Imágenes de páginas

must have the affections as well as the confidence of those whom we desire to guide. Parents should not so behave as to cause their children to be frightened at them; for this can hardly fail to operate as a perpetual temptation to lying and artifice. And He that knows what is in all of us, by calling love "the cords of a man," has taught us, in a very affecting manner, what those inducements are by which the human nature may best be drawn and wrought upon. Let this also be taken into consideration. There is a third error as common and as fatal as either undue indulgence or undue severity, -I mean an inconsistency of behaviour towards children; or the being at one time very easy, and at another very harsh, under the self-same circumstances. Where this is wont to be the case, your child will never give you credit for having a reason for your conduct towards him. He will look upon you as being swayed only by humour and caprice; and consequently, though he may obey you where he is forced, he will never be sensible that it is right to do so; nor regard you as having more wisdom than himself. Again; let reproof and censure be in just and evident proportion to the offence given; and let it be clear that offence is taken by you on true and just grounds. We may sometimes hear a parent expressing more anger because a child has broken a pane of



glass, than he does when the same child has taken God's name in vain. This is to instruct him that it is a worse matter to put you to inconvenience than to sin against the Lord; and, at the same time, it proves to him your own selfishness, and consequent unworthiness of his respect, and it confounds right and wrong.

Further, distinguish between levity and obstinacy, between carelessness and malice in the wrong doer, and deal out your rebukes accordingly. "Of some have compassion, (as St. Jude expresses it,) making a difference, and others save with fear, " pulling them out of the fire."* He that would reprove or correct another with effect, must be his own master at the time; where there is much passion there will be little justice, and no appearance of deliberate judgment. Parents are sometimes so far off their guard as to vent their displeasure against a child's fault in intemperate language, not stopping short sometimes even of oaths and blasphemies, and much exceeding in their own practice any expressions of indignation or measure of correction, which they would permit others to make use of towards their children, without loud complaints. I will add here but one thing further, and that will bring me to what I have to say to the other class I mentioned. You are not in a condition to do

* Jude 22, 23.

all that is to be done for your children's education; you have neither time nor ability. Then to the poor especially let me say, Do not tempt charitable people who would help you, to be

weary of well-doing ;" and do not frustrate the grace of God, who stirs them up to serve you. See that without fail and puncchildren your go tually to the schools provided for them, and be slow to listen to any complaints which they bring home against their teachers. There is the parochial minister between you and them, and what you state to him reasonably and respectfully he will look to. Do not apply to him lightly, but having done so, there leave it. If you will weakly take part with your children against their instructors, your are making it impossible for them to do your children any good; and if you cannot even make much allowance for the manner in which the tempers of instructors are tried, you know not how to do unto every man as you would have every one do to you.

I turn now to this congregation generally : "Bear ye one another's burdens," the apostle says to all of you, "and so fulfil the law of Christ."* "As every man hath received the gift, so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." I hope I have made it appear to you, that "for the

* Gal. vi. 2.

+ 1 Pet. iv. 10.

[ocr errors]

soul to be without knowledge is not good"-that God's people are destroyed for lack of knowledge --that "a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame ;" and that christian instruction and discipline are things indispensable to the wellbeing both of individuals and of society. I hope that I have also fairly warned those who are put in special charge of individual children, of the obligation which lies upon them to be faithful to their trust. But now does not an obligation lie upon you also? To what end is it that ye have your wealth? and what reward shall ye render

unto the Lord for all his benefits that he hath done unto you? Are ye not all " members one of another?" Can the eye say to the hand, I have no need of thee? Yea, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, are they not necessary? Do not "rich and poor meet together, the Lord being maker of them all?” * Is not "the king himself served by the field?" † Have not the labourers that reap down your fields a claim upon you? And is it not by the sweat of the brow of him that smites the anvil, that your capital is turned to account? And without him could you thrive or live? Are ye not, at all events, one Father's children, all of you, and the sheep of the same good Shepherd's fold? And has not that Shepherd commanded you to + Eccles. v. 9.

* Prov. xxii. 2.

"feed his lambs ?" * And does he not say, moreover, "It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish?" Then "withhold not good, I say unto you, from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it."

You have the means of helping the poor to help themselves in the education of their children; I pray you use them. Of the general hopefulness of that work I shall have more to say this evening. But I have already stated its necessity, and I shall now only add a few words as to the special means by which it may be attempted in this place, notwithstanding one obvious circumstance which may be thought discouraging.

In this place, it seems, children may go to work, and do, and must, at a very early age. Their parents will not keep them at school when they can earn anything; therefore, if they be not instructed before they are seven or eight years old, there is no time for the attempt at all and what can they learn by that time? I say, a great deal-much that is useful, much that is indispensable, much that, by God's blessing, will be found imperishable. And, moreover, they may be brought to fix their foot upon a step in the ladder of godly learning, from which they may reach higher another day. It happens oftener than

* John xxi. 15.

Matt. xviii. 14.

Prov. iii. 27.

« AnteriorContinuar »