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0, how miserable does he render the life of his mother, who pillowed his infant head, and of his father, who guided his first tottering steps! He is a viper to the bosom where he was sheltered and warmed, and stings to the very soul !
On the contrary, let him respect, love, and venerate his parents, as did the hero of ancient song, who bore his aged father upon his shoulders from the flames of the burning city; or a Solomon, who, though seated on the throne, arose to pay his filial obeisance to his mother ; or, like Joseph, “who led into the palace of Pharaoh, and introduced to that king an aged man, in a simple dress, whom he delighted to own as his father.” Let him seek the companionship of the wise and the virtuous, and imitate their example, until he is esteemed and loved of all-how rich a source of happiness that son, to those who have nourished and protected him! They thank God for such a child, as he goes out and comes in before them, antioipating their wants, and seeking to do them good ; or, if they know of his goodly deportment by the hearing of the ear-or his epistles indited from a heart throbbing with filial affection-their faces, though wrinkled with age, look young again, as did that of the old patriarch who heard of his son's glory in Egypt; and they descend the vale of life with increased cheerfulness and a firmer step. So sensible and controlling is your influence upon your parents.
It next terminates upon the younger members of the family, your brothers and sisters, if such you have. They are, naturally enough, looking to you for an example in almost everything. You are older and wiser than they. They are aware of it, and are shaping their conduct by yours.
How hallowed and salutary the example and demeanor of an amiable, obedient, pious youth upon the family group, even to the youngest of its members ! And if, instead of such an example, they have placed before them the opposite, how difficult a task the training and guiding in the paths of virtue those who are younger in years! If you seek an illustration of the Scripture, that one sinner destroyeth much good,” go to the family that numbers among the children a depraved, vicious youth.
Say not, then, young man, young woman, “My influence is
but slightly felt at home, whatever be my course of conduct.” It is felt, and in every branch of the household. You are giving character to others——enstamping the impress of your life on those of tender years, of whom you are the older brother or sister, and should be the guide and rendering happy or unhappy those to whom you are indebted for your existence, and ten thousand benefits which you can never fully reciprocate.
A DYING father, whom we well knew and highly respected, anxiously inquired whether his absent son had arrived. He wished to see that son, before he bade a final adieu to his beloved family; “ for,” said he, “he stands greatly in need of home influence.” The sentiment which this affectionate parent expressed made a deep impression upon our mind, and from personal experience and common observation, we believe that this home influence moulds the great mass of society, controlling the mind through all the varied changes of life.
The division of the human race into families—the uniting the branches by the most tender of all earthly ties-is one of the wise plans of our Creator; and, when implicitly acted upon, society becomes elevated, purified, and happy. But the least deviation from this order, brings blight and ruin, not only upon individuals and families, but upon whole communities. Infidelity and scepticism formerly, and in this day Fourierism and Socialism, unblushingly use arguments and satire against the solemn contract of marriage, and would propose, in its place, a connection less binding and sacred, and thus throw society back into a state of viee and brutality. They well know that matrimony, first celebrated in Eden, when God himself gave the bride, lies at the foundation of all morality, and is the very salt that preserves the virtue of society; and hence their unwearied efforts to undermine its influence.
We know, from our own experience, that the impressions of
right and wrong which our youth receive, under the influence of home, will never be eradicated from their minds. These blessings, to them, are immense, if the parents are faithful. A thought of the past has often served to call back the prodigal child, after years of folly, to cheer the evening of a parent's life with unspeakable comfort and happiness; while others, who with bursting hearts have received the sad tidings of the wanderer's death, perhaps on the stormy'sea, or the battle-field, far away from home, have been filled with joy, at the recital of penitential feelings and tender regards felt for those dear parents.
All right training and sound morality commence at home. Obedience is here first enforced, from the motive, not of duty only, but of affection-a motive which is, by far, the strongest chain to bind society together. The government of a family is an embryo of that which a nation should be, if it would become a harmonious and prosperous people. The child that is obedient at home finds no difficulty to transfer the same duty to his preceptor at school, or to him under whom he is learning a profession or trade. The influence of his home has been preparatory to the carrying out of this important duty, and renders him, through life, one of the best of citizens ; because, from those innate principles which were planted in him at the very dawning of reason, he reveres and respects the laws of his country; and, like the stern Roman of olden story, he would perish in the camp of his enemies, rather than forfeit his word, or tarnish the honor of his country
But it is at home that the tenderest sympathies and the most useful affections of the heart are called forth. If the family is in health and prosperity, how is enjoyment heightened by each one being an equal participator, and where no one wishes to appropriate anything to himself alone! It is thus that we learn to suppress those feelings of covetousness, selfishness, and ambition which have filled the world with crime and blood.
But when adversity, affliction, or death first enters the family home, then, how do the springs of sympathy and keen sorrow burst forth, and unite, and bind yet closer, the several members together! Here we learn that even poverty and disappointment may be alleviated. Here we see the means of improvement, by teaching us our dependence upon each other, and we can but admire the wisdom of Providence, in the institution of the family compact, while we feel how sad and lonely would be our condition in the world, were we isolated individuals, without the gushings of sympathy which our confidence in each other now entitles us to feel.
In making home influences of a right and lasting kind, of course much will depend upon the heads of the family. We often see some children eager to break away from the restraints of home; while others leave the scenes of their childhood with the keenest sorrow.
Where parental authority has been sustained by wisdom and kindness instead of sourness and sternness, it unites, the child to the place of his youth, and its effects upon the heart are lasting inspiring the mind with the same kind and benevolent feelings--which seldom fail to gain him friends when abroad in the world, and thus facilitates his path to success and usefulness.
There may be decision without tyranny, and we may be fully obeyed, not from fear, but from a heart overflowing with love, if we commence the training early, and never insist upon any point unless it is reasonable-remembering the saying of the ancient philosopher, who, when his servant had offended him, said, “I would strike you if I were not angry.”
Nothing can be more interesting to the parent's mind, when his children are scattered about in the world, than to receive from them their testimony of gratitude, that they had parents whose example and precept laid the foundation of their happiness and success; and there are few parents but may be so highly favored.
The affection and obedience which our Washington awarded to his mother have never been, and perhaps never can be surpassed. The principles in which that mother had educated him led him to obey her, when his inclination urged him to enter the British navy; and that act of self-denial has been amply rewarded, not only by the gift of the highest honors his country had to bestow, but in the feelings of admiration that burst from every liberal heart throughout the world.
But when we contemplate what effect the influence of home will have upon the eternal destiny of our offspring, we behold still a higher motive, why we should render the family abode everything to allure and guide our children to the religion of the cross. If we are faithful, we shall most strictly exclude everything, in conversation, books, or example, which would in the least weaken their struggles against vice and scepticism. It is recorded of Robert Burns, the poet, that when he gave up his family altar, the last restraint of a religious nature, which he had imbibed from the home of his youth, left him, and his career in dissipation and folly hastened the termination of a life which his countrymen valued, and which every son of genius deeply lamented. There is scarcely a doubt of it. Let the home influence be vicious-let the fountains of the soul be poisoned at home, or what is almost equivalent, let the parent fail to cast into those fountains the pure waters gushing from “Siloa's brook," and all the counter influences that may be exerted are inefficient and well nigh powerless.
EVENING CONVERSATIONS.-NO. VIII.
BY REV. ROBERT SEWELL.
THE DOG-DAYS-SIRIUS-AND THE MILKY WAY. Mamma. We will retire to the garden this evening, and as we last converged upon the Solar System, we will now direct our attention to the appearance of the bright firmament, and if agreeaable to your papa, make the fixed stars the subject of our remarks. The planets, you will remember, change their position in the heavens, while those heavenly bodies now under consideration remain apparently stationary, and do not, like spheres of the solar system, receive their light from the sun ; but are themselves centres of other systems, far exceeding, both in magnitude and grandeur, that to which we belong. Ellen. Papa, will you be so good as to explain to us why these