Imágenes de páginas

Christian motives, and strengthened by uniform habit, are able both to meliorate dispositions already excellent, and overcome the greatest inherent defects. But if they on whom Providence, varying the sources of moral probation in different individuals, has bestowed sweetness of temper with a sparing hand, be not strenuous and unremitting in their efforts to improve, under the divine blessing, the scanty stock; if, instead of considering a native failing as an intimation respecting the quarter on which it is their special duty to be on their guard, they convert it into an apology for captiousness, peevishness and violence: what but domestic misery can be expected: a fretful woman is her own tormentor; but she is also a torment to every one around her, and to none so much as to her husband. No day, no hour is secure. No incident is so trifling, but it may be wrought up into a family disturbance. The apostle's exclamation," Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth !" is in that house fully and continually exemplified. But the scene to which that exclamation is applicable, is not the school of conjugal affection. “Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger, and clamour, be put away.”—“ It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman."-" It is better to dwell in a corner of the house-top, than with a brawling woman in a wide house."

To“ the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price,” and possesses an intrina sic charm to which the breast of man can scarcely be insensible, let there be added discretion. The value of this quality, in proinoting and upholding matrimonial happiness, is inestimable. It is a quality which the Scriptures, as foreboding the frequent neglect of it, and the miserable consequences of that neglect, have not overlooked. St. Paul, in his epistle to Titus, after having directed that young women should be instructed to be sober, to love their busbands, to love their children," enjoins farther, that they should be taughi" to be discreet.” Discretion is not one of those virtues which come into practice only in singular conjunetures, under circumstances which can happen seldom to the saine individual, and to some persons may never occur at all. It is not a robe of state, to be drawn forth from its recess on some day of festivity; or a ponderous cloak, to be put on to repel the violence of a thunder-shower. It is that to the mind which the every day clothing is to the body: requisite under every vicissitude to health, and propriety, and comfort. Its sphere embraces every season and every incident of life. At home and abroad, in the city and in the country, with intimates and with strangers, in business and in leisure, it is vigilant, active, and unwearied. It enhances the utility of virtue, and anticipates the allurements of vice. Ii attends to persons and feelings, to times, occasions, and situations; and "abstains from all appearance of evil.” It is worthy of being inculcated with the more earnesiness on married wounen, because they appear, in several respects, to be in greater danger than the single, of being led by custom, or hurried by inadvertence, into disregard of it.

To superintend the various branches of domestic management, or, as St. Paul briefly and emphatically expresses the same office, “ to guide the house," is the indispensable duty of a married woman. The task must be executed either by the master or the mistress of the house: and reason and scripture concur in assigning it unequivocally to the latter. Custom also, which in many instances presumes to decide in plain contradiction to those sovereign rules of life, has, in this point, so generally conformed to their determination, that a husband who should personally direct the proceedings of the housekeeper and the cook, and intrude into the petty arrangements of daily economy, would appear in all eyes, except his own, nearly as ridiculous as if he were to assume to himself the habiliments of his wife, or lo occupy his mornings with her needles and work-bags. It is true, nevertheless, that in executing this office a wife is to consult the wishes of her husband, and in proportion to the magnitude of any particular points, to act the more studiously according to his ideas rather than her owo.

The duty of obedience on her part extends to the province of guiding the house, no less than 10 the other branches of her conduct. Are you then the mistress of a family? Fulfil the charge for which you are responsible. Aitempt not to transfer your proper occupation to a favourite maid, however tried may be iheir fidelity and her skill. To confide implicitly in servants, is the way to render them undeserving oi coufia dence. Be regular in requiring, and punctual in examining, your weekly accounts. Be frugal without parsimony; save, that you may distribute. Study the comfort of all under your roof, even of the humblesi inhabitant of the kitchen. Pinch not the inferior part of the family, to provide against the cost of a day of splendour. Consider the welfare of the servants of your own sex as particularly committed to you. Encourage them in religion, and be active in furnishing

them with the means of instruction. Let their number be fully adequate to the work which they have to perform ; but let it not be swelled either from a love of parade, or from blind indulgence, to an extent which is needless. In those ranks of life where the mind is not accustomed to continued reflection, idleness is a never-failing source of folly and of vice. Forget not to indulge thein at fit seasons with visits to their friends; nor grudge the pains of contriving opportunities for their indulgence. Let not one tyrannise over another. In hearing complaints, be patient; in inquiring into faults, be candid; in reproving, be temperate and unruffled. Let not your kindness to the meritorious terminate when they leave your house ; but reward good conduct in them, and encourage it in others, by subsequent acts of benevolence adapted to their circumstances. Let it be your resolution, when called upon to describe the characters of servants who have quitted your family, to act conscientiously towards all the parties interested, neither aggravating nor disguising the truth; and never let any one of those whose qualifications are to be mentioned, nor of those who apply for the account, find you seduced from your purpose by partiality or resentment,

In all the domestic expenses which are wholly, or in part, regulated by your opinion, beware that, while you pay a decent regard to your husband's rank in society, you are not hurried into ostentation and prodigality by vanity lurking in your breast. Instead of squandering in extravagance and parade that property which ought partly to have been reserved in store for the benefit of your offspring, or the general claim which distress has upon such as are capable of granting relief, let it be your constant aim to obey the scriptural precepts of sobriety and moderation. Let it be your delight to fulfil every office of unaffeeted benevolence. Pictare to yourself the difficulties, the calamities, the final ruin, in which tradesmen, with their wives and children, are frequently involved, even by the delay of payments due to them from families to which they have noi dared to refuse credit. Subject not yourself in the sight of God to the charge of being accessary to such miseries. Guard by every becoming method of amiable representation and persuasion, if circumstances should make them necessary, the man to whom you are united, from contributing to such mi series, either by profusion or by inadvertence. Is be careless as to the inspection of his affairs ? Endeavour to open his eyes to the dangers of neglect and procrastination. Does

[ocr errors]

he anticipate future, perhaps contingent resources ? Gently awaken him to a conviction of his criminal imprudence. Encourage him, if he stand in need of encouragement, in vigilant but not avaricious foresight; in the practice of enlarged and unwearied charity. If your husband, accustomed to acquire money by professional exertions, should become too little inclined to impart freely that which he has laboriously earned ; suggest to him that one of the inducements to labour, addressed to him by an apostle, is no other than this, " that he may have to give to him that needeth.” If his extensive intercourse with the world, familiarizing him to instances of merited or of pretended distress, have the effect of rendering bim somewhat too suspicious of deceit, somewhat too severe towards those whose misfortunes are, in part at least, to be ascribed to themselves; remind him, that “God is kind to the unthankful and the evil." Remind him, that the gift which conscience may require to be withbeld from the unworthy, ought to be dedicated to the relief of indigent desert.' Win him constantly and practically to “ remember the words of the Lord Jesus; how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Women who have been raised by niarriage to the possession of opulence unknown to them before, are frequently the most ostentatious in their proceedings. Yet 'a moderate share of penetration might have taught them to read, in the example of others, the ill success of their own scheines to gain respect by displaying their elevation. All such attempts sharpen the discernment and quicken the researches of envy; and draw from obscurity into publie notice the circumstances which pride and pomp are labouring to bury in oblivion.

The want of the sedateness of character, which Christianity requires in all wonen, is in married women doubly reprehensible. If, now that you are entered into connubial life, you disciose in your dress proofs of vanity and affectation, or plunge headlong into the wild hurry of amusements; the censure which you deserve is greater than it would be, were you single. Any approach towards those indelicate fashions in attire, which levity and shamelessness occasionally introduce, would for the same reason be even more blameable in you now than heretofore. There is one point which requires a few words. It is a coinmon observation, that those women, who in public are most addicted to tinery in dress, are in private the greatest slatterns. Let the dread of verifying it contribute in its reasonable degree to extinguish

the propensity to finery in your breast. Remember, that any disgusting habit on your part will be more offensive to your husband, on account of the closeness of the union subsisting between you.

St. Paul, among various admonitions relating to married women in particular, enforces on thein the duty of being “ keepers at honie.” The precept, in its application to inodern times, may be considered as having a two-fold reference. It may respect short visits paid to acquaintances and friends in the vicinity of your residence, or excursions which require an absence of considerable duration. In the remarks about to be offered, I mean not to allude to visits or excursions, which are undertaken on fit occasions from benevolence to neighbours who are in affliction, from considerations of personal health, or from any other urgent motive of duty and utility. St. Paul says of some women, " They learn 10 be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tatılers also and busy-bodies, speaking things which they ought not.” The “wanderers" of the present day could not have been more happily characterized, had the apostle been witness of their proceedings. If, week after week, the mornings be perpetually frittered away in making calls, and the afternoons swallowed up by visiis, what but idleness can be the consequence? Domestic business is interrupted; vigilance as to family concerns is suspended; industry, reflection, mental and religious improvement are deserted and forgotten. The mind grows listless; bome becomes dull; and a remedy for the evil is sought from the very cause which produced it. From being “idle” at home, the next step naturally is to be “taltlers and busy-bodies" abroad. In a succession of visits, all the news of the vicinity is collected; the character and the conduct of each neighbouring family are scrutinized; neither age nor sex escapes the prying eye and inquisitive tongue of curiosity. Each " tatiler,” anxious to distinguish herself by the display of superior knowledge and discernment, indulges uubounded license to her conjectures ; seizes the flying report of the hour as an incontrovertible truth; and reoders her narratives more interesting by embellishment and aggravation. And ali, in revealing secrets, in judging wiih rashness, in censuring with satisfaction, in propagating slander, and in various other ways, “ speak things which ibey ought not."

Let your behaviour to all your acquaintance be the result of modesty united with benevolence. Be obliging to

« AnteriorContinuar »