« PredošláPokračovať »
ferent. “Father,” he might have had the power to say, * this was indeed my friend. He told me of Thy perfections, and he taught me to love Thee; he spake to me of the Saviour whom Thou didst send, and persuaded me to follow in his footsteps; he admonished me with truth and tenderness of my faults, and besought me, as I valued Thy favour, and his friendship, and my own salvation, to turn from them. If I pow stand in Thy presence, a forgiven sinner, and rejoice in the light of Thy countenance, it is to him, under Thy favour and blessing, that I owe it; for 'we took sweet counsel together,' and 'walked to thy house of prayer in company,' and 'spake often one to another, as those who feared the Lord.' Religion sanctified and blessed our earthly intercourse. Father of mercies," might he have pleaded, “if it be thy will, suffer not our intercourse to be interrupted now; let not remaining frailty separate between us; but, if it be possible, give me my friend."
O foolish mortal! to neglect to secure such a supporter in thy hour of need—such an advocate against thy day of trembling! But, what, if thou hast been worse than negligent,-if thou hast ministered to the follies,—if thou hast corrupted the virtues,—if thou hast confirmed the vices, of thy friend, of him who loved thee, and sat at thy table, and drank of thy counsel like water? Unhappy man! hast thou not sins enough of thine own to answer for?—hast thou not sorrows enough of thine own to bear ? How shalt thou endure to hear the groans, the lamentations, the bosom-rending sorrows of him whose hope thou hast cut off, whose bud of life thou hast blighted, whose stream of happiness thou hast polluted at its source ! Then, indeed, shalt thou exclaim, with bitter anguish, “If it was an enemy, I could have borne it; but it was mine own familiar friend." O think—ye who in
misnamed friendships despise religion,-ye who scruple not to pollute the virtue of those whom you profess to lovethink what ye are doing, and have mercy upon the objects of your cruel kindness, if ye will not upon yourselves. With religion, friendship is an everlasting possession; in oriental phrase, “ beautiful as the dawn rising on the obscurity of night, precious as the water of immortality issuing from the land of darkness.” It is, indeed, a cup mingled by the hand of God himself, and presented by him to the most favoured of his children, bringing joy to the heart, and life to the soul of him who quaffs it. But what is friendship without religion? It is, at best, but a fleeting and transient good-a meteor, that sheds a momentary light upon our path, which the eager eye has no sooner caught, than it vanishes for ever-a cup of sweets, dashed from the lips almost before it can be tasted. Hutton.
On the Education of Females. Let it not be supposed, that I am an enemy to what are generally termed, “female accomplishments. On the contrary, I consider them, when moderately and rationally pursued, as eminently calculated to refine the taste, and harmonize the feelings of those who possess them; whilst they powerfully tend to sweeten the intercourse of the domestic and friendly circle, to augment the enjoyments of general society, and to cast a sunshine over the gloomy realities of life. Amidst the ten thousand pursuits and cares of the world, the mind and the spirits require relaxation, as well as the body; and the tastes and circumstances of women pecularly fit them for the acquisition of those accomplishments, which interest the understanding, whilst they soothe the heart. Many a father have I seen, after a toilsome and anxious day, relaxing his brow of care, and considering all his exertions as more than repaid; whilst, with parental pride, he noted the improvement, or joined the innocent amusements of his children, and cast a look of gratified affection upon the faithful companion of his life. I know nothing in philosophy, I know nothing in religion, which forbids such feelings and such enjoyments. Yet, I am persuaded, that accomplishments should only be the adjuncts of education, and not its principal business, or its chief end: and, in my mind, there is nothing incompatible between elegance and solidity. On the contrary, I am convinced, that the mind which is most enlarged by the possession of substantial knowledge, is the best calculated to appreciate and to enjoy those less serious branches of education, which tend to cheer and to ornament society. I do not despair of seeing the time, when young females shall consider themselves infinitely better employed in reading the real history of nations, than in perusing volumes of unnatural fiction, which only fills the mind with false ideas, and the heart with injurious
feelings—when they shall be no more ashamed of learning ancient than modern languages, or of attending instructions in philosophy which would enlarge their understandings, than of frequenting the gaudy circles of fashion and amusement—when they shall think it more honourable to possess such a knowledge of moral science, and the principles of human action and duty, as would render them useful mothers; than to imitate, after years of labour, “ the wing of a butterfly, or the hue of a rose.
It may be inquired, however, would I educate every woman for a governess? Yes, most assuredly. Every mother is, or at least ought to be, a teacher of the holiest and most interesting kind. Various avocations may prevent her from being a regular instructor; but no earthly consideration should preclude her from being the occasional, nay, the frequent teacher of her children. In order that she may be able to act thus, to select proper assistants in the sacred work, to judge of their fidelity in the execution, and to preserve a spirit of energy and zeal; it is absolutely necessary that she should, herself, possess the requisite qualifications. I care not what may be her station, this is her duty. If her rank be humble, prudence, economy, and a laudable desire to advance her family, demand it. If her rank be exalted, many considerations render it still more imperative. Too many, I fear, in affluent circumstances, imagine, that because they can afford ample remuneration to competent instructors, they are therefore exempted from all personal attention to the education of their children. No error could be more fatal. In the higher ranks of life, where young persons are perpetually surrounded by fawning and interested flatterers--- where the innate vanity and presumption of the human heart are inflamed by indulgence and conscious superiority-no authority less than parental, is adequate to restrain the passions, to discipline the principles, to form the habits, and to animate exertion. And, let it be farther considered, that in proportion as the station is exalted, so is the influence of the individual occupying it extended. The happiness of thousands frequently depends upon the disposition and character of a single person. The affluent man, of enlightened piety, humane sentiments, cultivated understanding, and enlarged views of public usefulness, is often the means of diffusing over a wide circle the inestimable blessings of religion and morality, of industry and prosperity, of cheerfulness and peace. On the other hand, the ignorant and profligate man of wealth, without knowledge or inclination to do good, possessing ample means for the gratification of degrading passions and tyrannical propensities, necessarily becomes a moral pestilence, diffusing the contagion of vice and misery through all the channels of social life around him. Of what peculiar importance is it therefore, not only for their own honour and happiness, but also for the good of society, that persons occupying influential stations, should receive a solid and virtuous education ! The Christian mother, who imagines that her rank exempts her from the duties of parental vigilance and instruction, wofully miscalculates the nature of her office; and she who looks upon it as a degradation, to become the instructress of her own children, is a total stranger to that which would constitute the highest honour of her sex and station. In the splendid circle of fash she may be fair and lovely; her rank may awaken envy, and coinmand respect; her accomplishments may secure the admiration of others, and swell her own heart with vanity: but, after all, such is not the true scene of her genuine interest, and respectability, and happiness. The sphere of her substantial, unfading honour, lies far away from the crowded haunts of amusement, in a peaceful and secluded apartment of her happy home. There, in the midst of her little ones, she represses the frowardness of one, encourages the diffidence of another, and, “in familiar phrase and adapted story," pours lessons of instruction into the minds of all. With a mother's gentleness, she draws forth their talents; with a mother's firmness, she regulates their tempers; with a mother's prudence, she prepares them to adorn their station upon earth; and with a mother's piety, she leads them in the onward path towards heaven. The wide expanse of the globe presents no object more interesting, more exalted, or more useful, than such a Christian parent; nor is there any spot of nature, on which the eye of Omniscience rests with more complacency, than upon the retired and peaceful scene of her virtuous labours. Such a mother becomes the centre of a system of usefulness, of whose extent, the imagination can form no adequate conception; for there is not a single worthy principle which she instils, that may not descend as the ornament and solace of ten thousand generations. For my
own part, I have always considered parents, who devoted their leisure hours to the instruction of their offspring, as the most estimable and the most useful members of society; and I never could read the story of the Spartan king, who was found by the Persian ambassadors playing in the midst of his children, without looking upon that circumstance as more honourable than all his victories. I do especially believe, that no plan could be devised for elevating the entire frame of society, half so efficacious as that which would produce a succession of well-instructed, judicious, and virtuous Christian mothers. The laws of the statesman, and the lessons of the divine, would be but feeble instruments of prevention and reformation, in comparison with the hallowed, all-pervading agency of maternal wisdom, energy, and affection. Let it not be supposed, however, that I am the advocate of visionary schemes of education. It would neither be practicable nor desirable, for every woman to become deeply learned: but I would have every female substantially educated, in proportion to her rank, her abilities, and her opportunities. This is surely neither unreasonable nor impracticable; and I am persuaded, that in this age of increasing light, it is a subject which will gradually secure a larger portion of public consideration.
Exhortation to Youth to cultivate a Devotional Spirit.
I EARNESTLY wish, that I could induce all young persons to divest religion of every gloomy and repulsive association;—to feel, that it does not consist—as some would fain represent it—in grave and solemn looks, and a sanctified demeanour, or in an affected fondness for long sermons and long prayers: but that, properly understood, it is--and especially for the young-a cheerful and lightsome spirit, springing up naturally in pure and innocent hearts, whose affectionate confidence in the universal Father is not yet alloyed with fear, or weakened by distrust. Would you have within your bosoms that peace, which the world can neither give nor take away? Would you possess a source of the purest and sweetest pleasures? Would you have that richest of all blessings-a disposition to relish, in their highest perfection, all the innocent and rational enjoyments of life? Let me conjure you to