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The first dawning of the mental powers, in infancy, is a season of great anxiety and responsibility to the mind of that parent who is aware of the importance of the interesting charge committed to
The impressions and the bias the little one may then receive, most probably, will determine its career in this life, and influence its destiny throughout eternity.
It is a well-known fact, that early impressions are the most abiding, and the circumstances in which we were placed when young, the examples we had before us, and the observations we heard, were moulding the man; and hence, we see the paramount importance of pursuing a correct system of training the first bud dings of the infant mind.
The conduct of parents toward each other will have a great effect upon the minds of their offspring; where there is an apathetic feeling toward each other, a want of respect, a morose temper, or a contentious, bickering spirit, that mars the harmony of the conjugal relation, it is soon observed, and greatly tends to lessen the love and reverence which are due from children to their parents ; and not only so, but it gives them also a distaste for religion and sacred things, when they witness a conduct and disposition so unlovely in those who profess themselves to be followers of Christ, and often tell their children, that to be happy here they must become lovers of the Bible, and govern their lives by the rules therein laid down.
Nothing is more calculated to prevent the seeds of infidelity being sown in the minds of our youth, than encouraging a united, forbearing, loving spirit, even in the minute and constant duties of the family circle. Many a child's temper has been soured by that of its parents, and it has early imbibed an idea that the human heart is devoid of lovely and benevolent feelings, and on arriving to manhood, has become a misanthrope.
This was evinced in the character of Lord Byron-his mother's harshness toward him—who, instead of pitying him, on account of
VOL. XVIII.NO, VII.-13
his lameness, would cast reproaches on him, and thus gave a cast to his mind that never left him, and threw a gloom and melancholy around him all his days.
Children are generally of an inquiring disposition, which, instead of being checked, should by all means be encouraged, but directed in a right course. We are aware that to some parents this often appears troublesome, but it should not be thought so. “I am busy now, my child, I will answer your questions by-and-by, when I am more at leisure,” is far better than denying him; and when the little one perceives his mother is disengaged, and repeats his inquiries, how will it increase his confidence in his mother's word, that she now attends to his request! It was said of the great Mr. Locke, that he never lost an opportunity of asking a question, on any subject suited to the occasion; and thus furnished his mind with an immense stock of useful information.
When we consider, that it is the duty of parents to convey to the opening mind of the young immortal some idea of the reason why it was born into the world, to unravel to it its destiny for another world, to explain to it the character of God, and the
must pursue in order to be happy; then it is we see the importance of using proper means, by which such momentous information may be imparted, so as to insure a final and blessed effect. Although we would, by no means, undervalue the stern religious character of our venerated forefathers, yet we may, perhaps, be allowed to think them unhappy in their method of forcing, as it were, the mind into a love for religion, by tasking their memories to the utmost, with long catechisms and other lessons, of a religious nature, when, perhaps, they knew but little, if any. thing, of the spirit and meaning of what they learned. This method often fails to win the youthful mind over to the side of piety. The real secret is, to get it interested ; to load the memory less ; and to enlighten the soul, that it may understand and feel the use and guiding effect of every step it takes, in the knowledge of a religious nature.
We have often felt grieved for the younger branches of a family, when, of a Sabbath evening, a long sermon has been read, very suitable for adults and members of churches, but by no means
adapted for children ; yet they must sit still through the reading of the same, and frequently are in a deep sleep before the discourse is half through, and then must be awakened, and solemnly told that there will be no sleeping in heaven, that God is angry with them; and that a certain man died while sleeping, under a sermon preached by the Apostle Paul.
In order to render religion lovely, we, ourselves, should cherish a cheerful disposition; and, to make the Bible interesting, we should select for our children, and point out the beauties, of various parts of Holy Writ-especially let them study the history of some of the pious youth recorded therein, such as Joseph, Samuel, and others--tell them how wonderfully God has preserved this holy book, and that it is owing to its wise and holy laws that we Americans are more highly-favored than any other nation.
Children, at a very early age, receive impressions about religion, such as the Being and character of God, death, and a future world; and parents should be particularly guarded in their conversation upon such subjects before their children, lest they should imbibe false ideas of the Holy One, and think that He is a tyrant rather than a father ; a Being that delights in the miseries, rather than in the happiness of his creatures. The subject of death should be explained, as the reason why men are born to die. The triumphant death of saints, and especially young children, they should be made acquainted with, that they may know, that even little children, by the Gospel, may rise above the fear of this last enemy.
We cannot, too early, begin to interest and instruct the youthful mind. Many of us, when young, as we have gazed upon the sun, when setting behind the mountains that girded the region of country where we were born, have thought that those mountains were the boundaries of the world, and similar opinions we at that time entertained upon all other subjects. How pleasant would be the task to the affectionate mother to correct these erroneous ideas, and lead forward the growing capacity of her children.
Our Sabbath-school, and other institutions for the instruction of our youth, by no means exonerate the mother from being her child's instructor. Although it is to be lamented, that this idea
influences many, supposing that they have got rid of what they considered a burden, when it ought to be esteemed both a pleasure and a privilege, the effects of which can never be duly appreciated here, nor fully known, until both parent and child shall have entered upon that existence in eternity, the preparation for which can only be made in the present world.
THOSE may hope to be saved at the eleventh hour, who, when called at that hour, can plead that it is their first call; who can say when asked why they stand idle, “Because no man has hired us.”