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is sensual, bread will still remain the staff of life. So there are some primitive truths and subjects, which, whatever novelties and curiosities may be introduced for the gratification of religious taste, must still be repeated, as essential to the formation of religious character.
The author has not selected the sermonic form of discussion, because some of his subjects did not admit of it: and also because sermons are perhaps the least inviting species of reading to young people. Letters would not have been liable to these objections; but upon the whole, he preferred the form of chapters, in which the style of direct address is preserved. The advantage of this style is obvious; it not only keeps up the reader's interest, but as every parent who presents these volumes to his children adopts the advice as his own, such young persons,by an easy effort of the imagination, lose sight of the Author, and read the language of their own father. If any thing is necessary to secure this effect, beyond the simple act of presenting the book, it might be immediately obtained by an inscription to the child, written by the parent's own hand upon the fly-leaf.
The Author scarcely need say that his work is not intended for young people below the age of fourteen. In the composition of the book, a seeming tautology sometimes occurs: what is just touched upon in one place, is more expanded in others : and some subjects are intentionally repeated. To give additional interest to the volumes, numerous extracts, and some anecdotes are introduced, which tend to relieve the dulness of didactic composition, and prevent the tedium of unvarying monotony.
In the references which the author has given
to books, both in the chapter on that subject, and in marginal notes, he does not wish to be considered as laying down, much less as limiting for young people, a course of reading; but as simply directing them to some works, which among others, ought by no means to be neglected.
Once more let it be stated, and stated with all possible emphasis, that the chief design of this work, is to form the religious character of its readers, and to implant those virtues, which shall live, and flourish, and dignify, and delight, infinite ages after every object that is dear to avarice or pride, to learning or science, to taste or ambition, shall have perished in the conflagration of the universe.
MY DEAR FRIENDS,
It is a situation of tremendous responsibility to be a parent : -for the manner in which you discharge the duties of this relation, you must give account in that awful day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be judged by Jesus Christ. With every babe that God intrusts to your care, he in effect sends the solemn injunction, “ Take this child, and bring it up for me;" and at the final audit, will inquire, in what manner you have obeyed the command. It will not then be sufficient to plead the strength of your affection, nor the ceaseless efforts to which it gave rise ; for if these efforts were not directed to a right end, if all your solicitude was lavished
inferior objects, you will receive the rebuke of him that sitteth upon
the throne. It is of infinite importance that you should contemplate your children in their proper point of view. They are animal beings, and there
fore it is highly proper that you should use eves ry effort to provide them with suitable food, clothing, habitations, and every thing else that can conduce to the comfort of their present existence. They are social beings, and therefore it is important that you should qualify them to enjoy the comforts, and discharge the duties of social life. They are rational beings, and therefore it is your duty to furnish them with every possible advantage for the culture of their minds. But if you look no farther than this, you leave out of sight the grandest and most interesting lights in which they can be seen, and will of course neglect the most important of your duties towards them; for they are immortal beings; the stamp of eternity is upon
them : everlasting ages are before them. They are like all the rest of the human race, depraved, guilty, and condemned creatures, and consequently in danger of eternal misery. Yet are they, through the mercy of God, and the mediation of Christ, creatures capable of attaining to glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life. Looking upon them in this light, and this is the light in which you profess to contemplate them, say, what should be your chief anxiety concerning them, and what your conduct towards them.
Recognising in your children, beings placed in this world in a state of probation, and hastening to eternal happiness or torment,
will contented to seek for them any thing short of eternal salvation ? Even a deist, who has any belief of a future state of reward and punishment, cannot act consistently, unless he is supremely desirous of the everlasting welfare of his children. None but an avowed atheist can,
with the least propriety, fix his aim lower for his children, than the possession of a happy immortality. But in the case of a Christian parent, it is in the highest degree inconsistent, absurd, cruel, and wicked, ever to lose sight of this even for an instant, in the arrangements which he makes for his family, or the manner of conducting himself towards them. Do you really believe in the ruin of the human race by sin, and their recovery by Christ; in the existence of such states as heaven and hell; in the necessity of a life of faith and holiness, in order to escape the one and secure the other ? then act up to these solemn convictions, not only in reference to your own salvation, but to the salvation of your children. Let a supreme desire for their immortal interests be at the bottom of all your conduct, and be interwoven in all your parental habits. Let them have, in the fullest sense of the term, a Christian education. Act towards them, and for them, so that you
shall be able to say to them, however they may turn out, “ I take you to record that I am clear from your
blood.” But my principal object in this address is, to point out what appear to me to be the most prevailing obstacles to success, in the religious education of children.
That in many cases the means employed by christian parents for their children's spiritual welfare are unsuccessful, is a melancholy fact, established by abundant, and, I fear, accumulating evidence. I am not now speaking of those families—and are there indeed such?
where scarcely a semblance of domestic piety or instruction is to be found, where no family altar is