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I might speak, too, of the rational pleasure which is derived from instrumental music. But this will be admitted. The subject does not labor here. Secular music is becoming fashionable, as a regular branch of female education. Even families who neglect the exercise of praise, from week to week, and from year to year, will cheerfully give time and money for instruction in secular music, without seeing the least inconsistency in their course. They neglect devotional singing simply because they would anticipate no benefit from it.
Is it so, then, that spiritual results are not to be derived from exercises in praise? The supposition is preposterous. It goes to question the wisdom and goodness of Him who requires us to employ our powers in his service. Those who neglect devotional singing will, of course, have but little experience of its proper results; and the case may be still more unfortunate with those who pay exclusive attention to music in other departments; for the strains which ought to edify them, will be filled only with tasteless or with secular associations. It is only by regular persevering practice that devotional singing will benefit us. In praise, just as in prayer, we must be habitually watchful, and sincere. We must form, with care and effort, the habit of singing with our minds fixed upon divine things, and not suffer them, in moments of devotion, to be engrossed with mere musical considerations. Families who have tried this experiment faithfully, have given ample testimony in favor of its advantages. They enjoy a privilege which is too precious to be relinquished. This subject was understood by the primitive Christians. Luther understood it, and has left full testimony as to its importance. The reformers understood it. At certain hours of the day, whole villages of them would be rendered vocal with songs at the family altar. The nature of praise has not degenerated. Let the experiment become general, and practical religion will be found to increase.
Does not the echo in the sea-shell tell of the worm which once inhabited it; and shall not man's good deeds live after him, and sing his praise ?
THIRD ANNUAL REPORT OF THE MATERNAL ASSOCIATION,
SOUTH DENNIS, MASS. PRESENTED OCTOBER 3, 1849.
It is with pleasure and thankfulness that we report our condition, after an existence as an association, through another year,
in so much prosperity.
In summing up our history, through the last twelve months, the few facts which we communicate will be invested with an importance, which they only can appreciate who are the members of this association. In looking back upon the proceedings of our monthly meetings, we find them interesting, and of such a nature as to have been of benefit to all the mothers present. The circumstances under which we commenced the past year did not offer to us the most desirable inducements to labor, we then being called to separate with one (Mrs. Pettingill, our former pastor's lady,) with whom we had often taken sweet counsel ; holding, as she should, such a prominent place in our affections ; under whose assistance, aided by her benevolent and Christian-like influence, this association came into being. We have ever noticed her laboring with anxious solicitude, in the cause of morals and religion ; have ever seen her, with untiring interest, using all her powers, both physical and mental, to advance the cause of Christ; we therefore feel bereaved by her absence, and pray that the same kind Hand which has led her on, may still guide her wherever she may go, and bring her at last to her everlasting reward, in heaven. Situated in such peculiar circumstances, still we felt our cause to be a good one, calling forth the interests of our minds, and if rightly sustained, we believed it would bring incalculable benefits upon ourselves and our children.
The benefits which we all have derived from our organization, have created a new interest, as we fondly trust, in our efforts, and We believe it still to be growing, and evincing itself in the promptness and energy with which the exercises of our meetings are conducted.
Our members, the past year, have much increased. We now number thirty-six mothers ; about one-third of them have recently joined this association, their children numbering thirty; and we do hope that their associated efforts will be most happy upon the advancement of the cause of Christ among us.
During the past year, a library has been commenced, which may enable us to derive from other sources than our own, information, not only in benefiting our own minds, but also in affording us instruction upon the government and training of our children, and in securing their filial obedience, upon which depends their future character, as members of society. Our meetings, we are happy to state, unlike any of previous time, have been well attended ; and pleasant it is to view our room well filled with mothers, anxiously inquiring the best mode of securing the welfare of their offspring. Our quarterly meetings have been well attended. The juvenile members have shown a lively interest in them, and have evinced a willingness to contribute their mites, when called upon, to sustain any of the benevolent objects presented to them.
We would not forbear, at this time, to render our thanks to our Creator, that among the many deaths that have occurred with, and about us, no member of our society, nor of the children under our charge, has become a victim to the destroyer within the past year, and we would call upon our souls, and all within us, to adore and bless that preserving Providence who has watched over us, in so much mercy.
But, in conclusion, let us ask, whether the object for which we have so frequently met together has been attained? Can we see in our children that readiness to obey—that advancement in moral and Christian character, for which we have so long and earnestly prayed? or is there not a want of faithfulness with us, in seeking a divine blessing upon our efforts ? Let us then, in answer to these questions, resolve, as individual members, to make persevering exertions, and offer more fervent, effectual, and spiritual prayer, for the conversion of our children, and for an heirship to an eternal inheritance in heaven.
M. NICKERSON, Secretary.
Original THE BONFIRE; OR, MY FIRST 'DISOBEDIENCE.
BY REV. F. C. WOODWORTH.
When a child, I had a great passion for a large fire. I was brought up in the country; and nothing pleased me so well, as to go into the pasture with my father's hired men, at à particular season of the
year, and see them set fire to the heaps of brush · which they had collected. One winter, when I was quite young,
our school-house burned down. It caught fire in the night, and a pretty dark night, too, according to my present recollection. I saw the fire from our parlor windows--for the school-house was only a few rods from my father's--and although I was sorry to have the building destroyed, and possibly a stray tear or two found their way down my cheeks, as I heard the crackling of the flames, saw the leaves of the children's spelling-books, burned to ashes, rising above that mass of ruin, until they were lost in the darkness; and as I heard the lamentations of the almost frantic schoolmaster, who, as I recollect, had been drawn to the scene, apparently, without having very carefully attended to the duties of the toilet; though I was sorry to have the old schoolhouse burned down, yet I thought I never had beheld a more splendid spectacle than the flames presented. The event figured in my recollection, with a good deal of distinctness, for a long time; and while I hoped that no more school-houses would take fire, I devoutly wished, that, in case any one should get into such an unfortunate predicament, and should, withal, make so respectable a blaze as ours did, I might, by some means, be within sight of it at the time. I
suppose there was nothing wrong in this passion of mine. It was right enough in itself, perhaps. But there was something wrong in the mode I took to indulge the passion ; and that is what I am coming at. One windy day, in the fall of the year, I asked my mother to let me go into the lot back of the barn, and make a little bonfire. She was not willing. I plead with her, however, just as children should not do, when their parents deny them anything. I only wanted to make a little bonfire, a very little one-so I told her. It would not do the least harm in the world, I should be so careful. Still my mother refused. She was not willing to trust me with fire in such a windy day, and so near the barn. So she utterly refused her consent to my darling scheme of making a little bonfire.
Now, reader, what do you think I did, in this case? “You gave up the scheme,” I think I hear you say—“ you gave it up, and amused yourself in some other way.” That is just exactly what I ought to have done, but—I grieve to be obliged to say itit is exactly what I did not do.
There was a sort of dialogue going on in my mind, for the space of several minutes. Two spirits—so it seemed—were whispering to me, in turn; one telling me to obey my mother, and the other, urging me to gratify my foolish whim in the matter of the bonfire. One made me feel that it was wrong to disobey my mother; that God would see me kindle the fire, if no one else did, and that I should offend him; that, on the whole, my mother understood the matter better than I could possibly understand it, and that she denied my request, not for want of love to me, but because she was afraid that I might, though unintentionally, do some mischief.
The other spirit used a very different set of arguments. They were such as these : that it was unjust for my mother to deny me 80 small a favor ; that the fire would not do the least harm in the world ; that it would afford me a great deal of amusement; that nobody would see the fire, as my father and all the hired men were out in the field at work ; that, as to its being a sin, the notion was ridiculous; it was such a small affair, that it was not worth thinking about; so that I had better go and kindle the fire at once.
Alas! I closed my ears to the voice that urged me to do right, and yielded to the suggestions of the tempter. Like a thief, I stole into the kitchen, when no one saw me, took a coal from the hearth, and ran with it to the place where I had determined to make my bonfire. How foolish, as well as wicked, was the course