תמונות בעמוד

the mind is the most susceptible, impressions the most durable, and the influence of example the most exclusive and potent. How closely they watch, and how readily they catch, the very motions, aspects, and manners, of their parents; and not less readily, as soon as they learn them, (and it is very soon,) their prejudices, likings, and dislikings ! But on this topic, after the extract which we have made from Mr. Anderson, we need not dwell.

We must not omit to mention the influence of a parent's prayers. The obligation resting upon parents, and more particularly upon fathers, not only to pray for their children, but to pray with them, it would be aside from our purpose to show. Nor can this be needful for any one who duly considers the main end of the family relations. For whatever other ends they are designed, their main end, as we have shown, is religion. “They are divine plantations, formed by God himself, to be nurseries of true godliness," and so to train up successive generations for eternal glory. God, then, should be acknowledged in them. Religion, the main end of families, and no visible religion there! What greater inconsistency can there be ! How is it possible, that this end can be attained without religious worship! The parents, openly renouncing that worship in their families, cannot be considered as being themselves religious; and how can they exert a religious influence ! But on the other hand, the influence of humble, penitent, fervent prayer, offered up by a family, bowing together with the returns of morning light and evening shade, who can duly appreciate? Beside its more indirect influence, in calling down that divine blessing upon the family, without which all other influences are vain ; its direct influence in that constant and most impressive acknowledgment which is thus made of God, his providence and grace, is such, as no good man would willingly leave unemployed.

6. Obedience to the laws of this constitution, warrants the hope of success. Its design is that for which God constituted the family state, which he never abandons, but which, with unchangeable zeal, be is prosecuting from age to age. Parents who keep this in view, as the grand object of their desires and labors, have fellowship with the God of all grace, in this respect, and may therefore confidently look for his blessing. The means, too, are not of their own devising, but of his appointment, and expressly for this end; and upon the infant mind, when combined with the affections of the domestic circle, and the ascendency of the parental character, they are employed with the highest advantage. God, 100, has said, in many passages of his word, that they shall be successful. not, perbaps, in every instance, but according to his ordinary dispensation ;-and the experience of ages confirms his declaration. Nothing is more fully proved, by the history of the world, than the power of the domestic constitution, through grace, to form the character of children to holiness, usefulness, and everlasting life. It would gratify our readers, to introduce some of the biographical notices illustrating this fact, and which occupy no less than a hundred pages of Mr. Anderson's work. But we inust pass on, with a inere reference to a few well-known instances. Isaac felt this power, when he submissively yielded himself a victim for the altar, on Mount Moriah ; Jacob, when, in calling upon the Lord, he used, as a customary appellation, “the fear of his father Isaac,”-the object of his father Isaac's supreme veneration ; and Joseph, when, though lord of Egypt, he bowed himself down before bis venerated parent. Moses felt it, when, amidst the fascinations of a heathen court, remembering what his nursing mother had taught him," he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season :” and David, when he prayed, “O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid :and when, with the same recognition of what his mother had been, he said, “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid.” So did Solomon, also, looking back to his boyhood, and gratefully acknowledging, “ I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me, also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words, keep my commandments and live. Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore, get wisdom; and, with all thy gettings, get understanding." How much the parents of John the Baptist contributed to his preparation for the highest office which had hitherto been conferred on man, the Spirit of inspiration has left us to infer from the record, that “they were both righteous, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless." Cleophas, too, and Salome, and Mary, parents of six of the apostles of the Lord, are mentioned in connections which show, that " their names were in the book of life.” Mr. Anderson thinks there is good evidence, that the parents of eight of the twelve were pious : and concerning Timothy, we have the highest proof, that “the confirmed faith which dwelt in him, was first in his grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice ;" by whose pious care“ he was taught the holy scriptures, from a child.” Going out of the sacred record, it would be to our purpose to speak of Augustine, Luther, Bacon, Howe, Baxter, Bates, Henry, Leighton, Doddridge, Cowper, and Newton,-of the Mathers, and Cottons,-of the Edwardses, -of Dwight, and a multitude of their contemporaries, distinguished alike for their piety and usefulness. But we need not go abroad for evidence. Every person, who chooses to inquire into the moral history of the famijies around him, from time immemorial, may find evidence, written in affecting characters. Look where we will, we find almost

all the solid fruits of piety in our churches, gathered from the families of the people of God. Yet it must be acknowledged, that many are the children of professed christians, and indeed of real christians, who live and die impenitent, and even profligate. So often is this the fact, that some doubt the advantage of a religious education. It is then important to mention,

7. The causes of failure. Failure supposes endeavor. now refer, however, only to families where religious order, in some manner and form, is observed, -where God is worshiped,--the scriptures are read,-religious instruction is imparted, -public ordinances are attended, and habits of open profligacy and vice are discountenanced. In some families of this description, children grow up in ungodliness : when the father dies, the family altar is forsaken ; and soon the spirit of worldliness excludes every form of religion. In such families, there is a failure. The end of the domestic constitution was, in some sense, sought, but it is not attained ; and the causes, we apprehend, may, in most cases, be found among the following:

Negligence. Something is done, with the hope, that in some unknown time and way, perhaps in mature years, or a season of revival, the children will become pious ; but, that they may now be formed to any one feature of piety, is scarcely an object of endearor, of prayer, or of active desire. At present, their parents' eyes are more intently fixed on preparing them for worldly respectability and success; and accordingly, they are suffered freely to walk in the course of this world. Negligence produces a strangeness between them on the vital concerns of the soul. A wall of separation, as to a free and affectionate intercourse on that subject, is raised up, which becomes every day more difficult to surmount. To the very last, nothing in earnest is attempted, and nothing is done. This, we fear, is too exact a picture of what many professedly christian parents call “ training up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;" —of many, too, who, when their children are evidently living " without God in the world,” satisfy themselves with the consideration, "We cannot convert our children.” “Salvation is of the Lord.” • He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.”

Over-indulgence. There is, in some families, no order, no subordination, no restraint. The children are taught; no expense is spared for instruction ; religious instruction, too, is allowed a place; but they are not governed. They do as they please; their faults are not corrected; their tempers are not bridled; their self-will is not subdued. The parents, in other respects, are exemplary ; but their easy good-nature, or misguided fondness, ruins their children,

- leaves them open to every corrupting influence,-to run at large in the street,-mingle with dissolute companions, and frequent the resorts of the scorner. When at last they take up the language the scoffer, they are, it may be, rebuked, or severely punisher but the rebuke and the punishment came too late. Their eye one “that mocketh a father, and scorneth to obey a mother."

Undue severity, though less common, is, perhaps, even wors where it occurs, than over-indulgence. It breaks the spirit, ai then, recklessness and contumacy are the result. “Fathers, pr voke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged," is th the divine injunction. Care must be taken, however children ma conduct themselves, that the parents' hearts be tender towan them, and that their treatment of them evince such a spirit. The is a steroness, a gloominess, a forbidding moroseness, in some rel gious parents, which it would be fatal for their children to associat with their views of religion. They instruct their children; but is more by giving them a long lesson in the catechism, or the scrip lures, and punishing them, if they fail of committing it to memory than by patiently explaining to them the truth. They admonis and warn them ; but it is by holding up the terror of the Lor alone, rather than drawing them with the bands of a man,-wit the appropriate motives of penitence, confidence, and love. The restrain them from the pleasures of sin ; but they furnish them wit no better pleasures in their stead. They govern them ; but iti more by punishing disobedience, than preventing it, -by the rou alone, rather than by that early ascendency over them, which give the simple expression of their will a deciding power. Some pun ish only when they ought never to do it, when they are an gry; or, they punish bastily, with no proper discrimination be tween sims of stubbornness, and sins of ignorance and inadvertence or, with no due pains to make their children feel the obligation violated. Such treatment may produce a formal compliance ; but it is with a sunken, sullen, discouraged mind, not with a willing, dutiful, filial spirit. He who loses the affections of his child, loses the child.

Unsteadiness. Few parents, with any sense of religion, but think of the future well-being of their children. If, in their moments of reflection, a wish would gain the end, it would be gained. But feelings are transient; and, in the interval, duty is neglected. They have no system,--no well-concerted course of action,-no fixed principles, in this matter. They conduct as they seel; and therefore, what they do, is fitful, self-contradictory, and fruitless. To-day, they frown on what yesterday they smiled. Now, they yield to no importunity; and now, their children must be crossed in nothing. Now, they are anxious for the conversion of their offspring; and now, they deck them cut for some scene of pleasurable dissipation. Such inequality of treatment can promise nothing good. A child five years old may see, that what is done, is not from principle, but humor,-not with a fixed aim at an important end, but from the feeling that may happen to prevail for the moment. A calm, steady, principled uniformity of procedure only, can be called "training," or give to the parental character the dignity, the authority, the influence, which it should possess.

To these causes of failure must be added, Inconsistency of life. Children are quick to discern this; and, slow as they may be to draw the inference, it will be forced upon them. If they see their parents, notwithstanding a christian profession, as worldly-minded, as eager for property, as ambitious of display, as the men of the world; if they find them unkind to the poor, oppressive to dependents, or implacable under injuries; if they observe them to be inconstant in worship, detained by slight causes from the public ordinances of grace, or easily persuaded to violate the sabbath; if they discover in them no sympathy with the household of faith, or no zeal for the conversion of the world ; what must they conclude, but, that their religion is vain ? and then, of how little service would be the attempt, by instruction or adınonition, to impress the claims of religion upon their minds !

In consideration of these things, is it a matter of wonder, that many children of professing christians live in hardened neglect of religion ? Do we here find any good reason to call in question the moral power of the constitution which God has ordained, or his blessing with it, when its laws are obeyed ?

8. The sanction of the domestic constitution is contained in the moral law. The divine legislator, having required us to make himself exclusively the object of worship, and forbidden the use of sensible forms in worship, binds us to himself, by the proclamation of his name, as “the LORD:" and, that he may engage us not only by the authority of his name, but also by the condescension of his grace, adds, “ thy God.” Then, with allusion to the tenderest of earthly connections, and the resentment which he feels, when that connection is dishonored, he subjoins the epithet, jealous God;" and finally, commits the guardianship of that worsbip, for the purity of which he is “jealous," especially to “ fathers,"—under the sanction of his favor or displeasure following their posterity, according as they show their love to him, by keeping his commandments, or become haters of him, by renouncing them :-“visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me ; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

On this declaration Mr. A. much insists, as the peculiar sanction of the domestic constitution ; and as there is one point on which we question the soundness of his argument,--and it is one which is extensively a subject of doubt,--we shall take the liberty of exVOL. VII.


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