Within the most recent release of new material from Early American Imprints, Series I, Supplement from the American Antiquarian Society, 1652-1800, are several books meant to be instructive to children and, in some instances, their parents.
A token for children: being an exact account of the conversion, holy and exemplary lives and joyful deaths of several young children. By James Janeway, Minister of the Gospel; To which is added, A token for the children of New-England. Or, Some examples of children, in whom fear of God was remarkably budding before they died; in several parts of New-England. Preserved and published for the encouragement of piety in other children. With new additions (1752)
The title of this work, first published in 1700, is substantial, and oddly punctuated, but the message seems clear: pious children meet happy deaths. Finding joy in a child’s death may be a formidable challenge for contemporary society, but the Reverend Janeway (1636?-1674) is insistent upon it and upon instilling in children this hard lesson.
In his preface, Janeway addresses parents, asking “Are the souls of your children of no Value? Are you willing that they should be Brands of Hell?” He instructs that children “are not too Little to die; they are not too Little to go to Hell…” and he continues with general advice for children who would be saved:
I. Take heed of what you know is naught: As Lying; O that is a grievous Fault indeed, and naughty Words, and taking the Lord’s Name in vain, and playing upon the Lord’s Day, and keeping bad Company, and playing with ungodly Children: But if you go to school with such, tell them, that God will not love them, but the devil will have them, if they continue to be so naught.