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gard to the use of the Scriptures , that young people among them will gradually be less and less acquainted with their contents;—an evil deeply to be deprecated . But the grand thing , after all , in
religious instruction is , early and deeply , not with severity * but with much earnestness , to impress upon the mind the idea that religion is a personal concern ; not so much a matter to be learned as practised . Here , if some teachers err from familiarity , others
dwell too much m generals to'bring the thing home to the hearts of chilc dren . Surely if prater , for instance , be a blessing to the advanced Christian , it ought , in some degree , to wear that appearance to a child . Month after month , and year after year , to exact nightly and daily the repetition
of the same short , general form , —regardless of all the circumstances which in that time may affect a child ' s heart , and dispose it , if rightly managed , to real prayer , —can this be right ? Can it be calculated to give a just conception of the character of that
Being—Whose ears are open to the softest cry , Whose grace descends to meet the lifted eye ? It behoves us to speak seriously on this subject , for it is indeed one of vast importance . Better , far better , were it to lay aside the exercise than
harden the heart by accustoming it to what , it is but too plain , is a mere lip-labour . Before it is thought proper or decorous to permit a child to word its own jietitions to the throne of grace , surely a parent might vary them frequently , according to
circumstances ; for in no other way can a proper idea be acquired of the nature of prayer . Let not the idea of early piety be too eagerly reprobated , because , most unfortunately , much that is highly objectionable has been
written and said on the subject . Is it too inqch tp say , that if ever hypocrisy appears in children , it must be from very bad management indeed ? But let neither the dread-of this , nor any mistakes / however absurd and even ludicrous , which may be made by children in the beginning of a religious career , discourage a parent . Yel we would not object to the use of all forms of prayer , but only to that abuse of them which loads parents to
feel satisfied when they have taught their children one general form , with its daily , invariable repetition , — too frequently , also , it is feared , without " a moment allowed for preparation . Here , as cannot be too often repeated , we do not consult our own experience .
Can we at once turn our own minds from a worldly object to the proper frame for prayer ? If not , why should we require it from a child ? It is not to make prayer a grievous task ; it is because it can be rendered interesting and efficacious in no other way , that some little preparation is necessary .
We succeed or fail exactl y in proportion as we can attain a lively conviction of the reality of things invisible , and their connexion with our present state . If this be necessary for us , surely it is equally so for a child .
Coinciding in many of the excellent observations on religious education in a late Number of the Monthly Repository , the writer of this yet thinks the subject of Unitarian religious
instruction deserving of more discussion than has hitherto been bestowed upon it , and would be sincerely rejoiced if more able pens would continue what has here been imperfectly begun ' . E .
Sir , Dec . 8 , 1824 . IN Mr . Belsham ' s remarks on Dr . Channing ^ s recent Discourse , inserted Vol . XIX . pp . 678—681 , 1 find towards the conclusion the following 'assertion . Speaking of
Anti-sopernaturalism , ** I never , " says the worthy and learned divine , " knew more than two persons who professed it /* I am happy in thinking that dtiring : Mr . Belsham ' s very extensive experience , he has found so liltle cause
for Dr . Southey ' s observation ; btit as ray own experience ha # led me to draw a different conclusion , and as I firmly believe the interests of religion can never suffer any real injury by the candid avowal of our sentiments , I must assert my conviction of the existence of Anti-supernatnralisrn in some of our Unitarian meetings . — That Unitarians are " generally , " much less ' * universally , " Anti-supernaturalists , is indeed totally false ; as , in fact , to speak strictly , Unitarians cannot entertain such sentiments at all ; yet , as the odium of infidelity is considerable , we find that unbelief
20 Antusupermturalism *
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1825, page 20, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2532/page/20/