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What mode of address shall I employ, to engage, for a moment, the attention of young ones; and to im. press upon their hearts the importance of my subject? Would to God I could again become a little child, that, with the lessons of experience, I might regulate my own future conduct, and be an useful monitor to the simple and inexperienced. Lwould in that case say, My little friend, God and nature have made you lovely. The candour, and frankness, and benevolence of your heart shine upon your countenance. Every day discloses some new grace. You are increasing in stature: you are growing in favour with all who behold you. Every one thinks well, speaks well, hopes well of you. Grow on. Preserve that amiable simplicity. Let it be the charm of advancing years, of expanding faculties. Let that blooming face be still raised to Heaven with modest confidence; and those gracious eyes still beam good-will to men. May I never see that open forehead clouded and contracted. What, shall the horrid traces of vice disfigure that form? Shall every one that passeth by be constrained to turn away with loathing and aversion? Shall the mother who bare thee, have her face covered with a blush when thou art named? Must she be made to mourn the day which was once her joy? Angels will behold your progress with delight; they will rejoice in ministering unto you: they are ready to receive you into their number, when your course is finished. God himself regards you with smiles of complacency; he is ever ready to assist, to counsel, to protect, to receive you. Let there be joy in heaven concerning you. Now, now is the season for laying the foundation of useful life, respectable age, comfortable death.
-But what do I see? That youthful face already degraded by vice! so young, and so horrid! Unhappy youth, the depravity of thy heart is painted on they forehead. The sight of thy own countenance fillethi thee with horror. Shame and remorse are preying on
the marrow in thy bones. In the hours of solitude and retirement, stretched on thy bed, to which sleep is a stranger, thou art constrained to reflect on the wretchedness of thy condition; thou feelest thyself unworthy of the praises bestowed upon thee, by the partiality of those who know thee not; thou blushest in secret, and art filled with indignation against thyself, on calling to remembrance the innocence and simplicity of happier days. Thou givest up thyself as lost. No, young man, do not abandon thyself to despair: add not this to thy offences; there is help for thee, let it re-animate thy courage. Though “ cast down," thou art “not destroyed.” However debased that face, it is in thy power to amend, to ennoble it. Thou wert not destined always to remain an innocent child, nor couldest thou: by stumbling and falling thou wert to be instructed how to walk and to run. Wert thou wounded and bruised; wert thou plunged into the abyss? there is an arm nigh thee, which is able to raise thee up, to strengthen and to heal thee. Multitudes like thyself have been recovered, restored, established. “ As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord” will have mercy upon thee, and forgive, and receive thee. The impure, the profane, the blasphemer, the chief of sinners, have repented, have returned, have found favour; and there is hope also concerning thee. Only, for the Lord's sake, and for thy soul's sake, proceed no farther, persevere no longer in an evil course. One step forward may be fatal; to-morrow may find thee in the place where there is no hope. « Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation." “ Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.” “ The wind is boisterous,” the sea rages, thou art 6 beginning to sink,” thou art ready to perish; but shalt not, whilst thou art able to exclaim, "Lord save me:" for behold “a very present help in trouble;' that helping hand which snatched Peter from the roaring gulf. “And immediately
Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matt. xiv. 31.
I conclude with calling upon parents, and guardians, and instructors of youth, seriously to consider the importance of the trust committed unto them; and to discharge it under a sense of responsibility to God, to their pupils, to their country. The history under re. view, presses one point upon you, as of singular mo. ment, and closely connected with every article of education and consequent improvement; I mean the study of the happy, but difficult medium between excessive indulgence and oppressive severity. The steady firmness of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, furnishes an useful example. , If ever there was a child in danger of being corrupted by indulgence, it was he. But no symptom of it appears. He is treated as a mere ordinary lad, and from his earliest years to old age, evinces, by his conduct, the excellence of the precepts, and the steadiness of the discipline which formed his cha. racter, and laid the foundation of his eminence. He leaves home, and parts with his parents, while yet a child, with manly fortitude. Already under habits of submission to parental authority, he cheerfully transfers that submission to a stranger, to Eli. Untainted by imaginary terrors, the darkness of the night, the solemnity of the house of the Lord, silence and soli. tude, and sleep disturbed by extraordinary and unsea. sonable voices, excite in him no silly apprehension, draw from him no childish complaint, deter him from the performance of no duty. In all this we cannot but recognize the wisdom, the constancy, the fortitude of his excellent mother. Had she been foolishly fond, he had been peevish, and petulent, and timid, and discontented. Take a lesson from her, ye mothers of young children. If you would have these children happy, they must betimes be inured to subjection, to privation, to restraint. To multiply their desires by un.
bounded gratification, is the sure way to multiply their future pains and mortifications. Reduce their wants and wishes to the standard of nature, and you pro. portionably enlarge their sphere of enjoyment. Let them contract no fear but that of offending God, and of committing sin. Let them learn to consider all places, all seasons, all situations as equal, when duty calls. Impress on their opening minds the two great precepts on which hang all the law and the prophets,” to love the Lord their God, and their fellow.creatures. Lead their infant steps to the Friend of little children, to the Saviour of mankind; to the knowledge, the be. lief, the love, the hope, the consolations of the gospel, and thereby preserve them “ from paths wherein de stroyers go.” · The profligate character and untimely end of Eli's sons, on the other hand, afford a solemn admonition of the inevitably ruinous effects of unboundled indul. gence to the passions and caprices of youth. Had they been early habituated to the wholesome restraints of piety, decency, and justice, they could not have become thus criminal, nor would have perished thus miserably. In the excesses which they committed, we clearly see the relaxed government, the careless in spection, the unbounded licentiousness of their father's house, Neglect, in this case, occasioned the mischief. And the neglected field will soon be over-run with noxious weeds, though you sow, designedly, no poi. son in it. Fathers, see to it, that your instructions be sound, that your deportment be regular, that your discipline be exact. Account nothing unimportant that affects the moral and religious character of your son. Precept will go so far, example will go farther; but authority must support and enforce both the one and the other. You cannot, indeed, communicate the spirit of grace, but you can certainly form youth to habits of decency and order: and habitual decency is nearly allied to virtue, and may imperceptibly improve
into it. Do your part, and then you may with confidence “cast all your care" on God.
May it not be necessary to throw in a short word of caution against the opposite extreme, that of excessive severity to unoffending youth? This indeed is not so common as corruptive indulgence; but this too exists. How many promising young men have been forced into a continuance in an evil course, have been driven to desperation, have become “ hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,” because the first deviation could find no'mercy, because a father armed himself with inflexible, unrelenting sternness for a slighter offence? Alas, how many amiable, excellent, promising young women have been lost to God, to their families, to society; have been dragged into the jaws of prostitution, and infamy, and disease, and premature death, because a father's door was shut, and a mother's heart hardened against the penitent; because her native refuge was no refuge to the miserable? She returned to her own, but her own received her not. Instances, however, might be produced of wiser 'conduct and happier consequences; of mercy extended, and the wanderer reclaimed; of human parents working together with “the Father of mercies," and succeeding in rekindling the sacred flame of virtue, in restoring peace to the troubled breast, in recovering the fallen to reputation, to piety, to comfort, to usefulness. So long as God “ waiteth to be gracious,” surely it well becomes man to “ put on bowels of mercies, kindness, meekness, long-suffering, forbearance, forgiveness, and charity, which is the bond of perfectness." .
Thus have I finished what I proposed, in attempting to delineate the female character, by instances taken from the sacred record. In these, and in the case of every virtuous woman, we see the great Creator's design fully justified, in making for man “ an help-meet for him.” That which is necessary cannot be despised; that which is useful ought to be valued; that