Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 3)

[continued from part 2]

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?”
• 1 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 hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.”
• Ephesians 4:25 “Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor.”
• Romans 12:17, 19 “Recompense to no man evil for evil… Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves.”
• Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be given unto you.”
• Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.”

6. 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 children 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.

[to be continued]

#children, #cotton-mather, #father