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HE LEFT NOT HIMSELF WITHOUT WITNESS, IN THAT HE DID GOOD, AND GAVE US RAIN FROM HEAVEN, AND FRUITFUL SEASONS, FILLING OUR HEARTS WITH
FOOD AND GLADNESS."-Acts xiv. 17.
HYMN TO THE SEASONS,
When summer's balmy showers refresh the mower's toil;
When winter binds in frosty chains the fallow and the flood, In God the earth rejoiceth still, and owns its Maker good. The birds that wake the morning, and those that love the shade ; The winds that sweep the mountain, or lull the drowsy glade ; The sun that from his amber bower rejoiceth in his way ; The moon, and stars,—their Maker's name in silent pomp display. Shall man, the lord of nature, expectant of the sky, Shall man, alone unthankful, his little praise deny ? No; let the year forsake his course, the nations cease to be, Thee, Master, must we always love, and, Saviour, honour Thee. The flowers of spring may wither, the hope of summer fade, The autumn droop in winter, the birds forsake the shade, The wind be lulled, the sun and moon forget their old decree, But we in nature's latest hour, O Lord, will cling to Thee.
THE MORAL TRAINING OF CHILDREN.
HE moral discipline of infancy and early childhood
is a subject of incalculable moment, because amiable dispositions are capable of being cultivated, and those that are evil of being restrained, even in the cradle. From the first hour of con
sciousness the infant is, not only a moral being, but subject to the moral laws; and it is a primary duty of those who are responsible for its education to inculcate and enforce obedience to these laws. The inspired volume assures us that if
train up a child in the way it should go, when it is old it will not depart from it.” This is truly a work attended with many difficulties, but the results are not doubtful. pensities and passions of young children are of great activity; and as neither the counteracting sentiments, nor the intellectual powers, by which they may be controlled in after-life are at this time equally developed, it is the more incumbent on those who govern them to regulate from infancy, on sound principles, the dispositions they display.
“Though clasped and cradled in his nurse's arms,
To frown and roar, and shake his feeble form."
these passions, so prone “ to frown and roar," should look well after the government of their own minds. If in pursuing their undertaking they yield to the impulse of irritated feelings or of inordinate natural affection, their measures will be ill adapted to the great ends desired, and little likely to attain them. An irritable parent or nurse is unfit for the care of a fretful child, indeed, of any child, and those who are given to excessive indulgence are equally unfit for the office.
“Whoever educates his children well,” says Xenophon, "gives them much, even though he should leave them little and if this is true of mere literary acquirements, how emphatically is it so of that higher kind of education which teaches the science of selfgovernment, the renunciation of vainglory, the forgetfulness of self, a strict regard to the interest and happiness of others, unswerving integrity, and filial obedience! The highest end of learning is to repair the moral ruin we bring with us into the world, by regaining the right knowledge of God and ourselves, and from “that knowledge to love Him, to imitate Him, and be like Him, as we may the nearest, by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith, makes up
the HIGHEST PERFECTION.”* Therefore, a loftier ambition should inspire parents and teachers than that of preparing children to excel in knowledge and make their way successfully in the world. These hopes and distinctions should be held secondary. The dignity of your office is great, and to foster tenderness of conscience, to rivet sound principles, to warn them against the world's crooked ways, to inculcate lessons of self-denial, self-renunciation, humility, and strict integrity, and to place before them the bright example of these virtues, is equally your duty, interest, and happiness. "A handful of good life is better than a bushel of learning.”
The five primary lessons are those of obedience, truth, kindness, self-forgetfulness, and simplicity.
The first lesson is that of obedience, and it is the truest wisdom and kindness to teach and require this from the earliest dawn of reason. Establish your will early as the law, by gentleness and firmness. You can do it far better at the beginning, when the mind is in its waxen state, than later; and never forget that parental authority is eminently needful to repress evil and to preserve order and happiness.
The little stranger should not be allowed to remain for any time doubtful who is to be its guide, otherwise great conflicts of feeling will be shown as long as this doubt continues. Habitual, prompt, and absolute obedience ought to be insisted on, as an indispensable law; and authority maintained, as a necessary and habitual rule, in so uniform a manner that the child should scarcely even think of resistance. Beware of allowing any such rebellion against your
* Milton on Education.
authority to exist as will reduce you to the condition of one who makes a succession of violent efforts, each of which is of the nature of a trial of strength and of rights with the child. And let acts of authority, and of correction when necessary, be done without bustle, in a calm, decisive manner.
Truth is a cardinal virtue,—the most beautiful of all things, and to give the little learners all the aid in it they need, and all in your power to impart, will be found no easy task. Since sober and enlightened heathens could say,—"I love Plato, I love Socrates; but I have a greater love for truth,” how much more weighty obligations rest upon Christians to maintain truth at all times, let the consequences be what they may. Therefore impress upon your children, by reiterated instruction, that they should love truth more than they love health, pleasure, freedom, or friends. “Dear mamma," said a promising little girl, “I have broken your china goblet.” “Well, you are a naughty, careless, troublesome little thing, always in mischief; go upstairs till I send for you." This was a mother's answer to a tearful little culprit, who, tempted to tell a falsehood to screen the fault, had struggled with and conquered the temptation. With a disappointed, disheartened look, the child obeyed; and at that moment was crushed in her little heart the sweet flower of truth, perhaps in after-years never to be revived in life! Oh, what were a thousand goblets in comparison !
No error is greater than to terrify youthful delinquents. If you punish them without the clearest and most sufficient reasons ; if you are severe for little faults, and especially for accidents; if you even puzzle them with the meaning of words, by rapidly addressing questions to them,
you will set fear in array against truth in the breast of the child. Whenever they discern the appearance of excessive and unfounded anger, their reliance on our justice and kindness forsakes them, and self-preservation coming into action, overthrows their infirm integrity. They in consequence prevaricate, or conceal, or lie. Not only encourage them to speak to you freely of their faults, but explain to them that they are erring and sinful beings, and that your corrections are intended to make them better, acceptable to God, happier and more useful when they grow up, and happy in the life to come. Let them see that you feel you would be wanting in your duty if you failed to enforce the discipline necessary to reformation. Such explanations, given in the tender tones of a mother, early make sensible impression on the mind, and assist the young to preserve the beauty of truth inviolate under their faults. They are then not afraid to acknowledge them. “My goodness grows weak,” said a boy of five years old, running into his mother's arms, and crying; "help me to be good.” Here was an instance of love and confidence in a young child, which proved it was well trained, and which carried a rich reward to the heart of the parent.
Do not suppose there is no harm in uttering an untruth in order to make peace at the moment, to quiet the child. It is doing evil that good may come, and then good never does come, but evil comes. Always look beyond the present moment, and beware of getting rid of a present inconvenience by any means which may incur future evil; for this will always follow when the means used are wrong. You often hear servants and others say to an unruly child, Hush! here comes mamma," when mamma is so far out of the way
that she cannot come. Or they endeavour to coax the child with, “ Come; be a good child; and I'll give you something so pretty to-morrow." Here is a double error;
for first, promises so thoughtlessly made are seldom performed, and if this practice is indulged in, the child, discovering the falseness, loses its confidence and respect; to be false ourselves to children, or even in their presence, is the way to make them false. And, secondly, no child should be taught to be good for what it can get. We ought not to promise to give when children become good, but their naughtiness should be the reason for not giving.
We may trace a great part of the misery that is in the world to the indulgence of the selfish feelings, and therefore it is a grand object of moral training to combat and conquer them. Whenever gluttony, cruelty, cowardice, pride, insolence, vanity, or any other mode of selfishness shows itself, one and all must be repressed with watchful solicitude, and the most skilful treatment. Great firmness, united with evident displeasure, and yet a kindly feeling, will often succeed. You must reason with the delinquents, show them the meanness, baseness, and sin of their conduct, at the same time pitying their weakness, and exhorting them to a nobler course. Sometimes repression will at first fail to be accomplished, unless by severities; but the enlightened parent or teacher will, at the earliest opening, drop the coercive system, will cease to attempt to govern by harsh and absolute authority, and appeal powerfully to the higher faculties of conscience and benevolence, and to the powers of reflection. This done with kindness, that is, with a marked manifestation of benevolence on the part of the instructor, will operate with immense power, the extent of which is little known. In the exercise of the superior faculties the inferior are indirectly acquiring a habit of restraint and regulation. Frequently read, or impressively relate to them the deeds of exalted characters. I do not mean those of men who have lifted themselves up to reputation by the sword, in butchering their species, or by fine speeches in parliament, or great literary ability; but of those celebrated for acts of unquestionable disinterestedness and godlike generosity,--of those who have performed noble acts of justice or benevolence in spite of the most powerful temptations to the contrary, of those who have suffered torture and death for virtue's sake, and endured all willingly. Reflection on such noble deeds possesses considerable influence over youth in training them