THE SPECIAL DUTIES OF CHILDREN TOWARDS THEIR PARENTS Part IV

Richard Baxter

From: Baxter’s Practical Works, Vol. 1, A Christian Directory ,
on Christian Economics, Chap. XI., pp. 454-457 Directives 10-12

 

Baxter

Direct. X. Marry not without your parents’ consent. Nay, if it may be, let their choice determine first of the person, and not your own: unexperienced youth doth choose by fancy and passion, when your experienced parents will choose by judgment. But if they would force you to join yourselves to such as are ungodly, and like to make your lives either sinful or miserable, you may humbly refuse them. But you must remain unmarried, while by the use of right means you can live in chastity, till your parents are in a better mind. But if indeed you have a flat necessity of marrying, and your parents will consent to none but one of a false religion, or one that is utterly unfit for you, in such a case they forfeit their authority in that point, which is given them for their edification, and not for your destruction; and then you should advise with other friends that are more wise and faithful: but if you suffer your fond affections to contradict your parents’ wills, and pretend a necessity, (that you cannot change your affections,) as if your folly were uncurable; this is but to enter sinfully into that state of life, which should have been sanctified to God, that he might have blessed it to you. 

Direct. XI. If your parents be in want, it is your duty to relieve them according to your ability; yea, and wholly to maintain them, if there be need. For it is not possible by all that you can do, that ever you can be on even terms with them; or ever requite them for what you have received of them. It is base inhumanity, when parents come to poverty, for children to put them off with some short allowance, and to make them live almost like their servants, when you have riches and plenty for yourselves. Your parents should still be maintained by you as your superiors, and not as inferiors. See that they fare as well as yourselves; yea, though you got not your riches by their means, yet even for your being you are their debtors for more than that.

Direct. XII. Imitate your parents in all that is good, both when they are living, and when they are dead. If they were lovers of God, and of his word and service, and of those that fear him, let their example provoke you, and let the love that you have to them, engage you in this imitation. A wicked child of godly parents is one of the most miserable wretches in the world. With what horror do I look on such a person! How near is such a wretch to hell! When father or mother were eminent for godliness, and daily instructed them in the matters of their salvation, and prayed with them, and warned them, and prayed for them, and after all this the children shall prove covetous or drunkards, or whoremongers, or profane, and enemies to the servants of God, and deride or neglect the way of their religious parents, it would make one tremble to look such wretches in the face. For though yet there is some hope of them, alas, it is so little, that they are next to desperate; when they are hardened tinder the most excellent means, and the light hath blinded them, and their acquaintance with the ways of God hath but turned their hearts more against them, what means is left to do good to such resisters of the grace of God as these? The likeliest is some heavy dreadful judgment. Oh what a woeful day will it be to them, when all the prayers, and tears, and teachings, and good example.,; of their religious parents shall witness against them! How will they be confounded before the Lord! And how sad -it thought is it to the heart of holy, diligent parents, to think that all their prayers and pains must witness against their graceless children, and sink them deeper into hell! And yet, alas, how many such woeful spectacles are there before our eyes! and how deeply doth the church of God suffer by the malice and wickedness of the children of those parents that taught them better, and walked before them in a holy, exemplary life! But if parents be ignorant, superstitious, idolatrous, popish, or profane, their children are forward enough to imitate them. Then they can say, Our forefathers were of this mind, and we hope they are saved; and we will rather imitate them, than such innovating reformers as you. As they said to Jeremiah, chap. 49:16-18, “As for the word that thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken to thee. But we will-burn incense to the queen of heaven-as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings, and our princes in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then we had plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil: but since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven,-we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.” Thus they walk “after the imagination of their hearts, and after Baalim (the false worship) which their fathers taught them,” Jer. 9:14. “And they forget God’s name as their fathers did forget it,” Jer. 23:27. “They and their fathers have transgressed to this day,” Ezek. 2:. Yea, “They harden their necks, and do worse than their fathers,” Jer. 7:26. Thus in error and sin they can imitate their forefathers, when they should rather remember, I Pet. 1:18, 19, that it cost Christ his blood “to redeem men from their vain conversation received by tradition from their fathers.” And they should penitently confess, as Dan. 9:8, “O Lord, to us belong confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee,” ver. 16. And as Psal. 106:6, “We have sinned with our fathers,” &c. Saith God, Jer. 16:11-13, “Behold, your fathers have forsaken me-and have not kept my law; and ye have done worse than your fathers: therefore I will cast you out,” &c. Jer. 44:9, 10, “Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and your own wickedness? They are not humbled even unto this day.” See ver. 21. & ch. 1:4, “Be not as your fathers, to whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Turn ye now from your evil ways, but they did not hear.” Mal. 3:7, “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you.” Ezek. 20:18, “Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers.” So ver. 27, 30, 36. Follow not your fathers in their sin and error, but follow them where they follow Christ, I Cor. 9:1.


[1] Read Mr. Tho. White’s little book for little children. Mark: 9:36; 10:14,16      

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