Imatges de pÓgina


what fears and sorrows, caused by early imprudence and thoughtless disobedience? What exertions to procure the necessaries and comforts of life, and self-denial to give the chief of these to the object of their love! What prayers to heaven for the welfare and virtue of the child! It becomes the young to cherish an ardent affection for their parents, and to honor them with a grateful obedience. The incessant kindnesses and attentions which they receive, demand this from them; and they fulfil one of their chief duties in complying with the demand. It will encourage them, perhaps, in this becoming and lovely devotion to their best earthly friends, to remind them that Jesus, their exalted Saviour, was, during his abode on earth, as dutiful and pious a son as he was a faithful and distinguished Messenger of God. The Evangelist tells us that he was subject unto his parents; and the expression plainly denotes that they found in him a kind, an obedient, and an affectionate son. His is an example for the youthful to copy. And when with an outstretched hand he beckons them, and with a gracious smile says unto them, Follow me; he invites their attention to the earliest and more private scenes of his own innocent and beautiful life; he leads them to his home in Nazareth, and permits them to behold the dutiful attentions he pays to his mother; the joy he feels in learning her wishes and ministering to her comforts; and the respect and reverence with which the injunctions of both his parents are listened to. They see him in the artless and undisguised expression of his filial feelings, and witness the throbbings of delight and joy which move the hearts of his earthly protectors: and when cares of the most serious kind occupied his thoughts,


when schemes of benevolence to man and efforts of love to God drew off his mind from other objects; even when his soul was stung with ingratitude, and pain and agony oppressed it, his heart still beat with filial love-and he was still anxious to fulfil its suggestions. On the cross he thought of his mother; to the keeping of his beloved disciple he commended her.

And have not the young intellectual and moral powers that require attention and zealous culture? We will suppose that every one would like to be well thought of by his family and friends, and the world. Surely there is no one living who would not prefer the good opinion, the esteem, and the love of others, to their bad opinion and dislike. It may be the case that very different exertions are made for the securing the good opinion of mankind, and the characters of the young and the aged differ as widely from each other in their good and bad qualities ;still we observe, that, live as they will, in zealous attention to good things or a miserable pursuit of the bad, they are pleased with the thought that there are persons who like them and have a regard for them. If, then, the young desire to be loved and esteemed, it is in their power to secure this acknowledged good, without making it their chief object and this it should not be-by carefully improving themselves in knowledge, by acquiring what are usually called moral habits. These habits are formed by paying a regular and sacred attention to individual duties -and especially to those of a religious kind. We have spoken of the fraternal and filial duties of the young; there are many others which require their attention. Not engaged in the most active pursuits, they still are required to be


sincere, honest, and faithful in their words and actions; to shew a strong regard for truth and integrity, in addition to that modesty of deportment and that kindness of manner, which are peculiarly attractive in the young. Whilst they are informing their minds according to the means of their parents, and the nature of their prospects, they will thus be preparing themselves in the best manner, for every situation in which Providence may place them; they will go into the world accompanied by that general good opinion which will, in a measure, reward their exertions and facilitate their success; and what is more serious and more encouraging, the blessing of heaven will be their rich reward.

The summons of Jesus, their beloved Master, urges the young thus to act:-to acquire knowledge, to practice goodness, to be attentive to all good and wise rules, to seek religion and the divine blessing; and his example, which they should learn to love and imitate, wins them forward to the same prudent and righteous course. Can it be doubted how he passed the years of youth? The Evangelists speak but little of his early life; but that little is full of instruction and encouragement to the young. It was an extraordinary reply with which he met his mother's chiding question-" Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?". -so early was his mind opening to the prospect of extensive usefulness, and preparing itself for the grand undertaking on which he afterwards entered. So early had he the feelings and thoughts of a child of Heaven, and those views of duty which connected his life

with God, and caused him to labour and suffer, with the sole thought that it was his Father's business-and he was honored by being called upon to perform it. From this moment, till he appeared in public as a divine messenger, the youthful Jesus was intent upon the duties which immediately pressed upon him, and also in preparing for those which he afterwards fulfilled; and all that we read of him in the Gospels proves that he had admirably prepared his mind and heart for the work to which God called him. But the young cannot take such an exalted and benevolent work upon them. No: they may, however, prepare by similar means for all they will have to perform in the world. Their beloved Master calls upon them to do this; and reminds them that he has preceded them in the blessed work. They may retire, as he did, from noise and folly, to meditate upon their duty to God and their fellowcreatures. They may shun, as he did, improper companions, whose society is altogether hurtful-and shelter themselves at home, seeking counsel from their parents, and knowledge from books. They may speak, in the reverence and thankfulness of their hearts to God, as their Saviour was wont to do-be frequent and regular in their worship of Him-and endeavour, by intercourse with Him, to acquire and sustain a vigorous and practical piety.

It is a great recommendation of this early training that renders more easy and pleasant subsequent endeavours to be upright, and pious, and holy. The time at which it should be engaged in, is the very best which can be chosen for the purpose, because more leisure is then afforded than

[ocr errors]

can be afterwards commanded by any one who intend to be active and useful in the world; and the good foundation being once laid, additions may be subsequently made to it, till a goodly fabric of integrity and righteousness be upreared. The young, who thus commence the Christian life, will be better disposed than others to the mode of conduct which is disliked by the thoughtless, and called rigid and austere, but approved by the wise: and they will continue to tread in the footsteps of the Saviour, making it their constant endeavour to fulfil all the purposes of life, and to pay a reverential and grateful submission to the will of God. So much, at least, may be hoped for them— meantime, they will increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

On Reading the Scriptures.


Happy the parents who see around them dutiful and amiable children, listening with attention and respect to parental advice and exhortation, shewing a sincere regard for all that is good and pious, and learning to love and practice religion as they see it loved and practised by those for whom they feel the highest regard! And happy the children of pious parents, whose young feelings and thoughts are excited in favor of goodness, who are induced both by the lessons and example of their parents, to love their spi

« AnteriorContinua »