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others, have a care how they interfere here. The professed application of relief to the mind, by any theoretical scheme of man's devising, where a constitution of God's own creation and upholding stands ready before us, must ever be productive of consequences the most pernicious. Were human benevolence uniformly associated with wisdom; were it not found often connected with want of forethought; in its impatience of applying a remedy, were it not often particularly impatient of what may seem the most formidable, though it should have been proved to be the only right commencement; were it not too often heedless of patient and powerful, because prospective measures, then the constitution of the human family would not have been so often and so sadly overlooked. Such, however, being the imperfections which often accompany the contrivances of human benevolence, may I not inquire, whether it is not very possible, or rather very likely, in this day of plans and schemes, for benevolence itself, if not associated with other qualities, to frame, without doors, some things which, on the parental mind within, shall operate so far as a bounty on idleness, and as a drawback on exertion; so far take from parental obligation its appropriate awe, and from parental neglect its salutary shame; so far deprive parental improvidence of its just responsibility, and parental foresight of its fair, and rich, and delightful reward? These are at least important questions, and to me they seem to deserve the deliberate and serious consideration of not a few.
To the occasional aberrations of human benevolence, however, I need not be confined. In man, generally, there is a strong, if not a constant tendency, either to overlook or slight, and then to interfere with the arrangements of Infinite Wisdom; or if one party slight or neglect them, another at last interferes, not by calling men to first principles, and their consequently incumbent duty to God,
but in the way of furnishing some expedient of human ingenuity, to supply the defect, and restore the tone of society. The vanity, however, of any such interference here, will, I presume, be more apparent, when the design of the Almighty, in framing and upholding the Family Constitution, are regarded with serious attention. If it is true, that “God never made his work for man to mend,” in every design of His the ends must be carefully observed, since, if those ends could have been reached by the ingenuity of man, no such constitution of things had existed. As a specimen of these, take the following:
1. By the Family Constitution its divine Founder intended to produce and prolong natural affection ; for this alone has done both.
“To the human race, the importance of natural affection is incalculable. It resists, in a great degree, the tendency to absolute selfishness; expands and softens the heart; excites and nourishes sympathy and compassion; and prevents the world from becoming the seat of unbearable violence and cruelty. But natural affection is solely the result of natural relations, and almost all these are originated by the family state ; while with every other distribution of mankind which can be substituted or proposed, they are wholly incompatible. Besides, the attachment which natural affection forms in men towards the branches of their families, ultimately extends itself, and by a natural process, to their country and laws, their government and nation."*
« Domestic love is sure the mind to wake,
+ Pope, altered.
If, therefore, such enlarged philanthropy is ever tom prevail, assuredly the precise point where the pebble must fall, is within the little circle of domestic life; and any interference on the part of man must affect, correspondingly, all the circles which surround it.
2. By the institution of families, God intended to provide, not only for the preservation and support, but for the education of children.
Education, however, I use only in the proper sense of the term, as including not merely instruction, and primarily religious instruction, but the formation of habits. “ Perhaps no word, so frequently heard, has, in modern times, been used with less perception of its import and extent than that of education. In the sense in which it is usually taken, it signifies instruction in letters, in human science, and various accomplishments of the mind and body. So entirely distinct is it considered from moral, and especially religious instruction, that when the particular process is spoken of by which the truths of religion are communicated to the mind, and impressed upon the heart, we are obliged, in order to make ourselves understood, to prefix an epithet to the term, and call it a religious education. This exclusion of everything religious from the notion of education is so complete, that to say of any one, he is educated, conveys no idea of religious care having been exercised over him in his early years; no idea of religious principles having been at any time implanted, or now actually operating in his heart; and though no truth of the Sacred Scriptures should be clearly apprehended by his understanding, he would, nevertheless, pass, in the language of the world, for a person of education. Had not a very culpable alteration taken place in modern manners, this could not have happened. There were times, and among ourselves, when
the educated person was presumed to be acquainted with the faith of his ancestors, and the Bible was among the first books put into his hand; when the elements of religious truth and of science were taught together; and when even the higher branches of learning, like his daily food, were sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.' The practice with many is changed, and education as a matter of course, in the lips of many, no longer implies religious information.
“But, notwithstanding this alteration, never did we hear so much of the value and advantages of education, and of its connection with happiness and virtue. But of what is this affirmed ? Of 'a thing of shreds and patches;' splendid and many-colored it may be ; yet not worthy of a better appellation, because not connected with any principle, or directed to any end worthy of our being. To open the mind to human science, to awaken the pleasures of taste, and to decorate the external man with the adornings of civil and refined life, might be sufficient to occupy the office of education, were there no God, no Saviour, and no future being.
Were this life not preparatory, and man not hurrying on to the presence of his Judge; had he no pardon to implore, or law to obey, then this would be education : but most affectingly deficient will the knowledge of that youth be found, and negligent in the highest degree must his Parents be considered, if his mind is left unoccupied by other objects, and unfamiliarized to higher considerations. Thus they may rear a whited wall, or build a whited sepulchre, but they enclose an uncorrected corruption within. Perhaps they do worse; they give play and activity to the powers, without directing their movements, and abandon instruments of an energy not to be calculated, to the stimulus of principles and passions, which employ them only for the purposes of destruction."*
• Richard Watson.
Besides, the very substance of proper education is the establishment of good habits, the provision for which is so eminently conspicuous in the domestic constitution“ habits extending alike to the body and the soul, and influencing equally the thoughts and the affections, the language and conduct. Without these, nothing in the human character or human life can be efficacious, or permanent, or useful. To establish these, therefore, in the morning of life is the great business of education. Habits, however, are formed only by the frequent and long-continued repetition of the same measures ; and nothing ever becomes habitual, except that which has been long and often repeated.” But, for the formation of these, no school can provide, nor can any voluntary society ever be formed. “ To accomplish such repetition, nothing will suffice but the steady affection of married Parents; a manifest and striking proof of our Creator's design in their union.”* No, but for this institution, the children of a nation can never be habitually trained to industry and economy, to submission or good order-never to sweetness of disposition or tenderness of affection, to amiableness of manners or offices of kindness. Respecting the best form of national government, mankind have been contending for ages : but, whatever be the form of political arrangements, let the family constitution once be neglected, then will the blessings of rational freedom and good government, with all the superior blessings of morality and religion, vanish from that land. Nay, in tiine, it must become but one vast den, and its ühhabitants, if not destroyed, would change into animals the most ferocious and terrible on earth. Such is the merciful preservative, the simple but efficacious and mighty check, involved in this small and unpretending, but invincible constitution !
+ Additional proof of this will be found under the title of Family Instruction, the obligations to which are untransferable.