Saturday, June 5, 2010
solemn and grave looks...
"Now to us we confess, the practise of sending children to church, seems not only injudicious but somewhat cruel. Judging from our own childhood we know of no place less congenial to the buoyant spirits and active frame of that period of life, than the church. There the child must sit erect—compose his features into solemn and grave looks, without receiving anything as a reward for his torture. The hymns do not suit the taste of the nursery—the language and the ideas of the prayers, are above his comprehension—and the sermon is all Greek—and very dull Greek to him. This .is no exaggeration, we believe it may be said without fear of contradiction, that not one tenth part of the services of the sanctuary, are at all intelligible to children. This indeed is acknowledged by many parents, who nevertheless urge the propriety of sending their children to church, that they may acquire an habitual regard for the place, and for sacred things. We do not like such reasoning. A habit of attending church, or any other religious observance, is the last habit we would wish a child to form. We fear to run the slightest risk of making religion a thing to be done at a certain time and in a certain way. We fear very much, any practice which has the remotest tendency to overestimate forms and festivals, time and places. And does not the experience of almost every one prove that these fears are far from groundless ? Can we not, do we not refer much of our mere formal attendance upon public worship, to the fact that such an attendance has become a matter of course; a thing done without the feelings being at all interested in it ? Why then entail the same coldness upon our children ? Why educate them in the same outward acknowledgment of, and inward indifference to public worship ? We repeat, we believe it a melancholy truth, that the bodily and mental comfort of children are sacrificed in many instances, to a mere outside display of reverence for the Sabbath. Of this practice of making the holy day a weary and gloomy one to the young, were it consistent with our present design, we could adduce much evidence. We have no doubt of the sincerity of those who rule children with the rod on Sundays—and tax their memories with unintelligible lessons, and torment them into the anxious wish that " the sun would go down" and relieve them from Sabbath thraldom—but it is the sincerity of superstition. But we must remember that it is no more possible and proper to rule the free-born thoughts of the child than of the man; both must be led by the light chain of reason."