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Gentle Measures in the Management and Training of the Young by Jacob Abbott

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and is compelled to invent some plausible pretext for bringing it to an

Indeed, when we reflect upon the subject, we see what a difficult task we
undertake in such contests--it being nothing less than that of _forcing the
formation of a volition_ in a human mind. We can easily control the bodily
movements and actions of another person by means of an external coercion
that we can apply, and we have various indirect means of _inducing_
volitions; but in these contests we seem to come up squarely to the work of
attempting, by outward force, to compel the _forming of a volition_ in the
mind; and it is not surprising that this should, at least sometimes, prove
a very difficult undertaking.

_No Necessity for these Contests_.

There seems to be no necessity that a parent or teacher should ever become
involved in struggles of this kind in maintaining his authority. The way to
avoid them, as it seems to me, is, when a child refuses out of obstinacy to
do what is required of him, to impose the proper punishment or penalty for
the refusal, and let that close the transaction. Do not attempt to enforce
his compliance by continuing the punishment until he yields. A child, for
example, going out to play, wishes for his blue cap. His mother chooses
that he shall wear his gray one. She hangs the blue cap up in its place,
and gives him the gray one. He declares that he will not wear it, and
throws it down upon the floor. The temptation now is for the mother,
indignant, to punish him, and then to order him to take up the cap which he
had thrown down, and to feel that it is her duty, in case he refuses, to
persist in the punishment until she conquers his will, and compels him to
take it up and put it upon his head.

But instead of this, a safer and a better course, it seems to me, is to
avoid a contest altogether by considering the offense complete, and the
transaction on his part finished by the single act of rebellion against her
authority. She may take the cap up from the floor herself and put it in its
place, and then simply consider what punishment is proper for the wrong
already done. Perhaps she forbids the boy to go out at all. Perhaps she
reserves the punishment, and sends him to bed an hour earlier that night.
The age of the boy, or some other circumstances connected with the case,
may be such as to demand a severer treatment still. At any rate, she limits
the transaction to the single act of disobedience and rebellion already
committed, without giving an opportunity for a repetition of it by renewing
the command, and inflicts for it the proper punishment, and that is the end
of the affair.

And so a boy in reciting a lesson will not repeat certain words after his
mother. She enters into no controversy with him, but shuts the book and
puts it away. He, knowing his mother's usual mode of management in such
cases, and being sure that some penalty, privation, or punishment will
sooner or later follow, relents, and tells his mother that he will say the
words if she will try him again.

"No, my son," she should reply, "the opportunity is past. You should have
done your duty at the right time. You have disobeyed me, and I must take
time to consider what to do."

If, at the proper time, in such a case, when all the excitement of the
affair is over, a penalty or punishment apportioned to the fault, or some
other appropriate measures in relation to it, are _certain to come_, and
if this method is always pursued in a calm and quiet manner but with
inflexible firmness in act, the spirit of rebellion will be much more
effectually subdued than by any protracted struggles at the time, though
ending in victory however complete.

But all this is a digression, though it seemed proper to allude to the
subject of these contests here, since it is on these occasions, perhaps,
that parents are most frequently led, or, as they think, irresistibly
impelled, to the infliction of bodily punishments as the last resort, when
they would, in general, be strongly inclined to avoid them.

_The Infliction of Pain sometimes the speediest Remedy_.

There are, moreover, some cases, perhaps, in the ordinary exigencies of
domestic life, as the world goes, when some personal infliction is the
_shortest_ way of disposing of a case of discipline, and may appear, for
the time being, to be the most effectual. A slap is very quickly given, and
a mother may often think that she has not time for a more gentle mode of
managing the case, even though she may admit that if she had the time at
her command the gentle mode would be the best. And it is, indeed, doubtless
true that the principles of management advocated in this work are such as
require that the parents should devote some time and attention, and, still
more essentially, some _heart_ to the work; and they who do not consider
the welfare and happiness of their children in future life, and their own
happiness in connection with them as they advance towards their declining
years, as of sufficient importance to call for the bestowment of this time
and attention, will doubtless often resort to more summary methods in their
discipline than those here recommended.

_The Sting that it leaves behind_.

Indeed, the great objection, after all, to the occasional resort to the
infliction of bodily pain in extreme cases is, as it seems to me, the sting
which it leaves behind; not that, which it leaves in the heart of the child
who may suffer it--for that soon passes away--but in the heart of the
parent who inflicts it. The one is, or may be, very evanescent; the other
may very long remain; and what is worse, the anguish of it may be revived
and made very poignant in future years.

This consideration makes it specially imperative on every parent never,
for any cause, to inflict punishment by violence when himself under the
influence of any irritation or anger awakened by the offense. For though
the anger which the fault of the child naturally awakens in you carries you
through the act of punishing well enough, it soon afterwards passes away,
while the memory of it remains, and in after years, like any other sin, it
may come back to exact a painful retribution. When the little loved one who
now puts you out of patience with her heedlessness, her inconsiderateness,
and, perhaps, by worse faults and failings--all, however, faults which
may very possibly, in part or in whole, be the result of the immature and
undeveloped condition of her mental or bodily powers--falls sick and dies,
and you follow her as she is borne away, and with a bursting heart see her
laid in her little grave, it will be a great comfort to you then to reflect
that you did all in your power, by means of the gentlest measures at your
command, to train her to truth and duty, that you never lost patience with
her, and that she never felt from your hand any thing but gentle assistance
or a loving caress.

And your boy--now so ardent and impulsive, and often, perhaps, noisy,
troublesome, and rude, from the exuberant action of his growing
powers--when these powers shall have received their full development, and
he has passed from your control to his place in the world as a man, and he
comes back from time to time to the maternal home in grateful remembrance
of his obligations to his mother, bringing with him tokens of his affection
and love, you will think with pain of the occasions when you subjected him
to the torture of the rod under the impulse of irritation or anger, or to
accomplish the ends of discipline which might have been attained in other
ways. Time, as you then look back over the long interval of years which
have elapsed, will greatly soften the recollection of the fault, but it
will greatly aggravate that of the pain which was made the retribution of
it. You will say to yourself, it is true, I did it for the best. If I had
not done it, my son would perhaps not be what he is. He, if he remembers
the transaction, will doubtless say so too; but there will be none the less
for both a certain sting in the recollection, and you will wish that the
same end could have been accomplished by gentler means.

The substance of it is that children must, at all events, be governed. The
proper authority over them _must be_ maintained; but it is a great deal
better to secure this end by gentle measures, if the parent have or can
acquire the skill to employ them.



Mothers are very often pained at what seems to them the ingratitude of
their children. They long, above all things, for their love. They do every
thing in their power--I mean, of course, that some mothers do--to win it.
They make every sacrifice, and give every possible evidence of affection;
but they seem to fail entirely of bringing out any of those evidences of
gratitude and affection in return which, if they could only witness them,
would fill their hearts with gladness and joy. But the only feeling which
their children manifest towards them seems to be a selfish one. They come
to them when in trouble, they even fly to them eagerly when in danger, and
they consider their parents the chief resource for procuring nearly all
their means of gratification. But they think little, as it often seems, of
the mother's comfort and enjoyment in return, and seldom or never do any
thing voluntarily to give her pleasure.

It would be a great exaggeration to say that this is always the feeling of
the mother in respect to her children. I only mean that this is sometimes,
and I might probably say very often, the case.

_Two Forms of Love._

Now there are two distinct forms which the feeling of love may assume in
the mature mind, both of which are gratifying to the object of it, though
they are very different, and indeed in some sense exactly the opposite of
each other. There is the _receiving_ and the _bestowing_ love. It is true
that the two forms are often conjoined, or rather they often exist in
intimate combination with each other; but in their nature they are
essentially distinct. A young lady, for example, may feel a strong
attachment for the gentleman to whom she is engaged--or a wife for her
husband--in the sense of liking to receive kindness and attention from him
more than from any other man. She may be specially pleased when he invites
her to ride with him, or makes her presents, or shows in any way that he
thinks of her and seeks her happiness--more so than she would be to receive
the same attentions from any other person. This is love. It may be very
genuine love; but it is love in the form of taking special pleasure in the
kindness and favor bestowed by the object of it. Yet it is none the less
true, as most persons have had occasion to learn from their own experience,
that this kind of love may be very strong without being accompanied by
any corresponding desire on the part of the person manifesting it to make
sacrifices of her own ease and comfort in order to give happiness to the
object of her love in return.

In the same manner a gentleman may feel a strong sentiment of love for a
lady, which shall take the form of enjoying her society, of being happy
when he is near her, and greatly pleased at her making sacrifices for his
sake, or manifesting in any way a strong attachment for him. There _may be_
also united with this the other form of love--namely, that which would lead
him to deny himself and make sacrifices _for her_. But the two, though
they may often--perhaps generally--exist together, are in their nature so
essentially different that they may be entirely separated, and we may have
one in its full strength while there is very little of the other. You
may love a person in the sense of taking greater pleasure in receiving
attentions and favors from him than from all the world beside, while yet
you seldom think of making efforts to promote his comfort and happiness in
any thing in which you are not yourself personally concerned. On the other
hand, you may love him with the kind of affection which renders it the
greatest pleasure of your life to make sacrifices and endure self-denial to
promote his welfare in any way.

In some cases these two forms are in fact entirely separated, and one or
the other can exist entirely distinct from the other--as in the case of the
kind feelings of a good man towards the poor and miserable. It is quite
possible to feel a very strong interest in such objects, and to be willing
to put ourselves to considerable inconvenience to make them comfortable and
happy, and to take great pleasure in learning that our efforts have been
effectual, without feeling any love for them at all in the other form--that
is, any desire to have them with us, to receive attentions and kindness
from them, and to enjoy their society.

On the other hand, in the love of a young child for his mother the case is
reversed. The love of the child consists chiefly in liking to be with his
mother, in going to her rather than to any one else for relief from pain
or for comfort in sorrow, and is accompanied with very few and very faint
desires to make efforts, or to submit to privations, or to make sacrifices,
for the promotion of her good.

_Order of their Development_.

Now the qualities and characteristics of the soul on which the capacity for
these two forms of love depend seem to be very different, and they advance
in development and come to maturity at different periods of life; so that
the mother, in feeling dejected and sad because she can not awaken in the
mind of her child the gratitude and the consideration for her comfort and
happiness which she desires, is simply looking for a certain kind of fruit
at the wrong time. You have one of the forms of love for you on the part of
the child now while he is young. In due time, when he arrives at maturity,
if you will wait patiently, you will assuredly have the other. Now he runs
to you in every emergency. He asks you for every thing that he wants. He
can find comfort nowhere else but in your arms, when he is in distress or
in suffering from pain, disappointment, or sorrow. But he will not make any
effort to be still when you are sick, or to avoid interrupting you when
you are busy; and insists, perhaps, on your carrying him when he is tired,
without seeming to think or care whether you may not be tired too. But in
due time all this will be changed. Twenty years hence he will conceal all
his troubles from you instead of coming with them to you for comfort. He
will be off in the world engaged in his pursuits, no longer bound closely
to your side. But he will think all the time of your comfort and happiness.
He will bring you presents, and pay you innumerable attentions to cheer
your heart in your declining years. He will not run to you when he has hurt
himself; but if any thing happens to _you_, he will leave every thing to
hasten to your relief, and bring with him all the comforts and means of
enjoyment for you that his resources can command. The time will thus come
when you will have his love to your heart's content, in the second form.
You must be satisfied, while he is so young, with the first form of it,
which is all that his powers and faculties in their present stage are
capable of developing.

The truth of the case seems to be that the faculties of the human mind--or
I should perhaps rather say, the susceptibilities of the soul--like the
instincts of animals, are developed in the order in which they are required
for the good of the subject of them.

Indeed, it is very interesting and curious to observe how striking the
analogy in the order of development, in respect to the nature of the bond
of attachment which binds the offspring to the parent, runs through all
those ranks of the animal creation in which the young for a time depend
upon the mother for food or for protection. The chickens in any moment
of alarm run to the hen; and the lamb, the calf, and the colt to their
respective mothers; but none of them would feel the least inclination to
come to the rescue of the parent if the parent was in danger. With the
mother herself it is exactly the reverse. Her heart--if we can speak of the
seat of the maternal affections of such creatures as a heart--is filled
with desires to bestow good upon her offspring, without a desire, or even a
thought, of receiving any good from them in return.

There is this difference, however, between the race of man and those of
the inferior animals--namely, that in his case the instinct, or at least
a natural desire which is in some respects analogous to an instinct,
prompting him to repay to his parents the benefits which he received from
them in youth, comes in due time; while in that of the lower animals it
seems never to come at all. The little birds, after opening their mouths
so wide every time the mother comes to the nest during all the weeks while
their wings are growing, fly away when they are grown, without the least
care or concern for the anxiety and distress of the mother occasioned by
their imprudent flights; and once away and free, never come back, so far
as we know, to make any return to their mother for watching over them,
sheltering them with her body, and working so indefatigably to provide them
with food during the helpless period of their infancy--and still less to
seek and protect and feed her in her old age. But the boy, reckless as he
sometimes seems in his boyhood, insensible apparently to his obligations
to his mother, and little mindful of her wishes or of her feelings--his
affection for her showing itself mainly in his readiness to go to her with
all his wants, and in all his troubles and sorrows--will begin, when he has
arrived at maturity and no longer needs her aid, to remember with gratitude
the past aid that she has rendered him. The current of affection in his
heart will turn and flow the other way. Instead of wishing to receive, he
will now only wish to give. If she is in want, he will do all he can to
supply her. If she is in sorrow, he will be happy if he can do any thing to
comfort her. He will send her memorials of his gratitude, and objects of
comfort and embellishment for her home, and will watch with solicitude and
sincere affection over her declining years.

And all this change, if not the result of a new instinct which reaches its
development only when the period of maturity arrives, is the unfolding of a
sentiment of the heart belonging essentially to the nature of the
subject of it as man. It is true that this capacity may, under certain
circumstances, be very feebly developed. In some cases, indeed, it would
seem that it was scarcely developed at all; but there is a provision for
it in the nature of man, while there is no provision for it at all in the
sentient principles of the lower animals.

_Advancing the Development of the Sentiment of Gratitude._

Now, although parents must not be impatient at the slow appearance of this
feeling in their children, and must not be troubled in its not appearing
before its time, they can do much by proper efforts to cultivate its
growth, and give it an earlier and a more powerful influence over them than
it would otherwise manifest. The mode of doing this is the same as in all
other cases of the cultivation of moral sentiments in children, and that is
by the influence over them of sympathy with those they love. Just as the
way to cultivate in the minds of children a feeling of pity for those who
are in distress is not to preach it as a duty, but to make them love you,
and then show such pity yourself; and the way to make them angry and
revengeful in character--if we can conceive of your being actuated by so
unnatural a desire--would be often to express violent resentment yourself,
with scowling looks and fierce denunciations against those who have
offended you; so, to awaken them to sentiments of gratitude for the favors
they receive, you must gently lead them to sympathize with you in the
gratitude which _you_ feel for the favors that _you_ receive.

When a child shows some special unwillingness to comply with her mother's
desires, her mother may address to her a kind but direct and plain
expostulation on the obligations of children to their parents, and the duty
incumbent on them of being grateful for their kindness, and to be willing
to do what they can in return. Such an address would probably do no good at
all. The child would receive it simply as a scolding, no matter how mildly
and gently the reproof might be expressed, and would shut her heart against
it. It is something which she must stand still and endure, and that is all.

But let the mother say the same things precisely when the child has shown a
willingness to make some little sacrifice to aid or to gratify her mother,
so that the sentiment expressed may enter her mind in the form of approval
and not of condemnation, and the effect will be very different. The
sentiments will, at any rate, now not be rejected from the mind, but the
way will be open for them to enter, and the conversation will have a good
effect, so far as didactic teaching can have effect in such a case.

But now to bring in the element of sympathy as a means of reaching and
influencing the mind of the child: The mother, we will suppose, standing at
the door some morning before breakfast in spring, with her little daughter,
seven or eight years old, by her side, hears a bird singing on a tree near
by. She points to the tree, and says, in a half-whisper, "Hark!"

When the sound ceases, she looks to the child with an expression of
pleasure upon her countenance, and says,

"Suppose we give that bird some crumbs because he has been singing us such
a pretty song."

"Well!" says the child.

"Would you?" asks the mother.

"Yes, mother, I should like to give him some very much. Do you suppose he
sang the song for us?"

"I don't _know_ that he did," replies the mother. "We don't know exactly
what the birds mean by all their singing. They take some pleasure in seeing
us, I think, or else they would not come so much around our house; and I
don't know but that this bird's song may come from some kind of joy or
gladness he felt in seeing us come to the door. At any rate, it will be a
pleasure to us to give him some crumbs to pay him for his song."

The child will think so too, and will run off joyfully to bring a piece of
bread to form crumbs to be scattered upon the path.

And the whole transaction will have the effect of awakening and cherishing
the sentiment of gratitude in her heart. The effect will not be great, it
is true, but it will be of the right kind. It will be a drop of water upon
the unfolding cotyledons of a seed just peeping up out of the ground, which
will percolate below after you have gone away, and give the little roots
a new impulse of growth. For when you have left the child seated upon the
door-step, occupied in throwing out the crumbs to the bird, her heart will
be occupied with the thoughts you have put into it, and the sentiment of
gratitude for kindness received will commence its course of development, if
it had not commenced it before.

_The Case of older Children_.

Of course the employment of such an occasion as this of the singing of a
little bird and such a conversation in respect to it for cultivating the
sentiment of gratitude in the heart, is adapted only to the case of quite
a young child. For older children, while the principle is the same, the
circumstances and the manner of treating the case must be adapted to a
maturer age. Robert, for example--twelve years of age--had been sick, and
during his convalescence his sister Mary, two years older than himself, had
been very assiduous in her attendance upon him. She had waited upon him
at his meals, and brought him books and playthings, from time to time, to
amuse him. After he had fully recovered his health, he was sitting in the
garden, one sunny morning in the spring, with his mother, and she said,

"How kind Mary was to you while you were sick!"

"Yes," said Robert, "she was very kind indeed."

"If you would like to do something for her in return," continued his
mother, "I'll tell you what would be a good plan."

Robert, who, perhaps, without this conversation would not have thought
particularly of making any return, said he should like to do something for
her very much.

"Then," said his mother, "you might make her a garden. I can mark off a
place for a bed for her large enough to hold a number of kinds of flowers,
and then you can dig it up, and rake it over, and lay it off into little
beds, and sow the seeds. I'll buy the seeds for you. I should like to do
something towards making the garden for her, for she helped me a great
deal, as well as you, in the care she took of you."

"Well," said Robert, "I'll do it."

"You are well and strong now, so you can do it pretty easily," added the
mother; "but still, unless you would like to do it yourself for her sake, I
can get the man to do it. But if you would like to do it yourself, I think
it would please her very much as an expression of your gratitude and love
for her."

"Yes," said Robert, "I should a great deal rather do it myself, and I will
begin this very day."

And yet, if his mother had not made the suggestion, he would probably not
have thought of making any such return, or even any return at all, for his
sister's devoted kindness to him when he was sick. In other words, the
sentiment of gratitude was in his heart, or, rather, the capacity for it
was there, but it needed a little fostering care to bring it out into
action. And the thing to be observed is, that by this fostering care it was
not only brought out at the time, but, by being thus brought out and drawn
into action, it was strengthened and made-to grow, so as to be ready to
come out itself without being called, on the next occasion.-It was like a
little plant just coming out of the ground under influences not altogether
favorable. It needs a little help and encouragement; and the aid that is
given by a few drops of water at the right time will bring it forward and
help it to attain soon such a degree of strength and vigor as will make it
independent of all external aid.

But there must be consideration, tact, a proper regard to circumstances,
and, above all, there must be no secret and selfish ends concealed, on the
part of the mother in such cases. You may deluge and destroy your little
plant by throwing on the water roughly or rudely; or, in the case of a boy
upon whose mind you seem to be endeavoring to produce some moral result,
you may really have in view some object of your own--your interest in the
moral result being only a pretense.

For instance, Egbert, under circumstances similar to those recited
above--in respect to the sickness of the boy, and the kind attentions of
his sister--came to his mother one afternoon for permission to go a-fishing
with some other boys who had called for him. He was full of excitement and
enthusiasm at the idea. But his mother was not willing to allow him to go.
The weather was lowering. She thought that he had not yet fully recovered
his health; and she was afraid of other dangers. Instead of saying calmly,
after a moment's reflection, to show that her answer was a deliberate one,
that he could not go, and then quietly and firmly, but without assigning
any reasons, adhering to her decision--a course which, though it could not
have saved the boy from emotions of disappointment, would be the best for
making those feelings as light and as brief in duration as possible--began
to argue the case thus;

"Oh no, Egbert, I would not go a-fishing this afternoon, if I were you. I
think it is going to rain. Besides, it is a nice cool day to work in the
garden, and Lucy would like to have her garden made very much. You know
that she was very kind to you when you were sick--how many things she did
for you; and preparing her garden for her would be such a nice way of
making her a return. I am sure you would not wish to show yourself
ungrateful for so much kindness."

Then follows a discussion of some minutes, in which Egbert, in a fretful
and teasing tone, persists in urging his desire to go a-fishing. He can
make the garden, he says, some other day. His mother finally yields, though
with great unwillingness, doing all she can to extract all graciousness and
sweetness from her consent, and to spoil the pleasure of the excursion to
the boy, by saying as he goes away, that she is sure he ought not to go,
and that she shall be uneasy about him all the time that he is gone.

Now it is plain that such management as this, though it takes ostensibly
the form of a plea on the part of the mother in favor of a sentiment of
gratitude in the heart of the boy, can have no effect in cherishing and
bringing forward into life any such sentiment, even if it should be already
existent there in a nascent state; but can only tend to make the object of
it more selfish and heartless than ever.

Thus the art of cultivating the sentiment of gratitude, as is the case in
all other departments of moral training, can not be taught by definite
lessons or learned by rote. It demands tact and skill, and, above all, an
honest and guileless sincerity. The mother must really look to, and aim
for the actual moral effect in the heart of the child, and not merely make
formal efforts ostensibly for this end, but really to accomplish some
temporary object of her own. Children easily see through all covert
intentions of any kind. They sometimes play the hypocrite themselves, but
they are always great detectors of hypocrisy in others.

But gentle and cautious efforts of the right kind--such as require no high
attainments on the part of the mother, but only the right spirit--will in
time work wonderful effects; and the mother who perseveres in them, and who
does not expect the fruits too soon, will watch with great interest for the
time to arrive when her boy will spontaneously, from the promptings of his
own heart, take some real trouble, or submit to some real privation or
self-denial, to give pleasure to her. She will then enjoy the double
gratification, first, of receiving the pleasure, whatever it may be, that
her boy has procured for her, and also the joy of finding that the tender
plant which she has watched and watered so long, and which for a time
seemed so frail that she almost despaired of its ever coming to any good,
is really advanced to the stage of beginning to bear fruit, and giving her
an earnest of the abundant fruits which she may confidently expect from it
in future years.



It has been my aim in this volume to avoid, as far as possible, all topics
involving controversy, and only to present such truths, and to elucidate
such principles, as can be easily made to commend themselves to the good
sense and the favorable appreciation of all the classes of minds likely to
be found among the readers of the work. There are certain very important
aspects of the religious question which may be presented, I think, without
any serious deviation from this policy.

_In what True Piety consists_.

Indeed; I think there is far more real than seeming agreement among parents
in respect to this subject, or rather a large portion of the apparent
difference consists in different modes of expressing in words thoughts and
conceptions connected with spiritual things, which from their very nature
can not any of them be adequately expressed in language at all; and thus it
happens that what are substantially the same ideas are customarily clothed
by different classes of persons in very different phraseology, while, on
the other hand, the same set of phrases actually represent in different
minds very different sets of ideas.

For instance, there is perhaps universal agreement in the idea that some
kind of change--a change, too, of a very important character--is implied
in the implanting or developing of the spirit of piety in the heart of
a child. There is also universal agreement in the fact--often very
emphatically asserted in the New Testament--that the essential principles
in which true piety consists are those of entire submission in all things
to the will of God, and cordial kind feeling towards every man. There
is endless disagreement, and much earnest contention among different
denominations of Christians, in respect to the means by which the
implanting of these principles is to be secured, and to the modes in which,
when implanted, they will manifest themselves; but there is not, so far as
would appear, any dissent whatever anywhere from the opinion that the end
to be aimed at is the implanting of these principles--that is that
it consists in bringing the heart to a state of complete and cordial
submission to the authority and to the will of God, and to a sincere regard
for the welfare and happiness of every human being.

_A Question of Words_

There seems, at first view, to be a special difference of opinion in
respect to the nature of the process by which these principles come to be
implanted or developed in the minds of the young; for all must admit that
in early infancy they are not there, or, at least, that they do not appear.
_No_ one would expect to find in two infants--twin-brothers, we will
suppose--creeping on the floor, with one apple between them, that there
could be, at that age, any principles of right or justice, or of brotherly
love existing in their hearts that could prevent their both crying and
quarrelling for it. "True," says one; "but there are germs of those
principles which, in time, will be developed." "No," rejoins another,"
there are no _germs_ of them, there are only _capacities_ for them, through
which, by Divine power, the germs may hereafter be introduced." But when we
reflect upon the difficulty of forming any clear and practical idea of
the difference between a _germ_--in a bud upon an apple-tree, for
instance--which may ultimately produce fruit, and a _capacity_ for
producing it which may subsequently be developed, and still more, how
difficult is it to picture to our minds what is represented by these words
in the case of a human soul, it would seem as if the apparent difference in
people's opinions on such a point must be less a difference in respect
to facts than in respect to the phraseology by which the facts should be

And there would seem to be confirmation of this view in the fact that the
great apparent difference among men in regard to their theoretical views of
human nature does not seem to produce any marked difference in their action
in practically dealing with it. Some parents, it is true, habitually treat
their children with gentleness, kindness, and love; others are harsh
and severe in all their intercourse with them. But we should find, on
investigation, that such differences have very slight connection with
the theoretical views of the nature of the human soul which the parents
respectively entertain. Parents who in their theories seem to think the
worst of the native tendencies of the human heart are often as kind and
considerate and loving in their dealings with it as any; while no one would
be at all surprised to find another, who is very firm in his belief in
the native tendency of childhood to good, showing himself, in practically
dealing with the actual conduct of children, fretful, impatient,
complaining, and very ready to recognize, in fact, tendencies which in
theory he seems to deny. And so, two bank directors, or members of the
board of management of any industrial undertaking, when they meet in the
street on Sunday, in returning from their respective places of public
worship, if they fall into conversation on the moral nature of man, may
find, or think they find, that they differ extremely in their views, and
may even think each other bigoted or heretical, as the case may be; but yet
the next day, when they meet at a session of their board, and come to the
work of actually dealing with the conduct and the motives of men, they may
find that there is _practically_ no difference between them whatever. Or,
if there should be any difference, such as would show itself in a greater
readiness in one than in the other to place confidence in the promises or
to confide in the integrity of men, the difference would, in general, have
no perceptible relation whatever to the difference in the theological
phraseology which they have been accustomed to hear and to assent to in
their respective churches. All which seems to indicate, as has already been
said, that the difference in question is rather apparent than real, and
that it implies less actual disagreement about the facts of human nature
than diversity in the phraseology by which the facts are represented.

_Agency of the Divine Spirit_.

It may, however, be said that in this respect, if not in any other, there
is a radical difference among parents in respect to human nature, in
relation to the religious education of children--namely, that some
think that the implanting of the right principles of repentance for all
wrong-doing, and sincere desires for the future to conform in all things to
the will of God, and seek the happiness and welfare of men, can not come
except by a special act of Divine intervention, and is utterly beyond the
reach--in respect to any actual efficiency--of all human instrumentalities.
This is no doubt true; but it is also no less true in respect to all the
powers and capacities of the human soul, as well as to those pertaining to
moral and religious duty. If the soul itself is the product of the
creative agency of God, _all_ its powers and faculties must be so, and,
consequently, the development of them all--and there certainly can be
no reason for making the sentiment of true and genuine piety an
exception--must be the work of the same creative power.

But some one may say. There is, however, after all, a difference; for
while we all admit that both the original entrance of the embryo soul into
existence, and every step of its subsequent progress and development,
including the coming into being and into action of all its various
faculties and powers, are the work of the Supreme creative power, the
commencement of the divine life in the soul is, in a _special and peculiar
sense_, the work of the Divine hand.

And this also is doubtless true; at least, there is a certain important
truth expressed in that statement. And yet when we attempt to picture to
our minds two modes of Divine action, one of which is special and peculiar,
and the other is not so, we are very likely to find ourselves bewildered
and confused, and we soon perceive that in making such inquiries we are
going out of our depth--or, in other words, are attempting to pass beyond
the limits which mark the present boundaries of human knowledge.

In view of these thoughts and suggestions, in the truth of which it would
seem that all reasonable persons must concur, we may reasonably conclude
that all parents who are willing to look simply at the facts, and who are
not too much trammelled by the forms of phraseology to which they are
accustomed, must agree in admitting the substantial soundness of the
following principles relating to the religious education of children.

_Order of Development in respect to different Propensities and Powers_.

[Illustration: THE FIRST INSTINCT.]

1. We must not expect any perceptible awakening of the moral and religious
sentiments too soon, nor feel discouraged and disheartened because they do
not earlier appear; for, like all the other higher attributes of the soul,
they pertain to a portion of the mental structure which is not early
developed. It is the group of purely animal instincts that first show
themselves in the young, and those even, as we see in the young of the
lower animals, generally appear somewhat in the order in which they are
required for the individual's good. Birds just hatched from the egg seem to
have, for the first few days, only one instinct ready for action--that of
opening their mouths wide at the approach of any thing towards their nest.
Even this instinct is so imperfect and immature that it can not distinguish
between the coming of their mother and the appearance of the face of a boy
peering down upon them, or even the rustling of the leaves around them by a
stick. In process of time, as their wings become formed, another instinct
begins to appear--that of desiring to use the wings and come forth into the
air. The development of this instinct and the growth of the wings advance
together. Later still, when the proper period of maturity arrives, other
instincts appear as they are required--such as the love of a mate, the
desire to construct a nest, and the principle of maternal affection.

Now there is something analogous to this in the order of development to be
observed in the progress of the human being through the period of infancy
to that of maturity, and we must not look for the development of any power
or susceptibility before its time, nor be too much troubled if we
find that, in the first two or three years of life, the animal
propensities--which are more advanced in respect to the organization which
they depend upon--seem sometimes to overpower the higher sentiments and
principles, which, so far as the capacity for them exists at all, must be
yet in embryo. We must be willing to wait for each to be developed in its
own appointed time.

_Dependence upon Divine Aid_.

2. Any one who is ready to feel and to acknowledge his dependence upon
Divine aid for any thing whatever in the growth and preservation of his
child, will surely be ready to do so in respect to the work of developing
or awakening in his heart the principles of piety, since it must
be admitted by all that the human soul is the highest of all the
manifestations of Divine power, and that that portion of its structure on
which the existence and exercise of the moral and religious sentiments
depend is the crowning glory of it. It is right, therefore--I mean right,
in the sense of being truly philosophical--that if the parent feels and
acknowledges his dependence upon Divine power in any thing, he should
specially feel and acknowledge it here; while there is nothing so well
adapted as a deep sense of this dependence, and a devout and habitual
recognition of it, and reliance upon it, to give earnestness and efficiency
to his efforts, and to furnish a solid ground of hope that they will be
crowded with success.

_The Christian Paradox_.

3. The great principle so plainly taught in the Sacred Scriptures--namely,
that while we depend upon the exercise of Divine power for the success of
all our efforts for our own spiritual improvement or that of others,
just as if we could do nothing ourselves, we must do every thing that is
possible ourselves, just us if nothing was to be expected from Divine
power--may be called the Christian paradox. "Work out your own salvation
with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and
to do." It would seem, it might be thought, much more logical to say, "Work
out your own salvation, for there is nobody to help you;" or, "It is not
necessary to make any effort yourselves, for it is God that worketh in
you." It seems strange and paradoxical to say, "_Work out your own_
salvation, _for_ it is _God that worketh in you_ both to will and to do."

But in this, as in all other paradoxes, the difficulty is in the
explanation of the theory, and not in the practical working of it. There
is in natural philosophy what is called the hydrostatic paradox, which
consists in the fact that a small quantity of any liquid--as, for example,
the coffee in the nose of the coffee-pot--will balance and sustain a very
much larger quantity--as that contained in the body of it--so as to keep
the surface of each at the same level. Young students involve themselves
sometimes in hopeless entanglements among the steps of the mathematical
demonstration showing how this can be, but no housekeeper ever meets with
any practical difficulty in making her coffee rest quietly in its place
on account of it. The Christian paradox, in the same way, gives rise to
a great deal of metaphysical floundering and bewilderment among young
theologians in their attempts to vindicate and explain it, but the
humble-minded Christian parent finds no difficulty in practice. It comes
very easy to him to do all he can, just as if every thing depended upon his
efforts, and at the same time to cast all his care upon God, just as if
there was nothing at all that he himself could do.

_Means must be Right Means_.

4. We are apt to imagine--or, at least, to act sometimes as if we
imagined--that our dependence upon the Divine aid for what our Saviour,
Jesus, designated as the new birth, makes some difference in the obligation
on our part to employ such means as are naturally adapted to the end in
view. If a gardener, for example, were to pour sand from his watering-pot
upon his flowers, in time of drought, instead of water, he might
make something like a plausible defense of his action, in reply to a
remonstrance, thus: "_I_ have no power to make the flowers grow and bloom.
The secret processes on which the successful result depends are altogether
beyond my reach, and in the hands of God, and he can just as easily bless
one kind of instrumentality as another. I am bound to do something, it is
true, for I must not be idle and inert; but God, if he chooses to do so,
can easily bring out the flowers into beauty and bloom, however imperfect
and ill-adapted the instrumentalities I use may be. He can as easily make
use, for this purpose, of sand as of water."

Now, although there may be a certain plausibility in this reasoning, such
conduct would appear to every one perfectly absurd; and yet many parents
seem to act on a similar principle. A mother who is from time to time,
during the week, fretful and impatient, evincing no sincere and hearty
consideration for the feelings, still less for the substantial welfare and
happiness, of those dependent upon her; who shows her insubmission to the
will of God, by complaints and repinings at any thing untoward that befalls
her; and who evinces a selfish love for her own gratification--her dresses,
her personal pleasures, and her fashionable standing; and then, as a means
of securing the salvation of her children, is very strict, when Sunday
comes, in enforcing upon them the study of their Sunday lessons, or in
requiring them to read good books, or in repressing on that day any undue
exuberance of their spirits--relying upon the blessing of God upon her
endeavors--will be very apt to find, in the end, that she has been watering
her delicate flowers with sand.

The means which we use to awaken or impart the feelings of sorrow for sin,
submission to God, and cordial good-will to man, in which all true piety
consists, must be means that are _appropriate in themselves_ to the
accomplishment of the end intended. The appliance must be water, and not
sand--or rather water _or_ sand, with judgment, discrimination, and tact;
for the gardener often finds that a judicious mixture of sand with the
clayey and clammy soil about the roots of his plants is just what is
required. The principle is, that the appliance must be an appropriate
one--that is, one indicated by a wise consideration of the circumstances of
the case, and of the natural characteristics of the infantile mind.

_Power of Sympathy_.

5. In respect to religious influence over the minds of children, as in all
other departments of early training, the tendency to sympathetic action
between the heart of the child and the parent is the great source of the
parental influence and power. The principle, "Make a young person love
you, and then simply _be_ in his presence what you wish him to be," is the
secret of success.

The tendency of young children to become what they see those around them
whom they love are, seems to be altogether the most universally acting and
the most powerful of the influences on which the formation of the character
depends; and yet it is remarkable that we have no really appropriate name
for it. We call it sometimes sympathy; but the word sympathy is associated
more frequently in our minds with the idea of compassionate participation
in the sufferings of those we love. Sometimes we term it a spirit of
imitation, but that phrase implies rather a conscious effort to _act_ like
those whom we love, than that involuntary tendency to _become_ like them,
which is the real character of the principle in question. The principle is
in some respects like what is called _induction_ in physical science, which
denotes the tendency of a body, which is in any particular magnetic or
electric condition, to produce the same condition, and the same direction
of polarity, in any similar body placed near it. There is a sort of _moral
induction_, which is not exactly sympathy, in the ordinary sense of
that word, nor a desire of imitation, nor the power of example, but an
immediate, spontaneous, and even unconscious tendency to _become what those
around us are_. This tendency is very strong in the young while the opening
faculties are in the course of formation and development, and it is
immensely strengthened by the influence of love. Whatever, therefore,
a mother wishes her child to be--whether a sincere, honest Christian,
submissive to God's will and conscientious in the discharge of every duty,
or proud, vain, deceitful, hypocritical, and pharisaical--she has only to
be either the one or the other herself, and without any special teaching
her child will be pretty sure to be a good copy of the model.

_Theological Instruction._

6. If the principle above stated is correct, it helps to explain why so
little good effect is ordinarily produced by what may be called instruction
in theological truth on the minds of the young. Any system of theological
truth consists of grand generalizations, which, like all other
generalizations, are very interesting, and often very profitable, to mature
minds, especially to minds of a certain class; but they are not appreciable
by children, and can only in general be received by them as words to be
fixed in the memory by rote. Particulars first, generalizations afterwards,
is, or ought to be, the order of progress in all acquisition of knowledge.
This certainly has been the course pursued by the Divine Spirit in the
moral training of the human race. There is very little systematic theology
in the Old Testament, and it requires a considerable degree of ingenuity to
make out as much as the theologians desire to find even in the teachings
of Jesus Christ. It is very well to exercise this ingenuity, and the
systematic results which are to be obtained by it may be very interesting,
and very beneficial, to those whose minds are mature enough to enter into
and appreciate them. But they are not adapted to the spiritual wants of
children, and can only be received by them, if they are received at all, in
a dry, formal, mechanical manner. Read, therefore, the stories in the Old
Testament, or the parables and discourses of Jesus in the New, without
attempting to draw many inferences from them in the way of theoretical
belief, but simply to bring out to the mind and heart of the child the
moral point intended in each particular case, and the heart of the child
will be touched, and he will receive an _element_ of instruction which he
can arrange and group with others in theological generalization by-and-by,
when his faculties have advanced to the generalizing stage.

_No repulsive Personal Applications_.

7. In reading the Scriptures, and, indeed, in all forms of giving religious
counsel or instruction, we must generally beware of presenting the thoughts
that we communicate in the form of reproachful personal application. There
may be exceptions to this rule, but it is undoubtedly, in general, a sound
one. For the work which we have to do, is not to attempt to drive the heart
from the wrong to the right by any repellent action which the wrong may
be made to exert, but to allure it by an attractive action with which
the right may be invested. We must, therefore, present the incidents and
instructions of the Word in their alluring aspect--assuming, in a
great measure, that our little pupil will feel pleasure with us in the
manifestations of the right, and will sympathize with us in disapproval of
the wrong. To secure them to our side, in the views which we take, we must
show a disposition to _take_ them to it by an affectionate sympathy.

Our Saviour set us an excellent example of relying on the superior
efficiency of the bond of sympathy and love in its power over the hearts of
children, as compared with that of formal theological instruction, in the
few glimpses which we have of his mode of dealing with them. When they
brought little children to him, he did not begin to expound to them the
principles of the government of God, or the theoretical aspects of the way
of salvation; but took them _up in his arms and blessed them_, and called
the attention of the by standers at the same time to qualities and
characteristics which they possessed that he seemed to regard with special
affection, and which others must imitate to be fit for the kingdom of God.
Of course the children went away pleased and happy from such an interview,
and would be made ready by it to receive gladly to their hearts any truths
or sentiments which they might subsequently hear attributed to one who was
so kind a friend to them.

If, however, instead of this, he had told them--no matter in what kind
and gentle tones--that they had very wicked hearts, which must be changed
before either God or any good man could truly love them, and that this
change could only be produced by a power which they could only understand
to be one external to themselves, and that they must earnestly pray for
it every day, how different would have been the effect. They would have
listened in mute distress, would have been glad to make their escape when
the conversation was ended, and would shrink from ever seeing or hearing
again one who placed himself in an attitude so uncongenial to them.

And yet all that might be true. They might have had yet only such appetites
and propensities developed within them as would, if they continued to hold
paramount control over them all their lives, make them selfish, unfeeling,
and wicked men; and that they were, in a special though mysterious manner,
dependent on the Divine power for bringing into action within them other
and nobler principles. And so, if a physician were called in to see a
sick child, he might see that it was in desperate danger, and that unless
something could be done, and that speedily, to arrest the disease, his
little patient would be dead in a few hours; and yet to say that to the
poor child, and overwhelm it with terror and distress, would not be a very
suitable course of procedure for averting the apprehended result.

_Judge not, that ye be not judged_.

8. And this leads us to reflect, in the eighth place, that we ought to
be very careful, in our conversations with children, and especially in
addresses made to them in the Sunday-school, or on any other occasion, not
to say any thing to imply that we consider them yet unconverted sinners. No
one can possibly know at how early an age that great change which consists
in the first faint enkindling of the Divine life in the soul may begin
to take place, nor with what faults, and failings, and yieldings to the
influence of the mere animal appetites and passions of childhood it may,
for a time, co-exist. We should never, therefore, say any thing to children
to imply that, in the great question of their relations to God and the
Saviour, we take it for granted that they are on the wrong side. We can not
possibly know on which side they really are, and we only dishearten and
discourage them, and alienate their hearts from us, and tend to alienate
them from all good, by seeming to take it for granted that, while _we_ are
on the right side, _they_ are still upon the wrong. We should, in a word,
say _we_, and not _you_, in addressing children on religious subjects, so
as to imply that the truths and sentiments which we express are equally
important and equally applicable to us as to them, and thus avoid creating
that feeling of being judged and condemned beforehand, and without
evidence, which is so apt to produce a broad though often invisible gulf of
separation in heart between children, on the one hand, and ministers and
members of the Church, on the other.

_Promised Rewards and threatened Punishments_.

9. It is necessary to be extremely moderate and cautious in employing the
influence of promised rewards or threatened punishments as a means of
promoting early piety. In a religious point of view, as in every other,
goodness that is bought is only a pretense of goodness--that is, in reality
it is no goodness at all; and as it is true that love casteth out fear, so
it is also true that fear casteth out love. Suppose--though it is almost
too violent a supposition to be made even for illustration's sake--that the
whole Christian world could be suddenly led to believe that there was to be
no happiness or suffering at all for them beyond the grave, and that the
inducement to be grateful to God for his goodness and submissive to his
will, and to be warmly interested in the welfare and happiness of man, were
henceforth to rest on the intrinsic excellence of those principles, and to
their constituting essentially the highest and noblest development of the
moral and spiritual nature of man--how many of the professed disciples of
Jesus would abandon their present devotion to the cause of love to God and
love to man? Not one, except the hypocrites and pretenders!

The truth is, that as piety that is genuine and sincere must rest on
very different foundations from hope of future reward or fear of
future punishment, so this hope and this fear are very unsuitable
instrumentalities to be relied on for awakening it. The kind of gratitude
to God which we wish to cherish in the mind of a child is not such as would
be awakened towards an earthly benefactor by saying--in the case of
a present made by an uncle, for instance--"Your uncle has made you a
beautiful present. Go and thank him very cordially, and perhaps you will
get another." It is rather of a kind which might be induced by saying,
"Your uncle, who has been so kind to you in past years, is poor and sick,
and can never do any thing more for you now. Would you like to go and sit
in his sick-room to show your love for him, and to be ready to help him if
he wants any thing?"

True piety, in a word, which consists in entering into and steadily
maintaining the right moral and spiritual relations with God and man, marks
the highest condition which the possibilities of human nature allow, and
must rest in the soul which attains to it on a very different foundation
from any thing like hope or fear. That there is a function which it is the
province of these motives to fulfill, is abundantly proved by the use that
is sometimes made of them in the Scriptures. But the more we reflect
upon the subject, the more we shall be convinced, I think, that all such
considerations ought to be kept very much in the back-ground in our
dealings with children. If a child is sick, and is even likely to die, it
is a very serious question whether any warning given to him of his danger
will not operate as a hindrance rather than a help, in awakening those
feelings which will constitute the best state of preparation for the
change. For a sense of gratitude to God for his goodness, and to the
Saviour for the sacrifice which he made for his sake, penitence for his
sins, and trust in the forgiving mercy of his Maker, are the feelings to be
awakened in his bosom; and these, so far as they exist, will lead him to
lie quietly, calmly, and submissively in God's hands, without anxiety in
respect to what is before him. It is a serious question whether an entire
uncertainty as to the time when his death is to come is not more favorable
to the awakening of these feelings, than the state of alarm and distress
which would be excited by the thought that it was near.

_The Reasonableness of Gentle Measures in Religious Training_.

The mother may sometimes derive from certain religious considerations the
idea that she is bound to look upon the moral delinquencies and dangers
which she observes in her children, under an aspect more stern and severe
than seems to be here recommended. But a little reflection must convince
us that the way to true repentance of, and turning from sin, is not
necessarily through the suffering of terror and distress. The Gospel is not
an instrumentality for producing terror and distress, even as means to an
end. It is an instrumentality for saving us from these ills; and the Divine
Spirit, in the hidden and mysterious influence which it exercises in
forming, or transforming, the human soul into the image of God, must be as
ready, it would seem, to sanction and bless efforts made by a mother to
allure her child away from its sins by loving and gentle invitations and
encouragements, as any attempts to drive her from them by the agency of
terror or pain. It would seem that no one who remembers the way in which
Jesus Christ dealt with the children that were brought to him could
possibly have any doubt of this.



Any person who has acquired the art of examining and analyzing his own
thoughts will generally find that the mental pictures which he forms of the
landscapes, or the interiors, in which the scenes are laid of the events or
incidents related in any work of fiction which interests him, are modelled
more or less closely from prototypes previously existing in his own mind,
and generally upon those furnished by the experiences of his childhood.
If, for example, he reads an account of transactions represented as taking
place in an English palace or castle, he will usually, on a careful
scrutiny, find that the basis of his conception of the scene is derived
from the arrangement of the rooms of some fine house with which he was
familiar in early life. Thus, a great many things which attract our
attention, and impress themselves upon our memories in childhood, become
the models and prototypes--more or less aggrandized and improved,
perhaps--of the conceptions and images which we form in later years.

_Nature of the Effect produced by Early Impressions_.

Few persons who have not specially reflected on this subject, or examined
closely the operations of their own minds, are aware what an extended
influence the images thus stored in the mind in childhood have in forming
the basis, or furnishing the elements of the mental structures of future
life. But the truth, when once understood, shows of what vast importance it
is with what images the youthful mind is to be stored. A child who ascends
a lofty mountain, under favorable circumstances in his childhood, has his
conceptions of all the mountain scenery that he reads of, or hears of
through life, modified and aggrandized by the impression made upon his
sensorium at this early stage. Take your daughter, who has always, we will
suppose, lived in the country, on an excursion with you to the sea-shore,
and allow her to witness for an hour, as she sits in silence on the cliff,
the surf rolling in incessantly upon the beach, and infinitely the smallest
part of the effect is the day's gratification which you have given her.
That is comparatively nothing. You have made a life-long change, if not in
the very structure, at least in the permanent furnishing of her mind, and
performed a work that can never by any possibility be undone. The images
which have been awakened in her mind, the emotions connected with them, and
the effect of these images and emotions upon her faculties of imagination
and conception, will infuse a life into them which will make her, in
respect to this aspect of her spiritual nature, a different being as long
as she lives.

_The Nature and Origin of general Ideas_.

It is the same substantially in respect to all those abstract and general
ideas on moral or other kindred subjects which constitute the mental
furnishing of the adult man, and have so great an influence in the
formation of his habits of thought and of his character. They are chiefly
formed from combinations of the impressions made in childhood. A person's
idea of justice, for instance, or of goodness, is a generalization of the
various instances of justice or goodness which ever came to his knowledge;
and of course, among the materials of this generalization those instances
that were brought to his mind during the impressible years of childhood
must have taken a very prominent part. Every story, therefore, which you
relate to a child to exemplify the principles of justice or goodness takes
its place, or, rather, the impression which it makes takes its place, as
one of the elements out of which the ideas that are to govern his future
life are formed.

_Vast Importance and Influence of this mental Furnishing,_

For the ideas and generalizations thus mainly formed from the images and
impressions received in childhood become, in later years, the elements
of the machinery, so to speak, by which all his mental operations are
performed. Thus they seem to constitute more than the mere furniture of
the mind; they form, as it were, almost a part of the structure itself. So
true, indeed, is this, and so engrossing a part does what remains in
the mind of former impressions play in its subsequent action, that some
philosophers have maintained that the whole of the actual consciousness of
man consists only in the _resultant_ of all these impressions preserved
more or less imperfectly by the memory, and made to mingle together in one
infinitely complicated but harmonious whole. Without going to any such
extreme as this, we can easily see, on reflection, how vast an influence on
the ideas and conceptions, as well as on the principles of action in mature
years, must be exerted by the nature and character of the images which
the period of infancy and childhood impresses upon the mind. All parents
should, therefore, feel that it is not merely the present welfare and
happiness of their child that is concerned in their securing to him a
tranquil and happy childhood, but that his capacity for enjoyment through
life is greatly dependent upon it. They are, in a very important sense,
intrusted with the work of building up the structure of his soul for all
time, and it is incumbent upon them, with reference to the future as well
as to the present, to be very careful what materials they allow to go into
the work, as well as in what manner they lay them.

Among the other bearings of this thought, it gives great weight to the
importance of employing gentle measures in the management and training
of the young, provided that such measures can be made effectual in the
accomplishment of the end. The pain produced by an act of hasty and angry
violence to which a father subjects his son may soon pass away, but the
memory of it does not pass away with the pain. Even the remembrance of it
may at length fade from the mind, but there is still an _effect_ which does
not pass away with the remembrance. Every strong impression which you make
upon his perceptive powers must have a very lasting influence, and even the
impression itself may, in some cases, be forever indelible.

Let us, then, take care that these impressions shall be, as far as
possible, such as shall be sources of enjoyment for them in future years.
It is true that we _must_ govern them. They are committed to our charge
during the long time which is required for the gradual unfolding of their
embryo powers for the express purpose that during that interval they may
be guided by our reason, and not by their own. We can not surrender this
trust. But there is a way of faithfully fulfilling the duties of it--if we
have discernment to see it, and skill to follow it--which will make the
years of their childhood years of tranquillity and happiness, both to
ourselves and to them.


[Footnote A: See Frontispiece.]

[Endnote B: The "Boston Congregationalist."]

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