Lover of our souls had risen from His grave, where His sorrowful handmaid wept like a desolate orphan, His first words to her at once expressed that relationship of tenderest love in which He, through His death and resurrection, has brought us, whom He is not ashamed to call "brethren" because He has made us children of His Father and God "Go to my brethren, and say unto them I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God."

This message of the "First-begotten of many brethren," after He had taken His seat on high at the right hand of God, as the Head of the Church, His body the Spirit of glory and of adoption takes up, through His honoured penman, the Apostle of glory and of the Church, in addressing the Churches, and in an especial way in his apostolic greeting to the Church at Ephesus:

"Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

What love does that wondrous heavenly greeting remind us of, beloved! It tells us that the same love of that blessed Divine Father, which rests on Christ, rests upon us, for we are "accepted in the Beloved." And how does the Father look at the face of His Anointed? With the supreme delight of a Father and God. That same perfect, eternal love rests upon us, poor, feeble ones though we be, and having failed in everything wherewith His grace had entrusted us! We are "accepted in the Beloved," and "as He is" (i.e., accepted and beloved in heaven), "so are we in this world;" — a world of enmity, hatred, and opposition against everything that is of God and belongs to God, and persecuting all who will live godly in Christ Jesus. What an assurance, what a comfort, to pass through a scene like this, and in times like these, with the consciousness that the same Father's love that rested upon His own Son, when He, as the perfect Man, walked this earth, and for that very reason was opposed at every step of His life, until He was lifted up from the earth and nailed to the cross; rests upon us, whilst we, like Him, (and yet, alas! how unlike Him!) are passing through a cruel and subtle enemy's country towards our final rest and glory with Him!

Oh, what a Father is ours, beloved! And what a love is constantly engaged on our behalf! A love that gave the greatest gift: even the only-begotten Son, and takes notice of the smallest thing belonging to us. For what is smaller or seems less important, than a hair of our head? What do we care for one hair more or less? Or what mother, even the most dotingly, fondly loving mother — has ever troubled herself with counting the hairs of her child's head? Our Divine Father has done so. Perfect love cares for the smallest, as for the greatest need, and notices the smallest circumstances of the beloved object. It is not said, that He counted our sins, as we do sometimes, ("Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times"?) For though they were innumerable, He might have known their number, for He knows the number of the stars, and whilst they move, and rise, and set at His bidding, He takes notice of a single poor sparrow, for none of them falls from the roof without Him!

"Behold, what manner of love hath the Father bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God." His love has not only covered a multitude (and what a multitude!) of sins, and not only has His grace said: "Your sins and iniquities will I remember no more," but His love has been shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given unto us, even the Spirit of His Son sent into our hearts, which crieth, "Abba, Father," and beareth witness together with our spirit, that we are children of God.

Three great results, as to our relationship with God, are thus the consequence of that wondrous fact of our being indwelt by the Holy Ghost.
1. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts (i.e., not our love to Him, but His love to us).
2. This blessed Spirit of adoption, even the Spirit of His Son, sent into our hearts, crieth "Abba, Father," i.e., gives utterance and expression to that blessed relationship, in which we stand as children of God, in addressing Him by the precious name of "Father."
3. At the same time does His Spirit bear witness together with our spirit, that we are children of God. That is, not only is the Holy Spirit of adoption in us the power of addressing God, according to our relationship to Him, by that blessed name of "Abba, Father," but He is at the same time the power within us, of our individual assurance and realisation of that relationship, in bearing witness together with our new nature in resurrection life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2), "that we are children of God."

The result of the first of these blessed facts, i.e., of the love of God having been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given to us, is the testimony, by the same Spirit, to a hostile world around us, of the love of God towards sinners and enemies (provided that Spirit dwells as an ungrieved Guest within us, and we can say: "The love of Christ constraineth us"), to commend the love of God to enemies and sinners, and to beseech them in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. For it is not only the love of God shed abroad in the heart, that makes a Christian a proclaimer of His love and grace; (I do not speak here only of gifted "evangelists," in the strict sense of the word), but the "love of Christ" constraining us to tell out that love towards others, who are still strangers to it, instead of resting satisfied in self-contentment with the fact that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.

And if the world and Satan, its prince and god, oppose that testimony, as they will be sure to do, wherever it is rendered faithfully, i.e., by word and practice, the result of the second blessed truth, i.e., of the Spirit of adoption, which dwelleth in us and crieth: "Abba, Father," will be the deeper realisation of His love towards us, Whom we are permitted to address by that precious title. When His Son pronounced those solemn "woes" upon those cities who believed not in Him, and when, as to Israel as a nation, the solemn word of the prophet was about to be fulfilled: "I have laboured in vain; I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain;"* what comes next?

{*In Isaiah, the next words are: "Yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God."}

"At that time Jesus, answered and said: I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." And after having thus, in the submission of the perfect Son, turned to the Father, in the full sense of His relationship, He can turn round and say to others: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." etc.

How blessed, beloved, if we, after the perfect pattern of that perfect Son, learn, in our little measure, thus to realise more of the nearness of our relationship to our Father and God, even the Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ! Have we learnt, amidst a scene of daily increasing opposition to everything that is of God and belongs to Him, amidst a world that knew not the Father, neither the Son, nor knows His Spirit, nor His Word, nor His children, and yet, led on by Satan, its prince and god, instinctively, and with daily increasing enmity, opposes the children of God and their testimony , — have we learnt, amidst it all, or rather away from it all, to turn to Him, and realise the love of Him Whom we call: "Abba, Father?" How precious is the sound of "Abba, Father" in that portion of the Word of God, I mean the eighth chapter of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans! How calmly, full of holy, happy assurance that single word, "Abba,'' ascends from this world of sin and sorrow up to Heaven! In contrast to the spirit of bondage on the one hand, which made the whole people at the foot of Sinai to tremble, and even Moses, the friend of God, so that he said. "I exceedingly fear and quake;" with what confidence of childlike and calm assurance, and liberty, goes up to Heaven the "Abba, Father," coming from the heart and lips of the youngest "babe," the least in the kingdom of God, and yet greater than the Lord's forerunner! "Abba, Father," the expression of liberty and confidence, in contrast to the spirit of bondage unto fear. "Abba, Father," the expression of confiding and joyful gratitude, in contrast to the "groan," expressing pain beyond utterance in words, ascending to heaven from a creation subject to the bondage of corruption, travailing in pain, and waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, when in glorious bodies they shall enjoy, as to their bodies also, that liberty which now they enjoy in the Spirit and when the creature, which is now subject to vanity, for man's sake, will also be delivered from the bondage of corruption "into the liberty of the glory of the children of God" (for so runs the correct reading). And He, Who listens to the "Abba, Father" of His dear children in Christ Jesus, hears and understands no less the groan of the poor suffering creation that is travailing together in pain. For it is not only the creature that groans, but His children, being linked with it, as to their poor bodies, that groan within themselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies.

But from this suffering creation, there is ascending unto heaven, another groan, most solemn, and yet most precious a groan of intercession, uttered by the Spirit of God Himself, Who maketh intercession "with groanings which cannot be uttered."

How faintly do we realise what sin has done! It made the Son of God, when He, as the perfect Man, trod this sad earth, groan and weep here below, before He suffered upon the cross (we nowhere find that He even smiled in this world of sin and sorrow, where He was "the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief"); it is sin which makes this creation and the children of God "groan," and that makes even the blessed Spirit of God, Whose mind is life and peace, groan in this scene of sin and death. But the Holy Spirit "maketh intercession for the saints according to God." "And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit." Blessed fact! precious assurance! Christ making intercession for us in heaven, at the right hand of God, and the Spirit of God interceding for us on earth! What a never-failing, divinely-perfect and effectual intercession! And with what assurance does it inspire our souls, if realised in the power of His Word and Spirit!

But beloved, it is not this kind of practical assurance, springing from such realities of faith, precious as they are, that I would crave for my own and your hearts just here, It is not so much the loving intercession of Jesus Christ, our Advocate with the Father, nor of the Holy Spirit, blessed though they be! but it is the love of the Father Himself to us, His children, that I wish to dwell upon, and to get my own and your hearts more imbued with.

"I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you;" said Jesus, "for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and believed that I came out from God."

Our Father and God, Who Himself is love, listens to, and understands the groan of the creature travailing together in pain, and He Who heard even the groan of the fasting cattle of Nineveh and spared them, should He not hear and understand the "Abba, Father," of His children, who call on Him in the ever dear name of His well beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and are themselves "beloved children," the fruits of the travail of the soul of Jesus, when He poured out Hiss soul for them unto death?

What is like a mother's love? And why does she love her child with such love? Because she has travailed in pain for it.

"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee."

And what, beloved, about the love of such a Father? He Himself tells us in the same portion (Rom. 8) something of His love.

"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

Who is able to pluck us out of His hand? None; neither Satan, angels, nor men. Who is able to separate us from His love, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?" Let the prince and god of this world set himself in array against us with all the forces of this world; they cannot separate us from the love of the Father, as little as the whole arsenal fraught with all the weapons of persecution, wielded by Satan, neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword, shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ.

"For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

And if you and I, beloved of God, have in the early morning hour offered to our Father, and to Christ Jesus the sacrifices of our hearts and lips, rendering thus to Him the first fruits of the new day; and if we have got our hearts refreshed and impregnated, through His grace, with the sense of His love; and if we in the silent closet have addressed Him with that dear and endearing title, "Abba, Father," and cast all our cares for the day upon Him, who clothes the lilies and feeds the ravens, and enjoy within us the calm and deep assurance of His love and His peace, which passes all understanding; and if we then enter into the circle of our family, where we are to be the reflectors of that wondrous heavenly relationship, and receive the smiles and tokens of love from our beloved ones, and hear the endearing "father" from the lips of our children, the echo, as it were, of that term of filial affection and confidence with which we have just addressed our heavenly Father; will not that "father" be re-echoed by our hearts more fully than by the kindest natural father? And will not the face of the earthly father, who has just been basking in the sunshine of the favour of His heavenly Father, reflect, as did the face of Moses, something of the glorious joy and peace, he has just enjoyed on the mountain? And will not his kiss, his look, his words, his whole demeanour, be the reflex of that heavenly Father's Presence, in Whose sunshine and love he has been bathing? Will not his conversation during the frugal family meal be seasoned with salt, and minister grace to the hearers? And during the family reading, will not the way in which he reads the Scriptures to his family, for his own and their nurture and admonition in the Lord, be in the unction and power, and demonstration of the Holy Ghost? And will not the few words of comment he may have to offer them, come fresh from the presence of God, where he himself has been, and felt the power and comfort of that word (I do not mean, of the same portion of Scripture) in the Divine Presence?

And above all — that heavenly Father's love, which you just have tasted in all its sweetness in the heavenly sanctuary, will make its divine effect visible in the earthly father's sunny face and happy loving smile, when he enters the sanctuary of his family.
"Thy morning smiles bless all the day."

The morning smiles of our divine Father's love, received in His presence at the solitary hour of the early morning, will not only light up and cheer, together with His rising sun, the domestic circle, but in the evening, on the father's return from the dusty warehouse or the dingy counting house, or from the din and noise of Tubal-cain's manufactories in the foggy city, and after a day's rough handling by its denizens, the radiance of that bright morning smile will still linger on the returning father's weary face, and irradiate, together with the last glorious beams of the setting sun, the quiet domestic circle. The love of that heavenly Father, who maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, will penetrate the atmosphere of such a Christian household, and the savour of divine grace in Jesus Christ will be tasted, and the gentle yet mighty drawings of the Spirit of love and truth be felt, if slowly, yet surely in God's own time, by one member after another of such a privileged Christian home, where the father and head of the family is himself at home with divine love, and has learnt, to "behold the manner of that love which the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God,"
"Oh happy house! where Thou art loved the best,
O Lord, so full of love and grace;
Where never comes such welcome, honoured Guest;
Where none can ever fill Thy place;
Where every heart goes forth to meet Thee,
Where every ear attends Thy word,
Where every lip with blessing greets Thee,
Where all are waiting on their Lord."

It is with reluctance we turn from such a scene to that of a Christian dwelling where the light shines dimly, or only in occasional fits, and then almost disappears; because the father of that family, though having felt once a divine Father's kiss, when a returning prodigal, and though having heard the sound of joyful welcome ringing through the Father's house above, when sitting down at the banqueting feast, has become dull and cool. His poor heart, once basking in the sunshine of such a Father's love, as revealed in Jesus, His dear Son, has grown chilly, distanced from the warmth and brightness of that divine love, in the northern latitude of this world, where the sunbeams of that love, which is ever perfect in itself and unchangeable, reach his poor soul only in such an oblique direction, that they only impart to him an occasional light without warmth.

Poor father! estranged as you are in your own heart from the love of your heavenly Father in Christ Jesus, how, indeed, can you heed the divine injunction, not to provoke your children to anger, but to bring them up in the nurture [or "discipline"] and admonition of the Lord?

You may, indeed, give to your children the smile of a father's love, as long as things around look bright and smile at you; but that love will be fitful, at the same rate as your light has grown dim and fitful, and there will be a sadness about your smile, which your children will perceive, though they may not understand the cause of the eclipse that has befallen your own and your family circle's domestic happiness. Alas! alas, poor father! The earth, i.e., the world with its passions and lusts — has come between you and the Sun of the Father's love in Christ Jesus; and thus you have ceased to reflect the heavenly light, and have become to your own family circle an eclipsed sun or moon. Even the natural beams of many an unconverted father's love, implanted in his heart by a merciful Creator, will appear to shed more light, and spread more warmth (though but in a natural way), in the circle of his family, than yours, Christian father, and child of God! And how can it be otherwise? How can you spread light and warmth around you, when you derive none yourself from above, being away from Him, who is not only the "Father of lights," but who Himself is Light and Love? How can you give nurture to your wife and children, when your own soul is starving and miserable? How can you bring up your children in the discipline and admonition of the Lord, when you are yourself a rebellious child of God? You may try to assert and enforce your authority in your family, but a naturally consistent, though unconverted, father of a family will have more real weight and authority in his house than you; for there is, at all events, consistency with him, which commands respect. But inconsistency may claim, but does not carry with it authority, even in a worldly sense. But the inconsistencies of a Christian father who is not walking uprightly, are not only perceived, but most injuriously felt by the unconverted members of his family. All real authority must emanate from God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has set you in the place of a father in your family, and invested you with the authority of such. But if you are not subject yourself to His divine authority, will not your family, — even the unconverted part of it, yea, and they most of all — soon perceive and feel it grievously, and what is more — most injuriously? Will your heavenly Father support you in your place of authority, as long as you resist His heavenly supreme authority? How can you have the spiritual weight, gravity, and wisdom to maintain your paternal authority, if the Spirit of God dwells in you as a grieved guest?

When our Lord, before His departure from this world, comforted His desponding disciples with the promise of the Holy Ghost, He spoke not only of the fact to them, that the Holy Spirit should dwell in them, but He added:

"If a man love me, he will keep my word [not "words"]: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23).

There is a great difference between dwelling in a house, and being familiar, and on good terms with its inmates. I may have lodgings in a house, perhaps one or two upper rooms. Thus I dwell in the house. But if I do not care for the people that live in the house, I shall not enter much into conversation with them; but if they gain my confidence and esteem, I shall feel, and make myself at home with them. It is the same as to our conscious communion with God, and the enjoyment of it. "It is," as another has said, "in the path of obedience that the manifestations of the Father's love and the love of Christ are found. We love, but do not caress our naughty children. If we grieve the Spirit, He will not be in us the active power of the manifestation to our souls of the Father and the Son in communion. God may restore us by His love, and by testifying when we have wandered; but communion is in obedience."

And how can a Christian father, if indwelt by a grieved Spirit, who thus must be in him a stern rebuker and exhorter, instead of being the Comforter and active power of enjoyment of communion with the Father and the Son, be a light in his dwelling and family? Alas! the salt has lost his savour; wherewith shall it be seasoned, and how shall it impart flavour and savour to others?

May our good God grant to every Christian father, in days like these, to be more at home in our heavenly relationship and place in the sanctuary above, in order that we may reflect more brightly, in the sanctuary of our family, the heavenly character of our blessed Father above, in holiness, love, peace, righteousness, and grace.

My Christian reader will easily see why "mothers" are not mentioned here. A mother's tender love needs no exhortation, not to provoke her children to wrath. The warning she needs would be more in the contrary direction. It is a well-known fact, that children, who have lost their father in their infancy, often grow up to a softness of mind and character, that unfits them for the stern duties and realities of life and on the other hand, such who have been deprived of their mother in their early days, often assume a sternness of character, which renders them very unsociable and unaccessible for the gentle influences and loving associations of family life.

But though "mothers" are not mentioned, the relationship of parents being one of love, so natural to mothers, they are, as hardly need be said, included, especially where the mother of a family is a widow, and, as such, the head of the family; or where the father is unconverted, all these exhortations being, of course, addressed to believing members of a family. But if in the first part of the Apostle's injunctions as to parental duty, mothers are not mentioned, from the reasons given above, they come in, in an especial way, for the second part of our verse "bring them up in the nurture [or 'discipline'] and admonition of the Lord;" for it is just in this point, that on the part of mothers virtue often becomes a failure, so disastrous to themselves and to the spoiled child of their love.

As has already been indicated, the word in the original is not: "nurture," but "discipline." The Christian father (or mother) has to bring up the children "in the discipline and admonition of the Lord."

"Discipline and admonition!" stern words for the easy-going, and so-called "liberal" principles of these days! Does not the child want nurture for the heart as well as discipline and admonition for the conscience? Most certainly; and he would be a very unwise father indeed, who would let his son starve, and then use the rod, because he turns aside to nibble, over the hedge, at some forbidden fruit in our worldly neighbour's garden! It is true, the father is to bring him up "in the discipline and admonition of the Lord," i.e., under the yoke of Christ. But that yoke is neither hard nor heavy. "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light," says our gracious Master. Do not Christian fathers often forget this? It is for this very reason that the Apostle says: "And ye fathers, provoke not your children unto wrath; i.e., treat them with true fatherly kindness, with a mother's love and gentleness, "but," on the other hand, forget not to "bring them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord."

How else can we account for the strange fact, that so many children, especially sons, of consistent Christian parents, when growing up, betray such an inconceivable aversion, yea, repugnance against everything that is called "religious?" The natural heart's enmity against God and His Word is not sufficient to account for this, for that reason would hold good for every child of believing parents. Is it not rather, because such Christian parents, especially fathers, have, with a stern Sinaitic spirit, ministered divine truth to their children, so that "the Word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little, that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken?"

There is a vast difference between imposing divine truth like an iron yoke upon the young necks of children, especially boys and young men, who naturally are prone to kick and revolt against everything resembling oppression or tyranny; and seeking first to win and secure their filial affections and confidence, and thus to enlisten their interest, and make them willing listeners to the reading or expounding of divine truth, coming from the lips of a wise, considerate, beloved, and esteemed parent. This is a very different thing to their receiving the Word of God as men's word, and from men. "If we receive divine truth from men," Calvin said truly, "we shall soon receive error from men" (1 Thess. 2:13). But if a teacher of divine truth does not commend himself to the consciences, or if he repels, and alienates the hearts of his hearers, the divine seed he sows will, in most cases, fall upon a sterile ground.* The parent who knows, with a heart kept fresh through grace, how to be a child with children, and to enter upon their thoughts, and to take interest in their legitimate juvenile aspirations and pleasures, will be sure to find their ears open to listen to the grave word of exhortation, and willing to submit to the word of correction, and even to the rod, if wielded by his loving and unwilling, but faithful hand. Is it not thus our heavenly Father deals with us, His children? He shows His love in season, and applies the chastisement in season. It is thus He makes us to kiss the rod.

{*This remark, the practical truth of which is commonly known, does not, as hardly need be said, impugn the truth of the necessity of the divine work of regeneration in a soul, in divine sovereign power and grace.}

A dear minister of Christ was obliged to chastise his boy. At every stroke of the rod, the weeping boy clung all the more closely to his father, until at last, the father was obliged to throw away the rod, remembering what is written "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me." That father must have won the heart and confidence of his boy, long before he chastised him, and thus the boy's heart felt the strokes of the rod far more keenly than did his flesh, for he could see in his father's face the grief and pain it cost him to deal with his child in such a way. The result was, that the rod went right to the conscience of the boy, as well as to his heart, and there produced peaceable fruits of righteousness, and thus the father could throw away the rod.

But there was another effect of that loving father's faithful correction. The boy clung all the more closely to his father, instead of being repelled and alienated from him. What a lesson to Christian parents! It is a well-known fact, that parents, who are not only kind to their children, but also train them in strict obedience and submission to parental authority, are always the most beloved and esteemed by them; whereas over indulging parents, as a rule, earn from their children anything but gratitude, respect, or affection.

These are common truths; but they are so constantly forgotten by many Christian parents, that it appears "safe, to say and write the same things." And not only so; it is a well-known fact, that believing parents, who know and hold or enjoy the blessings of full gospel truth as to God's free grace and salvation through and in Jesus Christ; and, moreover, know and hold, and enjoy their happy place of liberty, wherewith Christ has made us free, in but too many cases are very remiss in bringing up their children in the discipline of the Lord. For it is a common experience, confirmed by many witnesses, that Christian tutors or governesses, as a rule, find it much easier to maintain their place of authority amongst their pupils, when the latter belong to a Christian family, where the parent or parents are under the yoke of the law and legal religious ordinances, than in a Christian family where the parents know the peace and liberty of a full Gospel, and are enjoying, or at least profess to enjoy, the happy liberty of the children of God, delivered of the trammels and fetters of the law and of human ordinances, with the liberty of worshippers in spirit and in truth, whom Christ has made free. The frequent complaint of tutors and governesses in many such families is, that they find it next to impossible to keep the pupils entrusted to their charge under proper control, being not supported by the authority of the parents, who appear to believe that the "rod of correction" is an instrument that belongs to the barbarous Old Testament dispensation of the law of Moses, a kind of the symbols of Sinai, which ought not to be seen in Christian households where the parents are on the ground of full, free grace, peace, love, and mercy, and where grace reigns sovereign, as we are no longer under the law, but under grace. Consequently that old fashioned instrument: the rod, which our legal parents and ancestors deemed to be a necessary and useful symbol and supporter of parental authority, and which yielded its place on the mantle-shelf — only on certain family festival days to the holly berries, and bouquets, and such like brighter and cheerful emblems, has been abolished, and the "non-punishment system" adopted, as more befitting the principles of grace and philanthropy, held and taught in such households and schools.

Christian reader, pardon the writer of these pages if he, in so serious a question, seems to have yielded, for a moment, to what may appear a satirical way of expression; but nowhere does the "folly" of sin (for every sin is also folly — as to ourselves;) appear so prominently as in the case of Christian parents, who, setting aside, or forgetting the plainest and strictest injunctions of Holy Writ, in the New as well as in the Old Testament, practically declare themselves to be wiser than God and His Word, which is truth:

"Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell" (Prov. 23:13, 14).

"He that spareth his rod, hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth betimes" (Prov. 13:24).

"Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying" (Prov. 19:18).

"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Prov. 12:15).

"The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."

"Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul" (Prov. 29:15, 17).

"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? but if ye are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons" (Heb. 12:6, 8).

Solemn passages these, Christian father! Are you going to degrade your own children to "bastards," by training them on the non-punishment principle? Prove that he is your son by — scourging him. It is thus God dealt with you and me. "He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." And why? Because He loves us, and does love us; "For whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth." Does "scourging" look like "receiving"? or "chastening" like "loving"? Certainly not in any other relationship, but it is just that which characterises the love of the father for his son. First of all, it is true, came the Father's kisses of welcome;* then the "BEST garment" then the ring and the sandals; then the fatted calf, and the music and dancing; and afterwards — the rod. The "rod" does not taste like the "kiss," but the same love that applied the kiss wields the rod. The love that spared not the only begotten Son, but laid the "chastisement of our peace upon Him," Who was the Holy and Spotless One, cannot spare our sinful flesh. Therefore it afflicts the flesh, in order to make the conscience to judge it, and the foolish heart, that had given way to it, return and cling the more closely to the love that applied the rod.

{*"He fell on his neck and covered him with kisses" (the true rendering of Luke 15:20). Of course, the "rod" would be out of place in Luke 15; it has its proper place in Heb. 12.}

But it must be felt by the child, even whilst under the rod, that it is love that applies the rod. Children's eyes perceive very quickly, and their young hearts feel very acutely, even whilst under chastisement, whether love, or anger and passion, in the parent, applies the rod. In the latter case, the corrective implement will work anything but correction. Wrath provokes wrath. "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." In such a case, every stroke of the rod will drive the precious object of parental chastisement farther and farther away, and alienate his poor heart from the parent, instead of drawing him nearer to you, as in the case of the chastened boy mentioned above. It is not thus God deals with us, His children, beloved. How important, to learn of Him, Who "is Light" (i.e., "Holy, Holy, Holy,") and Who "is Love," how to show firmness and authority in season, and love in season. And how important, therefore, for a parent, before applying the rod of correction, to look up with an humbled and chastened spirit, before he applies the chastening rod, and ask God, Who giveth liberally and upbraideth not, for the needed wisdom and grace, and that His Spirit of love and of discretion may guide, for His own glory, the father's hand, in applying the bitter rod of correction.

Before going further, I would just offer a few remarks upon a case of discipline, which was of old, and is, I trust, even in our evil days, a case of not very frequent occurrence, but requires all the more promptness and wisdom where it does occur. I mean the case of a stubborn and rebellious son, provided for in the book of Deuteronomy in such awfully solemn terms:

"If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

"Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

"And they shall say unto the elders of his city, 'This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.'

"And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear and fear" (Deut. 21:18-21).

What an appalling scene! Next to the one in the wood of Ephraim, referred to at the end of the preceding chapter, there is hardly any of equal awfulness throughout the Old Testament. Parents, commanded by Jehovah Himself, Who "is Love" as He "is Light," to lay hold of their own off-spring, and bring him before the elders and the congregation, to be stoned! It was a private affair — a family matter. What had the elders and the congregation to do with it? God had to say to it, and to see to it! In His sight, there is, next to the abomination of an idol, nothing more horrible and unbearable than a rebellious child. Its existence was a spot to the camp where God dwelt. The congregation had to purge itself from its presence, else the whole congregation of Israel, as well as the family to which the rebellious son belonged, would have been defiled by his continued presence.

The sin of disobedience and rebellion is here dealt with in connection with drunkenness; not because drunkenness was the capital sin (comp. v. 18), but because the crime of such stubbornness and disobedience to parents is of such an unnatural and dastardly character, that it can be only imputed to the maddening influence of drink, whilst showing at the same time, that drunkenness cannot be admitted as a plea for such a crime before God, as it ought not to be, and, generally, is not admitted as a plea before human judges.

But what, in the case of a stubborn and rebellious son in a Christian family; rare, I trust, as such a terrible case may be? Is grace to prevail, and he to remain in the house, because the law of Moses is no longer applicable? Is the stubborn and rebellious son to stay, until he has infected all the children with the leaven of his wickedness, and turned the whole into a mutinous camp? Fearful, indeed, in its consequences, would be the sinful folly, and awfully solemn the responsibility of the over-indulgent parent in such a case! If the word of love and grace, and the rod of chastisement have proved ineffectual, the family ought, without further delay, to be purged from the defiling  presence of the rebellious child, and the door shut upon him. God's blessing cannot rest upon a household where He is dishonoured by the sufferance of such an abomination in His sight. Let the obstinate one learn, under the iron rule and the heavy yoke of the stranger, to appreciate and bow to the sacred claims of a loving father's or mother's authority, and in the icy atmosphere of a selfish world, to yearn and long for the genial flame of the homely hearth, and the peaceful haven of his family, the privileges and affections of which he had spurned. If, in such an extreme, deplorable case, outraged parental authority has firmly and graciously asserted its inalienable claims, and thus the sanctuary of the family been purged from that which is an abomination in the sight of God, their prayers for the wanderer will ascend to the throne of grace, and result, in God's own time, in the sigh for the "father's house," and the tearful cry of repentance: "Father, I have sinned against thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."

Beloved! let us remember that what is called "Antinomianism," i.e., the natural tendency to indulge flesh or nature (even in its legitimate affections) — contrary to God and His word, under plea of grace — has a broader margin than we think; and I fear there is far more in us of that kind of antinomianism than we suspect.

If, on a subject of such vast importance as the present one, I have spoken with more freedom than the delicate nature of family-relationships may appear to warrant to some of my Christian readers, I can but assure them, that nothing is farther from the writer's intention than any intrusion upon the sacred confines of family-life, which no one could respect more sincerely than he does. But whilst writing, the immense importance of the subject of our consideration, especially in these last days, so grew upon his soul, as "in the sight of God speaking in Christ," that he should have considered himself remiss in faithfulness and grace, if he had attempted to soften or tone down what he knows to be but too solemnly true!

The following incident from the writer's early life, the awful solemnity of which has left an indelible impression on his mind, may serve as an additional explanation for his frankness of expression:

When a boy of ten years of age, I lived in a small town in Westphalia. Our neighbour opposite was an old gentleman, who was a wine-merchant. He had served in the Swiss guard of Louis XVI., and had been one of the defenders of the Tuileries and of the Royal family at the outbreak of the first French revolution in 1789. He was what is called a "pious" man, as punctual and regular as a clockwork and precisely at the same time every morning we saw his tall, straight, and soldierly figure, with the well-powdered pigtail, like a relic of bygone days, turning round the corner on his way to the church close by, to attend mass. Mr. D was held in general esteem by all his townsmen, on account of his unimpeachable honesty, and natural kindness, and amiability, and lived in peace with all, except one — his only son. For, alas! Mr. D.'s "virtue" was his weakness, and thus had become his sin. Like his unfortunate late royal master, his kindness was not combined with the firmness so necessary in the training of boys. Engelbert, his son, consequently, soon became the terror of the neighbourhood, and the daily plague of his father's life, and of the faithful old servant, who lived with them. At the time I saw him, he was a young man of about twenty years, and had just returned from one of his carousing and revelling rambles to the towns and villages in the neighbourhood.

One Sunday afternoon, during which the voice of strife and contention, with cursing and swearing, was heard coming from the wine merchant's house, sometimes interrupted by the gentle remonstrances of the poor aged father and the entreaties of the servant, suddenly the latter rushed into the street with cries of "murder!" The old wine merchant having at last refused to satisfy his son's insatiable desires, the latter had attempted his father's life, by stabbing him with a knife.

Never shall I forget the sight, when the miserable unnatural son, now a criminal, was led away, amidst the furious crowd, between two gens d'armes, to the prison, cursing and swearing, and shaking his clenched fists against heaven, as if defying God and men! The broken-hearted father died soon after, and the poor old servant, having lost her reason, was sent to the madhouse, and the house shut up. Some years after, on a visit to the old little town, I found the house had been pulled down, and no trace of it was left. Its place knew it no more.

"Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge (Prov. 23:12).

What comes next?

"Withhold not correction from the child for if thou beatest him with the rod he shall not die."

And not only so, but

"Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."

How true it is, that "he that spareth his rod" hateth his son: but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes."

Is there not great need, Christian parents, in times of a molluscous kind of love, without the backbone of divine truth, to raise the sound of alarm in matters where godly men of old, such as Eli, and even Samuel, who had to announce the judgment of God to Eli, failed, and had to reap the bitter fruit of their neglect?

The Lord grant us to heed such warnings betimes, whilst encouraging our hearts with God's blessing upon Abraham, which in principle holds good also for us, if we walk in his footsteps. "For," said the Lord, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him."

But although "discipline and admonition in the Lord" form the principal and essential part of the training of children, as referring chiefly to their consciences, and although the word "nurture" is not in the original text, as has been already mentioned, yet it is fully comprised in them as necessarily belonging to it. For it is certainly not the intention of the God of all grace and the "Father of mercies," Who "pitieth them that fear him, as a father pitieth his children," and Whose Spirit of adoption within us is a Comforter as well as an Exhorter, that parents should leave their children without the necessary spiritual food for the heart. The reason why the words "discipline and admonition," as especially referring to the conscience, are used here is, I believe, because the Apostle's exhortation to the parents refers not only to their believing, but also to their unconverted children. Now, God's work in the soul, we know, always begins in the conscience. And as in unconverted children there is no new nature, no new heart, i.e., God-ward and Christ-ward affections, and thoughts, and aspirations, that could be nourished with spiritual food: and as the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" unto salvation, those words: "discipline and admonition," have been used by the Spirit of God, I believe, as especially belonging to the conscience. But does not the Word of God contain food even for the heart of the unregenerate child, provided it is trained in the fear of the Lord? What child ever grows tired of such portions as the history of Joseph and his brethren? What heart, even of unregenerate man, if not entirely hardened by sin and crime, has not been moved by such portions of Holy Writ as the parable of the prodigal son, and similar portions of the Gospels, which never fail to exert their appealing power to the natural legitimate affections of mankind? But it is not only such portions as these, but everywhere throughout Holy Writ there are portions, which tell even upon the natural heart of every unregenerate man, who is not entirely hardened, and whose taste has not been altogether perverted by sin, as those referred to in Titus 1:15. For though it is true, that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned," yet there is a charm and a power in the Word of God, even as to the unregenerate soul (I do not speak here, of course, of its divine power for salvation in regeneration; for there the water, the Word, and the spirit are co-operative), which is confirmed by daily facts. This is very different to giving to your children merely moral comments upon the Scripture, and thus deadening its divine power and effect upon their consciences and hearts. Read the Scriptures to them without too long comments during the family reading in the morning. Such long comments only produce weariness, even in young believers, much more in the unconverted, and make them still more averse to divine things than they are already by nature. Let God's Word in its own divine simplicity, power, and authority, appeal to and act upon their hearts and consciences, avoiding even the remotest appearance of any religious constraint or restraint, by forcing them into "religion." Keep yourselves, as much as possible, behind the scene, except as to your walk, and all the glory and excellency of power will be God's, and He will not fail to glorify Himself in the conversion of your children, who are already "holy" through the believing parents (1 Cor. 7:14). It is thus that Christian parents, through grace, may be helpful to produce the "good ground" in their children's hearts, in the sense of Matt. 13:8 and 23. And when the seed of the Gospel then falls upon such a well prepared ground (all divine in power and grace though the work is, and must be, from first to last), it will spring up and bear fruit unto life eternal.

But nurture does not only imply the feeding of the souls of our children from the Word of God, all important as this is. Young minds and hearts want change. It is their very nature. I do not mean in a sinful, but natural way. Beware of "dosing" them constantly with Scriptural lessons and precepts! It only serves to delay or counteract, as much as is possible, the work of God in their souls. They want: (1) variety of reading; (2) variety of intercourse and company; (3) variety of occupation, and (4) variety of their youthful relaxations and entertainments.

It is of all importance that Christian parents should remember this; and I believe the true cause why many godly parents, who had brought up their children most conscientiously, have been for many years disappointed as to the hoped and prayed for fruits of their faithful training of their children, may be traced back to their lack of wisdom, in not giving sufficient scope for the natural love of variety in the young, as to the four points I have just mentioned. The subject is of all importance, though the necessary limits of this book will not permit me to enter into details. Beware of a monotonous education, Christian parent, and do not deprive your children of that variety their young minds and hearts naturally need and long for! Only beware, that that variety is not of a worldly character.

May I, before closing this portion, be permitted to offer to such of my beloved Christian readers, who are in the happy, but so intensely responsible relationship of parents, a few suggestions as to each of those four points:

1. As to variety of reading:

a. As to scientific books and teachings, beware of the poisonous leaven of rationalism and infidelity, with which scientific books and teachings are now-a-days so generally impregnated. By such books the poison of infidelity is slowly but surely instilled into the susceptible young mind and heart, which thus becomes blasted, and withered, and hardened to everything even naturally noble and moral, not to speak of their eternal interests. Thank God there are still in this country many sound books and writers in this domain; and if Christian parents would confer with Christian schoolmen as to the choice of the study-books of their children, instead of leaving it to them to choose their books, they would in many cases avoid the solemn consequences of the neglect of that part of parental responsibility.

And here I cannot refrain from alluding to a part of that responsibility, which frequently is being lost sight of by Christian parents, until they have to reap the bitter fruits of their neglect. I mean the sending of their sons to universities to complete their education, and for the attainment of the scientific knowledge, required to fit them for profession or business, where they would be able to earn their livelihood in a time, where the prince and god of this world draws his entangling net closer and closer, so that it appears to some parents almost impossible to procure for their sons places where they can lead an honest life, and yet suited to their and their parent's position in society. Hence most of those young gentlemen devote themselves to the study of medicine, as the only avocation which secures to them such a position without violating their consciences. Thus they are sent away from the quiet haven of a Christian homestead to the high school of Athens — the university, the very atmosphere of which is impregnated with the pestilential vapours of rationalism and infidelity: and where, as another has said, the great men of science, falsely so called, men with great fame, but little or no shame, are dishonest enough to betray the confidence of honest parents, who have confided to them their children for their education, by using their professor chairs for instilling into their young minds the deadly poison of infidelity and contempt of those sacred divine truths, in which they had been brought up at their mother's knees

Let me, just as a note of warning to such Christian parents, who of late seem to think it an indispensable necessity to send their children to France to "finish their education," give an extract from the letter of a Parisian correspondent. He writes:

"They (the students) come here from every quarter of the world. The idea has been industriously circulated, that the schools of Paris are so superior, that like advantages cannot be found elsewhere. Perhaps this is so. The measureless power of the nation, which has enriched the world's treasury with the marvellous knowledge of Arago, Leverrier, Gay-Lussae, Cuvier, and others, cannot be over estimated; but in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it is purchased at a price that no father or mother would be willing to pay. Science is here deep and profound. Here (i.e., in the "Latin Quarter") in the late hours of the night, from the little narrow windows lights may be seen flickering, where students are striving to unravel the most intricate of nature's mysteries. Your son may come back to you, able to wield a steady knife, where the nerves quiver and the life goes out; every fibre of the human frame may lie before him like a map, he may unfold the wonderful history of the stars; all the hidden secrets of nature may be known to him; he may be able to tell you how layer after layer was piled upon this ponderous globe, from the time it was first shot a molten mass from its parent sun, to the instant when God said "Let there be light;" — all knowledge in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters that are under the earth, may be his; but he will come back to you heartless, soulless, godless, doubting the honesty of his own father, and the virtue of his mother, and the chastity of his wife and his sister. Here, among the cloisters of knowledge, is an atmosphere of rottenness and licentiousness scarcely conceivable by those who have not witnessed it."

Christian parents! Are you going to sacrifice your precious children to the Molech of "science, falsely so called," and in its wake of infidelity and atheism, in order to secure a comfortable first-class berth, suitable to your and their rank and position in human society? I can say nothing more to you, but that you must sadly have forgotten your high heavenly calling in Christ Jesus, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and that you must either have learnt very little, or forgotten very much of that true divine science, to be acquired at God's high school in those two Epistles, which furnish us with the subject of these pages. There have been sad instances of the truth of these remarks.

But, beloved, I am convinced of better things of you, though I speak thus. I can but say, that I, if in your place, would rather see my son in an humble farmer's cottage, ploughing the field and planting cabbages, than send him to Satan's high school of rationalism and infidelity, in peril of everlasting ruin!

We now come to another class of books:

b. Literary books. — I need not say what great care is needed as to this kind of books, as most of them breathe the spirit of the world, and are most injurious by their unhealthy sensational style of our days. The want of stimulants betrays an unhealthy constitution. It is not pepper, but salt, that imparts healthy savour and keeps from corruption. Especially would I warn Christian parents against the produce of modern poetry. The poems of Cowper, especially his beautiful descriptions of nature, will never lose their charm for the young who are of a simple and sound taste.

But there is another class of literary books which must not be left unnoticed. I mean novels. One should hardly think it necessary to warn Christian parents against permitting their sons and daughters to read them. But, alas! experience has taught us differently, humbling though it may be! All I can say to them is this: if you want the minds of your children to be poisoned, their consciences to be hardened, and their hearts to be defiled; their imagination to be wrought upon at the expense of the higher intellectual powers, often leading to an unhinging of the mind, and finally to the madhouse — if you want to see them unfitted for practical life, by living in an imaginary world of their own, their hearts a prey to false feelings; if you want them to be taken off from the terra firma of everything that is real and true, and thus unfitted for the stern realities of daily life, led away and astray into the swamps by the "will-o-the-wisp" of a treacherous and delusive imagination; and last, though not least, if you want their hearts to be as hard as the world's high-road, and thus rendered insensible to everything that is divine, and therefore real, true, and lovely, and incapable of receiving the grains of Gospel seed that may be sown, only to be picked up by the birds: in short, if you, Christian parents, want to do your best for the temporal and eternal ruin of your offspring, in spirit, soul, and body — let them read novels, or let them feed on the criminal reports of the newspapers! Do not say, I have over-drawn the picture! There are numbers of over-indulgent parents, who would be able to bear their tearful witness to the truth of these warning words.

Supposing you see one of your children sitting down to a meal, and you know that one of the dishes on the table contains some poisonous substance, that there is "death in the pot," will you allow him to eat it, because it is his favourite dish? And, pardon the question: Is the soul of your own precious child to be destroyed, perhaps for his everlasting ruin, by Satan's literature, and you can stand by, an indifferent looker-on? I know, beloved, it needs only to put the real consequences of the pernicious reading of such poisoned literary dishes of Satan before you, to make you recoil with horror from any such further over-indulgence to your beloved offspring, the real consequences of which you had, perhaps, not seen in their full and solemn light.

c. As to religious books, I need hardly say that, though from various reasons, the solemn responsibility of the Christian parent, as to the control of the books read by their children, is equally great, if not greater still, on account of the many fatal heresies spread throughout Christendom. For whilst in the case of novel reading, it is especially the imagination and the mind of the young reader that suffers from its baneful effect, the reading of unsound religious books affects directly the conscience and the heart of the young, that is, the very parts of his inner man, where God works, by His Spirit and Word, in His divine power and grace. Here the danger threatens especially the souls of young believing members of the family, and the parents' watchful care will, therefore, have to be asserted in an especial way on their behalf. I need not say, that grace and wisdom must be combined here with faithfulness.

There was a, Christian mother, distinguished by her womanlike gentleness combined with firmness. She had declared to her children once for all, that if she found a novel in the house, it would be immediately committed to the fire, no matter whether the book belonged to them or to others. And as her children knew, that if once their mother said a thing, she did it, the result was that no novel was ever seen in the house. May the Lord grant wisdom and firmness!

As to the second point, viz., variety of intercourse and company, Christian parents would do well to be on their guard as to any over strictness in keeping their children aloof from all intercourse and contact with unconverted children of their age. I mean as to their education. I know some who kept their children under a kind of a strict monkish and nunnish seclusion at home, either by having them educated by private Christian tutors and governesses, or, where the parents could not afford this, the father and mother themselves performing the duties of tutor and governess. Even invitations to dinner or tea at their Christian friends houses were refused, lest their children should mix with the unconverted children of those families. Whilst fully agreeing with such parents as to the all-importance of training their children on the divine principle of separation from the world, we must not overlook, on the other hand, that nothing is more foreign to the spirit of Christianity, i.e., of the New Testament, than such a kind of monastical seclusion. It is unnatural, and it has, according to the well-known natural law of extremes, produced in such families the very thing sought to be prevented. If Christian parents are what they ought to be at home, their children will not be tempted to seek that happiness in the world, which they "find in the sanctuary of the domestic circle," as another has said, "which God has formed as a safeguard for those who are growing up in weakness." The few hours spent by the children of Christian parents in their necessary contact with such unconverted children, will only serve to make them appreciate all the more the privileges of their Christian homestead; and besides, furnish them with precious opportunities to render to their young mates, in their legitimate intercourse with them, their little, and yet often so effectful, testimony to their blessed Saviour, which under such a strict domestic seclusion they would never be able to do.

I need hardly say, that this is a very different thing to Christian parents sending their children to worldly boarding schools. They might just as well throw their children into a furnace or into the water, and then ask God to keep them from being burnt or drowned. What such Christian parents can think of their responsibility before God, to bring up their children "in the discipline and admonition of the Lord," I am at a loss to understand.

One word more on the subject of the nurture of children as to intercourse and conversation. I mean the unguarded way in which parents often speak, in the presence of their children, about the foibles, or weakness, or failures of elder fellow-Christians, especially the Lord's servants. I fully grant that this is generally done from mere habit or carelessness. But, then, is not that very habit an ungodly and unchristian one, beloved? If I hear an elder Christian, in the presence of a number of young people, speak in a criticising or even disparaging way about the services and labour of one, or some of his fellow-labourers (I will not say, about his character!) what can I think about his grace, wisdom, and spirituality? The natural instinct of the young should be veneration for those who ought to be esteemed, either on account of their age, or rank and position, in which God in His government, or the Lord in the Church and His service, has placed them. May I ask you affectionately, but solemnly, beloved, what fruits can you expect from your children as to their obedience to the divine injunction: "Honour thy father and mother," if you set them yourselves the example of "speaking evil of dignities" in their presence? Are you not, by so doing, contributing to foster in their tender young hearts the spirit of the present "rising generation," spoken of in the previous portion, by ministering, though inadvertently, I grant, to their young souls the poison of a criticising spirit, which, like a mildew, falls with blasting and blighting effect upon the souls of so many young, through the carelessness of unwise, or shall we say, unspiritual Christian parents, many of whom have reaped, and will reap (unless the Lord in His grace prevent) for themselves, what they have sown unwittingly or carelessly in their children's hearts. I am sure the key for the sad conduct of the forward, uppish, and precocious children of so many parents, looked up to in the Church and elsewhere, must be sought and is found in their unguarded way of speaking in the presence of their children. Young eyes are more quick to notice, and young ears much swifter to hear than we imagine. Therefore let us be "swift to hear, and slow to speak," and may the Lord in His mercy "set a watch before our mouths, and keep the doors of our lips."

As to the two last points, i.e., the occupation and entertainments of children, a very few words may suffice. It is of great importance, that not only their occupation within doors, and their entertainments out of doors, in God's free, wide nature, and fresh open air, should have the right measure and proportion; but whilst guarding against even the appearance of a slavish legality, they should, as much as possible, be carried on under the eye of the parent, or tutor, or governess, in order that the spirit of the world, and of this present evil age, which stamps everything around us, may not be permitted to slip in and exert its baneful influence upon the young susceptible souls of the children. Let there be full enjoyment and liberty, so natural and indispensable for youthful hearts and minds, but let all things also here be done decently and in order, and in "the fear of the Lord," which is the beginning of wisdom. In the case of the children of parents who, from their limited means, are obliged to send them to the ordinary schools, the Lord is faithful, and will know how to keep them there, provided their parents not only pray for them, but shine before them at home.