תמונות בעמוד

In an inspired summary of moral duty, to the specification “to do justice,” is added, " and love mercy.Owe no man any thing,” says an apostle, but to love one another.Love is the only true principle of justice, as a moral virtue, before God. Children naturally act upon the reverse of this principle. Selfishness is bound up in their hearts. Yet they are susceptible of benevolent affections. The very infant may be made to feel a generous pleasure, in admitting others to share in its enjoyments. Such susceptibilities in children, it is for their parents to call into action, and direct to their noblest ends. Let generous dispositions and generous deeds,-kindness to the poor, the injured, the afflicted, yood-will to rivals, to enemies, to the injurious, and self-denial to glorify God, to save souls, and to do good,--the Savior's example, and the examples of those who have trodden in the Savior's steps, -be strongly associated with their first sentiments of whatever is noble, and excellent, and delightful. Let them be employed on errands of mercy to the destitute and afflicted; that, as witnesses both of suffering and gratitude, their bowels of compassion may be moved for the objects of kindness. Let them be encouraged to give of their own, freely,—be furnished with the means of doing this, and early learn, by experience, the luxury of self-denial in the work of love. Let them know the spiritual condition of the world, who has made them to differ, and for what end; and let them grow up with a low estimation of riches and worldly splendor, in comparison with the kingdom of God and his righteousness. From the time that they are capable of receiving a moral impression, let them be taught, that character, and not condition, is the main thing; that a good man is honorable, in any circumstances, and a bad man, in none. To despise another because he is poor, or trample on him because he is colored ; to curse the deaf, or lay a stumbling-block before the blind; to laugh at the insane, or mock the fecble in intellect; to sport with the calamities of men, or be mirthful at their sins; or even to vent their spite in slander or revenge, at the injurious ; surely they may be taught, is not to do justice and judgment,---is wrong, is mean, is base. The animals, too, which serve us,--and not only these, but the insects, and birds, and beasts, of every name, which God has made to partake of his common bounty--they may be made to feel, have rights, as well as men,-rights, which God has expressly recognized and guarded, in the laws and sanctions of his word. In fact, it is not until the sympathies which he has planted in our nature are overcome, as well as the authority of his word is cast off, that cruelty to animals can be indulged in the bosoms of children; and when this is the case, that cruelty is not long in showing itself toward their own species. Here then is the peculiar and delightful office of a parent's love, -to train up his children to be merciful, even as our Father in heaven is merciful. And how charming the sympathies,-how heavenly the charities of society would be, if this office were every where faithfully discharged !

But the commanding principle of the whole must be, the fear of God. By this we mean, true piety,--that reverence for God, and submission to his government, which, in a sinner under the gospel, are inseparable from evangelical repentance and faith. This is the foundation of all excellence and happiness,—the only principle that can secure a performance of moral duties, and which only can render any external doings acceptable to God. This fear is not natural to men; yet there are those natural principles which may, by means of the truth, through the Spirit, lead to it. The child who feels any dutiful fear of a parent, may exercise the same fear towards the Father of all, as soon as he learns his name. He who is capable of a dutiful submission to the authority of an earthly father, may have the same submission to the authority of God. He who relents for offenses against the father of his flesh, surely, is capable of the same sorrow for his offenses against “the Father of spirits ;" and that trust which a child naturally reposes on the word of a father, needs only to be reposed on God and Christ, and it is the faith which saves the soul. The appeal, “If I be a father, where is mine honor? If I be a master, where is my sear?” is founded on the resemblance between filial and pious affections ; the difference in their nature resulting merely from the difference of their objects. There is nothing belonging to religion, for which there are not the same susceptibilities in the mind, as for the dutiful feelings of a child toward his parents. It is for bis parents, by appropriate methods, to call forth those susceptibilities, and direct them io the infinitely glorious object for which they were given. This the king and psalmist of Israel proposed to do, as one of his highest and most delightful duties,-teaching his children the fear of the Lord : and would all parents do this, how would religion flourish, and families here below, be prepared successively to crowd the gates to the great and happy family above !

5. The peculiar and appropriate influence which the domestic constitution provides, for the attainment of this end, in the education of children. We would not here seem to forget, that, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." Yet there is an influence to be exerted by men, and intrusted by Him as a talent, especially to parents, the obedient use of which, in dependence on his grace, He is accustomed to make effectual.

Such is the influence of parental instruction. Right moral dispositions are produced by means of moral truth. They are voluntary, and can exist only by the mind's apprehension of the objects and motives which are suited to produce them. These are embodied in the Scriptures ; and it is the parent's office to transfer Vol. VII.



them, first to his own heart, and thence to the hearts that most naturally beat in unison with his own. THE BIBLE ITSELF SHOULD BE MADE THE BASIS OF EDUCATION. « These words which I command thee,” the direction is, “shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children." Not that catechisms, and other systems of divine truth, are unimportant. No good reason can be given for excluding definitions and first principles from the science of religion, any more than from other sciences. Still, our ultimate reference must be to the Bible. This is the purest and most important source of knowledge ; and this, of all books in the world is, as a whole, the most intelligible to children, and, in the hands of a skillful and pious parent, may be made one of the most interesting. The dawn of reason, when the mind most eagerly opens for instruction, when it lays hold of every thing in its way with the firmest grasp, and its susceptibilities are the most easily awakened, should be improved for this purpose ; and, gradually, continually, and patiently, as the capacity is increased, should the instruction given be elevated and extended. This should be done, not chiefly in formal lectures, but daily, and in the ordinary intercourse of life, as opportunity is afforded, and the varying occurrences of life suggest. Nor should it be done in the way of painful tasks, or with

repulsive associations ; but kindly, affectionately, and in the ways best suited to commend it to the conscience and the heart. The subject matter of the instruction includes every thing that belongs to revealed truth, so far as the mind is capable of receiving it. The perfections of God, his universal presence and providence, our dependence upon him, and accountableness to him, may be easily conveyed to the mind of almost the youngest child. The law of God, whether as contained in the two great precepts of love ; or, as amplified in the ten commandments; or, as explained in the sermon on the mount, and other moral precepts of the bible; what child is there of a few years old, who may not be made to understand,-see its excellence, and feel its obligation? In relation to this, it is easy also for children to discern the nature and extensiveness of their sin ; ils intrinsic evil, and its deadly power; the necessity of their repentance, and in what it must consist; their need of forgiveness, and the way in which it must be sought. With these impressions, they cannot but take an interest in what the scriptures reveal, concerning Christ, his person and offices; the wonders of his advent; the character of his life ; his treatment of the poor, the miserable and the sinful; the tenderness of his heart; the riches of his love ; the design of his death ; the triumph of his resurrection; the glories of his reign, and the ingratitude, the guilt, and the danger, of rejecting him in unbelief. Hence, too, how naturally may they be led on to view——what no child can be unaffected in viewing,---the solemnities of his second coming, the scenes of the last judgınent, the blessedness of heaven, and the terrors of hell! What fruitful themes are these, for the conversation of parents with their children! And what other are so well adapted to elevate their thoughts, eplarge their conceptions, purify their hearts, or form their judgment, their feelings, their tempers, their aims, their lives? What beside, can make them wise unto salvation ?

The influence of parental persuasion and admonition. In every practical concern, in which parents earnestly desire to engage their children, they are not satisfied merely with communicating instruction. They reason, they persuade, they warn. But religion is of all things the most practical. The mere theory is useless-is condemning. The heart must be “purified in obeying the truth.” Parents must show their children that they believe this. It may be, that some parents overdo in this matter, and defeat their own purpose. They "worry their children” on the subject of religion, and increase their aversion to it. Or, they draw their persuasions too exclusively from the thunders of wrath, and the torments of hell, and so make their applications repulsive. Yet how can those parents who believe, forbear to speak; or to speak as though they believed ? The apostle, knowing the terrors of the Lord, persuaded men,-feeling the love of Christ, besought them, and looking at things eternal, warned them. Parents, with the like faith, will do the same. “What, my son !" said one of the best of parents, “and what, the son of my womb ! and what, the son of my vows! My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things. Let not thine heart envy sinners, but be thou in the fear of the Lord, all the day long. For surely there is an end, and thine expectation shall not be cut off. Hear then, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.” Discretion must be used, as to the time, the manner, the frequency, and extensiveness, of such applications; and they had better never be made, than to be merely formal, forced, and heartless: but we see not how any cbristian parent can avoid the manifestation, in some way, of a solicitude for the spiritual welfare of his children, which shall oblige them to feel, that the most anxious desire of his heart, in reference to them, is for their salvation. Who can measure the importance of such a conviction, fixed deeply in their minds, and following them in all the scenes of a tempting world ?

The influence of parental discipline. Among the most powerful principles of human action, are hope and fear,—the prospect of good, and the dread of evil. To these, parents must make their appeal, in bending the infant mind. God, for this purpose, has invested them with authority, and given them the power to sustain it. This power, they are under a religious obligation to employ. They are not, indeed, to be tyrants in their houses, though sovereign

there. Their government is to be mild, yet firm. It must be firm, that it may be mild. When once the children perceive, that the parent's will, however opposed, must prevail, the occasion for severity is gone. Submission follows without difficulty, as a thing of course. Till this is the case, the struggle must be unceasing, and the occasion for coercion perpetual. For this purpose, the ascendency must be acquired early. As soon as a child is old enough to understand the parent's will and oppose it, submission must be gained, in the easiest and mildest way possible ; but, at whatever expense, it must be gained, and gained completely. Unless gained early, the attempt afterwards will but too certainly be fruitless. “Chasten thy son, while there is hope; and let not thy soul spare for his crying." “He that spareth the rod, hateth his son ; but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes.Such passages of scripture recognize chastisement as an indispensable part of parental discipline. With all who acknowledge their divine inspiration, the authority must be decisive. Nothing can be more pointed than many of their declarations on this subject. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with a rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with a rod, and shalt deliver bis soul from hell." Yet those are under a wretched mistake, who think, that a proper government of their children is only “ beating them with a rod.” Shocking is the scene in a multitude of families, where all that passes under the name of government, consists of passionate threats, vociferous upbraidings, and brutal violence. Too frequent is the occasion for a repetition of the exhortation, “ Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Few children, however, we believe, are in fact reduced to the habit of submission, with no painful discipline. In infancy, the rod, that is, an expression of parental displeasure in some decisive form, is a principal means of bending the will ; and if judiciously and steadily applied then, the necessity for it afterwards, at least in the form of corporal infliction, will, in most cases, be prevented. As reason opens, and affection reigns, parental discipline becomes the government of reason and affection, over reasonable and accountable beings. This, indeed, is training them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Besides all these, and we are almost ready to say, beyond them all, is the influence of parental example. The power of example generally, is a familiar subject of remark; but the influence of parental example, is greater than is commonly apprehended. Children, spontaneously imitative of whatever pleases them, are especially so, of what they see in their parents, whom they most observe, esteem, and revere ; and this precisely at the period when

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