페이지 이미지

of the creation," exacts attention and obedience, and they are his due. We are not of those who plead for equality in domestic government; obedience in a wife is a scriptural doctrine, and she who accords it with cheerfulness, performs but her duty. If it be received with the feeling and consideration to which it is entitled, she promotes her own happiness: because all power is in his hands; he can hold what portion he pleases, and if she succeed in obtaining any more than her legitimate share, she does it by means that are degrading to the dignity of her character. Should her meekness and submission be returned by moroseness and tyranny, should the husband forget that he is commanded to "love his wife as himself”—a command that comprises all that she can ask-she may weep over her disappointed hopes, "there, where she had garnered up her heart," and centred all her fairy schemes of earthly joys; but she will have the solace of remembering, that from him, she has deserved a better fate. To conceal her sufferings in these trying circumstances, so far as her silence to every ear but his own can effect it, is her wisdom, if it be not strictly her duty. Complaints to any other may exasperate, rather than reform, and she loses an influence which might still be exerted beneficially. Influence she still possesses. A man who is not wholly abandoned, cannot see an exemplification of Christianity in the conduct of his wife, without a feeling of respect, however he may be prompted by want of principle, or by ill temper, to withhold the expression in his general


The natural effect of a union of interests in the married

state, is an ascendancy in the mind of each party over that of the other. Let women then, by every fair and upright means preserve this advantage. The Apostle Peter admits the fact for which we contend, when, in prescribing submission to his female converts, he says, "that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word, be won by the conversation of the wives." Women have been told by flatterers, that they rule the world! They are told, indeed, that their dominion is indirect—that it is felt through their husbands and their sons. Let them not be misled by cheating sounds-they never rule. Let them not aspire to an elevation for which they are not fitted either by nature or education; but be satisfied with that moral power which they do really possess, and which, if it be properly applied, is more glorious than a diadem.

The skilful management of her household affairs is included by the Royal Preacher in the duties of a wife. The comfort of her family, and the respectability of her husband are imputed to her. Her time and her thoughts in due proportion to her pecuniary circumstances must be given to the economy of housekeeping, or disorder and ruin must ensue. "Who can find a virtuous woman?" he says; "for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil." "She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness." "Her husband is known in the gates when he sitteth among the elders of the land." "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness."

Here then, is the first scene of a woman's influence in favour of Christianity. The writer just alluded to supposes a good wife to be a religious woman: for he concludes his enumeration of her qualifications by the following beautiful sentiment-"Favour is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."

Our limits would not allow a detailed examination of the duty of wives, could we suppose them so ignorant as to require our instructions. Volumes of wisdom have been given to them on this subject; and often have we wished that the same wholesome care had been taken of husbands. It seems to be assumed, that they know and practise the obligations that devolve upon them. The contrary we believe to be the fact; and that unhappiness in the marriage state, in the greater number of cases, may be ascribed to the vices on that side of the house.

Not less interesting to herself, and vastly more important in its results to society, is the influence of woman as a mother. In no other capacity is her power so full, or so durable. Her intense affection for her children, her untiring cares, her incessant labours, inspire an attachment in them, which is seldom broken but with the last chord of life! While they hang about her knee, she is their oracle; and many a headstrong youth who no longer listens to her daily lesson, before he has learned to say with the Patriarch, "Can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" will ask his heart-can I commit this folly and grieve my fond mother? Nor does the reprobate in

his cell forget the anxious love that would have restrained his erring steps.

Besides the strong affection that inclines the infant ear to the maternal voice, other circumstances combine to give to her advantages that no other can possess. Her children are constantly about her-she mingles in their sports— she replies to all their curious inquiries: her presence imposes no restraint; her familiarity begets confidence, and all the artless heart is laid open to her view. Hence her opportunity of discerning a propensity before it has acquired strength to become a vice, and her ability to apply her admonitions to the various characters of her charge. In the capacity of mothers, the influence of women is so pregnant with effects to themselves, to their children, and to all with whom they are, or may be connected, that, did they seriously consider the magnitude of the trust committed to them, they would tremble in the view of their fearful responsibility!

We mean not to say that the moral culture of children is the duty of one parent, to the exclusion of the other: they are equally bound in this solemn obligation, but the circumstances just mentioned make it evident, that the arduous, though delightful task, must fall chiefly upon the mother. Happy is she if she receive from her partner that assistance which it is in his power to give! and yet happier if her children receive from the careless sentiments of their father, no impressions which have a tendency to counteract the pious lessons of their mother. The desire of revenge is a natural passion, and ought to be carefully eradicated, but it is too often confirmed by the father in the heart of a

boy, under the notion of giving him a manly spirit-a spirit, alas! which is any thing but the spirit of the Gospel! Fraud and falsehood, under the specious names of skill and fair advantages, are taught in the same way. Now, how distressing is the embarrassment of a conscientious woman, who must in her conversations with her children, either censure their father, or concur in his errors; we will use no harsher term, for we are willing to believe, that such conduct arises from a thoughtless compliance with the ways of the world. A man of any reputation would be shocked to be told that he was an instructor in vice.

If the whole character of the man or the woman were to be formed in childhood, a mother could do but little; but the influence of a good mother does not cease with that period-her influence is lasting. This, however, is the time to enter on her task, and if she pursue it judiciously, very much may be done. There is truth in the old adage— "As the twi is bent, the tree's inclined." We know indeed, that the profligate is often the son of a pious parent, whose prayers and entreaties have "availed them nothing." In such cases we should say, the twig did not bend, and they are comparatively so few, that we are always apt to prejudge an individual by the character of the parents.

By stimulating that curiosity which seems to be inherent in the human breast, the desire for knowledge may be implanted, grace and softness may be imparted to manners, truth and candour may be made habitual, charitable and benevolent affections may be excited or encouraged, notions of taste may be given; the temper, that powerful instrument

« 이전계속 »