Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]


ly incapable to obey and please God. There is perhaps no doctrine in the whole Bible more unwelcome to maternal fondness than this. What! a child, which has no will of its own, no power to do any thing, not even evil, should already be tainted with original sin ! We speak of the innocence of childhood, and would gladly transfer ourselves back again into its unalloyed pleasures. We could wish ourselves children again, so simple, harmless and happy, especially since our Savior has told us, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. And yet these tender buds, just opening into fair fragrant flowers, are already infected with the blemishes of sin! This may seem to be a barbarous notion, with which the mother can not easily be reconciled. When the Savior says, we must become as little children, He does not mean that they are sinlessly pure and angelic, or that they embody and express the ideal perfection of man, in every respect, fit for the kingdom of heaven. We must take that expression, in Matthew 18: 3, in its proper connection. It can mean nothing more nor less than this: “Ye disciples dispute as to which of you should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Each one would be greater than the other. Here, behold these little children, who by preference are peculiarly humble and unassuming. Emulate and resemble them in this virtue, or ye can not enter the kngdom of heaven." There is nothing said of the entire nature of the child, nor of any other of its peculiarities.

But you ask with surprise how can a child, in its first year already, be tainted with sin, before ever it has seen, heard, or learned any evıl ? After the child has grown up, played with its fellows and observed their ill-behavior and the sins of those older than itself, then indeed we have reason to apprehend danger, and alas ! too often see that sin invades its innocent

purity. You will admit that the world is full of sin, and that { our grown youth are violently hurried along in the magic

dance of evil, but that the harmless infant at its mother's breast-the lovely flower bud, just opening its petals upon which to reflect the light and love of its species—that it can be polluted with sin, you can by no means admit. To convince you that the doctrine of original sin is strictly applicable already to children in their earliest infancy, I might point you to many facts and features in their infant history. For example, twins show a disposition of envy and ill-will, in attempting to remove one another, when the mother nurses both of them at the same time. Would you explain this and other similar facts on physical grounds? These may have some weight, but then I would ask, would it not be possible to keep a child so entirely secluded from evil influences from without, as to preserve its innocence intact? If the parents would always set a faultless, pious example in the presence of the child, never commit the least open impropriety or sin—if they would entirely exclude from it the pernicious influence of servants and playmates, and thus keep from it every method and means to learn evil, could not the child thus retain its primal purity and innocence? Perhaps you would answer, yes, and would only complain of the difficulties that would attend the execution of this plan. Well, I know of a clergyman and his lady, who made the greatest exertions and sacrifices to train up two of their children according to this plan. The result however, was any thing but favorable. When the oldest child had reached its seventh year, both had already become so proficient in rudeness and corrupt habits that it was impossible to see whence they derived them. The parents enforced a stern, rigorous discipline, which made it extremely painful for them to correct and repair the evil effects of their neglected duty ; neglected on the ground of their ideal views of the innocence of childhood, and the spotless purity of their infant souls. Let us endeavor to make a distinction between the influence of sin out of man, and of that which is in him. Sin outside of man, if I may be allowed the expression, is a kind of a sinful condition, an impure social atmosphere, pervaded with a moral malaria. It is a kind of noxious cloud, now heavier, then lighter, according to the nation, customs and times which enter into its composition. Amid this atmosphere we live and breathe. This mass of sin, if I am allowed an expression not absolutely correct, is bequeathed from one generation to another. Before the word was made flesh,” this atmosphere became so thoroughly and densely corrupt, that the world could no longer bear its crushing weight, and was deluged with a flood, engulphing all the corrupt nations of the earth, and starting the human race afresh from one family stock. Since the appearance of Christ in the flesh, we have the certain assurance, that the power of the devil has been crushed ; and that although the power of sin has not been entirely eradicated, wherever the Lord Jesus Christ lives and rules in the hearts of men, there its dominion must gradually diminish and die. Still, we are all born into this pestilential atmosphere; we breathe this noxious malaria, and need therefore not be surprised if we are infected by its poison.

You know, we are in the habit of telling children, “If bad } boys tempt you to sin, do not follow them.” This is the spirit and sense of that view, which holds that children learn their evil dispositions and habits from others; that they date a new epoch from their fifth or sixth year, the time when they first begin to mingle with other children; that previous to this they were perfectly pure and innocent, which view, we have already seen, is fallacious. In distinction from this sinful atmosphere around us, we have sinful hearts, corrupt natures within. Man is not only born with, an inclination to sin, but finds an actual pleasure and delight in doing evil. In this consists the principle of original sin. We know, from daily observation, that children inherit from their parents the defects, lineaments, infirmities and diseases of the body. Now from this we might easily draw the conclusion, that sin has its seat in the body and is entailed from parent to child; therefore the child can not be held accountable for that which the parents have brought upon it. To admit this would do away with the guilt of original sin. It would transfer the guilt of sin back to our first parents, who entailed upon their posterity the consequences of the fall. If it be true that sin exists only in the body separately, we need have no concern about our salvation. When the sinful body dies, the soul will return pure and unspotted to its Maker. No, my dear friend, such is not the case. Our personal human life is not of such a constitution, that the soul is confined to this point, and the body to that. During the whole life of man the soul and body are organically one, their reciprocal influences are uninterrupted. If the soul of Adam was changed and degraded through the fall, we must also admit that, owing to its vital union with the body, this degradation is entailed upon all his descendants through the mysterious life-evolution of the race. On this account we find the germ or principle of sin already in the tenderest infant. It of course requires a well-practiced eye and a tender conscience, to discern the marks of original sin in so young a child. The first traces of sin evidently appear through the body, which is its outward organ of expression.

What then shall the Christian mother do under these circumstances ? Sin is present, how can she discover its first signs without mistake? How does God deal with us grown sinners ? It is an old maxim that “ every sin brings with it its own penalty," a penalty which no one can really evade. But God has left to us a sinless model, whose footsteps beckon us on to salvation. In addition to the natural punishment of sin, God inflicts upon us the positive penalties of his divine justice. Unless we are converted unto Him, and are made partakers of his grace, through repentance, contrition and faith, the punishment will not end with the death of the body, but will result in endless death in the world to come.

It is very evident that we can do nothing immediately and directly for the culture of the soul. The only organ of sancti- } fying culture for the child, is holy baptism. This the child must receive in order to secure for it during life, the gracious operations of the Holy Ghost. On the other hand the soul must first acquire strength together with the body, before it can be nurtured by instruction. If the mother takes it for granted, that she can only train the body of the child and not the soul, she must be careful not to treat it simply as a little animala mindless mass of flesh and blood; she must bear in mind that whatever influence impressess the body affects the soul.

After the birth of the child, the first case is to be about its bodily sustenance. Blessed be God, those inhuman pagan customs have, to a great extent, been abandoned, where the mother, prompted by motives of vanity or convenience, would entirely commit the pourishing of her children to nurses. This evil however has been discarded more on account of its bodily disadvantages than those of the soul. Hence we still find many mothers who are willing to employ a nurse to attend to duties belonging to themselves, provided she possesses bodily health, thus committing the destiny of their child to the keeping of strangers. It is not sufficiently understood, that by nursing the child herself, it will live and breathe in the mysterious atmosphere of the mother's soul, and that she will impart to it the very substance of her spiritual being, and the tendrils of affection will mutually coil around their loving hearts. It is too often forgotten that even the bodily well-being of a child is endangered in the hands of a nurse. I well remember a shocking instance of this kind, where a nurse, who had no more nourishment for the child, and yet wished to conceal this in order to retain her employment and her pay—and the mother being blinded to this deception by her own false and fatal sentiments—she administered large portions of laudanum to silence its craving hunger, until the poor child slept the last sleep of death-literally died by starvation. There may be instances where the mother has not nourishment sufficient for the child, but even here we are too ready to resort to the easy method of feeding it sparingly with the mother's milk for a few weeks, until the child has become accustomed to animal milk. In many cases this want of caution and care results from the materialistic views of our physicians.


That milk, after it has been drawn, out of the body, is composed of this or that ingredient; that chemical analysis proves it to be composed of elements similar to those of the milk of animals, this physicians well know how to say, and by an incomprehensible sophism to transfer this similarity to the milk in the body. Just as they formerly disputed, for a long time, about the particular locality of the soul." They clearly showed that they regarded the soul as a thing so external and material, that if we only knew its whereabouts, we could dissect it with a scalpel, and tangibly examine its several parts. Every solid, and still more every fluid ingredient of the body, so long as it is a part in the body, partakes of the life of the soul. This is more especially true of the blood and milk; so that when the child, immediately at the mother's breast, sucks milk out of her inmost body, it at the same time is nourished with the spiritual nature and soul of the mother. Thus a spiritual nutriment, operates upon the soul of the child, through a material channel, and the nursing mother nourishes the deathless, immortal 18ture of her babe.

It is not in the parting hour, when those we fondly love,
Have breathed to as their last farewell, and winged their way above,
Nor yet when in the darksome grave we lay them to their rest,
The sharpest pang of sorrow rends the stricken mourner's breast.
'Tis when we seek our lonely home, and meet no more the smile,
Which could the darkest cloud dispel, and every care beguile;
And when we meet around the board, or at the hour of prayer,
'Tis then the heart most feels its logs-the loved ones are not there!
And thus while days and months steal on, as memory brings to view
The vision of departed joys, our grief is stirr'd anew,
Though faith may own a Father's hand, yet nature will rebel,
And feel how hard it is to say, "He hath done all things well.”
0, mournful memories of the past! ye wear our lives away,
Ye haunt us in oar dreams by night, and through each weary day;
The home which late like Eden's bower in blooming beauty smil'd,
Ye make a barren wilderness, a desert waste and wild !
But why thus yield to fruitless grief-are they got happier far,
The sainted ones for whom we mourn, than we who linger here?
Our hearts should glow with grateful love to Him whose watchful eye
Saw dangers gathering round their path, and call'd them to the sky!
Not long shall we their loss deplore, for soon the hour will come
When we, with those so fondly lov'd, shall slumber in the tomb-
Then let the remnant of our days be to his service given,
Who hid our idols in the grave, lest we should fail of heaven.

« AnteriorContinuar »