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which is nurtured in the heart. This is the one thing needful and essential. All the prudence, the economy, the diligence which are here commended, are not for the gratification of selfishness-they are the offspring of duty, and are sacred oblations to God and man.
The individual who attendeth to the ways of her own household after the manner here described, you would expect to be charitable to the poor. Extravagance petrifies the heart. Ambition for display-devotion to fashion-leave a small space for any thought or care for the destitute. Everything which can be acquired is exhausted in personal indulgence; but she who is prudent from religious principle, hath not only a heart but an ability (for discretion guideth her impulses) to bless the needy. The most unnatural of all objects is a woman with every gift of fortune and grace of person, with no sympathy for those who are in want; nor is it the least of the many mischiefs of domestic extravagance, that it leads those who indulge in it to practice hard things in their dealings with the poor, of which humbler and more honest economy would be heartily ashamed.
Out of a heart filled with all sweetness proceeds a speech of kindness and wisdom. "In her tongue is the law of kindness." Not an occasional thing is it, now and then, to employ words of sauvity-it is a law of her life, from which she knows not how to depart. An infringement of this rule would be more than a breach of conventional courtesy—even in her view a sin against God. A meek and a quiet spirit in the sight of God is her priceless ornament. She would not tarnish these celestial regalia by a word of peevishness, censorousness or calumny; and if there be any who are disposed after all to undervalue, among the many agencies of this great world, the influence of her whose life is in domestic retirement, we would humbly ask what agent there can be in all the world more powerful than the speech of a Christian woman, uniformly kind, uniformly discreet. The stern and sturdy nature of man is insensibly modified by it-as the face of the earth acknowledges the power of sun and dew. He may not define it; he cannot but feel it; he may not even think of it; but he is in fact altogether a different being from what he would have been without it. What a power is this of which a woman may be religiously covetous; by which the chafed and fretted spirit may be soothed, anger conquered by a smile, petulance unconsciously subdued by a word, and the roughness of life smoothed down for a whole household by an habitual kindness and cheerfulness.
More than this is implied in the description before us. The law of kindness in the tongue is one which is instructed of the Lord, and the speech which most honors it pertains to the precepts and practice of piety.
The good woman easily, wisely, habitually speaks to her household in honor of true religion. Think not that all her care
and diligence are expended on the food and raiment of her children, for that would be to expose herself to the rebuke which our Lord pronounced upon her who was cumbered with much serving; the law of grace which is in her heart and upon her tongue will prompt her to those words of religious persuasion, which drop like the rain and distil as the dew; and in nothing will she display more of the wisdom and discretion, which are her power and success on all other subjects, than in so adapting her pious discourse to times, characters and circumstances, as to win assent and command respect, without the suspicion of art, arrogance or authority.
Set speeches on special occasions, with a great show and effort at wisdom, may repel and disgust; but how many have been moulded for time and eternity by that law of kindness which has been round about them like the air and light, and of which they are scarcely conscious until it be removed. Priceless above all rubies is that natural kindness of disposition and manners which divine grace has sweetened into a law of religious persuasion. How unnatural and perilous is that perversion which would employ the gift of speech in the sacred enclosures of domestic confidence exclusively on matters of form and attire, modes and accomplishments, to a neglect of those high and heavenly themes which affect the conscience, mature the principles, purify the affections, shape the character, and arbitrate eternal destinies.
If any one is disposed to ask for the profit and reward of this domestic fidelity, the answer is before us. Not to speak of the dignified satisfaction which must ever attend the effort to fill the station which Providence has appointed, there is another reward which outshines all the fame and wealth the world can ever bestow. She is surrounded by those who are the proofs and witnesses of her excellence. "Her husband is known in the gates when he sitteth among the elders of the land." "Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." "Give her of the fruits of her hand, and let her own works praise her in the gates." Complain that woman is doomed to retirement and obscurity-that she is denied a part in the public applause of the world! What applause can goodness ever wish or value, save that which follows virtue unsought, as shadows follow the light.
If you would rectify the heresy, look at the honors large and imperishable which garland the head of domestic fidelity. Her works applaud her in the happiness, the success and the character of her household. Her praise is not in words of renown, not in the honor of official promotion, but in the lives of those who were fashioned by her influence. Her husband is known in the gates, not merely by the decencies and proprieties of his dress, revealing domestic care and taste, but by a thousand indescribable felicities of manner and conversation, cheerfulness
and content, wisdom and discretion, which are the visible results of that invisible power, which has been to his character like the dews of heaven on the roots and branches of a tree.
If it were a topic admitting of public statement and discussion, it would be a curious subject for analysis; how much of the reputation and success of men whom the world delights to honor, are the direct product of that domestic companionship which has vitalized character, supplied its defects, rectified its faults, and gently and gradually pruned its excrescences. The world ascribes this success to accident or fortune; but they themselves know full well how different it would have been with them, what different men they would have been but for that discretion and kindness, which were the atmosphere of their homes. The perfume of costly ointment may be hid so that it shall not betray itself; but the influence of a virtuous woman will inevitably diffuse itself through the whole life and character of her husband, whether it be humble or honored.
Behold how her honors and rewards multiply as her children grow up into success, reputation and goodness. The fidelities. of her whole nature have been expended upon their nurture, and her reward has come when she sees them around her, as men and women, practicing all the virtues, and inheriting all the excellencies which were the themes of her conversation and her example. Wonder not that the Roman matron, when the ladies of the court were displaying their jewels, pointed to her sons and said, "These are my jewels," for inspiration has mentioned it among the rewards of a virtuous woman, that her children rise up and call her blessed; no other decoration does she need -no amount of gold or jewels could add to her honors. Her highest praise is the good character of her obedient, grateful and affectionate children. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates. The good conduct of a household is the highest panegyric on her who has made it what it is. This is an honor to which there is no fading. Age and infirmities, so far from impairing and blighting, but add to it a new lustre. When personal beauty has faded into the sear and yellow leaf of life's autumn, the glory of the virtuous woman is approaching its climax. The unbought honors of filial gratitude and respect thicken around her declining days, and when she is dead she is not forgotten. Memory surrounds her name with a halo of virtues, and every success and honor of her children and children's children is her enduring monument. Every tear which the widow and the fatherless drop over her grave, as widows wept in the funeral chamber of Dorcas at the loss of a benefactress, is a better eulogium than oratory and of richer value than pearls and diamonds. Nor is it to be doubted, as I have dwelt on this theme, that many among my hearers have found their thoughts recalling the venerable form of their own mother, whether to their joy she be still lingering on earth amid the
honors and beauties of a Christian old age, or whether to their grief she was long ago buried out of their sight; meditating upon those many virtues which made her to their infancy a sort of divinity; remembering the strong and sound sense which disciplined manners, mind and heart, the discretion which interpreted character and consulted disposition; the love which calmed and blessed; the confidence which no fault nor mistake could disturb; the piety which prayed, counselled and instructed, till each finds himself disposed to pour out his heart in gratitude before God for his descent from one so excellent; so that when he prays for himself he may plead the virtues of his parentage, adopting the very language which inspiration has prepared for his use"O Lord, I am thy servant and the son of thy handmaid." How many have been disposed to adopt the beautiful sentiment of Cowper
"My boast is not that I deduce my birth
“HINDER ME NOT;" A SHORT SERMON.
"Hinder me not."-Gen. xxiv. 56.
So said Abraham's servant to the family of Laban, as they were trying to persuade him to tarry longer with them; and so should you say to every one and to every thing which would hinder you from yielding your heart to Christ. You may meet with many hindrances, but they all must be overcome by faith in Christ, with firmness and resolution. What are some of these HINDRANCES?
The opposition of a wicked heart hinders. "The heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Their sinful affections carry them away in a course of disobedience, and if they go not after iniquity in one form, they will in another. This, sinner, is your condition. You will not come to Christ. Your wicked heart keeps you away from him. You strengthen yourself against conviction; and for this, if you do not repent and believe the gospel, God will judge and condemn you.
The persuasions of impenitent friends hinder. They desire companions as unmoved and unconcerned as themselves. Does one of them by any means become serious, they ply him with every motive which can drive out the thoughts of God and a concern for his salvation. They soothe him with the deadly thought that he is in no danger, or the specious plea that there is time enough yet, that there is now no need of damping the joys of life by the gloomy subject of religion. Oh, how many are
persuaded in this manner to turn from the path of uprightness, and to walk in the ways of darkness until their steps take hold on hell.
Ambition and love of earthly greatness hinder multitudes from submission to the Saviour. They cannot be content to be lightly esteemed and neglected for the sake of Christ. They will not forego the distinctions of earth for the approbation of God and the crown of glory which fadeth not away. They barter their souls for the miserable enjoyments of sinful pride, and in the end will lose both. "Whosoever will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God."
The cavils of unbelievers hold many in doubt and suspense all their lives. They hear so many objections against the truth of the gospel, that they do not decide in its favor: and yet such are the convictions of reason and conscience, that they dare not decide against it. The caviller is ever busy in pointing out some imaginary flaw in the evidences of Christianity, some fancied absurdity in its truths, or inconsistency in the lives of its professors. His own dark deluded mind raises fancied difficulties where there are none in reality, and seeing everything through a mist, he imagines inconsistency, where all is light and harmony and glory in the view of those who love God. Like the serpent, the caviller strikes ere he is perceived in his true character, and the deadly poison is spreading through the unsuspecting soul, and sinking his victim in eternal ruin, before he is aware of his danger. Thousands are thus prevented from escaping for their life, and embracing the offers of mercy.
Others are hindered by the ridicule of the openly vicious. Ridicule is a weapon often hurled at the young and unguarded. Oh, what numbers are now lifting up their eyes in torment and wailing in hopeless despair, who, under the guidance of an evil heart, were brought to that world of woe by a banter or profane jest which they had not the moral courage to withstand, nor the wisdom to despise. Remember that ridicule is not argument; it proves nothing; it stabs in the dark. Shun him who would turn the realities of eternity into a jest, as you value your soul.
Others are hindered from trusting in Christ by the cares and pleasures of the world. Probably more souls are lost by yielding to the pressure of business, and the calls of vain pleasure and fashionable amusement, than by all other causes. Men of business, take heed lest, under the plea of being diligent in business, the soul be wholly given to this world and the "mammon of unrighteousness," and thus God be shut out, and the soul be lost. And ye follower of sinful pleasures, hear the declarations of God's word respecting such as you: "Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." "Deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures." "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." 2 Tim. iii. : 4; Titus iii.:; 1 Tim. v. : 6.