Page images

tion, does more for the temporal happiness of the child, than if he left him heir to millions, without an inclination to use his wealth for the benefit of mankind. Let it not be supposed, that I am urging upon all to give large sums in charity, or to teach their children to do so. That would be absurd and impossible. But all should devote an important portion of their means--a portion which costs them time, or labor, or something which they value. The widow's two mites teach more than could be fully detailed in a volume.

Perhaps it will be said, that the course here recommended would exhaust the community by charitable donations. Far from it. If this course were universally pursued, the community would be enriched in a manner hitherto unexampled in the world. If all the poor exerted themselves to lay up money for charity, they would insensibly and before they were aware of it, emerge from poverty. They would never be found in a grog-shóp, or at the gaming table. The way, in which much of the money necessary to reform the world is to be procured, is by saving. More than fifty millions of dollars, which have been annually wasted by the people of the United States for these ten years past, might have been saved, without abridging one rational enjoyment; and this enormous sum might have been employed in charity without diminishing the wealth of the country, or lessening the happiness of a single individual. It would indeed have increased the happiness of many millions. The time is coming when these truths will be felt; let children

be taught to feel them now. The time is coming when the numberless millions now squandered, in debauchery, excess, and especially in war, will no longer be perverted to fill this world with tears and blood, with agony and despair, and to people the world of perdition; let children be taught to act with a particular design to bring about that time as quick as possible.

On the activity which ought to pervade the life of a Christian, surely little need be said. Shall he sleep at his post at such a season as this? Shall he fold his hands, and idly gaze around in harvest time--the harvest time of the world? Shall he educate his children to be spectators, lifeless spectators, rather than actors in the wonderful events of the present day? Every talent ought now to be employed to the utmost. He that has the head to contrive, the tongue and the pen to persuade, or the hands to execute, should be on the alert, and make no compromise with ease and indolence. No habit of honestly acquiring property, of instructing the ignorant, of admonishing the vicious, should be suffered to subside. The wisdom of age and the ardor of youth should form a holy combination, and all the powers and faculties of the body and mind should be dedicated to the grand design of reforming mankind, by producing in each circle of influence these good effects; which, if produced in ev ery circle, would form the great consummation so often men


4. To piety, self-denial, and beneficence must be added courage. Bold must be the

man, and in the highest degree resolute and persevering, who is completely fitted to be the most useful at the present day. In order to instil suitable courage into the minds of the young, nothing will avail without a paramount regard to the authority of God. In a mind where such a regard exists, it will be practicable to form a habit of disregarding the opinions and maxims of the world. The youth in our public seminaries of learning should be especially guarded on this head. They should, as far as possible, be made superior to any temptation which can be offered by a regard to the applauses or the votes of the people. It is indeed to be most deeply lamented, that, in consequence of the depravity of man, the grand feature of an elective government should become the most universal and powerful means of corruption; and that the exertions of the wisest and the best of men should be so often limited, paralyzed and crushed, by the corrupt influence of the weakest and the worst. Such however is the fact. The only remedy, so far as human means are referred to, is to form a combination of able, independent, upright men, who are perfectly willing to forego all popular honors, for the sake of promoting the present and eternal happiness of their fellow creatures. Let me not be supposed to sanction under the name of courage, a proud, selfsufficient disregard of the feelings, or even of the prejudices or vices, of the world. The courageous man may be as conciliating in his manners, as inoffensive in his deportment, as

affectionate and mild in his temper, as can possibly be desired by any one; but he may not yield to a temporizing policy; he may not surrender the great interests of virtue; he may not cease to defend them, for the sake of all the honors and rewards which the whole world could bestow. Let courage be added, then, to the list of necessary qualifications on the part of the young, if they expect to serve God and their generation faithfully.

I intended to have added a few words, on the encourage. ments to such a course as is here recommended; but must defer them to another opportu nity. AGENOR.


THE following account of an association of gentlemen in one of our large cities, formed for the purpose of instructing the poor and ignoraut, was communicated in a letter to the Editor of the Panoplist; and is transcribed for insertion, as worthy of the consideration of benevolent persons in other similar places.

OUR Society was first formed with the general object of devising plans of usefulness, and executing them, as far as our means would enable us. At first it consisted of but few members. It has, however, been enlarged at different periods till the pres ent time, when it consists of forty.

Its attention was directed to the suburbs of the city, and for a while to the children of the alms-house. In the suburbs prayer meetings were established with a view to give an opportunity of social worship to those

who would be otherwise destitute of the privilege. For the children in the alms-house a catechising school was formed, at which about sixty children were instructed in the principles of religion. At this school the members of the Society instructed in rotation; at the prayer-meetings we frequently had the assistance of the different clergy men in the city, and at times the services of a preacher who was supported by the Society, aided by the donations of their friends. When we could not avail our selves of the assistance of the clergy, the members of the Society conducted these meetings. In the course of two years from the first formation of the Society, one of the prayer-meetings was relinquished in conse. quence of the building of a church, and the settlement of a minister in the immediate vicinity. The other prayer-meeting was not sufficient to call into exercise the active exertions of the members of the Society, and it became desirable to enlarge our plan of proceedings. In imitation of the Evangelical Society of Philadelphia, we turned our attention to the children of the suburbs, and with very little difficulty succeeded in establishing five catechetical schools, to which for the last eighteen months we have principally confined our attention. At times we have had in the different schools as many as 600 children of both sexes; and as the number has been continually changing by frequent removals, and by the dismissal of those who have completed the course allotted to them, we have probably given instruction to at least 1200

children in all. The greater part of these had no other means of gaining religious knowledge.

As an incitement to good conduct and diligent application, Bibles, Tracts, and other books have been distributed among them, and we are convinced by thorough inquiry that in general these presents have been highly valued, and read with attention. Our custom has been to meet with them one afternoon in each week, and in addition to the Westminster and other catechisms, we have taught them Watts's Hymns and select passages of Scripture.

We are convinced from our experience and observation, that there is no object more worthy of the pious in populous places, than that which we have been pursuing. All laymen are capable of teaching the catechism, whereas few comparatively have a suitable talent, a sufficient confidence, to lead in mixed assemblies for social worship. No remarks are necessary to confirm the generally received opinion, that youthful minds are the most susceptible of impressions in religion as in all other things.

The free schools of New England, as well in the larger as in the smaller towns, furnish excellent opportunities for exertions of this kind: and the happiest effects might be expected from the faithful efforts of a few men of zeal and judgment, in the different places where these schools are established.

Among the benefits of these institutions, that of affording a favorable opportunity for the distribution of Bibles and religious tracts is very considerable. The recipients of these presents may

[blocks in formation]

them; may have the importance of them urged; and may be questioned as to their fidelity in attending to them: whereas in general, when a Bible, or a tract, is presented, the receiver is left to himself to select plain or intricate passages, or to neglect the gift altogether.

As to the result of our exertions, I can only say, that we have felt ourselves greatly encouraged, in the serious attention and tender interest with which our instructions have been received. We feel confident, that, on the minds of many, impressions have been made, which will not be erased; and that some will become habituated to reflection, who otherwise would have been left to their own corrupt desires, and to the baneful influence of corrupt examples.

The consequences of general exertion for the moral and religious improvement of the young in the lower walks of life would be

equally interesting to the Christian and the patriot. Many

thousands, now left to ignorance and corruption, would be trained up for useful citizens; and many, who now perish in ignorance and vice, would be ransomed from the grave and made partakers of immortal felicity.

Christians profess to be devoted to the cause of their Savior, and doubtless many are sincere in their profession. But why should the many opportunities of promoting the Savior's cause be overlooked, or wilfully neglected, when if rightly improved they would not only be the means of glorifying God, and doing good to men, but of adding to the temporal enjoyment and celestial blessedness of those who thus turned them to a good account?

The minds of the members of our different churches have been much drawn to this subject. Within a few months an association of the most respectable females of the city has commenced the catechetical instruction of the children of the free school. They weekly instruct in the principles of religion about 900 children, otherwise in general destitute of the means of Christian knowledge..

[blocks in formation]

friends, who were endeared to you by many kind offices, by a long intimacy, and by the ties of blood and affection. They have been summoned away from this world, and have entered upon an unchangeable state. You remain a while on earth, and have duties to perform, one of the greatest of which is, to make a suitable use of your bereavement. On the topics hereafter stated, the writer has often dwelt not without profit, as he hopes; and perhaps it is not too much to hope, that they may be profitable to others.

1. One of the first and most natural inquiries, on the death of a near connexion, is, How was the deceased affected while living by the intercourse of those who now survive? Or, to bring the inquiry home to each individual, how was he affected by his intercourse with me? Was he improved or injured, made happy or uncomfortable, by my conversation and example? Has my life, so far as he was affected ay it, been of a nature calculated o lead him to heaven, or to prevent his going thither? Did my influence tend to make him selfish, proud, worldly minded, and to alienate him from God, or to make him disinterested, humble, heavenly minded, and to unite him to his Maker and Redeemer? He was my father. Was I obedient, faithful, and devoted to his service, so far as that service was conformable to the law of God? He was my brother. Did I live with him in the culti vation of all that fraternal affecsion, which is so desirable, which is so pressing a duty, between relatives in that near connexion? She was my mother. Did I renVOL. IX.

der her that honor and love, that kindness and complacency, which the Scriptures require, and which are necessary to the happiness of a parent? She was my wife. Did I shew her that tenderness and love, in all the varying circumstances of life, to which she was entitled? Does my conscience reproach me in none of these things? Or, on the contrary, am I pricked to the heart when I call to mind the peevish words, the unkind actions, the bad examples, which have too much abounded in my conduct? How many hundreds of idle words, how. many thousands indeed, do I wish had nev er been spoken? How much . have I done and said, which I would give every thing in my power to have undone and unsaid. How gladly would I change my conduct, and repair, so far as might be possible, the evil tendency of my example, if the deceased could be restored to life. O the responsibility of having contributed to form an immortal soul an enemy to God, and to perpetuate that character in the person of one who was near to me, and who had every claim upon my benevolent wishes and efforts. If not so bad as is here described, yet how different has my conduct toward the deceased been, from what it ought to have been. How little of my conver sation has been employed upon religion; how much of it has been engrossed by the world. How little strength and encouragement to a life of piety has my deceased friend derived from me; and how often has he been impeded and entangled in his course by my wayward, or at best best unprofitable, influence?


« PreviousContinue »