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ject to be attained. And what is that object? Is it not to lay the foundation of a religious character? Is it not to teach children to consider God as the supreme good, to look to his favor as the only source of pure happiness, to regard him as their best friend, and to rejoice in the continual proofs of his love? But God is invisible, and children are engrossed with the perceptions of their senses: God dwells in the heavens, and is, to their apprehensions, a Being afar off, while they are attached only to present objects. They soon forget their parents and friends, when absent only a few weeks or months, and how can they have God in all their thoughts? God is a being of infinite power and majesty; they hear his voice in the thunder, and they are compelled to feel his presence in the violence of the storm; and how can they love him, whose image brings only terror and dismay? These considerations, show our difficulties, as well as our duties.

In commencing the religious education of a child, our first object should be to awaken his attention; till this be effected, all other labors are useless. The ground must be prepared-the soil must be stirred up and loosened-before the seed can be cast in, with any hope of vegetation. While the mind of a child is sluggish and inert-while his thoughts are roving and unfixed-we can do nothing, we can say nothing that will make any permanent impression. And here lies the grand difficulty of our employment, as we have all experienced. How then is the mind of a child to be excited? What instruments within our reach are of sufficient force to break the clod and lay it open to the sun?

An attentive observation of the habits of children in the intercourse of common life will probably suggest an answer. Children are always engaged with the pursuits and occupations of men. They delight to watch their parents in their daily employments, and to imitate their labors. One great cause of the repugnance which children generally feel to schools and learning, is, that schools and learning are for children only. Men and women are engaged in active employments; and while children are at school, a broad line of distinction is drawn between them and the rest of the community. Hence, they are impatient of instruction. They long to pass over the line, and to mingle in the cares and pursuits that engage the attention of those who are above them. This principle of imitation we may turn to good account. We must be in earnest ourselves. The pursuit of religious knowledge, and the acquisition of religious habits must be a part of our daily employments. We must strive and labor, if we would prompt them to exertion. If, in all that we say and do, we show a deep conviction of the importance of religion, they will gradually learn to think it important. But our religion must not be a languid repetition of serious thoughts and solemn phrases. Children judge more from the eye and the tone of voice, than from the words. If we do not feel ourselves, we can never make them feel.

But happily for us, the principle of imitation is not the only one to which we can resort for this important purpose. Children are naturally eager for knowledge. This is apparent from their inquisitive habits and their restless curiosi

ty. When they turn with disgust from their books, it is not knowledge that they dislike, but the form under which it is presented. They dislike the labor of acquiring it. A book brings with it no excitement; and they have not yet acquired the power of voluntary attention. Curiosity then is a powerful instrument in our hands. And is there nothing we can communicate of God and his moral government; of mankind, their past history and present condition; of the human soul, its nature, powers, and capacities, its origin and destination; of that unseen world to which we are hastening; of the spirits of "the just made perfect" who surround the throne of God, and of those angelic beings who are sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation; is there nothing in all this, which we can convey in simple language, and adapt to the capacity of children? And is there nothing, in all this, to excite wonder, and delight, and admiration? Surely, with the Bible in our hands, we can be at no loss for subjects of conversation, that shall at once allure and stimulate the minds of children. And this is the first object; for we must develope their faculties, before we can impress their hearts. We must talk to them; excite them; encourage them to talk in return; lead them to spread open their minds before us, and state all their difficulties, and doubts, and indistinct apprehensions. Much labor is thrown away in the business of instruction, for want of knowledge of the precise state of the pupil's mind. Many an anxious hour has been spent, and many a lesson given in vain, because the child has misunderstood a single word or phrase of the teacher, or has previously acquired

some unfortunate prejudice, inconsistent with the instruction we are endeavouring to give. The mind of a child is not passive. We cannot pour in knowledge and leave it there without further trouble. If we do not excite it to action and lead it to labor with us, it will certainly oppose us. But this latent obstacle we cannot discover, without a very familiar intercourse, or a careful cross-examination. The instruction we give must be put in a variety of forms, and the child encouraged to return it to us in his own language, that we may be certain of having made the impression we intended to make.

But, for this purpose, another object must be effected. We must win the affection of the child; we must acquire his confidence. Instruction must come with the smile of friendship, not the sternness of authority. I do not mean that decorum and dignity should not be preserved; that order should not be enforced; that improper familiarities should not be repressed;—for all this is consistent with the most perfect confidence and love: but the child should feel that he is under the control of a friend; he should be persuaded that you take an interest in his welfare; that you are anxious for his improvement; that you are affectionately, and zealously, and perseveringly laboring for his benefit. As soon as you have produced this conviction, your point is gained. Children are naturally open and confiding; and they will scarcely attempt to conceal their thoughts and emotions from those whom they thus know to be their friends.

If you have been so happy as to succeed thus far; if you have excited the attention and gained the confidence of your pupil, the way is prepared for direct religious instruction. I do not mean that no religious instruction should be given, till you are certain that the mind is awakened, and the affections won: but I mean that no direct religious instruction can be given with much hope of success, till these objects are effected; and therefore, that all our exertions should at first be directed to the attainment of these objects.

The essential principles of christianity are few, plain, and simple. It was the peculiar blessing of the poor, in the time of our Saviour, that to them the Gospel was preached. It therefore contained nothing beyond their apprehension. They were not perplexed with metaphysical subtilties, and nice distinctions, and elaborate creeds. They were taught their duties in plain precepts or engaging parables; and the sanctions of religion, the rewards and punishments annexed to the performance or neglect of their duties, were placed before them, under striking figures indeed, but in a manner too plain to be misunderstood. The Bible nowhere contains a system of faith, or of duties. No one of the inspired writers has taken occasion to draw up a creed, or present a summary of christian truth. Our Saviour and his apostles gave their instructions, adapted always to the circumstances, and character, and even the local situation of those whom they addressed. They constantly took advantage of present objects, and passing events, to associate religious truth with the common affairs of life. It was the fowls of

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