Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

without reverence, and whom we may not disobey without fear of punishment.

He believes that this one God has a son, Jesus Christ, God also, with his father, who came down from heaven to teach mankind the way to it. Who · suffered for us, died, and rose again.* Morality has taught him what is pleasing to man; and infantine piety has shewn him, through conscience, what is grateful to his Maker.

We must now consider what he does. At six years of age most children are able to read; and our child can also read a little. If a girl, she can sew with her needle, besides working in the garden or field, and tell the name of many a weed and flower, like her brother.

Our child would no more think of quitting his bedroom, or of entering his bed, without kneeling down to address his Creator, than he would think of passing

* The Holy Spirit a little child ought to be made to ask for, as he will do in " The grace of our Lord,” &c., but as it is scarcely possible to explain this, so as to make it intelligible to very young minds, we should either say that he cannot understand any explanation until he is older, or else tell him that Grace, or the Holy Spirit, means something like the help or assistance of God. Or those who could venture so far with a very sensible child, who will not easily be quieted, may thus attempt another explanation : “ When you are very hungry do you not feel tired of gardening, or other work, and not inclined to do more? But when you have eaten and drank, do you not grow strong and brisk, and wishful to run again to your employment? This strength and spirit, which you then have to be industrious, is a little like the feeling of graces or the Holy Spirit in religion, which, if we pray for, God will send ús; and then we shall be inclined, and strong, and anxious, and ready to do his will."

his whole life without having need of sleep. It would be to him as natural to thank his God for his food at dinner, as to a civil child it would seem to feel obliged to a person for a most gratifying present. He would as naturally reflect on hearing of a bad action, how displeasing it must be to his Maker, as he would understand, at that age, that heat belongs to fire. The dread of offending God, and the satisfaction of trying to please him, would be a feeling bound up in all his habits, opinions, and ideas, and circulating through them, as the fluid of life through the veins, ready to spring forth at every opening. He would as naturally start on hearing the tremendous name of Jehovah used* in the most frivolous matters, as a timid child would shudder on being shewn the waves in which he is to be plunged. Indeed it would not be in long words, or preternatural knowledge, in set phrases, or profound scraps of quotation, that this child should shew his piety: but in the turn of thought, more than the thoughts themselves; in the manner, and the habits, in a certain tone of inquiry; and, above all, in a disposition to make a stand at once, on meeting with the irreligious talker or evil actor. Let mothers themselves judge, then, by comparison, whether their own are truly religious children.

* It is truly astonishing how many excellent persons, and otherwise religious ones, scruple not to swear in such phrases as these : “I wish to God it did not rain, I want so much to call on such a one." "I declare to God I did not know this, or that."

" Good God, how surprised I am to see you." “ For God's sake tell me what is the matter?" "My God, how ill he looks," &c., &

CHAPTER XLII.

FAITH IN PRACTICE.

BEHOLD I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM THE LORD HATH GIVEN WE ARE FOR SIGNS AND FOR WONDERS.' BETTER IT IS TO

[blocks in formation]

When, therefore, the subject of religion has been thus carefully handled, and its precepts made pleasing and palatable to little children, an appetite or taste for such information is created ; and hence we may conclude how acceptable will be any religious food to such an appetite, provided it be only agreeably seasoned.

By the term seasoning, are meant the words and style in which the information is dressed. The most inquiring child will turn away in disgust from long hard words and unintelligible discourses; and much more is he likely to do so if he has been accustomed to good and judicious instruction.

It has been already observed, how fine a vehicle for knowledge are pictures. All the prints belonging to sacred history, in Old or New Testament, such, for example, as those of Mrs. Trimmer, we may give by two or three at a time, along with an explanation, or the narrative annexed ; and if such be offered in simple language, it is as likely to work its own way, and make its own impression, as is

any

famous nursery legend that ever was sung or said. Nay, it is far more

likely: because Truth, that sacred and energetic word, Truth may be pronounced when we have finished ; and what child can hear an interesting story, of which all the parts are “ quite true," without emotion? These sacred narratives, too, are connected more or less intimately with the awful Being to whom children kneel, and whose blessing they invoke ; and will not this be supposed to impart a deeper and stronger cast of attraction over the whole? The fact indeed is, that well taught children love to their hearts a history prettily told from scripture, and when they can read, they are almost as pleased to peruse one; not in scripture language, however; at the tender age of four, five, or six years, very few children are able, or inclined to look into so large a volume, but in small abridgments, or under the titles of sacred, or scripture stories, where they find enough to delight and instruct them.*

With regard to these narrations, however, it is better for the mother to relate them, first, in her own words. Next, to read them, one only, or a part of one at a time. And, lastly, to give the book and sequels, with some little form as she will do the Bible itself with still more affectionate earnestness, when seven or eight years shall have passed over his head.

And lastly, it remains to speak of Sunday, with the train of duties which belong to this sacred day.

To establish in infancy a particular respect for the day which we are commanded to keep holy, is perhaps an undertaking not less difficult than important. To

* Such books will be mentioned in another place.

an infant all days are alike ; and it is very hard to make him understand that they are not to be treated so; that some indulgences, diversions, as well as favourite occupations, are then to be suspended, and that others of a graver nature are to be substituted in their place. However, as this conviction must be worked up into his being and habitudes, as are all other great truths, while his whole being is ductile enough to admit them, we must make the attempt, and persevere in it, and do our best, in the hope of succeeding. It were severity, indeed, to debar a little child any innocent amusement on this day. Walking and running in the gardens or fields, is an exercise harmless enough. He may look over his pictures, and a good mother will quietly put before him his scripture prints, or those of natural history, in preference to some others. Or the little girl may even amuse herself with a doll. But working with any tool ; sewing ; playing with and tossing over packs of cards; thrumming over the pianoforte; singing songs; playing with marbles or ball; dancing, or humming jigs, are highly improper actions for this day of rest and worship. I fancy I behold the smile of scorn with which a giddy mother glances over this page. “ What !” she may ask, “refuse many of these innocent trifles to a child of one, two, or three years ? I grant it is wrong to allow them to a boy or girl of twelve or fourteen, but what harm could arise from allowing such amusements in first childhood ? There is time enough some years hence to begin with these restrictions, and to teach the strict observance of Sunday."

« AnteriorContinuar »