Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 8)

[continued from part 7]

18 Among all the points of education which I will endeavor for my children, I hope to see that each of them—the daughters as well as the sons—may gain insight into some skill that lies in the way of gain (however their own inclination may most carry them), so that they may be able to [support] themselves, and get something of a livelihood, in case the Providence of God should bring them into necessities. Why not they as well as Paul the tentmaker! The Jews have a saying worth remembering: “Whoever doesn’t teach his son some trade or business, teaches him to be a thief” (Ezekiel 45:10; Leviticus 19:36).

19. As soon as ever I can, I will make my children apprehensive of the main end for which they are to live; that so they may as soon as may be, begin to live; and their youth not be nothing but vanity. I will show them, that their main end must be, to, acknowledge the great God, and His glorious Christ; and bring others to acknowledge Him: and that they are never wise nor well, but when they are doing so. I will make them able to answer the grand question of why they live; and what is the end of the actions that fill their lives? I will teach them that their Creator and Redeemer is to be obeyed in everything, and everything is to be done in obedience to Him. I will teach them how even their [leisure activities], and their [dress], and the tasks of their education, must all be to fit them for the further service of Him to whom I have devoted them; and how in these also, His commandments must be the rule of all they do. I will sometimes therefore surprise them with an inquiry, “Child, what is this for? Give me a good account of why you do it?” How comfortably shall I see them walking in the light, if I may bring them wisely to answer this inquiry.

20. I will oblige the children to retire sometimes, and ponder on that question: “What shall I wish to have done, if I were now dying?” – and report unto me their own answer to the question; of which I will then take advantage, to [instill] the lessons of godliness upon them.

21. If I live to see the children marriageable, I will, before I consult with Heaven and earth for their best accommodation in the married state, endeavor the espousal of their souls unto their only Savior. I will as plainly, and as fully as I can, propose unto them the terms on which the glorious Redeemer would espouse them to Himself, in righteousness, judgment, and favor and mercies forever; and solicit their consent unto His proposals and overtures. Then would I go on, to do what may be expected from a tender parent for them, in their temporal circumstances.

[the end]

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