Clippings from “On the Education of Children” (Sermon 95)
Source: The Sermons of John Wesley – On The Education Of Children (Sermon 95)
Of John Wesley’s sermons I’ve read, this turned out to be one of the longest. Recently, when Corbin started confirmation, I began to wonder, “What would Wesley say about the education of children?” and, “Is there something I’m supposed to be doing that I am not?” As I have usually found, there’s a sermon on that—below are my clippings from that sermon:
- “…good men have not always a good understanding; and, without this, it is hardly to be expected that they will know how to train up their children.
- “…those who are in other respects good men have often too much easiness of temper; so that they go no farther in restraining their children from evil.
- “…as the only end of a physician is, to restore nature to its own state, so the only end of education is, to restore our rational nature to its proper state. Education, therefore, is to be considered as reason borrowed as second-hand, which is, as far as it can, to supply the loss of original perfection.
- “Christianity has, as it were, new created the moral and religious world, and set everything that is reasonable, wise, holy, and desirable in its true point of light; so one would expect the education of children should be as much mended by Christianity, as the doctrines of religion are.
- “…[Christianity] has introduced a new state of things, and so fully informed us of the nature of man, and the end of his creation; as it has fixed all our goods and evils, taught us the means of purifying our souls [and] of pleasing God[.]
- “…is it not reasonable to suppose that a Christian education should have no other end but to teach them how to think, and judge, and act according to the strictest rules of Christianity?
- “…those that educate us should imitate our guardian angels; suggest nothing to our minds but what is wise and holy; help us to discover every false judgement of our minds, and to subdue every wrong passion in our hearts.
- “…it is as reasonable to expect and require all this benefit from a Christian education, as to require that
physic [medicine] should strengthen all that is right in our nature, and remove all our diseases. Let it be carefully remembered all this time, that God, not man, is the physician of souls; that it is He, and none else, who giveth medicine to heal our natural sickness[.]
- “Let it be carefully remembered all this time, that God, not man, is the physician of souls; that it is He, and none else, who giveth medicine to heal our natural sickness[.]
- “[It] is generally his pleasure to work by his creatures; to help man by man. He honours men to be, in a sense, “workers together with him.” By this means the reward is ours, while the glory redounds to him.
- “…what is that way wherein we should train up a child, let us consider, What are the diseases of his nature? What those spiritual diseases which every one that is born of a woman brings with him into the world? Is not the first of them Atheism?
- “Indeed it may be said that every man is by nature, as it were, his own god. He worships himself. He is, in his own conception, absolute Lord of himself.
- “His own will is his only law; he does this or that because it is his good pleasure.
- “Another evil disease which every human soul brings into the world with him, is pride; a continual proneness to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. Every man can discern more or less of this disease in everyone — but himself.
- “The next disease natural to every human soul, born with every man, is love of the world. Every man is, by nature, a lover of the creature, instead of the Creator; a ‘lover of pleasure,’ in every kind, ‘more than a lover of God.’
- “Whether this be a natural disease or not, it is certain anger is. The ancient philosopher defines it, ‘a sense of injury received, with a desire of revenge.’
- “A deviation from truth is equally natural to all the children of men.
- “All natural men will, upon a close temptation, vary from, or disguise, the truth. If they do not offend against veracity, if they do not say what is false, yet they frequently offend against simplicity.
- “Everyone is likewise prone, by nature, to speak or act contrary to justice.
- “Neither is any man, by nature, merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful…
- “Now, if [Atheism, pride, love of the world, anger, deviation from the truth, acting unjust, and being unmerciful] are the general diseases of human nature, is it not the grand end of education to cure them? And is it not the part of all those to whom God has entrusted the education of children, to take all possible care, first, not to increase, not to feed, any of these diseases; and next, to use every possible means of healing them?
- “What can parents do, and mothers more especially, to whose care our children are necessarily committed in their tender years, with regard to the Atheism that is natural to all the children of men?
- “From the first dawn of reason continually inculcate, God is in this and every place. God made you, and me, and the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and everything.
- “[And that] God orders all things: he makes the sun shine, and the wind blow, and the trees bear fruit. Nothing comes by chance; that is a silly word; there is no such thing as chance.
- “Without [God] we can neither think anything right, or do anything right. Thus it is, we are to inculcate upon [our children], that God is all in all.