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To such a lady I would reply by this question: « Would
be satisfied that your child should grow up to the age of eight, ten, or twelve, and neither be taught to know or love you, to obey or please you? For why, then, do you encourage him to embrace and look up to you with affection ? Why are you so anxious to feed, to clothe, to preserve, and to make him happy? Are you then indifferent whether he loves you or not in return ? No, no. You wish your child to love you dearly; and your ambition is, to be considered the best of his friends. If then you take the trouble to exert yourself to gain his love during infancy, why should you not also, during the same period, endeavour to make him acquainted with his Maker, and teach him to obey, and to love him? And how can he better begin to practise obedience, than by in some small degree keeping the sabbath?
At the same time, however, we are not to weary this little child, and teaze him by unnecessary prohibitions ; for Sunday would in that case be a day of penalty and punishment. Every mother, therefore, should endeavour by some particular indulgence, which is not allowed on other days, to render Sunday a day of happy intercourse. Her whole family might breakfast, or dine, or have their supper with her in the dining-room; or she might make it a rule to shew them new prints, or large books, which at other times are locked up in her library; or they might have the privilege of claiming two stories on a Sunday evening, and only one on another day; or a sacred history, accompanied with beautiful coloured prints, to be seen at that time only. Or one or two sets of the
carved figures,* as described in the note, might be shewn, and played with, and explained on a Sunday evening; and with all this endeavour to amuse, who will venture to say that Sunday would be considered a day of gloom and unhappiness by children? The costume of different nations, well engraved and finely coloured, would make another innocent amusement, along with representations on paper, or in wood, of some of the Jewish ceremonies, altars, vessels and dresses, &c. Indeed, whatever we desire to fix very deeply in the mind of a child, should be addressed to
* A very beautiful and interesting series of toys, for Sundays only, might be formed on an extensive scale, to be called “ Carved Scripture History," which night be purcbased by the rich for their children. It might consist of whole scenes from scripture, handsomely cut out in separate pieces of wood, to be arranged and ordered according to an accompanying representation on a copper-plate, or wood-cnt impressions. One set of figures might consist of distinct pieces, of which one should be Adam, another Eve, another the serpent, and others the fatal tree, the bower, the angel, &c, every separate piece being made to stand firm and steady on the table.
The second set might be composed of pieces to represent Cain, Abel, the altar, the club, and an angel, instead of the being it would be impious to describe, &c.
The third set, Noah preaching to several wicked men, women, and children.
The fourth set, Noah and his family coming out of the ark, with a number of animals which should either be put in the ark, or withdrawn and made to stand steadily at the pleasure of the child. These to be completed with a mountain, on which some bolt or groove should actually support the vessel, and an altar.
The Gifth set, the tower of Babel and workmen, &c.
and so on through the Old and New Testament.
the eye as well as to the ear. All grave and important subjects, such as history, sacred, civil, and profane, should declare themselves in outline as much through the engraving as the type; and if many prints in a child's book make it trebly expensive, let those who purchase be consoled by the reflection, that one such little volume, properly illustrated, is worth half a dozen to which such auxiliaries are wanting.* ...
Should the parent be of the number of those who summon their household on Sunday evening, and, either through themselves or their chaplain, shew their family that it is a part of duty to kneel and pray, it would be of the greatest benefit to a child, of even a year old, to be present also. The mother kneeling, might seat this child before her, and encircle him with her arms, if his tender frame could not support itself in the posture of humility and devotion. If the hour for his going to bed were six or seven o'clock, the prayers might begin five minutes beføre that time ; and if they were short, as in such cases it must be desired, the child would not fret at being constrained to keep the same position, and be quiet.
The advantages arising from this plan are, that when the child begins to speak, and is required to offer up his little prayer, he the more cheerfully
* The experiment is easily made. Let two children who can, read, bare each the same li:tle history, but one with and the other without prints, and let both be questioned, when the boobs are gone through, upon what they hare been reading,
complies, as he has observed his mother and father, sister or brother, the maids and the men-servants, all join readily in the same kind of exercise ; and hence he not only considers it a thing of course, and one which ought to be, but as he is the creature of imitation, he actually feels disposed to do what so many others have done before him. Above all, he cannot fancy it a hardship put upon himself; on the contrary, he will probably smile upon his mother, and say, when she is gently leading him to the repetition, “ Mamma says her prayers too, and papa does, and sister, don't you, mamma ?” and with the affirmative reply of his mother, he will even seem anxious to kneel on her lap, and pronounce every word after her, if it be only to try to resemble his parent, and his family. Indeed no little child ever refused to repeat a few words of prayer, much less could be have been disgusted with the worship adapted to his age, if this short, but important exercise, had been judiciously suited to his capacity and taste. We who have sprung from God, are rarely found, in first infancy, to struggle with the truth that there is a God. Children are so far from receiving this information with doubts and scruples, that they instantly desire to push forward inquiry on the subject : but, soon lost and bewildered, fly off to other matters. That there is a God, however, they instantly agree to on being told. And if they object not to this truth, neither can they refuse to perform an act which they are also told is pleasing to him, if it be but only framed in few and simple words, and that the effort required be proportioned to their abilities and strength,
The mention of public prayer, at home, leads to the consideration of public worship. The sectaries, in general, take their children very early to places of worship, whilst we of the Church of England introduce our children much later to the church. As it is of great consequence that the habit should be formed, it is worthy the most serious consideration how this will best be effected.
But let mothers ask themselves the simple question, what they really mean with respect to this habit. Do they desire to make their children regular church goers, and are indifferent as to their being sleepy or inattentive hearers ? Or do they heartily wish that they should have the habit of attending divine service, solely that they may profit by it? Most mothers will reply to the latter case. If then a child is to be taken to a place of worship, not as to a theatre, where he may amuse himself as he pleases, in gazing about him, it is as well not to introduce him until he is tolerably well prepared by previous instruction. The age of five years seems the very earliest which can possibly be fixed for this great duty; and no person need fear but that, with a good groundwork of religion, the child will imbibe a taste and an inclination for what he can tolerably understand and appreciate, sooner than he who is led to church with no other instruction or caution than that he is not to talk. Before a child is suffered to go to church, he ought by little and little to have been shewn the meaning of a great part of the service, by very easy explanations. It is inconsiderate, if not wicked, to throw him, totally unprepared, in the midst of such an assembly, and in