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profanely to day, we are not to expect, that being left to bimself, he will reform; but that he will swear more profanely to-morrow. One sabbath-breaker, or gambler, or seducer, may corrupt and ruin many, but most certainly will reform none. A single “ follower of strong drink,' may lead an hundred neighbors, and companions, down to perdition with him, but will never persuade an individual to return, and take hold on the paths of life.'
A general reformation, then, if there is ever to be one, must be brought about, by the blessing of God, upon the exertions of the virtuous and pious. Nor must they expect to do much, in the present state of things, without concert. They must unite. They must deliberate. They must encourage, counsel,
unsel, and support each other. They must meet opposition and bear reproaches, with firmness. They must organize themselves in such a manner, as to be able, in any emergency, to bring a part, or the whole, of their combined strength to bear upon a single point. Every inch of ground that is gained, must be held. Every strong hold of vice that is taken, must be dismantled. Reformers must not fold their arms today, because they were active yesterday, but must continue to act, as long as anything remains to be done.
It is infinitely better to prevent crimes, than to wait till the deed is done and then punish the transgressor. Surely, nothing can be plainer, for example, than that he, who is the happy instrument of saving twenty persons from contracting vicious habits, does more good, than if he could reclaim twenty or even forty, who are already nearly burnt up with strong drink, or worn out by other brutal indulgences; and so would be worth almost nothing to the community, if they could be reformed. And yet, it has been made a strong objection, against doing
anything, that the vicious cannot be reformed—that do what you can, the sot will be a sot, till he dies.
Now, it is obvious, that if this objection has any force, it lies in the supposition, that he never will die, that the wheels of time will stop where they are—that death will cease to destroy—that all the immoral who are the stage, will forever remain, and that better men will never find room to come forward. For, if the wicked should continue to die, (and prematurely too, as they generally have done, they will soon be out of the way, whether reformed or not; and so far as those who come after, can be dissuaded, or restrained from sinful courses, a reformation will gradually be effected.
With these things in view, the inquiry naturally arises, what are the main points, to which the combined and persevering labors of reformers, should be directed ? The main points, then, if I mistake not, are, the education of children—the support of moral and religious institutions -the framing of good penal laws—and the prompt execution of these laws.
1. The education of children. Here a field opens, much too wide, to be even hastily explored, on the present occasion. The utmost that the time will allow, is a rapid glance at its extent, and a few passing remarks upon its general outline.
The anxious hopes and fears of wise and good men, are ever turned towards the rising generation. They see, in the families and schools around them, many who are to be parents and guardians of the next generation-some, who will be instructors in colleges and other seminaries,
some, who will one day, be legislators, judges and executive officers. When they extend their view, they consider, that within a few years, all who are now active,
both in church and state, will be gone: and that all the concerns of civil goverument, all the interests of religion and morality, so far as human agency is concerned, all the business of education, and all the other valuable interests of society, will pass into the hands of those, who are now just entering upon the threshold of life.
What an interesting consideration ! How momentous the inquiry—What can be done to prepare them for the stations which they will occupy :—to preserve them from the contagion of immorality :-10 form them to good habits :-10 inspire them with the love of truth, justice, and benevolence ?
The answer of Scripture is, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' The answer of reason, founded on experience is, If you would have good fruit, you must plant good seed. Il you would erect a stable edifice, you must lay a deep and firm foundation. If you would build up the best interests of society, you must begin, where the atheists of France and Germany began to pull them down. If you wish your children to be wise and good, you must diligently teach them to walk in 'wisdom's ways.'
It is certain, that much may be done by individuals, without any direct co-operation, or particular concert. But in order to manage this great concern, in the surest and best way, every state ought, in effect, to be a great moral, or rather, religious society; while each of the subordinate divisions, such as towns, parishes, and school districts, should be an auxiliary society, of the same charac
All ranks and classes of the community, should cordially co-operate, in a work so imperiously demanded
consideration of duty and affection ; so necessary for their own happiness, and so essentil, to the tem
poral and eternal well-being, of their children and their children's children.
Legislative bodies, as the public guardians of the young should always keep an eye upon those, who have the more immediate care of their education ; and should cheerfully lend all the aid in their power, by making wise and efficient laws for the regulation and encouragement of schools. Our grateful acknowledgements are due, to the Giver of all good, in the first place, and then to those, as instruments, who from the council-board, and the hall of legislation, have from tiine to time, extended a fostering hand to the rising hopes of our state.
Ministers of the gospel should direct their particular attention to the young of their respective congregationssparing no pains to win their love and confidence—catechising them 'publicly and from house to house'-kindly reproving their faults-warning them against the seductions of evil companions—tenderly inviting them to the Savior, and leading them on, by a holy example, to another and a better world.
But the most weighty and important duties, in the business of education, devolve upon parents. Families are emphatically, the nurseries of the church and the state. It is in the family, that reason first dawns. It is there, that the conscience is most tremblingly alive. It is there, that the propensities of an evil heart,' first show themselves, and may be most successfully counteracted. It is there, that'good seed' may be sown, with the best prospects, of its taking root downward, and bearing fruit upward. It is to their parents, that ehildren naturally look for protection, instruction, and advice : and on whose opinions, they for many years implicitly rely. Parents therefore, should feel all the weight of their responsibility
and conscientiously avail themselves of all the facilities of the golden opportunity. They should watch the earliest germination of intelligence, so as to teach the first young idea, how to shoot.' They should give ' line upon line, and precept upon precept'-should 'nip the bud' of every vicious propensity, and cherish every virtuous habit.
Now let the co-operation which I have thus hastily sketched take place—let the people be one-let the combined wisdom and exertions of all be directed to the point before us, and how soon would a thorough reformation be effected. The waters below will quickly pass away. Let the fountain be cleansed and the streams will be sweet. In like manner, all the immoral, now living, will soon quit the stage. Only let those who are to take their places be trained up in the fear of the Lord, and in
years the moral face of the country would assume quite a new aspect. The fiery ravages of intemperance would cease.
All the dram-shops would disappear; or if here and there one was left, it would be regarded with that kind of terror which the timid feel, when passing in the night the mouldering ruins of a house, that is reported to be haunted. The worse than volcanic fires of ten thousand distilleries, would be quenched forever. The hoary gambler, who might survive his companions, would wonder to find himself left alone, and to see every body pointing at him, with mingled emotions of pity and horror, as a monster in human shape. Sabbath-breakers and profane swearers, would be too few to keep one another in countenance. The ancient vigor of the laws would be 'more than restored, and those who had been