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whole of their conduct may be described as a continued series of fits and starts ; and upon careful inspection, it will, I presume, be found, that thousands, nay millions, of lovely children are ruined, merely owing to this baneful inequality. The Parents do not rise into such passion as the first extreme, nor, it may be, dote on their Children with uniform excess, or administer daily to their passions and fretfulness, like the second; but their conduct is not uniform, because they are not, themselves, governed by law, nor have they any conscientious regard to Him to whom they are to render an account. At one time they wink or smile at the little delinquencies of their Children; at another they evince want of patience and tender consideration. They smile, occasionally, when not one feature should have been relaxed; and, in haste or impatience, at another time, they not only frown, but perhaps chastise, when, more properly, they should have sat down, and calmly reasoned with the little creature ; explaining and illustrating so as to prove, that they themselves are affected by sin, and are afraid of it.
In one word, their course towards their Children is not self-consistent; and imperfect though it must ever be, if it is inconsistent with itself, there are few deficiencies which Children more quickly detect, and there is not one of which they can and do take such advantage. When the Parents are in a certain humor, then they ply them for favors and indulgences without end. When their Parents are not in this humor, they frown, or chide, or even chastise, but the Children are not humbled. No; they now know, that this is too violent to last : they give the Parents no credit for all their pains; and the day is coming when they will assuredly take the advantage, and by fawning or entreaty, they will yet have reprisals for all this storm.
So essentially, therefore, does any Family-government depend on a calm and steady uniformity of conduct, that
though the Parents be anxious in the highest degree, if they fail in this, as far as depends upon them, all must fail: since there is no treatment which will more certainly procure the displeasure of God, than that which consists in fits and starts of animal feeling. I might here ask such Parents to be themselves the judges, and answer -How would this do in a doctor with his patients ? in a merchant with his business? in a farmer with his seed or his produce ? and especially in a gardener with his wallfruit when young, or his tender plants, which are daily sending forth feelers, that require to be supported ? Ask any one of these, or ask all, and they will give the same reply. And is the health of the body, or the transitory business of this life, or the productions of the natural world, to have a care bestowed upon them, which you think too much or too hard with regard to the young immortals, who are now, by an indulgent Providence, committed to your culture and your care? The case is confessedly a difficult one: it is even arduous and full of responsibility; nor will any Parents acquit themselves who do not feel this. In many things, too, we offend, and in all we come short; but still there is a way, and but one right path after all. Were, however, uniformity and selfconsistency only studied,-however slender the outline, were that never violated ; had you certain fixed laws, which could not be broken with impunity,—though you interposed, and should interpose your authority seldom, were you, at such times, sure to be obeyed; then all might and would go on as smoothly as the different dispositions under your care will admit. Yes; I have said different dispositions ; for when uniformity is mentioned, the same particular treatment is not intended : certainly not. The general laws may be compared to the sun and the shower, the heat and the cold of the natural world. Possessing these, the nursery-man proceeds to the study
of his plants. His productions are not one and the same; and the dispositions and tempers of the Children in one family-nursery generally, discover a variety as striking.
4. Partiality. The observations already made, might seem to have anticipated the necessity of a distinct notice of this unnatural cause of failure on the part of Parents ; and certainly, if the appropriate treatment of each Child, to which I have just alluded, is conscientiously studied, this will prove an effectual bar to the entrance of partiality. Of such importance, however, is this evil, that it must not be thus dismissed; for whether the family be large or small, the painful consequences extend, frequently, throughout the whole existence of the children, and are often most melancholy. Indeed, should there happen to be only two children, how do these brothers or sisters carry it towards each other, sometimes to old age? In such a sad snare, even the patriarch Jacob was caught, and what was the result ? To escape the vengeance of his brother, which the partiality of his mother had excited, he became an exile from his Father's roof and his native land. Soon, too, did he suffer under the effects of that deceit which she had taught him; and which, even on his return to Canaan, seemed to endanger the lives of his entire family; nay, that deceit ultimately appears as though it had spread its baneful influence among his own children! Strange! that in a little community, where each individual Child stands in precisely the same relation to its head; where parental duty and affection are not grounded on opinion, but all have an equal claim on the equal regard of their Parents—strange! that such a feeling as that of partiality should ever be entertained and cherished. Oh! let, then, Parents be on their guard; for “of all the infirmities to which our nature is subject,” says a modern writer, “none is more unrea
sonable, unwise, and unjust, than that of making a difference between one child and another. It discourages the rest, and ruins one-the favorite. It sets the Father against the Mother, and the other Children combine to crush the fondling." Melancholy, in the extreme, is the prospect of that Child who has the misfortune to be such a favorite!
Finally, For every one in charge of a Family, it is indeed a most serious and important consideration, that, whether the tendency of the heart be to undue severity, to over-indulgence, to a baneful inequality of treatment, or to this sinful partiality, in all cases of failure, the evil will be found at leas to originate with the Parents ! Meeting, as every failure must, even at its commencement, with the corruption of human nature, there will then be faults on both sides; but still with the Parents the evil originated : inasmuch as to them belong the privilege and the duty, not so much of redressing evil when it has come to a head, as of sowing the seeds of character, of training the plant, or bending the twig when young and tender, of crushing evil in the bud, or of preventing the growth of what would prove noxious to the mind. Hence in representing to us the rectification of such a moral disorder in a family, the Scriptures direct us to commence with them: “ He shall turn the heart of the Fathers to the Children.”
Placed in a situation so difficult and responsible, where so much depends upon our procedure, refuge we have none, except in the wisdom that cometh down from above, with all its heavenly attributes. This alone can preserve us from extremes, and give us consistency, as far as may be in our present imperfect and sinful state. But then this wisdom must not only be requested, but there is only one way in which it can be obtained. It is a communication
from above, bestowed on those only whose hearts are in truth turned unto God; for never can we love even our offspring as we ought, till we love God as we should. Until He has the first, they cannot occupy the proper and appropriate place in our affection and our care. To the following Section, therefore, I must now refer the reader.