THE CHARACTER OF HOME EDUCATION.
"Scratch the green rind of a sapling, or wantonly twist it in the soil, The scarred and crooked oak will tell of thee for centuries to come; Wherefore, though the voice of instruction waiteth for the ear of reason, Yet with his mother's milk the young child drinketh education."
We come now to consider one of the most important features of the Christian home, viz., as a school for the education of character. This is important because of its vital bearing upon the interests of home. The parent is not only king and priest, but prophet in the family. It is the first school. We there receive a training for good or for evil. There is not a word, nor an emotion, nor an act, nor even a look there, which does not teach the child something. Character is ever being framed and moulded there. Every habit there formed, and every action there performed, imply a principle which shall enter as an element into the future character of the child.
What is home-education? It is the physical, mental, moral, and religious development of the child. To educate means to draw out as well as to instil in. It means the evolution of our nature as well as the communication of facts and principles to us. The home training does not, therefore, consist of simple information, but is a nurture of body, mind and spirit. From this we may infer the frequent mistakes of parents, in substituting mere book-learning for a training up and nurture, dealing with their children as if they had no faculties, and making the entire education of their children mechanical and empirical. Home training involves the development of all their faculties as a unit and in their living relation, causing the body to move right, the mind to think right, the heart to feel right, and the soul to love right; changing your children from creatures of mere impulse, prejudice and passion, to thinking, loving and reasoning beings. To educate them is to bring out their hidden powers, to form their character, and prepare them for their station in life. Thus home-education means a drawing out and also a bringing up, -- a training for man, and a bringing up for God; a training and nurture for the family, the state, and the church, -- for time and for eternity. These must be done together; they involve but one process, and are conditioned by each other. We cannot separate a secular from a religious education, neither can we separate a training from a bringing up. While those faculties of the child which exist in a state of mere involution, are being developed, its nature must be supplied with appropriate food; and every element of its education must possess the plastic power of evolving and giving specific form to its future character and destiny. Thus the parent, in teaching, must have a forming influence over the child; and his instructions must correspond in character, kind and extent, with the nature, wants, and destiny of the child.
What are now the different kinds or parts of home-education?
It must be physical. The child has a physical nature, physical wants, and is related to the material world; and should, therefore, receive a physical education. The object of this is to ensure that sound, vigorous frame of body which is not only a great blessing in itself, but an essential concomitant of a sound state and vigorous development of mind. It refers to the proper management of the health of the child, its diet, habits of exercise and recreation. Parents should teach their children the nature of the body, its dangers, and bearing upon their future happiness. They should teach them to govern their appetite, and train them up to habits of exercise and early rising. This part of home-education begins in the nursery, -- in the cradle, and is not complete till the body is brought to maturity in all its functions. Neglect of it will result in physical imbecility, and often in mental derangement. The object secured by it is, the preservation of the health and constitution of the child. In this we see its importance. What is your wealth, your station, your influence, if through your neglect of your children, they are deprived of health, and grow up with the seeds of immature death springing up in their system?
In the physical training of children due regard should be had to cleanliness, exercise, diet and dress. Without this all will be vain. Many parents keep them within doors, never let them enjoy the pure air, nor exercise the muscular system, keep their bodies cooped in clothing too small, and feasted upon a diet unwholesome; and as a consequence, they show a sickly growth, and become unfit either for the burdens or for the enjoyments of life.
The importance of exercise in the open air, and abstemiousness in diet, is proven from the health of those nations that train their children in all the exercise of riding, leaping, running and fencing, and subject them from infancy to the most frugal diet. Thus the perfect forms and vigorous health of the Greeks, the Romans and Persians were the fruit of national attention paid to physical education. Every home should have its suitable gymnasium. How many parents, by their violation of the laws of health, prostitute the strength of their children to profligacy and indolence.
Home-education must be intellectual. Much of human character and happiness depends upon the education of the mind, both as respects the development of its faculties and the application of legitimate truth. The mind is the man. It is not, as Locke declares, like a blank sheet of paper or a chest of drawers; but has an intuitional as well as a logical consciousness, innate ideas as well as capacities of receiving truth; while all its faculties involve a unity, and exist in the child in a state of involution; the abuse and neglect of one of which will have their bearing upon all the rest; and the mind without proper culture in its undeveloped state in the child, will show the symptoms of its abuse in the man. The character of the mind in the man will indicate the character of its education in the child. This education should begin properly with the first symptoms of consciousness. All the powers of the intellect should be unfolded. Parents should be the Principals in the mental training of their children. The manner and means of such training will be considered in another place. Our purpose here is simply to state this as a part of home-training. From the important part which the mind acts in the great drama of human life and destiny, we think that no intelligent parent would presume to repudiate its education.
Home-education must be moral. The family should develop the moral nature of the child. The will should be educated; the sense of right and wrong trained; the emotions cultivated; the passions and desires ruled; the conscience and faith developed. The necessity of this is seen in the fact that our nature is fallen and perverted. The means of educating the moral nature of the child, are natural and revealed. Both are of divine appointment. The former are those which lie within the circumference of our abilities, and will be of no avail without the latter, which are found in the scriptures and church. What are some of these means?
1. Parents should place their children in circumstances calculated to form a good moral character. They should surround them with a moral atmosphere, that they may, with their first breath, inhale a pure moral being, and escape the contamination of evil. This has been called "the education of circumstances." Much of character depends upon position and the circumstances in which we are placed. This is seen in the difference between those children who have enjoyed the true christian home, and those who have not. Hence the first thing parents should consider in the moral training of their children is, the home in which they are to be trained. This home should afford them circumstances the most favorable to their moral culture.
2. They should remove all temptation. Evil propensities are called forth by temptation; and a child loses the power to resist in proportion to the frequency of the temptation. Hence the exposure of our children to temptation but educates and strengthens their propensities to evil. On the other hand, if we remove temptation, these propensities will not be called into activity, and will lose their tenacity. Never allow your children to tamper with sin in any form; teach them how to resist temptation; inspire them with an abhorrence and a dread of all evil. In this way you prepare them for the reception and reproduction of moral truth.
3. Another means of moral education is example. This has been styled the "education of example." This has more power than precept. The efficiency of this means is based upon the natural disposition of the child to imitate. Children take their parents as the standard of all that is good, and will, therefore, follow them in evil as well as in good. Hence the parent's example should be a correct model of sound morality. The child will be the moral counterpart of the parent. You can see the parent's home in the child. He is the moral daguerreotype of his parent. This but shows the importance of good example in his moral training.
4. But one of the most effectual means is, by moral training, by which we mean, to draw out and properly direct the moral faculties, and to habituate them to the exercise of moral principle. Without this, all mechanical education will be fruitless. To call forth muscular power you must exercise the muscles. So you give the child moral stamina by developing its moral faculties, and establishing in them the habit of moral action. This training has its foundation in the law of habit. It is given, with its results, in the Word of God. "Train up a child," &c. Also in the old maxim, "Just as the twig is bent, the tree is inclined."
"Scratch the green rind of a sapling, or wantonly twist it in the soil, The scarred and crooked oak will tell of thee for centuries to come!"
The power and pleasure of doing a thing depends much upon habit. Our nature may become habituated to good or evil; we become passive in proportion to the habit. How important, then, that the moral powers of our children be trained up to principles and action until habits of good thought, feeling, and conduct, are established. Then they will not depart from them; and their moral life will be spontaneous and a source of enjoyment.
The feelings, appetites and instincts of children should be thus specially trained. According to Dr. Gall, there are two classes of feelings, -- the selfish, yet necessary for the preservation of the individual; and the unselfish, or those which are directed to objects apart from self, yet liable to abuse and misdirection. Both of these demand a home-training. The parent should give to each its true direction, restrain and harmonize them in their relations and respective spheres of activity, and bring them under law, and place before each its legitimate object and end. Then, and then only, do they become laws of self-preservation. The natural appetites are subject to abuse, and when unrestrained, defeat the very ends of their existence. Thus the appetite for food may be over-indulged through mistaken parental kindness, until habits of sensualism are established, and the child becomes a glutton, and finds the grave of infamy.
How many children have been thus destroyed in soul and body by parental indulgence and neglect of their natural feelings and appetites. The feeling of cruelty, revenge, malice, falsehood, tale-bearing, dishonesty, vanity, &c., have, in the same way and by the same indulgence, been engendered in the children of Christian parents. The same, too, may be said of the unselfish feelings. These have been called the moral sentiments; and upon their proper training depends the formation of a positive moral character. The conscience comes under this head. The parent should train that important faculty of the child. It should be taught to act from the standpoint of conscience, and to form the habit of conscientiousness in word and deed. This includes the training of the motives also, and of all the cardinal moral virtues, such as justice, honor, chastity, veneration, kindness, &c. "Teach your children," says Goodrich in his Fireside Education, "never to wound a person's feelings because he is poor, because he is deformed, because he is unfortunate, because he holds an humble station in life, because he is poorly clad, because he is weak in body and mind, because he is awkward, or because the God of nature has bestowed upon him a darker skin than theirs."
This early education should commence as soon as the necessities of the child demand it. A child should be taught what is necessary for it to know and practice as soon as that necessity exists and the child is capable of learning. Scripture sanctions this. Our fathers did so. It was the injunction of Moses to the children of Israel: Deut. vi., 6-9. God commands you to break up the fallow ground and sow the good seed at the first dawn of the spring-life of your children, and then to pray for the "early and the latter rain,"
"Teaching, with pious care, the dawning light
Home-education should be religious. As the child has a religious nature, religious wants, and a religious end to accomplish, it should receive from its parents a religious training. Religion is educational. We are commanded to teach religion to our children. The admonition to "train up a child in the way he should go," and to "bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," is a scripture sanction of religious education. Nature and the bible are the text-books for such a training. The child should be taught natural and revealed religion. Such education involves the development of the child's religious nature, and the diligent use of those means by which it may become an adopted child of God.
Education should be suited to the wants and the destination of the child. Religion is its first want, -- the one thing needful, the chief concern; and should, therefore, be the first object of attention in home-training. The fear and love of God should be the first lesson taught. This is the beginning of wisdom. Teach your children to love Him above father and mother, sister and brother. The child is capable of such ideas of God. Children can possess the sentiment of God; and when this is instilled and developed as a rudiment of their character, they have a preparation for the grace of God. What is the mere secular, without such a religious education? It is education without its essence; for piety is the essence of all education. Irreligious training is destructive, -- a curse rather than a blessing, -- only a training up to crime and to ruin. "The mildew of a cultivated, but depraved mind, blights whatever it falls upon." "Religion," says Dr. Barrow, "is the only science, which is equally and indispensably necessary to men of every rank, every age, and every profession." "The end of learning," says Milton, "is to repair the ruins of our first parents, by requiring to know God aright, and out of that knowledge, to love Him, and to imitate Him."
We see, therefore, that religious training is the only true palladium of your children's happiness and destiny; and should be the great end of all home-teaching. Tinge all their thoughts and feelings with a sense of eternity. Train them up to build for another world. Stamp the impress of a future life upon their tender hearts. Beget in them longings after immortality. See that their designs extend beyond this world. As the Spartan mother gave character to her nation by the instructions she gave her child, so you give character to your religion, your church, your home, by the spiritual culture of your offspring. Let the jewels you give them be the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, -- the ornaments of a meek and quiet spirit.
"Take the germ, and make it
Childhood is the period in which the principles of Christianity can be the most effectually engrafted in our nature. Its pliability at that period insures its free assimilation to the spirit and truth of religion. "Would to God," says St. Pierre, "I had preserved the sentiment of the existence of the Supreme Being, and of His principal attributes, as pure as I had it in my earliest years!" It is the heart more than the head that religion demands; and you can fill the young heart with sentiments of God better than if you wait till it grows hard as adamant in sin. You can elevate the soul of your child to God, and teach it to raise its little hands and voice in prayer to the Most High. You can teach it this from the book of nature and of revelation, -- from the daisies that spring up among the grass upon which it frolics, by the mellow fruits after which it longs, by the stars that shine in unclouded luster above it, and by the breezes which ruffle its silken curls, and bring perfume to its smiling face.
To the mother especially, is committed the religious education of the child at home. She is eminently adapted, if herself a Christian, for such a work. Her love, her piety, which breathes in every word, in every look, makes her instructions effectual and pleasing.
"'Tis pleasing to be schooled by female lips and eyes, They smile so when one's right, and when one's wrong, They smile still more; and then there
They can better reach and train the heart. Religion is heart-wisdom. "My son, give me thy heart!" We may use the head as an avenue to the heart, yet nothing is done in the religion of our children until the heart be carried. It is only in that inner shrine that there can be deposited the wisdom that is from above, and only then will they be made wise unto salvation. And who is better able to storm and carry that inner citadel, and lead its subdued inmates to the Cross, than the pious, tender-hearted, soliciting mother!
Some parents object to the religious training of their children, "because," say they, "there is danger of having their minds biased by some particular creed; they should be left, therefore, to themselves till they are capable of making a choice, and then let them choose their creed." This is all a miserable subterfuge, and in direct opposition to the explicit command of God and the whole tenor of the gospel plan of salvation. It goes upon the assumption that religion is but an opinion -- a subscription to a certain creed, learning certain doctrines -- a mere thing for the head. Tell me, is it worse to bias their minds to a particular creed, than to let them grow up biased to the world, to the Devil and all his works? Is it all of home, religious culture to bias them to a particular creed? Besides, is it not the right, yea, the duty of parents to bias their children in favor of the religious creed of the parental home? It shows, therefore, that those parents who, for this reason, object to religious training, have but little love for, and confidence in, their own creed, or they would not shrink from biasing their children to it.
To encourage Christian parents to give their children a good religious education, God has given them numerous examples, from both sacred and profane history, of conversion and eminent piety in the age of childhood, as the direct fruit of early parental instruction. Look, for instance, at the child Samuel worshiping the Lord. Look, too, at the case of Moses and of David, of Joseph and of John the Baptist. Dr. Doddridge, we are told, "was brought up in the early knowledge of religion by his pious parents." His mother "taught him the history of the Old and New Testaments before he could read, by the assistance of some Dutch tiles in the chimney of the room where they commonly sat; and her wise and pious reflections on the stories there represented were the means of making some good impressions on his heart, which never wore out." An eminently pious minister thus writes to his parents, confirming by his own blessed experience the early fruits of religious training: "I verily believe that had my religious training been confined to the gleanings of the Sabbath school, instead of the steady enforcement of the Mosaic arrangement at home by my parents, I might now be pursuing a far different course, and living for a far different end. Many, very many times, as early in childhood as I can recollect, has the Spirit of God convicted me of sin, as my father at home has taught me out of the scriptures, and I cannot easily forget that the same high-priest of the home-church once tore from me the hypocrite's hope. And that dear place had another to carry on the work; gentler but not weaker; and memory recalls a mother pressing her face close to mine as she often knelt with me before the mercy-seat. I will not cast reproach on any institution which has been productive of good to myself and to others, but with profound gratitude will say, home was the place of my spiritual nativity, and my parents were God's instruments in leading me to Christ!"
The eminent piety of Dr. Dwight stands on record as the fruit of a mother's faithful religious training; for "she taught him from the very dawn of reason to fear God and keep His commandments, and the impressions then made upon his mind in infancy, were never effaced." The mother of young Edwards is another example of early piety as the fruit of religious home-culture. The aged Polycarp, when under arrest during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius, in reply to the injunction of the pro-consul, "Swear, curse Christ, and I release thee!" exclaimed, "Six and eighty years have I served Him, and He has done me nothing but good; and how could I curse Him, my Lord and Saviour?" Thus showing himself to have been a Christian at the early age of four years! It was through the instructions of his grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice, that young Timothy "knew from a child the holy scriptures, which made him wise unto salvation."
And what an effectual antidote are such instructions against vice and temptation! How many have by them been arrested from the devouring jaws of infidelity and ruin! Thus it was with John Randolph, who said that in the days of the French revolution, when infidel reason took the place of God and the bible, and infidelity prowled unmolested throughout France, he would have become an infidel himself, had it not been for the remembrance of his childhood days, when his pious mother taught him to kneel by her side, and to say, "Our Father, who art in heaven!" Thus, too, with the pious and learned J.Q. Adams, who daily repeated the little prayers his mother taught him when a child.
Thus, then, we see that parents are encouraged by the most brilliant examples of history, to teach their children religion at the home-fireside, "when thou liest down and risest up." Oh, let the gentle courtesies and sweet endearments of home engrave the Word and Spirit of God upon their tender hearts. Wait not until they are matured in rebellion, and sin lay beds of flinty rock over their hearts; but let them breathe from infancy the atmosphere of holiness, and drink from the living fountains of divine truth. See that your homes become their birth-place in the spiritual kingdom of Christ.
Such religious training will be the guardian of their future life, and will fortify them against impending evil. What made Daniel steadfast amidst all the efforts to heathenize him during his captivity in Babylon? His early religious culture. It was the means of his preservation. The truth had been deeply engraven upon his heart when young, and nothing could ever efface it. His early home-impressions glowed there with pristine freshness and power amid all the terrors which surrounded him in the den and before the throne of his implacable foe. These home instructions may be silenced for a time, but never destroyed. They may be overshadowed, but not annihilated. Says Dr. Cumming, "The words spoken by parents to their children in the privacy of home are like words spoken in a whispering-gallery, and will be clearly heard at the distance of years, and along the corridors of ages that are yet to come. They will prove like the lone star to the mariner upon a dark and stormy sea, associated with a mother's love, with a father's example, with the roof-tree beneath which they lived and loved, and will prove in after life to mould the man and enable him to adorn and improve the age in which he is placed."
Be faithful, therefore, in the spiritual culture of your children. Give them "line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little." Lead them on by degrees to Christ until each indelible impression becomes an established habit. In the morning of their life sow the seed; and God will give the increase; and then in the day of judgment your children will rise up and call you blessed!
NEGLECT AND ABUSE OF HOME-EDUCATION.
"Accomplishments have taken virtue's place,
Home-education in all its parts is most sadly neglected and abused at the present day. Many parents think that the office of teacher is not included in the parental character and mission. The neglect of home-training seems to arise out of an existing-prejudice against it. Some think that education will unfit their children for industry, -- will make them indolent and proud. They regard mental culture as an enemy to both industry and virtue. Strange delusion! The mind is given to use, not to abuse; and its abuse is no argument against its proper use. God has given the mind, and intends it to be developed and cultivated. If, therefore, its training has made it indolent and dissipated, it only proves its education to be spurious. You might, by a parity of reasoning, blindfold the eye that it might not he covetous, or tie up the hand lest it pick a man's pocket, or hobble the feet lest they run into evil ways, as to keep the mind in ignorance lest it become wicked.
Besides, we find more real indolence and wickedness among the ignorant than among the educated; for man will be educated in something. If you do not educate your child in the truths of nature and religion, be assured he will become trained in falsehood and in the ways of Satan. "Uneducated mind is uneducated vice." A proper education is a divine alchemy which turns all the baser parts of man's nature into gold. Without it all is discord and darkness within and without. Besides, ignorance leads to misery because it leads to wickedness. Dr. Johnson was once asked, "Who is the most miserable man?" He replied, "That man who cannot read on a rainy day!" It has well been said by Edmund Burke that "Education is the cheap defense of nations." Why? Because it prevents vice, poverty, misery, and relieves the state of the support of paupers and criminals. "A good education," says Miss Sedgwick, "is a young man's best capital." Says Governor Everett to parents, "Sow the seed of instruction in your son's and daughter's minds. It will flourish when that over-arching heaven shall pass away like a scroll, and the eternal sun which lightens it, shall set in blood." Says the Rev. Robert Hall, "I am persuaded that the extreme profligacy, improvidence, and misery, which are so prevalent among the laboring classes in many countries, are chiefly to be ascribed to the want of education."
What indeed can we look for but wretchedness and guilt from that child that has been left by its cruel parents to grow up "darkening in the deeper ignorance of mankind, with all its jealousies, and its narrow-mindedness, and its superstitions, and its penury of enjoyments, poor amid the intellectual and moral riches of the universe; blind in this splendid temple which God has lighted up, and famishing amid the profusions of Omnipotence?" And, parents, let me ask you, if you thus neglect the proper education of your children, and as a consequence, such pauperism of estate, of mind, and of morals, come upon them, will you not have to answer for all this to God?
"Oh, woe for those who trample on the mind,
Your children, thus neglected, will become victims to inordinate passion, without power to discern between reality and illusion, ignorant of what is true happiness, living for mere sense, with their moral nature enclosed in the iron mail of superstition, while the good seeds of truth sown upon their hearts "wither away, because they have no depth of earth."
Parents cannot, therefore, neglect the education of their children without incurring disgrace and guilt before God and man. They will meet a merited retribution both here and hereafter. The justice of this is forcibly illustrated in a law of the Icelanders, which makes the court inquire, when a child is accursed, whether the parents have given the offender a good education? And if not, the court inflicts the punishment on the parents. This but expresses the higher law of God which holds parents responsible for the training of their children. Listen to the threatening voice of God in history. Crates, an ancient philosopher, used to say that if he could reach the highest eminence in the city, he would make this proclamation: "What mean ye, fellow-citizens, to be so anxious after wealth, but so indifferent to your children's education? It is like being solicitous about the shoe, but neglecting entirely the foot that is to wear it!"
We would reiterate that proclamation in this age of superior intelligence. To the pious parent there is a pleasure in training the young and tender heart for God. What a beautiful tribute did Thompson yield to this pleasure in the following lines:
"Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,
But home-education, at the present day, is as much abused as it is neglected. The criminality of the former is perhaps greater than that of the latter. This may have more reference to the female than to the male portion of the family. The abuse here consists of the want of a training up to wisdom. We see this in what is called the fashionable, instead of the Christian, education, received at some of our fashionable boarding schools. Here the child is sent with no home-training whatever, to be trained up a fashionable doll, fit to be played with and dandled upon the arms of a whining and heartless society, with no preparation for companionship in life, destitute of substantial character, with undoctrinated feelings of aversion to religion, fit only for a puppet show in some gay and thoughtless circle; kneeling before fashion as her God, and giving her hand in marriage only to a golden and a gilded calf.
According to this abuse of home-education, "a young maiden is kept in the nursery and the school room, like a ship on the stocks, while she is furbished with abundance of showy accomplishments, and is launched like the ship, looking taut and trim, but empty of everything that can make her useful." Thus one great abuse of home-education is to substitute the boarding school for home-culture, -- to send our children to such school at an age when they should he trained by and live under the direct influence of the parent. This generally ends in initiated profligacy, and alienation from home, while at best but a dunce after his course of training is ended.
"Would you your son should be a sot and a dunce,
Too often is it the case that the artifices and refinements of our fashionable boarding-schools, have a most withering influence upon body, mind and soul, enfeebling and distorting the body, producing depraved stomachs, whimsical nerves, peevish tempers, indolent minds, and depraved morals. They become but wrecks of what they were when they first entered the school. This has been called "the stiff and starched system of muslin education," and is the nursery of pale, sickly, listless, peevish children.
But this is not the only abuse of home-education. Even when the training is begun at home, the very idea of education is often abused, because inefficient, destitute of true moral elements, and partial both as to the mode and as to the substance of it. The true resources of life are not developed; there is no instruction given in the principles and conditions of temporal and eternal well-being; there is no discipline of the mind, or body or morals. But the great idea and aim of education with many parents now, is to teach the child to read and write and cipher as a means of making money and getting along in this world, -- not, of course, to prevent them from cheating others, but others from cheating them. All is prostituted to money and business. Character and happiness are left out of view. What have our schools now to do with the propensities, appetites, temperaments, habits and character of the pupils? And how are the parents who send their children to school to have them trained up with reference to these! All that is now looked at, is that learning which will fit the child for business. As a consequence most of our schools are a disgrace to the very name of education. More evil actually results from them than good. The mind and heart are injured, -- the one but half trained; the other corrupted. Mental and moral training are divorced; hence one-sided, and the very end of education defeated. The child has no incentive to a virtuous and a noble life, and sinks down to the groveling drudgery of money-making. It is educated for nature, but not for God, -- for this, but not for the next life.
If we would not abuse home-education we must not separate the moral from the mental, -- the secular from the religious; for in doing so, we expose the child to rationalism and infidelity on the one hand, and to superstition and spiritualism on the other. This course is generally taken by parents when they educate their children for mere worldly utility and fashion, when they have not the welfare of the soul in view, and look only to the advantage of the body.
The duty then of Christian parents to give their children a true home-education may be seen from the consequences of its neglect and abuse on the one hand, and from its value and importance on the other. They should furnish them with all the necessary means, opportunities, and directions, of a Christian education. Give them proper books. "Without books," says the quaint Bartholin, "God is silent, justice dormant, science at a stand, philosophy lame, letters dumb, and all things involved in Cimmerian darkness." Bring them up to the habit of properly reading and studying these books. "A reading people will soon become a thinking people, and a thinking people must soon become a great people." Every book you furnish your child, and which it reads with reflection is "like a cast of the weaver's shuttle, adding another thread to the indestructible web of existence." It will be worth more to him than all your hoarded gold and silver. Make diligent use of those great auxiliaries to home-education, which the church has instituted, such as Sabbath schools, bible classes and catechisation.
Home-education does not imply a system of parental training isolated from the educational ministrations of the church; but is churchly in its spirit and in all its parts, and should in all respects be connected with the church. Home training is a duty you owe to the church. By virtue of your relation to her, she has the authority to demand of you such a training of your child; and by virtue of your relation to the child, he has a right to such an education, and can demand it from you. It stands on the basis of parental duty imposed on you by God Himself. It is a prime necessity. It is your children's birthright, which they themselves cannot sell with impunity, for the pottage of gold or silver or pleasure: neither can you neglect or abuse it without guilt before God.
It is, therefore, a duty which you cannot shake off, and which involves both for you and for your child, the most momentous consequences. Christian parents! be faithful to this duty. Magnify your office as a teacher; be faithful to your household as a school. Diligently serve your children as the pupils that God has put under your care. Educate them for Him. Teach them to "walk by faith, not by sight." Cultivate in them a sense of the unseen world, -- the feeling of the actual influence of the Spirit of God, the guardianship of his holy angels, and of the communion of saints. Teach them how to live and how to die; and by the force of your own holy example allure them to the cross, and lead them onward and upward in the living way of eternal life. You are encouraged to do so by the assurance of God that "when they grow old they will not depart from it."