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PROVERBS xxii. 6.
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when
he is old he will not depart from it."
HAD these words been spoken by a heathen, they would have commended themselves to our notice and admiration, because of the staid good sense and practical wisdom in which they are set.
But they are robed with divinity. They bear the imprimatur (the stamp of authority) of the only-wise God. They were given by inspiration, and are profitable. Let us satisfy ourselves as to the meaning of these words, and then act on them with the fullest assurance.
The man of science looking for footprints of the Creator on the hard pavement of stone which lies underneath the surface of the earth, is often gratified in his search, by finding imbedded, in durable cerement, the wiry skeletons and mystic forms of creatures long since dead. So the explorers after wisdom, searching as for hid treasures, the marvellous caverns and mines of Holy Scripture, are oftentimes charmed in finding signs of life, where common observers behold none. The verse of the text, this slab (if I may so speak) taken out of the Holy Mount, is imbedded with marks of life and grace. If you are a diligent and attentive reader of scripture ; if your mind is quick and sensitive; if you put forth the feelers of sympathy and concern, you will not fail to derive exquisite sensations from the study of this small portion of truth. Oh, what thoughts instinctively come up, what feelings move the heart, at that first word “train!" The difficulty, the wisdom, the tact, the care, the importance of the subject lying hid under that one word ! And the little one, the “child,” the plastic being, heir of immortality, consigned to our training! Who shall despise one of these little ones with impunity? What Christian can look on one of them without exclaiming—“Of such is the kingdom of heaven ?" And consciousness of responsibility will come over us, like the flutter of an angel's wing, bidding us speed our work, for the child of man is short lived, and visits of grace precarious.
he should go;" the little silver thread, so it appears in the distance, up the hill of difficulty ; through the strait gate! And then the way he should not go comes into sight; through the land of Ease and Self-indulgence; the wilderness of Sin, and the town of many go that road, it leads to disappointment and
The child grown old, trained aright, is before
ity. Oh, how
us; the character set; the grey hairs, with the sun shining on them, look like a crown of glory. See, he smiles, what beams of holy joy light up his wrinkled countenance ! He speaks, catch his words—“I am ready to depart.” “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.” “ Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”
But I must curb my fancy, control my feelings, and call in my thoughts. I stand here, not to please myself, but to teach you. I must therefore force my observations into a mould, which you may carry home
I will divide the subject of my exposition into two parts, and speak of the trainers and the trained.
Pray for a blessing, beloved, for though Paul may plant, and Apollos water, God only giveth the increase.
First then, I address myself to you, who have passed over the charmed circle around childhood; to you, who, by your example and influence, are the trainers of others; whether parents, masters, brothers, sisters, neighbours, or what not. Weigh well what I shall say. Throw it not down at the church door. Search the scriptures, and the records of your own commonsense and reflection, to see whether these things are so, or not; and then strive more than ever to act an honest part, honest toward God, as well as toward man. May the Evil One not be permitted, on this occasion, to take away that which is sowed in the heart.
The laws which govern mind may not seem to us to be so uniform as those which govem natter; but, no doubt, they are as fixed and as certain. The reason why we do not see this is because of the many, very many elements of confusion, which we are not able, on every particular occasion, to calculate. Perhaps angels, or spiritual beings of a higher grade, can calculate the course of our actions, with as much certainty and niceness, as our philosophers can calculate the course of a planet, or the time of an eclipse. 'Tis but a matter of gradation of intelligence. There is many a law at work amongst us which the learned man can thoroughly understand and trace, but which the rustic or the ignorant never turn their mind to think on; and, even if they did turn their mind, it would be of no avail, because of their lack of scholarship and training. The many alledged individual failures in the training of children, can never be taken as satisfactory evidence of the nullity of the law propounded in the text, until it can be proved that there has been no misconception of design ; no warping of prejudice; no remissness of duty on the side of the trainers. Who is there here that can truly say,
if he has a wayward child—“I have tried my very best to train him in the way he should go, and have failed, God is witness.” Want of success has
from sinister causes, and the ontour of your child's character has been thrown out of the line of truth by copying your faults instead of following your advice.