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and gone for ever !* Nay, what is truly affecting, if this Child happens to be the eldest, the Parent finds to his cost, that he has been the instrument of introducing a disease, like a fretting leprosy, into his family, which may, and probably will, infect the rest, while this Child remains with them. His sullen, unbroken spirit; his self-will, or, in some instances, sunk and melancholy frame of mind, they all too easily perceive; and the unhappy Child there continues the heart-break of the Parents, as well as the pest, or stumbling-block, or curse, of Brothers and Sisters. The Child, however, after all this, is not the original
* Whatever may be said of her vices, confessedly great, one of the most powerful minds which appeared during that awful tragedy, the French Revolution, was found in the person of a female. In the course of a single morning, the last mistake was committed by her injudicious and passionate Father, when brutally forcing her to swallow a medicine. From that moment the reins were gone, and many years afterwards she observed—“I experienced the same inflexible firmness that I have since felt on great and trying occasions; nor would it, at this moment, cost me more to ascend undauntedly the scaffold, than it then did to resign myself to brutal treatment, which might have killed, but could not conquer me.” Poor woman! had she fallen into different hands, how different had been her future life, and though it is hard to say, perhaps then, even in these perilous times, she might not have ended her days, as she did, on the scaffold. On the morning referred to, Madame Roland was not yet seven years of age! Her Father, at one moment infuriated with passion, and at another caring little about what was going on in his house, provided no one complained of his external intrigues, and that he had a good dish of coffee for breakfast, good soup for dinner, and some fresh eggs and a salad for supper-what else could become of his daughter? Yet this Parent has been styled a good-natured, peaceable kind of man! If any person has been shocked with the past or present relaxation of morals, in that otherwise fine country, let not this be ascribed to any régime, whether ancient or modern, but to its true cause—the dissolution of the Family compact—to the Parent letting go, or mismanaging, the reins of domestic government; precisely the same relaxation which preceded the flood, or the destruction of Sodom and the destruction of Jeri-alem.
offender. The Father or Mother is, in fact, the guiltiest party; the Child's conduct may in various ways be traced to their negligence or misconduct; and it is indeed a sad spectacle, while they read their sin in their punishment, and
carry this family-cross, from day to day, to find, upon application to their best friends, that their advice proves of no avail. I know of few errands more melancholy, than that of a Parent, when, at his wit's end, he goes, with reference to his own Child, to call on a friend, and ask his counsel as to what can be done! Such being but a faint and imperfect sketch of the effects of undue severity, let Parents take especial care, that however their Children should behave, all their conduct has flowed from a principle of tenderness in the heart, and been uniformly regulated by it. However the discipline and good order of an army of men may be maintained, neither the government nor order of a Family can be secured without this feeling of tenderness.
2. Over-indulgence.--After all this, it may seem strange, though it actually does appear true, from Scripture itself, that a more general and perhaps much more fatal cause of failure, lies in over-indulgence; at least the cautions against this are far more frequent, and more pointed, than against the other. However severe the means may seem, at first reading, the following, among many other passages, at once detect the real secret cause of such indulgence, while they point to the infinitely important and merciful end of an opposite course. “He that spareth the rod, hateth his son ; but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes." « Chasten thy son, while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” “ Withhold not correction from the child;" let him at least have justice done to him, and give him at least this appointed security against future ill: “for if thou beatest him with the rod,
that in propor
he shall not die.” “ Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.”
Whenever Parents read such passages, it would be well for them invariably to remember that they were given by divine inspiration, and are not the elements of any
human plan of education, ancient or modern. To reconcile them still farther, or to induce them to adopt these as principles of their own, let them only remember, that the Author of our existence has appointed different dispositions as essential and appropriate to different periods of life. Hence, if Parents really wish to see, in the future lives of their Children, happiness and usefulness combined, and, it may be, eminence of character and usefulness, then subordination during childhood and youth is essential. Have you not observed, that all these useful and great characters, of whom you have been reading, were under government in early life ? nay, tion to their future eminence, they were under corresponding subordination, either as to duration, or what men would call severity ? Witness the cases of Joseph and Moses, of David and Daniel, and many others. The reason of this law of Heaven is not, like some others, inexplicable. He that has been accustomed to obey is best qualified to rule; the most dutiful daughter makes the best Wife and Mother.
Notwithstanding all this, and much more than this, owing to the perversity of human nature, unhappily it seems to many Parents, that over-indulgence is actually little else than an amiable weakness. “His children," say others, “are fine children; but their Father, good man, is too indulgent.” Now, it has been granted that Eli was a good man; but what did this avail in the day of his calamity, when the ruin of his house, and the degradation of his family, were so directly traced up to him, and to his want of principle, displayed in over-indulgence ?
The following passage is often quoted, without observing that it refers directly to a good easy Parent.
" He that despiseth me, shall be lightly esteemed !”
This disposition in Parents will be found to arise from different causes, but when traced to its source in the heart, Christian charity for it is at an end.
In some Parents it is to be ascribed simply to their eager desire after present personal ease, or gratification; and hence a multitude of false maxims become quite current in such families. “ The children,” says the Mother, “are too young yet;" and the Father replies," True, they are but children, and what else can we expect ? Poor things! one cannot find in their heart to contradict them ; do let them have a little of their own will. Alas! they will not always have this in their power.” To crown the whole, “ None of all this,” says some injudicious friend, “ can do them any harm, provided you are only careful when they come to be about six or seven years of age.” Thus the good easy Parents sit down to enjoy themselves, perfectly satisfied that there is nothing wrong, and that not only no time is lost, but that it is not yet time to begin.
In others, over-indulgence springs from mere animal affection. They dote on their Children till they not only become a sort of “ household gods,” but the poor
Children are thus daily encircled by an injudicious and blind fondness, till these very Parents prove to have been the first promoters of the self-will, if not the ruin of their offspring. All the pettish humor, and the peevish impatience, which, in future life, make them drag so heavily along, grew up luxuriantly under their Parents' eye ; and they actually fostered and strengthened what ought to have been supplanted by other dispositions. Ere long the roots have struck deep, and, branching out into every avenue of heart and soul, it is beyond the power of nature to do anything. Nay, I go farther : let the Children
even be converted to God; and though a radical change then took place, which is confirmed to be divine, from its abiding, and habitual, and growing effects, yet it is almost certain, that the perversity of nature which, in Scripture, is called the body of sin, from its occupation, and the body of death, from its effect, is vastly more burdensome and grievous, entirely owing to the guilty easiness of these very Parents.
Thus, whether Parents regard the fine natural buoyancy of spirits, and the natural capacity, whether for bearing the ills, or enjoying the comforts of future life, as men and women; or whether they regard their profession and possession of genuine Christianity in this vale of tearsoh! let them beware of over-indulgence : beware of that
ulse tenderness, which some indeed would dignify with the name of fine feeling, but which the Scriptures brand, most truly, with no other epithet than that of hatred.
3. Inequality of Treatment.—Having thus imperfectly touched on these two extremes, I still question whether the majority of failures are to be ascribed to either the one or the other. There appears still a more plentiful source of error and disappointment. It is not to be supposed that the majority of Parents do not think of their Children, and of their future well-being : but this is done periodically; and great inequality, if not entire relaxation, intervenes between these periods. At these moments of reflection, oh! could a wish but secure the end, the end would be gained at once; but then they have as yet no system, which is, in fact, equivalent to having no principle. They are resolved, however, to have a plan, and week after week it is to be acted upon, and that with determined resolution. Many go not even thus far; but whether they do so or not, all these Parents proceed without any fixed, that is, any conscientious principle. The