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should be neglected. And if these obvious but weighty truths may, through the concurrence of divine grace, be made useful but to one individual, I shall think this little labour abundantly repaid, even though many others should say, as they probably will, that I have made a little addition to the number of unnecessary books with which the world is already encumbered.”
Southampton, March 1833.
When an epidemic disease is raging in a country, the consideration of the most experienced and skilful practitioners is aroused, to discover the sources of the evil, and the remedies which must be applied, to arrest its progress and accomplish its removal. And when Sin is sweeping like a torrent through the land, sapping the very foundations of society, destroying ancient institutions, and threatening the overthrow even of religion itself, is it not time to ask, What is the cause of this mighty evil -and how should it be met? and how can its progress be stemmed?
We have only to turn to the state of education in our land, to the seminaries where the present race have been trained, and to a deeper source still, to the prayerless, indifferent, or ignorant mothers, who have made the first and most indelible impressions on the minds of their children; and to the gay and thoughtless ones, who have abandoned them to the care of uninstructed domestics; and, alas, to the really well-meaning ones, who have erred through weakness or selflove; and then ask, have you not a sufficient
answer to the question, Why does sin abound? Here then we must begin to apply the remedy: it is useless to lop off the vagrant shoots, the root must be made good, that the branches may bear good fruit.
Is it not evident that there is a loosening of the bands which used to hold together the different classes of society, and in families, as the minor models of larger communities, that the evil must have had its rise? The prompt obedience, and deference of former days, for parental authority, is superseded by conceit and insubordination; and this spirit, once excited, will afterwards brook no control.
But why should the blame of all this evil, or even a large share of it, rest on the mothers ?Because God has ingrafted in their minds, and in those of their offspring, so deep and strong a mutual attachment, that the maternal influence during the years of infancy, when the mind is susceptible is illimitable;—and because in compassion to children He has made the duties of mothers to lie in so narrow a sphere, that they may give to them that close and undivided attention, which a father cannot bestow.
We do not excuse the latter from his duties; for the word of God abounds with commands to parents, unitedly to train their children in the fear of the Lord; and with promises of the most abundant blessings to those, who thus walk in the
way of his commandments.-Suppose this to be the universal practice, would not the land be “ full with blessing of the Lord ?”-But it is on all hands allowed, that the direct opposite is the case at present.—The evil then must be attacked at its foundation ;- mothers must be mothers indeed-not sacrificing their sons and their daughters to devils” — not offering them up to that great Moloch, the world ; but by fervent prayer, a consistent example, and diligent training, offer them to God, a holy and acceptable sacrifice.”
It is the common feeling of mothers, when their children, from want of due restraint, have become too unruly to submit to their control ; Well we have but to place them under the care of some superior teacher, or send them to a good school, and all will be set to rights.' Wonders are expected from this change of circumstances, and if it does not produce all the anticipated results, the blame is thrown on those who had first all to undo, and then to prepare the soil for culture, which was so filled with weeds that they could not cast in good seed, lest it should at once be choked. Much, it is true, may be done, even with the most unpromising characters, when this work and labour of love is undertaken in the fear of the Lord; but all cannot be accomplished.--Even should the child become converted through the grace of God; yet even to the end of his days, he will have to fight and strive against the early impressions which nothing can erase.
But let us imagine for a moment a country in which every family was consecrated to God, every house was a temple, and every heart an altar, what would—what must result? What would be the condition of that land ? Sin could not be excluded, for it will dwell to the last, even in the renewed soul; but it would be brought under subjection, it would no longer have the dominion. Satan would tempt, but his fiery darts would be met by the shield of faith ; death would still continue his ravages, but his visits would be those of a friend and not of a foe.
But it will be objected, “This is a mere Utopian dream-such a state of things can never exist on this earth.' But because we cannot attain to the perfection we desire, are we therefore to do nothing? Would not a small degree of this happiness be worth attaining? And the quantum of this would be in proportion to the number of mothers who united heart and hand in the work.
Did Abraham cease to pray for Sodom because fifty righteous men were not found in it? And cannot fifty mothers be found in this land,“ who sigh and cry for the abominations of it;” and who would fain consecrate themselves in any way to do the work of the Lord ? Are there not many who err, because having never been rightly taught themselves, they really know not how to begin;