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By the art of reading we learn a thousand things which our eyes can never see, and which our own thoughts would never have reached to : we are instructed by books in the wisdom of ancient ages; we learn wbat our ancestors bave said and done, and enjoy the benefit of the wise and judicious remarks which they bave made through their whole course of life, without the fatigue of their long and painful experiments. By this means children may be led, in a great measure, into the wisdom of old age. It is by the art of reading that we can sit at home, and acquaint ourselves with what has been done in the distant parts of the world. The histories and the customs of all ages and all nations are brought, as it were, to our doors. By this art we are let into the knowledge of the affairs of the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans, their wars, their laws, their religion ; and we can tell what they did in the nations of Europe, Asia, and Africa, above a thousand years ago.
But the greatest blessing that we derive from reading, is the knowledge of the IIoly Scriptures, wherein God has conveyed dowo to us the discoveries of his wisdom, power and grace, through many past ages ; and whereby we attain the kuowledge of Christ, and of the way of salvation by a Mediator.
It must be confessed that in former ages, before printing was iovented, the art of reading was not so common even in polite nations, because books were inuch more costly, since they must be all written with a pen, and were therefore hardly to be obtained by the bulk of mankind: but since the providence of God has brought printing into the world, and knowledge is so plentifully diffused through our nation at so cheap a rate, it is a pity that any children should be born and brought up in great Britain withont the skill of reading; and especially since by this ineans, every one may see with his own eyes, what God requires of him in order to elernal happiness.
The art of writing is also exceedingly useful, and is now grown so very common, that the greatest part of children may attain it at an easy rate : by this means we communicate our thoughts and all our affairs to our friends at ever so great a distance : we tell them our wants, our sorrows, and our joys, and interest them in our concerns, as though they were near us. We maintain correspondence and traffic with persons in distant nations, and the wealth and grandeur of Great Britain is maintained by this means. By the art of writing, we treasure up all things that concern us in a safe repository; and as often as we please, by consulting our paper records, we renew our rememberance of things that relate io this life or the life to come : and why should any of the children of men be debarred from this privilege, if it may be attained at a cheap and easy rate without intrenching upon other duties of
life, and without omitting any more necessary business that may belong to their stations?
I might add here also, true spelling is such a part of knowledge as children ought to be acquainted with, since it is a matter of shanse and ridicule ió so polite an age as ours, when persong wlio have learned to handle the pen cannot write three or four words together without a mistake or blunder; and when they put letters together in such an aukward and ignorant manner, that it is hard to make sense of them, or to tell what they inean.
Arithmetic, or the art of numbers is, as was observed before, to be reckoned also a necessary part of a good education. Without some degrees of this knowledge, there is indeed no traffic among men. And especially it is more needful at present, since the world deals, much more upon trust and credit than it did in foriner times , and therefore the art of keeping accounts is made; in some ideasure necessary to persone even in meaner stations of life, below the rank of merchants or great traders. A little knowledge of the art of accounts is also needful, in some degree, in order to take a true survey, and make a just judgment of the common expences of a person or a family : but this part of learning, in the various degrees of it, is more or less useful and deedful"; according to the different stations and businesses for which children are desigued.
As the sons of a family should be educated in the knowledge of writing, reading, spelling, and accounts, so neither should the daughters be trained up without them. Reading is as needful for one sex as the other ; nor should girls be forbidden to handle the pen or to cast up a few figures, since it may be very much for their advantage in almost all circumstances of life, except in the very lowest rank of servitude or hard labour. And I beg leave here to intreat the female youth, especially those of better circumsances in the world, to maintain their skill in writiog which they bave already learned, by taking every occasion to exercise it : and I would faiu persuade them to take pains in acquainting themselves with true spelling, the want of which is one reason why many of them are asharned to write ; and they are not ashamed 'to own and declare this, as though it were a just and sulhcient excuse for neglecting and losing the use of the pen.
Sect. V.-Of a Trade or Employment. IN a good education it is required also that children, in the common rauks of life, be brought up to the knowledge of some proper business or employment for their lives ; some trade or fraf. fic, artifice or manufacture, by which they may support their expences, and procure for themselves the necessaries of life, and by which they may be enabled to provide for their families in due time. In some of the eastern nations, even persons of the highest rank are obliged to be educated in some employment or profession ; and perhaps that practice has many advantages in it: it engages their younger years in labour and diligence, and secures from the mischievous effects of slotb, idleness, vanity, and a thousand temptations.
Io our nation I confess it is a custom to educate the children of noblemen, and the eldest sons of the gentry, to no proper business or profession, but only to an acquaintance with some of the ornaments and accomplishments of life, which I shall mention immediately. But perhaps it would be far happier for some families, if the sons were brought up to business, and kept to the practice of it, than to have them exposed to the perpicious inconveniences of a sauntering and idle life, and the more violent impulse of all the corrupt inclinations of youth. However, it is certain that far the greater part of mankind must bring up their children to some regular business and profession, whereby they may sustain their lives and support a family, and become useful meinbers to the state. Now in the choice of such a profession or employment for children, many things are to be consulted.
(1.) The circumstances and estate of the parents ; whether it will reach to place out the child as an apprentice, to provide for him materials for his business or trade, and to support him till he shall be able to maintain himself by his profession. Sometimes the ambition of the parent and the child, hath fixed on a trade far above their circumstances ; in consequence of which the child hath been exposed to many inconveniences, and the parent to many sorrows.
(2.) The capacity and talents of the child must also be considered. If it be a profession of hard labour ; hath the child a healthy and firm constitution, and strength of body equal to the work? If it be a profession that requires the exercise of fancy, skill and judgment, or much study and contrivance; then the question will be, hath the lad a genius capable of thinking well, a bright imagidation, a solid judgment ? Is he able to endure such ad application of miod as is necessary for the employment ?
(3.) The temper and inclination.of the child must be brought into this consultation, in order to determine a proper business for life. If the daily labour and business of a man be not agreeable to hiin, he can never hope to inanage it with any great advantage or success. I knew a bricklayer, who professed that he had always an aversion to the smell of mortar : and I was acquainted once with a lad who begun to learn Greek at school, but he complained it did not agree with his constitution. I think the first of these ouglit to have been brought up to work in glass or timber, or any thing rather tban in bricks : as for the other, (to my best rememberance) he was wisely disposed of to a calling wherein be had nothing to do with greek.
And here I would beg leave to desire, that none might be encouraged to pursue any of the learned professions, that is divinity, law, or physic, who have not the signs of a good genius, who are not patient of long attention and close application to study, who have not a peculiar delight in that profession which they choose, and withal a pretty firm constitution of body; for much study is a weariness to the flesh, and the vigour of nature is sooner impaired by laborious thouglitfulness than by the labour of the limbs.
(4.) It should be also the solicitous and constant care of parents, when they place out their children in the world, to seek out masters for them who profess serious religion, who practise all moral virtues, and keep good orders and good hours in their family. The neglect of this concern, has been the ruin of a thousand youths in our day; and notwithstanding the sensible mischief arising from this negligence, yet there is still too little care taken in a matter of so great importance.*
Thus much for this part of the education of sons. But you will say then, what business of life must daughters be brought ap 'to? I must confess when I have seen so many of this sex, who have lived well in the time of their childhood, grievously expo'Bed to many hardships and poverty upon the death of their parents; I have often wished there were more of the callings or employments of life peculiarly appropriated to women, and that they were regularly educated in them, that there might be a better provision made for their support. What if all the garments which are worn by women, were so limited and restrained in the manufacture of them, that they should all be made ouly by their own sex? This would go a great way toward relief in this case; and what if some of the easier labours of life were reserved for them only? But this is not my province.
However it may be as to this matter, it is the custom of the · Dation, and indeed it hath been the custom of most nations and ages, to educate daughters in the knowledge of things that relate to the affairs of the household, to spin and to use the needle, both for making garments and for the ornaments of embroidery; they have been generally employed in the preparation of food, in the regular disposal of the affairs of the bouse for the conveniences . and accommodations of human life, in the furniture of the rooms and the elegancies of entertainment, Sarah made ready three measures of meal and kneaded it, and made cakes upon the hearth; Gen. xvii. 6. And the women of Israel that were wise hearted, did spin with their hands, both blue and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, for the tabernacle ; Exod. xxxv. 25. Women shall bake your bread; Lev. xxvi. 16. Iomen sew pillows and make kerchiefs ; Ezek. xiii. 18. which words, though perhaps they are a inetaphor in that text, yet denote the office or work of women. And Dorcas made coats and garments for the poor ; Acts ix. 36, 39. I might cite many ancient beathen authors to prove the same thing among the Greeks and Romans, if it were needful.
* This danger arises in a great degree from the immoderate love of plessures, that so generally prevails, and leads masters into parties and engagements, especially on the Lord's day; which not only occasions the neglect of religious instruction and family prayer on the evening of it, but sets an example to servan's which they tbiok ihemselves authorized to follow, tbough it be generally to their owo destruction.
Some of these things are the constant labours and cares of women in our day, whereby they maintain themselves ; the most laborious parts of them belong to the poor. And it is the opinion of the best judges, that, even in superior and wealthy circumstances, every daughter should be so far instructed in thein as to know when they are performed ariglit, that the servant may not usurp too much power, and impose on the ignorance of the mis
Nature and providence seem to have designed these offices for the sex in all ages and in all nations, because while the men are engaged in harder and more robust labours, and are often cal. led abroad on business, the women are more generally accustomed to keep house and dwell at home; and the word of God, as well as the custom of human life recommends it ; Tit. ii. 5.1 Tim. v. 14.
Sect. VI.-Rules of Prudence. ALL children should have some instruction given them in the conduct of human life, some necessary rules of prudence, by which they may regulate the management of their own affairs, and their behaviour towards their fellow-creatures. Where all other sorts of knowledge are conferred upon children, if this be wanting, they make but a contemptible figure in the world, and plunge themselves into many inconveniences. Some of these rules of prudence are of a general nature, and necessary at all times, and upon all occasions; others are more particular, and proper to be used according to the various occurrences of life.
If I were to enquire what are the foundations of human prudence, I should rank them under these three heads.
1. A knowledge of ourselves. Here every one should be taught to consider within himself, what is my temper and natural inclination ; what are my most powerful appetites and my prevailing passions ; what are my chief talents and capacities, if I have any at all ; what are the weaknesses and follies to which I am most liable, especially in the days of youth ; what are the temptations and dangers that attend me; what are my circulu