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The first and greatest thought that should occupy the mind of a parent, who himself has felt the power of divine truth, is, that the children whom God has given to him may be partakers of the same mercy. For though he knows, and would readily acknowledge, that it is God alone, “who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,” that can shine into the hearts of his children, to give them "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” yet should he ever reme
member, both for his instruction and encouragement, how often the Lord has enjoined parental care for the nurturing of the little ones, and how often he has blest-abundantly blest—the earliest instruction from a mother's lips.
The command of God, by the lips of Moses, to the Hebrew parent is full of instruction :-“ And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart;"—not in thine understanding only, but in thine heart,—the seat of the affections; and then, showing that our children are our first and especial care, the command is added, (Deut. vi. 6, 7,) “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children;"—diligently; this implies care, earnestness in the matter,—not a lesson alone of duty, but the whole heart engaged in it. And again, in the institution of the Passover, how beautiful and touching is the incidental allusion to children, (Exod. xii. 27:) they were represented as
certain to inquire what was the meaning of this rite,—why the Paschal Lamb bled, and why the lintel was sprinkled with the blood ;—and the inquiry was not to be repressed, but rather the parent was to cherish it, and evidently with delight to reply,—“It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the children of Israel, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.” And so should the Christian parent explain to his children the Supper of the Lord, and bring before their young minds the love of that Saviour, who, as the true Paschal Lamb, gave his life a ransom for many; and that, sprinkled with his precious blood, there is peace, and the sword of the avenger passes over; but where that blood is not, he passes through in judgment. And who can have read that solemn prophetic account of the destruction of Jerusalem, by Nebuchadnezzar and his six princes, without seeing the part that children had in it? some (evidently the Lord's) were weeping for the sins around them; and, marked by the man clothed in linen, the six avengers with the destroying weapons came not near them ; while all those unmarked—not in the Lord's family—were swept away in the desolating judgment. The whole chapter (Ezek. ix.) is most solemn, but especially from verse 3 to 7. And in that affecting call by the prophet Joel (Joel ii.), when the trumpet for the solemn assembly was sounded, and all Israel assembled before the Lord, the children are in the scene, and even the mother, with the suckling at her breast, was prostrate before the Lord. Many other passages might be adduced from the Old Testament which are doubtless familiar to the Christian parent; but let these suffice. And then, as it regards the New Testament, what parent who reads this has not rejoiced in the compassion of His heart, who, when the disciples would rudely have turned away the mothers with the children, uttered that word so full of benignity,—“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” All
parental instruction, and, as much as possible, all the after stages of education, should have steadily in view, even as the polar-star, this one absorbing thought, the salvation of the child. Alas! how often has one witnessed a child grow up, admired and caressed by all around, his literary career all brilliant, when in a moment his sun has gone down at noon-day; and, it may be, ignorant of the great truth, that a sinner is saved alone by faith in the precious blood of Christ, his soul has been called away to give an account to that God, the gospel of whose grace he had slighted. Very much that is excellent has been written for children during the present century; no age or station has been forgotten; every year has brought forth some fresh theme of instruction, and new fields have been opened out to meet the increased desire for knowledge : but still the theme is inexhaustible. It is now many years since the writer of the following letters had his mind more especially directed to the instruction of children ; and no part of Scripture has he found so to arrest their young minds as Genesis i. From thence all natural history may be said to take its rise ; for though the record of Moses is very brief, yet it necessarily contains the leading history of the creation of each day; and thus all that we see around us must be traced back to this original source, and so also all those beautiful illustrations of divine truth with which the word of God abounds.
To render familiar to a child's mind the peculiar characteristics that marked the successive creation of each day, a series of Designs have been engraved, in which at least the attempt has been made to give a faithful outline of the Mosaic record ; nothing has been added for effect, but the description in Genesis has been taken, and, as far as possible, faithfully delineated. The subject is one of acknowledged difficulty, but no pains or care has been spared to make it an instructive vehicle to the mind of childhood. Each Engraving (after the first) takes up the subject of the previous day; so that, whilst the first simply
exhibits light beaming forth on the Globe of waters,* and the dark clouds which enshrouded it rolling back ; the second, in addition to this, represents the firmament (in which the birds of the fifth day flew, which is evidently the same as the atmosphere) as surrounding the globe, while the third day, together with the light and atmosphere, represents the dry land (Ps. civ. 6) rising up from the depths of the waters, and the three great orders of vegetation—trees, herbs, and grass, springing up on its surface; and so in the fourth the sun is seen in his brightness beaming forth from the one part of the heavens, through the earth's atmosphere, on all the newly-formed beauty of the third day, and sparkling on the deep, and henceforth the great source of light :-while, shining in the dark shades of night, the moon and the stars are beheld as gladdening the scene. The fifth, with all the blessings of the four previous days, represents the air and sea animate with life, the fowls flying in the open firmament of heaven, and the great whales and fish swimming in the deep; whilst in the sixth and last day, in addition to all that had gone before, are seen the quadrupeds, each in those countries where first
* The passage in Gen. i. 2, “ And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” has presented a difficulty to some minds, as if at first the earth was a shapeless mass, though this indeed could not be. The most learned Hebraists have translated the passage, “And the earth was desolate and waste :" and Jer. iv. 23 corroborates this view, where the words are the same, and demand this translation ; by which the simple idea presented to the mind is, that in the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a desolate and dark sphere of waters, (for there is no account given subsequently of its being formed into a sphere,) haring in its depths or abyss THE DRY LAND which the Lord had destined in its appointed day to rise up ; and, doubtless, from the moment of its creation it was placed in its appointed orbit, and revolved on its own axis. “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Thus the first day's creation was not to form it into a sphere, but to let the bright rays of light shine upon the sphere already formed; and, moving on its own axis, it made the alternation of day and night," and the evening and the morning were the first day.”