« VorigeDoorgaan »
more powerfully excited by audible responses of such devout espressions as inspire them at the same time with reverence towards the Lord, as one common parent, and a communication of love and charity towards each other, as members of one family, engaged in one duty, incumbent upon, and important to all alike. For this reason it is recommended that the Family Worship should end in the same social spirit in which it has been advised to be begun, by repeating appointed portions of the Psalms in alternate verses, in the same manner as the Te Deum Laudamus ; and in order that these inspired strains may be joined in by the youthful assembly with a still stronger internal acknowledgement of their exquisite beauty and surpassing usefulness, care has been taken to select such of them as breathe more especially the feelings of adoration, gratitude, thankfulness, and love; feelings which it belongs peculiarly to the young and happy to cultivate whilst they are in the morning of life; their path as yet free from the thorns of individual care beneath their feet, or the clouds of actual guilt above their heads : and well indeed will the time have been employed, that has been devoted to the following pages, should they, through the blessing of God, be made the instrument of future happiness to those into whose hands they may fall, by strengthening in them the practice of that early piety, which it is their aim and hope to inculcate.
“Come ye children hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord." ---Ps. xxxiv.
16 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding."---PROVERBS, ix.
The Bible, my dear children, is the precious word of God, the gift of his unspeakable mercy, the book of everlasting life. If we meditate on its wisdom, we shall become wise unto salvation; if we guide ourselves by its precepts, we shall walk in the path which will lead us to eternal happiness. It contains instruction, consolation, and delight, for all ages, ranks, and conditions ; and one line in it, in particular, I wish to impress on your young minds, and to teach you to act upon it, as the rule of your conduct. This one line, that contains so much, is, “Remember now thy Creator, in the days of thy youth.”
God is a being of infinite wisdom and infinite love; he therefore commands nothing but what it is possible, nothing but what, if rightly understood, it is pleasing, to perform. Some may think that, because they are very young, attention to religion cannot be expected from them; but the Psalmist says, “ Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise ;” and, as soon as we are old enough to know that we exist, we are old enough to feel gratitude and love towards our Almighty Father, in whom - we live and move, and have our being.”
How lovely is the example of early piety! How beautiful the ready answer of “ the child Samuel," when called in the stilness of the night by the Lord, in his holy temple, “ Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” How touching the faith of the little captive maid, who, far from the happy haunts of her infancy, yet remembered the prophet in Samaria, whose name she had, in all probability, been taught by her parents to lisp with reverence, as the minister of God! How pleasing the humility of Timothy, sitting at the feet of Gamaliel, to listen to the sacred lore, of which he had, according to the account St. Paul gives of hin, imbibed the rudiments from his "grandmother Lois," and his “ mother Eunice." Let us not then imagine that the religion of a child is a slight thing in the eyes of an all-seeing God. The Scriptures are full of the most endearing mention of children, and the most affecting allusions to
their innocence. It is the office of an especial Providence to guard their helplessness from peril, and they are graciously spared any keen sense of sorrow or anxiety, while they are yet unable to cope with the cares and troubles of life. How encouraging is the condescension of our blessed Lord to children: “ he took them up in his arms, and blessed them, and said, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not;" and shall not little children, in return, be early taught to lift up their hands to him who stretched out his arms in infinite mercy to them ? and you, my dear young friends, who are a little further advanced in the morning of life, reflect how desirable and blessed it is to seek the Lord betimes. The husbandman went out early to look for labourers in his vineyard, and happy were those whom he found ready and willing to work at the first hour.
Do not imagine that an early reverence for spiritual things will interfere with your enjoyment of natural things! No, provided your pleasures are innocent, it will increase your relish for them; joy and gratitude are as much belonging to your time of life, as the songs of birds to the sunrise, and are in themselves an offering acceptable to the kind Father of the universe.
Behold, in the Scriptures, with what delightful images the culture of religion among the young is