תמונות בעמוד

Perhaps no word, so frequently heard, has, in modern times, been used with less perception of its import and extent, than that of education. In the sense in which it is usually taken, it signifies instruction in letters, in human science, and various accomplishments of the mind and body. So entirely distinct is it considered from moral, and especially religious instruction, that when the particular process is spoken of, by which the truths of religion are communicated to the mind, and impressed upon the heart, we are obliged, in order to make ourselves understood, to prefix an epithet to the term, and call it a religious education. This exclusion of every thing religious from the notion of education, is so complete, that to say of any one, he is educated, conveys no idea of religious care having been exercised over him in his early years ; no idea of religious principles having been at any time implanted, or now actually operating in his heart; and though no truth of the sacred scriptures should be clearly apprehended by his understanding, he would, nevertheless, pass, in the language of the world, for a person of education. Had not a very culpable alteration taken place in modern manners, this could not have happened. There were times, and among ourselves, when the educated person was presumed to be acquainted with the faith of his ancestors, and the bible was among the first books put into his hand ; when the elements of religious truth and of science were taught together; and when even the higher branches of learning, like his daily food, were 'sanctified by the word of God and prayer.' The practice with many is changed, and education, as a matter of course, in the lips of many, no longer implies religious information.

But, 'notwithstanding this alteration, never did we hear so much of the value and advantages of education, and of its connection with happiness and virtue. But of what is this affirmed? Of 'a thing of shreds and patches ;' splendid and many-colored it may be ; yet not worthy of a better appellation, because not connected with any principle, or directed to any end worthy of our being. To open the mind to human science, to awaken the pleasures of taste, and to decorate the external man with the adornings of civil and refined life, might be sufficient to occupy the office of education, were there no God, no Savior, and no future being. Were this life not preparatory, and man not hurrying on to the presence of his Judge ; had he no pardon to implore, or law to obey, then this would be education : but most affectingly deficient will the knowledge of that youth be found, and negligent in the highest degree must his parents be considered, if his mind is left unoccupied by other objects, and unfamiliarized to higher considerations. Thus they may rear a whited wall, or build a whited sepulcher, but they inclose an uncorrected corruption within. Perhaps they do worse; they give play and activity to the powers, without directing their movements, and abandon instruments of an energy not to be calculated, to the stimulus of principles and passions, which employ them only for the purposes of destruction.""

pp. 189, 190. Education, undoubtedly, includes whatever may strengthen and inform the mind, refine the taste, and regulate the conduct of the outer man; but the ultimate end of the whole is, as Solomon has

defined it, “ TO TRAIN UP A CHILD IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO;" not merely, as Mr. James pertinently remarks," the training up a child in the way he should think, or speculate, or translate, or dance, or draw, or argue ; but the way in which he should go ;" to implant right principles of action, and to give the highest possible energy and effect to these, in a holy and useful life. The work of education must therefore lie mainly on the hands of parents, and cannot be transferred, at least so long as their children are with them. They may, and so far as they are able, they ought to do it, provide for their children such instruction as is needful, and which they are not themselves qualified, or in circumstances, to give ; but the more important concern,—the education of the heart,--the molding of the character, -cannot be bought. They themselves, so long as their children are with them, whether they intend it or not, must, and will, educate them.

' In the laudable anxiety of their hearts, two parents, with a family of infants playing around their feet, are heard to say—“Oh! what will -what can best educate these dear children ?" I reply-Look to yourselves and your circumstances. Maxims and documents are good in themselves, and especially good for the regulation of your conduct and your behavior towards them ; but with regard to your children, you

have yet often to remark, that many maxims are good, precisely till they are tried, or applied, and no longer. In the hands of many parents, they will teach the children to talk, and very often little more. I do not mean to assert, that sentiments inculcated have no influence ; far from it: they have much, though not the most ; but still, after all, it is the sentiments you let drop occasionally, it is the conversation they overhear, when playing in the corner of the room, which has more effect than many things which are addressed to them directly in the tone of exhortation. Besides, as to maxims, ever remember, that between those which you bring forward for their use, and those by which you direct your own conduct, children have almost an intuitive discernment; and it is by the latter they will be mainly governed, both during childhood and their future existence.

The question, however, returns, What will educate these children ? And now I answer, “ Your example will educate them-your conversation with your friends—the business they see you transact—the likings and dislikings you express,--these will educate them; the society you live in will educate them—your domestics will educate them; and whatever be your rank or situation in life, your house, your table, and your daily behavior there, these will educate them. To withdraw them from the unceasing and potent influence of these things, is impossible, except you were to withdraw yourself from them also. Some parents talk of beginning the education of their children : the moment they were capable of forming an idea, their education was already begun,--the education of circumstances—insensible education, which, like insensible perspiration, is of more constant and powerful effect, and of far more consequence to the habit, than that which is direct and apparent.

This education goes on at every instant of time; it goes on like timeyou can neither stop it, nor turn its course. Whatever these, then, have a tendency to make your children, that, in a great degree, you at least should be persuaded, they will be."

The language, however, occasionally heard from some fathers, may here not unseasonably be glanced at. They are diffuse in praise of maternal influence ; and, pleased at the idea of its power and extent, they will exclaim, “ ( yes, there can be doubt of it, that every thing depends on the mother.” This, however, will be found to spring from a selfish principle, and from anxiety to be relieved from mighty obligations, which, after all, cannot be transferred from the father's shoulders to those even of a mother; to say nothing of the unkindness involved in laying upon her a burden, which nature never intended, and never does. Her influence, as an instrument, indeed, a husband cannot too highly prize ; but let no father imagine that he can neutralize the influence of his own presence and his own example at home. He cannot if he would, nor can he escape from obligation. The patience and constancy of a mother are, no doubt, first mainly tried, but then those of the father. The dispositions in each parent are fitted by nature for this order in the trial of patience ; but, from the destined and appropriate share allotted to each, neither of the two parties, when in health, can relieve the other.

* You may engage a master, or masters, as numerous as you please, to instruct your children in many things, useful and praiseworthy in their own place; but you must, by the order of nature, educate them yourselves. You not only ought to do it, but you will perceive, that if I am correct in what I have stated, and may

still advance, you must do it, whether you intend it or not. “ The parent,” said Cecil, “is not to stand reasoning and calculating. God has said, that his character shall have influence; and so this appointment of Providence becomes often the punishment of a wicked or a careless man.”

The occupations of the poor man at his daily labor, and of the man of business in his counting-house, cannot interrupt this education. In both instances the mother is plying at her uninterrupted avocations, and her example is powerfully operating every hour, while at certain intervals daily, as well as every morning and evening, all things come under the potent sway of the father or the master, whether that influence be good or bad. Here, then, is one school from which there are no truants, and in which there are no holidays.

True, indeed, you send your children to another school, and this is the best in the whole neighborhood; and the character of the master there is not only unexceptionable, but praiseworthy. When your children come home, too, you put a book of your own selection into their hands, or even many such books, and they read them with pleasure and personal advantage. Still, after all this, never for one day forget, that the first book they read, nay, that which they continue to read, and by far the most influential, is that of their parents' example and daily deportment. If this should be disregarded by you, or even forgotten, then be not at all surprised when you find, another day, to your sorrow and vexation, and the interruption of your business, if not the loss of all


your domestic peace and harmony, that your children only “k right path, but still follow the wrong."). pp. 356–359.

We cannot go over the whole circle of the education dispositions. Nor will our limits permit us to follow out 1 cifications of our author. Yet we are unwilling to leave tl of the subject with only a general reference ; but must ask dulgence of our readers, in the mention of such leading par as may serve more exactly to define it.

It was the high commendation of Abraham, that he "command his children and his household after him, to ke way of the Lord; to do justice and judgment.” 56 Justic judgment" here mean, moral rectitude generally; but in the restricted sense of equity, in matters of exchange, it is a : of vital importance, in the business of education. Children originally, no sense of distinctive claims. They see no why they may not have whatever they desire. Very soon, ever, they acquire the notion of property. This chair is says a little boy to his brothers, as he brings it to the fire-sid sits upon it. How comes he to feel, that, for the time bein his, and not theirs ? Because he has brought it to its place, come its occupant. He has put upon it that which was pr his own; and if, on leaving it for the moment and returni finds it taken possession of by a brother, he feels himself wr Much more would this be the case, if he had not only broug its place, but, with bis own hands, had made it. The circle thers, too, respect the claim, or at least feel, that they ought spect it; because they every one feel, that they themselve similar case, would have a rightsul claim; and that they are a moral obligation to do to another, what they would that he do to them. This natural sense of justice, it is the business rents to cherish in their children. They are to show them the boundary between rectitude and injustice, is a line which cannot transgress a hair's breadth, without becoming guilty. are no more to allow them to wrong another in the value of than allow them to break open another's coffers at midnight rob him of his treasures. They are to train them, from the liest years, to render to every man whatever is his, becaus his; gladly to restore the lost property which they may found; return in due season, and without injury, what they borrowed ; and above all, to abhor bargains in which advant taken of another's ignorance, or necessity, or in which equivalent is given. They should show them, that “he unjust in the least, is unjust also in much;” that the charac the boy who cheats his fellow in the barter of a knife or though it be only to the value of a cent, is the character o thief and the robber, and is declared so to be, in the judgme God. In a word, they should train them to do justice on principle,-a principle of such delicacy and strength, that it will allow them no peace, so long as there remains a suspicion, that, in any transaction, they have not done that which is altogether right. How delightfully would the business of society be conducted, were all children taught in this manner to do justice !

The love of truth is not less important. To deceive, is not " to do justice and judgment.” Besides the wrong directly done to the person deceived, it goes to break up the foundation of all confidence; to sunder the bonds of society; to corrupt the medium of all good, for this life, and that which is to come. It also eminently depraves,—is the destruction of moral principle in the soul, and forms a character transcendently guilty before God. Parents ought to show this, vividly and impressively, to their children,--guard against the first entrance of this sin to their hearts, and associate it in their minds with those feelings of abhorrence and dread, which properly belong to it. They have the more occasion to do this, because the heart is especially prone to deception, and the world is full of this evil. Especially should they guard them against it, on those occasions in which they are most exposed; as, when a fault is laid to their charge, or altercation arises, or when their interest, their character, their passion, would suggest it. Nor is it only with reference to such occasions, that they have need of being guarded. Deceit abounds through indifference to truth, even when there is Do strong temptation to falsehood.

• "Nothing but experience,” said Dr. Johnson, “ could evince the frequency of false information, or enable any man to conceive that so many groundless reports should be propagated, as every man of eminence may hear of himself. Some men relate what they think, as what they know; some men, of confused memories and habitual inaccuracy, ascribe to one man what belongs to another; and some talk on, without thought or care. A few men are sufficient to broach falsehoods, which are afterwards innocently diffused by successive relaters.” In the training of children, therefore, a strict attention, on the part of parents, to truth, even in the most minute particulars, is of the first importance. " Accustom your children,” said the same author, “constantly to this ; if a thing happened at one window, and they, when relating it, say that it happened at another, do not let it pass, but instantly check them; you do not know where deviation from truth will end." But," said a lady at the table, “ little variations in narrative must happen a thousand times a-day, if one is not perpetually watching."

« Well, madam," he replied, “and you ought to be perpetually watching. It is more from carelessness about truth, than from intentional lying, that there is so much falsehood in the world."

pp. 371, 372. Delightful indeed would be the confidence in society, were all children taught in this manner to speak the truth!

[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »