Page images
PDF
EPUB

in the nurture and admonition of the Lord* --that is, imbuing their minds with a knowledge of the principles of the Gospel of Christ, and teaching them to regulate their heart and conduct; in short, their whole intercourse with God and man by these principles. This is the solemn direction which Christianity gives by the mouth of its apostle, to you who are parents. But how differently are you instructed in the world. There you learn that advancement in the present life is to be the all-important object of attention; and that you are to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the teachers of useful and ornamental accomplishments. You are told that you must assiduously prepare

them to make their way in society, and you find those esteemed the most successful and enviable parents, whose children obtain the largest portion of worldly honours and emoluments. We need not say which advice is most generally and most attentively listened to that of the Christian, or that of the worldly teacher. You know that religious education is comparatively neglected; and whilst immense pains are bestowed, and large sums of money lavished upon the cultivation of the intellect, and the polishing of the manners, the heart and its affections are too often permitted to remain without cultivation or restraint.

* Ephesians vi. 4.

We must not, however, fall into a common error, and consider religious education as in every sense opposed to that discipline which prepares an individual to act well his part in social life, and that of necessity, the one must, to a great extent, be sacrificed to the other. By no means. Religion, we have said, is the best ground-work for all the substantial acquirements, and all the graces of life; and on the other hand, knowledge and accomplishments set forth religion, and make it appear comely in the sight of men. Some of the brightest ornaments of the Christian world have been, at the same time, amongst the most intelligent and most polished memabers of society. The difference between the man of the world and the Christian, does not consist in their relative amount of scientific and literary attainments, or in their external manners, but in the entire dissimilarity of the principal objects of their pursuit, and the hopes which animate their lives. The man of the world is exclusively confined to this present scene of things; all his labours and all his desires terminate here; while, on the other hand, the Christian's chief and constant effort is to save his soul ; his ardent hope is “ sa to pass through things temporal, that he

may not finally loose the things eternal." With the apostle he can say, Our conversation is in heaven ;* not meaning thereby that he has cut off all intercourse with the

persons and things of this lower world, but that this intercourse has been restrained and modified, and brought into consistency with the character of one who looks for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.*

* Philippians iii. 20.

If this be the important distinction between these two classes of men, religious education must have reference to it, and will, of course, demand that from the first opening of the understanding, and the first warming of the affections, and thenceforward to the termination of the preparatory discipline for life, the child be excited and controlled by those considerations which relate to its future salvation. As every action should be influenced by the high motives drawn from the being of God, and his revelation of a state of just retribution hereafter, so should all knowledge be esteemed subsidiary to the knowledge which relates to our eternal destinies. And yet when religious instruction is spoken of and urged upon the notice of parents, we often hear that there is not time for this, consistently with the more pressing claims of other pursuits. The various exercises of the week are so important and so engrossing, that a very few moments can be appropriated to exercises of piety, and perhaps not a single one to the study of the sacred Scriptures. Oh ye parents! how erroneous, how short-sighted, how cruel is such a discipline as this! Eternal interests are postponed, and those of a few short years pressed into constant notice. To fill the mind with knowledge that relates to this world alone, and to accomplish the person with graces that belong only to the body, and that can be of no value when the body decays ;-these employments are so absorbing, that the knowledge of sacred things, and the graces of the Christian life, which are to endure for ever, receive but a short and wearisome attention. We would not discountenance the various discipline of languages, history, philosophy; nor would we, by any means, disapprove the cultivation of polite manners; on the contrary, we would

* Philippians iii, 21.

« EelmineJätka »