1. A large number of young persons of your age, and in circumstances similar to those in which you are placed, perform with some fidelity their various outward duties, but maintain no habitual and daily communion with God. It is very wrong for them to live thus without God, but they do not see, or, rather, do not feel the guilt of it. They only think of their accountability to human beings like themselves; for example, their parents, teachers, brothers and sisters, and friends. Consequently, they think most of their external conduct, which is all that human beings can see. Their i>hearts_ are neglected, and become very impure, full of evil thoughts, and desires, and passions, which are not repented of, and consequently not forgiven. Now what I wish to accomplish in regard to all my pupils is, that they should begin to feel their accountability to God, and to act according to it; that they should explore their hearts, and ask God’s forgiveness for all their past sins, through Jesus Christ, who died for them that they might be forgiven; and that they should from this time try to live near to God, feel his presence, and enjoy that solid peace and happiness which flows from a sense of his protection. When such a change takes place, it relieves the mind from that constant and irritating uneasiness which the great mass of mankind feel as a constant burden; the ceaseless forebodings of a troubled conscience reproaching them for their past accumulated guilt, and warning them of a judgment to come. The change which I endeavor to promote relieves the heart both of the present suffering and of the future danger.
After endeavoring to induce you to begin to act from Christian principle, I wish to explain to you your various duties to yourselves, your parents, and to God.
2. The measures to which I resort to accomplish these objects are three:
First, Religious Exercises in School.—We open and close the school with a very short prayer and one or two verses of a hymn. Sometimes I occupy ten or fifteen minutes at one of the general exercises, or at the close of the school, in giving instruction upon practical religious duty. The subjects are sometimes suggested by a passage of Scripture read for the purpose, but more commonly in another way.
You will observe often, at the close of the school or at an appointed general exercise, that a scholar will bring to my desk a dark-colored morocco wrapper containing several small strips of paper, upon which questions relating to moral or religious duty, or subjects for remarks from me, or anecdotes, or short statements of facts, giving rise to inquiries of various kinds, are written. This wrapper is deposited in a place accessible to all the scholars, and any one who pleases deposits in it any question or suggestion on religious subjects which may occur to her. You can at any time do this yourself, thus presenting any doubt, or difficulty, or inquiry which may at any time occur to you.