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all their sorrows! 1 beseech you, brethren, by all the promises and all the threatenings of the divine word, to address yourselves diligently to the transcendently important duties of your station. In so sacred a cause indifference is crime. Let not their minds and their hearts remain without instruction; but whilst you inculcate the sublime principles of the gospel, let religion appear to them in all her native loveliness, as a gracious angel of purity and peace. Let no harshness of language, no austerity of manner, no unnatural exactions on your part, lead them to look upon piety as unfriendly to their happiness. Show them rather, that religion checks no decent joy, forbids no innocent pleaMake it your rational and delightful task,
'To try each art, reprove each fond delay,
Allure to brighter worlds, and lead the way.'
But, whilst you manifest your christian spirit and temper by all becoming acts of reasonable kindness, never forget that religion gives no sanction to those criminal indulgences, which corrupt the heart and degrade the character. It is natural, it is laudable, it is useful to be indulgent; it is even right, perhaps, not to appear to observe trifling faults and follies, involving no depravity of principle, and leading to no injurious results; but, wherever the gratification of an appetite or a desire might lead, even in its remote consequences, to destructive habits or immoral actions, the firmest resistance should be maintained. It is chiefly from mothers, that undue indulgence is to be apprehended. Beneficently gifted by the Deity with a stronger portion of natural affection, to sustain them in the discharge of 4*
the irksome and important duties which devolve upon them, they can scarcely be blamed for an excess of tenderness; although it is our bounden duty to warn them of its consequences. I would ask, then, any christian mother, why she often withholds correction, which she believes to be necessary, and indulges with gratifications, which she knows to be injurious? Her probable answer would be - that she cannot bear the idea of inflicting pain upon a creature that is so dear to her heart! But, were her child laboring under a dangerous disease, would she not administer the most nauseous medicine, or subject it to the most painful operation, in order to restore it to health and soundness? Or, suppose that it clamored for some sweet, that was mingled with a deadly poison, would she gratify its palate at the expense of its life? No; in such cases, she would not only judge correctly, but also act rightly. And is the case less urgent or less important, because her child only labors under a moral distemper, or because he only desires to enjoy a momentary gratification, which will poison his mind and corrupt his heart? Surely, every argument, which would influence her in the instance of bodily suffering, or the refusal of the poisoned dainty, ought to have a thousand fold the force in the case of moral disease, or moral contagion. Just in proportion to the difference between body and soul, time and eternity, should be her serious estimate of her maternal duty. Never ought she to shrink, in destructive weakness, from a prompt obedience to the command of scripture: Withhold not correction from thy child; if thou beatest him with a rod he will not die, and thou mayest thereby deliver his soul from destruction.' The
pain of a moment may save him from years of suffering; and the unwarrantable indulgence of an hour may be followed by ages of remorse!
The malignity of a demon could devise no system more destructive to virtue and happiness, than one often generated in the fond heart of a mother; I refer to the deeply culpable practice of concealing the offences of children from the knowledge of their fathers, and the still more criminal custom of supplying them in secret with the means of frivolous or sensual gratification. Were a mother to place a dagger in the hands of her son, to be turned against his own breast, she would be arming him with a much less dangerous weapon, than a supply of money for purposes of riot and debauchery. By such disastrous means, millions of young persons have been overwhelmed with destruction. And yet, unfortunate mothers, who practise these things, often complain of the ingratitude of their children, and wonder that they do not love them more, and respect them more! Now, the only wonder to me is, that such mothers should expect any return of gratitude or affection. After having corrupted their children from infancy by ruinous indulgence; after having taught them hypocrisy and fraud by their own example; after having put the poisoned cup of sensuality and crime into their hands very it would be amazing, if they entertained towards them any other sentiments than those of contempt and aversion. The very indulgences, upòn which they rest as a ground of affection, have destroyed all the native and amiable sensibilities of the heart. I do not recollect having seen, in the whole course of my life, a weakly and indiscriminately indulgent mother, sin
cerely respected and beloved by her children; but I have known many, who have been repaid for their injudicious kindness by heart-rending neglect or insult. The firm and prudent mother alone, who has the good sense to unite general kindness with occasional and salutary restraint, becomes an object of permanent respect and affection. Her tenderness is justly appreciated, because it is considered as a proof of approbation, and not as a mere thoughtless instinctive impulse; and even her very denial of hurtful gratification is accompanied by a manner and an explanation eminently calculated to enforce conviction and secure esteem.
mother walks amidst her children as an object of affectionate reverence, an equitable distributor of rewards and punishments; from whose justice, propriety of conduct is always secure of a recompense, and from whose weakness, criminality cannot speculate upon impunity.
If there be anything, which, above all other considerations, I would press upon parents with peculiar earnestness, it is this—that, in the management of children, there should be no apparent diversity of opinion or system between father and mother. Wherever such difference exists, it is uniformly destructive; the judgment of each parent being alternately undervalued, and the authority of both too often eventually undermined. It usually happens, indeed, in such cases, that a wretched system of deceit and tyranny springs into existence. The mother frequently encourages or connives at actions, of which the father disapproves; concealment or apology is therefore her object, whilst detection and punishment are his. Such a course once begun, action and re-action mutually increase the evil.
The more the father is deceived, he becomes the more severe; and in proportion as his severity increases, the mother redoubles, in concert with the child, her efforts of deception. Thus, both parents sin against nature; the one in fostering folly and hypocrisy, the other in becoming a tyrant. The child, too, is eventually taught to sin against nature to despise one parent, and to hate another. And, what is equally deplorable, the mutual affection and confidence of the parents themselves are impaired; and that very being, who ought to be the most sacred bond of union, often becomes a source of division and alienation. Whatever diversity of opinion, therefore, may happen to exist between fathers and mothers, it should be entirely settled or compromised in private, that the slightest symptom of it may not appear before their children. A divided authority is always weak; and there can be no case in which it is more destructive, for a house to be divided against itself,' than in the education of the young. Parental wisdom should never be doubted, parental impartiality should never be suspected, parental authority should never be the subject of dispute. If a mother be too indulgent, let there be a private admonition; if a father be too severe, there ought to be a secret remonstrance. Even where a restraint may have been tyrannical, or a punishment inflicted beyond due bounds, there should never be a sudden and repentant relaxation. Such alternate rigor and relenting are exceedingly common, and exceedingly mischievous. The boy hates a power that is exercised without reason, speculates upon undue indulgence as a recompense for unmerited suffering, and looks upon himself rather