Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: A Father's Resolutions

The Pastor’s Perspective
“A Father’s Resolutions”

I ran across this excerpt from Cotton Mather’s “A Father's Resolutions” and was immediately convicted and edified. I share it with you all, especially the fathers of the congregation, to spur you on in love and good deeds towards your children, and to motivate you in your concern for their spiritual well-being. Mather resolved:

“1. At the birth of my children, I will resolve to do all that I can that they may be the Lord’s. I will now actually give them up by faith to God; entreating that each child may be a child of God the Father, a subject of God the Son, a temple of God the Spirit - and be rescued from the condition of a child of wrath, and be possessed and employed by the Lord as an everlasting instrument of His glory.

“2. As soon as my children are capable of minding my admonitions, I will often, often admonish them, saying, ‘Child, God has sent His son to die, to save sinners from death and hell. You must not sin against Him. You must every day cry to God that He would be your Father, and your Saviour, and your Leader. You must renounce the service of Satan, you must not follow the vanities of this world, you must lead a life of serious religion.’

“3. Let me daily pray for my children with constancy, with fervency, with agony. Yea, by name let me mention each one of them every day before the Lord. I will importunately beg for all suitable blessings to be bestowed upon them: that God would give them grace, and give them glory, and withhold no good thing from them; that God would smile on their education, and give His good angels the charge over them, and keep them from evil, that it may not grieve them; that when their father and mother shall forsake them, the Lord may take them up. With importunity I will plead that promise on their behalf: ‘The Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit unto them that ask Him.’ Oh! happy children, if by asking I may obtain the Holy Spirit for them!

“4. I will early entertain the children with delightful stories out of the Bible. In the talk of the table, I will go through the Bible, when the olive-plants about my table are capable of being so watered. But I will always conclude the stories with some lessons of piety to be inferred from them.

“5. I will single out some Scriptural sentences of the greatest importance; and some also that have special antidotes in them against the common errors and vices of children. They shall quickly get those golden sayings by heart, and be rewarded with silver or gold, or some good thing, when they do it. Such as, * Psalm 11:10- ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ * Matthew 16:26-‘What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’* I Timothy 1:15-‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.’ * Matthew 6:6-‘When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.’ * Ephesians 4:25-‘Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour.’ * Romans 12:17, 19-‘Recompense to no man evil for evil...Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves.’

“6. A Jewish treatise tells us that among the Jews, when a child began to speak, the father was bound to teach him Deuteronomy 33:4-‘Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.’ Oh! let me early make my child acquainted with the Law which our blessed Jesus has commanded us! 'Tis the best inheritance I can give them.

“7. I will cause my children to learn the Catechism. In catechizing them, I will break the answers into many lesser and proper questions; and by their answer to them, observe and quicken their understandings. I will bring every truth into some duty and practice, and expect them to confess it, and consent unto it, and resolve upon it. As we go on in our catechizing, they shall, when they are able, turn to the proofs and read them, and say to me what they prove and how. Then, I will take my times, to put nicer and harder questions to them; and improve the times of conversation with my family (which every man ordinarily has or may have) for conferences on matters of religion.

“8. Restless will I be till I may be able to say of my children, ‘Behold, they pray!’ I will therefore teach them to pray. But after they have learnt a form of prayer, I will press them to proceed unto points that are not in their form. I will charge them with all possible cogency to pray in secret; and often call upon them, ‘Child, I hope, you don't forget my charge to you, about secret prayer: your crime is very great if you do!’

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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