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Oh! think that they both may be fixed or forfeited for ever according to the use you are now making of that power which God has delegated to you, and of which he will demand a strict account. By his blessing on your pious labours may both sons and daughters hereafter “ arise and call you blessed;” and in the great day of general account, may every Christian mother be enabled, through Divine grace, to say, with humble confidence, to her Maker and Redeemer, “ Behold the children whom thou hast given me !”
Christianity, driven out from the rest of the world, has still, blessed be God, a “strong hold” in this country; and though it be the special duty of the appointed “ watchman, now that he seeth the sword come upon the land, to blow the trumpet and warn the people, which if he neglect to do, their blood shall be required of the watchman's hand * ;” yet, in this sacred garrison, impregnable but by neglect, you, too, have an awful post, - that of arming the minds of the rising race with the “shield of faith, whereby they shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked;” — “ that of girding them with that sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.” Let that very period which is desecrated in a neighbouring country, by a formal renunciation of religion, be solemnly marked by you to purposes diametrically opposite; let that dishonoured era, in which they avowed their resolution to exclude Christianity from the national education, be the precise moment seized upon by
* Ezekiel, xxxiii. 6.
you for its more sedulous inculcation; and while their children are systematically trained to “ live without God in the world,” let YOURS, with a more decided emphasis, be consecrated to promote his glory in it.
If you neglect this your bounden duty, you will have effectually contributed to expel Christianity from Britain, her last citadel; and remember, that the dignity of the work to which you are called is no less than that of " preserving the ark of the Lord.”
It is far from being the object of this slight work to offer a regular plan of female education, - a task which has been often more properly assumed by far abler writers; but it is intended rather to suggest a few remarks on the reigning mode, which, though it has had many panegyrists, appears to be defective, not only in certain particulars, but as a general system. There are, indeed, numberless honourable exceptions to an observation which will be thought severe; yet the author would ask, whether it be not the natural tendency of the prevailing and popular mode to excite and promote those very evils which it ought to be the main end and object of Christian instruction to remove? whether the reigning system does not tend to weaken the principles it ought to strengthen, and to dissolve the heart it should fortify ? whether, instead of directing the grand and important engine of education to attack and destroy vanity, selfishness, and inconsideration, that triple alliance in strict and constant league against female virtue, the combined powers of instruction are not sedulously confederated in confirming their strength, and establishing their empire ?
If indeed the material substance; if the body and limbs, with the organs and senses, be really the more valuable objects of attention, then there is little room for animadversion and improvement; but if the immaterial and immortal mind; if the heart, 6 out of which are the issues of life," be the main concern; if the great business of education be to implant right ideas, to communicate useful knowledge, to form a correct taste and a sound judgment, to resist evil propensities, and, above all, to seize the favourable season for infusing principles and confirming habits; if education be a school to fit us for life, and life be a school to fit us for eternity ; if such, I repeat it, be the chief work and grand ends of education, it may then be worth enquiring how far these ends are likely to be effected by the prevailing system?
Is it not a fundamental error in Christians to consider children as innocent beings, whose little weaknesses may, perhaps, want some correction, rather than as beings who bring into the world a corrupt nature and evil dispositions, which it should be the great end of education to rectify ? This appears to be such a foundation-truth, that if I were asked what quality is most important in an instructor of youth, I should not hesitate to reply, Such a strong impression of the corruption of our nature as should insure a disposition to counteract it ; together with such a deep view and thorough knowledge of the human heart as should
be necessary for developing and controlling its most secret and complicated workings. And let us remember, that to know the world, as it is called, that is, to know its local manners, its temporary usages, and evanescent fashions, is not to know human nature ; and that where this prime knowledge is wanting, those natural evils, which ought to be counteracted, will be inevitably fostered.
Vanity, for instance, is reckoned among the light and venial errors of youth; nay, so far from being treated as a dangerous enemy, it is often called in as an auxiliary. At worst, it is considered as a harmless weakness, which subtracts little from the value of a character; as a natural effervescence, which will subside of itself, when the first ferment of the youthful passions shall have done working. But those persons know little of the conformation of the human and especially of the female heart, who fancy that vanity is ever exhausted, by the mere operation of time and events. Let those who maintain this opinion look into our places of public resort, and there behold if the ghost of departed beauty is not, to its last flitting, fond of haunting the scenes of its past pleasures. The soul, unwilling (if I may borrow an allusion from the Platonic mythology) to quit the spot in which the body enjoyed its former delights, still continues to hover about the same place, though the same pleasures are no longer to be found there. Disappointments, indeed, may divert vanity into a new direction; prudence may prevent it from breaking out into excesses,