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kind. The first harmonizing influence to which man is subjected, is the intercourse with his sisters almost from the cradle. His natural desire of society compels him to seek their company, and mingle his sports with theirs. But the doll and the baby-house will not stand the same rude treatment with his tops and hobby-horses, and unless he can make some treaty with them he cannot get them out to see him make his dam, and sail his ship in the gutter. The first condition and law of his intercourse with them then, is the law of gentleness and self-restraint. This moral influence extends not only to manners, but to sentiments. The boy, by associating exclusively with his own sex, becomes not only rude in manners, but coarse in his sentiments, and gross in his tastes. Thus the first defence is thrown down, which God has built up around his principles and his morals. He is more open to the approach of vicious associates, he may be farther initiated into their ways before he is aware of their dangerous influence. The nicer moral perceptions of the female mind are usually the first to descry the signs of approaching peril, and a different relation gives the sister the
power of a more frank and emphatic admonition than the parents enjoy. There is scarcely a more interesting sight on earth, than a brother and sister in the bloom of life, united by true affection, and true to all those duties and attentions which they mutually owe each other. And candor compels me to confess that failure is most seldom on the sister's part. There is a generosity and self sacrifice of sisters to advance the interests of a brother, which I fear is not often reciprocated. I could fill more than one lecture with instances which have come to my personal knowledge, in which sisters have nobly contributed their all to raise a brother to the advantages of a liberal education, and thus to elevate him to eminence, to station, and to wealth.
But the parental home is intended to be the school of woman's education, not her permanent abode. As the instinct, which teaches the birds of passage the time of their emigration, suddenly impels them to mount to untried regions of the atmosphere, and seek through cloud and tempest a land they have never seen, so a like inspiration teaches woman that there is another home for her, destined by the Great Designer, of still greater
happiness than that which she has already known; and under the same apparent destiny One appears to lead her to that happy place. Marriage comes as the great crisis of woman's existence. And where, if you search earth through, will you find an object which the eye bends on with such intense, I had almost said, painful interest, as a bride? What an era when considered with reference either to the past or the future! It is in a manner the crush of one world, and the beginning of a new one. She is to go from a home that she has known and loved, where she has been loved and cherished, to one to which she is an utter stranger. Her happiness is to be subjected to those on whose characters, tempers, principles, she can make no calculation. And what is to assure her of the faith of him, who has sworn at the altar to cherish and protect her? She may, in the blindness of affection, have given her heart to one who will wring and break it, and she may be going to martyrdom, where pride and prudence will alike deny her the poor solace of complaint. Yet she is willing to venture all. The law instituted by the Creator is upon her, and urges her forward. With calm
confidence she puts herself under the protection of that Almighty Principle, which issu ing from the throne of God penetrates and pervades all things, and then returns to link itself to the throne of his Omnipotence, the Principle of Love, and she is safe. Perhaps if she knew what life has in store for her, she would for a moment shrink back. The marriage festivity would not be without its fears. And for myself, so many whom I have united for life have I seen soon overtaken by calamity, hoping parents bending in speechless agony over the loved and the lost, or watching with breathless apprehension the fearful changes of extreme disease, that to me there is ever an undertone of sadness in the wedding's mirth; and when that bright being approaches, upon whom every eye centres, and for whom every heart palpitates, I can almost fancy her bridal attire transformed to mourning, and her blushes changed to tears. But a second thought convinces me that such anticipations are treason to God and man. Marriage is the ordinance of God, and let not man gainsay it. It is indeed the commencement of struggles and toils. But for what else is man made, or woman either?
Those toils and struggles shall be lighter when mutual affection animates the effort. Troubles will come, but they come to all; and who shall better sustain them than those to whom mutual affection gives mutual support?
We now see woman in that sphere for which she was originally intended, and which she is so exactly fitted to adorn and bless, as the wife, the mistress of a home, the solace, the aid, and the counsellor of that One, for whose sake alone the world is of any consequence to her. If life be increased in cares, so is it also enriched by new satisfactions. She herself, if she be inspired by just sentiments and true affection, perceives that she has attained her true position. Delivered from that tastelessness, which sooner or later creeps over a single life, every power and faculty is called into energetic exercise, and she feels the current of existence to flow in a richer, deeper stream. We are all made for action and enterprise. Existence, though surfeited with luxury and abundance, is insipid without it. The affections, which God has ordained to spring in the bosoms of those, whom he has destined to pass through life