Memoirs of the Life, Time, and Writings
of the Reverend and Learned
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The Author's Address To His Children
To John, Jane, Alison, And Thomas Bostons
MY DEAR CHILDREN,—I apprehend, that by the time it is designed, under the conduct of all-disposing Providence, this should come into your hands, ye may be desirous to know your father's manner of life, beyond what ye saw with your eyes: and it is very pleasing to me, that, as to that point, I am capable, in some measure, to satisfy you, by means of two manuscripts, which I leave unto you, committing them to the Lord my God for preservation, and a blessing on them.
The one is a bound book in quarto, entitled, Passages of my Life, at writing hereof, consisting of three hundred and sixty-two written pages, beginning from my birth, ending 19th October 1730, and signed. I was not arrived at twenty years of age, when, without a prompter, so far as I know, I began collecting of these passages, for my own soul's benefit: and they, being carried on, have often since that time been of use to me. For which cause I recommend the like practice to you; remembering the promise, Ps. 107: 43, "Whoso is wise, and will observe those things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord."
The other is the following general account of any life, at writing hereof, consisting of two hundred and seventy-nine written pages, beginning from my birth, ending 24th October 1730, and signed. How I was led thereto, much contrary to my inclination, you will find in the manuscripts themselves. But, now that it is done, I am obliged to say, "The foolishness of God is wiser than men:" and I bless the Lord, who gave me counsel. It was in obedience to His call that I did it: "Let the Lord do with it what seemeth Him good." Ye will not readily have meaner thoughts of that matter than I myself had.
I presume, you will judge that it had been more natural to have made one continued history of both: and I, being of the same mind, would indeed have so done, had I thought it worth my pains, in this decline of my age and strength. But not seeing myself called thereto, I am satisfied as to the design of Providence, which has modelled that matter as said is.
You will not therein find yourselves descended, by me at least, from any ancient or honourable family in the sight of the world; which is a matter of some significance, I own, before men, for a few passing years: but you will find yourselves children of the covenant, devoted unto the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, my God, by me having power over you for that effect: whom therefore I charge to ratify the same with your own consent, and personal acceptance of the covenant; and to cleave to this God as your God, all the days of your lives, as being His only, wholly, and for ever: so shall that be to you a matter of eternal value and significance, before the Lord; of value to you in this and the other world.
If some things in these manuscripts appear trifling, bear with them. Had I thought it worth time and pains, to have written them over a second time, it is likely, several things now found in them had been dropped. Meanwhile it may reasonably be allowed, that some things now appearing trifling to you, might have been of some weight to me; and may be so to you afterwards; and if never to you, yet some one time or other to yours after you.
I hope you will find some things in them worthy of your imitation: the which I was the more willing to record, that I did not think I ever had the art of education of children; but might thereby do somewhat toward the repairing of the loss you by that means sustained. It is my desire and will, that, while the Lord is pleased to preserve them, and that in the power of my offspring, any of them whosoever be allowed free access unto them: yet so that the property thereof be vested from time to time, in such an one of them, if any such there shall be, as shall addict himself to the holy ministry. And in case I be allowed, by Him in whose hand is my life and breath, and all my ways, to make any continuation of the purpose of these manuscripts, the same is to be reckoned as here included.
I hope you will use no indecent freedoms with them; considering that, for ought you or I know, there is a jus tertii, a right of a third party, in the matter, whom also I have a view to, with an awful regard to the sovereign disposal of holy Providence, to which I desire to submit all. Some few things which I saw meet to delete, I have signified and signed on the margin.
And now, my dear children, your lot is fallen in a sinning time, beyond the days of my fathers: and I am mistaken, if it issue not in a time proportionally trying, by "the Lord's coming out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity." I obtest and beseech you, as you regard your eternal welfare, "save yourselves from this untoward generation." See the absolute necessity of regeneration, the change of your nature, by union with Jesus Christ the second Adam; as it was corrupted by means of your relation to the first Adam fallen. Labour for the experience of the power of religion in your own souls, that you may have an argument for the reality of it, from your spiritual sense and feeling: and cleave to the Lord, His way of holiness, "(without which ye shall not see the Lord)," His work also, His interests, and people, on all hazards; being assured, that such only will be found wise in the end. If your mother, undoubtedly a daughter of Abraham, shall survive me, let your loss of a father move you to carry the more kindly and affectionately to her, supporting her in her desolate condition. Let the same likewise engage you the more to be peaceful, loving, and helpful, among yourselves.
The Lord bless each one of you, and save you, cause His gracious face shine on you, and give you peace; so as we may have a comfortable meeting in the other world! Farewell.
From My Study In Ettrick Manse,
28th October 1730.
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