There is no objection to your giving particular individuals special instruction adapted to their wants and circumstances. You may do this by writing or in other ways, but do not lead them to make up their minds fully that they are Christians in such a sense as to induce them to feel that the work is done. Let them understand that becoming a Christian is beginning a work, not finishing it. Be cautious how you form an opinion even yourself on the question of the genuineness of their piety. Be content not to know. You will be more faithful and watchful if you consider it uncertain, and they will be more faithful and watchful too.
(5.) Bring very fully and frequently before your pupils the practical duties of religion in all their details, especially their duties at home, to their parents, and to their brothers and sisters. Do not, however, allow them to mistake morality for religion. Show them clearly what piety is in its essence, and this you can do most successfully by exhibiting its effects.
(6.) Finally, let me insert as the keystone of all that I have been saying in this chapter, be sincere, and ardent, and consistent in your own piety. The whole structure which I have been attempting to build will tumble into ruins without this. Be constantly watchful and careful, not only to maintain intimate communion with God, and to renew it daily in your seasons of retirement, but to guard your conduct. Let piety control and regulate it. Show your pupils that it makes you amiable, patient, forbearing, benevolent in little things as well as in great things, and your example will co-operate with your instructions, and allure your pupils to walk in the paths which you tread. But no clearness and faithfulness in religious teaching will atone for the injury which a bad example will effect. Conduct speaks louder than words, and no persons are more shrewd than the young to discover the hollowness of empty professions, and the heartlessness of mere pretended interest in their good.
I am aware that this book may fall into the hands of some who may take little interest in the subject of this chapter. To such I may perhaps owe an apology for having thus fully discussed a topic in which only a part of my readers can be supposed to be interested. My apology is this: It is obvious and unquestionable that we all owe allegiance to the Supreme. It is so obvious and unquestionable as to be entirely beyond the necessity of proof, for it is plain that nothing but such a bond of union can keep the peace among the millions of distinct intelligences with which the creation is filled. It is therefore the plain duty of every man to establish that connection himself and his Maker which the Bible requires, and to do what he can to bring others to the peace and happiness of piety. These truths are so plain that they admit of no discussion and no denial, and it seems to me highly unsafe for any man to neglect or to postpone the performance of the duty which arises from them. A still greater hazard is incurred when such a man, having forty or fifty fellow-beings almost entirely under his influence, leads them, by his example, away from their Maker, and so far that he must, in many cases, hopelessly confirm the separation. With these views, I could not, when writing on the duties of a teacher of the young, refrain from bringing distinctly to view this which has so imperious a claim.