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Such are some of the principal obstacles which stand in the way of the conversion of the sinner. The path to wo is downward, and its passage rapid. No effort is necessary to hasten along its crowded ways. The current bears you onward, and you need but float upon its surface, and you will soon enter those gloomy depths whence there is no return. The obstacles in the way of conversion are powerful. They are not to be overcome by the transient feeling of a moment; they are not to be removed by waiting in indolence. They demand great effort to overcome them. If there be anything in nature which calls for strenuous exertions, and which holds out sufficient motives to encourage such exertions, it is the salvation of your soul. Oh, do you never think of that eternity which is before you, of those realms of boundless space, where in a short time must be your endless home? Do you ever think of the wonders of a Saviour's love, of the sympathy of celestial bands, of the glittering mansion, of the heavenly robe, of the everlasting song. Can of such things, and not have your beart burn within you, and not be impelled by desires which never can be extinguished, to reach forward by every possible exertion, to the attainment of that world ?” Ask and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you."
THE NECESSITY AND BENEFITS OF EARLY RELIGIOUS-TRAINING RY.
PREACHED AT THE REQUEST OF THE
AMERICAN SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION,
MAY 18, 1845.
BY RICHARD S. STORRS, D. D.
"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand docurine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little.”-Isaiah xxviii. 9, 10.
COMMENTATORS do not harmonize perfectly in their construction of this passage; but whether we regard it as the language or the drunkards of Ephraim, deriding the Lord's messengers for the plainness and urgency of their unwelcome instructions, or as the language of the prophet himself affirming interrogatively the spiritual ignorance and imbecility of the people, with their prophets and priests, it can hardly be questioned that the Holy Spirit clearly indicates the important truth that the knowledge of our relations to God and eternity is to be earnestly inculcated on the rising generation. There may be little hope that the uncircumcised ear of age will hearken to instruction, or that the habitual transgressor will listen to the warning voice of the Lord; but there is hope of the young, that precept upon precept and line upon line, drawn from the oracles of God, even though uttered by stainmering lips, will not be unavailing. The reported remark of one VOL. XIX.-NO. VI.
of England's noble sons, that “ were we deprived of what we learn during the three first years of our lives, we should be the most ignorant beings on the face of the globe,” is less extravagant in point of fact than in sound; and there had been no tinge of extravagance nor less of shrewdness in the remark, if, instead of three, he had specified the first seven or ten years of life. In those years, beyond question, are laid the foundations of the social and religious character which every man carries to the grave; and the firmness and fair proportions of the structure reared upon them, will correspond with their solidity and breadth. And when in varied language God commands the father to make known the truth unto his children-to teach the words that he commands diligently unto them—to talk of them when sitting in the house, and walking by the way, lying down and rising up, and to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, he surely imposes on every man the express obligation to pour divine instruction, in every variety of form and without sparing, into the minds of his infant offspring. And ther, admitting the principle involved in the second great law of the universe—the equal worth of all human souls—we cannot, without absurdity, object to the claims of any portion of the rising generation within the reach of our benevolence, upon our practical regards to their instruction in the revealed will of God.
If we are to be delivered from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood; if our sons are to be as plants grown up in their youth, and our daughters as corner stones polished after the similitude of a palace, then must they be taught that fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom, and their responsibility to Him for all their doings, and the extent and spirituality of the law which binds them to the cultivation of purity and love in all their relations to universal being. And if they are to be themselves saved from the dominion of lust, and the power of the second death, they must be taught by “precept upon precept, and line upon line," that they are shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin ; that they are estranged from God, from their first entrance into life; that the blood of Christ alone cleanseth from sin; and that his intercessions only secure them forgiveness and eternal life. And they must be taught that no man, except he be born again, can see the kingdom of heaven; that the Holy Spirit alone convinceth of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; that repentance, faith, and new obedience, are essential to acceptance with God; that rewards of surpassing glory are laid up for the righteous, and woes of unutterable intensity are reserved for the wicked. Of these truths, so fundamental in the Christian system, none can be overlooked in the instruction of the young more than the old, without putting in jeopardy their welfare for time and eternity; and these alone explained
with simplicity, and diligently enforced, will leave nothing, in the form of direct instruction, to be attempted for their salvation.
You will allow me to suggest a few obvious considerations, in illustration of the high importance of instruction so explained and enforced.
1. The youth learns nothing good until he is taught. Foolishness is bound up in his heart. Though wise to do evil, to do good he has no knowledge. It is commonly an arduous enterprise to educate him for worldly eminence; but far greater are the skill and labor necessary to educate him for glory, honor, and immortality. In the first case, the difficulties to be overcome lie chiefly in the volatility of the mind, reluctance to salutary discipline, indifference to useful knowledge, the fascinations of novelty, the love of amusement, and a thirst for sensual gratifications. In the last case, beside these difficulties, existing in full strength, there is a heartfelt aversion to the claims of religion to be removed, and a love of moral culture to be inspired; the force of corrupt example operating on every side, is to be broken down, and the efforts of the adversary to cultivate tares instead of wheat on the virgin soil, are to be defeated. The young mind, it is true, has all the faculties of riper years, but they are yet in their immaturity, and wait the lapse of time to complete their development. Reason and judgment are too weak to give a wise direction to the course of life, even wheo perception, imagination and memory, have acquired great activity and energy; and unless controlled and guided by the paramount influence of correct instruction constantly imparted, the youth is ever liable to plunge into darkness and ruin. He is ever exposed also to the withering blast that sweeps along the path of the wily unbeliever and the bold transgressor. Unhappily the number of those who cast off fear, and abandon themselves to works of iniquity is not small, even in an age and country as enlightened as ours; and, with them, virtue in her loveliest forms is the subject of unceasing reproach, and vice in its most unseemly garb is the theme of commendation and applause; wine and debauchery inflame their blood; stratagem and violence absorb their thick-coming fancies, and daringness of spirit and hardihood of resistance to the claims of God, give them fearful power over the simplicity of childhood.
And what if God hath said, “If sinners entice thee, consent thou not”—the untaught and inexperienced youth, heedless of the admonition, lends a willing ear to the Syren voice that assures him of safety in indulgences that perverted appetites demand. Certain it is that no man can take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned, nor go upon hot coals and his feet not be burned; but the young, even if instructed, are slow to credit what the Almighty saith, and, obediently, to turn away from the companionship of fools. The structure of the mind, the depravity of the heart, the force of ungodly example, and the direct efforts of those who set their mouths against the heavens, render it certain that the untaught youth will learn nothing good.
2. The susceptibilities of the young mind to deep and enduring impression are strongly marked. The melted wax receives not more readily the impress of the seal, nor does the fused metal take more certainly the form of the mould into which it is cast, than the infant mind receives the principles and yields to the passions which sway maturer minds in contact with it. And the impressions of the earliest years are not lost, down to life's latest period. Long after those of later date are effaced are they retained in nearly all their original freshness; and so inwrought are they with the very framework of the moral system, that death itself fails to annihilate them, and the light of eternity restores them in more than their original vividness. Whether these impressions shall assimilate the child to his Maker, or strengthen his inherent corruptions, is a momentous question. It is a fair question, too, worthy to be revolved by every one who lears a part in the training of the youthful world around him---whether the principles of wisdom and truth shall be permanently stamped on the fair page of childhood, assimilating it to God, or whether the principles of error shall také their place, and form fit sluiceways for floods of vain imaginings bearing away the soul irresistibly to the ocean of death! Give to the mind of youth the moral culture which its susceptibilities permit, and which the authority of Heaven requires; watch the first buddings of its moral powers, and direct its earliest efforts to objects of transcendant interest, as the scriptures reveal them, and the labor cannot be in vain. Millions, unable to distinguish the right hand from the left, have received impressions from the lips of maternal piety of infinite value ; and other millions, by the combination of scriptural instruction with parental prayers and tears have been prepared to swell the joys of he wen by their labors and songs, who had otherwise been left to everlasting wailings. You have seen the rich intervale over which the plough and the harrow have never passed; it was not bare like the sands of an African desert, or the bill-tops, stretching upwards into regions of perpetual frost; but luxuriance was there—the luxuriance, indeed, of the bramble instead of the vine, of the morass instead of the wheatfield; but it was luxuriance still. Such is the mind richly furnished with heaven's endowments, but denied the moral culture, to which by birthright it is entitled. Its productions, though abundant are useless, as the weeds of the garden, or noxious as the grapes of Sodom, and the clusters of Gomorrah. “ The two legged animal” says one “ that eats of nature's dainties what his taste or appetite craves, and satisfies his thirst at the crystal fountain ; who propagates hie kind as