(Richard Baxter, “Motives for a Holy
and Careful Education of Children”)
“Bring them up in the training and instruction
of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
Parents! Your example and life are a continual
and powerful sermon, which is always seen by
Parents! Your children have an everlasting inheritance
of happiness to attain–and it is that which you must
bring them up for. They have an endless misery to
escape–and it is that which you must diligently teach
them. If you don’t teach them to know God, and how
to serve Him, and be saved, and to escape the flames
of hell–you teach them nothing, or worse than nothing.
It is in your hands to do them the greatest kindness
or cruelty in all the world! Help them to know God
and to be saved, and you do more for them than if you
helped them to be kings or princes. If you neglect their
souls, and bring them up them in ignorance, worldliness,
ungodliness, and sin–you betray them to the devil,
the enemy of souls, even as truly as if you sold them
to him! You sell them to be slaves to Satan! You
betray them to him who will deceive them and abuse
them in this life–and torment them in eternity!
If you saw but a burning furnace, much more the flames
of hell–would you not think that man or woman more fit
to be called a devil than a parent, who could find in
their hearts to cast their child into it? What monsters then
of inhumanity are you, who read in Scripture which is the
way to hell, and who they are that God will deliver up to
Satan, to be tormented by him–and yet will bring up your
children in that very way, and will not take pains to save
them from it!
If you love them, show it in those things on which their
everlasting welfare depends. Do not say you love them
–and yet lead them unto hell! If you do not love them,
yet do not be so unmerciful to them as to damn them! You
cannot possibly do more to damn them, than to bring
them up in . . .
There is no other way to hell. And yet, will you bring
them up in such a life–and say that you do not desire
to damn them?
But if you train up your children in ungodliness, you may
as well say that you intend to have them damned! And
is not the devil more excusable, for dealing thus cruelly to
your children–than you who are their parents, who are
bound by nature to love them, and prevent their misery?
Let me seriously speak to the hearts of those careless
and ungodly parents, who neglect the holy education
of their children. Oh, do not be so unmerciful to those
who you have brought into the world! Oh, pity and help
the souls that you have defiled and undone! Have mercy
on the souls that must perish in hell, if they are not saved!
Oh help them that have so many enemies to assault them!
Help them that have so many temptations to pass through;
and so many difficulties to overcome; and so severe a
judgment to undergo! Help them that are so weak, and
so easily deceived and overthrown! Help them speedily;
before sin hardens them, and Satan makes a stronger
fortress in their hearts!
Oh be not cruel to their souls! Do not sell them to Satan,
and that for nothing! Do not betray them not by your
ungodly negligence to hell! If any of them will perish, let it
not be because of you–who are so much bound to do them
good. The undoing of your children’s souls is a work
much fitter for Satan, than for their parents!
Consider how odious soul-betraying parents are–who
betray their children to be the slaves of Satan here, and
the firebrands of hell forever! O do not join with the devil
in this unnatural, horrid wickedness!
“Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat
him with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him
with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell.”