Imágenes de páginas

life on earth: and of the happiness which awaits him in a future world.

While these truths are explained and enforced with the utmost care, it will be well to keep the minds of youth from being contracted by the prejudices of a party, or heated and imbittered by, zeal for the peculiarities of a sect. If the distinguishing modes of this or that denomination be presented as great matters and mighty stress be laid upon them; there is no small danger that young people, instead of becoming liberal and catholic Christians, will be rendered the furious bigots of peculiar modes and forms. What mischief such characters have done in the world, history re

cords in lines of blood. In its lowest effects, it produces : the sour bigot and the bitter sectary, who regard each

other with contempt or disdain, and sit down through life, narrow-minded zealots for their own peculiarities. Instead of this, let them be diligently instructed in the pure and peaceful principles of Christianity. Let them know well the grand springs and motives of human actions. Let it be impressed on their hearts a thousand times, that the religion of Jesus is love: and let them be taught to love all good men, and the best most, wherever found.

In what way these truths should be taught next claims inquiry. Perhaps a more beneficial way of conveying divine knowledge to the young and ignorant has not been discovered than catechising. In a good catechism, every tiuth is expressed in the most proper manner; and a rich variety of the most importani ideas is conveyed to the mind. Much indeed depends on its goodness. It should be pure in doctrine, and clear as the light; it should be full, and the answers should be short. All the great principles of the Gospel should be explained in their nature, place, order, and connexion, with all the simplicity that the skill of man can possibly reach. To retain a defective catechism, merely because it is the catechism of the party, and to refuse the use of a more perfect one, because it is taught by another denomination, is not manifesting the spirit of Christ, nor a due regard to edification ; and discovers a want of that catholic and enlarged temper which is necessary to give full efficacy to instruction.

But while the utility of catechisms is insisted on as furnishing the memory with an invaluable treasure of divine knowledge, and presenting a rich repast of the noblest ideas from year to year, as the mind is enlarged to receive and comprehend them; to rest in merely learning the words of a catechism, however excellent, is a very defective mode of instruction. The catechism should be explained ; every question and answer should be broken into small parts; and the truths presented in different words, and in different forms.

Nor is this all: the Scriptures should be brought into view; they should be read; they should be expounded ; select passages should be got by heart; and the scholars should be taught to venerate the word of God as the fountain of knowledge, to love it as the best of books, and to meditate on it all the days of their life. Never can teachers too earnestly urge it on their scholars. This book is to be your instructor, your counsellor, your physician, and your comforter; it will guide you to eternal glory.

At the same time, they should be warned against the too common sins of lying, swearing, dishonesty, and disobedience to parents; and enjoined to sanctify the Lord's day, to attend on public worship, to learn hymns and sing the praises of God, to speak the truth, to be upright in their conduct, and to attend to every good work, that they may adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things. And if the duties of the different relations in which they are or may be placed, and the various social virtues raised on the foundation of christian principles, be frequently held up to view, and recommended to their observance, the most beneficial consequences will be found to result from it.

But where shall teachers be found for these schools? There lies the difficulty, will many say. That such may be found will certainly be allowed: it is indeed of the last moment that they may be qualified for the arduous service.

Those, who are ignorant of Christianity, how much soever they may know of other things, are necessarily excluded. To employ them in such an office is to defeat the end proposed. Nor are any persons, destitute of the spirit of religion, though they may know it in theory, fit to be engaged as teachers. They may teach for hire, but not cordially; and how much depends on that! Destitute of the christian temper themselves, how can they speak with wisdom and with feeling on what they never experienced, and on what they des


The grand radical qualification required is, that they be

the disciples of Christ. Among such, doubtless, will be found abundance of teachers. The ministers of Christ-will not they feel their obligation to perform a service so important to their Master's cause? Are there not in most congregations private Christians of judgment and experience in the things of God, well qualified for the work? Can there not be found a considerable number of pious women who have leisure

m domestic employments to promote the ends of such an institution? How many young persons of both sexes, who have been trained up themselves in the ways of religion, would rejoice to unite in the cause ! May there not be added to the list not a few rich disciples of Jesus, and such as hold eminent stations in the world, who will cheerfully come forward to the help of the friends of the rising generation! In every religious society, although the members may be much engaged in business, might not five or six persons unite in this good design? Besides, societies might be formed to promote the religious instruction of children; to patronise the extensive prosecution of the work; to furnish books, and whatever is necessary, in places where the people have not friends to procure them for themselves; and to defray the necessary expenses of the school.

To lay down rules for the management of schools appears unnecessary. There will be a variety in the mode, arising from circumstances. Where a school is formed, and a considerable number of children attend at the same time and place, a moderate share of understanding will suffice to point out a proper method of proceeding. To hear them repeat the catechism, and passages of Scripture, and what they remember of the sermons of the day: to explain and to confirm the truths in a simple manner, and to endeavour to impress them on the heart: to dirrct them to find out at home texts of Scripture to prove important doctrines, to unite in singing hymns of praise, and to join together in prayer to God for his blessing, is all that can be desired. But the setting up of régular schools is not the only way

of furthering the design. Some good men will call the chil. dren of the neighbourhood into their houses, and instruct them in their hours of leisure. The father of a family will render great service by catechising the little ones of ignorant neighbours along with his own. A master may see

А the propriety of teaching the children of his servants.

good woman may appoint an hour or two in the week for giving information to ten or twelve neglected boys and girls. Another may, pay attention to an orphan child. A pious young lady may be prevailed on to take charge of two or three little girls, or even increase the number. In short, what is proposed in this essay, is to enlarge as much as possible the sphere of action, and to set every friend of religion to work.

Enough has been said to demonstrate the iinportance, necessity, reasonableness, facility, and mode of instructing the rising generation in the principles of religion.-Let the disciples of Jesus lay the subject seriously to heart.

What subject more imperiously claims it? A saying of Pericles, when the youth of Athens were slain in battle, has been much admired for its justness : “ that it was like the loss of the spring in nature." If there be no buds and blossoms then, there will be no fruit in autumn. Ignorant youth is like a bad spring when blight has killed the blossoms, and the catterpillar has devoured every green leaf; the year ends in barrenness. Such as the young people of a country are, will the active part of society and the aged usually be. A pious youth is likely to be succeeded by a wise and virtuous manhood, and by a serene and venerable

Follow the person into eternity; and how astonishingly is the magnitude of the object increased !

To view the neglect, the dreadful neglect shewn to the rising generation in times past, is a heart rending task. The disciples of Jesus were surrounded with multitudes of little creatures growing up in total ignorance. They knew the country was filled with them in every quarter; they were convinced that such must perish for lack of knowledge ; yet nothing was dona to procure a general change. Good people taught their children, and left others to perish. La. mentable indeed it is, that this should ever be the case ! Where was christian piety? Where was the zeal of the followers of the Lamb ? It has been so, for generations past; but has it not been so too long ? Should it continue so for another year? And ought any neglected child to be able to lift up its voice in the language of unavailing complaint, No man careth for my soul? Should not the view of past neg. ligence, while it makes us blush for our lukewarmness, stimulate us to exert ourselves with diligence for timet ó come ?

old age.

There is, however, occasion to rejoice, that of late God has put it into the hearts of his people, to attempt in this way to promote the interest of the Redeemer's kingdom. Much has been done in many of our principal towns. A very pleasing beginning has been made in many places, and success beyond what could have been expected, has attended the pious labours; but still it is only a beginning; it is the wave sheaf presented to Jehovah ; the full harvest is yet to be gathered in. Let every one gird himself, take up this sickle, and begin to reap.

Ministers of Christ, ye, to whom Jesus has said, Feed my Lambs-let your zeal appear. In every good work ye should go before the flock. Go before them here. Do what you can yourselves in teaching; and set a pattern for others to follow. Let them see you surrounded by the younger part of your congregation, and any that will attend. When you do thus, you can with a good grace, call


others to step forward to your assistance, and to pity those who have none to instruct them.

Christians of eminence, for knowledge, judgment, zeal and standing in the church, to whom God has given the tongue of the learned-here is an object for your zeal ; here is a theatre for your spiritual. wisdom. There are hundreds around you of helpless orphans-orphans, at least in this respect, that they have neither father nor mother who can teach them the knowledge of God. They cry to you for pity. Shall they cry in vain ? Shut not up your bowels of compassion from them.

Pious young men, who have been well taught both by God and man, and have known early the sacred Scriptureshere is a suitable employment for you. Does it seem too great for you to undertake ? Let three or four unite and begin a school; or if you prefer it, associate one or two of riper years, that you may blend the judgment and steadiness of age with the ardour and affection of youth.

Devout women--ye too are called on to the work of the Lord ; ye are intreated meekly to dispense the milk of truth to babes. Nature has tanght you to pity poor, helpless children, whom you see destitute of maternal care : and does not grace teach you, O mothers in Israel ! to feel for the destitute condition of those who never had a parent to display the tender emotions of spiritual affection ? Could

« AnteriorContinuar »