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treasures in such a way that none may touch or harm them. But, once more, where is a key to be found which shall secure morality in fullness and purity to man?
In Religion is this key found by all who seek it. A key which is so wonderfully and so admirably strengthened, that no efforts of millions can ever hope to force the lock in which it turns; a key, too, which will not only secure to us all that the earth offers of real good, but which will open to us a door in the mansions of everlasting bliss and contentment else. where. O, admirable instrument! what child should be without thee !
Yes, virtue is grand and lovely ; but virtue without religion is, after all, but the philosophy of heathens : uncertain, inconsistent in itself, selfish, and cold. Does the merely moral man a kind action; what ob. ject has he? His own gratification, for he would rather behold happiness than misery. Does he a splendid one; with what view ? His own honour, for he wishes the world to think well of him. Does he walk uprightly and honestly; under what expectations ? His own advantage, that men may trust him ; and thus it is, if we examine the whole tenour of his motives. But, on the other hand, is he restrained from wrong, admitting the possibility of that wrong to produce gratification to any sense, and the act not likely to be attended with any discovery which may privately or publicly injure him? Is he then restrained from doing evil? He is not: it
nce if he be; for no motive can influence as a powerful check, or an incentive to do or let alone, but that
arising from the fear of offending by doing evil, and the hope of pleasing by doing good, a supreme Being on whom we depend, as on our Creator and supporter ; and to whom we are accountable for every action, every word, and every thought, as our heavenly Judge; a Being who has promised through a Son, divine like himself, to reward or punish hereafter, according as these thoughts, words, and works, are found to deserve a blessing or a curse. It is this conviction, and this alone, which fixes and gives solidity and security to virtue; which makes a person tremble to indulge a revengeful thought, although no other mind than his own can apprehend its existence; and which causes him to start back with horror, when his hand has fallen on a tempting object, which he sees might be purloined from his neighbour without a possibility of detection. The belief of an eye ever upon him, and of a presence always near him ; of a scrutiny that no art can elude, and a judgment that no equivocation can confound, operates upon the mind of a christian, upon his senses, his frame, and his whole being, and produces results, which all the virtues under heaven, singly, might have endeavoured after but in vain.
Thus, then, have I led on the virtues to the point where they meet and embrace religion. I overstep the boundaries which have been purposely raised to separate morality from piety; and now, throwing down the barriers, with joy accept the assistance, the authority, the cement, which is to grace, to adorn, to strengthen, and to unite in man all that is excellent, and all that is holy, for ever.
And behold what a prospect spreads itself before
The horizon, but a moment since, was circumscribed and unenlightened ; now it is vast, boundless, beautiful, and radiant in glory. The very virtues we have been so long contemplating are changed in the general refulgence. In the illumination of religion, they stand a thousand times more lovely than we ever beheld them ; a thousand times more attractive, and offer us a thousand times more advantages in our acquaintance with them. And as their nature is beautified, improved, and enlarged, so have their
very names admitted an alteration. Truth, that sublime virtue, and first of moral qualities takes the name and divinity of faith. Mercy, that of godlike charity; and fortitude assumes that of bright and heavenly hope. Their sphere of action is extended through boundless space; their motives are purified, enriched, and exalted; and their end is single, fixed, and defined. The lamp which burnt with a small light is spread into a pure and brilliant flame; and the soul which wandered in an unexplored region, now bounds elastic forward, in a broad and beaten track, under the blazing sheen of revelation. Oh, happy moment of infantine existence! when simple virtue is received, and religion draws near to join in a mild influence over 'habit and association; to strengthen with the strength, expand with the stature and being, and bear fruit with the increase of every year!
But it is time to ask ourselves what religion consists of: its vital importance having been determined.
“I wish to educate my child in religious principles," says a young mother ; by which we will understand
her to mean that her child shall, inasmuch as may depend on her exertions, be made a firm but not ostentatious christian.
And is there a respectable or well-judging parent in Europe, the Turks excepted, who would wish to behold other than christians in their offspring ? The wish is natural ; and with the respectable in this quarter of the world, universal. But it is unfortunately one of those sluggish wishes which are too often laid by quietly in the breast, and excite to very little exertion to accomplish. For let us abruptly put a few queries to nine hundred of a thousand well informed mothers in the British empire, and hear their replies.
First, on what religion consists of ?
What a child should be which is educated on religious principles ?
What knowledge and practice of religion are requisite in the parent, in order to enable her to lay a corresponding foundation in her child ?
Lastly : What means should be, and are actually used by the mother to further these ends ?
Let every mother put these questions to herself, for very
few persons could take the freedom to put them to her, and let her, if she can, answer : and if she cannot, then may she set herself heartily to her work while it is morning with her little one, for she may be assured that there is no sincerity in her desire to offer to her Maker the child he gave her, unless she use the most effectual means to get him accepted.
But if she herself know but imperfectly what she has to teach, how necessary is it for her to learn! In
religious knowledge, God knows, we are all deficient enough ; but in a christian country the ignorance cannot be so great, but that our practice might be generally better than it is if we so pleased. However, be this as it may, the plea of deficiency in religious knowledge, from a British parent, will be a poor defence at the bar of the great tribunal, for neglect of children on this most important article. Excuse after excuse may be preferred, but not one will be admitted. The crime of sloth and disobedience against God's positive commands will be proved. The abuse of his good gifts ; neglect of improving the gifts of the Almighty, in leaving the heart and head empty and barren, in a season when every impression is of moment to the future man, such neglect will a careless parent be charged with. And even those . sins and crimes committed by a youth, brought up without the fear of his Maker in his soul, even may they be placed to the guilty parents' account ; sins which in all probability would not have been, but for negligence so culpable.
“ I am sure he was taught to say his prayers,” perhaps a heart-broken, miserable mother may say over the catastrophe of a graceless son. “ That is possibly true," may be replied; "the servants who put him to bed as a little child, were desired to hear him say his prayers; and the beautiful Lord's Prayer, they kept him, half asleep, crying over, before he could speak twenty words distinctly. He was neither taught afterwards the meaning of the words, nor was he incited to put himself into a posture of reverence; much less to pause a moment to collect his thoughts, pre