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THE INFLUENCE OF THE MOTHER'S
“Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware."
HEN the angel announces to Manoah's wife the coming birth of her illustrious son, he marks the close and intimate connection which subsists between the moral discipline of the mother and the moral character impressed thereby upon the child she carries (Judges xiii. 3-5). “Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing. For, lo,
thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head : for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb." And afterwards, as if to show its solemn importance, he repeats the charge to Manoah himself. Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware;”—as if to say, “She is chosen and set apart for high and holy purposes. Upon her depend the moulding and preparation of that great instrument whom God is about to raise up for the deliverance of His people. He will partake of the nature of the vessel in which he is formed and fashioned. If he is to come forth a Nazarite unto God from the womb, that womb must be sanctified unto the Lord. The process of consecration must begin in the mother; so that what she is, may be wrought into the texture of the child, and become the element, or constituent principle, of his future character. Of all this let her beware.” Thus it was that the Nazaritish vow implied a kind of sponsorship upon the parent's part, before her offspring saw the light of heaven. In fulfilment of this vicarious office, and to commence the necessary process, it was, that when Hannah had vowed that, “if the Lord would give unto His handmaid a man-child, then would she give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there should no razor come upon his head.” She was able, not only to deny the imputation of excess, but to add, “I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.” Doubtless it was in anticipation of the high destinies of
her son, that when Elizabeth conceived, she “hid herself five months." To that holy recession she betook herself, partly that she might give full scopé to the gratitude which rushed in such torrents to her heart, and partly from respect to the child, lest she should be any way defiled, and so derive uncleanness upon the Nazarite in her womb.
Let a woman but truly and conscientiously feel that her own character is in the daily and hourly course of being written and impressed upon the child whom God has committed to her trust; and she will be satisfied that no less a hand than that of our great poet should draw her portrait :
“ Grace was in all her steps, Heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love." I would recommend to the mothers of young children often to think over the following simple lines addressed to an infant:
" When born, in tears we saw thee drowned,
With smiles their joy expressed :
And thou in smiles be dressed." Upon a mother, and upon her care, it chiefly, under God, depends, whether she who “ sowed in tears shall reap in joy." And here Í make a distinction between the mother and her care. For far more is effected by what she is, and by what she involuntarily exhibits to the opening faculties of the child, than by all her conscientious anxieties and ceaseless labours for its benefit. It has been often, and most truly, said, that the best way to do good is to be good. And in no instance does this important maxim more emphatically apply, than to those plastic hands into which the infant is at first committed. It has been matter of frequent observation and surprise, that young persons should appear, from the earliest period, some as if stamped in the very mould of gentleness, piety and goodness; and others as if incapable of taking one soft, or pure, or generous impression. The fact it would be utterly impossible to doubt. But how far its existence has been owing to the secret agencies of the mother upon the “substance, yet being imperfect,” of the unborn child; or to the moral infection which she at once communicates, upon its starting into life, -how far these causes have operated cannot be fully known, till parents stand before the bar of God, to give an account of themselves and of their children. For my own part, I have a firm persuasion, that the first interview, if I may so call it, which takes place between a mother and her new-born babe, is a moment of the most important interest. For this may be taken as a specimen of endless repetitions to come; as a point from which, perhaps, the line of an everlasting destiny will flow. Those who are free to speculate, may form their notions as to
the moment at which the moral culture of the mind begins; but persons who are called to responsible duties must act, and plant their footsteps on some sure and solid ground. If it be matter of doubtful disputation when the intellectual dawn commences, the parent's duty is to take care of his child, and to let theories take care of themselves. How would it be, if some all-important interest depended on his being at a given place or appointed spot precisely at the natural dawn of day? Would he be mad enough to waste his time in subtle, nice, and curious inquiries, what could strictly be called dawn, and what properly constituted its opening or first appearing; and to risk momentous matters on the accuracy with which he hit the point? No: here he would run no hazard. He would feel that he could not be too sure in such concerns.
He would take care, at all events, that his errors should be on the right side. Hours before the dawn could do no harm,-one minute after it might be ruin. And, therefore, long ere the faintest indication of the coming day, he would be upon his important post.
Christian mothers will feel that they have practical duties to perform; and will not waste, in vain and idle speculation, precious moments which may stamp for ever the character of their children. They will endeavour to be whatever they would desire their children to be. They will purify the fountain, that the streams may be pure also. They will not merely acknowledge, but devoutly feel, that God is the Great Educator; and if they would bring their infants unto Christ, that He may bless them, they must themselves live to Christ; and thus become channels through which the virtue that goes out of Him may reach their hearts.H. Woodward.
CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD.- As I grow older as a parent, my views are changing fast as to the degree of conformity to the world which we should allow to our children. I am horrorstruck to count up the profligate children of pious persons and even ministers. The door at which those influences enter, which countervail parental instruction and example, I am persuaded is yielding to the ways of "good society ;” by dress, books, and amusements, an atmosphere is formed which is not that of Christianity. More than ever do I feel that our families must stand in a kind but determined opposition to the fashions of the world, breasting the waves like the Eddystone lighthouse. And I have found nothing yet which requires more courage and independence than to rise even a little, but decidedly, above the par of the religious world around us. Surely the way in which we commonly go on is not that way of self-denial, and sacrifice, and crossbearing which the New Testament talks of. Then is the offence of the Cross ceased. Our slender influence on the circles of our friends is often to be traced to our leaving so little difference between us.-Rev. J. W. Alexander, D.D.
"O SAVE ME FOR THY MERCIES' SAKE!" ERCY alone can meet my case ; I perish, and my doom were just ;, For mercy, Lord, I cry.
But wilt Thou leave me?-No: Jesus, Redeemer! show Thy I hold Thee fast, my Hope, my Trust,, face
I will not let Thee go. In mercy, or I die.
Still sure to me Thy promise stands,
Behoid it written on Thy hands,
To this, this only will I cleave ;
Thy word is all my plea :
Have mercy, Lord! on me.
A MOTHER'S RULE. BEDIENCE is absolutely essential to proper family government; without this all other efforts will be in vain. You may pray with and for your children ; you may strive to instruct them in religious truth ; you may be unwearied in your efforts to make them happy and to gain their affection; but if they are habituated to.
disobedience, your instructions will be lost, and your toil in vain. And by obedience, I do not mean languid and dilatory yielding to repeated threats, but prompt and cheerful acquiescence in parental commands. Neither is it enough that a child should yield to your arguments and persuasions ; it is essen
tial that he should submit to your authority. I will suppose a case in illustration of this last remark. Your little daughter is sick, you go to her with the medicine which has been prescribed for her, and the following dialogue ensues:
“Here, my daughter, is some medicine for you." “ I don't want to take it, mamma." “Yes, my dear; do take it, for it will make you feel better." “No it won't, mother ; I don't want it.” “Yes it will, my child. The doctor says it will." “ Well, I don't like it, and I don't want it.”
The mother continues her persuasions, and the child persists in its refusal ; after a long and wearisome conflict the mother is compelled either to throw the medicine away, or to resort to compulsion, and force down the unpalatable drug. Thus, instead of appealing to her own supreme authority, she is appealing to the reason of the child, and under these circumstances the child, of course, refuses to submit. A mother, not long since, under similar circumstances, not