Imatges de pÓgina
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CHAPTER I.

WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN HOME?

SECTION I.

HOME IN THE SPHERE OF NATURE.

"My home! the spirit of its love is breathing
In every wind that plays across my track,
From its white walls the very tendrils wreathing
Seem with soft links to draw the wanderer back.
There am I loved-there prayed for !-there my mother
Sits by the hearth with meekly thoughtful eye,
There my young sisters watch to greet their brother;
Soon their glad footsteps down the path will fly!
And what is home? and where, but with the loving?

HOME! That name touches every fibre of the soul, and strikes every chord of the human heart as with angelic fingers. Nothing but death can break its spell. What tender associations are linked with home! What pleasing images and deep emotions it awakens! It calls up the fondest memories of life, and opens in our nature

the purest, deepest, richest gush of consecrated thought and feeling.

Home! 'tis a blessed name! And they who rove,
Careless or scornful of its pleasant bonds,

Nor gather round them those linked soul to soul
By nature's fondest ties,

But dream they're happy!"

But what is home,-home in the sphere of nature? It is not simply an ideal which feeds the fancy, nor the flimsy emotion of a sentimental heart. We should seek for its meaning, not in the flowery vales of imagination, but amid the sober realities of thought and of faith.

Home is not the mere dwelling place of our parents, and the theater upon which we played the part of merry childhood. It is not simply a habitation. This would identify it with the lion's lair and the eagle's nest. It is not the mere mechanical juxtaposition of so many human beings, herding together like animals in the den or stall. It is not mere conventionalism,-a human association made up of the nursery, the parlor, the outward of domestic life, resting upon some evanescent passion, some sensual impression and policy. These do not make up the idea of home.

Home is a divine institution, coeval and congenital with man. The first home was in Eden; the last home will be in Heaven. It is the first form of society, a little commonwealth in which we first lose our individualism and come to the consciousness of our relation to others. Thus it is the

foundation of all our relationships in life,—the preparation-state for our position in the State and in the Church. It is the first form and development of the associating principle, the normal relation in which human character first unfolds itself. It is the first partnership of nature and of life; and when it involves "the communion of saints," it reaches its highest form of development. It is an organic unity of nature and of interest,-the moral center of all those educational influences which are exerted upon our inward being. The idea of the home-institution rests upon the true love of our moral nature, involving the marriage union of congenial souls, binding up into itself the whole of life, forming and moulding all its relations, and causing body, mind and spirit to partake of a common evolution. The loving soul is the central fact of home. In it the inner life of the members find their true complement, and enjoy a kind of community of consciousness.

Home's not merely four square walls,
Though with pictures hung and gilded ;

Home is where affection calls

Filled with shrines the heart hath builded."

Home may be viewed in a twofold aspect, as simply physical, and as purely moral. The former comes finally to its full meaning and force only in the latter. They are interwoven; we cannot understand the one without the other; they are complements; and the complete idea of home as

we find it in the sphere of nature, lies in the living union of both.

By the physical idea of home, we mean, noţ only its outward, mechanical structure, made up of different parts and members, but that living whole or oneness into which these parts are bound up. Hence it is not merely adventitious, -a corporation of individual interests, but that organic unity of natural life and interest in which the members are bound up. By the moral idea of home, we mean the union of the moral life and interests of its members. This explodes the infidel systems of Fourierism, Socialism, Mormonism, and "Woman's Rights." These forms of Agrarianism destroy the ethical idea and mission of home; for they are not only opposed to revelation and history, but violate the plainest maxims of natural affection.

With

Love is an essential element of home. out this we may have the form of a home, but not its spirit, its beating heart, its true motive power, and its sunshine. The inward stream would be gone, and home would not be the oneness of kindred souls. Home-love is instinctive, and begets all those silken chords, those sweet harmonies, those tender sympathies and endearments which give to the family its magic power. This home-love is the mother of all home delights, yea, of all the love of life. We first draw love from our mother's breast, and it is love which ministers to our first wants. It flashes from parent to parent, and from parent to child,

making up the sunshine and the loveliness of domestic life. Without it home would have no meaning. It engenders the "home-feeling" and the "home-sickness," and is the moral net-work of the home-existence and economy. It is stronger than death; it rises superior to adversity, and towers in sublime beauty above the niggardly selfishness of the world. Misfortune cannot sup

press it; enmity cannot alienate it; temptation cannot enslave it. It is the guardian angel of the nursery and the sick-bed; it gives an affectionate concord to the partnership of home-life and interest. Circumstances cannot modify it; it ever remains the same, to sweeten existence, to purify the cup of life, to smooth our rugged pathway to the grave, and to melt into moral pliability the brittle nature of man. It is the ministering spirit of home, hovering in soothing caresses over the cradle and the death-beds of the household, and filling up the urn of all its sacred memories.

But home demands not only such love, but ties, tender, strong, and sacred. These bind up the many in the one. They are the fibres of the home-life, and cannot be wrenched without causing the heart to bleed at every pore. Death may dissect them and tear away the objects around which they entwine; and they will still live in the imperishable love which survives. From them proceed mutual devotions and confiding faith. They bind together in one all-expanding unity, the perogatives of the husband, and the

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