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such a Presence; in a place where, after the first surprise has ceased, and the slight entertainment derived from music at an end, he can only feel weariness, disappointment, and disgust. It appears both prudent and right, that he should be first prepared for the service by short and easy explanations, and taught what he is to expect at church, and what church is, by grave, yet not unpleasing descriptions. When he actually is admitted, it should be to early Sunday service, or in the afternoon, at a time when there is no preaching. The subject of a discourse, short or long, it is utterly impossible to prepare him for before-hand; indeed, as a child of five, six, or seven, can have nothing whatever to do with a sermon, unless it be to discover that the hour for preaching is a very convenient one for sleep,* as no change of position is required ; and if he may sleep quietly through a sermon, during three or four years of his childhood, why will he find any great necessity for keeping eyes and ears open during the remainder of his childhood ? The truth is, if a child may sit in sermon time, and not trouble himself to listen to a word that is uttered, from four years old to eight, he will see no cause for being very attentive from the age of eight to sixteen. At school, to be sure, his eyes may be kept open by the rod, or a forfeit ; but the habit of hearing, and not listening, will give him the power of amusing himself as he pleases. Would it not then be better to let him hear no sermon until he is able to retain, not the words, but the sense of even one or two passages, of which his recital at home should be made the qualification for another Sunday's indulgence ? For to stay the whole service should be held a marks of favour, instead of a tiresome engagement, which it is delightful to get over. The sense of one passage, in any discourse, remembered this week, gives a promise of double the quantity being remembered next; and mind and heart may be thus improved together.
* I know a gentleman, who declared he was a very thoughtful ebild, and much disposed to religious exercises, until he was taken to church; where, understanding little or nothing that was going forward, and knowing absolutely nothing of the preacher's discourses, he lost his reverence for religion, and became careless and indevout.
A child of my acquaintance was taken by his maid, at the age of four years, to church. Wben a few prayers were gone through, be sighed very deeply, and said aloud, “Oh dear, dear, so much talking makes my head ache.” When he arrived at home, he said, " he did not want to go to church again, for there was a man got up and talked-talked such a deal, and nobody answered-him," Had this child a pleasing idea of church? I think yot,
And when he is able to use his pen, it will be a good exercise to transcribe what he has thus orally retained. However, this hint is stepping beyond my present limits.
The Catechism of the Church of England may or may not be learned before the early education of a child is completed, which may be reckoned to be when he is in his eighth year. A quick child will tolerably well understand, and soon learn two or three lines of it at a time, if they are tolerably explained. A slow child must stay till he is older, if he cannot at eight years get through this useful compendium of our belief.
334 RELIGION OF CHILDHOOD.
The church collects are beautiful little prayers for occasions, of which a child of eight years might easily be taught to know something. However, were I to choose that which I should most wish my little boy or girl to learn, I should on a Sunday, after he had been allowed to hear a sermon, give him the text* to get by heart; assisting him to find the same in his Bible. What a vast stock of scripture passages might be thus laid up in his mind, in the space of only a few years !
* There are many beautiful texts in the most familiar language, which include a complete sense, a cause, and effect; beginning, middle, and end; and children almost immediately fasten on them. I remember a fine little girl, of scarcely four years of age, who had heard many such verses repeated, one day attempted a prevarication, almost strong enough to be termed an untruth. Her mother, who was reasoning with her, observed to her, “ If you say what is not true, you will be very naughty, and naughty children will not go to heaven.” “ Yes, but I shall go to heaven,” replied this child with astonishing quickness, and with a smile," for Jesus Christ says, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.''
INSTRUCTION OF CHILDREN.
“ LAY THE FOUNDATION.” “.BUILD UP THIS HOUSE.” “ FROM
THAT TIME TO THIS, BEING STILL A BUILDING, IT IS NOT YET FULLY ENDED.” “ THERE IS NOTHING SO MUCH WORTH AS A MIND WELL INSTRUCTED.”
Having given our first thoughts and care to the regulation of the passions, and the forming of the heart to morality and piety : in other words, having devoted the three or four first years of a child's existence to the establishing of good principles and good infantine character, we begin to think of initiating him in the elements of such knowledge as is now considered indispensable to every one respectably connected.
We now lay our plans for improving and ornamenting a firm, solid, well raised edifice. An edifice which has been four years in the construction; which has a deep foundation, height, strength, and all the spacious
ness we can desire, to set off the ornaments and finishing we bestow to the best advantage. We go to the work with alacrity, ardour, and resolution. We are pleased with the first touches, though they be but slender strokes; and as every one in such an undertaking is sure to shew itself in sone light or other, we rejoice, we persevere, and in a little time make a delightful and sensible progress.
On the contrary, let the workman begin adorning an edifice put together in a hurry, without order, pains or plan, which has not even a foundation to rest on, and the consequences he will soon find to be, the destruction of his work; which, having nothing stable to attach itself to, will be deranged continually, as the very edifice itself will totter and fall in every gust of passion and self-will. He must then find himself under the necessity of going to work, and of again hastily piling up the materials, which will shortly again be exposed to the same dangers, and at last be overthrown by the like cause.
The mother who thus labours with the elements of art and science, upon a disposition which is not formed to goodness and principle, labours in vain. It would be irreverent to say, God help her under her task, for a good God will only help those who truly and sincerely desire to help themselves, by doing their duty. Every mother not an absolute ideot, knows what right and wrong are ; and every mother may do her best to make her little child love and practise the one and dislike the other. Every mother, therefore, may have secured some kind of a respectable foundation if she please ; wherefore art thou inexcusable, O