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examples of faith in the Sacred Word, and the early instructors of the son and brother of the Apostle of the Gentiles? Surely we may without presumption add, Wheresoever the Gospel is preached throughout the whole world, this thing which you have done shall be told for a memorial of you !
I need scarcely stop to remark what an encouragement this narrative affords for the education of the young in the knowledge of the Sacred Volume. The age of childhood is the age for learning; and why should it not be taught what it never can learn so easily or with so much hope of permanent benefit? First impressions often remain through life. The tender plant receives the direction which the forming hand communicates to it. And indeed, if it were only to exclude the mischiefs of bad and injurious books, and to obstruct the entrance to vice, the duty of education would be imperative. But if, besides that, children are capable of knowing the Holy Scriptures and understanding the principal doctrines and precepts of them; and if the blessing and grace of God may be expected to rest on this knowledge, in answer to the prayers and endeavours of pious instructors, what further encouragement can be required?
But, in addition to this, we are to remember that there is no book whatever so well adapted to the capacities of children as the divine Word. It is not a recondite, argumentative, abstruse composition, difficult to be understood, and made up of various parts combined in a close chain of reasoning to a profound result. Who could understand the Bible, if it were written in the manner of the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle? But it has pleased God that the Book of Life should be as intelligible as it is momentous; that truth should be plain in proportion as it is important. In fact, the Bible is só varied in its contents, so interesting in its narratives, so simple in its style, so affecting in its family histories, so attractive in its incidents, so short and striking and pointed in its commands—that the greater part of it lies open to every humble, and therefore to the young, student. The very entertainment to be derived from the Scripture histories and parables is quite unparalleled, and makes the Sacred Volume the youth's delight and pleasure. I have myself seen a child of five years old sit on its parent's knee and listen to the history of Joseph till the tears trickled down its face.
As, then, in so momentous a concern as religion, we cannot begin too soon with our children, so there is no book so admirably adapted for this purpose, as that which is to be our guide in pursuing it.
And here permit me to propose the con
duct of Lois and Eunice, as the example to Christian women. Both parents are indeed equally concerned in the religious instruction of their offspring; but the mother is especially the teacher of her children in their early years, when the more active and laborious duties of the father call him from the domestic circle. There is a tenderness and affection in the female character which is exactly suited for this office. Let then a mother's love be improved to the best purposes. Let the first warm emotions of maternal affection be employed to endear the Holy Scriptures to the heart. Let the child associate his earliest notions of piety with the remembrances of filial duty. Let the same mouth which utters the tender endearments of the earthly parent, guide his opening curiosity towards a heavenly Father and an eternal home. The greatest kindness a mother can do to her child, is to make him early a student of the Bible, to engage his tions in behalf of purity and truth, and to connect the elements of religion, not only with the dictates of the understanding, but with the emotions of the heart. These words, said the Almighty of old, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Nor can the pious parent expect too much, under God's blessing and grace, when thus employed. Far, far more depends on early and well-conducted religious instruction than we are any of us willing to allow. It is easy to express a languid wish and give an indolent and occasional admonition-but the watchful, affectionate, self-denying instruction of a child in the Holy Scriptures—the anxious regulation of his bad tempers and earliest associations of ideas and sentiments—the setting before him a holy and consistent example, and the forming him to pious and virtuous habits; all accompanied with fervent, humble, persevering prayer for the blessing of God's Holy Spiritthis is a religious education--and in this way from a child he may best receive a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.
To assist then the parents of the Poor in this great duty—to supply their want of opportunity, or knowledge, or time, or disposition, is one design of our National Schools-a design noble, just in proportion to all the commanding interests dependant on a right education, and to all the misery and vice consequent on a negligent one. The commendation of our Schools is, that they communicate the first elements of knowledge, and enable our population
to know from children, like Timothy, the words of Eternal Life.
And here I might safely rest my case. But the language of my text calls me on to yet higher and more animating considerations. We have hitherto only noticed the Duty; we must now hear
which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The BENEFIT is, The being made wise unto salvation.
What then is Salvation? It is a deliverance from sin and all the consequences of it, and the gift of eternal life with all its blessings. It consists in a rescue from endless woe and an elevation to bliss everlasting. It includes all the mercies which the stupendous sacrifice of the Son of God, and the efficacious work of his Holy Spirit, communicate to fallen men. Yes! it is grace, pardon, reconciliation, acceptance, adoption, peace, holiness, consolation, strength, guidance, and obedience here; as leading to perfect joy and love, unalloyed happiness and triumph, an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, hereafter.