Imatges de pÓgina
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operation; and has special reference to that provision which the heads of families should make for the wants of those who are placed under their protection. As the parent sustains a physical, intellectual and moral relation to the child, it is his mission to provide for its physical, mental and moral wants. "He that provideth not for his own house hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." Natural affection will prompt to this. Children are in a state of utter helplessness. The infant is at the mercy of the parent. Instinct impels the parent to provide for its wants. Even the brute does this.

That it is a part, therefore, of the home mis sion to provide for the physical wants of the dependents there, is very evident. To refuse to fulfill it is a crime against nature. This part of the home-mission includes the education of the body, by properly unfolding and directing its powers, and providing it with appropriate nutriment, raiment and shelter. In a word, we should make proper provision for the development and maturity of the physical life of our children. This is the mission of the parent until the child is able to provide for itself. This, says Blackstone, "is a principle of natural law;" and, in the language of Puffendorf, is "an obligation laid on parents, not only by nature herself, but by their own proper act in bringing them into the world." The laws of the land also command The child has a legal claim upon the parent for physical sustenance and education.

it.

It is another part of the home-mission to provide for the intellectual wants and welfare of the child. Children have mind as well as body. The former needs nourishment and training as well as the latter. Hence it is as much the mission of the family to minister to the well-being of the mind of the child, as to that of its body. Civil law enforces this. Children have a legal as well as a natural claim to mental culture. In a word, it is the home-mission to provide for the child all things necessary to prepare it for a citizenship in the state.

Parents abuse this mission in two ways, either when they by their own indolence and dissipation compel their children to support them; or, on the other hand, when they become the willing slaves of their children, labor to amass a fortune for them, and, in the anticipation of that, permit them to grow up in ignorance, idleness, and prodigality, fit only to abuse and spend the fruit of parental servitude. In this way the misapplied provision made by parents often becomes a curse, not only to the members of the family, but to the state and church.

Another part of the home-mission is, the spiritual and eternal well-being of its members. This is seen in the typical character of the Christian family. It is an emblem of the church and of heaven. According to this, parents are called to administer the means of grace to their household, to provide for soul as well as for body, to prepare the child for a true membership in the church, as

well as for a citizenship in the state, to train for heaven as well as for earth.

Parents are "priests unto their families," and have the commission to act for them as faithful stewards of God in all things pertaining to their everlasting welfare. Their souls, as well as their bodies, are committed to their trust, and God says to them,

"Go nurse them for the King of Heaven, And He will pay thee hire."

This is their great mission, and corresponds with the conception of the Christian home as a spiritual nursery. The family is "God's husbandry;" and this implies a spiritual culture. As its members dwell as "being heirs together of the grace of life," it is the function of each to labor to make all the rest "fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Parents should provide for the religious wants of their children. Mere physical maintenance and mental culture cannot supersede the necessity of spiritual training. Children have a right to such training.

This religious provision is twofold; their moral and spiritual faculties should be developed; and their moral nature supplied with appropriate nutriment. All the wants of their moral nature are to be faithfully provided for. The home-mission involves the business of education of body, of mind, and of spirit; - of preparation for the state, for the church, for eternity. It is this

which makes it so sacred and responsible. Strip the Christian family of its mission as a nursery for the soul; wrest from the parents their high prerogative as stewards of God; and you heathenize home, yea, you brutalize it! Tell me, what Christian home can accomplish its holy mission, when the soul is neglected, when religion is left out of view, when training up for God is abandoned, when the church is repudiated, and eternity cast off? You may provide for the body and mind of your children; you may amass for them a fortune; you may give them an accomplished education; you may introduce them into the best society; you may establish them in the best business; you may fit them for an honorable and responsible position in life; you may be careful of their health and reputation; and you may caress them with all the tender ardor of the parental heart and hand; yet if you provide not for their souls; if you seek not their salvation; if you minister only to their temporal, and not to their eternal welfare, all will be vain, yea, a curse both to you and to them. Husband and wife may love each other, and live together in all the peace and harmony of reciprocated affection; yet if the religious part of their home-mission remain unfulfilled, their family is. divested of its noblest attraction; its greatest interests will fall into ruin; its highest destiny will not be attained; and soon its fruits will be entombed in oblivion; while their children, neglected and perishing, will look back

upon that home with a bitterness of spirit which the world can neither soothe nor extract!

How many such homes there are! Even the homes of church members are too often reckless of their high vocation Their moral stewardship is neglected; their dedications, formal and heartless. No prayers are heard; no bible read; no instructions given; no pious examples set; no holy discipline exercised. Their interests, their hopes and their enjoyments; their education, their labor and their rest, are all of the world, -worldly. The curse of God is upon such a home!

The importance and responsibility of the homemission may be seen in its vicarious character, and in its influence upon the members. The principle of moral reproduction is manifest in all the home-relations. What the parent does is reproduced, as it were, in the child, and will tell upon the generations that follow them. Those close affinities by which all the members are allied, give to each a moulding influence over all the rest. The parents live, not for themselves alone, but for their children, and the consequence of such a life is also entailed upon their offspring. "The iniquity of the fathers shall be visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. If the parent "sow to the flesh," the child, with him, "shall of the flesh reap corruption;" but if he "sow to the spirit," his offspring, with him, shall "of the spirit reap life everlasting."

Sacred and profane history proves and illus

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