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The Religious Training of Children.

The Religious Training of Children.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
STEPHEN OLIN, D.D., LL.D.,


Train up a child in the way he sliould go, and when he is old he
will not depart from it. — Proverbs, xxii., G.
STEPHEN OLIN, D.D., LL.D.,


Train up a child in the way he sliould go, and when he is old he
will not depart from it. — Proverbs, xxii., G.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 18, 2013
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THE RELIGIOUS TRAIIG OF CHILDRE.STEPHE OLI, D.D., LL.D.,Train up a child in the way he sliould go, and when he is old hewill not depart from it. — Proverbs, xxii., G.There is not in the wide world a living thing more help-less and unpromising than man in his infancy. He is feebleand dependent beyond any other animal, and for a muchlonger period. He is utterly unable to perform any good of-fices for himself. He can not defend himself against the mostinsignificant enemy or the most inconsiderable danger. HeTHE RELIGIOUS TRAIIG OF CHILDRE. 175must inevitably perish, upon whatever spot his frail bodymay happen to repose, unless some careful hand feed, pro-tect, and cherish him. Of the tact and skill which are toform the endowment of riper years, he does not now manifestthe faintest trait. He is even less gifted than brutes of hisown age with the instincts which, in the absence of a higherintelligence, guide every other living creature. He breathes,utters some inarticulate sounds, swallows the simple food thatis put into his mouth, and makes some unmeaning muscularmovements, and that is all he can do to announce to thespectator that this embryo immortal possesses even the low-est of the attributes of things that live.Such is man physically, at his entrance upon a careerin which he is appointed to act so important a part, and ful-fill so unfathomable a destiny. or of the higher facultieswhich he is to develop and exercise in after life does theslightest glimmering now appear. He exhibits nothing likecharacter, whether good or evil. He has no reason, no con-
 
science, no moral or immoral habits, no religion, no opinions,no ideas. His mind is a blank. His heart is a mere organfor the performance of an animal function.Yet is there something wonderful and even sublime in thisembryo man. He may become a hero, a philosopher, or asaint — a scourge, or a benefactor of his race. He is likelyto become an active and competent agent in human affairs,and to perform a part in the drama of the world ; and hewill assuredly become a partaker either of endless life or of eternal death. Great faculties lie concealed under such un-promising aspects. They are seen by the eyes of God ; "yetbeing unperfect, in his book are they written ; they are fash-ioned in continuance, when as yet there is none of them."They are not substances nor powers, but merely susceptibil-ities. To develop these latent capacities — to bring themout for action and enjoyment — to transform this helpless, in-significant thing into a good and wise man, fitted to serve176 THE RELIGIOUS TRAIIG OF CHILDRE.God and his generation on earth, and to enjoy him foreverin heaven, is the work of education. This is a task whichit has pleased God to devolve upon parents, and to it theyare bound by obligations as sacred as any that rest upon amoral being.The duty of bestowing careful, timely culture upon infancyand childhood, is clearly indicated by their exceeding delica-cy and susceptibility. Physical developments will indeedproceed very well with only the slightest attention on thepart of the parent, or with none at all. The nursery, theplay-ground, the field, and the work-shop, invite the bodilyorgans into due action, and impart vigor, skill, and activity.The intellect, too, however neglected by the teacher, imbibesknowledge from a thousand sources. Each of the senses be-comes an inlet for valuable ideas. Business, social converse,human example, even inanimate nature, the sky, the air,
 
and the earth — the elements in all their changes and activ-ities, the vegetable kingdom — in a word, the visible world,and all that is, or is transacted, in it, become sources of in-struction, which freely tender their lessons to the openingmind in contact with them, and force their teachings uponit, in its most passive states, and even in spite of indifierenceor reluctance. From all this it occurs, that every humanbeing who grows up in a civilized community attains ameasure of intelligence sufficient for the common purposesof life — of the intelligence that guides the race in the satis-faction of its most pressing wants, and which must, on thataccount, rank high in comparison with that class of acquisi-tions and accomplishments which we are wont to dignify withthe name of education. Divine Providence has thus merci-fully insured to the human being such degrees of physicaland mental development as are indispensable in the perform-ance of those functions which pertain to self-preservation,and on which society is dependent for its being and materialprosperity. For the higher culture, which gives the mindTHE RELIGIOUS TRAIIG OF CHILDRE. 177enlargement, and elevation, and refinement, and opens be-fore it a career of worthy occupations and enjoyments, yearsof patient labor and assiduous teaching* are requisite ; andparents are unquestionably bound, by all^the motives whichduty and affection impose, to give to their offspring the besteducation which their providential positions and circum-stances will allow.Without stopping to enforce, by argument or inculcation,one of the plainest and least controverted of duties, we pro-ceed to add, that the highest of the parent's obligations findsits sphere in the moral and religious training of his offspring.The superior importance of this department of education issufficiently apparent, from the consideration that, while boththe mind and the body, left to themselves, spontaneously ac-quire, from their own activity, and from the business and

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