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one thing needful, and as the atoning substitute for the want of all other things: profit held up as the reward of virtue, and wordly estimation as the just and highest prize of laudable ambition ; and after the very spirit of the world has been thus habitually infused into them all the week, one cannot expect much effect from their being coldly and customarily told now and then on Sundays, that they must not “ love the world, nor the things of the world.” To tell them once in seven days that it is a sin to gratify an appetite which you have been whetting and stimulating the preceding six, is to require from them a power of self-control, which our knowledge of the impetuosity of the passions, especially in early age, should have taught us is impossible.
This is not the place to animadvert on the usual misapplication of the phrase, “knowing the world;" which term is commonly applied, in the way of panegyric, to keen, designing, selfish, ambitious men, who study mankind in order to turn them to their own account. But in the true sense of the expression, the sense which Christian parents would wish to impress on their children, to know the world is to know its emptiness, its vanity, its futility, and its wickedness. To know it is to despise it, to be on our guard against it; to labour to live above it; and in this view an obscure Christian in a village may be said to know the world better than a hoary courtier or wily politician. For how can they be said to know it, who go on to love it, to value it, to be led captive
by its allurements, to give their soul in exchange for its lying promises ?
But while so false an estimate is often made in fashionable society of the real value of things; that is, while Christianity does not furnish the standard, and human opinion does; while the multiplying our desires is considered as a symptom of elegance, though to subdue those desires is the grand criterion of religion ; while moderation is beheld as indicating a poorness of spirit, though to that very poverty of spirit the highest promise of the Gospel is assigned; while worldly wisdom is sedulously enjoined by worldly friends, in contradiction to that assertion, “ that the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God;” while the praise of man is to be anxiously sought in opposition to that assurance, that “ The fear of man worketh a snare;” while they are taught all the week, that “ The friendship of the world” is the wisest pursuit; and on Sundays that “it is enmity with God;" while these things are so, (and that they are so in a good degree who will undertake to deny ?) may we not venture to affirm that a Christian education, though it be not an impossible, is yet a very difficult work?
It can never be too often repeated, that one of the great objects of education is the forming of habits. I may be suspected of having recurred too often, though hitherto only incidentally, to this topic. It is, however, a topic of such importance, that it will be useful to consider it somewhat more in detail, as the early forming of right habits on sound principles seems to be one of the grand secrets of virtue and happiness.
The forming of any one good habit seems to be effected rather by avoiding the opposite bad habit, and resisting every temptation to the opposite vice, than by the mere occasional practice of the virtue required. Humility, for instance, is less an act than a disposition of mind. It is not so much a single performance of some detached humble deed, as an incessant watchfulness against every propensity to pride. Sobriety is not a prominent ostensible thing; it evidently consists in a series of negations, and not of actions. It is a conscientious habit of resisting every incentive to intemperance. - Meekness is best attained and exemplified by guarding against every tendency to
anger, impatience, and resentment. — A habit of attention and application is formed by early and constant vigilance against a trifling spirit and a wandering mind. – A habit of industry, by watching against the blandishments of pleasure, the waste of small portions of time, and the encroachment of small indulgences.
Now, to stimulate us to an earnest desire of working any or all of these habits into the minds of children, it will be of importance to consider what a variety of uses each of them involves. - To take, for example, the case of moderation and temperance. It would seem, to a superficial observer, of no very great importance to acquire a habit of self-denial in respect either to the elegancies of decoration, or to the delicacies of the table, or to the common routine of pleasure ; that there can be no occasion for an indifference to luxuries harmless in themselves, and no need of daily moderation in those persons who are possessed of affluence, and to whom, therefore, as the expense is no object, so the forbearance is thought öf no importance. Those acts of self-denial, I admit, when contemplated by themselves, appear to be of no great value, yet they assume high importance, if you consider what it is to have, as it were, dried up the spring of only one importunate passion; if you reflect, after any one such conquest is obtained, how easily, comparatively speaking, it is followed up by others.
How much future virtue and self-government, in more important things, may a mother, therefore, be securing to a child, even should she always remain in as high a situation as she is in when the first foundations of this quality are laying; but should any reverse of fortune take place in the daughter, how much integrity and independence of mind also may be prepared for her, by the early excision of superfluous desires. She, who has been trained to subdue these propensities, will, in all probability, be preserved from running into worthless company merely for the sake of the splendour which may be attached to it. She will be rescued from the temptation to do wrong things, for the sake of enjoyments from which she cannot abstain. She is delivered from the danger of flattering those whom she despises; because her moderate mind and wellordered desires do not solicit indulgences, which could only be procured by mean compliances. For she will have been habituated to consider the character as the leading circumstance of attachment, and the splendour as an accident, which may or may not belong to it; but which, when it does, as it is not a ground of merit in the possessor, so it is not to be the ground of her attachment. The habit of self-control, in small as well as in great things, involves in the aggregate less loss of pleasure than will be experienced by disappointments in the mind habitually yielding itself to the love of present indulgences, whenever those indulgences should be abridged or withdrawn.