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quite sufficient for us to know, that “ He is too wise to err, and too good to be unkind.” Just so it is with Children.
It is enough for them if, with all my imperfections, I, as a Parent, am regulated by wisdom and kindness. The subordination which I require I need not explain: they could not understand it though I did. Now, in this I read the considerate kindness of God. I am placed in the closest connection with a few of the members of his moral government; nay, I am called to train a few of the future Sons and Daughters of God; and yet to them I owe, at first, no explanation of my conduct: I need not give it; I merely require to act. This is what I meant by the commencement being rendered as easy as it is possible.
This is at once a peculiarity in this singular Constitution, and a high token of Divine favor, on the morning of all its kind and important intentions.
In this arrangement of Providence, however, it is necessary to fix the eye on its design. There is design here. You may admire in it the beautiful arrangement of Heaven, which has so adapted the weakness of one generation to the strength of that which precedes it, and the power which the expressions of that weakness have over parental sympathy; but this is all ? Besides nourishing and cherishing these Children, is it not as evidently designed that you should regulate and guide them, as well as that they should obey you ? Has not Jehovah, in the depth of his condescension, sometimes illustrated the principles of his own government by allusions to that of a Family, and thus at the same time explained it:
66 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my Son out of Egypt.” I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on
their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” Or as Tyndal has it: “I learned Ephraim to go and bare them in my arms. I led in the cords of friendship and bands of love. I
was even he that laid the yoke upon their necks: I gave them my fodder myself, that they should not go again into Egypt.” The allusions here, it is true, refer not only to man ; they go down so low as even the animal creation, from whence indeed a great deal of instruction may quired: but
A longer care man's helpless kind demands;
Surely, then, it is manifest, that all the implanted tenderness of Parental love is subordinate to a higher end—the ruling and directing of those under your care.
Thus, then, you have at once to proceed to action. You act as supreme : and if you only look up
for wisdom (and who ever did so in vain ?) and act with wisdom, you will not only, at this, the “appointed season,” establish your authority, but in the very daw.n of reason you may, by mere action, have instructed your children into some of the most important principles, which animate the Christian even in mature life. Great sagacity, indeed, is required here, but still the thing is, in some instances, possible. “Children,” says Mr. Cecil, “are very early capable of impression. I imprinted on my daughter the idea of faith in God, at a very early age. She was playing one day with a few beads, which seemed to delight her wonderfully. Her whole soul was absorbed in her beads. I said “My dear, you have some pretty beads there.' • Yes, papa.
And you seem to be vastly pleased with them.' "Yes, papa.' Well now,
throw 'em behind the
fire. The tears started into her eyes. She looked carnestly at me, as though she ought to have a reason for such a cruel sacrifice. "Well, my dear, do as you please: but you know I never told you to do anything which I did not think would be good for you.' She looked at me a few moments longer, and then, summoning up all her fortitude, her breast heaving with the effort, she dashed them into the fire. "Well,' said I, 'there let them lie: you shall hear more about them another time; but say no more about them now. Some days after, I bought her a box full of larger beads, and toys of the same kind. When I returned home, I opened the treasure, and set it before her: she burst into tears of ecstacy. “Those, my child,' said I, "are yours, because you believed me when I told you it would be better for you to throw those two or three paltry beads behind the fire. Now, that has brought you this treasure. But now, my dear, remember as long as you live, what Faith is. I did all this to teach
the meaning of faith. You threw your beads away when I bid you, because you had faith in me, that I never advised you but for your good. Put the same confidence in God. Believe everything that he says in his word. Whether you fully understand it or not, have faith in Him that he means your good.”
I do not know but that some slight objection may be made to this illustration, and I do not mention it, by any means, with a view to put Parents on trying such experiments. They are perhaps the most ticklish of
in which a man can engage, and, by the most skilful, must be tried but very rarely indeed; and even then, not only are circumstances to be considered, but, as I said before, the greatest sagacity is needful. Still, when authority is established, and the dear Children feel that they are loved most tenderly, were Parents wise and watchful, I am persuaded that other principles might be still more happily, and perhaps more correctly illustrated.
This, however, after all, though a valuable, is only a contingent or an accidental advantage: but the truth is, that all the benefits which, as a Parent, you are happily appointed to convey to your family, rest on established authority as their sole and appropriate foundation
As all lasting affection must be grafted on esteem and respect : as it is at once your interest and your duty to form confidential habits in all around you: as you desire to interfere in the way of authority but seldom, but that when you do so, you should be obeyed : for these, and other blessings, you have at least laid the proper foundation. Thus, too, though the grounds of your authority need not be explained, and could not be comprehended though they were, your charge will enjoy the first and highest benefits of their existence, from a source, as yet, above their comprehension !
This state of things, however, is not to continue long. Their eyes and ears were given them for constant use, and very soon they will observe, and even in their own little minds make observation, whether you yourself are governed by law, and whether you, in all your conduct, seem also to be under the authority of one above. And, O, at this interesting stage of infancy, I know not of a more advantageous and powerful school for instruction, than when the eye and ear of our children are saluted, daily, by the reverential eye of their parents, and the devotional tones of their Parent's voice, If you, my readers, as Parents, are indeed a living epistle, your Children, without being requested, will read this daily, and with marked observation.
Children, however, are daily advaneing, and therefore provision must be made for this. Authority, though fully established, must also be maintained; but this cannot be done without laws, and there is no law, where there are no rewards and punishments, Without these, what is
called law, is merely solemn advice. Already, indeed, the Children are under law, because they are under authority, but very soon your instructions will, among other subjects, unfold, by slow but certain degrees, the principles on which
you have acted from the beginning, and on which you intend still to proceed. The government of your family, though so singularly established, was begun in such wisdom, and is to be conducted on principles of such fairness and sterling equity, that the very conscience, in its first efforts, you will now find coming in to your assistance; and, corrupt though human nature be, coming to your assistance in a state the most interesting and precious to a Parent's heart
In early days the conscience has in most
Or guilty, soon relenting into tears. Punishments and rewards, which suppose law, as it supposes them, call for no passing consideration : more especially since, both in every human government and in the family, this has been considered by some, as nearly the most difficult department. I question, however, whether the great majority of mistakes here, at least in domestic life, may not be traced to one of only two sources: either our not understanding the principle on which both should be conducted, or our violating this principle, though admitted. To assist us in ascertaining this principle, it may be remarked, that there is nothing of which, in the first years of infancy, a child is more susceptible, than the parental smile or frown. If this fine adaptation of Parent to Child is trifled with by the Parent; if it is regulated by no principle; or if it is disregarded, and its powerful influence is gradually wearing away, then the Parent is daily and deeply in fault. This influence once gone! by