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Ways in which they may co-operate.
ety, and this desire leads you to wish to hear, yourselves, hatever on this subject is addressed to them.
I have veral times in the course of this work intimated, that e principles which it has been intended to illustrate ad explain, are equally applicable to young and old.
has been adapted, in its style and manner only, to the former class; and I have hoped as I have penned its pages, that a father might sometimes himself be affected by truths which he was reading during a winter evening to his assembled family; or that a mother might take up the book purchased for her children, and be led herself to the Savior by a chapter which was mainly written for the purpose of winning them. I do not intend, however, to press here again your own personal duties. I have another object in view.
That object is to ask you to co-operate fully and cordially in this, and in all similar efforts to promote the welfare of your children. If you have accompanied them through this volume, you will know what parts of it are peculiarly adapted to their condition and wants. These parts you can do much to impress upon their minds by your explanations, and by encouraging them to make the efforts they require. The interest which a father or a mother takes in such a book, is a pretty sure criterionit is almost the very regulator of that felt by the child.
If you notice any thing in the volume which you think erroneous, or calculated to lead to error; or if there is any faults which your child discovers and brings to you, with a criticism which you feel to be just, do not deny or attempt to conceal the fault because it occurs in a book whose general object and aim you approve. Separate the minute imperfections from the general object and design of the whole; and while you freely admit a condemnation of the one, show that it does not affect the character of the other, and thus remove every obstacle which would impede what is the great design of the book, to
Religious example of parents.
press the power of religious obligation in its most plain and simple form.
On the other hand, do not magnify the faults which you may find, or think you find, or turn off the attention of your children from the serious questions of duty which the book is intended to bring before the conscience and the heart, to a cold and speculative discussion of the style, or the logic, or the phraseology of the author. A religious book is in some degree entitled to the privilege of a religious speaker. Parents easily can, on their walk home from church, obliterate all serious impressions from the minds of their children, by conversation which shows that they are looking only at the literary aspects of the performance to which they have listened. In the same manner they can destroy the influence of a book, by turning away attention from the questions of duty which it brings up, to an inquiry into the logic of an argument, or a comment upon the dullness or the interest of a story.
There is one thing more which I may perhaps without impropriety say. Your religious influence over your children will depend far more on your example than upon your efforts to procure for them good religious instruction. They look to you for an exemplification of piety, and if they do not see this, you cannot expect that they will yield themselves to its principles on your recommendation. Your children, too, must see piety exemplified in a way which they can appreciate and understand. To make vigorous efforts for the support of the Gospel
to contribute generously for the various benevolent objects of the day-and even to cultivate in your hours of secret devotion the most heartfelt and abasing penitence for sin, will not alone be enough to recommend piety effectually to your children. They look at other aspects of your conduct and character. They observe the tone of kindness or of harshness with which you speak the tranquillity or the irritation with which you
Blessing obtained by religious example.
bear the little trials and disappointments of life-your patience in suffering, and your calmness in danger. They watch you to observe how faithfully you perform the ordinary duties of your station. They look with eager interest into your countenance, to see with what spirit you receive an injury, or rebuke what is wrong.
By making faithful and constant efforts to live like Christians yourselves, and to exhibit to your children those effects of piety upon your conduct and character which they can understand and appreciate, and by adapting religious instruction to the peculiar intellectual habits of the young, you may anticipate a sure and an abundant blessing upon your labors. Childhood is a most fertile part of the vineyard of the Lord. The seed which is planted there vegetates very soon, and the weeds which spring up are easily eradicated. It is in fact in every respect an easy and a pleasant spot to till, and the flowers and fruits which, with proper effort, will bloom and ripen there, surpass all others in richness and beauty.