Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

from Rome an epithet which suited the genius of her religion, as much as it militates against that of ours ? The panegyrist of the battle of Marathon, of Platea, or of Zama, might with propriety speak of a “proud day,” or a “proud event,” or a “proud success." But surely the Christian encomiasts of the battle of the Nile might, from their abundance, select an epithet better appropriated to such a victory; - a victory which, by preserving Europe, has, perhaps, preserved that religion which sets its foot on the very neck of pride, and in which the conqueror himself, even in the first ardours of triumph, forgot not to ascribe the victory to AlMIGHTY GOD.* Let us leave to the

enemy

both the term and the thing; arrogant words being the only weapons in which we must ever .vail to their decided superiority. As we must despair of the victory, let us disdain the contest.

Above all things, then, you should beware that your pupils do not take up with a vague, general, and undefined religion; but look to it that their Christianity be really the religion of Christ. Instead of slurring over the doctrines of the Cross, as disreputable appendages to our profession, which are to be disguised or got over as well as we can, but which are never to be dwelt upon, take care to make these your grand fundamental articles. Do not dilute or explain away these doctrines, and by some elegant periphrasis hint at a Saviour, instead of making him the foundation-stone of your system. Do not convey primary, and plain, and awful, and indispensable truths elliptically, - I mean as something that is to be understood without being expressed; nor study fashionable circumlocutions to avoid names and things on which our salvation hangs, in order to prevent your discourse from being offensive. Persons who are thus instructed in religion, with more good-breeding than seriousness and simplicity, imbibe a distaste for plain scriptural language ; and the Scriptures themselves are so little in use with a certain fashionable class of readers, that when the doctrines and language of the Bible occasionally occur in other authors, or in conversation, they present a sort of novelty and peculiarity which offend; and such readers as disuse the Bible are apt, from a supposed delicacy of taste, to call that precise and puritanical, which is, in fact, sound and scriptural. Nay, it has several times happened to the author to hear persons of sense and learning ridicule insulated sentiments and expressions that have fallen in their way, which they would have treated with decent respect had they known them to be, as they really were, texts of Scripture. This observation is hazarded with a view to enforce the importance of early communicating religious knowledge, and of infusing an early taste for the venerable phraseology of Scripture.

* Lord Nelson.

The persons in question, thus possessing a kind of pagan Christianity, are apt to acquire a sort of pagan expression also, which just enables them to speak with complacency of the “Deity,” of a “ First Cause," and of “ conscience.” Nay, some may

even go so far as to talk of “ the Founder of our religion," of the “ Author of Christianity,” in the same general terms as they would talk of the prophet of Arabia, or the lawgiver of China, of Athens, or of the Jews. But their refined ears revolt not a little at the unadorned name of Christ; and especially the naked and unqualified term of our Saviour, or Redeemer, carries with it a queerish, inelegant, not to say a suspicious, sound. They will express a serious disapprobation of what is wrong under the moral term of vice, or the forensic term of crime ; but they are apt to think that the Scripture term of sin has something fanatical in it; and, while they discover a great respect for morality, they do not much relish holiness, which is, indeed, the specific and only morality of a Christian. They will speak readily of a man’s reforming, or leaving off a vicious habit, or growing more correct in some individual practice; but the idea conveyed under any of the Scripture phrases signifying a total change of heart, they would stigmatise as the very shibboleth of a sect, though it is the language of a Liturgy they affect to admire, and of a Gospel which they profess to receive.

204

CHAP. XIII.

HINTS SUGGESTED FOR FURNISHING YOUNG PERSONS

WITH A SCHEME OF PRAYER.

THOSE who are aware of the inestimable value of prayer themselves, will naturally be anxious, not only that this duty should be earnestly inculcated on their children, but that they should be taught it in the best manner; and such parents need little persuasion or counsel on the subject. Yet children of decent and orderly (I will not say of strictly religious) families are often so superficially instructed in this important business, that when they are asked what prayers they use, it is not unusual for them to answer, “ The Lord's Prayer and the Creed.And even some who are better taught are not always made to understand with sufficient clearness the specific distinction between the two: that the one is the confession of their faith, and the other the model for their supplications. By this confused and indistinct beginning they set out with a perplexity in their ideas, which is not always completely disentangled in more advanced life.

An intelligent mother will seize the first occasion which the child's opening understanding shall allow, for making a little course of lectures on the Lord's Prayer, taking every division or short sentence separately; for each furnishes valuable ma

terials for a distinct lecture. The child should be led gradually through every part of this divine composition : she should be taught to break it into all the regular divisions into which, indeed, it so naturally resolves itself. She should be made to comprehend, one by one, each of its short but weighty sentences; to amplify and spread them out for the purpose of better understanding them, not in their most extensive and critical sense, but in their most simple and obvious meaning. For in these condensed and substantial expressions every word is an ingot, and will bear beating out; so that the teacher's difficulty will not so much be what she shall say as what she shall suppress, so abundant is the expository matter which this succinct pattern suggests.

When the child has a pretty good conception of the meaning of each division, she should then be made to observe the connection, relation, and dependence of the several parts of this prayer one upon another; for there is great method and connection in it. We pray that the “ kingdom of God may come,” as the best means to “ hallow his name ;” and that by us, the obedient subjects of his kingdom, “his will may be done.” A judicious interpreter will observe how logically and consequently one clause grows out of another, though she will use neither the word logical nor consequence; for all explanations should be made in the most plain and familiar terms, it being words, and not things, which commonly perplex children, if, as it sometimes happens, the teacher,

« AnteriorContinuar »