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in Childhood, and he sought the readiest and simplest means to unfold it, and bring it into the light of day.
That he has withheld his own sentiments from the children in all instances, he can scarce hope. It was next to impossible. He has doubtless led them, in some instances, by the tenor of his questions, and his manner of disposing of replies, to the adoption or rejection of sentiments, foreign to their nature. But he believes that he has seldom erred in this way. He preferred to become the simple Analyst of the consciousness of the children, and, having no opinions of his own to establish against their common convictions, he treated with reverence whatever he found within it, deeming it, when spontaneous, a revelation of the same Divinity, as was Jesus.
He is aware that the work which he has assumed is one of great difficulty. He feels that it is not easy to ascertain the precise state of a child's mind. He knows that much of what a child utters has been received from others, that language is an uncertain organ
in his use; that he often endows words with his own significance; that he is liable to mistake the phenomena of his own consciousness; and, moreover, that his scanty vocabulary often leaves him without the means of revealing himself. Still some certainty is attainable. For a child can be trusted when urged to ingenuous expression; and when all temptations to deceive are withdrawn. A wise and sympathizing observer will readily distinguish the real from the assumed; penetrate through all the varying phases of expression, and do him justice.
Yet, while so little is done to guard children against servile imitation, by a wise training of their minds to original thought, we are in danger of not giving them credit for what is their own. So little confidence, indeed, do we place in their statements, and so imitative do we deem them, that, when a wise saying chances to drop from their lips, instead of regarding it, as it of right should be, the product of their own minds, we seek its origin among adults, as if it must of necessity spring from this source alone. We greatly underrate the genius of child
We do not apprehend the inward power, that but awaits the genial touch, to be quickened into life. The art of tempting this forth we have scarce attained. We have outlived our own simple consciousness, and have thus lost our power of apprehending them. We have yet to learn, that Wisdom and Holiness are of no Age; that they preëxist, separate from time, and are the possession of Childhood, not less than of later years; that they, indeed, often appear in fresher features, in the earlier seasons of life, than in physical maturity. In Man they are often quenched by the vulgar aims of the corporeal life.
To a child, all questions touching the Soul are deeply interesting. He loves his own consciousness. It is a charmed world to him. As yet he has not been drawn out of it by the seductions of the propensities; nor is he beguiled by the illusions of his external senses. And were he assisted in the study and discipline of it, by those who could meet his wants, and on whom he could rely, his spiritual acquirements would keep pace with his years, and he would grow up wise in the mysteries of the
spiritual kingdom. The Divine Idea of a Man, the vision of Self-Perfection, would live in his consciousness; instead of being, as now, pushed aside by the intrusive images, and vulgar claims, of unhallowed appetite and desire. Christ would be formed in the Soul the Hope of Immortality.
In the original copy of this record, the names of the speakers were preserved, as necessary to identify their different views and statements. It is feared that some persons may regret the insertion of these in the printed volume, from a regard to the effect on the speakers themselves. Yet to have used assumed names would have impaired the identity of the record, and have diminished its value, of course, as an historical fact. No serious evils, it is believed, can arise from retaining them. The children expressed themselves in simplicity; there is nothing in their remarks, to flatter their vanity; and they have no desire to see their names in print. The Editor would regret extremely, to be the means of wounding the feelings of those of
his patrons, who have expressed their sympathy with his views, and who, amid much to try their faith in the practicability of his attempt to renovate education, have continued their children under his care. Much less, would he wantonly do ought to injure, in the slightest degree, that simplicity and meekness, which he has sought to cherish in those, for whose spiritual and intellectual culture, these conversations were primarily intended.
The Editor would remark, in conclusion, that he deems his labors valuable, not only to those children, who were present at these conversations, and to the general reader, but he ventures to hope that they will commend themselves, also, to those parents and teachers, who deem the spiritual growth and discipline of those committed to their care, of unspeakable and primary importance. He trusts that he has given, in these specimens of his intercourse with children, a model, not unworthy of imitation, of the simplest and readiest mode of presenting religious truth to the young. He believes that he has