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his future cast of temper and behaviour. He will be imperceptibly corrupted, if his opening senses are not kept from infectious objects, his yet-spotless mind from polluting images, and his lisping tongue from debasing language. It is hard to say, how soon bad impressions begin to fix their stain. They flow in under the easy vehicle of sensible images, which are ever crowding in upon the mind: whereas the ideas of virtue are of a more refined and abstracted nature; to be excited only, where there is something of reflexion, by careful instruction. When the mind has been thus guarded against bad impressions, and begins to open, and observe, good principles are then to be gradually instilled. We are born without any actual knowledge: we are formed only, as the earth is with respect to useful seeds, with a capacity, fitness and disposition to receive it; care and culture must implant it, and raise it up to maturity. Vices indeed grow of X themthemselves in a spontaneous manner: their seeds are scattered every where around us in the common objects and customs of a wicked world: we cannot converse with the world, without taking them in, at some busy sense or other: the rank soil of human corruption favours their growth. It requires the assiduous hand of moral culture to weed them out, and raise up useful virtues to any perfection.
It might be expected indeed, that nature had done as much for man, as she has for the inferior creatures. Their instincts, we see, ever faithful and infallible guides, direct them to all the purposes of their being. But it is not so with man. All his instincts require direction and restraint. Benevolence, undirected, defeats its own purposes, mistakes its objects, hurts social life as much as it benefits, and destroys itself. Self-love draws every thing into its own narrow vortex, is at war with all around it, and arms the keenest passions against the peace of the world. The love of the sexes is a vagrant appetite; undirected, it knows no social distinctions, and has no tastes or sentiments above the beasts of the field. The awe of a Supreme Being (which I take to be a natural impression) knows not, what he is, and where to direct its homage. The sense of moral decency and shame are equally blind: habit perverts them and fixes them upon improper objects. And reason and religion, which are designed to regulate and direct these blind principles, if not cultivated very soon, will lose their use: bad habits will have formed themselves, and such instincts, as predominate in the constitution, will have taken a wrong direction, and acquired an ascendency, beyond the reach, perhaps, of future instruction.
JI. The instruction, therefore, of
-children, (to apply these general obser
X 2 vations) vations) though a great object of parental care, yet is too important a concern to be left solely to such an inadequate provision. Every wise state has considered education, as a public concern. Some have even torn children from the too indulgent arms of parental fondness, and put them under public tuition.
A Happy medium is observed in the christian institutionofBAPTiSM.*Parents have their private rights preserved to
them; them; but are reminded at the same time, in the most solemn manner, of their duty to the public and to God. This at once consults the tender feelings
*baptism being intended for the sign and means of our purification from sin; water, the proper element for purifying and cleansing, is appointed to be used in it. There is indeed a sect, sprung up amongst us within a little more than an hundred years, that deny this appointment: and make the christian baptism signify only the pouring out os the gift os the Holy Ghost upon a person. But our Saviour expressly requires thatwe be born of water, as well as of the Spirit, to enter into the kingdom of God. John iii. 5. And not only "John, his Forerunner, baptized ivith ivater. Mat. iii. II. but his disciples also, by his direction, baptized in the fame manner, even more than John. John iv. I, z. When therefore
fore he bad them afterwards teach all nations, baptizing them. Mat. xxviii. 19. what baptism could they understand, but that, in which he had employed them before? And accordingly we find, they did understand that. Philip, we read, baptized the Samaritans: Acts viii. 12. not with the Holy Ghost, for the apostles went down some time after to do that themselves: Verse 14, &c. but with water undoubtedly, as we find, in the fame chapter, he did the Eunuch: where the words are, Here is water: what doth hinder me to be baptised? And they "went down to the water: and he baptized him. Verse 36, 38. Again, after Cornelius, and his friends, had received the Holy Ghost, and so were already baptized in that sense, Peter asks, can any man forbid water, that these Jhould not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost, as well as we? Acts x. 47. When therefore John fays, that he baptized with water, but Christ Jhould baptize with the Holy Ghost. Mat. iii. 11. he means, not that christians lhould not be baptized with water, but that they should have the Holy Ghost poured out upon them also, in a degree that John's disciples had not. When St. Peter fays, the baptism, whichsaveth us, is not the wajbing away the filth oftheflejh. i. Pet, iii. 21. he X 1 means,