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THE happy fire-side of the Christian mother-especially when she is there surrounded by duteous children, by kindred and neighbours-affords perhaps one of the most affecting pictures that the artist could paint, with a view to produce in us all a pure veneration for female excellence, and a holy admiration of woman's exalted character and active virtues. Here, in the mingling of fond relations and trusty friends, is generally found the habitations of love and joy, of peace and contentment.
It is in the homes of men that the child is ranged into his caste, whether noble or mean; there the seed of his whole life is sown. Schools may develop his powers, and instruct his mind; they may put "sharps" and flats" before his abilities; the general tone of his daily life will more or less remain true to his first nursery and the nature of his primitive home.
The first training of the soul for heaven is said to be a maternal office. The mother it is who presides over those home virtues the cultivation or neglect of which in the first ages of life often gives a right or a wrong bias to its after years. In this "homely court" let our virtuous English mothers preside with undiminished solicitude and untiring perseverance. Even when adverse circumstances occur- and against such neither anxious foresight nor watchful piety can always guard-the pious Mother should not relax her endeavours; should not suffer her faith to fail. Her duty is not more imperative in its principle than encouraging in its per
formance. She is animated by a conviction founded upon experience, that a heart is seldom so reprobate as to throw from it the old forms and close-knit habits of filial piety. Indeed, generally speaking, "character" is formed by maternal influence-an influence whose importance is incalculable. It is the earliest; it is the most natural; it strikes deepest root. Years of active engagement in a busy world may for a time choke its growth; it has, however, a vitality, which, when called into action by sickness, or sorrow, or approaching death, and fostered by the dew of God's blessing, blossoms and gives fruit-even "fruit unto holiness, the end whereof is everlasting life."
The fire-side home of childhood!-childhood itself, and the very name of "Father." Yes, childhood is like a mirror, catching and reflecting images from all around it. Forget we not that an impious or profane thought, uttered by a parent's lip, may operate on the young heart like a careless spray of water thrown upon polished steel, staining it with rust, which no after scouring can efface.
There is no music half so sweet as the voice of domestic love; no air so refreshing to the soul as that of home_" delightful home," purified and hallowed by contentment, virtue, and religion.
There is no word in any other language which will properly express the meaning of our word comfort; and foreigners have no expression which fully conveys the idea of our word home. Now it is remarkable enough, that these two English words should both have the same remark applied to them, while they have so intimate a connexion with one another; for certainly the married
man who cannot find comfort at home, cannot possibly find it any where else.
The moral cement of all society is virtue; it unites and preserves, while vice separates and destroys. The good man may indeed be called the salt of the earth.
“The hours of a wise man," says Addison, “are lengthened by his ideas, as those of a fool are by his passions. The time of the one is long, because he does not know what to do with it; so is that of the other, because he distinguishes every moment of it with useful or amusing thoughts; or, in other words, because the one is always wishing it away, and the other always enjoying it."
The way to be happy is not past finding out. Knox, in his Christian Philosophy, says that "men always compare themselves with those who are above them, without once looking into the vale below, where thousands stand gazing at them with envy and admiration. By this unfortunate comparison, their own good things lose much of their value in their own esteem, and sometimes become totally insipid.
When we consider the number and variety of evils, almost intolerable, in the life of man, we should learn to esteem every disaster incident to human nature, which has not yet fallen to our lot, as a just cause of self-congratulation, complacency, and gratitude. But, through envy, we turn from the misfortunes of others; and think only of those advantages which give them a superiority over our own condition. If we see a man deaf, or dumb, or blind, or lame, or poor, or in disgrace, we do not derive comfort from the consideration of our own exemption from his defects and calamities;
but if we observe another elevated to a high rank, or loaded with riches, we secretly repine that we have not been equally blessed with worldly prosperity. But let us consider how many there are who would envy every one who has but health and liberty. Go into an hospital. Visit a poor-house. Inspect a prison. Compare your own health, your own competency, your own liberty, hard as you deem your lot, with the friendless wretch who lies in the agony of pain, or languor of disease, with no help but the cold hand of official charity. No kind relative to sooth with his bland voice, to close his eyes, and shed a tear on his departure. Compare your lot with his who is loaded with chains, where the iron enters his soul, in a cold and damp dungeon. Compare it with that of your poorer neighbours, at the next door. Compare it with that of all the sons and daughters of affliction, a large family, every where to be found."
"The Christian parent," says Bishop Jebb," ought to be a living exemplification of Christianity. His house, his habits, his family, his associates, his pursuits, his recreations, ought all to be so regulated as to evince that religion is, indeed, the parent of order, the inspirer of good and plain sense, the well-spring of cheerfulness, the teacher of good manners, and the perennial source of peace." And Mr. Locke, when discoursing on the best means of educating the middle classes of society, sensibly remarks, that "we are born with faculties and powers capable, almost, of any thing;" such, at least, as could carry us further than can easily be imagined; but it is only the proper exercise of those powers which gives us ability and skill in any thing, and leads us to
wards perfection. Let us hope, then, that the pursuits and objects of "general education" have not been mistaken-have not been misapplied; since it must appear clear that the grand problem of education is not to cultivate the memory alone, which in the dullest may, perhaps, by assiduous and incessant diligence, be constrained to lay up stores of reminiscences which will never ripen into useful and productive knowledge, while the other powers of the understanding are either dormant or overweighed with the load under which the whole mind is labouring; but to teach enough, and not too much. Increase of knowledge, it must be confessed, is a victory over idleness, and the beauty of knowledge is rectitude of conduct.
That we should, each of us, be contented with our condition in life, seems essential to the well being of society at large. Archdeacon Paley, in the "Reasons for Contentment," which he addressed to "the labouring part of the British public," after pointing out the various considerations which should lead men to be satisfied with that state of life to which it has pleased God to call them, thus concludes his able and useful address: "If to these reasons for contentment, the reflecting tradesman or artificer adds a very material one, that changes of condition, which are attended with a breaking up and sacrifice of our ancient course and habit of living, never can be productive of happiness; he will perceive, I trust, that to covet the stations or fortune of the rich, or so, however, to covet them as to wish to seize them by force, or through the medium of public uproar and confusion, is not only wickedness but folly; as mistaken in the end as in the means; that it is not