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What miseries, Lord, did I experience, when I was directed, in the plan of my education, to obey my teachers, in order to the acquisition of that knowledge, which might be subservient to the attainment of false riches, and honour ? Yet, I sinned, O Lord, who ordainest all things except our sins ---I sinned in rebelling against the orders of parents and masters. That literature, which they wished me acquire, with whatever intention, was yet capable of being applied to a good use. My disobedience arose not from the love of better things, but from the love of play, and a fondness for games and shews. Behold, Lord, these things with an eye of mercy, and deliver us who now call on thee ; deliver also those, who do not call on thee as yet, that they may call on thee, and experience thy deliverance. · I had heard, from childhood, of the eternal life promised unto us through the humility of the Lord our God condescending to our pride. Thou sawest, when I was yet a boy, aud seemed to be on the brink of death through a sudden and violent pain of the stomach, with what eagerness I begged Christian baptism from the charity of my mother and of the Church, My mother, who travailed in birth for eternal salvation, herself possessed of very lively faith and hope in thee, was hastening to comply with my desires, that I might wash away my sins, confessing thee, O Lord Jesus, when I was suddenly recovered to health. A relapse into presumptuous sin, after baptism, being judged more dangerous, and the prosa pect of life admitting too great a probability of such relapse, my baptism was deferred. Thus did I at that time believe in Christ, my father being the only infidel in our family.' My mother was sedulous, that thou shouldest be my Father, rather than he, and in this she was favoured with thy help : obedient as she was to her husband by the command, 'in this point she prevailed over him. :: Was the delay of my baptism for my benefit? What is the cause, that we hear every where such sounds as these, LET HIM DO WHAT HE WILL, HE IS NOT YET BAPTIZED. How much better for me, had I been, in more early life, initiated into the fold of Christ ?*
The narrative before us may justly be called a history of the usual operations of the Spirit of God on his people. Convictions in early life, on remarkable occasions, are common among these, and usually wear away, as in the case of Augustine. The examples of Constantine and Constantius deferring their baptism, seem to have made the practice fashionable, not from any idea of the unlawfulness of infant-baptism, but from the selfish and pernicious notions, which he has stated. No wonder that he, who justly thought that biş own soul had suffered much by the delay, was afterwards a strenuous assertor of the expediency of more early baptism,
Yet, in childhood itself, though little dreaded by my mother, in comparison of the dangers of youth, I was indolent, and I improved in learning only through necessity. A false secular ambition was the only motive laid before me by my teachers ; but thou, who numberest the hairs of our heads, improvedst their error to my advantage, while thou justly punishedst the great sins of so young an offender by their corrections. The learning, which with no holy intention they taught me, was sanctified by thee, and my guilty laziness was scourged. So hast thou ordained, that a mind disordered by sin, should be its own punishment.
But why I hated Greek literature, in which I was instructed when very young, I do not even yet sufficiently understand. For I was fond of Latin learning, not indeed the first rudiments, but those things which classical masters teach. To read, and write, and learn arithmetic, would have been as severe drudgery to my spirit, as all the Greek literature. I lay this also to the account of native depravity, which prefers the worse, and rejects the better. The uses of reading, writing, and arithmetic, are obvious; not so the study of the wanderings of Æneas, which I attended to, while I forgat my own :—and of what use was it to deplore the self-murdering Dido? while yet I could bear unmoved the death of my own soul, alienated from thee in these pursuits,- from thee, my God, my life. Othou light of my beart, and bread of my inward man, and true husband of my soul, I loved thee not, I committed fornication against thee, and (such the spirit of the world,) I was applauded with “well done,” on all sides ; and I. should have been ashamed to have been found other. wise disposed. Yet the friendship of the world is fornication against thee.. This is the kind of literature which has arrogated to itself the name of polite and liberal. Learning of real utility is looked on as low and vulgar. Thus, in my childhood, did I sin by a vicious preference. Two and two make four, was to me an odious sing-song; but the wooden horse, the burning of Troy, and the ghost of Creusa, were most enchanting spectacles of vanity. Yet why did I hate Greek literature, when employed on the same sort of objects ? Homer is most agreeably triding: to me, however, when a boy, he was by no means agreeable. I
suppose Virgil would be the same to Grecian youths, on account of the difficulties of learning a foreigu language. Discipline is needful to over come our puerile sloth; and this also is part of thy government of thy creatures, O God, for the purpose of restraining our sinful impetuosity. From the ferulas of masters to the trials of mariyrs, thy wholesome severities may be traced, which tend to recal us to thee from that pernicious voluptuousness, by which we departed from thee. 7.,
Hear, O Lord, my prayer, "let not mỳ soul faint under thy discipline, nor let me faint in confessing to thee thy nèrcies, by which "thiou hast delivered me from all my own evil ways, that thou mayest endear thyself to me, above all the blandishments, which I was following, and that I may love the most ardently, and embrace thy hand with all my heart, that thou mayest free me from all temptation, even to the end. For, lo!
my King and my God, may whatever useful thing I learnt when a boy serve thee; may what I speak, and read, and number, serve thee, because while I was learning vain things, thou gavest me thy discipline, and in those vain things forgavest the sins of my delights. “ For in them I learnt many useful words, though they might have been learned, abstracted from this connexion with vanity.
Alas! the torrent of human custom ! who shall resist thee? How long will it be, ére thou be dried up? How long wilt thou roll the sons of Eve into a great and tempestuous sea, which even they, who have fled for refuge to the cross, can scarce escape! Have I not read in thee of Jove, at once the thunderer and the adulterer? What is this, but to teach men to call their crimés no crimes, while they have the sanction of gods, whom they imitate ? Terence introduces a profligate young man justifying his lewdness by the example of Jove, while he beholds a picture on the wall of Jupiter and Danae, * and excites himself to lust, as by divine tuition. SHALL IC ĐO THESE THINGS, WHO SHAKES 'HEAVEN WITH US Thur. ĐÊR? AND MAY NOT I, A POOR 'MORTAL, DO THE SAME ? Yet I, my God, now indulged by thy grace, to behold thee in peace, learnt/these things with pleasure, was deliglited with them, and was called a boy of promising genius. The motives of praise and disgrace then spurred on my restless lieart to literary exertions. What acclamations were made to a puerile exercise of mine, oki a particular occasion! Were not all these things smoke and wind? Was there not another way of exercising my talents, in celebrating thy praise? But wliat wonder that I departed from thee, my God, when men ivere proposed to me, as objects of imitation, who would blush to be detected in a barbarism or solecism, in reciting their own actions, though innocent, and, at the same time, might recite
the story of their own lewdness, not only with impunity, but even with commendation, provided they did so with a copious and elegant flow of diction? O thou God of long-suffering, who permittest men thus to affront thee! Wilt thou not deliver, from this horrible pit, the soul that seeks thee, that thirsts after thy delights, and says, THY FACE, LORD, WILL I SEEK ? It was by the darkness of libidinious affection, that the younger son* went to a great distance from thee, a gracious Father, in bestowing on him thy gifts; and still more gracious to him, when returning in indigence. How studiously exact are men in observing the rules of letters and syllables, while they neglect the rules of eternal salvation! Thou dwellest on high in inaccessible light, and scatterest penal blinduess on unbridled lusts. A man shall seek the fame of eloquence, wbile, before the crowded audience, he guards against the least false pronunciation, and guards not at all against the fiercest malevolence of his own beart raging against his fellow.creatures.
In this school did I wretchedly live. To please men was then to me the height of virtue, whilst I saw not the whirlpool of baseness, in which I was cast from thine eyes. For what more filthy than I, all this time, deceiving, by innumerable falsehoods, both masters and parents, through the love of play and amusements ? I even robbed the storehouses of my pa. rents, either from the spirit of gluttony, or to bestow things agreeable to my play-fellows. In my plays, I often sought to obtain fraudulent victories, overcome by the desire of vain excellence. Yet, what should I dread so much to suffer, or be so ready to accuse in another, if detected, as that very thing which I did to others ; in which, however, if I myself was detected, I was more disposed to rage than to submit? Is this puerile innocence ? Far from it, O Lord. Change the scene only from pedagogues and masters, from nuts, and balls, and sparrows, to prefects, kings, gold, and estates, and you see the vices of men, just as heavier punishments succeed to ferulas.
Still, O Lord, in my childhood, I have much to praise thee for. Many, many were thy gifts; the sin was mine, that I sought pleasure, truth, and happiness, not in thee, but in the creatures, and thence rushed into pains, confusions, and errors. I thank thee, O my delight and confidence, for thy gifts; but do thou preserve them for me, and the things which thou bast
• Luke xv,
given me shall be increased and perfected, and I shall be with thee, because thou hast given me to be so.*
(From the Jamaica Watchman.)
At a meeting of Presbyterian ministers, held at Montego Bay, on the 10th of February, it was unanimously resolved to form themselves into a Presbytery, to be called the Jamaica Missionary Presbytery. There were seven ministers and three elders present; and nine stations were reported, for which it was considered very desirable that ministers should be procured. The Westminister Confession of Faith was proposed as the ground of union; and, after some interesting discussion, was unanimously adopted, it being understood that every one is at liberty to hold his own opinion on the subject of compulsary measures, in matters of religion.
The following passage from the charge of Lord Abinger to the Grand Jury, at the Leicester Assizes, well deserves attention :-" In looking at the calendar, he witnessed the proper discriptions of the education of the prisoners, viz., those who could read and write well, read and write imperfectly, and
• It is a very unjust surmise of Mr. Gibbon, to infer from Augustine's unwillingness to learn Greek, that he never attained the knowledge of that language; when he tells us, that he was doubtless a person of uncommon quickness of parts. His sloth and other vicious practices in childhood were, I suppose, such as are common to children. But few are disposed to look on them as serious evils. To Augustine's mind they appeared what they were,--the marks of an apostate nature. Though, since the destruction of Pagan idolatry, there is by no means the same danger of reading classic authors, yet how justly blameable is the practice of leading boys so much to lewd poets, instead of acquainting them with the more solid excellencies of many proso authors ! A just selectiou of the most innocent and useful authors, and an assiduous comparison of their sentiments with those of Christianity all along, will not only guard against the poison of the classics, but instruct youth in the necessity and importance of Revelation; and school-masters, as well as children, may learn, in what we have seen, just matter of rebuke for exalting literary above moral excellence.