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or in childhood and infancy, it must soon devolve to prosecute these enterprises with a holier zeal, and with an energy invigorated by the nearer prospect of universal victory; or to abandon them and let the whole creation continue to groan and travail in pain together as until now, waiting to be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. How important then, is the conversion, the early conversion of those who are soon to act under responsibilities so momentous. Every such conversion, we may hope, will in a few years, tell on the conversion of the world. Every youth who now becomes a humble, decided, self-denying christian, will soon possess, if his life is prolonged, the energies of manhood, guided by mature devotion, and impelled by an equable and fervent zeal; and will be called to exert ihose energies, we may hope, at that critical point in the history of the world's salvation, when every mite of influence contributed to the cause of holiness, will derive an augmented value, from the instant pressure of thick-coming events.
We have already spoken of this subject in its particular connection with the pastoral office, and with the duties of the churches; but does it not illustrate the responsibility of parents, guardians, teachers, of all who are in any relation forming the principles or the habits of the young? Many such will cast their eyes over these pages, and we would remind them, that to them all these considerations address themselves with an impressive distinctness. You know the susceptibility of the youthsul mind to all impressions. You know that the impressions stamped upon the child are never wholly erased, but through all the subsequent changes of character and of circumstances, modify the thoughts, the feelings, the actions, the existence of the man. You know that, through the whole period of his immortality, there will never occur a time more favorable for impressing truth on his conscience and affections, or for the formation of a character of love and devotion towards God, than that which is now passing. You know too the plain matter of fact, that of all who ever give any evidence of having complied with those conditions of salvation which christianity propounds, the great majority are converted in early life, and in consequence of early instruction and impression ; so that if the child under your care arrives at years of maturity without christian principles and christian habits, there will remain only, as it were, a desperate chance of his ever becoming a true follower of Christ. You know too that, supposing he is to be a christian, it is of the utmost moment for him, so far as either his usefulness or his happiness in this world is concerned, that he begin bis christian career with the advantages which youth affords him, while the mental faculties have not yet taken their direction, and while the soul has not yet been fettered by inveterate habits of worldly and selfish action. You know too that
if he lives, he is to act in circumstances of various and immense responsibility; and that his conduct will have a serious bearing on the progress and the issue of that moral conflict which involves the destinies of the world. Now think of your present influence on him, in connection with his future influence on the kingdom of God; and then judge of your responsibility. You are his parents; in all probability he will be what you, directly or indirectly, make him. All the other causes combined are not ordinarily half so powerful on the child, as the instructions, the example, the spirit which breathes continually through the words and conduct of his parents. If you are faithful to your trust, if you diligently use the facilities which you have for influencing his character, the probability hardly falls short of certainty, that his character will in fact be formed under the salutary operation of religion. In proportion as you fail to exert on him an early, a steady, a consistent christian influence,
just that proportion does the probability approximate to certainty, that he will live and die a stranger to all holiness of heart. As in Timothy, the unfeigned faith that dwelt first in his grandmother Lois, and in his mother Eunice, shone out to enlighten and to bless the Gentiles, so your character, and your influence will be transmitted through your children to other ages. In them your “ faith unfeigned,” your humble and cheerful benevolence, your devotion toward God, if such be your character, may shine with a purer and holier light, glorifying God, and winning to heaven by the sweet attractiveness of love, souls yet unborn. In them, your spiritual slothfulness, your conformity to the world, your backwardness to every sacrifice, your indifference to the great and hallowed enterprises of christian benevolence, if such be your character, may become a cold, selfish, sullen, hard-hearted worldliness, despising God and heaven and hell. In them, your disregard of vital religion, your all-absorbing devotion to the things of time, your prayerlessness in the family, your occasional violation of the Sabbath and neglect of public worship, may become the very fanaticism of impiety, the bold and scornful malignity of infidelity, longing to exterminate the very form and name of true religion. In them, if they are not swept into early graves, your influence on the affairs of time will long survive your mortal existence. In them you are to live and act after your tomb stones have grown old, and when your names perhaps are cherished in no memory but theirs.
Who then can measure the responsibility of parents, or of any who have the guardianship of childhood and of youth? Their influence, whether it be good or evil, is not "interred with their bones;" it “lives after them” in the agency of others; and will still be tending to unlimited good or to incalculable evil, while they are receiving the reward of that good or evil in the world unseen.
In this connection we cannot fail to notice the dark and peculiar
atrocity of that wickedness which aims at the corruption of the young. All wickedness tends to propagate itself, by its native contagion. But there are men with whom the propagation of evil is not only a matter of course, but still more a matter of choice and calculation; men who take a fiendish pleasure in extending the principles and the practice of sin. There are men with whom it is a business to instill into the minds of others, especially of the young, such prejudices and opinions, and to excite there such passions, as will ensure their bitter and persevering enmity against religion and virtue. There are every where, especially in our cities, men, the very recruiting sergeants of the great enemy of God and man, who love to gain a baleful influence over the inexperienced and unsophisticated young; to introduce them gradually, as the decay of conscience in the bosoms of the poor victims will allow, into the haunts and mysteries and orgies of iniquity; to teach them the language of devils; to put to their lips, and lure them to taste, the fatal poison, hot with the fires, and mixed with the sorceries of the world of
perdition; to bind them hand and foot, the slaves of Satan; to shut them up by the power of prejudice and passion, and by the mutual domination of copartnership in sin, so that no better influence, no voice of love, can effectually reach them; and thus to secure their moral ruin in this world, and, if there is any truth in the bible, their perdition in the world to come. Could we hope to reach the ear, and to ring one startling note on the dull conscience of such a man, we would tell him, It is not merely for the deep grief of those fathers whose hopes have "expired under the contagion” of your example and your principles; it is not for the anguish of many a broken-hearted mother, or the tears and shame of many a desolate sister, it is not for these alone that we regard you with abhorrence. Nor is it only for the fact that you are sealing these individual souls for a miserable eternity; awful as is the thought of what you are doing in this respect, it is not for this only that we shudder to look upon you. It is that you are corrupting another generation, and training these victims for a wickedness as atrocious as your own; are, sending them down to be in their turn and in their age the assassins of virtue and the murderers of souls, it is for this that you deserve to be loathed and abhorred by all who love the happiness of man. You cast deadly poison into a river, to flow down with its current, that all who dwell on its banks and drink of its waters may die. Your guilt has an atrocity unparalleled. Go, scatter the seeds of pestilence, light up the flames that shall consume our cites, perpetrate what stupendous wickedness you will, but leave us the virtues of our youth uncorrupted. All other calamities we can survive; all other calamities time will alleviate; all other calamities a benignant Providence may ultimately convert into blessings to our posterity; but, for once, corrupt effectually Vol. II.
and universally, as you are doing within your limited sphere, the principles and morals of our youth; and for that poison there is no artidote, in that moral desolation there is no hope, there can remain for other generations only a fearful looking for of the fiery indignation, which never fails to come on a people corrupted and rotten.* Judge then what is your crime in the estimation of a holy God. You are laboring to destroy your country, and to spread a pall over the hopes of the world.
You are hastening to the judgment; and at that awful bar, you will meet every soul that you have helped to destroy; and the blood of each of these souls will be upon your own head. Nay, more; your corrupting influence may be propagated from generation to generation; and thousands whom you may never see in the flesh, may recognize you at the judgment as their destroyer; and the united curses of all these miserable beings may be heaped upon you through the ages of a suffering eternity. If your heart has not absolutely received the dark seal of reprobation, or if all the fountains of feeling have not been congealed by the chilling atmosphere of vice, must not the prospect fill you with horror? pp. 26, 27.
But after all, the most serious responsibility, in relation to these things, rests on the young themselves. They are responsible subjects of God's government. Their individual characters, as moral agents, in whatever circumstances those characters may be formed, are their own. Whatever external impulses may affect them, their choice in regard to the supreme good, is their own; and the whole of their influence on the kingdom of God, now and through all the years of their probation, is their own. After all that can be said respecting the influence of parents and teachers, of those who would
* The following poetical passage from the “New-England Weekly Review,” some of our readers have met in the newspapers. Happy will it be for our country, when all our political journals shall be consistently devoted to the circulation of such sentiments.
“War may stride over the land with the crushing step of a giant, pestilence may steal over it like an invisible curse, reaching its victims silently and unseen, unpeopling here a village and there a city, until every dwelling is a sepulchre ; famine may brood over it with a long and weary visitation, until the sky itself is brazen, and the beautiful greenness gives place to a parched desert, a wide waste of unproductive desolotion ;-but these are only phsyical evils. The wild flower will bloom in peace on the field of battle and above the crushed skeleton; the destroying angel of the pestilence will retire when his errand is done, and the nation will again broathe freely; and the barrenness of famine will cease at last, the cloud will be prodigal of its hoarded rain, and the wilderness will blossom. But for moral desolation there is no reviving spring. Let the moral and republican principles of our country be abandoned -our representatives bow in conditional obsequiousness to individual dictation, let impudence and intrigue and corruption triumph over honesty and intellect, and our liberties and strength will depart for ever. Of these there can be no resuscitation. The “abomination of desolation” will be fixed and petual; and as the mighty fabric of our glory totters into ruins, the nations of ihe earth will mock us in our overthrow, liko the powers of darkness, when the throned one of Babylon became even as themselves, and the glory of the Chaldee's excellency" had gone down forever.”
save and of those who would pervert, the question what they themselves are to be and to do, comes ultimately to them for a decision. Whatever force there is in any or in all of the considerations connected with this subject, bears most directly, and most solemnly on them, calling them to begin without delay a life of faith and devotion. Is it a fact that the youthful mind is peculiarly susceptible to every impression ? Is it a fact that of those who pass the period of youth without becoming obedient to the gospel, almost all live and die without ever experiencing the vital influences of religion? Is it a fact that the piety which most blesses man and most honors God, must take its date from early life, and must have full opportunity to control the formation of all the habits and the development of all the faculties? Then what is the application of all this to the young-to you who are now forming your principles and choosing your line of action for life? Are these things so; and are you indeed a reasonable and voluntary being accountable to God for whatever you are in the world and whatever you do? Is it true, too, that you are to live and act in a country, where the influence of every individual derives from the very constitution of society a peculiar importance, and in an age big with great events involving the happiness of coming generations ? And is the question what shall be your character, and whether your influence shall be for God or for his enemies, a question to be decided by your free determination, and at the hazard of your own soul? if all these things are so, if you are indeed to live under all these augmented responsibilities, what ought you to do? Living in these circumstances, have you any time to lose in idleness and folly? Have you any time to put off the claim which God urges on all the affections of your soul and on all the faculties of your existence? Ought you not from your childhood to be about
be about your Father's business? Living when the dawn of that brighter age which the church has so long expected, seems ready to break on the world, and when the earnest expectation of all creatures seems waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God; living when the salvation of the world is involved so deeply in the character of the generation to which you belong, can you be deaf to the innumerable and concordant voices which summon you so loudly to be girding on your armor, and to come up without delay, devoting yourself to God and heaven, and applying all your energies to advance the cause of Him, whose kingdom is righteousness and peace and joy.
And now, if such a conclusion would not do violence to all the principles of human calculation, I would fain believe that all of you have resolved to enter immediately, and in earnest, on a religious life. But probably there are some here, who have not even thought of forming such a purpose; and perhaps others who have formed it, in whose remembrance it will hercafter exist, as a monument of the power of temptation, or the