Page images
PDF
EPUB

had offended, his first punishment was, to express his astonishment that the child could do anything so unworthy. Removal from his presence was his ordinary punishment, and it was only in extreme and peculiar cases that he ever inflicted a blow. He rewarded obedience by teaching them some curious piece of knowledge, which he had always at command; and thus, beside giving the immediate recompense of good conduct, he conveyed the impression, that to gain instruction was not a hardship, but a privilege and reward. His carliest attempt at intellectual education consisted in entertaining his children with stories, generally selected from the Scriptures. He hardly ever rose from the table without some effort to excite reflection in young minds. He also sought opportunities to teach moral lessons, showing them the duty of being kind to each other, and warmly applauding them when they had obeyed the law of love. He taught them to write at an earlier age, and in a less formal way, than is usual, and thus enabled them to record for themselves many things, which it was important for them to remember. If they deserved censure, he would forbid their reading and writing ; a prohibition which was strongly associated in their minds with degradation. All this was welljudged; and it is very doubtful if such cases were often to be found in those days, when parental discipline was generally conducted more in the spirit of fear than love.

Though he was deeply interested in having his children governed by principles of reason and honor, he did not rely on those impulses alone. He led their minds as early as possible to religious thoughts and contemplations; giving them views of religion, which were as solemn as possible, but taking care to make them sensible of the goodness of God. He often told them of the good angels, whose office it was to protect them, and who ought never to be offended by misconduct or neglect. He would not say much to them about the evil angels, because he would not have them entertain any frightful fancies about the apparitions of devils; but yet he would briefly let them know that there are devils, who tempt them to wickedness, who are glad when they do wickedly, and who may get leave of God to kill them for it.' But his chief aim was to give them a spirit of prayer, and to lead them to make known their wants and cares to his father, and their father, to his God and their God.”

[The following letter of Cotton Mather to his son Samuel is copied from the American Quarterly Register, for May.) My Son; :

I. The first thing to be urged and charg'd upon you is, That you chuse and fix the Chief End of your life in The service of the glorious God; that you live under the continual influence of these thoughts; May the glorious God be gratified in beholding the acknowledgements wch by a patient continuance in well doing I am to render and procure unto Him; that, in order to this, you immediately and effectually seek a reconcialiation to God, by pleading the Sacrifice and Righteousness of your Saviour, for your justification before Him: and make your daily flights thereto, that being justified by faith you may have peace with God.

II. Be sure that you maintain the Religion of the Closet, and every day retire for secret prayer, and therein pour out your heart unto the Lord.

III. Let not a day pass you ordinarily without Reading a portion of the Holy Scriptures; and this not carelessly but attentively, and in the porismutic way, that is to say, Fetch lessons and then wishes out of every verse before you. I should be glad if you would raise Questions upon yo passages of the Bible, and seek Answers to them.

IV. My Dear Child, look on Idleness as no better than wickedness. Begin betimes to set a value upon Time, and [be] very lothe to throw it away on impertinencies. You have but a little time to live ; but by the truest wisdom you may live much in a little Time. Every night think, How have I spent my time to-day? And be grieved, if you can't say, you have got or done some good in the day.

V. Be exact and faithful in your daily recitations to your Tutor. But be also well advised what Books you shall peruse, to fill the chambers of your soul with all precious and pleasant riches. Therewithal have your Blank Books, wherein you shall for the most part every day enter something worthy to be preserved and remembered of what you have met withall. In these Quotidiana will anon be hived a marvellous collection of such things as will be of perpetual use to you in all your performances.

VI. When the Lord's day arrives be sure to keep it holy to the Lord. Use to write after the preacher ; but after every sermon think, What special Request am I now to address to the glorious God? And make it. Nor let the Lord's day evening pass you ordinarily without some serious thoughts on that question, Am I doing what I should if I now lay a dying wish to have done? What books of piety I would recommend to you I would have you from time to time enquire of me. Perhaps the church history of your own countrey, especially the lives of the excellent psons in it, may deserve a particular perusal with you.

VII. My son, let that word for ever make an awful impression upon you, He that walketh with the wise shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Shun the company of all prophane and vicious persons, as you would the pestilence. As much as you can, enjoy the company of such as may be your superiors. Betimes impose it as a law upon yourself, that whatever company you come into you shall speak something that shall be profitable, if it be decent for you to speak at all, before you leave it. And if you can find a companion with whom your conversation shall be still managed in the Latin tongue, this will be a great advantage to you.

I judge these few and short hints to be sufficient for y? present conduct. These few and short hints well pursued will sufficiently answer and secure the intention of the Education wth wch you are now preparing to do good in the world.

Such a wise son will make a glad father. May he be rendered such a one by the blessing of the glorious God upon him.—[Dated 1719.

Instructions of Rev. Thomas Shepard, Minister of Charlestown, Mass. to his son, while a member of College.*

1. To remember the great end of this life even the glorifying of God through Christ, and the end of this turn of life

even the fitting him for the most glorious work of the holy , ministry. For this end, your father hath set you apart with many tears, and hath given you up to your God that he might delight in you. And I had rather see you buried in your grave, than grow light, loose, wanton or profane: God's secrets in the holy Scriptures are never made known to com mon and profane spirits; and therefore be sure to begin and

* They were written about 1674.

hat theast as gabhor om of drunk usuallye

end every day wherein you study, with earnest prayer to God; reading some part of the Scripture daily, and setting apart some time in the day (though but one quarter of an hour) for meditations of the things of God.

2. To remember that these are times of much knowledge, and therefore one almost as good be no scholar, as not to excell in knowledge; wherefore abhor one hour of idleness, as you would be ashamed of one hour of drunkenness. Though I would not have you study late in the night usually, yet know that God will curse your soul, while the sin of idleness is nourished, which hath spoiled so many hopeful youths in their first blossoming in the college. Hence don't content yourself to do as much as your tutor sets you about, but know, that you will never excel in learning, unless you do somewhat else in private hours, wherein his care can not reach you.

3. To make your studies as pleasant and as fruitful as can be, first by singling out two or three scholars, the most godly, learned and studious, and such as you can love best, and such as will most love you, of any that you find among your equals, as also some that are superiors, and often manage discourses with them on all subjects which you have before you; and mark diligently what occurred remarkable in every one's conferences, disputations and other exercises, but by no means letting too much leak away by visits. Next by having a variety of studies before you, that when you shall be weary of one book or theme, you may have recourse with another. Then, by prosecuting studies in some order and method ; and therefore, every year at least, if not oftener, fixing the course thereof, so as you may not allow yourself to be ordinarily therein interrupted. Fourthly, by giving of difficult studies the flower of your thoughts, and not suffering any difficulty to pass you, till by industry or inquiry, you have mastered it. Fifthly, by keeping an appetite for studies, by intermixing meditation, and at fit seasons recreation, but by such as might moderately stir thee, and render the spirit more lively to its duties. Sixthly, by making of choice collections from what authors you peruse and having proper indices to your collections, and therewithal contriving still how to reduce all unto your more particular service in your exercises or otherwise. Seventhly, by taking pains in preparing for your recitations, declamations, disputations, and not upon any pretence whatever, hurry them off indigestedly.

Reading without meditation is useless ; meditation without reading will be barren. But here I would not have you forget a speech of your blessed grandfather to a scholar that complained to him of a bad memory, which discouraged him from reading. Lege, lege, aliquid hærebit. That sentence in Proverbs xiv. 23, deserves to be written in letters of gold on your study-table, “ In all labor there is profit.But, lastly, by praying much not only for heavenly, but also human learning ; for remember that prayer at Christ's feet, for all the learning you want, shall fetch you in more in an hour, than possibly you may get by all the books, and helps you have otherwise, in many years.

4. To be grave in your carriage towards all the scholars ; but be watchful against the two great sins of many scholars, of which the first is youthful lusts, speculative wantonness, and secret filthiness, for which God blinds and hardens young men's hearts, and his Holy Spirit departing from such unclean sties. The second is malignancy and secret distase of holiness, and the power of godliness and the professors of it. Both of these sins you will fall into, unto your own perdition, if you be not careful of your company; for there are, and will be such in every scholastical society, as will teach you how to be filthy, and how to jest, and scoff, and to scorn at godliness, and at the professors thereof; whose company I charge you to fly as from the devil, and abhor; and that you may be kept from these read often that Scripture, Proverbs ii. 10–12, 16.

5. Remember to entreat God with tears before you come to hear any sermon, that thereby God would powerfully speak to your heart, and make his truth precious to you. Neglect not to write after the preacher always in handsome books, and be careful always to preserve and peruse the same. And upon Sabbath days make exceeding conscience of sanctification ; mix not your other studies, much less vain and carnal discourses, with the duties of that holy day, but remember that command, Leviticus xix. 30%" Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

6. Remember that whensoever you hear, read, or conceive any divine truth,'you study to affect your heart with it. Take heed of receiving truth into your head, without the love of it in your heart, lest God give you to strong delusions. If God reveal any truth to you, be sure you be humbly and deeply thankful.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »