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THOSE who are aware of the inestimable value of prayer themselves, will naturally be anxious not only that ihis duty should be earnestly inculcated on their children, but that they should be taught it in the best manner; and such parents need little persuasion or counsel on the subject. Some children are, however, so superficially instructed in ibis important business, that when they are asked what prayers they use, it is not unusual for them to answer, * The Lord's Prayer, and the Creed.” Not understanding that the one is no prayer, but a confession of their faith, and the other the model for their supplications !
An intelligent mother will seize the first occasion which the child's opening understanding shall allow, for explaining, in an easy and familiar way, the Lord's Prayer, taking every division or short sentence separately. The child should be led gradually through every part of this divine composition ; she should be taught to break it into all its regular divisions; she should be made to comprehend, one by one, each of its short but weighty sentences.
When the child has a pretty good conception of the meaning of each division, she should then be made to observe the connection, relation, and dependance, of the several parts of this prayer, one after another; for there is great method and connection in it.. We pray that the “ kingdom of God may come,” as the means to “ hallow his name;" and that by us, the obedient subjects of his kingdom,“ his will may be done."
The young person, from being made a complete mistress of this short composition (which, as it is to be her guide and model through life, too much pains cannot be bestowed on it) will have a clearer conception, not only of its individual contents, but of prayer in general, than many ever attain, though their memory has been loaded with long and unexplained forms.
Forms of prayer are not only useful and proper, but almost indispensably necessary to begin with. But if chil. dren are thrown exclusively on the best forms, if they are made to commit them to inemory, like a copy of verses, and to repeat them in a dry customary way, they will produce little effect upon their minds. They will not under
stand what they repeat, if we do not early open to them the important scheme of prayer. We should give them knowledge, before we can expect them to make any progress in piety, and as a due preparation to it.
It is not enough to teach them to consider prayer under the general idea, that it is an application to God for what they want, and an acknowledgment to him for what they have. This, however true in the gross, is not sufficiently precise and correct. They should learn to define and arrange all the different parts of prayer : and, as a preparative to prayer itself, they should be impressed with as clear an idea as their capacity and the nature of the subject will admit, of Him with whom they have to do. On the knowledge that “God is,” that he is an infinitely holy Being, and that he is the “ rewarder of all them that diligently seek him,” will be grounded the first part of prayer, which is adoration. The creature devoting itself to the Creator, or self-dedication, next presents itself. And if they are taught that important truth, that they need help, they will easily be led to understand how naturally petition forms a most considerable part of prayer: and divine grace being among the things for which they are to petition, this naturally suggests to the mind the doctrine of the influences of the Holy Spirit. And when to this is added the conviction which will be readily wrought upon ingenuous minds, that as offending creatures they want pardon, the necessity of confession will easily be made intelligible to them. Thanksgiving also forms a considerable branch of prayer: in this they should be habituated to recapitulate not only their general, but to enumerate their peculiar, daily, and incidental mercies, in the same specific manner as they should be taught to detail their individual and personal wants in the petitionary, and their faults in the confessional parts. The same warmth of feeling, which will more readily dispose them to express their gratitude to God in thanksgiving, will also lead them more gladly to express their love to their parents and friends, by adopting another indispensable, and, to an affectionate heart, pleasing part of prayer, which is intercession.
When they have been made to understand the different. natures of these several parts of prayer, and when they clearly comprehend thai adoration, self-dedication, confession, petition, thanksgiving, and intercession, are distinct heads, which must not be involved in each other, you may exemplify the rules by pointing out to them these succes
sive branches in any well-written form. And they will easily discern, that ascription of glory to that God to whom we owe so much, and on whom we so entirely depend, is the conclusion into which a Christian's prayer will naturally resolve itself. But let it be particularly regarded, that as all prayer must be offered to God, as the sole object of our religious worship, and under the influence of his Holy Spirit; so our every request must be presented to the Father in the name of the great Mediator. For there is no access to the throne of grace but by that new and living way. No man, saith Jesus Christ, cometh to the Father, but by me.
The habits of the young pupil being thus early formed, her memory, attention, and intellect, being bent in a right direction, and the exercise invariably maintained, ma we not reasonably hope that her affections also, through divine grace, may become interested in the work, till she will be enabled to pray with the spirit and with the the understanding also.
As a pattern and help to the young Christian, several Forms of Prayer, which she may consult, will be introduced in the course of the work.
ON THE REGULATION OF THE HEART AND
You will have read the New Testament to very little purpose, if you do not perceive the great end and intention of all its precepts to be the improvement and regulation of the beart: not the outward actions alone, but the inward affections which give birth to them, are the subjects of those precepts; as appears in our Saviour's explanation (Matth. v.) of the commandments delivered to Moses; and in a thousand other passages of the gospels, which it is needless to recite. There are no virtues more insisted on, as necessary to our future happiness, than humility, and sincerity, or uprightness of heart; yet none more difficult and rare. Pride and vanity, the vices opposed to humility, are the sources of almost all the worst faults both of men and women. The latter are particularly accused, and not without reason, of vanity; the vice of little minds, chiefly conversant with trifling subjects. Pride and vanity have been supposed to differ so essentially, as hardly ever to be found in the same person. “ Too proud to be vain,” is no uncommon espression; by which is meant, too proud to be over anxious for the admiration of others : but this seems to be founded on mistake. Pride is a high opinion of one's self, and an affected contempt of others : for, that it is not a real contempt is evident from this, that the lowest object of it is important enough to torture the proud man's heart, only by refusing him the homage and adoration he requires. Thus Haman could relish none of the advantages on which he valued himself, whilst that Mordecai, whom he pretended to despise, sat still in the king's gate, and would not bow to him as he passed. But, as the proud man's contempt of others is only assumed with a view to awe them into reverence by bis pretended superiority, so it does not preclude an extreme inward anxiety about their opinions, and a slavish dependance on them for all his gratifications. Pride, though a distinct passion, is seldom unaccompanied by vanity, which is an extravagant desire of admiration. Indeed an insolent person is never seen, in whom a discerning eye might not discover a very large share of vanity, and of envy, its usual companion. One may nevertheless see many vain persons who are not proud : ihough they desire to be admired, they do not always admire themselves; but as timid minds are apt to despair of those things they earnestly wish for, so you will often see the woman who is most ansious to be ihought handsome, most inclined to be dissatisfied with her looks, and to think all the assistance of art too little to attain the end desired. To this cause, we may generally attribute affectation; which seems to imply a mean opinion of one's own real form, or character, whilst we strive against nature to alter ourselves by ridiculous contortions of body, or by feigned sentiments and unnatural manners. There is no art so mean, which ihis mean passion will not descend to for its gratification-no creature so insignificant, whose incense it will not gladly receive. Far from despising others, the vain man will court them with the most assiduous adulation; in hopes, by feeding their vanity, to induce them to supply the craving wants of his own. He will put on the guise of benevolence, tenderness, and friendship, where he feels not the least degree of kindness, in order to prevail on good nature and gratitude, to like and to cominend him: but if, in any particular case, he fancies that airs of
insolence and contempt may succeed better, he makes no scruple to assume them : though so awkwardly, that he still appears to depend on the breath of the person he would be thought to despise. Weak and timid natures seldom venlure to try this last method; and, when they do, it is without the assurance necessary to carry it on with success : but a bold and confident mind will oftener endeavour to command and extort admiratiou than to court it. As wo-men are more fearful than men, perhaps this may be one reason why they are more vain than proud; whilst the other sex are oftener proud than vain. It is, perhaps, from, some opinion of a certain greatness of mind accompanying the one rice rather than the other, that many will readily confess their pride, nay, and even be proud of their pride, whilst every creature is ashamed of being convicted of vanity. You see, however, that the end of both is the same, though pursued by different means; or, if it differ, it is in the importance of the subject. Whilst men are proud of power, of wealth, dignity, learning, and abilities, young women are too often ambitious of nothing more than to be admired for their persons, their dress, or the most trivial accomplishments. The homage of men is their grand object; but they only desire them to be in love with their persons, careless how despicable their minds appear, even, to these their pretended adorers. Women have been known so vaio as to boast of the most disgraceful addresses; being contented to be thought meanly of, in points the most interesting 10 their honour, for ihe sake of having it known, that their persons were attractive enough to make men transgress the bounds of respect due to their character, which was not a vicious one, if you except this intemperate vanity. But this passion too often leads to the inost ruinous actions, always corrupts the heart, and, when indulged, renders it perhaps as displeasing in the sight of the Almighiy, as those faults which find least mercy from the world: yet alas! it is a passion so prevailing, in our sex, that it requires all the efforts of reason, and all the assistance of grace, totally to subdue it. Religion is indeed the only effectual remedy for this evil. If our hearts are not dedicated to God, they will in some way or otlser be dedicated to the world, boih in youth and age. If our actions are not constantly referred to him, if his approbation and favour be not our principal object, we shall certainly take up with the applause of men, and make that the ruling motive of our conduct. w melancholy is it to see