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* * * 14 9N THE GENIUS,
ble from every precept and every action of Christ; that is a sufficient intimation that it should be made to grow out of every study, that it should be grafted on every acquisition. It is the turning point, the leading principle . indicative of the very genius of Christianity. This chastising quality should therefore be constantly made in education to operate as the only counteraction of that “knowledge which puffeth up.” Youth should be taught that as humility is the discriminating characteristic of our religion, therefore a proud Christian, a haughty disciple of a crucified Master, furnishes perhaps a stronger opposition in terms than the whole compass of language can exhibit. They should be taught that humility being the appropriate grace of Christianity, is what makes Christian and Pagan virtues essentially different. The virtues of the Romans, for instance, were obviously founded in pride ; as a proof of this, they had not even a word in their copious language to express humility, but what was used in a bad sense, and conveyed the idea of meanness or vileness. Christianity so stands on its own single ground, is so far from assimilating itself to the spirit of other religions, that, unlike the Roman Emperor, who though he would not become a Christian, yet ordered that the image of Christ should be set up in the Pantheon with those of the heathen gods, and be worshipped in common with them; Christianity not only rejects all such partnerships with other religions, but it pulls down their images, defaces their temples, tramples on their honours, founds its own existence on the ruins of spurious religious and spurious virtues, and will be every thing when it is admitted to be anything. Will it be going too much out of the way to observe, that Christian Britain retaliates upon Pagan Rome 2 For if the former used humility in a bad sense, has not the latter learnt to use pride in a good one 2 May we, without impertinence, venture to remark, that, in the deliberations of as honourable and upright political assemblies as ever adorned, or, under Providence, upheld a country; in orations which leave us nothing to envy in Attic or Roman eloquence in their best days; it were to be wished that we did not borrow from Rome an epithet which suit
ed the genius of her religion, as much as it militates against that of ours ? The panegyrist of the battle of Marathon, of Plataea, or of Zama, might with propriety speak of a “proud day,” or a “proud event,” or a “proud success.” But surely the Christian encomiast of the battle of the Nile may, from their abundance, select an epithet better appropriated to such a victory—a victory which, by preserving Europe, has perhaps preserved that religion which sets its foot on the very neck of pride, and in which the conqueror himself, even in the first ardors of triumphs, forgot not to ascribe the victory to ALMIGHTY God. Let us leave to the enemy both the term and the thing ; arrogant words being the only weapons in which we must ever vail to their decided superiority. Above all things then you should beware that your pupils do not take up with a vague, general, and undefined religion; but look to it that their Christianity be really the religion of Christ. Instead of slurring over the doctrines of the Cross, as disreputable appendages to our religion, which are to be got over as well as we can, but which are never to be dwelt upon, take care to make these your fundamental articles. Do not explain away these doctrines, and by some elegant periphrasis hint at a Saviour, instead of making him the foundation stone of your system. Do not convey primary, and plain, and awful, and indispensable truths elliptically, I mean as something that is to be understood without being expressed; nor study fashionable circumlocutions to avoid names and things on which our salvation hangs, in order to prevent your discourse from being offensive. Persons who are thus instructed in religion with more good breeding than seriousness and simplicity, imbibe a distaste for plain scriptural language; and the Scriptures themselves are so little in use with a certain fashionable class of readers, that when the doctrines and language of the Bible occasionally occur in other authors, they present a sort of novelty and peculiarity which offend; and such readers as disuse the Bible are apt to call that precise and puritanical which is in fact sound and scriptural. Nay, it has several times happened to the author to hear persons of sense and learning ridicule insulated sentiments and ex- L.
pressions that have fallen in their way, which they would have treated with decent respect had they known them to be, as they really were, texts of Scripture. This observation is hazarded with a view to enforce the importance of early communicating religious knowledge, and of infusing an early taste for Scripture phraseology. The persons in question are apt to acquire a kind of Pagan Christianity, which just enables them to hear with complacency of the “Deity,” of a “first cause,” and of “ conscience.” Nay, some may even go so far as to talk of “the Founder of our religion,” of the “Author of Christianity,” in general terms, as they would talk of the prophet of Arabia, or the law-giver of China, of Athens, or of the Jews. But their refined ears revolt not a little at the unadorned name of Christ; and even the naked and unqualified term of our Saviour, or Redeemer, carries with it a queerish, inelegant, not to say a suspicious sound. They will express a serious disapprobation of what is wrong under the moral term of vice, or the forensic term of crime ; but they are apt to think that the Scripture term of sin has something fanatical in it: and, while they discover a great respect for morality, they do not much relish holiness, which is indeed the specific morality of a Christian. They will speak readily of a man's reforming, or leaving off a vicious habit, or growing more correct in some individual practice; but the expression of a total change of heart, they would stigmatize as the very shibbo!oth of a sect, though it is the language of a Liturgy they affect to admire, and of a Gospel which they profess to receive.
CHAPTER XII. Hints suggested for furnishing young persons with a scheme of prayer. THose who are aware of the inestimable value of pray
er themselves, will naturally be anxious not only that this duty should be earnestly inculcated on their children, btit
that they should be taught it in the best manner; and such parents need little persuasion or counsel on the subject. Yet children of decent and orderly (I will not say of strictly religious) families are often so superficially instructed in this important business, that it is not unusual, when they are asked what prayers they use, to answer, “the Lord's Prayer and the Creed.” And even some who are better taught, are not always made to understand with sufficient clearness the specific distinction between the two; that the one is the confession of their faith, and the other the model for their suffilications. By this confused and indistinct beginning, they set out with a perplexity in their ideas, which is not always completely disentangled in more advanced life. An intelligent mother will seize the first occasion which the child’s opening understanding shall allow, for making a little course of lectures on the Lord's Prayer, taking every division or short sentence separately ; for each furnishes valuable materials for a distinct lecture. The child should be led gradually through every part of this divine composition; she should be taught to break it into all the regular divisions, into which indeed it so naturally resolves itself. She should be made to comprehend one by one each of its short but weighty sentences; to amplify and spread them out for the purpose of better understanding them, not in their most extensive and critical, but in their most simple and obvious meaning. For in those condensed and substantial expressions, every word is an ingot, and will bear beating out ; so that the teacher's difficulty will not so much be what she shall say as what she shall suppress; so abundant is the expository matter which this succinct pattern suggests. When the child has a pretty good conception of the meaning of each division, she should then be made to observe the connexion, relation, and dependence of the several parts of this prayer one upon another; for there is great method and connexion in it. We pray that the “kingdom of God may come,” as the best means to “hallow his name " and that by us, the obedient subjects 9, this kingdom, “ his will may be done.” A judicious interpreter will observe how logically and consequently one clause grows out of another, though she will use neither the word logical nor consequence: for all explanations should be made in the most plain and familiar terms, it being words, and not things, which commonly perplex children, if, as it sometimes happens, the teacher, though Rot wanting sense, want perspicuity and simplicity. The young person, from being made a complete mistress of this short composition, (which as it is to be her guide and model through life, too much pains cannot be bestowed on it,) will have a clearer conception, not only of its individual contents, but of prayer in general, than many ever attain, though their memory has been perhaps loaded with long and unexplained forms, which they have been accustomed to swallow in the lump without scrutimy. Prayer should not be so swallowed. It is a regular prescription, which should stand analysis and examination: it is not a charm, the successful operation of which depends on your blindly taking it, without knowing what is in it, and in which the good you receive is promoted by your ignorance of its contents. I would have it understood that by these little comments, I do not mean that the child should be put to learn dry, and to her, unintelligible, expositions; and here I must remarkin general, that the teacher is sometimes apt to relieve herself at the child’s expense, by loading the memory of a little creature on occasions in which far other faculties should be put in exercise. The child herself should be made to furnish a good part of the commentary by her answers; in which answers she will be much assisted by the judgment the teacher uses in her manner of questioning. And the youthful understanding, when its powers are properly set at work, will soon strengthen by exercise so as to furnish reasonable if not very correct anSWerS. Written forms of prayer are not only useful and proper, but indispensably necessary. But I will hazard the remark, that if children are thrown exclusively on the best forms, if they are made to commit them to memory like a copy of verses, and to repeat them in a dry, customary way, they will produce little effect on their minds. They