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THE AGED CHRISTIAN. THE spring and summer time of life have long since passed away, D
And golden autumn, with its leaves of sadness and decay,
Has come and gone; and winter shrouds each lovely scene in gloom, And bids me mark across my path the shadows of the tomb. Mine eye is growing dim with age, my step is feeble now, And deeper lines of thought and care are graven on my brow; But shall I murmur as I trace the rapid flight of hours, Or grasp with trembling eagerness earth's fair yet fading flowers ? Oh no! a bright and happy home awaiteth me above, And my ardent spirit longs to dwell where all is joy and love. Does the wave-tossed mariner regret when he sees the haven near, Where his shattered bark shall safely rest, nor storm nor danger fear ? Will the toil-worn labourer sigh because his weary task must close, And evening's peaceful shades afford him calm and sweet repose ? Or does the child with sorrow mark each swift revolving mile, Which bears him to his cherished home and loving father's smile ? And shall the Christian grieve because some gentle signs are given That he is nearer to the bliss, the perfect bliss, of heaven ; That every moment closer brings that mansion fair and bright, Prepared for him with tender love in realms of pure delight ? Oh! with such brilliant hopes as these how can my heart repine, Although I feel my vigour fade, my wonted strength decline ? Rather with gladness would I hail these messages of love, Which tell me I shall quickly join the white-robed throng above. My pilgrimage will soon be o'er, my arduous race be run, And the bright crown of victory triumphant faith have won. No sorrow clouds the land of rest, hushed is the thought of pain : Oh! if for me to live is Christ, to die indeed is gain!
INFANT DAYS AND TRAINING.
RECOLLECTIONS OF AN ONLY DAUGHTER.
S it was our earnest desire to bring up our beloved daughter in the fear of God, as the only way to make her happy in herself and a comfort to us, we determined to spare no pains in her education, and to commence our work at the earliest opportunity. It
appeared to us preposterous to suffer the sinful tendencies of nature to gain strength, and grow into habits, under the notion that, when the mind has acquired maturity, it will assert its dominion over the passions, and reduce everything into its proper place and order.
We knew that reflection and reason come late into exercise; that they are slow in their progress; act only at intervals; are feeble in operation, and uncertain in result: whilst, on the contrary, passion is coeval with our existence ; is incessant in action; rapid in decision ; and impatient of control. We were aware also, that if we neglected to sow wheat upon the fresh soil, the enemy would not be equally remiss in scattering
tares; we were determined therefore, if possible, to pre-occupy the ground by the best seed. Nor were our early efforts disappointed. We had the satisfaction of seeing our beloved child growing up under the best promise, and every year affording us abundant reason to believe that our labour was not spent in vain. The only time, as far as I recollect, when I had to use anything like severity, was when she was in her second year; and I record the circumstances of it, exemplifying my views of an important preliminary step in the training of children. We had a family party. Her grandfather and grandmother, her uncles and aunts, were dining with us; and our little Hannah was permitted to be seated at the table. On something being presented to her by one of her relatives, she was desired to say " Thank you,”—a sentence which she had but recently learned to pronounce; but upon this occasion, she was $00 eager to enjoy the kindness to acknowledge her obligation to the hand from which she received it. I repeated the njunction, but without the desired effect. The affair then assumed another aspect, and an important principle was in agitation. Excuses were offered by her fond relatives, and the tears of the child appealed to my feelings ; but I considered that a compromise in this case involved future consequences, and that the point between us must sooner or later be decided. I knew that the victory of the child would lead to fresh attempts upon her yielding parents; and thus I should hereafter, with a much greater expense of feeling, and to a greater disadvantage, have to renew the contest. I therefore took the child into another room, and desired her to say “Thank you,” which she did immediately. I supposed from this that the conquest was complete; but to my surprise, on returning to the dining-room, she had lost the power of uttering this short sentence. I had again to retire with her, and administer a slight correction for the disobedience; and again, when alone with me, she repeated the difficult words; but being a second time placed at the table, the task became insuperable, and she said, “I tan't say so." Her relatives too, whose feeling overcame, on this occasion, their good sense, joined in thinking the child could not repeat the words; and some of them united their tears with the child's in urging me to proceed no further. The duty now became difficult. The yearnings of my own heart, the entreaties of those around me, and the sobs of the sweet child, were all on one side; and only a sense of duty on the other. I stifled, however, my feelings, and again retired. I had no doubt of the ability of the child to pronounce the words, because she had done so every time of my withdrawing with her, and I was determined to go through with my task. After four or five attempts, I at length succeeded, and with a throbbing heart and flowing tears, the little creature sobbed out, “ Tank ---you.” Everything now was properly settled. The victory was on the side of the parent, who knew how to make a suitable use of it, instead of the daughter,
who would have abused it; the tears were soon dried up; our friends were satisfied that all was right, and the dear child never made another attempt with papa for the mastery. I dwell on this little incident with some minuteness, because it was pregnant with important results. It was a contest with governing principles ; it decided at once that the will of the child must submit to that of the parent, and that it is vain to expect happiness in the way of resistance to proper authority. It is true the child did not reason in this way; but she well understood the practical lesson ; and she never after brought her will to the hazard of a contest with that of her papa. Parents little think to what extent they multiply difficulties in the way of educating their children, when they yield to the first attempts to gain the ascendency. Under the notion that a more favourable opportunity may occur of bringing the affair to an issue, they give way for the present, but in so doing, they have tenfold augmented their labour, for the business can never afterwards be settled at a single contest. The child will long retain the recollection that he has at least once obtained victory, and may do it again, if he only persevere; and thus, in a much longer time, and at a far greater expense of feeling on both sides, that is at length effected (if indeed it ever be effected, for the parent who has been weak' enough to yield in the feebler contest is not very likely to become more successful when the stronger commences) which might have been achieved without any very great difficulty at the first. Locke relates a case, somewhat resembling that which I have just stated. He says that a lady of his acquaintance whipped her little daughter eight times successively before she could overcome her stubbornness and obtain her compliance in a very easy and indifferent matter; and he adds, “if she had left off sooner, and stopped at the seventh whipping, she had spoiled her child for ever; and by her unprevailing blows only confirmed her refractoriness, very hardly afterwards to be cured."
Every opportunity had been taken to instil the principles of Christian piety into her infant mind; and the first appearance of what was wrong was carefully watched and corrected. A constant vigilance was exercised over indications of character : serious things, at suitable times, were affectionately urged; truth was most inviolably attended to; and parental authority, though exercised with as light a hand as was practicable, was uniformly maintained. These means of forming the infant character of our beloved daughter were, at times, watered with our tears, and constantly seconded by our earnest prayers for a divine blessing. And I wish here to record my firm persuasion, founded not only on the connection between cause and effect, and the declarations contained in the Scriptures, but on a considerable experience in educating youth, and a long attention to what is passing in the religious world, that the future life and character of most persons
may be traced to the manner of their being brought up. I say most persons, for I am aware that this rule, like all others, admits of exceptions; but I have scarcely ever had an intimate acquaintance with the interior of a family, without being able, pretty correctly, to divine in what manner the young inmates of it would turn out. The temper and conduct of parents; their exercise or neglect of an affectionate, but steady authority,—an authority which was never for a moment allowed to be slighted or disputed : their vigilant observance or disregard of symptoms of character, as they gradually showed themselves; the assiduous attention of mothers to all the little cares and wants of their infants; or their surrendering them chiefly to the superintendence of others; their solemn, but affectionate instructions, accompanied at times with tears; or their slight inculcation of moral duties, and apparent indifference to the manner in which they are received ;-these, and similar things, will give an indelible stamp of character, and lay the foundation of future happiness or misery. No ground pays better for cultivation than that of the infant mind, both as it respects the quality and quantity of fruit; and it as seldom occurs in the moral as in the natural world, that the reasonable expectations of a harvest are disappointed, where proper means had been employed to secure it. In a few cases it has happened that the soil has been duly prepared, the best seed has been sown, and the weeds have been carefully cleared away; and yet the labour of the husbandman has been frustrated: the refreshing rains did not fall, or the invigorating rays of the sun were not shed, or a mildew, or blight, withered the fruit; but this is the exception, not the customary order of things : the covenant still holds good, that “there shall be summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, while the earth remaineth.” No man, however, expects to reap the fruits of the earth who has neglected the proper seed-time; much less does he hope to “gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles.” Yet such absurd expectations are not unfrequently formed in the neglect of all moral culture. The ground lies fallow, the most pernicious seeds are under its surface, the seed-time is utterly disregarded; or if a handful of corn be now and then scattered, no prayers bring down the dews of heaven to moisten, nor the beams of the Sun of Righteousness to quicken, the little and defective seed that is sown; the weeds are suffered to luxuriate and choke the early blade ; and yet-bitter disappointment is felt that no crop grows, and no harvest is reaped! I have often thought that, if the same good sense were shown in the cultivation of the infart mind as the husbandman discovers in the management of his farm, it would be as rare an event to see a total failure in the former as in the latter. God“ honours those who honour Him ;" --and every where it will be seen, that “the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”