« FöregåendeFortsätt »
like the frosts on the soil, being broken up and removed, nature begins to put kindly forth, and to make promise of a return for what we shall please to give her. Thus dawns the spring of life; and the good parent, as a skilful mason, hails the season with rapture in which she may safely lay the first stone of a building, which is to be her hope of defence, her strong castle, and her glory.
Here end figurative allusions. And here begin the earnest labours of the parent.
Happy is it for her, that her daily and hourly toils are sweetened by exquisite love ; and happier for her child that her unwearied-spirit is supported and cheered by hope !
FAITH IN PRACTICE.
W LIFT UP THY HANDS TOWARDS
HIM FOR THE LIFE OF THE
THY CHILDREN LIKE OLIVE PLANTS ROUND THY TABLE." "
AND ALL THY CHILDREN SHALL BE TAUGHT OF THE LORD ; AND GREAT SHALL BE THE PEACE OF THY CHILDREN." IS NOT THIS THY FEAR, THY CONFIDENCE, THY HOPE ?”
When, therefore, the child can articulate a few words, he should be taught to say by himself, that which he has heard others pronounce before he could speak : thanks to some one, he knows not who, for the food that is set before him. When, also, he is dressed in the morning, and just before he is lifted into bed at
night, he must be gently taught to bend those infant knees on the lap of his mother, and to lift up those little hands between the hands of his parent, in sub-mission and reverence, and love to the God who formed both parent and child. The fond and anxious mother, thus seated, her heart swelling with emotion which none but a mother, listening to the new-born accents of her infant's lip, can ever feel, and none but a christian mother who is shewing her offspring the first step to its Maker, can know, quietly says, “ Now look at me, my dear child, and try to say the words I say." She then pronounces, slowly, a few words, one by one, either of praise for a good night's rest, or of intreaty for safety and blessing through the day. This petition may be comprized in ten, fifteen, or twenty easy words, according as the child is able to follow. Some children are more lively, eager, and desirous to catch new words than others; and as there is a vast inequality of abilities, and uncertainty in their time of putting forth, the nicest judgment and care are requisite to suit our task to the strength of the understanding, and to lay on mind and memory no more than they can cheerfully bear.
And hence it follows that no other than a parent is fitted for this office. The careless mother may stop the maid, who is taking off her screaming child to bed, with a command to mind that he says his prayers. But, alas ! how is she obeyed? The mismanaged infant, rubbing his eyes in weariness for sleep, which he has been kept from through his own self-will, is perhaps thus addressed by the maid :
“ Come, my dear, mamma desires you will
say your prayers; come, and I will tell you what to say.” “I wo'nt,” is the immediate answer. « But you must, you know, for your mamma said so," will argue the maid. “I wo'nt," will be again the reply; and in fact, the servant, finding all intreaty useless, and the child almost asleep, will lay him down in his bed, and thus give the first dreadful notion, that sleep is as sweet and secure without prayer for the protection of an Almighty Father, as with it.
Mothers, who ardently desire to fix in your children, not enthusiasm, or fanaticism, but strong, deeprooted principles of religion, entrust to no human being the duty of morning and evening prayer, which your child is to learn by repetition. You may ask in vain that tenderness of soul, which melts in your gaze as his eye is fixed on yours. You require in vain from another your own patient ear, encouraging manner, inspiring voice, and affectionate pressure ; and you may expect in vain that the homage will be offered to another, of a ready attention, of pretty efforts at imitation, and of the first admission of impression, which your child can owe but to you. Judge only for yourselves. If the evil in nature ever preponderated so fearfully, as that an anxious and tender mother's unwearied exertions from early childhood failed of making a christian, what a fiend might not have been produced, had those unwearied exertions of the same mother been superseded by the cold dogmas of the maid !
In a few months the child will have advanced far enough for the pretty little prayer in easy verse,
which is alluded to in the note, * and perhaps the Lord's prayer; besides which he should especially be taught to pray for his parents, relations, and friends.
In the course of perhaps the second or third twelvemonth of his existence, this child will begin to put to his parents those pumberless queries, which all are at times puzzled to answer, but which it is almost impossible not to listen to with interest. And such of these inquiries as have a tendency to religion, the child is generally disposed to make whilst he is being undressed, or when his bodily powers are somewhat exhausted, and he is inclined to sit still. Here again is another reason, why a mother should perform this office for her little one: for if he is undressed at a proper hour, he is not overcome by want of rest, and is inclined to prattle, and to give attention to the solution of his infantine doubts. He is likely to say, “ Mamma, why do I ask God to bless me, and give me sweet sleep, when I lie down?" His mother will reply, “Because, my love, God desires us all to ask him for what we wish to have; and if he thinks it good for us, he will give it." Then will follow the great question, which all children who are taught to pronounce the name of God are sure to ask at some time or other, " And who is God ?"
To whose lot does it fall to answer this great inquiry? To the mother, or the maid? The Al
* Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child, &c. &c. This, with other prayers for little children, may be found in a small volume entitled “ The Poor Girl's Help.”
mighty (and blessed be his goodness) is equally the father of the poor and the rich ; the God of mistress and maid. But to put the argument for superior information of the one aside, are the affection, zeal, earnestness, solicitude of the maid, equal with those of the mistress towards her own child ?: Impossible. Then is it impossible for the reply to be framed with the care and thought which intense feeling can alone dictate. If it be difficult, as a celebrated theological commentator has said, to counterfeit the warm, affectionate writer, it is still more so to personate the warm, affectionate speaker. We blush not through the counterfeit pen, but who can long endure the ardent gaze and inquiry of even a child, that is searching through voice, language, countenance, and eyes, for the evidence of truth, and the pledge of sincerity ?
This, and similar desired information, is the duty of a mother herself to give in easy language, as she may find the little inquirer able to bear it. Such conversations should never be allowed to last longer than a few minutes at a time, during infancy: for subjects so awful, if prolonged, might overwhelm a tender mind. Indeed the theme would naturally drop of itself on the child being embraced, and consigned to his pillow, and thus all appearance of unwillingness to discuss it further would be done away with.
Other inquiries a child will sometimes make, which it were impious to attempt to answer, and wicked in the extreme to laugh at, as lively children of quick fancics may seem to expect we should do. But with well trained children, any expectation of raising