Page images
PDF
EPUB

terms, call “

ence has been of that prompt and uniform nature that it might never raise a question whether it were from love.

It makes me happy to hear these sentiments, my friend, because it proves the very thing to be working in you for which I have so often longed; and as to your dear child, she is one of those ew characters, which we may in Scripture

upright.” She has imbibed from your example, a respect for discipline, and a conscientious desire to do right; but she has had, I trust, seed of grace beyond this, which made her heart restless for something else ; and I think you will find henceforth, a tone and manner in her obedience of a much higher cast, because of being graciously taught the love of God, and that the delight of duty is in that love. She is one of those instances in whom we see the Scripture verified,-he that will do the will of the Lord, shall know of the doctrine. She has had, besides, another great advantage in that conformity of precept and example which subsists between you and your wife. She has had a uniform system ; the obedience to one parent was obedience to the other, and thus she has been strengthened in habits of duty by the double care of both.

I must confess again that I am a friend to discipline, and should be sorry if this addition of love to honor should be found to weaken its effect.

That it never can, if it be the love of God There is perhaps a remarkable proof, in that which is said of Abraham, whose love of God was so fully displayed, in Genesis xviii. 19, the Lord says of him, " For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." There can be no stronger discipline than such as is here described, and yet this love, we know, was of that intense kind, which would not withhold any thing from God.

Mrs. Conway observed, I think I see a new system of education springing up amongst us; and it has caused me much reflection,-because I am not thoroughly persuaded whether to approve or condemn it. May I be permitted to point it out ?

We shall be grateful for any observations which may tend to give us clearer light on this important subject. It is this : I find among many

of

my friends, a determination not to exact from their children any act of obedience, but by the power of reasoning with them. I have seen them spend an hour at a time, perhaps, to convince a child that it ought to do what is desired, for such and such reasons, ultimately to issue in advantages to itself. I certainly have seen the child yield in the end,--but I have also seen a pertinacious adherence to the first feeling which prompted a refusal. I have watched the effect, and it ap

pears to me that it does not succeed in obtaining that kind of obedience which is due from a child to a parent.

I quite agree with you ; for I also have been an observer of this system, and the fact is, that by it the parent's authority is altogether put into the back ground, and the child's reason set up as the idol ; and where the reason fails to co-operate with the desire of the parent, most assuredly, the point is yielded to the desires of the child. It is a most dangerous and alarming system, tending to put down all authority and all rule, and training up the child to a height of self-esteem and self-will, to be controlled by no authority, human or divine; and soon the child takes his own course, acting altogether according to his own mind, be it right or be it wrong ; for even the right and the wrong, come to be put under the judgment of his own reason.

How can a child be thus trained to honor his parents ? for he feels his parents subjecting themselves to him. If he yields, it is because he thinks it right, and if he does not yield, it is because he is not persuaded it is right, and that he acknowledges no authority. The Scripture directs no such plan : command, restraint, nurture, admonition are the rules, but they must be in love. Honor, obedience, submission, are the duties of children, and they must be in love, because all the law of God is love.

And yet one wishes to see children understand

rationally that what they do is a right and a proper thing.

And so they will; the very habit of obedience, once obtained, brings out such obvious benefit and happiness, that it becomes a certain knowledge of a certain result, and as reason strengthens it will reflect upon these things, more especially if trained to form the true judgment from the word of God. Men forget that reason, however fine, is like all our other gifts of nature, corrupted by sin. -Reason itself wants tuition, and it should be formed to judgment by experience, and by the precepts of the word of God. Besides which, before it can be submitted to God, it must be under a sanctifying operation of the Holy Ghost, for by the affections of the heart and the reason of the mind, the will is formed. To be a right will, it must therefore be renewed in grace, and without that, it will be either altogether perverse or mistaken: for the natural or carnal mind " is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Rom. viii. 7. A child wants education in every department and in every faculty. It comes into the world with the natural powers of mankind, but those powers want directing, either by moral tuition, or, what is the absolute duty of all concerned, by a religious instruction; that they may be turned not only to moral duties between man and man, but also to holy duties between himself and God. Herein do I exercise myself,” said St. Paul, “to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men.” Acts xxiv. 16.

As Mrs. Conway has set the example, will you permit me, said Mrs. Bennet, to propose another question ?

With the greatest pleasure.

I fear you will think me wrong, but I submit my feelings for correction :- I wish to speak of the nutural revolting I feel in my heart against the severe measures which seem to be directed to parents in the Scriptures, especially in the Proverbs. The reasoning of my heart always seems to contradict these injunctions; and I believe it very probable that it is erroneous, because averse to the injunctions of infinite wisdom. I once heard a friend say, that those laws for parents were written as suitable to a state of society not so refined as our present generations, and thạt they seemed to indicate a kind of barbarity in that age.

It is really extraordinary how the pride of man devises schemes to justify himself in his judgment of the Word of God; and like the system of exalting reason to the supreme authority, the same is done by their presumptuous and unwarrantable liberty with the Word of God. There is, perhaps, one distinction to be made, to consider the application of these passages to the different ages of our children, adapting them accordingly: but I believe there is more wisdom in that timely correction which is there enjoined, than most men understand ; and more kindness and mercy too, than is generally apprehended. A timely stroke, judiciously applied, may save days

« PreviousContinue »