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I noticed a blog entry at StandFirmInFaith the other day which included the text of 20 resolutions that Cotton Mather had made as a parent as he reflected on his responsibilities towards his own children. I was surprised (though I should not have been) to find that they do not at all fit the stereotype of a stern, mirthless Puritan autocrat. In fact, as I read and re-read them they stimulated in me a desire to renew my own commitment to my own children.
On another level, they also prompted me to consider that the tender, deep, passionate commitment which Mather portrays is also a picture of God the Father’s love for each of us. These wonderful things which Mather resolves to do for his children (1. I will resolve to do all I can that my child may be the Lord’s. 2. I will encourage my child to every day cry to God that He would be the child’s Father, and Saviour, and Leader. 3. I will pray for my child daily.) are also things that God is doing for each of his children.
God reveals himself in profound and deep ways in the nature of human relationships. Father and son. ADOPTIVE father and child. Bridegroom and Bride. The best things that our fathers do for us are a reflection and a model of what God wants to do for us: provide for us, sacrifice for us, see us grow up and to acquire a godly wisdom and maturity.
I’ve laid out Mather’s Resolutions as a little 8-page booklet. It’s available for free by clicking here. Feel free to download it, forward it, print it out, or otherwise distribute it. I plan to give copies out at church on Sunday. Rev. Mather’s original text is in the public domain, and I like to think he would approve of its being read again 280 years after his death.
Here’s my summary of his 20 resolutions:
- I will resolve to do all I can that my child may be the Lord’s.
- I will encourage my child to every day cry to God that He would be the child’s Father, and Saviour, and Leader.
- I will pray for my child daily.
- I will read the Bible to my child and tell the stories of the Bible to them.
- I will teach my child to memorize Scripture.
- I will teach my child the Catechism.
- I will teach my child to pray.
- I will teach my child to be kind.
- I will teach my child to read and write. I will direct their reading and talk with them about what they have read.
- My yoke will be light.
- I will teach my child to love Christ.
- I will encourage my child to speak with me about the state of their soul.
- I will be careful about my children’s companions.
- I will discuss the sermons we hear with my child.
- I will use the opportunities of Days of Humiliation, Days of Thanksgiving, and particularly birthdays to talk about the works of God.
- I will use the opportunity of trouble, sickness or pain to remind them to be mindful of CHRIST and eternity.
- I will teach my child a trade or business.
- I will show my children that their main end must be to acknowledge the great God, and His glorious Christ; and bring others to acknowledge Him.
- I will oblige the children to retire sometimes, and ponder on that question: “What shall I wish to have done, if I were now a-dying?”
- I will endeavor to see my child espoused to the Saviour first, then I will help them as I can for their best accommodation in the married state.