Imatges de pàgina
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these purposes, it is proper and necessary that parents should have authority to direct their actions. Parents, therefore, are bound, by duty and by right, to govern their children; but the exercise of this right is to be regulated by affection. Parents have implanted in them a tender love for their offspring, which induces them to exereise authority over them with kindness.

3. It is proper that parents should be intrusted with the instruction of children, because children have every thing to learn, and parents are older, and have gained a knowledge of what their children want to know. Parents have learned what is right, and what is wrong; what is duty, and what is ein; what is useful, and what is hurtful, to children and to men. And as children pass the first years of their life with their parents, they may be continually learning from their parents what is necessary or useful in the concerns of life.

4. It is not only proper that children should obey their parents, but their obedience should be prompt and cheerful. A alow, reluctant obedienee, and that which is accompanied with murmurings, is not acceptable to parents, nor to God. A sense of duty should make a child free and ready to comply with a parent's command; and this will always be the case where the the child entertains a due respeet for his parents. Love and respect render obedience easy and éheerful, and a willing obedience increases the confidence of parents in their children, and strengthens their attachment to them. But a cold and unwil. ling obedience, with a murmuring disposition, alienates affection, and inclines the parent to rigor and severity in the exer. cise of his authority.

5. Hence it is a primary duty of children, and as much their interest as it is their duty, to" Honor their father and their mother." This honor not only forbids the child to disobey his parents, but it forbids all rudeness and ill-manners towards ihem. Children should manifest their respect for their parents in all their actions. They should be modest and respectful in their company, never interrupting them in conversation, nor boldly contradieting them: theyshould address them as superiors, and yield to their opinions and admonitions. This subordination of children to their parents, is the foundation of peace in families; contributes to foster those kindly dispositions, both in parents and children, which are the sources of domestic happiness, and which extend their influence to all social relations in subsequent periods of life.

6. Among the first and most important truths which you are to learn, are those which relate to God and religion. As soon as your minds become capable of reasoning, or excited by curiosity to know the causes of things, you will naturally inquire who made the world, who made you, and why were you made. You

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will understand, by a moment's thought, that the things around you cannot have made themselves. You will be convinced that a stone, or a mass of earth, cannot have made itself, as it has no power in itself to act or move: it must then have had a creator, some being that had power to act or move, and to bring the stone into existence.

7. You observe that plants and trees grow, but they do not grow in winter, when it is cold: some degree of heat is ne. cessary to their growth. You conclude, then, that wood, and vegetable matter, in itself, has not the power of growth or in

You see various animals, as dogs, and horses, but you know that they did not create themselves ; the first animal of every kind must then have had a creator, distinct from the ani. mal himself. You see houses, and barns, and ships, but you know that they did not make themselves; you know they are made by men. You know, also, that you did not create yourselves; you began to exist at a time which you cannot remember, and in a manner of which you have no knowledge.

8. From such familiar observations and reflections, children may be convinced, with absolute certainty, that there must be a being who has been the creator of all the things which they

Now when you think that of all the substances about you, not one can have been its own creator; and when you see the vast multitude of things, their variety, their size, their curious forms and structures, you will at once conclude that the Being who could make such things must possess immense power, altogether superior to the power of any being that you see on the earth. You will then be led to inquire, Who is this Being, and where is he?

9. Here, not only children, but the wisest philosophers, are brought to a stand. We are compelled to believe that there is a Being of vast and unlimited power, who has created whatever we see ; but who he is, or where he is, we cannot know by our own observation or reason. As we cannot see this Being, we cannot, by the help of reason, know any thing of his manner of existence, or of his power, except what we learn from his works, or from revelation. If we had been left to gather all our knowledge of the Creator from his works, our knowledge of him must have been very imperfect. But the Creator has not left mankind in ignorance on this subject. He has graciously revealed his character to man; and his revelations are recorded in a book, which, by way of eminence, is called the bible,

10. From the bible we learn that God is a Spirit ; hence we cannot see him. Spirit is not visible to human eyes. Yet we need not wonder that a substance which is invisible should possess amazing power. We cannot see the air or wind; yet we

know by observation, that this fine, subtil fluid, is a substance which supports our life, and when in rapid motion, it has immense force. We conclude, then, that a Being, consisting of pure spirit, may possess all the power necessary to the formation of the sun, moon, and stars, and every thing that we can see or feel. This great Being, in our language, is called God. He is a Spirit that extends through the universe.

11. The scriptures inform us that God is not only all-powerful, but all-wise: and his wisdom is displayed in the admirable structure of whatever he has made; in the adaptation of every thing to its proper uses; in the exact order and beautiful arrangement and harmony of all parts of creation.

The scriptures inform us, also, that God is a benevolent being. “God is love,” and we have abundant evidence of this truth in the works of creation. God has not only made men and animals to inhabit the earth, but he has furnished the earth with every thing that is necessary for their support, and wel. fare. The earth is stocked with plants, which are food for ani. mals of various kinds, as well as for man; and plants and animals furnish man with food and clothing, and shelter from the inclemency of the weather. The sea, and rivers, and lakes, are also stocked with animals, that supply, food and other conveniences for man. The earth contains inexhaustible stores for supplying the wants and desires of living creatures.

12. We learn also from the bible, that God is a holy being :: that is, he is perfectly free from any sinful attributes or disposi. tions. If God was a wicked or malevolent being, he would have contrived and formed every thing on earth to make his creatures miserable. Instead of this, we know from observation as well as experience, that he has made every thing for their comfort and happiness. Having learned from the scriptures, and from the works of creation, the character of God, and that he is your creator; the next inquiry is, in what relation do you stand to your Maker, and what is his will respecting your con. duct ?

13. The first and most important point to be decided in your minds, is, that God is your supreme or sovereign ruler. On this point, there can be no room for doubt; for nothing can be more evident than that the being who creates another, has a perfect, indisputable right to govern him. God has then a complete right to direct all the actions of the beings he has made. To the lower animals God has given certain propensities, called instincts, which lead them to the means of their own subsistence and safety.

14. Man is a being of a higher order : he is furnished with understanding, or intellect, and with powers of reason, by which he is able to understand what God requires of him, and to

judge of what is right and wrong. These faculties are the attributes of the soul, or spiritual part of man, which constitutes him a moral being, and exalts him to a rank in creation, much superior to that of any other crcature on earth.

15. Being satisfied that God is your creator and rightful governor, the next inquiry is, what is his will concerning you? for what purpose did he make you and endow you with reason? A wise being woul not have made you without a wise purpose. It is very certain, then, that God requires you to perform some duties, and fill some useful station among other beings.

16. The next inquiry then, is, what you are to do, and what you are to forbear, in order to act the part which your Maker has assigned to you in the world. This you cannot know with certainy, without the help of revelation. But here you are not left without the means of knowledge; for God has revealed his will, and has given commands for the regulation of your conduct.

17. The Bible contains the commands of God; that book is full of rules to direct your conduct on earth; and from that book you may obtain all you want to know, respecting your relation to God, and to your fellow-men, and respecting the duties which these relations require you to perform. Your duties are comprised in two classes; one, including such as are to be performed directly to God himself; the other, those which are to be performed directly to your fellow-men.

18. The first and great command is, to love the Lord your God with all the heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. This supreme love to God is the first, the great, the indispensable duty of every rational being. Without this, no person can yield acceptable obedience to his Maker. The reasonableness of this command is obvious. God is a being of perfect excellence, and the only being of which we have any knowledge, who possesses this character. Goodness or holiness is the only source of real happiness; it is therefore necessary to be holy, in order to be happy. As the character of God is the only perfect model of holiness, it follows, that all God's creatures who are intended to be happy, must have the like character. But men will not aim to possess the character of holiness, unless they love it as the chief good. Hence the necessity of loving God with su

preme affection.

19. Sin is the source of all evil. If sin was admitted into heaven, it would disturb the happiness of the celestial abode. Hence God has determined that no sinner shall be admitted into heaven. Before men can be received there, they must be purified from sin and sinful propensities. As this world is a state in which men are prepared for heaven, if prepared at all, it is indispensable, that while they are in this world, they must be purified in heart, their evil affections must be subdued, and their prevailing dispositions must be holy. Thus when they are sanctified, and supreme love to God rules in their heart, they become qualified for the enjoyment of bliss, with God and other holy beings.

20. It is true that, in this world, men do not become perfectly holy; but God has provided a Redeemer, whose example on earth was a perfect model of holy obedience to God's law, which example men are to imitate as far as they are able; and God accepts the penitent sinner's cordial faith in Christ, accompanied with sincere repentance and humble submission, and obedience to his commands, in the place of perfect holiness of character.

21. The duties which you owe directly to God, are entire, unwavering faith in his promises, reverence of his character, and frequent prayer and worship. Unbelief is a great sin, and so is profaneness, irreverence, contempt of his character and laws, neglect of prayer and of worship, public and private. All worship of images and saints, is an abomination to God; it is idolatry, which is strictly forbidden in the Bible; and all undue attachment to the pleasures, amusements and honors of the world, is a species of idolatry.

22. The second class of duties comprehends all such as you are bound to perform to your fellow-men. These duties are very numerous, and require to be studied with care. neral law on this subject is prescribed by Christ in these words, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." You are bound to do that to others, which you desire them to do to you. This law includes all the duties of respect to superiors, and of justice and kindness to all men.

23. It has already been stated to you, that you are to obey your parents; and although obedience to other superiors may not always be required of you, yet you are bound to yield them due honor and respect in all the concerns of life. Nothing can be more improper than a neglect or violation of this respect. It is a beautiful anecdote recorded of the Spartan youth, that in a public meeting, young persons rose from their seats when a venerable old man entered the assembly. It makes no difference whether the aged man is an acquaintance or a stranger; whoever he may be, always give him the precedence. In public places, and at public tables, it is extremne rudeness and ill-man. ners, for the young to thrust themselves into the higliest and best seats.

24. The law of kindness extends also to the treatment of equals. Civility requires, that to them all persons should give a preference; and if they do not accept it, the offer always manifests good-breeding, and wins affection. Never claim too

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