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The Domestic Constitution ; or, The Family innumerable discourses have been de
Circle the Source and Test of National | livered, and by it many have been Stability. BY CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON. roused to alarm and activity who would London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co. 12mo. have slumbered under all the appeals of
ordinary truth and duty. They look The English Matron. By the Author of only for that which is obvious and “ The English Gentlewoman.” London:
startling,-for the great crisis of public Henry Colburn. 8vo. pp. 246.
affairs. They should rather regard the
plot than the catastrophe ; they should The subject which these works dis- rather patch the sky when its atmosphere cuss is of the gravest importance, and grows heavy and the clouds are gatherdeserves far more attention than it ing, than wait for the lightning's blaze generally receives. The constitution and roar. "The day of the Lord cometh and government of families, and the as a thief in the night,” in silence and duties thence arising, affect nearly all darkness. The true sign of great mankind; to understand the former changes, like all God's angels, treads a requires all the wisdom of the philoso- noiseless path.
It may be seen if faith pher, and the discharge of the latter will seeks it, and it advances according to exhaust the piety of the saint. They fixed and universal laws. It may be deserve encouragement and esteem who found in the prevalent sentiment of the strive to arrest general attention to a thinking few; in the habits of the acting topic, the discussion of which promises many; or in the quiet usages of domesvery little popularity or emolument. Of tic life. If family religion and the habits “The Domestic Constitution,” it is not which promote it are being undermined, necessary to say much. Its author is sooner or later the greatest calamities well known and highly esteemed; and must follow in the bistory of the church the fact that this is the second edition of and the world. his work will testify how well the public Personal piety is undoubtedly the first appreciates it. We could have wished thing. The devotion of the closet is the that the style had been more uniformly secret fountain whence the streams of condensed and vigorous. We think, holy beneficence flow. If this is intermoreover, that the illustrations are too mittent or heartless, all else will be vain. numerous, and not always sufficiently Society may be excited, active, noisy; apt. Still it is an excellent work, con- but if there is no intimate and lively taining much solid information and fellowship with God, that excitement is judicious advice. We unhesitatingly only the hectic of consumption, which recommend it. “The English Matron" feeds the hope of life while it rushes to appears to be written by a lady; is speedy eath. If, on the other hand, addressed rather to the higher than to piety is sound, bumble, watchful, holy, the middle classes ; contains many loving; if it be as the divine nature minute, shrewd, and even fascinating dwelling in man, then the church views of womanly duty and character
, may be persecuted or applauded,
exiled though it is painfully deficient in evan- in the desert or enthroned in the palace, gelical sentiment, and assumes the church and it will fulfil its mission and take no of England to be the standard of theo- harm. Each Christian is thus not only logy and piety. It will augur well for a part of the universal church, but a the prospects of society if the great type of its state and prospects. He subject of our domestic relationships be knows his own spiritual condition, and generally and earnestly considered. what that entails ; nor has he much right
We confess that we look with appre- to conclude that others are better or less hension on the peculiar tendencies of the endangered than himself. present day in relation to the development of the family constitution. It is state of our families. The family is the
Next, however, in importance is the not unnatural or improper to study the mould in which mind and character are signs of the times.” On this theme formed; here the several parts of the
social machine are cast and adjusted. and they have in common many points The human soul is not only gradually of close resemblance. In feature and developed, but it conforms to the cir- expression of countenance, in form of cumstances by which it is surrounded. body, in tone of voice, in certain tendIt learns what it is taught, and becomes encies to disease, in temper and mental wbat man makes it. The greatest and endowments, each child sees in the other most original of men carry with them to the resemblance of himself; and the their graves some marks, intellectual parents can understand themselves better and moral, of the place where their than before, as they ponder, perhaps spiritual infancy was cradled; while the with a sad heart, these too correct multitude are little less than the hard and images of themselves. But, in addition painfully exact daguerreotypes of their to this, their actual life is one. They early homes.
are shut out from the world. They Here, too, those who mould charac- know what sorrows cast a shadow on ter have freer scope, and exert a more their cheerful hearth, and what gracious various influence. It is a true saying, interpositions of Providence have kindled "You must know a man at home." But its joys again. They have seen each very few, even of the fair, can afford to other's weaknesses and sins, and will be seen in dishabille. In society all sorts not let a strange, rude world into the of persons are dressed and prepared for sanctuary of their mutual regret, and the occasion. Even in business self- pity, and love, and hope. Except reliinterest imposes many restraints, and gion, perhaps, nothing is more powerful prompts to many kind words and or more sacred than this. It affords on actions. Thus a kind of habitual hypo- earth the resting place of the soul. Even erisy is superinduced; but like all the pleasures of society cost an effort. hypocrisy, it is difficult and painful. If It is much harder than most think to it must be incessant, it would be in- comply with the oft-repeated entreaty to sufferable. At home, therefore, it is make one's self at home. thrown aside. The man who has been they are at home every where, but such as bland as autumn in his neighbour's show by their declaration that they do parlour, becomes as biting as an east not know what home means. wind in his own. Amongst strangers The relative position of the family to he was all attention, eloquence, and the nation must not be overlooked. The smiles; but in his family he is silent, one is the germ and the type of the selfish, frowning, and fretful. Here, other. If the families are not disciwhere his example must have the plined, virtuous, and devout, the nation greatest power, he is least concerned to must sink into impiety and vice. Civil hare it what it ought to be. It is not governors may do their utmost, the laws the smallest difficulty in domestic duties may be founded in truth and justice, that they come upon us when we are weary and Christian teachers may labour to and off our guard. Yet, on the other elevate and guide society, but they canhand, the charities of home prepare the not touch the real fountains of life. The soil to receive the seed of truth and enclosed wells may send forth their righteousness. “God maketh my heart bitter and polluted waters, and no stranger soft.” The great want of depraved can reach them to cast in a pure and bumanity is a tender spirit. If, however, sweetening influence. Here, too, is the men are impressible at all, it is by the secret cement of society. In the family, domestic hearth. Whatever advantage if at all, the human soul learns to obey a stranger has in authority and terror, a and love. The drill-serjeant and the father or a mother has more in the police force may shape an army, but tenderness of love. That child is far they can never create that unity of gone who can trifle with their tears and thought and feeling which is essential to prayers. If parents wept and prayed give strength and permanence to national for the salvation of their offspring more existence. If you would ascertain the frequently, it would impose the most vital force of a nation, see if its families wholesome restraint on themselves, and are united, peaceful, and happy. This is thus at once improve and enforce their the main element of that which has long example.
constituted, and still remains, the glory of There is, further, a wonderful inter- England. Here is a mainspring of incommunity of life in the family. They dustry, for none labour like those who partake physically of the same nature,' are anxious to “provide for their own;"
and here too toil rests when weary, and tired or vanquished they left the arena gathers new energy to earn new rewards. of public strife, it was with the firm If these pillars of our nation are settled resolution, that though idolatry beat and strong, the heaviest storms will be down their altars, it should never pollute unable to overturn it. Its commerce their hearths. “As for me and my may develop its energy and skill, its house, we will serve the Lord.” wealth may invest it with the glare of an The bible is full of instruction in envied prosperity, but its real and en- reference to the nature and importance during glory must be found in the silent of the domestic constitution. God regrowth of domestic virtue. The senti- veals himself as a “Father.” Jesus is ment of Burns is as profound as it is not ashamed to call his people his beautiful. When having described the “ brethren,” while with each other they piety of the cottage, he adds,
constitute the “household of faith;" and “From scenes like these old Scotia's grandeur all the unfallen and the saved are but springs."
one family in heaven and earth." Our neighbours, the French, furnish The Jews were always contemplated in a ready and striking illustration. Great their relation to the patriarchs, and God as they are, in many respects, they are spoke to them as the children of Israel and ever have been miserably deficient and the seed of Abraham his “friend." in domestic virtue. Amidst all the The law provided for the instruction of horrors of the great revolution they the children and the “honour” of the talked loudly of a universal and equal parents. The passover was celebrated brotherhood; but they were strangers to by the families apart, and in their the meaning of the word brother, and domestic capacity they needed and entherefore they never attained a greater joyed the protection offered by the signs elevation than that of “citizen." There of the sprinkled blood. The crimes of are two terms in our language for which the Jewish nation culminated when their they have no equivalents, and they know families were corrupted ; and Messiah neither the ideas they express, nor the was needed and promised,“ to turn the facts to which they refer. These terms hearts of the fathers to their children, are “comfort” and “home.” The and the hearts of the children to their husband rarely dines with the wife, or fathers,” lest God should “smite the both dine away from their children; and earth with a curse.” The history of instead of the seclusion which represses Christianity is the history of the elevavanity and gives intensity to affection by tion of domestic life. Its great Author concentrating it, every thing is paraded in was the pattern of filial duty. He lived public, when all stare, and many envy, in a mother's thought and love; at but none can love. Perhaps there is no Nazareth was subject to his parent, and sign of the times more alarining than in the agony of his crucifixion provided the growing inclination of our civil for his mother's wants. Polygamy was government to invade our domestic too deeply rooted and too widely spread hearths, except it be the supineness of to be at once exterminated, but the the people which allows them to do so. gospel denounced it as an innovation The puritans were the moral antipodes and a wrong, for “in the beginning " it of the French. They have furnished to was not so. No person could hold any English history its brightest glories, and chief office in the church who was the to the English constitution its freedom husband of more than “one wife," and and energy. They founded a new empire he must "rule his own house well
, havacross the Atlantic, which, whatever ing his children in subjection.” The may be its vices and defects, is amongst reciprocal duties of husbands and wives, the other republics formed by European of parents and children, are clearly colonies, as a strong man amidst fretful defined and anxiously enforced; nor is babes. Nothing distinguished these it difficult to perceive, that if those duties puritans more than their domestic worth. were scripturally performed, the families The infidel, or superstitious libertinism, of the righteous would soon leaven the which they opposed, has not found even world. The law of love is to guide the its effrontery hardy enough to slander husband, and the law of submission to them on this ground. In the tumult of guide the wife. Obedience and honour camps and the fury of civil war, they are the appointed fruits of filial piety, guarded the sanctity and fostered the while with parents the main object of endearments of their homes. And when industry must be to“ provide for their
own," and the supreme care and effort | he may ask the weary and distressed to must aim to train their offspring in " the come and look at his family, and learn nurture and admonition of the Lord.” how much earth may resemble heaven. It provides, that marriages should be To maintain and improve the domestic "only in the Lord;" that these duties constitution is not an easy task. The may be the more easily discharged, and difficulties that attend it are many and the happy effects of them be more mani- great. Some of them arise from the fest and complete. This is the true condition and character of parents, and import of the term “household,” which others from the temper of the times. controversy has so much abused. We There is no duty of half the importance read of such, not merely as partaking of this, for the discharge of which so the honours of baptism, but as believing little preparation is made. The young in God and ministering to the saints. man spends his early years in acquiring The first apostleship was little more the knowledge of his business, and of than an extended family compact. Three the world in general ; but, except what families furnished eight of the twelve he may pick up from the suggestions of apostles, and some of these were related example, he hears nothing about his to our Lord. Each of these fostered duties as a husband and a father till he domestic piety. John says, "I have no is overborne by their actual occurrence, greater joy than to hear that thy children combined with all the cares and sorrows walk in the truth.” Paul speaks of a of mature life. The young lady is church in a brother's “house," and studiously oppressed with' acquiring acrecords the faith of Timothy, and of his complishments, which cramp the mind mother and grandmother too. This was and pervert the morals, and of which a mighty instrument in favour of the the least evil is, that they are expensive truth in primitive times. Each family frivolities. But moral training, the culwas a secluded spot to which tyranny tivation of habits of frugality, selfcould not approach, and where an in- denial, diligence, and sympathy, is more tegral portion of the church was quietly than neglected; it is rendered impossi. imbued with the love of the truth, and ble. Nay, the commonest duties of trained alike for submission and effort the domestic circle are forgotten. We in its cause.
fear it would disclose a painful amount The family is the safeguard of freedom, of neglect if all parents were required to or, at least, it behoves men to make it state how much they had specifically so. There is, indeed, a growing tend- done or said to prepare their offspring ency in civil governments to intermeddle for the most important functions which with our domestic rights; but hitherto humanity has to discharge. Nothing ecclesiastical powers have been the most requires a more exalted character than injurious in this respect. In catholic the post for which preparation is thus countries, the priest is a tyrant and spy neglected. If parents are merely pious where he can gain admission. The they may cause their religion to appear chaplains of the early Scottish presby- ridiculous, and if they are merely conterians too closely resembled them. Every scientious they may make the exactions father ought to be the priest of his own of duty repulsively' severe; yet, if devofamily. The Englishman's home is his tion and integrity are not pre-eminently castle. If stripes and chains await ardent and unbending, children will him in the streets, at least in his neither be attracted to religion, nor imhome he may be free. Here is a little pressed by it. Nay, if parents are partial, citadel which no treachery can under- unjust, or inconsistent, they will only mine and no violence demolish. Here, render all professions of piety odious in too, he may labour for God. He may the same proportion as they make them. mourn over empires sinking in misery If they are selfish and worldly they will and crime; but he is not responsible for be imitated by those who may not think their safety because he has not the power it agreeable, or even honest, to mix to secure it, but his family he may bless, up pretensions to self-renunciation with and heavy guilt will rest upon him if he so much self-seeking. Holiness the does not, And when his toil is repaid most vigilant, simplicity the most transin the piety and affection of his offspring, parent, and truthfulness the most inas he reposes in this
flexible, are nowhere more necessary - Little Fpot enclosed by grace,
than in the family circle. Yet it is here Out of the world's wide wilderness," men are weary, and fretted with care,
and apt to think they need and deserve | The sons, instead of being trained under excuse and indulgence. Example, how the restraints of long apprenticeships, ever, is a large part of the influence seek early situations, and become their that must be exerted for good or ill. own masters before they have the means If this fails, all else will be neutral- or the disposition to become heads of ized or perverted. At home it is watched families. This leads to a proud spirit of in the minutest details, in the closest independence. Young men are detached retirement, and with unwearied assiduity. from those influences which might conParents have no human authority higher trol and improve them; they associate than their own; no tribunal before which together to aggravate the evils of their they can be cited, and by which they lot, and rush into all the temptations, in might be directed and commanded. which many perish while they are Their duties are noiseless and unseen young, and from which but few entirely There is no public examination to excite recover. It is a melancholy thought them, and no public applause to recom- that there are so many thousands of pense them. These duties never cease. young men, in London alone, who have They are almost as constant as those of to toil hard, and are exposed to the self-government. They refer to the utmost possible amount of spiritual minutest matters, the existence of which danger, but can never taste the sweets may be overlooked, and the importance nor enjoy the safeguard of a home. Even of which it is very difficult to feel
. And the growing habit amongst the wealthier the progress of success is proportionately classes in most large towns of residing slɔw. A hundred admonitions may be out of town, is an evil not to be overrequired to correct some foolish habit looked. The father and the elder browhich mere thoughtlessness has con- thers leave the house early every morntracted. The humble parent may well ing, and it is late before they return. exclaim, “Who is sufficient for these Except on Sundays and late at night things?”
they are strangers from their home. All But parents have to contend with parties are thus injured. The father some special difficulties resulting from ceases to be the real head of the family; the temper of the times. Men love what the several members of the family hare iz young and new. Antiquity, which dissimilar interests and partial sympathy; was once venerable, is now almost con- the female branch becomes more selftemptible. Old age never had so little indulgent, more showy, less orderly, and honour. Filial piety seems, by too less energetic; and the male branch many, consigned to the same banish- becomes ruder, more secular, less conment with superstition. This necessarily siderate, and less cordial. We may loosens the hold of parental authority. mention, lastly, the almost universal The growing tendency to send children substitution of public worship on to boarding schools is greatly to be the evening of the Lord's day for deplored. Parents abandon their holiest that of the afternoon. Gas and comduties to strangers, and exile their chil- fortable chapels, and increased attention dren from their homes, and then com- to sabbath school teaching, have all conplain that they are deficient in obedience tributed to this. But it is not an un. and love! Further, parents are eager to mixed advantage. Time was when the get their children well out in the world. Lord's day evening was spent in domestic For this their education is forced and prayer. Parents called the family totheir ambition excited. They must gether, brought to mind the discourses eclipse their neighbours. The father is of the earlier parts of the day, talked to impoverished that his children may be their children and prayed for them till spoiled. After all he must dispose of the God of the families of the saints was them somehow. The opportunities are felt to be present. From that point the few. He is made to appear selfish, and current of domestic life fowed on with tempted to be worldly. If a good settle- new impulse and freshness for another ment offers - good only for this world week. *Alas! those days are gone, and it must be accepted; for the father can- the most powerful and genial instrument not wait, and the child has been taught of domestic advancement is destroyed! to look for nothing less. The daughters, Parents cannot too earnestly ponder instead of being retained at home to their duties, nor too fervently seek for learn thrist and contentment with little, grace to enable them to discharge th:m. are scattered
all over the land as teachers. Their toils have a large promise and a