Character Building - Reverance
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
SOME one has said that reverence is dying out, and that our young people revere nothing in heaven above or the earth beneath. While one may not agree with this sweeping statement, it is certain that many of our young people are lacking in the respect in which children of a half-century ago were trained. There is more attention paid to the seen and temporal and less to the unseen and eternal.
Reverence for God and holy things should be taught as soon as the little one learns to lisp his morning and evening prayers. The influence of such training is far-reaching, and many a man is better and many a woman more womanly because neither has been able to forget those early lessons learned at the parent's knee. Teach the infant that the heavenly Father is so great, so holy, that in praying to him one bows the head and bends the knees and closes the eyes so that all outward objects will be banished from sight and mind. As the child grows older, never permit the careless mention of the name of the Deity. Such careless mention, or an irreverent exclamation, may seem a trifling wrong, but it will make upon the mind of the child an impression that time will not efface, and it will make it easier for him to utter the profane sentence in later years if he heard or voiced such expressions in childhood.
Do not allow whispering or giggling in church. Tell the child that it is a place set apart for the worship of God, and that during the few hours one is there one should be reverent and quiet, and try to put away thoughts of worldly things. Always speak of religious matters with gentle solemnity, and, unconsciously, the little children will copy your manner.
Reverence for older persons must be taught the child. He must revere parents, grandparents, teachers, and all elderly people. The boy or girl must rise when an old person enters the room, and must remain standing until he or she is seated; the lad must learn to resign a comfortable chair to a woman or a gray-haired man, and should be willing to be of service to such a one. The mother and father must insist that from babyhood the child show them respect and deference. Too many children are allowed to contradict, to protest against authority, until the remark that " the American parent is well trained" has become a byword. The little one should be taught that, as the parent and teacher are older and wiser than he, reverence for them and regard for their opinions must be observed.
One of the habits of the present day that militates against proper reverence is that of ridicule. To Young America there are few things too great or too dignified to appeal to the sense of the ridiculous. The lad speaks of his father as "the old man" or "the Governor," of the clergyman as "the Parson" or "the sky pilot," even, sometimes, of the mother as "the Missus" or "the old lady." Does this sound like exaggeration? It is not, but is taken from real life. And parents, who should curb this tendency to levity and irreverence, smile, seeming to think that the offender in such matters is clever and witty. Nothing is so cheap and so easy as ridicule. The veriest fool can exercise it; it is the ready weapon of the low and the scornful. Until we older people learn that irreverence is not funny we cannot expect our children to be reverent.
Volume I is rich in reverential poems, such as "Cradle Hymn," "I Saw Three Ships," "Let Dogs Delight to Bark and Bite," "Child's Evening Hymn," "Sweet Story of Old," and "The Better Land." In Volume III "Pilgrim's Progress" is a potential factor. Read "Sacred Haunts of Palestine" in Volume VI, and "The Founding of New England" in Volume VII, for a sense of the sacredness of things and events. In the latter volume study "Father Damien Among the Lepers" and "Barclay of Ury." Reverence and awe toward the universe may be inculcated by a careful reading of "The Starry Heavens." Two biographies, "Confucius" and " John Wesley," in Volume IX, are worthy of serious attention. Besides the poems mentioned above, see those in Volume XI in the divisions "Christmas Time" and "The Higher Life;" also "A Forest Hymn," "Consider," and "Peace." Sing the sacred songs in Volume XII.