« EdellinenJatka »
ments, too, which, as with outstretched hand and pointing finger, are presented to you from above ; while, at the same time, they still farther unfold the interesting and singular character of that constitution of things, which it has been the design of these pages to illustrate. I refer to the power of affirmation or testimony, which is lodged in your hands alone, with reference to your Children ; and the promised blessing of God, upon your exertions as a Parent.
- 1. In illustration of the first of these, let it be remembered, that, as Children have every thing to learn, it is absolutely necessary that there should be one quarter, in which they may and must place implicit confidence. These earliest years are the most important of human existence; and yet, during these years, the Child must depend almost entirely upon you. What does the dear little prattler know about evidence, or the degrees of it? and if his faith were to depend on evidence, what would become of himself personally, and what would become of the time and patience of his Parents ?-In short, the stock of faith, or implicit dependence, which he requires, until he reach, perhaps, his twelfth or fourteenth year, may be said to be more than he requires afterwards. · Now, who is it that has instinctively qualified him for reliance, for implicit reliance on your testimony? For see, if you conduct yourself wisely, notwithstanding all the corruption of human nature, see how absolute is your sway over this little immortal being ! See how instinctively he watches you, and follows, and imitates ! See how he looks at your face, and your hands, and all your motions! Observe espe. cially, at certain seasons, how peculiar to him, while he sits on your knee, is the very tone of your voice! And what use are you to make of that voice? What influence are those tones to have on his ear?-tones which cannot be supplied by any other individual ? · And how singularly providential is the adaptation of this infant's mind to your instructions, when it is observed that mere testimony or affirmation is all that is wanted—for upon your simple affirmation he confidently, and without hesitation, relies ? Only treat him with fairness and integrity; inform yourself, accurately, of what you wish to inform him; and though he will charm you, and affect you, and even puzzle you with inquiries, still he will receive your testimony. Though he may, and will, early evince that he is a sinner—that he has a will of his own, and is but too prone to disobedience; still, after all, acting as has been stated, long will it be before he will doubt your word! Go on then. If you really desire to make the most of the day, set out early in the morning. Go on, filling and informing his mind-storing it with truth and facts, but, above all, heavenly truth ; and he will receive all, without any hesitation, as far as his memory and understanding can go. Yield to the glow of parental love, and pour forth valuable instruction on his infant mind, with all the tenderness and warmth of which you are capable. Long after you are cold in the grave will these tones · of yours, and these truths, and all your favourite maxims, nay, your very smiles, and sighs, or tears, will return upon him. Then, too, will these facts, which he is daily verifying, and these truths, enforced in the days of infancy, by all that was tender and im
pressive in a Parent's voice ;-then will they remain, and produce impressions more indelible than any of their successors; nay, even when he becomes his own master, and can range abroad, and receive instruction from teachers and companions of his own selection, then indeed, if you have done your duty, will he ascertain, that you stood in such a relation to him as no one else ever can occupy. In this sense it may with truth be said, though he should have ten thousand instructors in future life, yet can he have but one Father. *
* Here I am fully aware, that there is scarcely a more common complaint in regard to a disobedient child, than that he will not listen to advice, to remonstrance, or entreaty. But this complaint, I am afraid, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, is very far from being fair. As well might the negligent keeper of an orchard complain, that his branches will not yield to be trained. In such a case you would say—“ My friend, all this is idle talk ; your season is over and gone; you have been absent, or unequal, or negligent, at a former period. Where were you when these branches were twigs? Where, when they might have been trained with a hair, and when they bent at your breath ? So is it in general with these inattentive or regardless Children, now indeed so loudly complained of. They are proofs of some previous delin. quency on the part of their ordained guardians assuredly not proofs of the powerlessness or inefficacy of parental instruction.”
But is there no contrast to all this? Certainly there is many a triumphant one; and many more there might be. Observe that Parent who assiduously improves his earliest opportunities; his fa. mily illustrates the truth of all that has been said : for what is the reason that the Parent has such a hold of the Infant and Child, and so little of the Youth ? And what the reason, that his instructions or warning are so marvellously powerful in the one case, and so powerless in the other ? Why, because in the latter case, the sea.. son of God's appointment had in some way been disregarded ; in the former, it had been seized and improved, when instruction was easily taken in and hardly lost again. Hardly, did I say? I may go farther than this, and with great safety. If due care is taken, to your joy you will find, that, so far from your early impressions on your Child failing, subsequent impressions serve rather to indent the former, than to efface them. Other instructions may be contained in the mind, and be of great service, but those of the
Now, with a power such as this in possession, should Parents prove, I do not say disobedient, but merely inattentive to the order of heaven and the appointment of the Almighty; surely, surely, you can feel no surprise if you see the curse scatter itself from them by virtual contact and the channel of relationship—no surprise when you see such Parents leave behind them a series of crimes, with their appropriate punishments, to be divided, by entail, among their Children ; ay, and if these Children approve the deeds of their parents, I may safely add, among their Children's Children ! Nor, however much this sad entail may be lamented by other relations, and they may somewhat mitigate its pressure, can even their united efforts ever entirely break it! An appeal to the Almighty himself alone, on the part of such Children, becomes absolutely necessary. “ Be ye not as your Fathers,” said Zechariah, “ unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Turn ye now from your evil ways and from your evil doings; but they would not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the Lord. Your Fathers, where are they? and the Prophets, do they live for. ever?”–Oh, what questions ! how cutting and heartsearching to these their Children !—“ Our Fathers,” say they, “alas ! many of them lie buried in the ruins of Jerusalem ; the bones of others, if not bleaching in the desert, or if not to be seen rising, in many a mouldering heap, on either side of the way; lie
Father and the Mother were imbibed. That which comes first, takes almost absolute possession, and carries with it all the authority you could wish ; there being no antecedent notions to dispute the title or call the truth in question.
entombed, far from Judea, within the broad walls of Babylon.” And the prophets, do they live for ever? “ For ever, say they ; alas ! our Fathers either would not suffer them to live, or embittered all their days." Well then, Jehovah, by the Prophets, replies—“ But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the Prophets, did they not take hold, or overtake, your Fathers ? and they returned and said, Like as the Lord thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.”
Thus it is, as an old writer would tell you,* that, “ as from the eyes of some individuals, and the tongues of others, there issues an evil influence; as · between the vital spirits of friends and relatives there is a cognation, and they refresh each other like social plants ; so in Parents and their Children, there is so great a society of nature and of manners, of blessing and of cursing, that an evil Parent cannot perish in a single death! neither can holy and consistent Parents eat their meal of blessing alone ; but they make the room shine like the fire of a holy sacrifice;" and the firę, thus kindled, will propagate itself, and shine upon other walls, long after their pilgrimage is ended. Well, therefore, may the voice of rejoicing and salvation be heard in the tabernacles of the righteous.
2. And now what shall I say of the peculiar blessing of the Almighty, which has ever rested on the head of those Parents who have fulfilled their natural, and reasonable, and incumbent obligations; and in ex
* Jeremy Taylor.