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Is this negligence to be accounted for from any peculiar facility with which Christian truths are imbibed, and Christian habits formed? Is the path of true religion so easily discovered, and so inviting, that the young scarcely want a monitor to point it out and recommend it to their choice; while that of human science is thorny, and arduous, and disgusting, and never willingly chosen? Let the word of God and human experience answer. In fact, truth requires that this picture should be almost reversed. Religion is that which is, beyond all things, repulsive to the nature of man; while human science has many charms for him, and meets with little opposition from his native propensities. In inculcating religion we are rolling a stone up hill, which must be watched every moment, or it will soon bound down again; nor can we hope to make any progress in our work, without continued and painful efforts.

To those who acknowledge the natural propensity of man to evil, and yet take so little pains to correct it in his education, I cannot refrain from addressing a few expostulations.Do you act in a similar manner with respect to any corporeal deformity to which your children may be subject? Do you not take the best medical advice, and persevere, perhaps for many years, and at a great expense, and with very serious inconveniences both to yourselves and your child, in the use of such means as may be recommended to you for his recovery? And yet the evil you labour to correct probably affects only one part of his frame; or the efforts of unassisted nature may

remove it; and even if he should carry it with him to his grave, it may not be fatal to his present welfare, much less to his future happiness. But the disease to which his soul is subject is universal, pervading all its faculties and dispositions. Nature, instead of affording a remedy, is its source, and, if not counteracted, will infallibly render it more and more desperate; and the evils it threatens are of infinite magnitude, and of eternal duration. What, then, can you think of your negligence? Are you not most cruelly deficient in your care of your offspring? And how will you render an account to that Being who has given you a sacred charge to act as his vicegerents in their education ?

The causes of those lamentable and very general defects in religious education which have been noticed are At present I will mention only two or three of

various.

them.

When parents, though they may have a great respect for religion, are not truly religious, there is no difficulty in accounting for their lukewarmness in providing for the religious education of their children. If they do not consider Christianity as the pearl of great price; if in practice they make it rather the handmaid of their worldly interests and pleasures, than the unrivalled empress of their hearts and the sovereign guide of their actions; if this is practically the estimation in which they hold it, of course, they will give it but a second, a third, or a fourth place among the objects on which their view is fixed in the education of their children. If, in their passage through life,

they do not in fact (whatever they may hold in theory) sacrifice their own profit, or pleasure, or reputation, at the shrine of Religion, when these cannot be secured without some dereliction of duty, it must be expected that whatever they may profess as to their plans of education, they will in fact attend more to the worldly advancement, or pleasure, or reputation of their children, than to their progress in vital Christianity. As such parents, however, frequently lament in themselves defects which they have not a heart to remedy; let them be asked whether they would willingly see their offspring in the same state of thraldom, pursuing a course which they disapprove, and breathing fruitless wishes after that holiness which they have not the courage to practise. If their minds revolt at this prospect, let them endeavour, in their choice of masters and instructers, to rescue their children at least from the evils which press upon themselves. They may think it impracticable in their own case (though in truth if they undertook the work in a right spirit, they would conquer every difficulty by the all-powerful aid of divine grace,) to break through inveterate habits, and to brave, amidst a circle of acquaintance like themselves, the looks, the language, the demeanour, to which a prompt and universal obedience to the calls of duty would expose them. But let them have pity on their offspring; and put them in a course which, with God's blessing, may preserve them from the galling fetters which bind their parents.

There are certain classes of upright Christians, (and I solicit their attention with far better hope,) whose efforts in the great work of Christian Education are feeble, from causes of a very different kind. Two of these causes, which arise immediately out of their religious principles, I will now mention.

Some parents, of a truly christian character, are of opinion, that although the instruction of the head is in a good measure left to man, God vindicates to himself in a peculiar manner the empire of the heart, and carries on his own work of conversion in his own way. They therefore regard human endeavours to lead the hearts of the young to God as (to say the least) of very doubtful efficacy; and perhaps look with some jealousy on a very sedulous use of means, for the attainment of this object, as indicative of a disposition to depend on means, rather than on the power and mercy of God. They hope, that if they preserve their children, as far as may be, from the contamination of the world, make them well acquainted with the christian doctrine, and use them to a regular attendance on religious ordinances, He will hear the carnest prayers offered up for them, and in His good time work on their affections and bring them to Himself. These sentiments, in which there is a specious mixture of truth and error, are accompanied by christian graces and habits which have a powerful tendency to counteract their practical effects. Parents, who are wanting in sedulous attention to their children, are often very strict in the examination of themselves, and eminent for tenderness of conscite, for ha

en

tred of sin, for love of holiness, and for adorning the gos pel of their Saviour, by presenting in themselves no dubious image of that mind which shone forth in him. By an attentive observer, however, well acquainted with the interior of their families, the operation of the foregoing opinions will not unfrequently be distinctly traced: and in whatever degree they operate, their tendency must be to weaken, if not to paralize, parental exertions. The hearts and the habits of the rising generation will not be watched with due solicitude; and evils will not be checked and anticipated, nor promising appearances cherished, with that wakeful and unremitting anxiety which the incalculable importance of education demands. Nature, with its corruptions, will be allowed to gather strength; and grace, if assisted, will be feebly assisted, by parental cooperation, (a cooperation which must itself also be altogether the fruit of grace,) till the little victims of this false system contract a most pernicious and fatal habit of hearing and repeating religious truths with indifference, and sometimes perhaps are in nearly as bad a state as the offspring of irreligious parents.

How can such a case be contemplated without an unusual share of pity! Of pity, for children with bright prospects so blasted; and for parents whose very piety, under partial and therefore mistaken views of Gospeltruth, prepares disappointment and bitter pangs in future life, if not eternal ruin, for those whom they have brought into being, and whom, under a better system of education they might have found their glory, and joy, and crown of rejoicing in the great day of the Lord.

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