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"over much;" or at least unpliant and imprudent. They next endeavour to prevail on others to join them in this worldly conformity, for this reason especially, namely, to keep them in counAnd, if one and another, of more decided character for religious consistency, can be induced to sanction, even in a single instance, their conduct by his example, they plead this as a full refutation of all objections.
You remember in what manner, after too long delays, proceeding not from remaining inclination, but from mistaken prudential motives, I was at length induced to renounce card-playing. "There is no harm in playing at cards,' (said a man, who had talked about religion for some time, but had just spent a night at cards, with intemperate drinking, and riotous quarrelling): 'Mr. - plays at cards.' Thus my example, in what I deemed allowable, sanctioned the conduct and satisfied the conscience of this man and his company. From that day, I had done with
You, my dear madam, have so far stood aloof from this conformity. Many eyes are now upon you, especially as your children advance to mature years and, should you sanction their going to Vauxhall, and such places, the precedent would be pleaded to others, as the conduct of others has been to you. Thus the lamentable evil would be increased, and by your means. I have always found it needful to abstain from some things, which I thought I could allow without doing what was unlawful, but not without doing what was inexpedient; and which might have
emboldened the consciences of others to do what
was directly sinful. "If meat make my brother "to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world "standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."
What has been hitherto written goes, however, on the supposition, that the persons concerned are themselves truly religious, or at least make an open and credible profession of being so. But a parent might say, 'My children are amiable, 'dutiful, and hopeful; but they have not yet assumed that character, or made such a profes'sion. Ought I not to allow them more liberty, ' in such matters, than I take myself?' To this I answer, Not in things sinful, doubtful, or of bad tendency. The health of your children, for instance, is your object. Will you then give them leave to go to a pest-house, should they, in simplicity, desire it? Now, surely, you value the health of their souls as much as that of their bodies; and will you allow them to frequent places of dire moral contagion? Some things may be proper for young persons which are not for their seniors; but the conduct of many who "seem to be religious," in allowing their children to frequent places to which they scruple to go themselves, seems to be an adoption of Pharaoh's maxim: "Go serve the Lord your God: but who "are they that shall go? And Moses said, We "will go with our sons and with our daughters, "&c. And he said unto them, Let the Lord be so with you as I will let
you go with your little
Look to it, for evil is before you. Not "so; go now ye that are men." Exodus ix. 8-11. Serve God, you who are men and
women but leave your children to serve the ' world and sin!'
The question, as asked by a parent, (a mother,) about consenting to her children's going to a place of dissipation to which she would think it wrong to go herself, as at least being conformity to the world, a waste of time and money, and unfavourable to religious improvement, is different from the same question, if asked by the children respecting themselves, and must be answered with some shades of difference. But I am happy to learn that your children are willing to abide by your determination: and I count it a token of high respect for me, that they are willing to abide by mine. This I have endeavoured to compensate, by not giving a bare veto, but by assigning at large my reasons for giving it. Indeed, when children will not, in such cases, abide by the determination of an affectionate and pious parent, there is little hope that they would respect the sentiments of an aged minister.
Those animals which are carnivorous, and live on prey, often, when young, shew no propensity to seize on the living creatures around them, till by some means they have got a taste of blood, and then their natural propensities become very manifest. Now he would be thought a strange manager of such animals, when young, who should endeavour to repress their natural propensity to tear, and kill, and devour, by giving them now and then a taste of blood, which they instinctively love. Our children naturally love dissipated pleasure: and it is no small kindness to them to keep them, if possible, from tasting
it, till either divine grace has mortified the love of it, or till they are arrived at those years when they must choose for themselves. I believe my children deem this one of my chief kindnesses to them, though once perhaps they thought it hard: and I hope yours will live to thank you for adopting the same plan respecting them; for the love of dissipated pleasure, like all other corrupt propensities, certainly and uniformly increases by indulgence.
I only add, that who knows, by experience, the tendency of attending such places as Vauxhall, is decidedly of my opinion in what I have written. May God direct and bless both you and your children!
ON THE AUTHORITY OF SOLOMON IN RESPECT TO
Some very sensible and judicious observations on Education, in a late number, conclude with a remark concerning Solomon's maxims on the same subject, which excited a demur in my mind. The Proverbs of Solomon are a part of divine revelation, and contain the wisdom of God, and not merely that of the wisest of men. Circumstances may, and sometimes do, give the Old
Testament dispensation an appearance of rigour beyond that of the New; but the moral law was delivered under the Old Testament; and our Lord and his apostles merely expound it, and vindicate it from the corrupt glosses of the scribes and Jewish expositors. The "love of God, with "all the heart and soul," and the "love of our "neighbour as ourselves," was, and is, the perfect standard of duty: the tenth commandment is adduced by the apostle, as especially proving the spirituality of the law; and one of the most exalted precepts of Christianity, on love to enemies, is quoted from the book of Proverbs.2Solomon, in these maxims of heavenly wisdom, doubtless intended for the use of the church in
every age, does not at all refer to the judicial law, which being the magistrate's rule of administering justice, as well as the law of God, gives an aspect of severity to some appointments, which would disappear, if regarded in this light, and compared with the municipal laws of even the wisest and most polished nations. The ritual law, which, in another way, tended to gender in the Israelites a spirit of bondage, formed no part of Solomon's subject. Nor does it appear that severity in the use of correction, even of children, was recommended by him. As the lawgiver, the law, the grand outline of the gospel, the nature of holiness, and the substance of all true religion, are precisely the same under every dispensation; it surely is not advisable to
Compare Prov. xxv. 21, 22 with Rom. xii.
1 Rom. vii. 7.