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With what vigilant assiduity does the virtuous mother watch the first disclosure of the selfish passions in her offspring's mind! how careful is she to eradicate them, before they grow to such a height, as to overshadow and stifle their better principles! She teaches them not eagerly to contend for the mastery over each other, but in honour each to prefer the other to himself; she shows them, she makes them feel, the loveliness of mutual kindness and mutual forgiveness: she reconciles their little animosities, gently softens down the stubbornness of pride, and shows them how good and how pleasant a thing it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity. If passions of a darker hue, and habits of greater obstinacy, require that pain should be inflicted upon the offender, what a mixture of tenderness with just severity, in a mother's chastisement, and a mother's rebukes ! Gladly would she take upon herself, even a double measure of the pain which she inflicts, if such a substitution could restore her children to virtue ; but if no other remedy remains, she shrinks not even from this bitter trial of her affection. Yet mindful of the apostolic precept, she “provoketh not her children to wrath,” by any reproachful bitterness of language or violence of manner. She shows, even to a child's apprehension, that a painful sense of duty alone compels her to punish an offence, which if allowed to pass unchastised, might endanger its present and everlasting welfare : she hails the first symptom of returning goodness with delight, and the sunshine of her smile raises and cheers the head, that had hung drooping in sorrow beneath her reproof.
These duties are not, it is true, the exclusive office of the mother. They are the joint obligation of both parents : they cannot be fulfilled with effect, unless both conspire to pursue a similar course of discipline towards their children, unless they support each other's authority, and co-operate in all their undertakings. But it is evident that to the mother by far the larger share must belong, in carrying into effect those principles, which are equally sacred and important in the eyes of both. Her presence with her children is constant; the whole of their little history goes on beneath her inspection; and as the larger portion of the anxiety and toil of the earliest education devolves on her, so wherever the influence of affection is to be exerted, the gentleness of female virtue gives her a power over the heart which no one else possesses.
The memory of a virtuous mother is, also, blessed by her children, because all her precepts are crowned and illustrated by her example. If this were wanting, the probability would be, that that spring of virtuous principle did not exist in the breast, which is necessary to prompt to all the painful and selfdenying exertions, which I have described as being endured by virtuous maternal love. Or if, by an inconsistency which is not without example, there should be found one, who desires the virtue of her offspring, while she herself neglects its injunctions, the illusion could be kept up only for a very short time. The curious and inquisitive eye, even of childhood, would soon penetrate the disguise, and detect the difference between the lessons and the practice
of its parent. Those only whose life has nothing in it which they wish to keep from their children's observation, can cultivate that unreserved confidence with them, which ought ever to prevail in this connexion. While a bad example thus defeats the purpose of the most eloquent instructions, a good example not only enforces them, by a perpetual, though imperceptible influence, hut supplies many deficiencies which must still remain when instruction thinks that its work is completed. Example shows, that the virtues which precept has enjoined, may be cultivated and attained: the finer proprieties of conduct, the graces of manner, which are then only to be thought of little value when they are the substitute, instead of the ornament of real virtue, can scarcely be made intelligible, except in the living model. No rules can reach the thousand emergencies and circumstances of life; it is by associating constantly with those whose principles are pure, whose judgments are correct, that the mind, observing, reflecting on, and insensibly imitating them, learns to prepare itself for acting, when placed in similar circumstances. Such an example a virtuous mother holds up to her children, and for the possession of such an advantage, they justly“arise up, and call her blessed.” They call her blessed while she yet remains among them, and they feel the happiness which she diffuses over the circle in which they move together: even in the moment when she is taken from them, they bless her, that she leaves them a bright example to follow, a train of soothing and delightful reflections, and a treasure of glorious hopes. They will renew their blessings, in accents no longer broken and subdued by sorrow, when, meeting her before the throne of mercy, they rejoice, no wanderer lost, a family in Heaven."
ON THE DEATH OF CHILDREN.
[REV. DR. LINDSAY.] AVID was a mourner in Zion; a man accus
tomed both in joy and grief to look above the world. If his favourite son had been undutiful to himself alone, he might have borne bis loss with decent composure. His life would have been less guilty, his death less awful. But how wretched for a father to recollect, that he had died an outcast from God, as well as from man, with all his sins upon his head, unrepented of, and therefore unforgiven! He had raised but one rebellion against his father on earth : his conduct had been a continued rebellion against his Father in heaven. Deaf to the calls of filial duty, he was yet more deaf to those of pious gratitude ; and whilst he defied, in arms, the authority of his king, he braved with more dreadful audacity, the power and vengeance of his God. What portion, then, could a weeping father expect for such a son, in that loving-kindness, which is better than life? What but the most awful forebodings could occupy his desolate breast ? “ And is it thus, O Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! is it come to this, that I thy father, who contemplated thy early bloom with ineffable delight; who expected from thy riper years so much to bless the world, so much to soothe my own declining age, and to uphold the cause of God and truth, when I should have been gathered to my fathers,-is it come to this, that I, whose very soul lived in thine, should see thee die a rebel to myself, yet worse, an outcast from that heaven, which thy crimes have forfeited! 0 Absalom, my son! is this the end of all my anxious cares, of all my unbounded indulgence, of all my flattering hopes ! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son! for then mightest thou have lived to think and to repent, and I might yet have greeted thee with more than paternal joy in the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem.”
If ever excess of sorrow were lawful, this is the ground on which it might be justified. To think concerning his beloved son, thus hurried by his wickedness to an untimely grave, that he could cherish no reasonable hope of future union ; that those sweet anticipations of the heart, which nature suggests, which religion confirms, and which bring sweet solace to the bosom of a parent, when every other consolation fails;—to think that these were lost for ever with respect to Absalom, was of all thoughts the most agonizing to the feelings of a pious father; and it accounts full well for those unavailing lamentations, which he pours from his bosom with a pathos so deep, an anguish of soul so bitter and so persevering.
Ye children of religious parents, who have listened to these observations, suffer them not to pass from your minds without practical improvement.