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remarked that she had felt an unusual solicitude about the early religious education of that child; how and when she should begin, and what should be the first lesson it received. My mind seemed to fix on the last idea. The first lesson in religious instruction! and I thought it by no means an unimportant subject. The first idea a child receives is the first link of an endless chain, thought succeeding thought. Its first idea of religion is the beginning of a series of thoughts and feelings, according to the moral character of which it is to be condemned or acquitted at the last day. Mind, in every stage of it existence, possesses the same powers and susceptibilities; these are essential to its entity, and constitute its capacity of producing and receiving impressions. Without touching the question whether it first acts, or is acted upon, it is certain that there are no innate ideas in the mind. It comes to us as ignorant as the clay in which it dwells; it is helpless and dependent. It literally knows not any thing of itself, of the world in which it lives, or of that for which it is a candidate. Necessity and observation will soon lead it to the use of its limbs, and the exercise of its animal powers; and it may acquire a considerable amount of useful knowledge without our instruction. Its intellectual powers will also be laid under contribution to its wants, and without any particular attention or effort on our part, it will make considerable advances in the onward march of mind. But its moral culture must be the result of mind acting on mind; and as soon as it becomes the subject of this operation, its religious education is begun. Surrounding objects are perpetually, though perhaps imperceptibly exerting their influence, and producing their appropriate impressions on this susceptible being. Before it can imitate an articulate sound, it can understand the looks, the tones, and the actions of others; and according to the nature of these influences will be the character of the impression produced. The first moral impression a child receives is its first lesson on religion; and this first idea is the foundation on which we are to base the superstructure of all future moral training. The habit of prayer, and a sense of dependence on God, may be taught to a child before it can learn any thing preceptively. Let then the pious mother, who feels that first impressions are the most durable, take the object of her solicitude with her when she goes to her heavenly Father, even before it can lisp his name. Let it kneel by her side while she commends it to his care, and asks those things which are needful for the body and the soul. The habit so early formed will not be easily broken; and as soon as it can receive ideas from words, let it be taught, from the parental relation, its dependence on God, whom it cannot see, but who is its absent Father. It is of the highest importance that the first religious instruction a child receives should be adapted to its capacity; the idea simple, and not too large for its little mind to receive without effort; the language such as it can understand, and that we use no superfluous words; the illustration something with which it is familiar; the time the most favorable that can be selected, and the manner such as will have a tendency to render the perception distinct and lucid, and give the idea a permanent lodgement in the mind. New York, April 6, 1833.

ΙοΤΑ. .

88

TO A YOUNG MOTHER.

For the Mother's Magazine.

TO A YOUNG MOTHER.

LETTER T.

Dear Mrs. K.-Excuse me, if I have not given your letter that prompt attention it merited. The fact is, I have so deeply felt my inability to satisfy you properly on the subject of your inquiry, that I hesitated to comply with your request. It is no easy task to bring up children for God, that is, for usefulness in this world, and happiness in the next. To give advice on such a subject, perhaps direction to the mind of a young mother, is an office of such responsibility, that I would shrink from it, were it not that I feel it a duty due to the orphan daughter of one who in early life was to me a friend, a mother. You, dear Mary, are in truth the younger sister of my heart; and with a sister's openness I would render back to you some of the instructions I received from our dear mother, added to the experience of a life spent in the instruc. tion of youth. This perhaps may best be done by giving you some of the details of my own life, with which, owing to the little intercourse we have had in late years, you are wholly unacquainted.

Thrown from early infancy upon the protection of your mother, by the death of my poor widowed parent, she was to my desolate orphan heart the first object of reverence and love. The first traits I remember in her character were truth and kindness. She never, by any deception, sought to gain the consent of her children to what was disagreeable. Her commands were kindly given, were reasonable and irrevocable.

While yet a child, I was easily convinced that my happiness was connected with her requirements; and if at any time a wayward thought appeared in my countenance, my dear benefactress would fold me in her arms, and by her kind reasonings subdue the rebellions of my infant heart.

As I grew older, I understood this treatment better, and in my own mind often applied to her what was said of Fabricius, that the sun might as easily be turned from his course, as she from truth and duty. This uprightness sometimes clashed with my sinful inclinations; but the gentle and affectionate manner in which she brought scripture to my conscience, melted me, and at once won me to duty. This dear woman, as you know, was the mother of four children, before your birth ; and I, poor happy orphan, was the acknowledged sister of these sweet ones. They were all cut down almost in infancy; but I well remember that no foolish indulgence of the survivors followed the loss of any. Your mother, while bowing submissively under the chastening rod, felt that she was training immortal spirits for the courts of the heavenly King.

The last lovely little boy was extremely passionate in his temper, though remarkably affectionate. The mother saw and wept, and prayed, while she corrected. This she since told me: her heart was full of anguish, but she did her duty, relying upon God. And God took the loved one when three years and a half old, giving the bereaved mother assurance that the heart of her little boy was turned to divine things even at that tender age, and filled with love to the blessed Jesus. Prayer had seemed his particular delight for some months; God and heaven the theme of his childish prattle; and the last accents

TRIBUTE OF AFFECTION TO A DECEASED MOTHER.

89

of his infant tongue were, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Mrs. P. often said to me after his death, “How wise and kind is my heavenly Father! My prayer for dear Henry was, that he might be kept from the sins of wild passion, be subdued by grace, and brought to glory. Oh! how I feared and prayed for him; and now my prayers are answered. Even so, dear Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight.”

These details, you, dear Mary, could not have had from your mother at the tender

age
in which

you lost her, and it now gives me pleasure to place before you, a young mother, these simple recollections of your own pious and consistent parents. This beloved woman was called home when you were in your ninth, and I in my twentieth year. Her death was sudden, and the last accent of her dying tongue committed her motherless child to God. I recall this to your remembrance, my sister, to encourage you to persevere in the path of duty.

You ask what I think of the indulgence of very young children, whether some things may not be allowed them until they can be made to understand them to be wrong? Whether it is not best sometimes to cheat them into compliance, rather than to enforce obedience? You are, you say, often obliged to lie down with little Julia, and pretend to sleep, to induce her to do the same. The pious Robert Hall, upon hearing a mother make a similar declaration, asked, “whether she wished her child to become a liar?” Acting a lie is in itself as immoral as telling one; a very little child will soon perceive this departure from truth in its mother; and how fearful this influence over the young susceptible heart! The barrier between right and wrong will be thrown down, falsehood will take the place of truth, and evil of good, in the infant mind.

My dear friend, in your youth and inexperience you probably do not realize all these terrible consequences, and how should you? She who would have instructed and given a right direction to your thoughts and actions, is no more, and your heart rests with intense affection on your two sweet babes. You yourself are but a babe in Christ. It is, I think, only one year since you wrote me respecting this change in your affections. I must confess this emboldens me to be plain; for I write to a follower of him who called himself the truth; to a dear sister who seeks to be led in the way of truth, while she is endeavoring to lead her little ones in the way they should go. It is a great matter to begin education aright; to this I desire to press your attention. The deplorable consequences of a mistake here, I have seen in the management of a family where I made my first essay in teaching. In my next letter I will give you the history of this family. I am sure it will set the subject in a clearer light than any thing I could say. Yours, affectionately,

ZELIA.

For the Mother's Magazine. TRIBUTE OF AFFECTION TO A DECEASED MOTHER.

Madam-I am about to embark upon the mighty ocean for the benefit of my health, which has been sacrificed to an unwarrantable ambition for literary attainments, and by over exertion in pursuing at the same time a laborious occupation. As I have but a faint prospect of recovery, or even of living to return to my friends, I wish to leave behind me a tribute of affection and grati

90

TRIBUTE OF AFFECTION TO A DECEASED MOTHER.

tude to the memory of my excellent mother. If consistent, you will confer a favor upon a grateful son, by giving it a place in your truly valuable Magazine.

Having passed through the most critical and dangerous period of human existence, and the trials incident to a college life, and having had the opportunity of three or four years' experience and observation of mankind, I find it extremely interesting and instructive to look back and trace the influence of maternal love and tenderness, which was exerted only in my childhood and infancy, as it was my misfortune to be deprived of this best of earthly friends at the age of twelve years; but the influence of her instructions and example will, I trust, be felt, and I hope joyfully recognized, throughout eternity. My mother was devoutly pious. While her children were young, she followed the precepts of Solomon, by training them up in the way they should go, leaving the result to the power and goodness of a merciful God. Her prayers were almost ceaseless; and as soon as her children began to lisp, she taught them to employ their infant breath in prayer and praise to their great Creator and their Redeemer.

The instruction she gave to me commenced sometime before Sabbath schools were extensively known in our country; the Bible was her text-book; and it is believed that a Sabbath never was suffered to pass, when she was able to attend to me, but that my lesson was read and explained. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, which she considered as containing a summary of the doctrines and duties of the Bible, she taught me, at a very early period, and so faithfully, that it was rendered nearly as familiar to my mind as my alphabet. The influence which this excellent compendium exerted on my mind and feelings in after years, in forming my character and fixing my habits, leads me to regret that in the modern instruction of children and youth this little work is so entirely set aside, that it is to be feared many children of very pious parents have seldom, if ever, heard that such a book was in existence.

Never shall I forget a scene which passed in my mother's closet the evening before I left the paternal roof to go to a distant academy. Although but

of

age, I well remember the voice and the spirit with which she fervently addressed the throne of grace, for the protection and prosperity of her son. This, her last blessing, which she pronounced with streaming eyes, and a melting heart, rings in my ears, as if the sweet accents still lingered upon her faltering lips. After

my mother's death, as I increased in years, her counsels began to be better understood, and were more highly appreciated; but as youth advanced, temptations and allurements were often placed in my path, so that I have more than once been forced, as it were, into the very snares of death. My mother's instructions were, however, so deeply rooted in my mind, that they could not lose their hold upon my heart and conscience. Often, when I came near joining in some rash or wicked design, this thought has come over me: “Perhaps the spirit of my sainted mother now knows my thoughts, and sees my actions; and if she were upon earth, how would she feel in view of my

danger?"

This thought has often withheld me from a ruinous course, While a member of college, the enticements to sin, by means of trifling and wicked companions, became almost irresistible; but the retraining grace of God,

eleven years

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through the medium of a mother's undying love, closed the door of my heart against the admission of vice, and withheld my feet from going in the pathway of the destroyer. I confess that it was wrong, but the fact is undeniable, that I was often more influenced by the reflection that the eye of my mother rested upon me, than from a sense of the omnipresence of the Deity. In maturer years this same impression has followed me in the various walks of life, till I have become convinced, that the precepts and examples of parents have an influence far beyond our highest thoughts or conceptions. About two years since, I hope and trust the prayers of my dear mother were answered for her only son, in his conversion to God. I have no doubt, in the retributions of eternity she will enjoy the reward of her faithfulness on earth.

I. T. W.

I have many a

For the Mother's Magazine.

PARENTAL INCONSISTENCY. At a prayer meeting not long since, a friend presented the case of her child as a special subject of prayer. A revival had recently commenced, and many young persons were anxiously inquiring the way of salvation, but with tears in her eyes, she said, “I fear my Julia is becoming more and more careless about her soul.” I inquired if her daughter attended religious meetings. "O no," said she, “the dancing school is on the same evening as the prayer meeting, and I cannot persuade her to give up this favorite amusement." I was about to express my surprise that she should permit this, but she interrupted me by saying, “ All her companions attend, and she was so desirous to go, that I thought it would be better to indulge her in going a few times, than to make her angry by keeping her at home.

Young people must have some amusement. I remember how it used to be with me. I always thought it would have been better if my parents had indulged me a little more. time deceived them, and stolen away to parties and balls. Besides, one loves to have her daughters genteel; and I do not see how this can be, if they do not mix with the world.” In reply, I ventured a remark of Lady Glenorchy, that it was “difficult if not impossible for a young lady to acquire the smart, polished air of a person of fashion, without sacrificing some things of much greater value, and that the spirit of vanity and emulation thus awakened in the young mind leads to an increased dislike of the simple truths of the gospel,” As she remained silent, I added, that the command was not to initiate a child in the ways of the world, but it was, “Train up a child in the way he should go;" and that of Abraham it was said, that "he commanded his househbold to walk in the ways of righteousness.As I returned home, I could not but reflect upon

the conversation that had passed, and upon the great inconsistency which some parents manifest. They profess much anxiety for the conversion of their children, and yet by their conduct seem to say that they consider external accomplishments, rather than internal purity, the "one thing needful.” Upon reviewing the history of some of my early friends, I could not but acknowledge the justness of an observation I once heard : “ Parents do really have what they desire most for their children.” The case of Mrs. I— presented to my

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