Images de page

est good, which is ever to be in his power. But to omit it wholly would be impossible, unless he should cease to live like a religious man. All his religious conduct would teach with commanding efficacy the very truths, which his voice denied. They would unceasingly behold Religion in all the duties of his life : they would hear it every morning and every evening in his family devotions.


From these observations it is evident,

1. That the scheme of education, against which I have contended, is false, vain, and mischievous.

It is false, because the argument, by which it is supported, is false; because the opinions, which accompany it, are erroneous; and because the views, with which it is professedly supported, are hypocritical. This is clear from the conduct of those, who defend it: since that is directly contradictory to the scheme itself, and to the reasons, alleged in its defence. It is vain, because, instead of accomplishing the purpose intended, it would effectuate the contrary purpose. Instead of increasing candour, and producing investigation, it would only prevent investigation, and advance prejudice. It is mischievous, because it would prevent children from knowing and embracing truth in the highest of all concerns; their duty and salvation; and would lead them only to ignorance, error, and iniquity.

Indeed, all this is so obvious, and so certain, that I hesitate not to pronounce those, who propose it, whenever they are men of understanding, wholly insincere in the proposal. It is, I think, impossible, that they should be so blind to such obvious truth, as for a moment to imagine the education, which they urge, to be consistent with reason and common sense. On the con

trary, it may, without any want of candour, be asserted, that their design is of a very different nature. Instead of aiming at the promotion of candour in children, they unquestionably intend to persuade men to educate their children in ignorance of the Scriptures, in an habitual disregard to them, and ultimately in a confirmed hatred of their precepts. They are sagacious enough

to discern, that all persons are best fitted to receive religious impressions in childhood; and that, if they are suffered to grow up without them, they will either never receive them, or receive them with excessive difficulty. By prescribing, and urging, this mode of education they expect to see children habituated to Irreligion, and confirmed, without argument or conviction, in Infidelity. In this manner, far more easily and surely than in all others, they hope to exterminate Religion from the world.

Of all these observations, complete proof is furnished by the conduct of modern Infidels. In defiance of this very scheme, they have laboured with immense industry and art, to possess themselves of the education of children, throughout France, Germany, and other countries of Europe. Nor have they laboured without success. Distinguished Infidels have extensively become instructors of those, who were born to wealth and greatness; and men, corrupted by themselves, have still more extensively taught the mass of mankind. All these they have trained up to the principles of Infidelity, and to the unlimited practice of vice. The mind, almost from its infancy, they have debauched by sentiments and images of pollution; withdrawn it from duty, from God, and from Heaven, by fraud and falsehood; and allured it to sin, and to hell, by art and ingenuity, by sophistry and entanglement, by insidious temptation and impudent example. With a smooth, soft, and lubricous progress, they have crept into the bosoms of the rising generation; and pierced them to the soul with fangs of poison. A general dissolution of health, a hopeless decay of the vital energy, has followed the incision. The bloom of life has vanished; a livid hue overspread the frame, and every harbinger of death hastened to announce the speedy dissolution.

Here, no anxiety has been even pretended concerning the preoccupancy of the early mind, or the prevention of future candour. No succeeding investigation has been even hinted; and no intentional discussion of the great question proposed. ness, indeed, was not to be expected from such men. object has ever been to destroy the Bible, truth, and virtue and to the nature of all means, provided they will accomplish the end, they are perfectly indifferent. The man, who is deceived by

Such fairTheir only

such a scheme, supported by such arguments, and recommended by such men, must be a dupe of choice; a gudgeon, caught even without a hook.

2. From these observations it is also evident, that the Religious Education of children is a high and indispensable duty.

In the text, and in many other passages of Scripture, it is solemnly commanded by God. If the considerations, suggested throughout this discourse, are just; it is powerfully enforced by Reason. Our children are bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; endeared to us by a thousand ties, and a thousand delightful offices. All their interests are ours; and often nearer to our hearts, than our own. They are committed to us, in solemn charge, by our Maker; to be educated by us for his service and kingdom. He has made all things, in their situation and ours, conspire to this great end. Their helpless state calls for the habitual care and watchfulness, the uniform kindness and control, of their parents. Their minds, unoccupied by falsehood, are easily susceptible of truth, and fitted to receive and retain every useful impression. If the best impressions are not made, the worst will be; and parents are the only friends, from whom may rationally be expected the communication of good, or the prevention of evil. If this duty be not early done; they may die before it is done, and their souls be lost. If they live; we waste the golden season of doing them eternal good.

Who, that is not dead to conscience, to humanity, and even to instinct, can thus act the ostrich; and leave his little ones to be crushed by every foot? Think of the awful account, to be given of wrapping this talent in a napkin, and burying it in the earth. Think of the infinite difference between ascending with them to Heaven, and accompanying them down to the regions of perdition. Think of the reflections, which must arise in their minds, and ours, throughout eternity, when their ruin shall be seen to have sprung from our neglect.

Nor is this duty incumbent on parents only. Every Instructor is bound indispensably to second their endeavours, where they are faithful, and to supply, as far as may be, the defect, where they are not. Education ought every where to be Religious Education. The master is as truly bound to educate his apprentice,

or his servant, in religion, and the schoolmaster his pupil, as the parent his child. In the degree of obligation, and of sin in violating it, there may perhaps be a difference. In the nature of it, there is none. The command is, Train up a child in the way, he should go; directing all, who are entrusted with the care of children, to educate them in this manner.

At the same time, parents are further bound to employ no Instructors, who will not educate their children religiously. To commit our children to the care of irreligious persons, is to commit lambs to the superintendency of wolves. No sober man can lay his hand on his breast, when he has placed his child under the guidance of an irreligious teacher, and say, that he has done his duty; or feel himself innocent of the blood of his child. No man will be able, without confusion of face, to recount this part of his conduct before the bar of the final Judge.






PROVERBS xxii. 6.

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

In the last discourse, I considered the Duty of educating children religiously. In this, I propose,

II. To point out the manner, in which Religious Education should be conducted; and,

III. To exhibit some of the Motives to the performance of this duty, suggested by the promise in the text.

The terms, in which the command in the text is communicated, teach us, as I have heretofore observed, that Children, in their Education, are to be drawn from one action, and attainment, to another by persuasion, promises, and other efforts, continually repeated. Under the general meaning of this phraseology, may be easily included, whatever I shall think it necessary to observe concerning this subject at the present time.

Some of the observations, formerly made concerning the general education of children, will be applied, here, to their ReVOL. V.


« PrécédentContinuer »