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and it is by the latter they will be mainly governed, both during childhood and their future existence.
The question, however, returns, What will educate these Children? And now I answer, “ Your example will educate them-your conversation with your friends—the business they see you transact—the likings and dislikings you express—these will educate them; the society you live in will educate them—your domestics will educate them; and whatever be your rank or situation in life, your house, your table, and your daily behavior there, these will educate them. To withdraw them from the unceasing and potent influence of these things is impossible, except you were to withdraw yourself from them also. Some Parents talk of beginning the education of their Children: the moment they were capable of forming an idea, their education was already begun,—the Education of circumstances -insensible education, which, like insensible perspiration, is of more constant and powerful effect, and of far more consequence to the habit, than that which is direct and
apparent. This education goes on at every instant of time; it goes on like time--you can neither stop it, nor turn its
Whatever these, then, have a tendency to make your Children, that, in a great degree, you at least should be persuaded, they will be.”
The language, however, occasionally heard from some Fathers, may here not unseasonably be glanced at. They are diffuse in praise of maternal influence; and, pleased at the idea of its power and extent, they will exclaim, “O yes, there can be no doubt of it, that everything depends on the Mother.” This, however, will be found to spring from a selfish principle, and from anxiety to be relieved from mighty obligations, which, after all, cannot be transferred from the Father's shoulders to those eyen of a Mother; to say nothing of the unkindness involved in laying upon her a burden which nature never intended,
and never does. Her influence, as an instrument, indeed, a Husband cannot too highly prize; but let no Father imagine that he can neutralize the influence of his own presence and his own example at home. He cannot if he would, nor can he escape from obligation. The patience and constancy of a Mother are, no doubt, first mainly tried, but then those of the Father. The dispositions in each Parent are fitted by nature for this order in the trial of patience; but, from the destined and appropriate share allotted to each, neither of the two parties, when in health, can relieve the other.
Addressing myself, therefore, to both Parents, I would say, “Contract to its just and proper dimensions the amount of all that purchased Education can do for you, and expect no more from it than it is truly able to perform. It can give instruction. There will always be an essential difference between a human being cultivated and uncultivated. In the department of purchased tuition, you will portion out to the best advantage many of those precious hours of youth which never will return; and such employment will lend you powerful aid in forming those personal habits which lie within the province of parental education; but rest assured, and lay it down to yourselves as a cardinal principle, that the business of education, properly so called, is not transferable. You may engage a master, or masters, as numerous as you please, to instruct your Children in many things, useful and praiseworthy in their own place, but you must, by the order of nature, educate them yourselves. You not only ought to do it, but you will perceive that, if I am correct in what I have stated, and may still advance, you must do it, whether you intend it or not. “The Parent,” said Cecil, “is not to stand reasoning and calculating. God has said, that his character shall have influence; and so this appointment of Providence becomes often the punishment of a wicked or a careless man As
Education, in the sense I have explained, is a thing necessary for all,—for the poor and for the rich—for the illiterate as well as the learned, Providence has not made it dependent on systems, uncertain, operose, and difficult of application. Every Parent, therefore, save when separated altogether from his Family, may be seen daily in the act of educating his Children; for, from Father and Mother, and the circumstances in which they move, the Children are daily advancing in the knowledge of what is good or evil. The occupations of the poor man at his daily labor, and of the man of business in his countinghouse, cannot interrupt this education. In both instances the Mother is plying at her uninterrupted avocations, and her example is powerfully operating every hour, while at certain intervals daily, as well as every morning and evening, all things come under the potent sway of the Father or the Master, whether that influence be good or bad. Here, then, is one school from which there are no truants, and in which there are no holidays.
True, indeed, you send your Children to another school, and this is the very best in the whole neighborhood;
and the character of the Master there is not only unexceptionable, but praiseworthy. When your Children come home, too, you put a book, of your own selection, into their hands, or even many such books, and they read them with pleasure and personal advantage. Still, after all this, never for one day forget, that the first book they read,
that which they continue to read, and by far the most influential, is that of their Parents' example and daily deportment.
If this should be disregarded by you, or even forgotten, then be not at all surprised when you find, another day, to your sorrow and vexation, and the interruption of your business, if not the loss of all your domestic peace and harmony, that your Children only “ know the right path, but still follow the wrong"
would rather come to any trial, than come to such a distracting conclusion as this. Well, then, say to yourselves-What became of Children when there were no books whatever in existence ? How was it that Abraham and Job, and the Parents of such times, acquitted themselves so well, and were even so successful in regard to their Families ? Nay, how was it that the generation which was trained even in the wilderness, between Egypt and Canaan, should turn out to be perhaps the very best which Israel ever could produce during their existence as a nation ? As a reproof to their posterity, was it not to them that the Lord looked back with such complacency, many ages afterwards, and of them that he then said—“ I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals,” or stedfast love,“ when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not
Israel then was noliness unto the Lord.” How was all this?
Simply because these Parents well understood the subject to which we now refer ; and because that generation had so far adopted the advice of Moses on principle, and acted accordingly.* To all succeeding ages, these and many others will prove standing witnesses to the power and importance of what has already been styled the Education of circumstances, and the Education of the disposition.
II. THE EDUCATION THE DISPOSITIONS.
As the Sacred Scriptures have entered so deeply into the various dispositions of the human character ; explaining, with great minuteness, and almost infinite variety, not only what they are, but what they ought to be ; I presume that you will make them your guide, in training or educating the dispositions of your Children. As the only certain
* See Deuteronomy v. 6—9, and xi. 18—21.
and solid foundation, you will therefore, of course, begin with
Religious Instruction, properly so called. As a basis for such instruction, I cannot conceive of anything which is once to be compared with the law of God, and that simply as it was delivered, and is recorded in Scripture; for it is a singular fact, that, with the exception of a very few words, which can be left without any loss or injury to a future period, the law which binds angels as well as men, is so expressed, as to be level to the capacity even of a child. We have no ambiguity, no perplexity, or highsounding words here. The majesty of thought is indeed divine; but as angels themselves, when they did address men, spake with great simplicity of language, so the Lord of angels, knowing not only the perversity of human nature, but the limits of human reason, has condescended so to express his will, that, in his law especially, there should not remain the shadow of an apology for not understanding it. The statute laws of Great Britain are said to amount to above twenty folio volumes, and the unwritten, to many more; yet, after all, cases are occurring, even in our day, to which neither of these can reach! Digests of these laws are also still only in the course of publication, and commentaries are endless; while, in regard to the divine law, it has been both summed up and expounded by its Author, in a style and manner equally plain and striking with the original code itself. Never was any law so briefly comprehended, in only one sentence, without losing one iota of its import and intention, as this has been. Two commands only, like pillars of the moral universe, comprise the whole ; while these are “so intelligible, so easily remembered, and so easily applied, that they are at once level to the capacity, and ready for the use of every moral being.” “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy