Mrs Whittelsey's Magazine for Mothers and Daughters - Volume 3
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

A father one day gave his little son some books, his knife, and last of all his watch to amuse him. He was right under his eye. At length he told him to bring them all to him. He brought the books and knife to him cheerfully; the watch he wanted to keep—that was his idol. The father told him to bring that; he refused. The father used the rod. He took up the watch and brought it part way, and laid it down. The father told him to put it in his hand, but he would not. He corrected him again. He brought it a little farther and laid it down. Again he whipped him. At length he brought it and held it right over his father's hand, but would not put it in. The father, wearied by the struggle, struck the son's hand with the stick, and the watch fell into his hand. It was not given up. There was no submission. That son has been known to be several times under conviction, but he would never submit to God.

* * * * *




In order fully to understand the subject of our present study, we must return upon the track, to the days of Joshua, before Israel had wholly entered upon the possession of the promised land. The tribes were encamped at Gilgal to keep the passover, and from there, by the direction of Jehovah, they made incursions upon the surrounding inhabitants. Jericho and Ai had been taken, and the fear of these formidable Hebrews and their mighty God had fallen upon the hearts of the nations and stricken them almost to hopelessness. Feeling that a last effort to save themselves and their homes must be made, they banded together and resolved to defend their rights, and to put to proof the combined power of their deities. One clan, however, despairing of success by any such means, having heard that the utter extirpation of the Canaanites was determined upon, resorted to stratagem, and thus secured their safety in the midst of the general ruin. "They did work wilily," says the sacred record, "and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles old, and rent, and bound up; and old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country, now therefore make ye a league with us." At first the Israelites seem to have suspected trickery, but when the supposed ambassadors produced their mouldy bread, and declared that it was taken hot from the oven on the morning of their departure from their own country, and that their wine bottles were new, now so shrunk and torn, and pointed to their shoes and garments quite worn out by the length of the journey; and told their pitiful story, and in their humility stooped to any terms if they might only be permitted to make a covenant, Joshua and his elders were completely deceived, and without stopping to ask counsel of the Lord, "they made peace with them, and made a league with them to let them live."

The Lord abhors treachery, and although his people had greatly erred in this act, and although these Hivites were among the nations whom he had commanded them to destroy, yet since a covenant had been made with them, it must be kept on peril of his stern displeasure and severe judgments. Only three days elapsed before the Israelites discovered that the crafty ambassadors were their near neighbors, and were called upon to come to their defense against the other inhabitants of the land, who having heard of the transaction at Gilgal, had gathered together to smite their principal city, Gibeon, and destroy them because they had made peace with Joshua. Before the walls of that mighty city, and in behalf of these idolaters, because Jehovah would have his people keep faith with those to whom they had vowed, was fought that memorable battle, the like of which was never known before or since, when to aid the cause, the laws of Nature were suspended upon human intercession—when Joshua said, "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon." "So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day."

The tribes gained their inheritance, and their enemies were mostly driven out of the land, but in their midst ever dwelt the Gibeonites, safe from molestation, though the menial services of the tabernacle were performed by them, because of the deceit by which they purchased their lives, and they were contented to be thus reduced to perpetual bondage so they might escape the doom of their neighbors.

Years passed on, and vicissitudes came to the Israelites of one kind and another. Sometimes they were victorious in their battles and peaceful among themselves; and again they fled before enemies or were embroiled in civil dissensions. Ever, above, caring for them, and bringing them safely on through all; instructing, guiding and disciplining, sat on his throne, their mighty invisible King. They demanded an earthly monarch, and in judgment he granted their desire. In judgment, and miserable in many ways were the results of his reign. Among his other evil acts not recorded, but alluded to in the history, was one of cruel treachery to the Gibeonites. "It would seem that Saul viewed their possessions with a covetous eye, as affording him the means of rewarding his adherents, and of enriching his family, and hence, on some pretense or other, or without any pretense, he slew large numbers of them, and doubtless seized their possessions." In this wicked deed we gather that many of the Israelites, and the members of Saul's family in particular, had an active share, and were benefited by the spoils. The Almighty beheld and took cognisance, but no immediate retribution followed. Towards the close of David's reign, however, for some unknown reason, the whole land was visited with a famine. Month after month it stalked abroad, and year after year, until three years of want had afflicted the chosen people. At the end of that time David, having resorted to all possible means of providing food in vain, began to reflect that there was meaning in the visitation, and "sought the face of the Lord," to inquire why he was displeased with his people. The answer was explicit and terrible. "It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." Though men forget, the Lord does not. He will plead the cause of the oppressed sooner or later, and though his vengeance sleep long, yet will he reward to those that deal treachery sevenfold sorrow.

Driven by famine and by the expressed will of Jehovah, David sent to ask of the injured people what should be done to satisfy their sense of justice. "And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul nor of his house, neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel.

"The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,

"Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeon of Saul. And the king said, I will give them."

Dreadful days of blood! Fearful fiat! which though needful and just, yet invaded the sanctuary of home so gloomily. Sad world! in which the innocent so often bear the sins of the guilty,—when will thy groans, ever ascending into the ears of Almighty love, be heard and bring release?

The sentence was executed. Two sons of Saul by Rizpah, his inferior wife, and five of Merab his eldest daughter, whom Michal had, for some reason, educated, were delivered up and hung by the Gibeonites.

Who can imagine, much less portray, the mother's anguish when her noble sons were torn from her for such a doom! We do not know whether Merab was living to see that day of horror, but Rizpah felt the full force of the blow which blasted all her hopes. Her husband, the father of her sons, had been suddenly slain in battle; her days of happiness and security had departed with his life, and now, all that remained of comfort, her precious children, must be put to a cruel death to satisfy the vengeance due to crimes not hers nor theirs. Wretched mother! a bitter lot indeed was thine! But the Lord had spoken, and there was no reprieve. To the very town where they had all dwelt under their father's roof, were these hapless ones dragged and their bodies ignominiously exposed upon the wall until they should waste away—a custom utterly abhorrent to all humanity, and especially to the Hebrews, whose strongest desire might be expressed in the words of the aged Barzillai, "Let me die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and mother."

Behold now that lone and heart-broken mother, on the spot where day and night, week after week, and month after month, she may be found. Neither heat nor cold—distressing days nor fearful nights—the entreaties of friends, nor the weariness of watching, nor the horrifying exhibition of decaying humanity, could drive her from her post. Upon the sackcloth which she had spread for herself upon the rock she remained "from the beginning of the harvest until the rain dropped upon them out of heaven," and suffered neither the birds of the air by day, nor the beasts of the field by night to molest those precious remains. O mother's heart! of what heroism art thou capable! Before a scene like this the bravest exploits of earth's proudest heroes fade into dim insignificance. At this picture we can only gaze. Words wholly fail when we would comment on it. Of the agonies it reveals we cannot speak. There are lessons to be learned from it, and upon them we can ponder.

The value which the Lord our God sets upon truth is here displayed. He will have no swerving from the straight path of perfect fidelity to all engagements and covenants. Severe and awful appears his character as thus presented to us, and yet it is upon this very attribute that all our hopes rely. "He is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent." If he thus defends those who love him not, how safe and happy may his children rest.

The days in which Rizpah lived were dark and gloomy days. The words of Samuel to Agag may stand as their memorial, "As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women." Let us be thankful that we see no such direful scenes, and let us act worthy of our higher lot. Let us remember also that there is a destruction of life more terrible even than that which Rizpah witnessed—the destruction of the soul. If the mother's love within us prompts us to half the care of the spiritual life of our children, which she bestowed on the decaying forms of her loved ones, He who rewards faithfulness will not suffer us to labor in vain.

* * * * *

Each day is a new life; regard it therefore, as an epitome of the world. Frugality is a fair fortune, and industry a good estate. Small faults indulged, are little thieves to let in greater.

* * * * *




Let us now enter upon the second part of the field of education, the training of the intellect. It is obvious that we have in this, a much higher subject to deal with than that on which we have just dwelt. The physical form in a few years develops itself, and soon reaches its utmost limits of growth. It is then an instrument whose powers we seek to maintain but cannot increase. As time advances, indeed, those powers gradually yield to the influence of disease or age, until the senses begin to neglect their office, the brain declines in vigor, while the tongue, the eye, the hand, forget their accustomed work in the imbecility wrought by the approach of death. But no such limitation is manifest to us in the growth and future life of the intellect. Dependent upon the body for a healthful home in this world, and so far limited by the conditions of mortality, it yet seems to have in itself no absolute limitation bounding its prospective and possible attainments, save as the finite never can fully attain to the infinite. Granting it a congenial home, a fitting position, with full opportunity for progress, and there is scarcely a height this side infinity which in the ascent of ages it seems not capable of reaching. All creatures are finite, and as such, limited; but the horizon around the soul is so amazingly expansive, and the capacities of the mind for progress so immense, that to us, in our present state, it is almost as if there were no limitations at all.

The power of the intellect to acquire facts and relations, and from them to ascend to the laws which control; its power to advance in a daily ascending path into the region of intuition, where masses of things, once isolated or chaotic, range themselves into harmony, and move in numbers most musical; its power thus to rise into an enlarging vision of truths now latent, and behold directly laws, relations and facts which once evaded the sight, or were only seen dimly and after great toil, it is utterly beyond our sphere to limit. We know that what to us in childhood was a mystery, is now simple; that some of the grandest laws of the material world which a few years back were reached only after stupendous labor, are now become intuitive truths; and we can see no reason why the human mind is not capacitated for just such advances eternally; at every ascent sweeping its vision over a broader range of truth, and rising ever nearer that Omniscient Intellect to which all things open. The instinct and imperfect reason of the noblest brutes, are here in marked contrast to the mind of man. They reach the limit of knowledge with the ripening of their physical frame; a limit which no training, however protracted and ingenious, can overpass; which never varies, except as a cord drawn round a center may vary, by being enlarged on the one side and contracted on the other; and which prepares them without the acquisition of a particle of superfluous intelligence for their brute life as the servitors of man. While his mind, never wholly stationary for a long period, has capacities for development that seem to spurn a merely sensual life, and lift the spirit to a companionship with angels; which, instead of resting satisfied with the mere demands of the body, seeks to penetrate the deep springs of life, discern the exquisite organism of an insect's wing, measure the stars, and analyze the light that reveals them.

Possessing an intellect of so fine a nature, it is not to be questioned that, according to our opportunities, it is incumbent on us to carry forward its improvement from childhood to hoary age. A power like this, of indefinite expansion, in directions surpassingly noble, among subjects infinitely grand, has been conferred that it might be expanded, and go on expanding in an eternal progression; that it might sweep far beyond its present horizon and firmament, where the stars now shining above us, shall become the jeweled pavement beneath us, while above still roll other spheres of knowledge, destined in like manner to descend below us as the trophies of our victorious progress.

To bury such an intellect as this in the commonplaces of a life of mere sense; to confine it to the narrow circle of a brute instinct and reason; to live in such a world, with the infinite mind of Jehovah looking at us from all natural forms, breathing around us in all tones of music, shining upon us from all the host of heaven, and soliciting us to launch away into an atmosphere of knowledge and ascend to an acquaintance with the great First Cause, even as the bird challenges the fledgling to leave its nest, and be at home on the wing; to live amid such incitements to thought, yet never lift the eyes from the dull round of physical necessities, is treason toward our higher nature, the voluntary defacement of the grandest characteristic of our being. The education of the intellect is not a question to be debated with men who have the slightest appreciation of their noble capacities. The obligation to improve it is commensurate with its susceptibility of advancement and our opportunities. It is not limited to a few years in early life, it presses on us still in manhood and declining age. Such is a general statement of the duty of intellectual improvement.

In the actual education of the mind, our course will necessarily be modified by the ultimate objects at which we aim. Properly these are twofold—the first general, the second specific. The first embraces the general training of our intellectual powers, with direct reference to the high spiritual life here and hereafter. We place before us that state of immortality to which the present stands in the relation of a portico to a vast temple. The intellect is itself destined to survive the body, and as the instrument through which the heart is to be disciplined and fitted for this condition of exalted humanity, is to be informed with all that truth most essential for this purpose. Whatever there be in the heavens or the earth—in books or works of men, to discipline, enlarge and exalt the mind, to that we shall be attracted. A right heart breathes in an atmosphere of truth; it grows and rejoices in communion with all the light that shines upon it from the works or word of God. All truth, indeed, is not of the same importance. There is that which is primary and essential; there is that which adds to the completeness, without going to the foundation of character. The truths that enter a well cultivated mind, animated by right sentiments, will arrange themselves by a natural law in the relative positions they hold as the exponents of the character of God, and the means more or less adapted to promote the purity and elevation of man. All truth is of God; yet it is not all of equal value as an educational influence. There are different circles—some central, some remote. The crystals of the rock, the stratification of the globe, and the facts of a like character, will fill an outer circle, as beautiful, or skillful, or wonderful, in the demonstration of divine powers, but not so in themselves unfolding the highest attributes of God. The architecture of animate nature, the processes of vegetable life, the composition of the atmosphere, the clouds and the water, will range themselves in another circle, within the former, and gradually blending with it, as the manifestations of the wisdom and benificence of God. Then the unfoldings of his moral character in the government of nations, in the facts of history, and in the general revelation of himself in the Scriptures, will constitute another band of truth concentric with the others, yet brighter and nearer the center. While at length in the cross and person of Christ—in the system of redemption, and all the great facts which it embodies, we behold the innermost circle that, sweeping round Jehovah as its center, reflects the light of his being, most luminously upon the universe. Such is obviously the relative order of the truth we seek to know. It is the different manifestations of God, ascending from the lowest attributes of divinity, to those which constitute a character worthy the homage and love of all beings. Now, as it is the great object of life to know God and enjoy him, so in education we are to keep this steadily in view, and follow the order of procedure for the attainment of it which God has himself established. To spend the life or the years of youth on the study of rocks and crystals, to the neglect of the higher moral truths which lie within their circle, is unpardonable folly—a folly not to be redeemed by the fact that such knowledge is a partial unfolding of God to man. It is little better than studying the costume to the neglect of the person—than the examination of the frame to the neglect of the master-piece of a Raphael inclosed within it—than the criticism of a single window to the neglect of the glorious dome of St. Peter's—than viewing the rapids to the neglect of the mighty fall of Niagara. In education, the observance of this natural order of truth will bring us, at length, to that which fills the outer circle, and thus all the kinds of knowledge will receive a just attention. Indeed, the study of the one naturally leads us to the other. We shall pass from the inner to the outer lines of truth, and back again, learning all the while this important lesson, that the study of the more remote class of truths is designed to conduct us to a more perfect appreciation of that which is moral, religious, central and saving; while the study of the higher parts of revelation will show us that the former come in to finish and perfect the latter. We do not despise the frieze—the architrave—the cornice—the spires, and the other ornaments of the temple, because we regard as most essential the foundation, the corner stone, the walls and the roofing; but in due time we seek to impart to our edifice not only strength and security, but the beauty of the noblest and richest adornment. According to our means, and as the necessities of life will permit, we shall seek for knowledge from all its various spheres, and despise nothing that God has thought worthy of his creative power or supporting energy.

Now this large course of education in obedience to its first great object, is not limited by anything in itself or in us, to a particular class of individuals. It is the common path along which all intelligent beings are to pass. The object to which it conducts is before us all, and common to all. It is not divided into departments for separate classes. Woman, as well as man, has an interest in it, and an obligation to seek for it, just as binding as that which rests on him. All souls are equal, and though intellects may vary, yet the pursuit of truth for the exaltation of the soul is common to all. As this obligation to unfold the powers of the intellect, that we may grasp the truth, is primary, taking precedence of other objects—since all duty is based on knowledge, and all love and worship, and right action on the intelligence and apprehension of God—so education, which in this department is but the development of our capacity, preparing us to pursue the truth, and master the difficulties which frown us away from its attainment, rises into a duty the most imperative upon all rational beings. The same path here stretches onward before both sexes, the same motives impel them, the same objects are presented to them, the same obligations rest upon them. Neither youth nor age—neither man nor woman, can here make a limitation that shall confine one sex to a narrow corner—an acre of this broad world of intelligence—and leave the other free to roam at large among all sciences. Whatever it is truly healthful for the heart of man to know, whatever befits his spiritual nature and immortal destiny, that is just as open to the mind of woman, and just as consistent with her nature. To deny this abstract truth, we must either affirm the sentiment falsely ascribed to Mahomet, although harmonizing well enough with his faith in general, that women have no souls; or take the ground that truth in this, its widest extent, is not as essential to their highest welfare as it is to ours; or assert, that possessing inferior intellects, they are incapable of deriving advantage from the general pursuit of knowledge, and therefore must be confined to a few primary truths, of which man is to be the judge. The first supposition we leave with the fanaticism that may have given it birth, and with which it so well harmonizes; the second we surrender to those atheistic fools and swindling politicians who can see no excellence in knowledge, save as it may minister to their sensual natures, or assist them to cajole the people; while the man who maintains the third, we would recommend to a court of Ladies, with Queen Elizabeth as judge, Madame de Stael as prosecuting attorney, and Hannah More, Mrs. Hemans, and other bright spirits of the same sex, as jury.

I have dwelt thus at length on the first and most general object before us in the pursuit of knowledge, because it is really of the highest and noblest education, common to both sexes and unlimited by anything in their character or different spheres of life.

* * * * *



The great difficulty in this country is, that we try to do too much for our children. If we would let them alone a little more, we should do better; that is, if we would content ourselves with keeping them warm and clean, and feeding them on simple, wholesome food, it would be enough.

They will take exercise of themselves, if we will let them alone, and they will shout and laugh enough to open their lungs. It is really curious for a scientific person to look on and observe the numerous and sometimes, alas! fatal mistakes that are constantly made. You will see a family where the infants are stout and vigorous as a parent's heart could desire, and, if only let alone, would grow up athletic and fine people; but parents want to be doing, so they shower them every morning to make them strong—they are strong already!

Then, even before they are weaned, they will teach them to suck raw beef; for what? Has not their natural food sustained them well? An infant will have teeth before it wants animal food.

But all these courses they have heard were strengthening, so they administer them to the strongest, till excess of stimulants produces inflammation, and the natural strength is wasted by disease. Then the child grows pale and feeble; now the stimulants are redoubled, they are taken to the sea-shore, kept constantly in the open air, and a great amount of exercise is insisted on. By this time all the symptoms of internal inflammation show themselves: the skin is pale, the hands and feet cold, dark under the eyes, reluctance to move, &c., &c. But no one suspects what is the matter; even the physician is often deceived at this stage of the process, and if he is, the child's case will be a hard one.

I mention particularly this course of stimulants, as it is just now the prevalent mania. Every one ought to understand, that those practices which are commonly called strengthening, are, in other words, stimulating, and that to apply stimulants where the system is already in a state of health, will produce too much excitement. The young, from the natural quickness of their circulation, are particularly liable to this excess of action, which is inflammation. This general inflammation, in time, settles into some form of acute disease, so that in fact, by blindly attempting to strengthen, we inflame, disease, and enfeeble to the greatest possible degree.

If we look at nature—at the animal instincts that are around us, what a different course does it advise! The Creator has taught the lower races to take care of their young; and if some accident does not happen to them they never lose one; just as they manage to-day, just so did they do for them a thousand years ago. Man is left to his own reason, I had almost said to his caprice; every age has produced different customs, and in consequence different diseases. More than half of the human race die under five years old; how small a portion live to the full "threescore and ten."

Morally and intellectually, man may advance to an almost unlimited extent; but he must remember, that physically he is subjected to the same laws as other animals. Is it not quite time that we should bow our pride of reason, and look to the practice of those animals that raise all their young, and live out their own natural lives? How do they manage? We need not look far; see, madam, the cat; how does she contrive to rear her young family? Who ever saw her give one of them a shower-bath? Who ever saw her take a piece of meat to her nest, that her little ones might try their gums on it, before their teeth had grown? Who ever saw her taking them out of a cold winter's day for exercise in the open air, till their little noses were as red as those of the unfortunate babies one meets every cold day? Not one of all these excellent fashionable plans does she resort to. She keeps them clean—very clean, warm—very warm indeed. The Creator sends them to make their way in the world dressed completely, cap and all, in a garment unexceptionable as to warmth; there is no thick sock on the feet to protect from chills, and the head left with the bare skin uncovered, because reason had discovered that the head was the hottest part of the body, and that it was all a mistake that it should be so; therefore it was left exposed to correct this natural, universal law of the animal economy. Pussy knows nothing of all this, so kittie's cap is left on, coming snug over the little ears; and who ever saw a cat deaf (but from age) or a kitten with the ear-ache? Yet the first thing that strikes a stranger, in coming to our land of naked heads, is the number of persons he meets, that are partially deaf, or have inflamed eyes. All this sounds like a joke, but is it not a pretty serious one? Is it not strange, that men do not look oftener in this direction? It is not the cat alone, every animal gives the same lessons. The rabbit is so careful, that lest her young should take cold while she is from home, she makes a sort of thick pad or comforter of her own hair, and lays it for a covering over them. We do not hear that the old rabbits, when they go out into life, (in our cold climate too) are any more liable to take cold from having been so tenderly brought up. In fact, I doubt whether they ever take cold at all, young or old; while with man, to have a cold seems to be his natural state, particularly in the winter season. I have heard some persons go so far as to say, that a cold does not do a child any hurt; but it is not true, let who will say it; every cold a child takes, makes him more liable to another; and another, and another succeeds, till chronic disease is produced.

(To be Continued.)

* * * * *




On my first visit to New York, many years since, I was accompanied by a young nephew. He was made up of smiles and cheerfulness. Such a traveling companion, of any age, is rare to be found, so gallant—so ready to serve—so full of bright thoughts—anticipating all my wishes, and yet so unobtrusive and modest—at the same time disposed to add to his own stock of knowledge from every passing incident. Nothing, in fact, escaped his observation. The variety and richness of scenery which is everywhere to be found in the New England States, seemed to delight his young heart. This alone, was enough to inspire my own heart with sunny thoughts, though I was in affliction, and was seldom found absent from my own happy home.

As I recall to mind that journey and that happy, cheerful child, I often think how much comfort even a child can impart to others, when their hearts have been sanctified by the Spirit of God. I cannot forbear to say that cheerfulness is a cardinal virtue, and ought to be more cultivated by the old and by the young. A cheerful disposition not only blesses its possessor but imparts happiness to all that come within its reach.

As we entered the city at an early hour, everything wore a cheerful aspect, every step seemed elastic and every heart buoyant with hope. There was a continual hum of busy men and women, as we were passing near a market. Such a rolling of carts and carriages—so many cheerful children, some crying "Raddishes"—"raddishes"—others "Strawberries"—"strawberries"—others with baskets of flowers—all wide awake, each eager to sell his various articles of merchandise. This was indeed a novel scene to us—it did seem a charming place. My young companion remarked, Aunt C——, "I think everybody here must be happy." I could not but at first respond to the sentiment. But presently we began to meet persons—some halt—some blind—some in rags—looking filthy and degraded.

Every face was new to us—not one person among the throngs we met that we had ever seen before. An unusual sense of loneliness came over me, and I thought my young attendant participated in this same feeling of solitude, and though I said nothing, I sighed for the quiet and familiar faces and scenes of the "Home, sweet home" I had so recently left.

We had not proceeded far before we saw men and boys in great commotion, all running hurriedly, in one direction, bending their steps towards the opposite shore. Their step was light and quick, but a look of sadness was in every face. We could only, now and then, gather up a few murmuring words that fell from the lips of the passers-by.

"There were more than thirty persons killed," said one. "Yes, more than fifty," said another. We soon learned that a vessel on fire, the preceding evening had entered the harbour, but the fire had progressed so far that it was impossible to extend relief to the sufferers, and most of the crew perished in the flames, or jumped overboard and were drowned.

The awful impression of distress made upon the minds of persons unaccustomed to such disasters, cannot well be described—they certainly were by no means transient.

It was sad to reflect that many who had thus perished after an absence from home, some a few weeks, others for months, instead of greeting their friends, were hurried into eternity so near their own homes, under such aggravated circumstances. And then what a terrible disappointment to survivors! Many families as well as individuals were by this calamity not only bereft of friends, but of their property—some reduced to a state of comparative beggary.

This day's experience was but a faint picture of human life.

But to return to that young nephew. Does any one inquire with interest, Did his cheerful, benevolent disposition, his readiness to impart and to receive happiness continue with him through life? It did in a pre-eminent degree. It is believed that even then "The joy of the Lord was his strength."—Neh. viii. 10.

He died at the age of 37, having been for nearly six years a successful missionary among the spicy breezes which blow soft o'er Ceylon's Isle. A friend who had known him most intimately for many years while a student at Yale, and then tutor, and then a student of Theology, after his death, in writing to his bereaved mother, says, "We had hope that your son, from his rare qualifications to fill the station he occupied, his remarkable facilities in acquiring that difficult language, his cheerfulness in imparting knowledge, his indomitable perseverance, his superior knowledge, and love of the Bible, which it was his business to teach—that in all this God had raised him up for a long life of service to the Church; but instead of this, God had been fitting him, all this time, for some more important sphere of service in the upper sanctuary."

Here, as in thousands of other cases, we see that "The boy was the father of the man."

Would any mother like to know the early history of that cheerful young traveler, we reply, as in the case of the prophet Samuel, he was "asked of the Lord," and was, therefore, rightly named Samuel. The Lord called him by his Spirit, when a mere child, "Samuel," "Samuel," and he replied "Here am I;" and his subsequent life and character were what might be expected from his obedient disposition and his lowly conduct in early childhood.

* * * * *

A young prince having asked his tutor to instruct him in religion and to teach him to say his prayers, was answered, that "he was yet too young." "That cannot be," said the little boy, "for I have been in the burying ground and measured the graves; I found many of them shorter than myself."

* * * * *



It gives me much pleasure, in accordance with your suggestions, Mrs. W., to lay before the readers of the Magazine, a few thoughts on the subject of music in Christian families. The subject is a very interesting one; and I regret that time and space will not allow me to do it more ample justice.

Music is one of those precious gifts of Providence which are liable to be misused and misinterpreted. It has been applied, like oratory, to pernicious, as well as to useful purposes. It has been made to minister to vice, to indolence and to luxury—as well as to virtue, to industry, and to true refinement. But we must not on this account question the preciousness of the gift itself. The single circumstance that the Master of Assemblies requires it to be employed through all time, in the solemn assemblies of his worshipers, should suffice to prevent us from holding it in light estimation.

Other good things besides music have been abused. Poetry, and prose, and eloquence, for example; but shall we therefore undervalue them? Painting, too, has its errings—some of them very grievous; but shall it therefore be neglected, as unworthy of cultivation? Things the most precious all have this liability, and should on this account be guarded with more vigilance.

Music, merely as one of the fine arts, has many claims to our attention. We could not well say, in this respect, too much in its favor. Wrong things, indeed, have been said; and many pretensions have been raised to which we could never subscribe. It does not possess, as some seem to think, any inherent moral or religious efficacy. It is not always safe, as a mere amusement. An unrestrained passion for it, has often proved injurious, and those who would become artists or distinguished amateurs, have need of much caution on this head. Music is in this respect, like poetry, painting, and sculpture. The Christian may cherish any of these arts, as a means to some useful end; but the moment he loses sight of real utility he is in danger, for everything that he does or enjoys should be in accordance with the glory of God.

The most interesting point of view in which music is to be regarded is that which relates to the worship of God. This gives it an importance which is unspeakable. There is no precept which requires us to employ oratory, or painting, or sculpture in the worship of the Most High. Nor is there any direct precept for the consecrated use of poetry; for "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," may be written in elevated prose. But the Bible is filled with directions for the employment of music in the sacred service. Both the Old Testament and the New require us to sing with devout affections, to the praise and glory of God. The command, too, seems to be general, like those in relation to prayer. If all are to pray, so "in everything" are all to "give thanks." If we are to "pray without ceasing," so we are told, "let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord." Again, "is any man afflicted, let him pray: is he merry (joyful), let him sing psalms." The direction is not, "if any man is joyful, let him attend a concert or listen to exercises in praise," but "let him sing." There is something to be done in his own proper person.

Our necessities compel us to pray. A mere permission to do so, might seem to suffice. For we must pray earnestly and perseveringly, or perish forever. But will it do meanwhile to be sparing in our thanks? True, one may say, I am under infinite obligations to give thanks, and I generally endeavor to do so when engaged in the exercise of prayer. But, remember there is another divinely constituted exercise called praise. Why not engage in this also, and mingle petitions with your praises? This is the scriptural method of expressing gratitude and adoration, and for ourselves, we see not how individuals are to be excused in neglecting it. Every one, it is true, would not succeed as an artist, if he had never so many advantages. But every one who has the ordinary powers of speech, might be so far instructed in song, as to mingle his voice with others in the solemn assembly, or at least to use it in private to his own edification. This position has been established in these later times beyond the possibility of a rational doubt. Proofs of it have been as clear as demonstration. These, perhaps, may be exhibited in another number.

But in reply to this statement it will be said, that cultivation is exceedingly difficult if deferred to adult years. Well, be it so. It follows, that since it is not difficult in years of childhood and youth, all our children should have early and adequate instruction. There should be singing universally in Christian families. And this is the precise point I have endeavored to establish in the present article. How far the neglects and miscarriages of youth may excuse the delinquences of adult years, I dare not presume to decide or conjecture. It may suffice my present purpose to show that according to the Bible all should sing; and that all might sing if instruction had not been neglected. Is it not high time for such neglect to be done away? And how shall it ever be done away, except by the introduction of music into Christian families?

Let Christian parents once become awake to the important results connected with this subject, and they can ordinarily overcome what had seemed to them mountains of difficulty; nay, more, what seemed impossibilities, by considerable effort and a good share of perseverance.

Even one instance of successful experiment in this way should be quite sufficient to induce others to make similar efforts.

A father who for many years, during his collegiate and professional studies, was for a long period abstracted from all domestic endearments, much regretted this, as he was sensible of the prejudicial influence it had in deadening the affections. Not many years after he became settled in business, he found himself surrounded by quite a little group of children. He became exceedingly interested in their spiritual welfare, and in the success of Sabbath-school instruction. His heart was often made to rejoice as he contemplated the delightful influence upon himself of these home-scenes, and which he longed to express in sacred song. But as he had never cultivated either his ear or his voice, he felt at his time of life it would be quite useless for him to try to learn. Neither did the mother of his children know anything about the rules of music.

They had at one time a very musical young relative for a visitor in their family. The children were so delighted with his lofty strains that they kept him singing the greater part of the time. The mother expressed great regret that neither she nor her husband could gratify the children in their eager desire to enjoy music.

This young friend said he was sure, if she would but try, he would soon convince her of the practicability of learning. She promised to try—and in the attempt she was greatly encouraged by the assurances of her husband that he also would try.

It was soon found that all the children had a good ear and a good voice, and particularly the eldest, a girl of seven, who was at length able to take the lead in singing a few tunes at family worship.

After a few months' trial, no money could have tempted these parents to relinquish the pleasure and the far-reaching benefits which they felt must result from this social and exalted pleasure of uniting on earth in singing the sacred songs of Zion, as a preparation for loftier strains in Heaven.

* * * * *

It has been beautifully said that Reason is the compass by which we direct our course; and Revelation the pole star by which we correct its variations.

Experience, like the stern-light of a ship, only shows us the path which has been passed over.

Happiness, like the violet, is only a way-side flower.

* * * * *




It was the day for the meeting of the Monthly Missionary Society, in the village of C.; a day of pure unclouded loveliness in early summer, when the sweetest flowers were blossoming, and the soft delicious air was laden with their perfume, and that of the newly-mown hay. All nature seemed rejoicing in the manifestations of the goodness and love of its Creator, while the low mingled murmurings of insects, breezes and rivulets, with the songs of birds, formed a sweet chorus of praise to God. The society was to meet at deacon Mills's, who lived about four miles out of the village, and whose house was the place where, of all others, all loved to go. Very early in the afternoon all the spare wagons, carriages, carryalls, chaises and other vehicles were in demand. A hay-rack was filled with young people, as a farmer kindly offered to carry them nearly to the place, and toward evening, they considered, it would be pleasant to walk home. So deacon Mills's house was filled with old, middle-aged and young, who were all soon occupied with the different kinds of work, requisite for filling a box to be sent to a missionary family among the distant heathen. Seaming, stitching, piecing, quilting and knitting, kept every hand busy, while their owners' tongues were equally so, yet the conversation was not the common, idle talk of the day, but useful and elevating, for religion was loved, and lived, by most of those dear and pleasant people, and it could not but be spoken of. Still there was interest in each other's welfare, as their social and domestic pursuits and plans were related and discussed.

There was a piazza in front of the house, the pillars of which were covered with vines, running from one to another, gracefully interlacing, and forming a pleasant screen from the sun's rays. At one end of this piazza, a group of five young girls were seated at their work. They were chosen and intimate friends, who shared with each other all that was interesting to themselves. They had been talking pleasantly together for some time, and had arrived at a moment's pause, when Clara Glenfield said, "Girls, I think this is a good opportunity to say to you something that I have for a long time wished to say. You know we are in the habit of speaking to each other upon every subject that interests us, excepting that of religion. None of us profess to be Christians, although we know it is our duty to be. We have all pious mothers, and, if yours are like mine, they are constantly urging, as well as our other friends, to give our hearts to God, and we cannot but think of the subject; now, why should we not speak of it together? and why are we not Christians?"

Emily Upton. "I should really be very glad, Clara, if we could. It seems to me we might talk much more freely with each other, than with older persons; for some things trouble me on this subject, and if I should speak of them to mother, or any one else, I am afraid they would think less of me, or blame me."

Clara. "Then let us each answer the question, why are we not Christians? You tell us first, Emily."

Emily. "Well, then, it seems to me, I am just as good as many in the church. I do not mean to say that I am good, but only if they are Christians, I think I am. There is Leonora D., for instance, she dresses as richly with feathers and jewels, attends parties instead of the prayer-meetings, and acts as haughtily as any lady of fashion I ever knew. Now, I go to the Bible class, evening meetings, always attend church, and read the Bible, and pray every day. Notwithstanding all, mother says, so tenderly, 'Emily, my child, I wish you were a Christian,' and I get almost angry that she will not admit that I am one."

Alice Grey. "Well, I do not blame Leonora much. To tell the truth, I do not believe in so much church-going and psalm-singing. I think God has given us these pleasant things to enjoy them, and it is perfectly natural for a young girl to sing and dance, visit, dress, and enjoy herself. It seems to me there is time enough for religion when we grow older, but give me youthful pleasures and I can be happy enough."

Sophia. "But you think religion is important, do you not?"

Alice. "Yes, I suppose it is necessary to have religion to die by, and I own I sometimes feel troubled for fear that I may die before possessing it, but I am healthy and happy, and do not think much about it. I want to enjoy life while I can, like these little birds in the garden who are singing and skipping so merrily."

Clara. "Annie, you are the reverse of Alice, quiet, gentle, and sedate; why are not you a Christian?"

Annie. "Since we are talking so candidly, I will tell you. I really do not know how to be. I cannot feel that I have ever done anything that was so very sinful, although I know, for the Bible says so, that I am a sinner. To be sure, I have done a great many wrong things, but it does not seem as though God would notice such little things, and besides it did not seem as though I could have done differently in the circumstances. Mother has always commended me, and held me up for a pattern to the younger children, and I suppose I have become, at least, you will think I have, a real Pharisee. Yet when I have been urged to repent and believe in Christ, I have not known what to do. I have spent hours in the still, lonely night, thinking upon the subject, and saying, if I could only feel that I am a sinner I would repent. I have always believed in Jesus, that He is the Son of God, that He assumed our nature, and bore the punishment we deserve, and will save all who believe in Him. Now what more can I do? I know that I must do everything, for I feel that I am far from being a Christian, and yet I know not what. I suppose your experience does not correspond with mine, Clara?"

Clara. "Not exactly. I not only know, but deeply feel, that I am a great sinner; sometimes my sinfulness appears too great to be forgiven. The trouble with me is procrastination. I cannot look back to the time when I did not feel that I ought to be a Christian, but I have always put off the subject, thinking I would attend to it another time, and it has been just so for year after year. Only last week I was sitting alone in my room at twilight, enjoying the quiet loveliness and beauty of the view from my window. I could not help thinking of Him who had made all things, and had given me the power of enjoying them, besides so many other blessings, and I longed to participate in the feeling which Cowper ascribes to the Christian, and say, 'My Father made them all.' Then something seemed to whisper, 'wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?' 'Now is the accepted time.' 'To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.' But I did harden my heart. I did not feel willing, like Alice, to give up the pleasures which are inviting me all around, and become a devoted, consistent Christian, for I do not mean to be a half-way Christian, neither one thing or the other."

Sophia. "Nearly all these reasons have been my excuse for not becoming a Christian, but another has been, that I do not like to be noticed, and made an object of remark. My father and mother and friends would be so much pleased, they would be talking of it, and watching me, to see if my piety was real, and I would feel as if I were too conspicuous a person. Now if we would all at the same time resolve to consecrate ourselves to the Lord, I think each particular case might not be so much noticed."

"But why should you dread it so much Sophy?" asked Emily.

"I hardly know why" she replied, "but I have always felt so since I was quite a child, but since I have for the first time spoken of it, it seems a much more foolish reason than I had before considered it."

Alice. "And I must confess that I am not always so careless and thoughtless on this subject. When I am really possessing and enjoying the pleasures I have longed for, there seems to be always something more that I need to make me happy. Fanny Bedford, pious and good as she is, seems always happier than I, and I have often wished that I was such a Christian as she is."

"Who has not," exclaimed the other girls; and their praise of her was warm and sincere.

"She is so consistent and religious, and yet so humble, and so full of love to every one, that it is impossible not to love her and the religion she loves so much. Annie, I have never wished so much that I was a Christian, as when I have thought of her; how much I wish I was like her." "There is Fanny in the hall, let us speak to her of what we have been saying," said Sophia.

They agreed that they were willing she should know it all, and called to her. She came and sat with them, and they related to her the conversation which they had had together, to which she listened with much interest, and a warm heart, and replied, "It is a great wonder to me now, dear girls, that any should need to be persuaded to accept of Christ, and devote themselves to His service; yet it was once just the same with me. I had all of your excuses and many more, and considered them good reasons for not becoming a Christian. How true it is, that 'the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel should shine unto them.' Could you but once experience the blessedness of being children of God, you would be surprised and ashamed that you have so long refused so precious a privilege, to possess instead, the unsatisfying pleasures of earth. Consider, to be a Christian, is to have God for your father, to have all that is glorious and excellent in his perfections engaged for your good. It is to have Jesus for an ever-present, almighty friend, ready to forgive your sins, to save you from sin, to bear your sorrows, to heighten your joys, to lead and bless you in all the scenes of life, to guide and assist you while you engage in his blessed service, to be with you in the hour of death, and to admit you to the realms of eternal joy. I can scarcely commence telling you of all the benefits he bestows on His people."

"What must we do, Fanny?" inquired Annie.

"The first thing of all, dear Annie," she replied, "is to go to the Savior, at His feet ask for repentance and true faith in Him. Consecrate yourself to Him, and resolve that you will from this time serve the Lord. Then, Annie, you will have done what you could, and 'He giveth the Holy Spirit to them that obey Him.' That Spirit will convince you of sin, and you will be surprised and grieved that you could ever have thought of yourself as other than the chief of sinners, and while you shed tears of sorrow and repentance, He will lead you to Christ, the Lamb of God, whose precious blood will prevail with God for the pardon of your sins; in it you can wash away your sins, and be made pure and holy in his sight. Do what you know how to do, and then shall you know if you follow on to know the Lord; will you not?"

Annie. "I will try."

Fanny. "I think the sin of procrastination must be very displeasing to God, as it is to our earthly parents, when we defer obeying their commands. It is solemn to think that He against whom we thus sin, is He in whose hands our breath is, and who can at any time take it away. If He were not so slow to anger, what would become of us? Dear Clara, and each of you, you are only making cause for sorrow and shame in thus neglecting to do what you know you ought to do. 'Enter in at the strait gate and walk in the narrow way that leadeth unto life,' and you will find that every step in that way is pleasure. Not such pleasure as the world gives, Alice, but more like the happiness of angels. Religion takes away no real pleasures, nor the buoyancy and happiness of the youthful spirit. It only sanctifies and leads its possessor to do nothing but what a kind heavenly Father will approve, Alice."

"But, Fanny, all Christians are not happy ones."

Fanny. "Yet those who are the most devoted and consistent, are the most happy. Some have troubles and sorrows which they could scarcely bear if it were not for religion. They are sanctified by means of these afflictions and so made happier; holiness and happiness are inseparable. ''Tis religion that must give, sweetest pleasure while we live,' you know the hymn says, and it is true. Do you think Emily, that because you are as good as you think Leonora is, you are good enough?"

Emily. "No, Fanny, it was a poor excuse; I see that I must not look at others, but at what God requires of me."

Fanny. "How common is the excuse, so many people profess to think they can do without religion, because so many who call themselves Christian are inconsistent. Dear girls, I pray that if you are ever Christians, you may be consistent, sincere ones. Who can estimate the good, or the evil, you may do by your example. If you love the Savior more than all else beside, you will find his yoke easy and his burden light, and for his sake it will be pleasant to do what would naturally be unpleasant. Remember this, Sophy, and I hope you will soon all know the blessedness of being Christians. It is our highest duty and our highest happiness. Do, dear girls, resolve, each of you, to seek the Lord now."

Just then, their pastor came; he spoke kindly to each of the little group, before entering the house.

"It is nearly tea-time," said Clara, "let us go and offer our assistance to Mrs. Mills; as we are the youngest here, perhaps she would like to have us carry around the plates and tea. We will try to not forget what you have told us, Fanny."

"Pray for me, Fanny," said Sophia softly, as she passed her, and kissed her.

"And for me," said Annie.

"And for us, too," continued Clara, Emily and Alice, as they stepped back for a moment.

Tea was soon over, the missionary hymn, "From Greenland's icy mountains," was sung, and prayer offered by the pastor, and then the pleasant interview was ended.

A few days after, Fanny and Annie met each other in the street. "Have you tried to do, Annie, what seemed your duty to do?" Fanny asked.

"I have," she replied, as she looked up with a happy smile.

"You have done what you could," said Fanny; "it is all that God requires of you, continue to do so." Annie's heart thrilled with joy, at the first faint hope that she was indeed a Christian, and from that time her course, like that of the shining light, was onward and brighter.

C. L.

* * * * *



At one period of my life, during a revival of religion, God led me by his Spirit to see and feel that the many years I had been a professed follower of Christ—which had been years of alternate revivings and backslidings, had only resulted in dishonor to Him and condemnation to my own soul. True, I had many times thought I had great enjoyment in the service of God, and was ever strict in all the outward observances of religion. But my heart was not fixed, and my affections were easily turned aside and fastened upon minor objects. In connection with this humiliating view of my past life, a deep sense of my responsibilities as a mother, having children old enough to give themselves to God, and still unreconciled to him, weighed me to the earth.

I plainly saw that God could not consistently convert them while I lived so inconsistent a life. I felt that if they were lost I was responsible. I gave myself to seek the Lord with all my heart, by fasting and prayer. One day, in conversation with my dear pastor, I told him my trials, and he said to me, "What you want is a baptism of the Holy Ghost. Give yourself up to seek this richest of all blessings." I did so—and rested not until this glorious grace was mine. Then, oh how precious was Jesus to my soul! How perfectly easy was it now to deny myself and follow Christ!

I now knew what it was to be led by the constraining love of Jesus, and to do those things that please him. Then it was that he verified to me his precious promise, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Very shortly, one of my dear loved ones was brought to make an entire surrender of herself to Christ.

I trust I was also made the instrument of good to others, who professed to submit their hearts to my precious Savior. Will not many more be induced to take God at his word and believe him when he says, "Then shall ye find me, when ye shall search for me with all your hearts"?

* * * * *



The following paragraphs, which we have met in the course of our reading, contain a great deal of truth worthy the consideration of our readers.

Extravagance in living.—"One cannot wonder that the times occasionally get hard," said a venerable citizen the other day, "when one sees the way in which people live and ladies dress." We thought there was a great deal of truth in what the old gentleman said. Houses at from five hundred to a thousand dollars rent, brocades at three dollars a yard, bonnets at twenty, and shawls, and cloaks, &c., from fifty dollars up, are enough to embarrass any community that indulges in such extravagances as Americans do. For it is not only the families of realized wealth, who could afford it, that spend money in this way, but those who are yet laboring to make a fortune, and who, by the chances of trade, may fail of this desirable result. Everybody wishes to live, now-a-days, as if already rich. The wives and daughters of men, not worth two thousand a-year, dress as rich nearly as those of men worth ten or twenty thousand. The young, too, begin where their parents left off. Extravagance, in a word, is piled on extravagance, till

"Alps o'er Alps arise."

The folly of this is apparent. The sums thus lavished go for mere show, and neither refine the mind nor improve the heart. They gratify vanity, that is all. By the practice of a wise economy, most families might, in time, entitle themselves to such luxuries; and then indulgence in them would not be so reprehensible. If there are two men, each making a clear two thousand a-year, and one lays by a thousand at interest, while the other spends his entire income, the first will have acquired a fortune in sixteen years, sufficient to yield him an income equal to his accustomed expenses, while the other will be as poor as when he started in life. And so of larger sums. In fine, any man, by living on half of what he annually makes, be it more or less, can, before he is forty, acquire enough, and have it invested in good securities, to live for the rest of his life in the style in which he has been living all along. Yet how few do it! But what prevents? Extravagance! extravagance! and again extravagance!

Wives and carpets.—In the selection of a carpet, you should always prefer one with small figures, for the two webs, of which the fabric consists, are always more closely interwoven than in carpeting where large figures are wrought. "There is a good deal of true philosophy in this," says one, "that will apply to matters widely different from the selection of carpets. A man commits a sad mistake when he selects a wife that cuts too large a figure on the green carpet of life—in other words, makes much display. The attractions fade out—the web of life becomes weak—and all the gay figures, that seemed so charming at first, disappear like summer flowers in autumn. This is what makes the bachelors, or some of them. The wives of the present day wish to cut too large a figure in the carpet of life."

* * * * *



Through Him alone have we access with boldness to the throne of grace. He is our advocate with the Father. When the believer appears before God in secret, the Savior appears also: for he "ever liveth to make intercession for us." He hath not only directed us to call upon his Father as "Our Father," and to ask him to supply our daily need, and to forgive our trespasses; but hath graciously assured us, that "whatsoever (we) shall ask in his name, he will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."—(John 14:13.) And saith (verse 14), "If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it." And again (John 15:23, 24), "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name he will give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."

All needful blessings suited to our various situations and circumstances in this mortal life, all that will be necessary for us in the hour of death, and all that can minister to our felicity in a world of glory, hath he graciously promised, and given us a command to ask for, in his name. And what is this but to plead, when praying to our heavenly Father, that Jesus hath sent us; and to ask and expect the blessings for his sake alone?


* * * * *




A summons from the king! What can it mean? What can he know of her? She is, indeed, the wife of one of his "mighty men," but though he highly esteems her husband, he can have no interest in her. She meditates. Her cheek pales. Can he have heard evil tidings from the distant city of the Ammonites, and would he break kindly to her news of her husband's death? It cannot be. Why should he do this for her more than for hundreds of others in like trouble? Again, she ponders, and now a crimson hue mounts to her temples—her fatal beauty! Away with the thought—it is shame to dwell upon it—would she wrong by so foul a suspicion the Lord's anointed? She wearies herself with surmises, and all in vain. But there is the command, and she must be gone. The king's will is absolute. Whatever that summons imports, "dumb acquiescence" is her only part. She goes forth in her youth, beauty and happiness—she returns—

* * * * *

Weeks pass, and behold another message, but this time it is the king who receives, and Bathsheba who sends. What is signified in those few words from a woman's hand, that can so unnerve him who "has his ten thousands slain"? It is now his turn to tremble and look pale. Yet a little while, and he, the man after God's own heart, the chosen ruler of his people—the idol of the nation, shall be proclaimed guilty of a heinous and abominable crime, and shall, according to the laws of the land, be subjected to an ignominious death. He ponders now. Would he had thought of all this before, but it is too late. The consequences of his ungoverned passion stare him in the face and well nigh overwhelm him. Something must be done, and that speedily. He cannot have it thus. He has begun to fall, and the enemy of souls, is, as ever, at hand to suggest the second false and ruinous step.

* * * * *

Another summons. A messenger from the king to Joab. "Send me Uriah the Hittite." It is peremptory; no reasons are given, and Joab does as he is bidden. Unsuspecting as loyal, Uriah hastens on his way, mindful only of duty, and is soon in the presence of his royal master, who, always kind, is now remarkably attentive to his wants and thoughtful of his interests. He inquires for the commander of his forces and of the war and how the people fare, and it would almost seem had recalled him only to speak kindly to him and manifest his regard for the army, though he had not himself led them to battle.

But though unsuspecting and deceived, the high-minded and faithful soldier cannot even unwittingly be made to answer the end for which he has been summoned, and after two days he returns to Joab, bearing a letter, of whose terrible contents he little dreams and is happy in his ignorance.

Meantime Bathsheba has heard of his arrival in Jerusalem, and is momentarily expecting his appearance. Alas! that she should dread his coming. Alas! that she should shudder at every sound of approaching footsteps. How fearful is the change which has come over her since last she looked on his loved face! He is her husband still, and she, she is his lawful loving wife. Never was he so dear to her as now. Never did his noble character so win her admiration, as she contemplates all the scenes of her wedded life and reviews the evidences of it in the past. How happy they have been! What bliss has been hers in the enjoyment of his esteem and affection! She is even now to him, in his absence, the one object of tender regard and constant thought. She knows how fondly he dwells on her love, and how precious to him is the beauty which first won him to her side. She is the "ewe lamb which he has nourished, which has drank from his own cup and lain in his bosom"—she is his all. He has been long away; the dangers of the battle field have surrounded him, and now he is returned, alive, well; her heart bounds, she cannot wait till she shall see him; yet how can she meet him? Ah! fatal remembrance, how bitterly it has recalled her from her vision of delight. It is not true! it cannot be true! it is but a horrible dream! Her heart is true? She would at any moment have died for him. The entire devotion of her warm nature is his. She had no willing part in that revolting crime. Oh! must she suffer as if she had been an unfaithful wife? Must she endure the anguish of seeing him turn coldly from her in some future day? Must she now meet him and have all her joy marred by that hateful secret? Must she take part in deceiving him, in imposing upon him—him, the noble, magnanimous, pure-minded husband? Oh, wretched one! was ever sorrow like hers?

The day passes, and the night, and he comes not. Can he have suspected the truth? Slowly the tedious hours go by, while she endures the racking tortures of suspense. The third day dawns, and with it come tidings that he has returned to Rabbah, and his words of whole-souled devotion to his duty and his God are repeated in her ears.—Faint not yet, strong heart; a far more bitter cup is in store for thee.

* * * * *

Bathsheba is again a wife, the wife of a king, and in her arms lies her first-born son. Terrible was the tempest which burst over her head, and her heart will never again know aught of the serene, untroubled happiness which once she knew. The storm has indeed lulled, but she sees the clouds gathering new blackness, and her stricken spirit shrinks and faints with foreboding fears. The little innocent being which she holds fondly to her bosom, which seemed sent from heaven to heal her wounds, lies panting in the grasp of fierce disease. She has sent for the king, and together they look upon the suffering one. Full well he knows, that miserable man, what mean those moans and piteous signs of distress, and what they betoken. He gazes on the wan, anguished features of his wife as she bends over her child; his thoughts revert hurriedly to her surpassing beauty when first he saw her—a vision of the murdered Uriah flits before him—the three victims of his guilt and the message of Nathan, which he has just received—the stern words, "Thou art the man," bring a full and realizing sense of the depth to which he has fallen, and overwhelmed with remorse and wretchedness, he leaves the chamber to give vent to his grief, to fast and weep and pray, in the vain hope of averting the threatened judgment.

Seven days of alternate hope and fear, of watching and care have fled, and Bathsheba is childless. Another wave has rolled over her. God grant it be the last. Surely she has drained the cup of sorrow. She sits solitary and sad, bowed down with her weight of woes; her thoughts following ever the same weary track; direful images present to her imagination; her frame racked and trembling; the heavens clothed in sackcloth, and life for ever divested of happiness and delight. The king enters and seats himself beside her. And if Bathsheba is changed, David is also from henceforth an altered man. "Broken in spirit by the consciousness of his deep sinfulness, humbled in the eyes of his subjects and his influence with them weakened by their knowledge of his crimes; even his authority in his own household, and his claim to the reverence of his sons, relaxed by his loss of character;" filled also with fearful anticipations of the future, which is shadowed by the dark prophecy of Nathan—he is from this time wholly unlike what he has been in former days. "The balance of his character is broken. Still he is pious—but even his piety takes an altered aspect. Alas for him! The bird which once rose to heights unattained before by mortal pinion, filling the air with its joyful songs, now lies with maimed wing upon the ground, pouring forth its doleful cries to God." He has scarcely begun to descend the declivity of life, yet he appears infirm and old. He is as one who goes down to the grave mourning. Thus does he seem to Bathsheba as he sits before her. But there is more in David thus humble, contrite and smitten, to win her sympathy and even love, than there was in David the absolute, and so far as she was concerned, tyrannical monarch, though surrounded with splendors, the favorite of God and man. A few days since had he assayed the part of comforter, she would have felt her heart revolt; but now repentant and forgiven, though not unpunished by Jehovah, she can listen without bitterness while he speaks of the mercy of the Lord which has suffered them both to live, though the law could have required their death, and which sustains even while it chastises.

* * * * *

Another message—by the hand of the prophet to David and Bathsheba—a message of peace and tender consideration—a name for their new-born child, the gift to them from his own hand. "Call him Jedediah—beloved of the Lord."

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out."' In his dealings with his sinful children how far are his ways above the ways of men! "As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him." He dealeth not with them after their sins—he rewardeth them not according to their iniquities, but knowing their frame—remembering that they are dust—that a breath of temptation will carry them away—pitying them with a most tender compassion, he deals with them according to the everlasting and abounding and long-suffering love of his own mighty heart. Whenever those who have known him best, to whom he has manifested his grace most richly, whom he has blessed with most abundant privileges, fall, in some evil hour, and without reason, upon the slightest cause, bring dishonor on his name and give occasion to his enemies to blaspheme, and incur his just judgment, behold how he treats them. Upon the first sign of contrition, the first acknowledgment "I have sinned," how prompt, how free, how full is the response, "The Lord also hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die." No lingering resentment—no selfish reminding of his wounded honor—no thoughts but of love, warm and tender, self-forgetting love and pity for his sorrowing child. Even when he must resort to chastisement, "his strange work"—when he must for his great name's sake, raise up for David evil out of his own house—when he must, before the sun and before all Israel, show his displeasure at sin; with one hand he applies the rod, and with the other pours into the bleeding heart the balm of consolation, so pure, so free, that his children almost feel that they could never have understood his goodness but for the need of his severity. When, notwithstanding the earnest prayer of the father, he smites the child of his shame, how soon does he return with a better gift—a son of peace, who shall remind him only of days of contrition and the favor of God—a Jedediah, who shall ever be a daily witness to his forgiving love.

And to those who suffer innocently from the crimes of others, how tender are the compassions of our heavenly Father. To the injured, afflicted Bathsheba is given the honor of being the mother of Israel's wisest, most mighty and renowned king; and she is, by father and son, by the prophet of the Lord, by the aspirant to the throne, and by all around her, ever approached with that deference and confidence which her truly dignified character and gentle virtues, not less than her high station, demand. And while not a word of reproach is permitted to be left on record against her, on that monument of which we have before spoken, among mighty and worthy names, destined to stand where many of earth's wisest and greatest are forgotten, with the progenitors of our Lord and Savior, is inscribed hers "who was the wife of Urias."

* * * * *




The second and special object of education, is the preparation of youth for the particular sphere of action to which he designs to devote his life. It may seem at first, that this general education of which I have already spoken, as it is most comprehensive and reaches to the highest range of subjects, so it should be the only style of training for an immortal mind. If we regarded man simply as spiritual and immortal, this might be true; but when we descend to the practical realities of life; when we behold him in a mixed nature, on one side touching the earth, on the other surveying the heavens, his bodily nature having its necessities as well as his spiritual, we find ourselves limited in the manner of education and the pursuit of knowledge. The division of labor and of objects of pursuit is the natural result of these physical necessities in connection with the imperfection of the human mind and the constitution of civilized society.

This division of labor constitutes the starting point for the diverse training of men, and modifies, in part, all systems of instruction that cover childhood and youth. This is, at first, an education common to all. The general invigoration of the intellect, and the preparation of the mind for the grand, the highest object of life on which I first dwelt, embrace all the earliest years of youth. There are elements of power common to all men, and instruments of knowledge effective for both the general pursuits of a liberal education, and the limited pursuits of physical toil. The education of the nursery and school are equally useful to all. But when you advance much beyond this, far enough to enable the youth to fix upon his probable line of life, then the necessity of an early application to that pursuit at once modifies his course of education.

When we pass from the diverse professions into which the growth of civilized society has divided men, to the distinctions which exist between man and woman, we enter upon a still clearer department of our subject. The differences which are here to give character to education, are not incidental and temporary, but inherent and commensurate with life itself. The physical constitution of woman gives rise to her peculiar life. It determines alike her position in society and her sphere of labor.

In all ages and climes, celebrated by travelers, historians, poets, she stands forth as a being of better impulses and nobler affections than him, of whom she is the complement. That which is rugged in him, is tempered by softness in her; that which is strong in him, is weak in her; that which is fierce in him is mild in her. Designed of God to complete the cycle of human life, and through a twofold being present a perfect Adam, she is thus no less different from man than essential to his perfection. Her nature at once introduces her into a peculiar sphere of action. Soon, maternal cares rest upon her; her throne is above the family circle; her scepter of love and authority holds together the earliest and happiest elements of social life. To her come young minds for sympathy, for care, for instruction. Over that most wonderful process of development, when a young immortal is growing every day into new thoughts, emotions and habits, which are to abide with it for ever, she presides. By night she watches, by day she instructs. Her smile and her frown are the two strongest powers on earth, influencing human minds in the hour when influence stamps itself upon the heart in eternal characters. It is from this point of view, you behold the glorious purpose of that attractive form embosoming a heart enriched with so copious a treasure of all the sweetest elements of life. She is destined to fill a sphere of the noblest kind. In the course of her life, in the training of a household, her nature reveals an excellence in its adaptation to the purpose for which she is set apart, that signally illustrates the wisdom of God, while it attracts the homage of man. Scarcely a nobler position exists in the world than that of a truly Christian mother; surrounded by children grown up to maturity; moulded by her long discipline of instruction and affectionate authority into true-hearted, intelligent men and women; the ornament of society, the pillars of religion; looking up to her with a reverent affection that grows deeper with the passage of time; while she quietly waits the advent of death, in the assurance that, in these living representatives, her work will shine on for ages on earth, and her influence spread itself beyond the broadest calculation of human reason, when she has been gathered to the just.

How then are we to educate this being a little lower than the angels; this being thus separated from the rest of the world, and divided off, by the finger of God writing it upon her nature, to a peculiar and most noble office-work in society? It is not as a lawyer, to wrangle in courts; it is not as a clergyman, to preach in our pulpits; it is not as a physician, to live day and night in the saddle and sick room; it is not as a soldier, to go forth to battle; it is not as the mechanic, to lift the ponderous sledge, and sweat at the burning furnace; it is not as a farmer, to drive the team afield and up-turn the rich bosom of the earth. These arts and toils of manhood are foreign to her gentle nature, alien to her feeble constitution, and inconsistent with her own high office as the mother and primary educator of the race. If their pursuits are permitted to modify their education, so as to prepare them for a particular field of labor, proceeding upon the same supposition, it is equally just and appropriate, that her training should take its complexion from the sphere of life she is destined to fill. So far as it is best, education should be specific, it should have reference to her perfect qualification for her appropriate work. This work has two departments. The first, which is most limited, embraces the routine of housewifery and the management of the ordinary concerns of domestic life.

The second department of her duties, as it is the most important, so it must be regarded and exalted in an enlightened system of female education. It is as the centre of social influence; the genial power of domestic life; the soul of refinement; the clear, shining orb, beneath whose beams the germs of thought, feeling, and habit in the young immortal are to vegetate and grow to maturity; the ennobling companion of man, his light in darkness, his joy in sorrow, uniting her practical judgment with his speculative wisdom, her enthusiastic affection with his colder nature, her delicacy of taste and sentiment with his boldness, and so producing a happy mean, a whole character; natural, beautiful and strong; it is as filling these high offices that woman is to be regarded and treated in the attempt to educate her. The description of her sphere of life at once suggests the character of her training. Whatever in science, literature and art is best adapted to prepare her to fill this high position with greatest credit, and spread farthest around it her appropriate influence, belongs of right to her education. Her intellect is to be thoroughly disciplined, her judgment matured, her taste refined, her power of connected and just thought developed, and a love for knowledge imparted, so that she may possess the ability and the desire for future progress.

Who will say that this refiner of the world, this minister of the holiest and happiest influences to man, shall be condemned to the scantiest store of intellectual preparation for an entertainment so large and noble? Is it true that a happy ignorance is the best qualification for a woman's life; that in seeking to exalt the fathers and sons, we are to begin by the degradation of mothers and daughters? Is there anything in that life incompatible with the noblest education, or which such an education will not ennoble and adorn? We are not seeking in all this to make our daughters profound historians, poets, philosophers, linguists, authors. Success of this high character in these pursuits, is usually the result of an ardent devotion for years to some one of them, for which it is rarely a female has the requisite opportunities. But should they choose occasionally some particular walk of literature, and by the power of genius vivify and adorn it; should there be found here and there one with an intense enthusiasm for some high pursuit, combined with that patient toil which, associated with a vigorous intellect, is the well-spring of so many glorious streams of science, should not such a result of this enlarged education be hailed as the sign of its excellence, and rejoiced in as the proof of its power? The Mores, the Hemanses, the De Staels, and others among the immortal dead and the living, who compose that bright galaxy of female wit shining ever refulgent—have they added nothing to human life, and given no quick, upward impulse of the world? Besides, that system of education which, in occasional instances, uniting with a material of peculiar excellence, is sufficient to enkindle an orb whose light, passing far beyond the circle of home, shall shine upon a great assembly of minds, will only be powerful, in the multitude of cases, to impart that intellectual discipline, that refinement of thought, that power of expression, that sympathy with taste for knowledge, which will best prepare her for her position, and enable her in after life to carry forward her own improvement and that of her associated household.

The finest influence of such an education is the development of a character at once symmetrical, refined, vigorous, confident in its own resources, yet penetrated with a consciousness of its distance from the loftiest heights of power; a character which will be an ennobling life in a household, gently influencing others into quiet paths of excellence; to be felt rather than seen, to be understood rather in its results than admired for any manifest attainments in science; an intellect informed and active, in sympathy with what is known and read among men; able to bear its part in healthful discussions, yet not presuming to dictate its opinions; in the presence of which ignorance becomes enlightened and weakness strong; creating around its home an atmosphere of taste and intelligence, in which the rudest life loses some of its asperity, and the roughest toils much of their severity. Such is the form of female character we seek to create by so enlarged an education.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse