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A Mother's Influence

Readings for the young.
By S. S.

No. IV.

ALTHOUGH the subject upon which I now shall treat is one which more able pens have done full justice, still its immense importance must be my excuse for dwelling upon so trite a theme.

There are times when the same thoughts and words to which we have often listened with a careless ear will make a permanent impression upon our minds, and we wonder that heretofore they were not in unison with our feelings, or that we were not before struck with their force and truth.

It has been said by an able writer, “Show me your women, and I will tell you what your men are!” For, according to the degree of virtue and refinement existing in the former, so in proportion will be found to exist pure sentiments and intellectual vigour in the latter.

The Most High has himself proclaimed that “it was not good for man to be alone,” but that it was necessary to “make a help meet for him,” a being who could share his joys, sympathize with him in sorrow, counsel him in peril, and support his tottering strength in the day of his affliction. As the world became overshadowed by wickedness, woman stooped from this high destiny, and her spirituality was lost by her sinking into the mere sharer of the criminal pleasures of man; and with but few exceptions, the true dignity of her character was not reasserted until the foundation of the Jewish commonwealth. Then she shone forth in all her original purity and truth. The mother of prophets, and imbued herself with prophetic fire, yet did she not neglect the most important. of her duties. The beauty of her character was reflected on her husband, without lessening any of his manly dignity. Her children gained the honour and respect of the aged and of the young; for had they not learned virtue and wisdom from her lofty example? Her acts had ever been the exponents <<303>>of her precepts, and she had taught her offspring ever to do thy right, and leave the consequences to God. What a different moral phase would the world now present, had the Hebrew mothers all acted thus! Not then would our harps have hung unstrung upon thy willows, O Babylon! From the luxury and licentiousness of King Solomon’s reign may we date the commencement of the downfall of the Hebrew nation. The mighty tree had been pierced at the core; and though it retained freshness and vitality in some of its branches, its fall, though prolonged, could not be averted, and she who had been the pride and boast of kingdoms, became their scorn and jest

Had the mother of Solomon been a Deborah or a Hannah, how different might have been our fate! The mother that could­ forget the sacred ties that bound her to her husband, and wed him who had been that husband’s destroyer, scarcely could imbue the mind of the infant prince with a lasting love for holiness and purity, which, like bright jewels, alone should shine on the maternal brow. The love of virtue for virtue’s self, should be implanted at the first stage of existence, if we wish to reap its fruit at the portals of the tomb. And the Creator, to the exhaustless love of a mother, added those finer sensibilities which enabled her to bind her children (if she was conscious of her power, and knew how to direct it) to her by ties which no force could sever, no time could weaken; sympathies which never lost their freshness or strength, and which enabled her to enter and share all the joys and sorrows of her children—to soothe, to counsel, and to guide them. When the mind, in its first innocence and joyousness, plumes itself for flight, but shrinks back with pain at meeting the laugh of derision, or the smile of pity from those who comprehend not the holiness and beauty of a youthful enthusiasm, whose hand but a mother’s can withdraw the cankering dart? When early manhood, in its young ambition, with eager haste seeks to realize those day-dreams whose iris rays have coloured all the scenes through which his imagination has wandered, but to discover the vast chasm that exists between the ideal and the real, where will he find sympathy?—whence will he draw new vigour and hope, but from the pure fountain of a mother’s love?

If, then, what history affirms is true, that “the wise, the great, the good,” owe much of their superiority to the superior virtues, <<304>>intellectuality, and judgment of their mothers, how noble is that self-denial! how exalted that ambition! which would induce her to conquer and root out all of passion in herself, all tendencies to evil (even at the expense of her maternal feelings) in those whom the Most High has consigned to her guardianship, that her name might be placed amidst the most pleasing memories of man—that it might simply be said that she was their mother!—that her children lived not alone for themselves, but for others!—that duty to them was a pleasure, and, their conduct was without fear and above reproach! that so true were they to their country, so faithful in their friendships, so humble in their piety, that “none knew them but to love, none named them but to praise!”

Daughters of Israel, if such be your ambition, ought you not, ere you assume the duties of mothers, first to prepare yourselves for the task? Can you look around you, and see your Sabbaths violated, your religion desecrated by the descendants of that “holy nation”—that “wise and understanding people,” who, in their petty cares for physical wants, forget the store they should lay up for a spiritual existence—and know that had those that first taught their infant lips to lisp the name of God been capable of guiding aright their tender charges through all the dangers and quicksands which beset the paths of youth, and instilled into their minds a proper appreciation of their past history, and the bright and blissful future which they have the power to realize for themselves by the due observance of those virtues inculcated by their sacred faith, we should not now have to mourn over our degeneracy,—and hesitate in preparing yourselves to properly fulfil your high and holy duty?

Think you that high religious feelings, useful and necessary knowledge, and intellectual attainments, will render you less lovely in the eyes of your youthful choice?—or that he will prefer a beautiful form to a beautiful soul?—or a mind with which he can reason—a companion, a friend—to a play mate,—one fit for the sunshine, and not for the shade? If any of you entertain such ideas, how terrible will be your awakening! Accomplishments may weary; beauty may fade, or companionship soon rob it of its power; and happiness, on its butterfly wings, elude your grasp. Will it be easy then to retrieve the ground already lost? Will affection return at our bidding, and shall we persuade hap<<305>>piness once more to abide with us? By earnest striving, by steps weary and slow, by prayerful trust in our Maker’s goodness; peace may again irradiate our homes, and the bitterness of the past be remembered no more. But would it not be better, far better, to lay early the foundation of that happiness which is beyond the reach of accident or time? a happiness owing nothing to beauty, to riches, or to position, but laying its basis upon our holy religion, imbibing therefrom its pure and exalted precepts, and cultivating those traits of character which inspire the beholder with the love and the reverence due to a sweet womanly nature, that cares only to be the centre of a happy household—rejoicing in the sunshine that her own smile has thrown around it—herself the light, the hope, the joy of her family circle; and as the days of youth draw to a close, and the evening of existence approaches, to feel that in the esteem of her friends, the love and approval of her husband. the affection of her children, she is and shall be blessed?