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But it may be inquired-if it be so easy a task to teach those early lessons of piety, morality, and self-restraint, why are not young persons universally trained up in such salutary habits? I answer-because some parents are criminally negligent, others injudiciously rigorous, many culpably indulgent, and almost all mistaken with regard to what ought to be the grand objects of human pursuits.

It is much to be lamented, that many persons, in all ranks of society, are criminally indifferent with respect to the principles and education of their children. This, however, is especially the case at the two extremes of the social scale. The lowest classes, fatigued with daily toil, harassed with returning wants, destitute of all the nobler aspirings of nature, and too frequently ignorant of the inestimable advantages of religious and moral culture, are contented if they can supply their children with the coarsest fare and scanty raiment. They have never themselves risen above the station in which they were born; they anticipate no higher destiny for their children; and they do not imagine that any very extensive endowments, either intellectual or moral, are necessary to the success of mere manual industry. Such persons are much more the objects of compassion than of censure; but the same palliation cannot be offered for the conduct of those in the other extreme of society, who are too often equally neglectful. Occupied with the enjoyments or the vanities of life, they too frequently commit the entire care of their offspring to mercenary hands; they are content with occasional reports of their progress, and rest satisfied that all must be well, when they are passing through the ordinary routine of fashionable education.

The minds of their children may remain a comparative blank, whilst their hearts are over-run with the rank weeds of irreligion and vice; and thus, those who are to influence the destinies of thousands are, not unfrequently, amongst the worst educated men in the community. Honorable exceptions to this statement, I am well aware, may easily be found, where persons of the highest rank are remarkably distinguished for their parental fidelity; but these exceptions are not of ordinary occurrence, and cannot invalidate the general rule.

Excessive rigor and injudicious severity on the part of parents are less common, but not less certain sources of irreligious feeling and immoral practice. Whilst some persons are so weakly affectionate as to perceive no failings in their children, others are so unnaturally harsh as to see nothing but imperfections. Influenced by an overweening vanity, they desire to see their children superior to all others, and are therefore subjected to incessant chagrin. Disappointed in their talents, discontented with their progress, and irritated because they want the polish of the world and the steadiness of age, they cast the blame of their own absurd mortification upon their unoffending offspring. With a wild impatience and tyranny, they demand exertions beyond their strength, expect a gravity beyond their years, refuse the most salutary indulgences, and, if they happen to be what is termed religious, exact a formality of devotion equally unnatural and absurd. The inevitable result of such a system is, that their children view them with terror instead of affection, hate those studies which are the perpetual sources of sorrow, endeavor to deceive those whom they cannot propitiate, and turn hypocrites in re4


ligion to avoid the penalty of sincerity. The perverted ingenuity of man could devise no plan of education more destructive of all piety and morality. The moment that a young person so educated is set free from the fetters with which he has been bound, and escapes from the unnatural tyranny by which he has been enslaved, he is prepared to give the reins to every passion, and to cast all religious and mor restraint to the winds.

It must be admitted, however, that culpable indulgence is a much more prevalent source of erroneous education, than that which I have just described. The natural, the laudable desire of the parental heart is, to confer happiness. Youth requires indulgence, and it would be equally barbarous and unwise to refuse it. Judicious kindness is the best instrument of human instruction; it calls forth all the native tendencies of the heart; nothing is hidden from the eye of affection. The entire character lies open to inspection; so that every virtuous tendency may be encouraged, and every vicious propensity restrained. To parental indulgence, therefore, I would prescribe no limits but those which would render it truly conducive to the happiness of its object. Now let it be considered, that in making a due estimate of happiness we must view the whole course of human life. should never call that conducive to a man's happiness, which afforded him the enjoyment of a day at the heavy cost of miserable years. Upon this principle, the gratification of every appetite and desire on the part of the young, is but a wretched preparation for the vicissitudes of the world. In the busy haunts of men, every hand will not bring supplies like that of a gentle mother, nor every voice speak kindness like that of an indulgent


father. The unfortunate being, whose will has never been controlled, whose passions have never been restrained, is but ill suited for the conflicts of this selfish and bustling scene. I shall go farther, however, and say, that even in youth such an individual is never happy. I have always looked upon the poor child as an object of compassion, whose craving desires were most freely gratified. The wealth of the Indies, and all the ingenuity of man, could not supply its increasing demands. After exhausting all possible sources of gratification, its imagination would become its tormentor; and the object of ten thousand indulgences would be only a peevish and miserable creature. On the other hand, the child, whose unreasonable desires have been restrained, whose temper and passions have been subdued, to whom indulgence has been sometimes extended and sometimes refused, is uniformly cheerful and contented; a gratification withheld inflicts no pain, a favor conferred communicates real pleasure. It is evident, therefore, that a mind which has been weakened, and a heart which has been perverted by excessive indulgence, never can become the seat of manly thought, or generous sentiment.

To all other causes which impede the progress of a salutary education, may be added the mistaken estimate, too generally formed, of what ought to be the grand objects of human pursuit. I do not say, that upon this subject men make any serious mistake in theory, or in words, or in profession; all admit, that piety and virtue should be the primary objects of human desire. But what say their actions? Is it to the attainment of these that they principally direct the education of their children? On the contrary, have not all their exertions an

undivided view to the interests and enjoyments of the world? What efforts are constantly made, with respect to mere temporal instruction, to manners, to accomplishments, and to placing them on the road of fortune and reputation! These, I admit, are all desirable, but they should not be the chief objects sought for in education. We are expressly commanded by our blessed Lord, 'to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,' under the sacred assurance, that if we do so, 'all other necessary good things will be added unto us.' I shall, therefore, bring this discourse to a conclusion, by addressing a plain and brief exhortation to parents upon the important subject of their relative duties.

Christian parents, I address myself to you, most earnestly beseeching you to remember the awful responsibility of the parental character. The interests of time and of eternity hang upon your conduct. The children whom God has given you are the most sacred and valuable trust, which he could have committed to your care. With their lot your own is likewise cast. Should they, through your virtuous exertions, as the humble instruments of the grace of God, 'be raised to glory, and honor, and eternal life,' you also 'shall have your crown of rejoicing;' but if, through your neglect or criminality, they should go down to sorrow, 'then will their blood be required at your hands!' O, my fellow Christians, what an awful consideration is this! You would stand at the bed of their earthly suffering with afflicted hearts, and mourn even under the dispensation of Providence ;-with what feelings, then, would you contemplate the misery of their immortal souls, and look upon yourselves as the guilty cause of

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