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rising footsteps of the young; while we turn from the unprotected, unpromising, and the falling, and soon forget the numerous dead,
The great conservative mass of parents, guardians, and friends of the young are familiar only with the more moral, industrious, intelligent, and pious, and they seldom witness these multitudes that move in darkness and degradation to the land of forgetfulness and silence.
It is a subject of no ordinary interest, then, upon which we enter. It is wise, as well as benevolent, to regard with peculiar interest the youthful portion of the community. There is no great revolution, however splendid and useful, or disgraceful and ruinous, which has not been effected by the nerve of their arm. When ancient institutions were to be subverted by violence, their influence was secured and debased. When modern Europe was to present one broad field of blood, her sons were marshaled for conflict and victory. The arm of the Turk was broken only by the resolute and determined spirit of the young Hetaria.
We desire to have the young feel, and to have all feel, that there are elements for good more than for evil in the hands of the young, and that they are to be summoned to noble achievements in the cause of humanity, and that their high destiny is intelligence, virtue, and heaven. We would breathe into all their souls a divine ardor, and point every parent and guardian to the pledges of grace and the securities of the eternal covenant.
We have too long undervalued, and our youth have too long undervalued, the power which they hold in forming the character of the community, and swaying the destiny of the country. We have secured and appropriated their physical powers, while we have neglected their intellectual advancement. Above all, have they been forgotten when moral and religious changes were in view.
If we are not mistaken, and have read inspiration rightly, this is the very time when their aid should be secured, and their iniluence exerted. To make them intelligent, moral, and religious, they should be made tributary to the cause of education, virtue, and piety. It is thus we reach the noblest springs of action"; summon into exercise the moral principles, and lay upon the young the responsibilities of intelligence, morality, and religion. Make all these interests their own, and they will guard them With a double vigilance, and sooner breathe the pure spirit they Would inspire.
Correct understanding of influence, and a consciousness of responsibility, is what we desire to impress on the minds of our young readers, while we entreat their seniors in years to welcome them to participation in duty, and to aid and encourage them in successful exertion. We'rejoice to see the young daughters of the community sharing in all the social duties of life, both of home and public charity, and nothing has such a charm as the young man early adding his name to his father's firm, and widening the circle of his social interests, influence, and usefulness. Having something to do of laudable industry, of virtuous intelligence, of social and religious good, is rightly entering the pathway of man's destiny, and gives a promise of the only reward. The arm inactive is unnerved ; the mind neglected, droops and dies, from all useful vitality, and the heart lost to the appropriate objects and efforts of its nature and designs of grace, is ever sinking in the corruptions of its apostasy, and receding more and more from the hope of its renovation.
All around us is progression to a life that never dies, or to death that never lives. Nature, in her changing and chafing elements ; Providence, in its rapid march, developing man's destinies, and God's purpose in redemption, record on every monument of time, and on every page of earth's history, attestations to truth inspired, declaring the present as heralding the future and the eternal; passing time only as probationary to some stupendous consummation of destiny and character. And, from man's nature, intellect, conscience, and heart, with all the lessons read around him in Providence and the Bible, it is nothing but depravity educated to a deeper shameless prostitution and moral death, that can stifle the warnings of conscience, and suppress the aspirations of the soul for relief and heaven.
Such is now the state of the world, that we may truly say the second advent of the Redeemer dawns, and, like the first, summons the subjects of his creation and mercy to repentance and holiness. Ignorance of truth, negligence of duty, and stupidity, now, is like slumbering in the battle-field while the trumpet is summoning to conflict and victory.
RELIGIOUS MUSIC IN CHRISTIAN FAMILIES.
BY: THOMAS HASTINGS, ESQ.
The chief reasons why religious music is so little valued in Christian families, are two: a wrong estimate of native talent, and skeptical views concerning those results of which the art is susceptible.
It is not pretended that all would excel as artists, any more than that all would excel as models of true eloquence; the things in this respect are parallel. But many a man who could be neither a Burke nor a Chatham, might yet be very useful in his appeals. Though he could not distinguish himself as a model for imitation, he might excel as an influential speaker ; and when immediate practical results were contemplated, the latter circumstance alone would determine us in his favor. So in music; many a man who could be neither a Beethoven, nor a Mendelssohn, as an artist, might yet be far more useful than either of those worthies, in some one given department, which never claimed their special attention. If the art is to be exhibited for improvement in skill, let us seek for the best models ; but if it is to be applied specifically to some useful purpose, let us look for those who are versed in this particular mode of application. Many a man who figures as an artist, in an oratorio or public concert, would have no power at all over an assembly of Christian worshipers, because he could by no means accommodate himself to existing circumstances and influences. One who should be much his inferior in skill, might here be decidedly preferred. The latter might be kindly cherished as a useful man in his occupation as leader, when the former in the same capacity could not be endured.
These things premised, the questions as to abilities and results will be more readily understood. If what I have here said is founded in reason, it will appear that different measures of native talent may prove available in devotional singing. We want not many models or composers. The number of teachers may be lim
ited. All are not needed in the select choir ; and those whose talent is the least, need not be debarred from singing in the family, or in secret. The question as to universality of gifts, is, thenCould all acquire, without serious difficulty, so much as this lowest amount of available skill?
Now, whose testimony shall be taken on this subject?, Certainly, those who spend a long life in teaching, ought to know how to dispose of it. They have done so; and to their amount of testimony, the writer can cheerfully add his own.
For more than thirty years. past he has sought for the supposed unpractical subjects, but in vain. All, of any age, whose tones of speech have not been materially injured, are found capable of musical improvement, when instructions are carefully adapted to their diffieulties. But children, wherever there is singing in families, are found to learn music with the greatest ease, so far at least as ear and voice are concerned. In other juvenile cases, instruction needs to commence farther back; yet all will ultimately succeed, if they receive proper attention.
The settling of this question is important, because it renders nugatory all excuses for neglect. Even indifference to devotional music is inexcusable ; and the neglect of it in Christian families amounts to something like spiritual delinquency. Why should it be such a sin to neglect family prayer, if family praise is to be made a question of mere taste or inclination?. The scriptures afford us no answer to this question. The truth is, that the exercise of praise, like that of prayer, should be regularly attended to in the family circle. If there is not sufficient skill for this purpose, then no time should be lost in acquiring it. It is not for us to decide whether any excuses for neglect of this method of worship are sufficient. That must be left to the Searcher of hearts. But sure we are, that in the multitude of cases, there should be singing of praise, amid the family circle.
But we hasten to speak of results The skeptical views to which I referred, under this head, relate chiefly to devotional singing. I might allude to many incidental advantages of music, as one of the liberal arts.
I might speak of its tendencies to mental refinement, and of its kindly influence upon the social affections.