Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 4)

[continued from part 3]

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!”

9. I will do what I can very early to beget a temper of kindness in my children, both toward one another and toward all other people. I will instruct them how ready they should be to share with others a part of what they have; and they shall see my encouragements when they discover a loving, a courteous, an helpful disposition. I will give them now and then a piece of money, so that with their own little hands they may dispense unto the poor. Yea, if any one has hurt them, or [angered] them, I will not only forbid them all revenge, but also oblige them to do a kindness as soon as may be to the person. All coarseness of language or [behavior] in them, I will [not tolerate].

10. I will be solicitous to have my children expert, not only at reading handsomely, but also at writing a fair hand. I will then assign them such books to read as I may judge most agreeable and profitable; obliging them to give me some account of what they read; but keep a strict eye upon them, that they don’t stumble on the Devil’s library, and poison themselves with foolish romances, or novels, or plays, or songs, or jests that are not [suitable]. I will set them also, to write out such things as may be of the greatest benefit unto them; and they shall have their [journal], neatly kept on purpose, to enter such passages as I advise them to. I will particularly require them now and then to write a prayer of their own composing, and bring it unto me; that so I may discern what sense they have of their own everlasting interests.

[to be continued]

#children, #cotton-mather, #father