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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
Is it possible, that any intelligent reader of the Scriptures can entertain the idea that religion is too high a subject for a child; still less maintain, that the minds of children ought not to be preoccupied by religious sentiment, but be left to judge for themselves when they are capable of exercising judgment These are suggestions of the Enemy of Truth, who would gladly sow the mind early with tares, and that without its possessing any means of resistance. They who know the Scriptures to be the Oracles of God, and the only infallible guide of man, from error to truth, from sin to a Saviour, and from Earth to Heaven, are fully satisfied and encouraged by the rules laid down both
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in the Old Testament and in the New: "Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children;" "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it;" "Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;" "From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 1
And are not children capable of appreciating the Sacred Volume? "The Old Testament," says a dear friend of mine, who himself had happily been taught to value the Bible from his youth, and is now commissioned to spread its glorious truths,--"The Old Testament is not more distinguished for its grandeur in some parts, than for its graphic simplicity, its aptitude to touch the heart of a child, in others. Where is the father, where is the mother, accustomed to
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teach the little circle, at the family fireside, that has not instinctively turned to the story of the Infant Moses, shut up in the ark of the bulrushes; and has not seen how, as he read of the mother watching, and the daughter of Pharaoh coming, and the ark being opened, and the babe weeping, and the mother receiving her child,--has he not seen, as he pursued the fascinating story, the little ones hang upon his lips, and their hearts were thrilled, and the welling tears filled their eyes? Or, who has not led the children to the outer court of the Temple, to listen to the voice that startles the child Samuel as he sleeps, and calls, 'Samuel, Samuel:' and the child runs to Eli, and says unto him, 'Here am I, for thou didst call me,' till at length the voice of the Lord is made known to the child, and he answers, 'Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth?' And who has not seen how the family circle has been rapt in sympathy and interest as they accompanied the youthful Joseph, when, clothed in his coat
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of many colours, and become the object of envy to his brethren, he seeks for them on the Plains of Dotham,--when, stripped of the envied garment, he is let down into the pit, because Reuben entreats the others not to slay the child? And when, afterwards, the lad is taken out of the pit, and sold to the Ishmaelites and carried into Egypt, and there becomes a slave in Potiphar's house, and is first exalted to rule over his master's household, and then cast into prison, who has not witnessed the spell which that thrilling narrative, to the end, throws around the hearts of the young,--how it wakes all the secret chords of their tender spirits? Is there not a charm,--a holy fascination about those artless narratives, which no uninspired composition ever approached? Are they not, in their simplicity, proofs of the divinity of their Author, as the most ecstatic, prophetic strains are in their matchless majesty?
"Here, then, is milk for babes, and manna for angels, Truth level with, the mind of a
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peasant,--Truth soaring beyond the reach of a seraph." 2
Since, then, it furnishes us with narratives the most touching, and histories the most impressive, fitted to bring down truth to the commonest understanding, as well as to bring it home to the heart of a child,--since, at last, in the New Testament it reveals the Babe of Bethlehem, the obedient youth of Nazareth, the true Messiah, the Friend of human nature, taking little children up in His arms, and laying His hand upon them, and blessing them, woe to the priest or parent that would withhold them from the child!
"Perhaps it will be found, when in that other state we look back upon our life here, and measure the comparative value of the influences for good which have wrought on us, that none have been equal in depth or extent to the lessons received, at our
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mother's knee, in the first dawn of childhood." 3
We have a delightful proof of the truth of these remarks in the following very interesting and affecting memoir of the life of his beloved son by my dear Christian friend Archdeacon Brown. Truth sown in childhood, watered by prayer and quickened by example, was, at an early period, brought to remarkable maturity through the power of the Spirit of God. Marsh's sense of sin, confidence in his Saviour, view of future rest, resignation under present trial, and patience in agonising pain, together with his sympathy for any fellow-sufferers, and, finally, his victory over the last enemy, mark him as no common Christian.
But I must let the Memoir speak for itself, yet I cannot but congratulate the bereaved parents in having been surrounded
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by such affectionate friends as the Bishop and Mrs. Selwyn, Archdeacon and Mrs. Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Chapman, Mr. and Mrs. Burrows, and the Rev. P. Davies, and indeed Marsh's fellow-scholars, and the servants and others. Thus, by Christian sympathy and self-denying attention, we "bear one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ."
I suppose the name of Marsh was given as a token of long-tried friendship. I can only express an earnest wish, that all who bear that name may possess the same spirit as animated Marsh Brown.
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