Christian Nurture

By Horace Bushnell

Part II. The Mode.

Chapter 5


"One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity."--1 Timothy, iii. 4.

TO BE a Christian bishop, whether in a clergy of one order or of three, is to be set in a high office, demanding high qualifications. What may be taken as qualifications, the apostle is here specifying; and among the rest, he names the character evinced by maintaining a good and sound government in the house. "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" A very singular test, in one view, for a Christian bishop; one that passes by the matter of learning and eloquence, and church reputation, laying hold, instead, of a gift in which some very ordinary men, and not a few ordinary women, excel. And with good reason; for, in fact, how very much alike, in the elements of merit and success, are all that purchase to themselves a good degree, in whatever rank, or sphere--alike in fidelity, order, patience, steadiness, attention, application to the charge that is given them. Nay, when the apostle drops in thoughtfully what he takes to be the same thing in effect, as ruling one's house well, viz: "the having his children in subjection with all gravity," the words themselves, appear to have a sound of character and office in them, as if spoken of a bishop with his flock. And what indeed is the house but a little primary bishopric under the father, taking oversight thereof?

Family Government, then, is the subject here suggested for discussion. And we naturally endeavor--

I To ascertain what is the true conception of family government.

Of course it is to be government; about that there ought to be no hesitation. It is not to be a mere nursing, or dressing, or provisioning agency; not to be an exhorting, advising, consulting relationship; not to be a lavishing of devotion, or parental self-sacrifice; but the radical constitutive idea, that in which it becomes family government, is that it governs, uses authority, maintains law and rules, by a binding and loosing power, over the moral nature of the child. Parents, it would sometimes appear, fall into a practical ambiguity here--as if the governing power were a kind of severity, or harsh assumption; not perceiving that, by common consent, we speak of an ungoverned family as the synonym of a disorderly, wretched, and dishonored, if not ruined, family. There is no greater cruelty, in fact, than this same false tenderness, which is the bane of so many families. There is a kind of cruelty indeed, which is exactly opposite, and misses the idea of government on the other side, viz: that brutish manner of despotic will and violence, which makes no appeal to the moral nature at all, driving straight by, upon the fears, in a battery of force. And yet, whether even this be really more cruel in its effects, than the false tenderness just named, is a fair subject of doubt. The true idea, that which makes the domestic order and state so beneficent, is that it is to be a state of government; a state where love has authority, and presides ill the beneficent order of law.

But when we have reached this point, that family government is to govern, we shall find that multitudes of parents who assume the Christian name, have yet no practical sense of the intensely religious character of the house, or the domestic and family state. They go into their office loosely, and without any conception, for the most part, of what their authority means. This, I will now undertake to show, drawing out especially the points in which they most commonly seem to fall below the real sense of their office, in the opinions they hold concerning it.

First of all, their family government is never conceived, in its true nature, except when it is regarded as a vicegerent authority, set up by God, and ruling in his place. Instead of creating us outright, God has seen fit to give us existence under laws of reproduction; having it for his object, in the family order and relationship, to set us forth, under a kind of experience in the small, and in terms of sense, that faithfully typify our wider relationship to Him, the eternal Father and invisible Ruler of the worlds. We are infants too, men and women in the small, that we may be as flexible in our will as possible. Our parents, if they are godly themselves, as by the supposition they will be, are to personate God, in the double sense of bearing his natural and moral image before us, ever close at hand; and also in the right of authority with which they are clothed. And, that they may have us at the greatest advantage, it is given them to clothe us, and feed us, and bathe us, day and night, in the unsparing and lavish attentions of their love; enjoying our enjoyments, and even their own sacrifices for us. First, the mother has us, at her bosom, as a kind of nursing Providence. Perused by touch and by the eyes, her soul of maternity, watching for that look and bending ever to it, raises the initial sense of a divine something in the world; and when she begins to speak her soft imperative, putting a little decision into the tones of her love, she makes the first and gentlest possible beginning of authority. And then the stiffer tension of the masculine word, connected with the wider, rougher providence of a father's masculine force, follows in a stouter mode of authority, and the moral nature of the child, configured thereto, answers faithfully in a rapidly developed sense of obligation. The parents are to fill, in this manner, an office strictly religious; personating God in the child's feeling and conscience, and bending it, thus, to what, without any misnomer, we call a filial piety. So that when the unseen Father and Lord is Himself discovered, there is to be a piety made ready for him; a kind of house-religion, that may widen out into the measures of God's ideal majesty and empire. Hence the injunction, "Children obey your parents in the Lord." They could not make a beginning with ideas of God, or with God as an unseen Spirit; therefore they had parents given them in the Lord--the Lord to be in them, there to personate and finite himself, and gather to such human motherhood and fatherhood, a piety, transferable to Himself, as the knowledge of his nobler, unseen Fatherhood arrives.

Again, it is another point, very commonly overlooked, or forgotten, that parental government is genuine, only as it bears rule for the same ends that God Himself pursues, in the religious order of the world. True family government will be just as religious as His, neither more nor less. It will have exactly the same ends and no other. Just here, accordingly, is the main root of mischief and failure in the government of Christian families. The parents are not Christian enough to think of bearing rule for strictly Christian ends. They drop into a careless, irresponsible way, and rule for any thing that happens to chime with their own feeling or convenience. They want their children to shine, or be honorable, or rich, or brave, or fashionable; so to serve themselves in them, or their pride, or their mere natural fondness. They bring in, thus, bad motives to corrupt all government, and even to corrupt themselves. If they have some care of piety in their government, it is a kind of amphibious care, sometimes in one element and sometimes in another. They are never truly and heartily in God's ends. And the result is that what they do in the name of religion, or to inculcate religion, shows their want of appetite, and has really no effect but to make both God's authority and theirs irksome. Nothing answers the true purpose here, but to bring in all the noblest ideas of truth, and forgiveness and self sacrifice, and assert a pitch of virtue in the house high enough to be inspiring. The government will then have a genuine authority and power, because the rule of God is in it. As it rules for God, and with God, God will be in it; otherwise it is mortal self-assertion only.

Closely related is the conviction to be firmly held, that family discipline, rightly administered, is to secure, and may secure, a style of obedience in the child that amounts to a real piety. If we speak of conversion, family government should be a converting ordinance, as truly as preaching. For observe and make due account of this single fact, that when a child is brought to do any one thing from a truly right motive, and in a genuinely right spirit, there is implied in that kind of obedience, the acceptance of all best and holiest principle. I do not mean, of course, that children are to be made Christians by the rod, or by any summary process of requirement. There is no such short method of compulsory piety here, as some are reported to have held, or put in exercise. But it is not absurd to expect and aim to realize in the family, a genuine spirit of obedience; obedience, that is, front the principle that God enthrones, and which underlies all piety--just what the apostle means, if I understand him rightly, by having children "in subjection with all gravity." In the phrase "all gravity," he is looking at a kind of obedience that touches the deepest notes of principle and character. Contrary to this, there is an obedience without principle, which is obedience with all levity; that which is paid to mere will and force; that which is another name for fear; that which is bought by promises and paid by indulgences; that which makes a time-server, or a coward, or a lying pretender as the case may be, and not a Christian. This latter--that which makes a Christian--is the aim of all true government, and should never be out of sight for an hour. Let the child be brought to do right because it is right, and not because it is unsafe, or appears badly, to do wrong. In every case of discipline for ill-nature, wrong, willfulness, disobedience, be it understood, that the real point is carried never till the child is softened into love and duty; sorry, in all heartiness, for the past, with a glad mind set to the choice of doing right and pleasing God. How often is it true that in the successful carrying of such a point, (which can not be carried, save by great resources of love and gospel life in the parents,) the fact of a converted will is gained. And one must be a dull observer of children and their after life, who has not many times suspected that just the ones who are said to be converted afterwards, and suppose themselves to be, had their wills not seldom bowed to this in their childhood, under the government of the house.

Having so far indicated what is the true idea of family government as a Divine institution, let us next inquire--

II. By what methods it will best fulfill its gracious and beneficent purposes?

It is hardly necessary to say that the vicegerent office to be maintained, and the gracious ends to be secured, make it indispensable that parents should themselves be living in the Spirit, and be so tempered by their faithful walk, as to have the Christly character on them. Nothing but this will so lift their aims, quiet their passions, steady their measures and proceedings, as to give them that personal authority which is requisite. For this authority of which I speak supposes much--so much of grace and piety, that God is expressed in the life; so much as to even it in all principle, fasten it in all moderation of truth and justice, gladden it in heaven's liberty and peace, and, above all, clear it of sanctimony; for if any thing will drive a poor child mad with disgust of religion, it is to be tormented day and night with the drawlings and mock solemnities of a merely sanctimonious piety. Children love the realities, and are worried by all shams of character. If then parents can not be deep enough in religion to live it naturally, and have it as an element of gladness, clear of all sanctimony, it is doubtful whether they might not better be even farther off from the semblance of it than they pretend to be. Of this one thing they may be sure, that they get no addition of personal authority by any thing put on; or by any prescribed longitudes of expression. The most profoundly real thing in the world is this matter of personal authority. Jesus had it as no other ever had, because he had most of reality and divine truth in his character; we shall have the same, only as we have the same steady affinities in us, and the same Spirit without measure upon us.

There is also another precondition of authority in parents closely related to this; I mean that they be so far entered into the Christian order of marriage, as to fulfill gracefully what belongs to the relation in which they are set, and show them to the children as doing fit honor to each other. By a defect just here, all authority in the house is blasted. Thus Dr. Tiersch, in his excellent little treatise on the Christian Family Life, says:--"A wife can not weaken the authority of the father without undermining her own, for her authority rests upon his, and if that of the mother is subordinated to that of the father, yet it is but one authority, which can not be weakened in either of the two who bear it, without injury to both. The mother, therefore, must consider it a matter of family decorum which is not to be broken, never even in little matters to contradict the father in the presence of the children, except with the reservation of a modest admission of his right of decision, and that in cases which admit of no delay. But just as much is it the duty of the husband to leave the authority of his wife unassailed in the presence of other members of the household; and when he is obliged to overrule her objections, to do it in a tender and kindly form If he turns to her with roughness and harshness from jealousy of his place of rule, it is not only the heart of his wife which is estranged from him; with the children, too, intervenes a weakening of the moral power, under which they should feel themselves placed. If in their presence their mother is blamed as foolish or obstinate, and so lowered to the place of a child or a maidservant, that sanctity immediately vanishes, which, in the eyes of the children, surrounds the heads of both father and mother in common."18

Again it is of the highest importance in family government, that parents understand how early it begins--how easily, in fact, the great question of rule and obedience may be settled, or well-nigh settled, before the time of verbal order and commandment arrives. Thus there is what may be fitly called a Christian handling for the infant state, that makes a most solid beginning of government. It is the even handling of repose and gentle affection, which lays a child down to its sleep so firmly, that it goes to sleep as in duty bound; which teaches it to feed when food is wanted, not when it can be somehow made uneasy, or the mother is uneasy for it; which refuses to wear out the night in laborious caresses and coaxings, that only reward the cries they endeavor to compose; which places the child so firmly, makes so little of the protests of caprice in it, wears a look so gentle and loving, and goes on with such evenness of system, that the child feels itself to be, all the while, in another will, and that a good will; consenting thus, by habit and quietly, to be lapped in authority, lust as it consents to breathe, in the lap of nature and her atmospheric laws. And so it becomes a thoroughly governed creature, under the mere handling elf its infantile age. Neither should it seem that this is, in any sense, an exaggeration. For though the government we speak of here is silent, and utters for the time no law, there still is law enough revealed to feeling in the mere motions and modes of the house. Who is ignorant that by jerks of passion, flashes of irritation, unsteady changes of caprice and nervousness, fits of self-indulgence, disgusts with self and life that are half the time allowed to include the child, songs and caresses both of day and night, that are volunteered as much to compose the mother's or the nurse's impatience as the child's--who is ignorant that an infant, handled in this manner, may be kept in a continual fret of torment and ill-nature. Meantime there is, just opposite, what a beautiful power of order, and quiet, and happy rule, when the motions and modes of the handling are such as token peace, repose, firmness, system, confidence, and a steady all-encompassing love. Here is law, felt, we may even say, in every touch, entered into every sensational experience, confided in, submitted to, with all gravity. So that when the time of words arrives, the child is already under government, and the question of obedience and order is already half settled.

We come now to the age of language, or the age when words begin to be used to express requirement and authority. Indeed this will be done, assisted by tones and signs of manner, even before the child itself is able to speak.

And here it is to be noted that much depends upon the tone of command, or the kinds of emphasis employed. It is a great mistake to suppose that what will make a child stare, or tremble, impresses more authority. The violent emphasis, the hard, stormy voice, the menacing air, only weakens authority; it commands a good thing as if it were only a bad, and fit to be no way impressed, save by some stress of assumption. Let the command be always given quietly, as if it had some right in itself, and could utter itself to the conscience by some emphasis of its own. Is it not well understood that a bawling and violent teamster has no real government of his team? Is it not practically seen that a skillful commander of one of those huge floating cities, moved by steam on our American waters, manages and works every motion by the waving of a hand, or by signs that pass in silence; issuing no order at all, save in the gentlest undertone of voice? So when there is, or is to be, a real order and law in the house, it will come of no hard and boisterous, or fretful and termagant way of commandment. Gentleness will speak the word of firmness, and firmness will be clothed in the airs of true gentleness.

Nor let any one think that such kind of authority is going to be disrespected, or disregarded, because it moves no fright or fear in the subjects. That will depend on the fidelity of the parent to what he has commanded. How many do we see, who fairly rave in authority, and keep the tempest up from morning to night, who never stop to see whether any thing they forbid or command is, in fact, observed. Indeed they really forget what they have commanded. Their mandates follow so thickly as to crowd one another, and even to successively thrust one another out of remembrance. And the result is that, by this cannonading of pop-guns, the successive pellets of commandment are in turn all blown away. If any thing is fit to be forbidden, or commanded, it is fit to be watched and held in faithful account. On this it is that the real emphasis of authority depends, not on the wind-stress of the utterance. Let there be only such and so many things commanded, as can be faithfully attended to--these in a gentle and firm voice, as if their title to obedience lay in their own merit--and then let the child be held to a perfectly inevitable and faithful account; and, by that time, it will be seen that order and law have a stress of their own, and a power to rule in their own divine right. The beauty of a well-governed family will be seen, in this manner, to be a kind of silent, natural-looking power; as if it were a matter only of growth, and could never have been otherwise. At first, or in the earlier periods of childhood, authority should rest upon its own right, and expect to be obeyed just because it speaks. It should stake itself on no assigned reasons, and have nothing to do with reasons, unless it be after the fact; when, by showing what has been depending, in a manner unseen to the child, it can add a presumption of reason to all future commands. It is even a good thing to the moral and religious nature of a child, to have its obedience required, and to be accustomed to obedience, on the ground of simple authority; to learn homage and trust, as all subject natures must, and so to accept the rule of God's majesty, when the reasons of God are in scrutable. There is little prospect that any child will be a Christian, or any thing but a skeptic, or a godless worldling, who has not had his religious nature un folded by an early subjection to authority, speaking in its own right.

Nay, I will go farther; there is a certain use in having a child, in the first stages of government, feel the pressure of law as a restriction. For, as the law of God is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, so there is a like relation between law and liberty in the training of the house. It is by a certain friction, if I may so speak, on the moral nature, a certain pressure of control, not always welcome, that the sense of law gets hold of us. Observances that we do not like, prepare us to a kind of obedience, further on, that is free--that welcomes the same command because it is good, the same authority because it is wholesome and right. And so it comes to pass that a son, grown almost to manhood, will gladly serve the house, and yield to his parents a kind of homage that even anticipates their wishes, just because he has learned to be in subjection, with all gravity, under restrictions that were once a sore limit on his patience.

At the same time it should never be forgotten, in this due assertion of authority and restrictive law, that there is a great difference between the imperative and the dictatorial; between the exact and the exacting. I have spoken already of the common fault of commanding overmuch, and forgetting or omitting to enforce what is commanded; there is another kind of fault which commands overmuch, and rigidly exacts what is commanded; laying on commands, as it seems to the child, just because it can, or is willing to gall his peace by exacting something that shall cut away even the semblance of liberty. No parent has a right to put oppression on a child, in the name of authority. And if he uses authority in that way, to annoy the child's peace, and even to forbid his possession of himself, he should not complain, if the impatience he creates grows into a bitter animosity, and finally a stiff rebellion. Nothing should ever be commanded except what is needed and required by the most positive reasons, whether those reasons are made known or not.

Another qualification here to be observed, belongs to what may be called the emancipation of the child. A wise parent understands that his government is to be crowned by an act of emancipation; and it is a great problem, to accomplish that emancipation gracefully. Pure authority, up to the last limit of minority, then a total, instantaneous self-possession, makes an awkward transition. A young eagle kept in the nest and brooded over till his beak and talons are. full-grown, then pitched out of it and required to take care of himself, will most certainly be dashed upon the ground. The emancipating process, in order to be well finished, should begin early, and should pass imperceptibly, even as age increases imperceptibly. Thus the child, after being ruled for a time, by pure authority, should begin, as the understanding is developed, to have some of the reasons given why it is required to abstain, or do, or practice, in this or that way instead of some other. The tastes of the child, too, should begin to be a little consulted, in respect to his school, his studies, his future engagements in life. When he is old enough to go on errands, and to labor in various employments for the benefit of the family, he should be let into the condition of the family far enough to be identified with it, and have the family cause, and property, and hope, for his own. Built into the family fortunes and sympathies, in this manner, he will begin, at a very early day, to command himself for it, and so will get ready to command himself for himself, in a way that will be just as if the parental authority were still running on, after it has quite run by.

Is it necessary to add that a parent who governs at the point of authority will not, of course, allow himself to be known only as a bundle of commandments? In order to have authority, he must have life, sympathy, feeling unbent in play. He must connect a gospel with his law, and so instead of being a law over the house, he must undertake to be a law written in the heart; winning love as commanding out of love, consummating obedience, by the glad and joyous element in which he bathes the playful homage and trust of his children.

As to the motives addressed by family government in a way of maintaining or securing obedience, they need to be of two kinds; such as belong to a character in principle, and such as belong to a character that is equivocal in it, or fallen below it. The first kind should never be left out of sight. They are such as these: doing right because it is right; loving God because he loves the right; God's approbation; the approbation of a good conscience; the sense of honor with himself, as opposed to the meanness of lying and deceit. These are, by distinction, the religious motives; and where these are completely ignored, all others are radically faulty, of course. But there is, beside, a very great and hurtful mistake that is commonly made in choosing, from among the lower and second-class motives, those which are really most questionable, and most likely to be followed by sinister effects. Here again we are to follow God, who undertaken to dislodge us, in the plane below principle, or keep us from settling into it, by raking it, every way, in a cannonade of penalty and fear. No, say the plausible sophisters of our day, in what they take to be its better wisdom, fear is a mean and servile motive; we will not make cowards of our children. They do not observe the very considerable distinction between terror and fear; that terror lays hold of passion, fear of intelligence: that one dispossesses the soul, the other nerves it to a wise and rational prudence; that one scatters all distinctions of principle, and the other turns the soul thoughtfully towards principle. Missing this distinction, they make their appeal sometimes to the sense of honor before men, frequently to the sense of appearance, or to what will be the appearance of the family, not less frequently to the desire of success in life; praising the shows of bravery and spirit, deifying, so to speak, human conventionalities and laws of fashion. They do not see the total want of dignity in these ap peals; how they all put shams and shows, and falsities, in the place of solid realities; how they sort with all lying semblances of virtue, run the soul into all most cowardly fictions of time-serving, pretense, hypocrisy, sycophancy, and make even hollowness itself the principal substance of life. Therefore it is that God appeals to fear, backs authority and law by penalties that waken fear; because this one prudential motive has a place by itself, in not being positive or acquisitive, in any sense, but only negative; and so far has the semblance of unselfishness. It makes no one selfish to fear, though fear, as a motive, is not up to the level of principle loved for its own sake. The wise parent, therefore, will not be wiser than God; and wheresoever fear is needed, he will speak to fear, and make as little as possible of appearance, popularity, and opinion, understanding that, if he is to have his children in subjection with all gravity, they must be brought into God's principle, by a motive that is unambitious, unworldly and real, and turns the soul away by no computations of pride and airy pretense.

There is, then, to be such a thing as penalty, or punishment, in the government of the house. And here again is a place where large consideration is requisite. First of all, it should be threatened as seldom as possible, and next as seldom executed as possible. It is a most wretched and coarse barbarity that turns the house into a penitentiary, or house of correction. Where the management is right in other respects, punishment will be very seldom needed. And those parents who make it a point of fidelity, that they keep the flail of chastisement always a going, have a better title to the bastinado themselves than to any Christian congratulations. The punishments dispensed should never be such as have a character of ignominy; and therefore, except in cases of really ignominious wickedness, it would be better to avoid, as far as may be, the infliction of pain upon the person. For the same reason the discipline should, if possible, be entirely private; a matter between the parent and child. Thus it is well said by Dr. Tiersch, "If ever a severe punishment is necessary, it must be carried out so as to spare the child's self-respect; not in the presence of his brothers and sisters, nor of the servants. For a wholesome terror to the others, it is enough if they perceive, at a distance, something of that which happens. And if only the smallest triumph over his misfortune, the least degree of mockery arise, bitterness and a loss of self-respect are the consequences to the child."19

Punishments should be severe enough to serve their purpose; and gentle enough to show, if possible, a tenderness that is averse from the infliction. There is no abuse more shocking, than when they are administered by sheer impatience, or in a fit of passion. Nor is the case at all softened, when they are administered without feeling, in a manner of uncaring hardness. Whenever the sad necessity arrives, there should be time enough taken, after the wrong or detection, to produce a calm and thoughtful revision; and a just concern for the wrong, as evinced by the parent, should be wakened, if possible, in the child. I would not be understood, however, in advising this more tardy and delicate way of proceeding, to justify no exceptions. There are cases, now and then, in the outrageous and shocking misconduct of some boy, where an explosion is wanted; where the father represents God best, by some terrible outburst of indignant violated feeling, and becomes an instant avenger, without any counsel or preparation whatever. Nothing else expresses fitly what is due to such kind of conduct. And there is many a grown up man, who will remember such an hour of discipline, as the time when the ploughshare of God's truth went into his soul like redemption itself. That was the shock that woke him up to the staunch realities of principle; and he will recollect that father, as God's minister, typified to all dearest, holiest, reverence, by the pungent indignations of that time.

There is great importance in the closing of a penal discipline. Thus it should be a law never to cease from the discipline begun, whatever it be, till the chill is seen to be in a feeling that justifies the discipline. He is never to be let go, or sent away, sulking, in a look of willfulness unsubdued. Indeed, he should even be required always to put on a pleasant, tender look, such as clears all clouds and shows a beginning of fair weather. No reproof, or discipline, is rightly administered till this point is reached. Nothing short of this changed look gives any hope of a changed will. On the other hand. when the face of disobedience brightens out into this loving and dutiful expression, it not only shows that the malice of wrong is gone by, but, possibly, that there is entered into the heart some real beginning of right, some spirit of really Christian obedience. Many a child is bowed to holy principle itself, at the happy and successful close of what, to human eyes, is only a chapter of discipline.

In order to realize this Christian issue of discipline, it is sometimes recommended that the child should be first prayed with, and made conscious, in that manner, of his own wrong, as before God, and of the truly religious intentions by which the parent is actuated. No rule of this kind can be safely given; for there is great danger that the child will begin to associate prayer and religion with his pains of discipline; than which nothing could be more hurtful. It would be far better, in most cases, if the prayer were to follow, coming in to express and gladden his already glad repentances.

There are many things remaining still to be said, in order to a complete view of the subject; but there are two simple cautions that must not be omitted, and with these I close--

1. Observe that great care is needed in the processes of detection, or the police of discovery. The child must not be allowed to go on breaking through the orders imposed, or into the ways of vice, not detected. This will make his life a practice in art and hypocrisy; and what is worse, will make him also confident of success in the same. Nothing will corrupt his moral nature more rapidly. There must be a very close and careful watch on the part of fathers and mothers, to let no deviation of childhood pass their discovery. And then, again, the greatest care and address will be needed, to keep their circumspection from taking on the look of a deliberate espionage, than which nothing will more certainly alienate the confidence and love needful to their just authority. Nothing wounds a child more fatally, than to see he is not trusted. Under such an impression, he will soon become as unworthy of trust as he has been taken to be. On the other hand, he will naturally want to be worthy of the trust he receives. For the same reason, he should never be set upon by volunteer charges, or accusations which have no other merit than to be the ground of a cross-questioning process. It is a harsh experiment that insults a child, in order to find out whether he is innocent or guilty. Besides, if he is guilty, there is no small risk of drawing him on to asseverations of innocence, that will fatally break down his truthfulness. Neither will it answer, in the case of little children, to make then reporters of their own wrongs, by allowing the under standing that they shall so obtain pardon. For then they are only trained to a manner of sycophancy that mocks all government. What then shall be done? First of all, make much of the fact, that when a child is doing any secret wrong, he grows shy, ceases to be confiding and demonstrative, even as Adam, when he hid himself among the trees. Then let the watch grow close-watch his companions, the way he goes, the way he returns, his times, what he says, and what he particularly avoids speaking of at all; speak of his shyness, and observe the reasons he assigns, question his reasons. It will be difficult for any young child to escape this kind of search. Indeed, this kind of search will almost never be needed if children are inspected carefully enough, at a very early period, when, as yet, they are simple, and the art of wrong has not begun to be learned. Accustomed then to the feeling that art hides nothing, they will never try to hide any thing by it afterwards.

2. Have it as a caution that, in holding a magisterial relation, asserting and maintaining law, discovering and redressing wrong, you are never, as parents, to lose out the parental; never to check the demonstrations of your love; never to cease from the intercourse of play. If you assert the law, as you must, then you must have your gospel to go with it; your pardons judiciously dispensed, your Christian sympathies flowing out in modes of Christian concern, your whole administration tempered by tenderness. Above all, see that your patience is not easily broken, or exhausted. If your authority is not established in a day, you have small reason, in that fact, to be fretted, or discouraged and the less reason, if you are and are seen to be, to believe that it ever can be established. There will sometimes be a child, or children, given, that have a more restive and less easily reducible nature than others, and partly because they have more to reduce. Time with such is commonly a great element, and as time is needed for them, patience will be needed in you. Let them have a little more experience of themselves, and of what a good and wise regulation means; let their rational nature be farther unfolded and come to your aid, and they will be gradually taking sides with your authority. The other and more tractable children, winning on their respect, will also assist in the taming of their repugnances. Meantime God, who perhaps gave you this trial to complete your patience, and purify all graces in you, will be raising you to a higher pitch of character and authority, which no most wayward child can well resist. And so it will be your satisfaction to see, in due time, that your reward is coming; that your children are growing into all truth and order together; melting into all confidence and good understanding with authority itself. Your triumph will now be sealed. You will have your house in subjection with all gravity; a little bishopric, as the apostle would say, gathered in heaven's truth and unity, obedient, Christian filial, and free.


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[19] Page 153.