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for, with God's ordinary blessing, it may form in the youthful mind the habits, and implant the principles, to which other influences are to give permanency and vigour.
A pious and faithful mother may have a dissolute child. He may break away from all restraints, and God may leave him to “eat of the fruit of his own devices.” The parent, thus afflicted and broken-hearted, can only bow before the sovereignty of her Maker, who says, "Be still, and know that I am God." The consciousness, however, of having done one's duty divests this affliction of much of its bitterness. And, besides, such cases are rare. Profligate children are generally the offspring of parents who have neglected the moral and religious education of their family. Some parents are themselves profligate, and thus not only allow their children to grow up unrestrained, but by their own example lure them to sin. But there are others who are very upright and virtuous, and even pious themselves, who do, nevertheless, neglect the moral culture of their children, and, as a consequence, they grow up in disobedience and sin. It matters but little what the cause is which leads to this neglect. The neglect itself will ordinarily be followed by disobedience and self-will.
Hence the reason that children of eminent men, both in Church and state, are not unfrequently the disgrace of their parents. If the mother is unaccustomed to govern her children, if she look to the father to enforce obedience, and to control it, when he is absent all family government is absent, and the children are left to run wild, to learn lessons of disobedience, to practise arts of deception, to build upon the foundation of contempt for a mother a character of insubordination and iniquity. But if the children are under the efficient government of a judicious mother, the reverse is almost invariably the case. And since, in nearly every instance, the early years of life are intrusted to a mother's care, it follows that maternal influence, more than anything else, forms the future character.
The history of a man of eminent piety has been often mentioned as a proof of the deep and lasting impression which a mother may produce upon the mind of her child. He had a pious mother. She often retired to her closet, and, placing her hand upon his youthful head, implored God's blessing upon her boy. These prayers and instructions sank deep into his heart. He could not but revere that mother. He could not but feel that there was a holiness in such a character, demanding reverence and love. He could not tear from his heart in after-life the impressions then produced. Though he became a wicked wanderer, though he forsook friends and home and every virtue, the remembrance of a mother's prayers, in all his wanderings, followed him wherever he went. He mingled in the most dissipated and disgraceful scenes ; and while surrounded with guilty associates in midnight revelry, he would fancy he felt the soft hand of his mother upon his head, pleading with God to forgive and bless her boy. The soft hand of
his mother was still upon his head, and the fervent prayers of his mother still thrilled in his heart. He became afterwards a most successful preacher of the gospel : and every soul which he was instrumental in saving will, through eternity, bless God that he had such a mother.
A short time since, a gentleman in one of our most populous cities was going to attend a seamen's meeting in the mariner's chapel. Directly opposite the chapel there was a sailors' boarding-house. In the door-way sat a hardy, weather-beaten sailor, with arms folded and puffing a cigar, watching the people as they gradually assembled for the meeting. The gentleman walked up to him, and said, “Well, my friend, won't you go with us to meeting ?” “No!” said the sailor bluntly. The gentleman, who, from the appearance of the man was prepared for a repulse, mildly replied, "You look, my friend, as though you had seen hard days; have you a mother ?” The sailor raised his head, looked earnestly in the gentleman's face, and made no reply.
The gentleman continued, “Suppose your mother were here now, what advice would she give you ?” The tears rushed into the eyes of the poor sailor; he tried for a moment to conceal them, but could not; and hastily brushing them away with the back of his rough hand, rose and said, with a voice almost inarticulate through emotion, “I'll go to the meeting.” He crossed the street, entered the door of the chapel, and took his seat with the assembled congregation.
What afterwards became of the man is not known. It is, however, almost certain that he must have had a mother who had given him good instruction; and when the gentleman appealed to HER, hardened as the sailor was, his heart melted. Perhaps this interview checked this man in his sins, and led him to the Saviour. However this may have been, it shows the strength of maternal influence. It shows that years of wandering and of sin cannot erase from the heart the impression which a mother's instructions and a mother's prayers have left there.
It is a great trial to have children undutiful when young. But it is a tenfold greater affliction to have a child grow up to maturity in disobedience, and become a dissolute and abandoned man. How many parents have passed days of sorrow and nights of sleeplessness in consequence of the misconduct of their offspring ! How many have had their hearts broken, and their grey hairs brought down in sorrow to the grave, solely in consequence of their own neglect to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord! Your future happiness is in the hands of your children. They may throw gloom over all your prospects, embitter every enjoyment, and make you so miserable that your only prospect of relief will be in death.
That little girl, whom you now fondle upon your knee, and who plays, so full of enjoyment, upon your floor, has entered a world
where temptations are thick around. What is to enable her to resist these temptations but established principles of piety? And where is she to obtain these principles but from a mother's instructions and example? If, through your neglect now,
she should hereafter yield herself to temptation and sin, what must become of your peace of mind ? O mothers ! little are you aware of the wretchedness with which your loved daughter may hereafter overwhelm you.
There are facts which might here be introduced sufficient to make every parent tremble. We might lead you to the dwelling of that clergyman, and tell you that a daughter's sin has murdered the mother, and sent paleness to the cheek, and trembling to the frame, and agony to the heart, of the aged father. We might carry you to the parlour of that rich man, and show you all the elegance and the opulence with which he is surrounded : and yet he would tell you that he is one of the most unhappy sons of affliction, and that he would gladly give all his treasures if he could purchase back a daughter's virtue; that he could most readily lie down to die if he could thus blot out the remembrance of a daughter's infamy.
No matter what your situation in life may be, that little child, now so interesting, whose playful endearments and happy laugh awaken such thrilling emotions in your heart, may cause you years of most severe, unalleviated misery.
And mother! look at that drunken vagrant staggering by your door. Listen to his horrid imprecations, as bloated and ragged he passes along. That wretch has a mother. Perhaps widowed and in poverty, she needs the comfort and support of an affectionate son. You have a son.
You may soon be a widow. son is dissolute, you are doubly widowed; you are worse, infinitely worse than childless. You cannot now endure even the thought that your son will ever be thus abandoned. How dreadful then must be the experience of the reality!
I once knew a mother who had an only son. She loved him most ardently, and could not bear to deny him any indulgence. He, of course, soon learned to rule his mother. At the death of his father, the poor woman was left at the mercy of this vile boy. She had neglected her duty when he was young, and now his ungovernable passions had become too strong for her control. Self-willed, turbulent, and revengeful, he was his mother's bitterest
His paroxysms of rage at times amounted almost to mad
One day, infuriated with his mother, he set fire to her house, and it was burned to the ground, with all its contents, and she was left in the extremest state of poverty. He was imprisoned as an incendiary, and in his cell he became a maniac, if he was not such before, and madly dug out his own eyes. He now lies in perpetual darkness, confined by the stone walls and grated bars of his dungeon, an infuriated madman.
Oh! how hard it must be for a mother, after all her pain, and anxiety, and watchings, to find her son like a demoniac spirit, instead of a guardian and friend. You have watched over your child through all the months of its helpless infancy. You have denied yourself that you might give it comfort. When it has been sick, you have been unmindful of your own weariness and your own weakness, and the livelong night you have watched at its cradle, administering to all its wants. When it has smiled, you have felt a joy which none but a parent can feel, and have pressed your much loved treasure to your bosom, praying that its future years of obedience and affection might be your ample reward. And now how dreadful a requital for that child to grow up and abuse you; to leave you friendless, in sickness and in poverty, to squander all his earnings in haunts of iniquity and degradation !
How entirely is your earthly happiness at the disposal of your child! His character is now in your hands, and you are to form it for good or for evil. If you are consistent in your government, and faithful in the discharge of your duties, your child will probably, through life, revere you—to be the stay and solace of your declining years. If, on the other hand, you cannot summon resolution to punish your child when disobedient; if you do not curb his passions; if you do not bring him to entire and willing subjection to your authority, you must expect that he will be your
In all probability, he will despise you for your weakness. Unaccustomed to subjection at home, he will break away from all restraints, and make you wretched by his life, and disgraceful in his death.
But few parents think of this as they ought; they are not conscious of the tremendous consequences dependent upon the efficient and decisive government of their children. Thousands of parents now stand in our land like oaks blighted and scathed by lightnings and storms; thousands have had every hope wrecked, every prospect darkened, and have become the victims of the most agonizing and heart-rending disappointments, solely in consequence of the misconduct of their children; and yet thousands of others are going on in the same way, preparing to experience the same suffering, and are apparently unconscious of their danger.
It is true that there are many mothers who feel their responsibilities, perhaps as deeply as it is best they should feel them; but there are many others—even of Christian mothers—who seem to forget that their children will ever after be less under their control than they are while young, and they are training them up, by indecision and indulgence, soon to tyrannize over their parents, and to pierce their hearts with many sorrows. If you are unfaithful to your child when he is young, he will be unfaithful to you
when he is old; if you indulge him in all his foolish and unreasonable wishes when he is a child, when he becomes a man he will indulge himself; he will gratify every desire of his heart, and your suffer
ings will be rendered the more poignant by the reflection that it was your own unfaithfulness which has caused your ruin. If you would be the happy mother of a happy child, give your attention and your efforts and your prayers to the great duty of training him up for God and heaven.
THOUGHTS FOR A MOTHERS' MEETING.
HE“ Mothers' Meeting" is an opportunity given you for quiet thought; you are free from the noise and worry of the children. Loving hands are held out to
help you, and some loving heart will lend me her voice to speak to you of the things that belong to the peace of your heart and your home. Perhaps you will receive loving counsel all the more readily, in that it comes from a heart that through its own deep suffering has learned to feel for the weary, the weak, and the most tried among you.
Now, do you know what I want you first of all to do? I want you to join an association; that is rather a long word, but it means the same as a society. We hear of many benevolent societies, but I have often thought how very many of them would no longer be needed if only we women would form a great central society for the improvement of our homes,-ladies and working women alike; or rather, all of us becoming working women under one Master, Christ, in whom alone “the families of the earth are blessed.” “ It's all them publics that does the mischief,” says one. “It's the drink that's at the root of the evil,” says a second. “It's the bad women that lead away the men,” says a third. “It's the minister that doesn't visit and look after us as he might,” says a fourth. But, oh! my sisters, that I could hear you working women say, “ It's our homes that are at fault.” We can't mend the others, but we can mend our homes ; ay, and in so doing, strike nearer the real root of the evil. If there were more good homes, there would be fewer bad houses. If there were more smiling wives, there would be fewer smiling landladies. If there were more cheerful, bright, orderly dwellings, there would be fewer miserable, disorderly ale-houses. I must give it as my solemn and sad experience, that in most cases when the man, after having come out on God's side, has turned back to the old miserable slavery of sin and Satan, it has been the wife and the home that have been at fault. I have never yet known a case of a man with a real God-fearing and gentle wife turning back altogether. I have known him stumble and fall; his feet may have “ well-nigh slipped ;" but one precious link in the chain that bound him to the Rock never gave way,-his wife's prayers for him, his wife's loving words of entreaty and hope, his wife's holy example ; and clinging on to that, ashamed to go back to hell over that loving, praying heart, touched and softened to re