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laughter on subjects which they have never heard mentioned but with respectful seriousness, is indeed a semblance and nothing else ; for such little children would have no more idea of laughing on these occasions, in which they had invariably caught and maintained an unaffected gravity, than a tender hearted child would be inclined to find a source of merriment in the tears of his mother, forced by suffering down her cheek. When we are asked for likenesses of the Almighty, and for such information as we cannot give, it is better to acknowledge at once that we do not know, or cannot answer that and similar ques tions, than impiously dare to satisfy the little querist with any prevarication, or false representation of what eye hath not seen nor heart conceived.
When the child begins to inquire, we in our turn may ask questions. It is of the last importance, that he should betimes understand the meaning of the words he utters in prayer; and the Lord's Prayer is, perhaps, the best to begin with. The mother may introduce her discourse by saying, “ Do you know what Our Father means ? The child will say he does, or he does not. In the latter case he must be shewn, that as God made us and all things, he is our Maker or Father. “ Which art in heaven,” will come next, and so on to the end. The parent beginning from the first words every night, or day, or when the child is disposed to the exercise of thought, and going on a sentence or two at once, till all are fully mastered. One word in this beautiful prayer, “ trespasses,” is very difficult for a little child. Those who choose, may substitute the word "sins," which will make it
“ forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us ;" or perhaps “ offences and offend" might be better, until the child can articulate well. However, this is a matter for the consideration of the parent.
Children are almost as fond of what is sung to them as they are of a story repeated. It would not be difficult to adopt Dr. Watts's beautiful Moral Songs, or other precepts in verse, which we should desire to fix in the minds of children, to some simple British airs, with which many would be delighted, and not rest till they had acquired the words by heart. Of these deservedly popular little pieces, the morning and evening ones are peculiarly fitted for daily use:
Self-examination, when the child is old enough to understand what we say, should be thus introduced :
“ Pray tell me, my dear child, if you do not feel something within you, which seems pleased when you have done right, and ashamed when you have done wrong? This is conscience; which is given us by God to make us happy in doing good, and uneasy in being naughty. Look then upon conscience as your friend ; and ask it every night whether it is pleased or not pleased with you for what you have done through the day. If it is pleased, thank God for helping you to be good. If your conscience is ashamed and uneasy, consider what it is you have done amiss; and if you have offended any body, go and beg forgiveness of him first, and then beg of God to forgive you. Then try the next day to do better ; and God Almighty, through Jesus Christ, will help you to become good, if he sees that you really wish it."
But all this explanation will go for nothing, if the mother do not assist the memory, and help forward the examination of her little penitent. Talking will aid but feebly in her arduous task; she must have industry, patience, and exertion. To think and to talk are not enough in any great business of life ; we must act up to the spirit of our instructions, or the service will be scarcely benefited. How great is the necessity for exertion as well as thought, those only who are devoted to the service of training up the young can know, or even apprehend.
This particular labour, however, like all other labours, will be at an end when the object is gained and the work completed; and this heart-cheering certainty a good mother will find in a well trained child of six years. There is no further drudgery required to give him all the broad foundation of piety: the work is done so far; and beautiful, most beautiful it is. The mother surveys it with a ravished countenance, and blesses God who has blessed her work, and accepted her child for his own most faithful servant.
FAITH IN PRACTICE.
" PURE RELIGION, AND UNDEFILED BEFORE GOD AND THE TA
THER, IS THIS : TO VISIT THE FATHERLESS AND WIDOWS IN THEIR AFFLICTION, AND TO KEEP HIMSELF UNSPOTTED FROM * THE WORLD," "HE WILL GIVE HIS HEART TO RESORT EARLY , TO THE LORD THAT MADE HIM, AND WILL PRAY BEFORE THE most high.”
It is time now to stop, and fairly examine, not in what respects this well-taught child of moderate abilities excels other children who have had little or no religious instruction, but what the child really is, or does, to authorize the assertion that the foundation of piety is laid, and the work of infantine religion finished. And first, our child is not exempt from the follies, weaknesses, inconsistencies, and occasional perverseness of childhood. Nay, perbaps a ruling passion to which his nature inclines, and which is, with some exertion, held down under subjection, strives often for the mastery, and distresses himself and his loved guardian : a passion which, had it not been watched and discovered in the first stage of infancy, might now have raged with a fury that no precept or punishment could have held within bounds.
But, on the other hand, let us observe morality and piety, how sweetly they are blended in his habits and his thoughts. Behold the virtue he has acquired, with the religious precepts he has been taught to cherish,
rising up in arms at the first growl of this fatal passion, which struggles in vain to assume the manner, and to wear the shape of the particular vice to which it is kindred! Ah, Morality, how couldst thou have battled alone? Religion, how wouldst thou have prevailed when a bold daring vice had raised his head, if habit had not strengthened the hand of virtue as well as thine ? United forces ! be strong, and be triumphant. Let but Vice lift his head and be victor for a day, and he will instantly set about destroying your work of years! Keep Vice in strong bondage within the cell of passion, and time and your exertions may stifle or wear him away.
This child, then, practises truth, for he has no wish or motive to deceive. He is dutiful to his parents, affectionate to his friends, merciful to animals. He is obedient when he is ordered, and submissive when denied. Simplicity, artlessness, and innocence are expressed in his words ; modesty and decorum in his ways. He is generous and confiding; believes all and suspects no one; he is active and industrious ; willing to be taught ; anxious to imitate. He is persevering, and not easily daunted. Finally, he has a sense of justice, and is generally affable: thus far extends his morality.
With regard to his religious knowledge, he believes to be truths, which no mortal ever disputed, that there is One greater than any, seated high in the heavens ; our Father, Maker, and God. One who knows all we say, all we do, all we think. Who loves goodness, and hates evil ; who will reward the one and punish the other ; of whom we may not dare to speak