True piety, in a word, which consists in entering into and steadily maintaining the right moral and spiritual relations with God and man, marks the highest condition which the possibilities of human nature allow, and must rest in the soul which attains to it on a very different foundation from any thing like hope or fear. That there is a function which it is the province of these motives to fulfill, is abundantly proved by the use that is sometimes made of them in the Scriptures. But the more we reflect upon the subject, the more we shall be convinced, I think, that all such considerations ought to be kept very much in the back-ground in our dealings with children. If a child is sick, and is even likely to die, it is a very serious question whether any warning given to him of his danger will not operate as a hindrance rather than a help, in awakening those feelings which will constitute the best state of preparation for the change. For a sense of gratitude to God for his goodness, and to the Saviour for the sacrifice which he made for his sake, penitence for his sins, and trust in the forgiving mercy of his Maker, are the feelings to be awakened in his bosom; and these, so far as they exist, will lead him to lie quietly, calmly, and submissively in God’s hands, without anxiety in respect to what is before him. It is a serious question whether an entire uncertainty as to the time when his death is to come is not more favorable to the awakening of these feelings, than the state of alarm and distress which would be excited by the thought that it was near.
The Reasonableness of Gentle Measures in Religious Training.
The mother may sometimes derive from certain religious considerations the idea that she is bound to look upon the moral delinquencies and dangers which she observes in her children, under an aspect more stern and severe than seems to be here recommended. But a little reflection must convince us that the way to true repentance of, and turning from sin, is not necessarily through the suffering of terror and distress. The Gospel is not an instrumentality for producing terror and distress, even as means to an end. It is an instrumentality for saving us from these ills; and the Divine Spirit, in the hidden and mysterious influence which it exercises in forming, or transforming, the human soul into the image of God, must be as ready, it would seem, to sanction and bless efforts made by a mother to allure her child away from its sins by loving and gentle invitations and encouragements, as any attempts to drive her from them by the agency of terror or pain. It would seem that no one who remembers the way in which Jesus Christ dealt with the children that were brought to him could possibly have any doubt of this.