THE CHRISTIAN MOTHER
by John Abbott, 1833, Worcester, Mass.
Published by the American Tract Society
FRUITS OF PIETY
Nothing will conduce more effectually to a mother's
success in the work of training up her children to be consistent and useful
Christians, than right ideas of true fruits of piety. We must know what
fruits the true spirit of piety will produce—for our own sakes and also for
our children. We must know what points we are ourselves to aim at attaining
in cultivating the Christian character, and also in what direction we are to
lead our children. I propose in this chapter to consider what the true
fruits of piety, as developed in a Christian family, properly are.
1. A DEVOTIONAL SPIRIT. A spirit of habitual
and sincere devotion is so directly implied in the very idea of piety, that
it seems scarcely proper to enumerate it as one of the fruits of piety. And
yet the importance of direct and constant efforts to cultivate such a
spirit, is often overlooked. By a devotional spirit is meant a spirit of
sincere and fervent prayer, and a disposition to associate the thoughts of
God and his providence with all the occurrences and events of life. Cherish
now this spirit in yourselves and inculcate it upon your children. Teach
them, for example, that when their father, or you yourself, assemble them
for morning or evening prayer, it is not a mere form, or a duty that they
are to witness merely, but to take part in. Teach them, on the other hand,
that they have themselves an active and important duty to perform at these
"When your father reads the passage of scripture," you
can say to them, "you must not be inattentive, but must fix your thoughts
upon what he reads, and to apply the instructions to your own case. And as
he addresses God in prayer, you should silently repeat after him all the
words of his petition, trying to make them your own. And thus you should
make the season of family prayer, a season in which you not merely listen to
your father's prayer, but engage in devotion yourselves."
It will not be sufficient to inculcate such a lesson as
this upon your children by precept alone; you must lead them to such duties
by your example. They must see the evidence of a sincere spirit of devotion
in you. To this end you must be diligent in secret prayer, confessing your
own sins, and imploring God's assistance to enable you to resist the
peculiar temptations to which you are exposed. Social prayer is a great
source of spiritual improvement and enjoyment. But it can never take the
place of secret prayer. There are sins and temptations to which we all are
exposed, which we cannot confess in the presence of anyone but God alone. In
our secret prayers, therefore, we should be particular, mentioning by name
our secret sins, and our constitutional imperfections.
Teach your children these truths. "At the close of the
day," you may say to them "when you retire to your chamber for the repose of
the night, and before you close your eyes in sleep, retrace, with your
thoughts, the scenes of the day. Recall to mind all the duties that you have
faithfully performed, and also all the duties that you have neglected, and
the temptations to which you have yielded. Among your sins of omission, you
see, perhaps, that you did not improve your time in school as well as you
ought to have done. Your mother found it necessary to censure you for
leaving your clothes in your room in disorder. You also remember that you
felt irritated at some little annoyance from your sister, and though you had
sufficient self-restraint to refrain from speaking angrily to her, your
feelings were for some time so ruffled as to make you quite unhappy. Reflect
upon these faults until you feel how sinful they were in God's sight. You
must then confess all these and other similar sins to God, and ask his
forgiveness for them."
It is thus that you must watch over your own spirit, and
teach your children to watch over theirs day after day, and year after year,
that you and they may grow in grace. It is only by this spirit of particular
and secret prayer, that any one can make any rapid or sure attainments in
the divine life. Nothing can be substituted for faithful prayer. The moment
that you begin to neglect it, your heart begins to grow cold, and you become
the victim of spiritual desertion. But if you are faithful in devotion, your
path through life will be "as the shining light that shines more and more
unto the perfect day." You will soon, in this way, gain such a conquest over
all sinful passions—that serenity and peace will be the habitual state of
2. CHEERFULNESS. A cheerful spirit is so
specially enjoined in the Scriptures that it may almost be considered a sin
to be melancholy. It is a duty to be happy. Gloom and despondency are not
only the consequences of sin—but they are sinful states of mind. They prove
ingratitude, and lack of submission to the government of God. I will not say
that there may not be particular seasons in life, in the history of
individuals, in which they must unavoidably be borne down with sorrow. Now
and then, there comes upon an individual a dreadful calamity, and the
strongest mind and the strongest faith are prostrated by it. But, even in
these cases, it is certain that it is the duty of the Christian to feel such
perfect confidence in the wisdom and the benevolence of God's government, as
to illustrate the truth of the promise, "You will keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on you."
There can, however, be no question but that it is our
duty under all ordinary circumstances, to have a mind serene and peaceful.
And while admitting that there may be a great difference, in this respect,
in the natural disposition of children, nothing is more certain than that we
can cultivate, in them as well as in ourselves, the habit of looking upon
the bright side of every object, and by this cultivation, with more or
less difficulty, a spirit of almost uninterrupted tranquillity and happiness
may be acquired. Young people, and indeed many older people, are apt to
imagine that, if they are of a melancholy temper, it is their misfortune.
But the truth is, in general, it is not their misfortune—but their sin. They
indulge themselves year after year in those feelings which they know to be
wrong, and which gnaw at the heart like a viper biting there.
Suppose when you awake in the morning, before offering
your morning prayer, you think of all the blessings with which you are
surrounded. You reflect how many people, during the past night, have tossed
upon beds of pain. "How many have died," you say, "and find themselves this
morning in the eternal world—unprepared for its awful scenes! My Heavenly
Father has kept me alive, and another day is now given me in which to
prepare for Heaven. The Lord has provided me with all necessary clothes to
wear, and food to eat. I have kind friends around me; opportunities for
doing good opened before me; and if I am faithful in duty this day, how
happily may its hours glide along! And above all—blissful thought—if the
Lord should see fit to take me from the world today, I cannot doubt that he
has, for my blessed Savior's sake, forgiven my sins, and that he will take
me to Heaven. Every day is carrying me nearer to eternal holiness and
happiness. O, how much occasion have I for a heart overflowing with
gratitude! I shall indeed be inexcusably ungrateful to my heavenly Father
if, when crowned with all these blessings, I have a sad and murmuring heart.
"Heavenly Father," you say, in meditative prayer, "help
me this day to manifest my gratitude to you by happy love. May I so love
you, and serve you, and have such confidence in your goodness, and so subdue
all those passions which are sinful, and consequently disturb one's peace,
and so perform all my duties that I may have a tranquil heart all the day
In your morning prayer, you pray for a cheerful spirit,
as one of your most important duties and blessings. You then go fortified by
prayer from your chamber to the family below, with a tranquil countenance,
and a still more placid heart. If any domestic annoyances arise, you are
thus prepared to triumph over them. And there is a mysterious influence by
which the serenity and good nature of one heart are transmitted to all
surrounding hearts. As you speak in kind and pleasant tones to the family;
as you are continually active in making peace and in keeping peace; in
preventing, as far as possible, all occasions of annoyance; and in
sacrificing, with alacrity, your own ease and your own rights to make all
things go smoothly—you maintain an unruffled state of mind, which most
richly compensates you for every act of self-denial.
The reward comes with the duty. It is surprising what
an influence one really warmhearted, cheerful, unselfish person may thus
have upon a whole family. I once heard it said of a certain child,
"There can be no sorrow where she is. She has the faculty of making
everything go pleasantly, and everyone feel happy." This should be the
character of every Christian child; and how much more effectual, in
disseminating an atmosphere of enjoyment, may be the efforts of a Christian
If any mother will set out perseveringly and prayerfully,
in this course of life, resisting every emotion of discontent, cultivating,
day after day and hour after hour, a cheerful and happy spirit, contending
against every wrong feeling, and cherishing everything that is lovely and of
good report, with an effort, never intermitted, to keep a smile upon her
countenance and peace in her heart—she will soon gain such control over
herself, and get into such a habit of being happy, that hardly anything can
interrupt her joy. If she is sick, she will be happy. If well, happy. She
will be happy at home or abroad, at work or at rest, alone or in company.
When young she will be happy, and when old she will be happy. And when a
dying hour comes, and she looks forward to a home in heaven, while others
weep—she will rejoice.
"Rejoice always," says the apostle Paul. This is a divine
command; but is one that we cannot obey without making direct efforts to
cultivate the spirit that it enjoins. The mother must then carefully and
prayerfully cultivate this spirit of joy. A depressed and gloomy spirit she
must resist. It is the spirit of Satan—not of God. It is the element of the
world of woe—not of the home of the angel. It is said of the celebrated
Wilberforce, that he so carefully, in the early part of his life, watched
over his own heart, carefully subduing all emotions of vanity, ambition,
selfishness, and irritability—that in the latter part of his life he seemed
to have risen above temptation. In respect to those sins which so much
disturb the peace of ordinary minds, the struggle with him seemed to be
almost over, and the victory complete. The closing years of his life were
like the calm and golden glory of a summer's evening. Not a cloud obscured
the horizon of his joys. He was just as happy as the days were long. His
children and his grandchildren clustered around him, feeling that his
presence dispelled almost every sorrow. His favorite passage of Scripture
was, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God; and the peace
of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds
through Jesus Christ." Now, I cannot doubt that it is in the power of almost
every person, by the same culture, to attain the same rich and heavenly joy.
Many people are unhappy who are surrounded with almost
every earthly blessing—and many are very happy, who are deprived of almost
every earthly good. Our happiness depends far more upon the state of our
hearts than upon anything else. Cultivate, then, a right state of heart—and
you will almost surely have a happy life. And do not think that you have any
right to be unhappy. If you pass an unhappy day, in gloom and depression,
you should repent of it, and ask God's forgiveness, and seek his aid, that
you may sin thus, no more. Such a day must be a misspent day. Your gloom
must have dishonored the religion you profess. It must have marred the
happiness of your friends, your husband, your children, and of all your
domestic circle. And it must not only have prevented the possibility of any
vigorous efforts of doing good—but the influence of your gloomy example must
have repelled others from religion.
Therefore make it a daily duty to be cheerful. Pray that
you may be cheerful; meditate upon your blessings; look upon the bright side
of everything; and carefully study your own heart, that you may ascertain
what those feelings are which disturb the tranquility of your mind, and
should therefore be checked—and what those emotions are which are satisfying
and pleasurable, and should therefore be cultivated. You probably have no
idea how much your usefulness and happiness depends upon the careful
cultivation of a cheerful spirit.
3. KINDNESS. The spirit of religion is the
spirit of self-sacrifice, of giving up our own convenience, and
relinquishing our own rights—that we may promote the happiness of others. We
are thus to endeavor, not only to secure the happiness of those we love—but
also to promote the happiness of those who are unkind to us, whose
characters and manners are disagreeable. We are instructed in the Bible,
that we must in this respect imitate God, "who makes his sun to rise on the
evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Now we
must diligently practice this sentiment ourselves, and diligently inculcate
it upon our children. Teach them that it is by no means enough, that we love
those who love us—that we are kind to those who are kind to us. Our kindness
must be a state of the heart—an established principle of universal
application. Wherever we can confer a favor, we must do it gladly, whether
they who receive it are deserving or undeserving—and we must thank God for
the opportunity to thus doing good.
We must remember that an act of kindness however small,
if it proceeds from sincere goodwill is pleasing to God. We must teach this
truth to our children. A little child, for example, is seated at a corner of
the fireplace, on a cold winter morning. It is a snug corner—the pleasantest
seat in the room. With an entertaining book in her hand she is enjoying her
pleasant position. Her brother comes in from the cold. At once, perhaps, the
thought arises in her mind, "I got this seat first, and have a right to it.
It is so comfortable that I cannot think of leaving it." This is the selfish
spirit of earth and sin. But she repels this thought. The spirit of
Christianity and heaven springs up in her heart, and, immediately rising
from her seat, she affectionately says, "Here brother, you look very cold.
Take this warm seat. I am quite warm, and will move a little further from
Now, God looks down upon that act, and is pleased with
it. It is acting like God. Angels look down and love such a spirit, and say,
"That is the spirit of heaven; there is a child whom we should wish to have
associated with us here."
This spirit you should manifest at all times, and on all
occasions, and thus set the example of it to your children. Teach them to be
ever ready to do all in their power to make others happy. When with their
brothers and sisters, or with their associates at school, they must be ever
ready in all things to relinquish their own plans to gratify others. A plate
of apples is brought into the room. One is larger and more luscious than the
rest. Teach them not to choose that one for themselves—but to select it
kindly though unostentatiously, for their brother, or their sister, or the
friend who has come to visit them. Some play activity is proposed. Teach
them to relinquish their own preference, for the choice of others. So, in
everything in which it is not wrong to yield, teach them to give up their
own wishes—that they may gratify others.
We must be careful, however, that this amiable and
yielding disposition does not degenerate into indecision and
fickle-mindedness. We are never to yield in the least degree where it is
wrong to do so. Whatever we think to be our duty, that we must mildly and
kindly, but firmly resolve to do—at all hazards. We must not say, "It is a
little sin, and I will indulge in it to gratify others." Remember that the
time is near when we must appear before God's judgment—and he will not deem
it an excuse for displeasing him, that we did it to please our friends or
associates. These temptations we must resist—and God exposes us to them that
by resistance we may strengthen in our hearts the principle of obedience to
A person may have the most amiable disposition in the
world—the kindest and the most gentle—and yet possess such a degree of
decision of character as to be willing to encounter any opposition and any
ridicule rather than do the least wrong. This was the character of our
Savior. He was willing to leave heaven, and all the joys of heaven, and to
suffer and die upon the cross, that he might do us good. All this he could
do for those who did not love him; who were his enemies, and who, with
hatred and insult, nailed him to the cross. Such fearful sacrifices as these
our Savior could make to promote the happiness of others. And yet there
never was any other person in the world, who had so much decision of
character as he. No earthly motive could induce him to do anything in the
least degree wrong.
We must all possess the spirit of Christ, if we would be
his disciples. We must imitate him in his self-denying kindness—in his
forgetfulness of his own comfort, that he might promote the happiness of
others—and also in his conscientious discharge of duty at all hazards. To
cultivate this disposition, is one important part of the Christian conflict.
4. POLITENESS. Some people may be surprised in
finding politeness mentioned as one of the fruits and evidences of piety.
You have, perhaps, ever been accustomed to regard politeness as one of those
fashionable graces which belong rather to the gay and thoughtless—than to
the serious and devotional. But the truth is, that politeness is one of the
most important of Christian virtues. "Be courteous," is one of the
injunctions of the Bible. Indeed, the Bible contains the most perfect rules
of politeness known in the world; and it enforces the observance of those
rules, as of infinite importance. The most perfect definition of politeness
that I have ever seen, is "real kindness, kindly expressed." Politeness does
not consist in flourishing manners and airs, artificially acquired. It is
the natural expression of amiable feeling. If we carefully cherish the
feelings to which I have alluded under the head of kindness, and, with real
and unostentatious benevolence, treat all with whom we associate according
to these principles—we shall be truly polite. Our manners will be pleasing
to all people. And people who have not these feelings, and wish to appear
polite, will attain only to the empty and lifeless form. Indeed, it is hard
to conceive how one can be a Christian, who is not polite. The Christian
character is certainly very defective, where this grace is lacking—for it
implies the absence of the most lovely traits of the mind and of the heart.
A writer says, "A gracious word is better than a gift;"
and it is indeed true, that some people will confer a favor in so repulsive
a way that it gives you pain rather than pleasure to receive it. Our real
kindness must be kindly expressed. If it be not so, we shall often give more
pain than pleasure by that which we intended as kindness.
Let the mother than teach her children, both by precept
and example—to be always polite. Let her feel real kindness for all, and
express the kindness that she feels, in a kind manner. Let her inculcate
these principles upon her children. Show them plainly that both points are
essential. It is not enough that there should be a substantial feeling of
kindness in the heart—it must be kindly expressed. On the other hand it is
not enough that there should be kind expression of words or acts—there must
be kind feeling in the heart.
This distinction may be made very clear to the youngest
child by the following example. I was once riding with a clergyman, when we
met a poor, lame man walking along the road. The clergyman thought it would
be a deed of kindness to help him on his way, and stopping his horse, said,
"Here, you lame man, get in here!" The poor man was glad for the ride, and
got in. The clergyman took no further notice of him, but employed his mind
with his own thoughts. Occasionally the poor man would make some remark; but
no attention was paid to what he said, unless it was necessary to answer
him, and then the reply was a short yes or no. At length we arrived at the
place where the man wished to get out. As he left the carriage, he very
warmly thanked the clergyman for his kindness in giving him the ride. Not a
word, however, was said in reply to his thanks; but the clergyman merely
drove on. Now, the unkind manner in which this favor was conferred,
undoubtedly gave far more pain to the poor man than the ride gave him
pleasure. It was, indeed, conferring a favor in an extremely unfeeling and
unchristian way. The clergyman was exceedingly impolite.
Suppose now that he had added to the substantial favor
which he intended to confer the charm of kindness of manner in conferring
it. He would have said, "Friend, I have a spare seat in the carriage
here—will you not get in and ride a little way?" He would then have
cheerfully and socially conversed with the man, and manifested some interest
in his history. And when the man left the carriage, and thanked him for the
ride, he would have replied, "You are very welcome, sir." This manner
of conferring the favor would have cheered and gratified the lame man, and
he would have gone to his home with happy feelings.
It is surprising what a vast amount of happiness may be
conferred in a long life—by a kind manner of doing kind things. It is
by a careful attention to these little things, as some consider them, that
we are to make those happy who are around us. As our whole life is made up
of such little things as moments, so is the happiness or the unhappiness of
life dependent upon the pains or pleasures with which these swiftly-flying
moments may be filled. And it is invariably true, that, that person is
the happiest who does the most to promote the happiness of others.
A selfish man is always an unhappy man. And a
selfish child is always an unhappy child—as she sits alone in her corner,
eating her apple, which she refuses to share with brother or sister—as she
eagerly takes the most comfortable chair in the room—as she grasps the new
book, resolved to have the pleasure of reading it first—she is, and must be
unhappy. Conscience within her is disturbed, and her countenance shows in
its unamiable expression what an uncomfortable heart she has. And just so it
is with those, who have passed the period of childhood. The man or woman who
has grown up with a selfish spirit—is friendless and joyless. Such people
are often to be seen. They live as it were alone in the world. They love no
one—and no one loves them. And, after a heartless life, they die—and no one
Let children be trained up then to cultivate a courteous
spirit—to speak in kind tones of voice—to use a gentle and pleasant way of
doing kind things—and it will promote their happiness every day that they
live. It will tend to make all around them happy. Others will imitate their
example—and imbibe their spirit. The spirit of politeness will vastly
increase our influence also, in turning others to the Savior. It will confer
honor upon the religion of Christ; for the world judges of
Christianity—not so much by the teachings of the Savior—as by the lives of
There is nothing in this world worth having which can be
attained without effort. If you would possess the grace of Christian
politeness—you must make it a part of your Christian duty and a subject of
prayer. You must resolve in the morning, that you will endeavor through the
day kindly to manifest kind feelings. And at night, in self-examination, you
must inquire where you have failed in this duty—what opportunities you have
enjoyed where you might have contributed to the happiness of others, but in
which you have failed to do so. This is the true spirit of heaven. If we are
ever to enter heaven, we must have this spirit. And it is here, in this
world of sin—that we are to triumph over temptation—and subdue passion—and
attain all those lovely traits of character which will make us happy
companions for angels, and for the spirits of the just made perfect.
5. Faithfulness in LITTLE DUTIES. One great
error which nearly all Christians fall into, is not being sufficiently
punctilious in the performance of what are usually called the little duties
of life. We are not sufficiently careful to carry out the principles of
Christianity into all our relations as husbands and wives, brothers and
sisters, parents and children, neighbors and friends. If you, my reader,
whatever your situation in life may be, have sincerely commenced a Christian
life, you must make it your daily effort to please God in the performance of
every duty—small and great. And it is by your attention to things which many
people deem trivial, that you can most effectually glorify God.
Children particularly are apt to imagine that religious
obligation is something far removed above all the ordinary duties of life.
They seldom connect the idea of Christian duty with such subjects as order,
personal neatness, politeness, and other similar points of what are called
sometimes 'minor morals'. But you cannot too assiduously teach them that
the principle of piety, if they possess it at all—is to regulate all their
conduct—and lead them to do right in little things as well as great things.
In fact, the little things, with children, are the great
things—for in their various bearings and relations they involve the highest
moral principles. Here is a boy for instance, whose mother has appropriated
to his use a couple of drawers, in which he is to keep his clothes; and she
has enjoined it upon him to have his clothes neatly folded, and always
placed in order. Some day she goes into his room, and, as she opens the
drawers behold, everything is in disorder. In haste to get some article of
clothing, the boy has crudely drawn it out, and thrown other things in,
unfolded, and now everything is in confusion. The mother is deeply pained
that her son should be forming such negligent habits. It has sent an emotion
of real unhappiness to her heart. Her own valuable time is occupied in
repairing the effects of his indolence and neglect, and the boy himself is
growing up with habits which will extremely diminish his efficiency and
usefulness as a man. And now that cannot be called a little sin, which
produces such consequences, which makes a mother unhappy, and increases her
cares and labors, and which is forming in the child habits which will render
him unfit for the future duties of life. As well may a man who sets fire to
a city, say that it is a little sin, because he merely kindled a very little
match. Teach children then that the eye of God is upon them in everything
that they do—and that if they really love him, and wish to please him—they
will endeavor to be faithful in all their duties—in small things as well as
The mother must feel this truth herself also and apply it
to her own case. Few people imagine how much one's usefulness and happiness
in life depend upon their cultivating a habit of neatness, order, and
system, in all that they do.
Some ladies will accomplish twice as much all through
life as some others, simply because, in their childhood, they acquired the
habit of keeping everything in its proper place. Go into their house, and
everything appears in order. There is no hurry or bustle. There seems to be
no effort in keeping things in order. Other ladies, who have been trained up
under different habits, either give up in despair, and indolently sit down
in the midst of the confusion which reigns in their house—or they toil and
hurry through life, never enjoying any quietness or leisure—and always
engaged in putting things in order, but never able to keep them so.
Do not, then, allow children to imagine that it is a
little sin to be untidy or negligent. It is one of the most important of
their duties to cultivate correct habits in these respects. Teach them that
they may thus please God, gratify their parents, adorn religion, and not
only prepare for future usefulness—but be useful every day and every hour.
We are very apt to think that if we were in some
situation different from that in which we are actually placed, we might do a
great deal of good. The young often suppose that if they were out in the
world, they might, in various ways, as men and women, serve their Maker—but
they imagine that they cannot do much, if anything, to serve God and promote
his glory, unless in some important station. But God wishes to have His
friends placed in all the different positions in society—that the power of
religion may be exhibited in all. He desires that there should be merchants,
and mechanics, and sailors, pious fathers and mothers, and pious children.
And the child who is pious, may as acceptably serve God in the situation in
which she is placed—as any other people in the situation in which God has
placed them. It is not the station in society that we occupy, to which God
looks—but the faithfulness with which we discharge the duties of the
position in which he has placed us. And the faithful, Christian conduct,
even of the smallest child—is as acceptable to him, and perhaps as useful in
the accomplishment of his purposes, as the zeal and energy of the most
devoted Christian martyr.
Teach these things diligently to your children, and train
them up in the habit of neatness and order in all that they do. When they
come home from school, let them be taught always themselves to hang up the
cap, the bonnet, and the cloak in their proper places—and to put their books
away. Teach them to shut the door after them when they pass out or in. Teach
them to keep all their picture-books and playthings in order. Show them that
it is their duty to attend to all these little things, not as matters of
trifling importance, but as Christian duties of the greatest significance,
demanding constant watchfulness and care.
These are the ways in which God wishes that the young
should evince the power of religion, and glorify him. It is by a
conscientious attention to such duties as these, performed because they wish
to do that which is pleasing in God's sight—that they are to exhibit the
fruits of piety. They must aim, every day, to acquire a character of perfect
fidelity in the performance of all these duties; remembering that nothing
which tends to the perfection of character is too trivial to call for their
efforts and their prayers. The best evidence which either the aged or the
young can give of piety, is the conscientious endeavor to be faithful in the
discharge of every duty, whatever it may be. Thus we glorify God, and honor
the Christian religion—in the best manner.
This is what is meant by the text, "By their fruits shall
you know them." The way in which we are to judge of the piety of all people,
is by their conduct. If a man or woman professes to be a Christian, and yet
is unfaithful in the discharge of the ordinary duties of life, the
profession is vain. It is so in youth—and is so in old age. The best
evidence afforded by the devout Christian is the fidelity with which he
performs all the duties of life, both great and small.
We continue in this chapter the enumeration of the
several traits of Christian character, which the mother should endeavor to
cultivate in herself—and in those under her charge.
6. Guard against a CENSORIOUS SPIRIT. A
censorious spirit is a very common sin. And it is one to which females, from
their comparatively retired mode of life, are peculiarly exposed. There is
hardly any sin against which the Bible warns us in more earnest and
impressive terms. The evils and mischiefs produced by an ungoverned
tongue—the ruin it produces in alienating friends—kindling animosities—and
disturbing in every way the peace and harmony of society—are topics which
have called forth some of the most energetic expressions of the inspired
"The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. So is the
tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire
the course of nature, and is set on fire of hell." "If anyone among you seem
to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, this man's religion is vain."
Such are the terms in which the sacred writers speak of
the importance of setting a guard upon one's tongue. One single person, of a
censorious disposition, will often keep a whole church or neighborhood in
turmoil. And every reader of this book has probably often seen great
unhappiness produced by the unkind remarks or slanderous reports which
others have circulated. Indeed, there are very few people who have not often
had hours of suffering to bear in consequence of unguarded remarks
which they have made, and which have, perhaps, been slightly exaggerated and
carried to other ears—by those who are always ready to do mischief. Solomon
tells us, "Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich
in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird
on the wing may report what you say." By which poetic expressions he would
teach us, that there is always someone ready to carry evil tidings. If you
say anything against another person, it is very probable it will be
repeated, with exaggerations to that individual. One will repeat it to
another, until the story, gathering in size as it goes like the balls of
snow which boys roll together in the early spring, reaches the ear of the
person against whom the remark was made. Then ensues recrimination, unkind
treatment, a quarrel. Others are drawn in. And it may be truly said, in the
language of the Bible, "Behold how great a matter a little fire kindles!"
The amount of suffering which is caused in this world,
simply by evil speaking, is inconceivable! Every school, every church,
every neighborhood, is ravaged by it. A very little observation will show
you how great is this evil.
Let a mother explain this subject to her children, and
caution them against this danger. Lead them to form the resolution that they
will never allow themselves to speak against anyone—unless it is clearly
their duty to do so. Set them a good example, too, yourselves in this
respect. Resolve that you will nip a censorious spirit in the very bud. If
you do this, it will save you hours of suffering. If, on the other hand, you
allow yourself to speak freely of the faults of others—if you report the
various stories you hear—you will be continually in trouble yourself, and
will always be involving other people in difficulty. Resolve that you will
not say anything against any absent person—except in cases where it is most
undoubtedly your duty to do so—which you would be willing to have repeated
to that person.
There are cases in which it is our duty to speak of the
characters of others, and, if their characters are bad, to say so. It may be
our duty to warn our children against a vicious and dangerous acquaintance.
And when such an occasion clearly arises, we must faithfully perform the
duty, however unpleasant it may be. But such cases are comparatively
rare—while the fault of evil speaking is one of the most general and
inexcusable in the world.
When this habit has once been formed, it is almost
impossible to eradicate it. A person who has become a thorough gossip,
retelling all the slander which she can collect, is almost beyond the hope
of amendment. She will, with out the least compunction of conscience, throw
suspicions upon the fairest reputation. No character is secure from her
backbiting assailment. She becomes blind to her own degraded character—as
the village gossip and slanderer. It is surprising how unconscious such a
person may be of her odious fault. When she hears anything about evil
speaking, she has been so much in the habit of looking at the faults of
others, and not at her own, that she does not think of making any
self-application—but looks around to see upon whom of her neighbors she can
lay the charge.
We have all so many faults of our own to mourn over and
to correct—that we should be exceedingly tender of the failings of others!
And when we see anything in the conduct of our friends or acquaintances,
which is wrong or disagreeable—we should try to avoid those things
ourselves, and at the same time be very careful not to mention them to
others. It is one of the best compliments which can be paid to any lady—to
say of her that she was never known to speak badly of others. Resolve, with
the grace of God assisting, that this shall be your character—and make every
effort to form the same character in your children. Show them that such a
habit will multiply their friends—that it will save them many hours of
heartache—and that, all their life long, it will greatly add to their
usefulness and their enjoyment.
7. Teach your children to cultivate, as one of the fruits
of piety, scrupulous delicacy and PURITY of mind. The conscience
of children will be a very sensitive guide upon this subject—if it is in a
healthy state. Teach them that any conversation which they would be
unwilling to engage in, or to repeat in the presence of their mother, they
ought to refuse to hear. If their associates at any time commence such
conversation, they ought to leave them at all hazards—whether the others are
offended by it or not. They cannot be too careful respecting the words that
they use—or the ideas that they allow to enter their minds. The
delicacy of the mind is very easily impaired, and, when once impaired, the
injury is irreparable. Even in the higher walks of life, females are often
met with who seem to have no sense of propriety. They are always introducing
topics of conversation which are revolting to the refined mind, while they
themselves have become so desensitized in their feelings, that they appear
entirely unconscious of any impropriety. Other ladies have an instinctive
modesty and delicacy—which is their brightest ornament. You never hear from
them a word, or an allusion, which is not pure and pleasing. The appropriate
simplicity of their dress—the softened tones of their voice—the topics of
conversation which they introduce—and the gentle expression of
countenance—all unite in testifying the spotless purity that reigns in their
hearts. Who can see such a lady, and not esteem and love her? The indecent
of either sex are rebuked by her presence. Even indecent ladies (if it be
not a perversion of language to call one a lady who has an impure mind) are
careful, in her presence, to put a guard upon their tongues.
"Keep your heart with all diligence," is one of the
cautions which God has given us, and the happiness of every young Christian
depends more upon the cultivation of this virtue, than we often imagine. To
find, as we go on through life, that our thoughts naturally dwell upon
objects which are pure and pleasant—will be one of the richest sources of
our earthly enjoyment. We must necessarily pass many—very many hours in
life—with our own thoughts. If our thoughts are such that they give us
uneasiness of conscience, and we must be continually struggling against
them, we shall have many days of secret, but real sorrow. If, on the other
hand, by a careful cultivation of the heart, we have cherished only those
thoughts which conscience approves—we shall probably move about, in our
daily employments, in tranquil happiness.
Explain these principles to your children, and endeavor
to lead them to resolve that they will not at school, or anywhere else,
engage in conversation, or listen to conversation, which they would not be
willing to repeat in the presence of their father and their mother. Let that
be with them the test of propriety. Say to them that if at any time they are
in doubt, whether the conversation which they are hearing is proper or not,
they must ask themselves, "Am I willing to repeat this to the family, at the
supper table, this evening?" If they are not, then they must refuse to hear
it. If they cannot turn the conversation to a more wholesome topic, they
should leave the company. Teach them to remember that God is always
present—that His eye is upon them—that He hears every word that is
uttered—that He sees every thought of the heart—and that as they prize his
approbation, they must resolve to cherish, with the utmost care, purity of
8. A very scrupulous observance of TRUTH should be one of
the prominent fruits of piety. To some it may seem that this is
almost a needless direction. In fact parents are very slow to be convinced
that their children ever tell falsehoods at all. It is an almost invariable
rule, that all mothers believe that their children always speak the
truth—and it is a rule almost equally invariable, that they are all
mistaken. Children generally will say what is false, until they are
taught to speak the truth. Sometimes they are thus taught very early,
and in such cases the mother, forgetting the infantile falsehoods, says that
she never knew her child to tell a lie.
Even in later years it will not do generally to trust to
any 'natural love of truth', to save our children from the sin of falsehood.
We must often, in our conversations with them, present this subject to their
attention, not in the way of suspicion and fault-finding, but of confidence
and goodwill. We must explain to them how God regards the sin of falsehood,
and cite and explain those passages of Scripture which relate to the
The mother must herself, also, always be honest, and
frank, and open, in all her dealings with all her children. Never
combine, as many mothers do, with an older child, to deceive a younger one.
If you do, you must expect that your children will combine together to
deceive you! Be honest with them all, and in your dealings with your
friends, and neighbors, and acquaintances—be open and sincere. Thus you will
lead your children in the right way.
4. The spirit of FORGIVENESS is one of the fruits of
piety. The mother must cultivate this spirit herself, and
inculcate it upon her children. Teach them that the rule of Christianity is,
"Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of
those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on
one cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone demands your coat, offer your
shirt also. Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when
things are taken away from you, don't try to get them back. Do for others as
you would like them to do for you." The mother must inculcate this
principle, like all the others, by her own example. And next to her own
example, the narration of instances of a forgiving spirit will have a
greater influence upon children, than any general precepts or exhortations.
I will here, for example, relate such an instance. There
was once a rich merchant who had many peculiarities of character which
exposed him to ridicule. He was a benevolent man, but he was of such
eccentric habits, that a witty writer could easily represent him in a
A certain neighbor of his, without any just provocation,
published a most insulting pamphlet against him, calling him 'Billy Button',
and holding him up to the laughter of the world, in the most contemptuous
and ludicrous attitude in which he could be represented. The publication of
such a pamphlet was as gross and cutting an insult as could be inflicted,
for there is nothing that the human mind so much recoils from, as derision
and scorn. The merchant read the libelous pamphlet, and simply remarked that
the writer would probably live to repent of its publication.
Someone informed the writer of the pamphlet of the remark
that the merchant had made. He considered it as an angry threat of
vengeance, and said that he would take good care to keep out of the
merchant's power. But in a few years, in the course of business, the writer
of the libel unavoidably became deeply indebted to the merchant, whom he had
so wantonly injured, and became a bankrupt. For unless the merchant would
forgive the debt, the writer could never enter into business again, and must
always remain a poor man.
By much exertion and after many delays, the unfortunate
debtor effected a settlement of his affairs, and obtained a release from his
other creditors—but how could he go to the merchant whom he had made the
laughing-stock of the town—and who had declared that the libeler would yet
live to repent of his publication? It seemed folly to hope that he would
forget the wrong, and forgive the debt. But the claims of a suffering wife
and children at last compelled him to make the application. Humbled by
misery, he presented himself at the office of the injured merchant. The
merchant was at his desk alone, and as he turned around and saw his libeler
before him, his first words were, "Take a seat, sir." The guilty man,
trembling with apprehension of the repulse which he so richly deserved, told
the piteous tale of his misfortunes, and presented his certificate of
release, signed by his other creditors, though he had but a very faint hope
of obtaining the signature of one he had so deeply wronged.
The merchant received the certificate, and, as he glanced
his eye over it, said, "You wrote a pamphlet against me once, I believe,
sir." The wretched man could make no reply. The merchant, saying no more,
wrote something upon the certificate, and handed it back to him. The poor
debtor in despair received the certificate, expecting to find written upon
it something expressive of indignation. But how great was his surprise to
see, in fair, round characters, the signature of the merchant, releasing him
from his debt! "I make it a rule," said the forgiving man, "never to refuse
signing the release of an honest man, and I never heard that you were
anything else." The surprise and joy were too much for the poor creditor,
and he burst into tears. "Ah!" said the merchant, "my saying was true. I
said that you would live to repent writing that pamphlet. I did not mean it
as a threat. I only meant that some day you would know me better—and would
repent that you had attempted to injure me. I see that you repent it now."
"I do, indeed I do!" exclaimed the grateful man. "Well, well, my dear sir,"
said the merchant, "you know me now. How will you get on? What are you going
The unfortunate man replied, that having obtained a
release from his creditors, he had friends who would assist him in getting
into business again.
"But how are you to support your family in the meantime?"
asked the merchant.
The man's answer was, that having given up every farthing
to his creditors, he had been compelled to deprive his family of even common
necessities. "My dear sir," said the merchant, "this will never do—your wife
and children must not suffer. Be kind enough to take this to your wife from
me," handing him a fifty dollar bill, "and keep up a good heart. All will be
well with you yet. Set to work with energy, and you may yet see many days of
prosperity." The poor man was entirely overcome by his emotions. He could
not speak. His feelings forbade all utterance, and burying his face in his
handkerchief, he went from the room sobbing like a child!
Stories which afford practical illustrations of any moral
principle, will generally exert more powerful influence upon the minds of
children than general instructions. The minds of the hearers catch the
spirit which the story exemplifies by a sort of moral sympathy.
The mother who is aware of this, will, in her general
reading, watch for incidents and passages which she can turn to good account
in interesting and instructing her children. These she will read and explain
to them at proper times, and enforce the lessons which they are calculated
to teach, by additional remarks of her own.
Teach your children thus in every way to cultivate a
forgiving spirit. Tell them that this is the spirit of the Bible—the spirit
of Christ. No one who has any other spirit can safely offer the prayer,
"Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against
10. Cultivate in your children a taste for pure and noble
pleasures—instead of a love of worldly gaiety. Pure and noble
pleasures last. They wear well. They leave no sting behind. The pleasures of
worldliness and gaiety do not wear well. They exhaust the powers of body and
mind, and all the capacities of enjoyment, prematurely—and leave a sting
behind. That is the reason why the Word of God condemns them—and why
Christians abstain from them.
There is hardly any reproach more frequently cast upon
Christians than the charge of bigotry—because they refuse to unite with the
world in these scenes of gaiety. They are invited to a ball, to the theater,
or to a card party—and yet no persuasions can induce them to go.
"What can be the possible harm," it is said, "in going to
a ball? We go to a brightly illuminated hall. We have pleasant music to
gratify the ear. In graceful measures we beat time to its cadences in the
exhilarating dance. After having thus passed a few hours of heartfelt
hilarity, we retire unharmed to our homes. Now, what real objection can
there be to this amusement," it is asked, "which is not founded on ignorance
This is a very important question, and it deserves a very
serious answer. To explain my views upon this subject, let me suppose that
you have a son nineteen years of age—a very amiable, correct, and promising
young man. He is the darling of the family—attentive to his father and
mother—kind to his sisters—all love him. He is a clerk in a store, and is
highly respected by his employers. As you have known many amiable young men,
in such situations, ruined by such worldly pleasures—you feel great
solicitude for him. He has so little of selfishness in his nature, and is so
willing to sacrifice his own inclinations to oblige others, that, while he
thus promises to be one of the best and most useful of men, he is much
exposed to be led away by temptation.
Like an affectionate and dutiful son, as he is, he comes
to his father some day, and says to him, "Father, there is to be a ball
tonight. All my acquaintances are going, and, if you have no objection, I
would like to go also."
"Well my son," says his father, "what time does the ball
"Between eight and nine o'clock in the evening," he
"And what hour will it close?" the father asks.
"They tell me," the son answers, "that they will probably
go home between two and three o'clock in the morning."
"I suppose that wine will be circulated very freely on
the occasion; will it not, my son?"
"Why, yes sir; I suppose so—but I hope that I have
resolution enough not to be guilty of any excess."
"I trust that you have, my son. But do you know of any
who are going to the ball who have the reputation of being intemperate?"
"Yes sir; there will be several there who are known to
drink too much wine."
"Will there be many present who are considered generally
dissolute in their habits—so much so that you would not like to have them
for your acquaintances?"
"There will be some such, sir, I suppose."
"It is rather dangerous," the father rejoins, "for a
young man to be thrown into such company, in the midst of all the
excitements of music, and dancing, and wine. It will not be easy to shake
off acquaintances you may necessarily form there.
"I suppose, of course, too," adds the father, "that they
have card-playing in some of the rooms."
"Do they play for money?"
"Some of them I believe do, sir—for small sums."
"It is not uncommon," the father replies, "under such
circumstances, for people to commence with small sums and go on to greater.
Under the stimulus of play and wine, they plunge deeper and deeper into the
game, until the dawn of morning finds them still with the cards in their
hands. Many a young man in these scenes, commences on the road to ruin. I
have in my experience known a great number thus lost to virtue, and who have
brought hopeless shame upon their parents and friends.
"You say, my son, that the ball will break up about three
o'clock in the morning. You can, perhaps get home and to your bed at
half-past three. You must rise at six o'clock in the morning to get the
store opened in time. This allows you two hours and a half for sleep—sleep
which, from the previous excitement must be feverish and unrefreshing.
"I counsel you therefore, my son," the father continues,
"not to go. By going into such scenes, you will be exposed to many
temptations—the excitement of wine—the excitement of many dangerous
passions. You can hardly avoid forming many very undesirable acquaintances.
You will be invited to the gaming table, and may thus commence the
acquisition of a taste for all the excitements of gambling.
"Many may be there, who, having no pleasures except those
of fashionable dissipation, will be glad to secure you as an associate.
Invitations will multiply upon you. When a young man once enters this
vortex—it is difficult to get out again. When you go to the store in the
morning, you will be languid and melancholy—all your energies will be
exhausted. With aching head, and bloodshot eyes, and trembling limbs, you
will have a day of mental depression, which will much more than
counterbalance all the enjoyment of the night—and which will greatly
disqualify you from discharging your duty to your employers.
"It is for these reasons," the father continues, "that
your parents are unwilling to have you enter such scenes. We are satisfied
that, on the whole, instead of increasing, they greatly diminish, the amount
of human happiness. It is on this account that we have always been
desirous that neither you nor your sisters should acquire a taste for these
worldly pleasures—for our own observation, as well as the testimony of
the wise and the holy in all ages, has taught us that these amusements, by
breaking in upon the regular and peaceful enjoyment of domestic life, expose
those who engage in them to great temptation—and by prematurely exhausting
the mental and bodily powers, and undermining the constitution, seriously
interfere with future happiness, and lead to imminent danger!
"And when our neighbors have wondered that we should so
carefully keep you away from such scenes of gaiety and worldly amusements
which to them appear innocent and pleasing—-we have replied, that we could
make you far happier by cultivating in your heart a taste for a totally
different class of pleasures.
"Such worldly pleasures, too, always leave a sting behind
them. Discontent and dissatisfaction always take possession of the soul
after a scene of unseasonable and excessive gaiety. This is always the
case—in all ranks and conditions of life. Madame de Geniis, who moved in the
highest circles of Parisian life, and was familiar with the gaieties of the
Royal Palace in the highest of splendor, remarked that the days which
followed brilliant entertainments were always melancholy.
"Therefore, my son," the father continues, "I counsel you
not to go! Persevere in the plan of life which you have heretofore laid down
for yourself. Come home, and spend the evening in quiet enjoyment with your
mother, or your sisters—or by the perusal of some interesting volume from
the library—acquire a taste for reading, and store your mind with useful
knowledge. At your usual hour, retire to rest. You will then rise in the
morning fresh and vigorous, and in good temper you will go to your duties.
And as you see your associate in the adjoining store, who attended the ball,
dozing in dejection, and lounging the whole day at his desk—you will be
thankful that you were more wise than to sacrifice so much substantial good
for a few hours of midnight merriment.
"By persevering in this course," the father continues,
"you will more effectually secure to yourself the confidence of businessmen.
Your credit will be better. Your prospects in life will be better. You will
soon be able to have a home of your own. You will make that home more happy.
Your life will glide away with far less danger of your falling before the
power of temptation—and, consequently, there will be a far brighter prospect
of your enjoying eternal happiness beyond the grave!"
This is, in the main, the argument upon which Christians
rely, and have relied, during all past ages, against the amusements and
gaieties of the world. They are fully convinced that he who acquires a taste
for such pleasures, will find his earthly happiness greatly impaired, and
will be exposed to temptations which will greatly endanger his eternal
I have dwelt upon this subject more fully, because the
young—inexperienced in the dangers of the world—often wonder why their pious
parents are so unwilling that they should acquire a fondness for worldly
amusements which appear so innocent and pleasing. But I think that any
ingenuous boy or girl, of fourteen or fifteen years of age, may see the
force of the above considerations, and may be satisfied that Christians have
not, in their decision upon this subject, acted without good reasons.
And here I do not intend to enter into the question
whether these amusements might not be so far improved and refined as to
obviate all objections against them. I wish to refer to them as they now
are, and as they ever have been, and as there is every prospect that they
will continue to be.
They are all of the same general character, leading to
peculiar temptations, from the indulgence of bad passions, and the exposure
of those who engage in them to unworthy associates. They all tend to destroy
the taste for those quiet, domestic enjoyments, which, when cultivated, grow
brighter and brighter every year, and which confer increasing solace and joy
when youth has fled, and old age, and sickness, and misfortune come.
Christian parents endeavor to guard their children against acquiring a taste
for these worldly pleasures, because they foresee that these amusements
will, in the end, disappoint them—and they can lead them in a safer path,
and one infinitely more promotive of their happiness!
We have contemplated the influence of one of these scenes
of gaiety upon a young man. Let us now consider its effects upon a mother of
a family—or a young lady.
In the first place in the mere preparation for any
assembly of worldly gaiety and dissipation, many hours are taken from the
peaceful routine of ordinary duties—in devotion to dress and appearance.
Then the temptation is almost irresistible, from the strong rivalry which is
called into exercise, to make expenditures which can not be afforded. And
then, when the midnight scene of gaiety is at its height, and music's
voluptuous swell is loudest, and the smile on every cheek is least
clouded—how many secret sources of chagrin are necessarily fostered, though
studiously concealed! The spirit of the occasion has the strongest tendency
to call into exercise the sinful passions of envy and rivalry.
The superior dress of one lady—and the superior beauty of another—the
comparative neglect with which one is treated—and the excessive attention
which another receives—constitute the most fruitful source of vanity
on the one side—and of jealousy and envy on the other.
The very nature of the enjoyment, and the whole spirit of
the occasion, have the most direct tendency to call these feelings into
active exercise. There is no place in which the wicked feelings of the heart
are so frequently and so painfully excited—as in gay, glittering assemblies.
To use the familiar language of the poet,
"Though the cheek may be tinged with a warm, sunny smile,
The cold heart to ruin runs on darkly the while."
And when, long after midnight, fevered with the heated
room and exciting exercise, the young lady returns to her home—how poorly
she is prepared for the duties of devotion! In how unsuitable a frame of
mind is she, acceptably to commune with God, and to commend herself anew,
with an affectionate and a humble heart, to His service!
And then when another morning dawns, all the concerns of
the family are in disorder. At a late hour she rises unrefreshed from her
pillow. During the whole day she feels depressed in spirits, and unable to
engage, with any satisfaction, in life's ordinary duties. It often requires
one or two days of languor and melancholy for the system to recover its
tone—from the exhaustion of the few hours of midnight revelry. Even allowing
the pleasurable emotions of the convivial hours to be as great as anyone
will venture to estimate them—the enjoyment must be considered as far more
than counterbalanced, by the physical, moral and intellectual drawbacks
which necessarily ensue.
And when we go a little farther; when we consider the
inevitable termination of this life of pleasure—when we contemplate the
victim—for victim we must consider her—of a mirthful and fashionable life,
after having passed through the period of youth and vigor, with her
faculties to these excitements worn out—her mind and heart satiated with
those pursuits—and yet with no taste formed for more solid and satisfying
joys—we regard her with the deepest pity—as an impressive warning for all
the young to avoid those quicksands, upon which her happiness has been so
When we turn to the Bible, to the character of our Savior
and His apostles, we find these views confirmed by the weight of
inspiration—so much so, indeed, that even the idea of our Savior, or the
apostle Paul, taking an active part in such scenes, is so shocking to our
feelings, that the very supposition is almost irreverent. And why is it that
one shrinks from such an idea—but because the spirit of the Bible is so
diametrically opposed to these amusements, that the mind recoils from the
thought of connecting them with sacred personages?
And when we inquire of Christian testimony, we hear but
one voice, which comes down from all past time, and from every nation—in
attestation of the folly of a life of worldly pleasure. There are
thousands now in our churches, who were once the devotees of worldly gaiety;
and they will tell you, without a contradicting voice, that, since they have
abandoned their former pursuits, and sought happiness in different objects,
and cultivated a taste for different pleasures, they have found peace and
satisfaction, which they never knew before—and they have no more disposition
to turn back to these gaieties, than they have to resume the rattles of
It is quite important that the young should understand
the true reason of the decision, to which Christians have come upon this
subject. It is not a gloomy and morose spirit that dictates this decision—or
any desire to prohibit real pleasures. But we see that these gaieties
are, in the end, promotive of far more sorrow than happiness—and therefore,
we wish all whom we love, to walk in those ways of wisdom, which are
pleasantness, and in those paths which are peace.
And hence, if parents would, in their own lives and in
the lives of their children, bring forth the peaceable and joyful fruits of
righteousness—they must avoid these scenes of gaiety! You must carefully
guard against cultivating a taste for such worldly pleasures. There are, in
this world, many avenues of enjoyment, where one may walk in safety. There
are many joys which are improving to the heart, and which afford increasing
happiness amid the infirmities of old age and approaching death—joys which,
in the 'morning of life', are like the morning sunshine—and, in the 'evening
of our days'—are like the serene and golden hues of a summer sunset. There
are the joys of well-cultivated affections, of an improving mind, of
friends, and love of home, of social converse at the quiet fireside, of the
flower garden, of the domestic animal feeding from the hand it loves, of the
twilight walk in solitude or company, of visiting the sick, and cheering the
desponding. There are enough sources of enjoyment which God has opened to us
in this world, which are purifying in their nature—and which leave no sting
behind. It is not necessary for us to search for happiness in dangerous
and forbidden paths.
In all the ways pointed out in this chapter, the mother
must endeavor to train up her children in the service of God. These are the
practical duties of Christianity—duties which bring with them their own
reward. There is no other path to heaven than that which is here pointed
out—reliance upon an atoning Savior for the forgiveness of past sin, and
faithful endeavors to live a devout and holy life. They who will
diligently and faithfully pursue such a course, will find the Savior's yoke
indeed easy, and His burden light. Duty will continually become more easy
and more pleasant. The propensities and passions, whose unrestrained
dominion so often mar the peace of others, will cease to trouble them—being
subdued by divine grace—and they will go on their way rejoicing to the end!