Page images
PDF
EPUB

descend the hill of life, and the knees wax feeble, that then

hen thou wilt need some comfort to assuage
Health's last farewell, a staff of thine old age;
That then, in recompense of all thy cares,
Thy child shall show respect to thy grey hairs;
Befriend thee, though of other friends bereft,
And give thy life its only cordial left;
Aware then how much danger intervenes,
To compass that good end, forecast the means.
His heart, now passive, yields to thy command;

Secure it thine-its key is in thine hand.” In one word, with regard to Christianity, let the regulation of the judgment, a reference to the conscience, and the impression of the heart, be your habitual and ultimate aim, in all that you say or do. Care not for worldly, and, above all, what are called fashionable ideas on this subject. Do your duty: and ever rest assured, not only that “the most important and purest source of knowledge is the simple and unprejudiced study of the Bible,” but that of all books in existence, the Scriptures, as a whole, are most intelligible to Children. The fundamental truths drawn from this source, to which I have adverted, remember also, belong to no one rank in life only. . In these, Children, as such, are not only interested, but to them, they are of equal importance, whether they are rich or poor, whether they are to travel the lowest or the highest walks of society. Rely upon it, that education which does not fully, and carefully, and patiently communicate these truths, must ever prove essentially, not to say cruelly efective.

The whole circle of dispositions I need not, perhaps could not, go over ; but a few of those, for which no school ever was, or ever can be opened, will sufficiently explain what I intend, and, I would fain hope, impress the minds of some Parents more deeply, with the vast

importance of this untransferable department of parental duty.

Wisdom and Prudence.—The wisest of men has long ago told us,

that Wisdom dwells' with Prudence ; yet many there are, who never think of these, though the King and Queen of all the excellences in the human disposition. They aim at learning, and the subtleties of speculative knowledge, rather than wisdom. They fill the memory and warm the fancy with fictitious narrative, instead of strengthening the judgment, regulating the conscience, or training the will. Instead of laboring to make their Children wise and prudent, conscientious, and considerate, and humane, their main object is to make them clever, and expert, and fine scholars; so that ultimately they may, if possible, be rich and admired. The great matter, in short, is, that, in their day, they may

make a figure in the world. As the method pursued feeds at once the vanity of both parties, as well as that of their connexions, Parents are at great expense, and their Children at great pains, to gain this knowledge and these accomplishments; yet, oh, what a poor conclusion is at last gained, though often not gained! At how much less expense of money, and though more of personal labor, yet of personal profit, might they have made them wise, and prudent, and fit for the bustle and the business of life.

Parents should ever remember, that there may be those who must and will make a trade of mere learning, and who may sink it down into a mercenary, pedantic, and merely mechanical thing. To neglect the higher ground on which nature hath placed them, and deliver over their dear Children to such, all the while conceiving that, when they have paid the school-fees, they have done their duty, and are really determined to give them, what is often

strangely called, “a good education,' is a mistake for which they will, another day, pay very dear. What they thus sow they shall one day reap; and if any Parents wish to avoid such an error, let them only contemplate sedately the difference between learning and wisdom, and they will soon, not only pause, but pursue a inore excel

lent way.

Learning is good in its own place; but it should not be forgotten, that it is simply a collection of the excellences of others laid up in the memory. Shallow draughts, the too common result of such a race after accomplishments, only intoxicate ; and even when learning is pursued to a height, it is but a poor acquirement compared with wisdom. This is the calm and regular government of the soul, leading its possessor to observe true measures, and suitable decorum in words, in thought, and in action. Learning will civilize, and polish, and refine, but of itself cannot moralize or sweeten the temper, or abate resentment. On the contrary, by itself, it sets a keener edge upon the calamities of life, and renders the man or the woman impatient and peevish, if their merits are not appreciated, as their vanity suggests they should be. In the whole world there is perhaps no man so much alive to misery, and in fact so miserable, as a profligate scholar, while his profligacy may, in most cases, be traced, if not to the example, yet to the neglect of his parents. They observed not, or would not observe, the difference between learning and wisdom. They gave him the one, and paid for it too, frequently saying, that they felt resolved to spare no expense in giving him ' a good education ;' but they neglected to labor in their own appropriate sphere to communicate and instil the other.

Learning alone is captious and arrogant, indiscreet and ill-mannered, presumptuous and addicted to dispute. Wisdom is modest and unpretending, gentle and peaceable,

full of respect for inferiors as well as superiors, and full of respect for all. Learning alone, also, is not only affected and full of pretence, but it consists in talk, rather than in action; while wisdom is active and efficacious; manages and governs; is never troublesome ; and when it seems so, is never out of time or place. If, then, there is such a superiority in wisdom, patiently acquired at the side of the household fire, over merely acquired knowledge, let Parents beware of their Child being brought up to be a mere scholar.

It is certainly a curious circumstance to see these two so often separated-a learned man without wisdom, and a wise man with but little learning ; but this is a separation which might most frequently, and with great ease, be traced to the Parents of these men. Since wisdom, therefore, is not taught at any school, and the wisdom of which I speak cannot there be infused, it remains for Parents alone to turn out such men and women into the world as have a measure of both in union. They may pay for learning, but they must teach wisdom. At all events no one else will no one can. It is not the teacher's business, in general, but it is the Parent's, universally, to say _“Wisdom is the principal thing: my son, get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding.” When the boy reads, and acquits himself well, the teacher may indeed say—“I taught the boy,” but it remains for the Father or the Mother to add, with far different feelings, “I have taught him in the way of wisdom, and I led him in right paths. Often, often have I said — Be not wise in thine own eyes : trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths.'”

Prudence, too, or wisdom applied to practice, or the practice of acting with uprightness, it is your province to teach ; for though the inconstancy and uncertainty of all

sublunary things render it a difficult acquirement, still there is such an excellency, and one of great value. Though " the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor yet riches to men of understanding,” still there is an order and succession in human events, which render prudence of essential moment. There is a time, and there is a manner too, in human things: hence the wise man's heart is said to “discern both time and judgment.”

Truth and Sincerity.--Telling the truth, upon all occasions, can only result from loving it; but as no one can be expected to see the beauty, as well as the justice of truth and uprightness, between man and man, or child and child, except he be instructed in and by the truth or Word of God; so upon you, in a special and peculiar degree, must depend the means by which alone your Children are to be possessed of this conscientious and willing regard, to the dispositions of sincerity or integrity, in all they say or do. The understanding of these fundamental truths of Christianity, therefore, to which I have adverted, however much they have been overlooked or disdained, will be found, I am persuaded, the seed, and the only security of that sincerity and regard for truth, on all occasions, which you desire to infuse. know Him who " desireth truth in the inward parts,” and who alone can create in your dear Children that spirit in which “ there is no guile.” He alone “ in the hidden part” can “make them to know wisdom ;” and to him therefore must you ever look : for not only is “understanding a well-spring of life to him that hath it,” and the “ wise in heart called prudent,” but “the heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning, and sincerity and truth “ to his lips.

There is one melancholy reason for you, as Parents,

I trust you

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »