« 上一頁繼續 »
kiss baby!” The father gave his child a sweet kiss. Then the little one said again, “ Mamma, kiss baby!” And then a few moments after, it looked up to heaven and exclaimed, “Now, God, take baby!” and immediately died in its father's arms.
Of this most affecting incident there could be no question. It had an overwhelming effect upon the afflicted parents! But what a proof — and who could doubt it? — of the communion between the little immortal babe and its ever-living God and Saviour! And who can tell how early in the dawn of the dear child's opening intellect the knowledge of God its Creator had been revealed to the soul?
Our early New England villages were a sweet rural region for the discipline of our childhood in freedom and security, away from many of the great temptations of a modern city. The children of our households were accustomed to the example and discipline of a religious life and education, on which not only the issues of our earthly being, but our characters and places of habitation in the future world, may entirely depend. It was the intermingling of scenes of natural beauty with abodes of domestic and spiritual training, in the habits of industry, and of social enjoyment with Sabbath piety and happiness, to the memory and
power of which the beginners in such a pilgrimage, and even those who afterwards might have become estranged from such endearing circles, always returned; revisiting them even in dreams, however distant might have become their separation from such early and delightful experiences of home, under such affectionate and Christian discipline of heart and mind. Such a life was not uncommon, together with many a sweet Pilgrim's Progress as far as the House Beautiful, even before the beginning of any knowledge of the Valley of Humiliation, or the dungeons of Giant Despair.
So it was that in the charming localities of Middletown and Providence, in Connecticut and Rhode Island, there were to be found those attractive rural scenes, and social privileges, and examples of religious and domestic happiness, which united to form some of the most delightful characters that could be imagined in our earthly existence. The New England educational training of the children in our public schools (the Bible of our childhood not then having been condemned to exile) made conscientious, sturdy and fearless citizens, selfdenying, self-relying, and prepared to maintain all the freedom and co-equal rights of men, women, and children, such as our earliest ancestors brought with them in the “Mayflower”
Can we conceive of any arrangement so benevolent, so full of divine mercy to a lost race, as that of social and domestic instruction and intelligence, through the reason, the heart, and the affections, grounded in the gospel of Christ, with its sacred ministrations attended by the Holy Spirit, in the children thus early brought to the knowledge of their Saviour? In the serene parental faithfulness of Christian believers, such a method of training the children: for God's work on earth and his presence in heaven was not unusual. Consequently we had the reality of early Christian friendships and attachments, never to be sundered or forgotten, with all their affectionate ties and sympathies entwined and continued through life. The histories and trials of our Puritan ancestors, both in England and America, are very sacred and precious in our memories, especially the constancy and Christian heroism and steadfastness of those who prepared and sustained us in the principles of our Revolutionary conflicts..
So that it might have been said of the morning of our early life, as in the blissful promise of the One hundred and tenth Messianic Psalm, “ From the womb of the morning Thou hast the dew of thy youth.” Never in the history of mankind was any nation so ushered into the existence of a perfect liberty and religion ; with the children from their infancy, so trained under the government of God, and apparently so conscientiously devoted to his revealed will. For the early reverential discipline of the people in their households, in their schools, and even in their town meetings and political gatherings through the week, together with the sacred Sabbaths of God, and the holy evangelical preaching of their best ministers, attended with revivals of religion through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as in the time of Edwards in Northampton, and the consequent quickening and refreshment of the religious life throughout the best and most intimately related circles of New England, were such marvels of grace that they might well have appeared intended to bring us to the eve of the long-predicted and prayed-for reign of the universal kingdom of Christ on earth. Indeed, out of all this smoking flax came forth the flame of missionary zeal kindled in Williams College, and now flaming through the world.
So that there seemed for a season no other such scenes and epochs transacted in the world as those that were the results of the training of the children in the keeping of the Sabbath, and the teaching of the Gospel in our daily schools, and the supremacy
of the Bible over all our legislative processes and governmental authorities. But these mercies, and all vestiges and remembrances of them, would soon be swept from the face of the earth by the supremacy of political and social atheism and ingratitude, denying and defying the covenant of God's mercy which requires and depends upon the training of each generation in the knowledge and obedience of God's Word.
Thus by God's mercy it was that in the rural towns of Providence and Middletown the earliest childhood of my dear wife was nurtured; and her love of Nature, together with her habits of early piety were confirmed by the culture and companionship of the pupiis in the schools where the gospel of Christ, with its sanctifying and saving truths, was freely and fully taught. There had then gone forth from our rulers no atheistic rescript excluding the Bible and religion from our common schools; and those schools were partakers of the influences of the Holy Spirit, by which the revivals of religion were characterized, and out of which arose so many of the sweet Christian friendships never to be interrupted on earth, and promised to be renewed in heaven.
The letters of friendship in the correspondences that grew out of such early intimacies of the