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prudence of those who have the conduct of them : and some forward vices may be nipped in the very bud, which in three years time might gain too firm a root in their heart and practice, and may not easily be plucked up by all the following care of their teachers. But I begin with children when they can walk and talk, when they have learned their mother tongue, when they begin to give some more evident discoveries of their intel. lectual powers, and are more manifestly capable of having their minds formed and moulded into knowledge, virtue and piety.
Now the first and most universal ingredient which enters into the education of children, is an instruction of them in those things which are necessary and useful for them in their rank and station, and that with regard to this world and the world to come. I limit these instructions (especially such as relate to this world) by the station and rank of life in which children are born and placed by the providence of God. Persons of better circumstances in the world, should give their sons and their daughters a much larger share of knowledge and a richer_variety of instruction, than meaner persons can or ought. But since every child that is born into this world hath a body and a soul, since its happiness or misery in this world and the next, depends very much upon its instructions and knowledge, it hath a right to be taught by its parents, according to their best ability, so much as is necessary for its well-being both in soul and body here and hereafter.
It is true, that the great God our Creator bath made us reasonable creatures : we are by nature capable of learning a million of objects : but as the soul comes into the world, it is unfurnished withi kuówledge; we are born ignorant of every good and useful thing we know not God, we know not our selves, we know not what is our duty and our interest, nor wliere lies our danger; and, if left entirely to ourselves, should probably grow up like the brutes of the earth : we should trifle away the brighter seasons of life in a thousand miseries, and at last we should perish and die without knowledge or hope, if we had no instructors.
All our other powers of nature, such as the will and the various affictions, the senses, the appetites, and the limbs, would become wild instruments of madness and mischief, if not governed by the understanding ; and the understanding itself would run into a thousand errors, dreadful and pernicious, and would employ all the other powers in mischief and madness, if it bath not the happiness to be instructed in the things of God and men. And who is there among all our fellow-creatures so much obliged to bestow this instruction on us, as the persons whio by divine providence, have been the instruinents to bring us into life and being? It is their duty to give their young offspring this benefit
of instruction, as far as they are able; or at least to provide such instructors for them, and to put the children under their care. Here let us therefore enquire, what are the several things in which children should be instructed ? And upon a due survey, we shall find the most important things which children ought to learn and know, are these which follow.
Sect. I.-Of instructing Children in Religion.
RELIGION, in all the parts of it, both what they are to believe and what they are to practise, is most necessary to be taught. I mention this in the first place, not only because it is matter of the highest importance, and of most universal concern to all mankind, but because it may be taught even in these very early years of life. As soon as children begin to know almost any thing, and to exercise their reason about matters that Jie within the reach of their knowledge; they may be brought to know so much of religion as is necessary for their age and state. For instance,
1. Young children may be taught that there is a God, a great and almighty God, who made them, and who gives them every good thing. That he sees them every where, though they canpot see him, and that he takes notice of all their behaviour.
2. They must be told what they should do, and what they should avoid, in order to please God. They should be taught in general to know the difference between good and evil. They may learn, that it is their duty to fear and love, and worship God, to pray to bim for what they want, and to praise him for what they enjoy ; to obey their parents, to speak truth, and to be honest and friendly to all mankind; and to set a guard upon their own appetites and passions. And that to neglect these things, or to do any thing contrary to them, is sinful in the sight of God.
3. Their consciences are capable of receiving conviction when they have neglected these duties, or broken the commands of God or of their parents; and they may be made sensible that the great and holy God, who loves the righteous and bestows blessings upon them, is angry with those who have broken his commands and sinned against him; and therefore that they themselves are become subject to his displeasure.
4. They may be told, that there is another world after this ; and that their souls do not die when their bodies die : that they shall be taken up into beaven, which is a state of pleasure and happiness, if they have been good and holy in this world : but if they have been wicked children they must go down to hell, which is a state of misery and torment.
5. You may also inform them, that though their bodies die and are buried, yet God can and will raise them to life again : and that their body and soul together must be made happy or iniserable, according to their behaviour in this life.
6. They may be taught that there is no way for such sinful creatures as we are to be received into God's favour, but for the sake of Jesus Christ the Son of God; wbo came down from heaven into our world, and lived a life of pure and perfect holiness, and suffered death to reconcile sinners to the great and holy God, who is offended by the sins of men; and now he lives in heaven to plead for mercy for them : and that as this Jesus Christ is the only reconciler between God and man, so all their hope must be placed in him.
7. They may be taught, that their very natures are sinful: they may be convinced, that they are ioclined naturally to do evil: and they should be informed, that it is the Holy Spirit of God, who must cure the evil temper of their own spirits, and make them holy and fit to dwell with God in heaven.
8. They should also be instructed to pray to God, that for the sake of Jesus Christ, the great mediator or reconciler, he would pardon their sins past, and help them by his Spirit to love and serve him with zeal and faithfulness for the time to come: that he would bestow all necessary blessings upon them in this world, and bring them safe at last to his heavenly kingdom.
9. In the last place they should be informed, that our blessed Saviour has appointed two ordinances to be observed by all bis followers to the end of the world, which are usually called sacraments. The one is baptism, wherein persons are to be washed with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to signify their being given up to Christ as his disciples, or professors of christianity : and as an emblem of that purity of heart and life, which as such, they must aim at and endeavour alter. The other is the Lord's supper, wherein hread is broken and wine is poured out and distributed to be eaten and drank by christians in remembrance of the body of Christ, which was put to a bloody death, as a sacrifice to obtain pardon for the sins of men. The first of these, namely, baptism, is but once to be administered to any person ; but the last, namely, the Lord's supper, is to be frequently performed, to keep us always in mind of the death of Christ, till he comes again. from heaven to judge the world.
This is the sum and substance of the christian religion, drawn out into a very few plain articles ; and I think a child of common capacity, who is arrived at three or four years of age, inay be taught some part of these articles, and may learn to understand them all at seven, or eight, or nine: at least so far as, is needful, for all his own. exercises of devotion and piety. As his age increases, le may be instructed more at large in the principles aud practices of our holy religion, as I shall slew more particularly in the third section.
Sect. II.-The Exercise and Improvement of their natural
Powers. IIAVING mentioned religion as the principal thing in which children should be instructed, I proceed to say in the second place, that children should be taught the true use, the erercise and improvement of their natural powers; and we may for order sake distinguisli these into the powers of the body, and those of the mind : now though nature gives these powers and faculties, yet it is a good education that must instruct us in the exercise and improvement of them: otherwise like an uncultivated field, they will be ever barren and fruitless, or produce weeds and briars instead of herbs and coro. Among the powers of the inind which are to be thus cultivated we may reckon the understanding, the memory, the judgment, the faculty of reasoning, and the conscience.
1. Teach them to use their understanding aright. Persuade them to value their understanding as a poble faculty, and allure them to seek after the enrichment of it with a variety of knowledge. Let no day escape without adding some new ideas to their understanding, and giving their young unfurnished minds some further notion of things. Almost every thing is new to a child, and novelty will entice them onward to new acquisitions : shew them the birds, the beasts, the fishes and insects, trees, herbs, fruits, and all the several parts and properties of the vegetable and the animal world : teach them to observe the various occurrences in nature and providence, the sun, moon and stars, the day and night, summer and winter, the clouds and the sky, the hail, suow and ice, winds, fire, - water, earthi, air, fields, woods, mountains, rivers, &c. Teach them that the great God made all these things, and his providence governs them all. Acquaint a child also with domestic affairs, sp far as is needful, and with the things that belong to the civil and the military life, the church and the state, with the works of God and the works of men. A thousand objects that strike their eyes, their ears, and all their seoses, will furnish out new matter for their curiosity and your instructions.
There are some books which are published in the world, wherein a child may be delightfully led into the knowledge of a great number of these things by pictures, or figures of birds, beasts, &c. well graven, with their names under them; this will much assist the labour of the teacher, and add to the pleasure of children in their daily learning.
You who instruct them, should allure their young curiosity to ask many questions, encourage them in it, and gratify their enquiries, by giving them the best and most satisfactory arswers you can frame, and accommodate all your language to their capacity. Give them as far as possible, clear ideas of things, and teach them how to distinguish one thing from another by their different appearances, by their different properties, and by tbeir different effects. Shew them how far some things agree with others, and how far they differ from them; and above all things teach them, as far as their young understandings will admit, to distinguish between appearances and realities, between truth and falsehood, between good and evil, between trifles and things of importance, for these are the most valuable pieces of knowledge and distinction, which can be lodged in the young understandings of children.
2. The memory is another faculty of the soul, which should be cultivated and improved : endeavour carefully to impress on their minds things of worth and value. Such are, short and useful and entertaining stories, which carry in them some virtue recommended, some vice ridiculed or punished; various human and divine truths, rules of piety and virtue, precepts of prudence, &c. Repeat these things often to them by day and by night; teach them these things in verse and in prose; rehearse them in their ears at all proper seasons, and take occasion to make them repeat these things to you.
Be solicitous to know what it is they learn when they are out of your sight, and take good care that their memories be not charged with trifles and idle trumpery. The memory is a noble repository or cabinet of the soul, it should not be filled with rub. bish and lumber. Silly tales and foolish songs, the conundrums of nurses, and the dull rbines that are sung to lull children asleep, or to sooth a froward humour, should be generally forbidden to entertain those children where a good education is designed. Something more innocent, more solid and profitable may be invented instead of these fooleries. If it were possible, let a very few things be lodged in the memory of children which they need to forget when they are men.
The way to strengthen and improve the memory, is to put it upon daily exercise. I do not mean that young children should be kept so close to their book as to be crammed with lessons all the day long, and made to receive and sustain a heavy load every hour. The powers of the soul (especially such as act in close concert with the body, and are so much aided by the brain) may be over-burdened and injured, as well as the limbs : the mind may be perplexed and confounded, the head may be overstrained and weakened : and the health impaired in those tender years of life, by an excessive imposition on the memory: the teachers of children should have some prudence, to dintinguish their ages and their several capacities : they should know how to avoid extremes.
." Toit in general it may be said, that the powers of the mind, as well as those of the body, grow stronger by a constant and