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But the chief good that we hope for from Dr. Hibbard's book, is the stirring up of Christian parents, and the Church generally, to seek more earnestly than ever the salvation of the children, and to cultivate with more of faith and hope the earliest indications of religious thought and feeling among them. No one that reads it will fail to feel more deeply our obligations to encourage them to serve God in their childhood. The Sabbath-school and the religious training of the family circle are too often conducted with the expectation of seeing the fruits not now, but hereafter. Sowing upon the waters and gathering after many days has been the favorite figure. The husbandman, with his "long patience," waiting for the early and the latter rain, has been our oft-quoted exemplar. Indeed, there are many cases to which these passages apply, and where they furnish much needed encouragement. But have we not too often assumed virtually, especially when teaching young children, that there is little or no hope of reaping a present harvest? Why may not a very little child be truly religious? An infant whose age is a single twelvemonth, is capable both of feeling and of manifesting confidence, love, and the spirit of obedience; and these elements of character and conduct, elevated, deepened, purified, centered on God, constitute true piety. God is unseen, and, therefore, piety toward him cannot exist as early as do reverence and love for parents. The child must be taught. It must acquire a knowledge of that which lies beyond the range of the eye, the ear, the hand. The mind must be put in possession of the great idea of God, his being, his works, his attributes, his attitude toward men, before the heart can love. Consequently there must be some knowledge of the signification of words, in order that these great first truths may be learned. Yet the child scarcely emerges from infancy before he becomes capable of receiving the elements of this knowledge; and just as soon as he acquires even a dim and shadowy conception of the infinite idea, he may know and feel that it is his duty to believe, love, and obey, and in his heart may yield to the demand. His duty toward his earthly father shows him the nature of his duty toward his Father in heaven. The same faith, love, obedience, centered on the divine instead of the human, constitute true piety, and place the soul in communion with God.
In the one case, it is as a vine trailing on the ground, and clinging to objects on a level, with itself; in the other it is the same vine, twined about its true support, and with every day's growth rising higher into the sunbeams and the summer breeze. The faith, the love, the obedience of the adult Christian will be more intelligent and less imperfect than the child's; but who shall say that they are, therefore, less real, or less acceptable to God? When the father returns home after a week's absence, his children do not all greet him in the same way. The daughter of twenty years meets him with intelligent words and with a face beaming with pleasure. The boy of six or eight years rushes up to him with a noisy shout of childish rapture. The infant of a year has no words of welcome, nothing but a smile, an inarticulate murmur of joy, and a feeble pressure of two little arms about his neck. But who shall tell which is the most acceptable to him who receives these tokens of love? The child of six years has a deeper, more intelligent, abiding affection than the infant; the daughter of twenty excels the boy of six as much as he excels the infant; but the parental heart responds to each and all with the same fullness of happiness. And so to our great Father above, the lofty adoration of the thoughtful sage, the ardent devotion of impulsive youth, and the wondering reverence and timid awe of the little child, may be equally acceptable.
Have we not been slow to believe this? Have we not by our neglect, our unbelief, our silence, when we ought to have spoken words of cheer, suffered many a beautiful opening germ of piety to be blasted? Has not many an infant soul heard in the darkness of its own scanty knowledge, like the child Samuel of old, a divine voice, and wist not that it was God speaking to him? And have we not been so unbelieving, or so unmindful of spiritual indications, that unlike Eli, we failed to perceive that "the LORD had called the child?"
To at least the superficial observer, it seems as if even some pious parents take it for granted that Satan has a sort of preemption right to the soul of a child; and that religion is so foreign to it, that the young immortal is capable of attaining enormous heights of wickedness long before conversion is at all possible. We all admit that the undeveloped intellect and scanty knowledge of the child do not prevent him from acting
out the sinner at a very early period, nor prevent his falling into condemnation for his own acts; but the misfortune is, that we seem to assume that it must be so, that the child must of necessity live for years under the dominion of depravity; that a child's profession of repentance and faith must be regarded with great suspicion, and weighed in a very nice balance; and that as a rule, from fifteen to eighteen years of life must be lost before religious experience is reliable. This error, whether theoretical or practical, is prolific in evil results. Wherever it exists, it prevents parents from seeking the early conversion of their children; and worst of all, the child gets the impression that he is not expected to be religious till some years hence, and so shakes off serious thoughts and quenches the Spirit. But are not the heart and the intellect which are capable of sin, also capable of obedience? Must grace always of necessity take souls at second hand, worn and rent in the service of the world, the flesh, and the devil? Some insects spend a good portion of their brief lives as unseemly grubs, blind, ravenous, reveling in loathsome food, before the eyes open and the wings start. Must the immortal soul of man thus surrender the precious years of early youth to blindness and spiritual death, because nothing else is possible? No, we cannot admit it. No part of human life is given up of God to the dominion of Satan. God claims as his own every hour of our existence. Depravity may show itself very early, and so may divine grace. The one is as prompt to lift toward heaven, as the other is to drag downward toward hell. The child who is old enough to be capable of sinning, is also capable of repenting and believing. But they who repent and believe are forgiven, and become children of God and heirs of the kingdom. He who is old enough to be a sinner, is old enough to be a Christian. Consequently there need be no interval of sin and condemnation between the gracious state of the unconscious infant and the acceptance of the believer; for in the same hour that the child becomes capable of forfeiting, by sin, his first title to heaven, he becomes capable of attaining another by faith in the Son of God.
In his seventh chapter, our author, on the principle that facts are the best arguments by which to sustain a theory, cites numerous examples of genuine piety in very early life. The
childhood of Christ is adduced as a type of what we should hope and pray for in all our children. Samuel, Timothy, Polycarp, Origen, with others of more modern times, are brought forward as examples. Of these, the most striking case, because most definite in regard to age, is that of Polycarp. When ninety years of age, being threatened with death for his religion, and yet offered his life if he would renounce it by cursing Christ, he replied to his persecutors, "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he hath done me nothing but good, and how could I curse him, my Lord and Saviour? If you would know what I am, I tell you frankly, I am a Christian." At four years of age, therefore, he began the Christian life. Our author's list of examples might be very easily enlarged. Old Fox, in his Book of Martyrs, gives one instance which ought not to be forgotten. At Antioch, in November, in the year 303, a little boy was seized for the crime of confessing Christ and speaking against idols. When the question was put to him by the furious persecutor, "Who taught you this?" he replied, "My mother, with whose milk I drank in this lesson, that I must believe in Christ." This child was scourged till even the heathen spectators wept; yet he bore it all without a He smiled when the executioner tore the scalp from his head, and died clinging to the blessed truths of the Gospel, which his pious mother had taught him. Was he not a Christian? Yet the historian tells us that he was only seven years old.
In his "Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in Northampton," which occurred in 1735, Jonathan Edwards remarks that "God in his work has shown a remarkable regard to little children. Never was there such a glorious work among persons in their childhood." During this revival, religious meetings were held by the children, who themselves conducted the exercises. Mr. Edwards approved of these meetings, and in his volume defended them, declaring that many of these children had "more of that knowledge and wisdom that please God, than many of the great and learned men of the world." He relates at considerable length the experience of Phoebe Bartlett, a little girl of four years and four months of age, who, after many prayers, and many seasons of weeping, could at last say with a joyous countenance, "The kingdom of God is
come to me," and who served God sixty-five years, and then "fell on sleep." Who is not ready to conclude, as did Edwards, after he had witnessed these things, that "there is not so much difference, before God, between children and grown persons as we are apt to imagine?" Dr. Hoge, of Virginia, who died many years ago, was accustomed to declare that "he could not remember the time when he did not love the Lord." Blessed experience! Would that all the children of praying parents might share it.
In conclusion, we wish to repeat the declaration that we deem Dr. Hibbard's book an able discussion of one of the most important themes which the modern Church is called to consider. The volume is worthy to be read by every Christian parent. The subject demands earnest attention and careful study on the part of those who minister in holy things, and who desire to be workmen that need not to be ashamed, and to them we commend this volume. Differing with the author, perhaps, in regard to the application of a technical term, or in some theoretical point, they cannot but admire the religious spirit, the patient research, the thoughtfulness, the earnestness, the love for God, the Church, and souls, apparent on every page, nor will they fail to find much to quicken their own zeal, and guide them in the performance of their own duty to the most attractive and promising portion of the Gospel field.
ART. VI.—THE MEDICAL PROFESSION.
The Genuine Works of Hippocrates, translated from the Greek, with a Preliminary Discourse and Annotations. By FRANCIS ADAMS, LL. D., Surgeon. In two volumes, pp. 872. London: Printed for the Sydenham Society. 1849. PROFESSIONAL life has a tendency to withdraw those devoted to it from sympathy with the general community, by absorbing their attention in interests exclusively their own. This is evident, particularly from the literature, both permanent and periodical, belonging to each of the professions. Few but clergymen read the profoundest theological books; a large