Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 them 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. Picture 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 miseries, either by profusion or by inadvertence. Is he careless as to the inspection of his affairs ? Endeavour to open his eyes to the dangers of neglect and procrastination. Does 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 inerited or of pretended distress, have the effect of rendering him somewhat too suspicious of deceit, somewhat too severe towards those whose misfortunes are, in pait 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 bave 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 schemes 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 wonnen, is in married women doubly reprehensible. If, now that you are entered into connubial life, you disclose in your dress proofs of vanity and affectation, or plange 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 io public are most addicted to finery 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 them the duty of being keepers at home.” The precept, in its application to modern 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 to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers 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; home becomes dull; and a remedy for the evil is sought from the very cause which produced it. Froin being " idle" at hoine, 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 neigbbouriog 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, iodulges uubounded license to her conjectures ; seizes the flying report of the hour as an incontrovertible truth; and renders her narratives more interesting by embellishment and aggravation. And ali, in revealing secrets, in judging wish rashness, in censuring with satisfaction, in propagating slavder, and in various other ways, “ speak things which they ought not.”

Let your behaviour to all your acquaintance be the result of modesty united with benevolence. Be obliging to all with whom you associate; cultivate the friendship of the good : and steadfastly persist in shunning all habitual intercourse with persons of bad or of doubtful character, however complying others may be around you. To be thus complying, is to impair the salutary principle of shaming into obscurity the corrupting example of vice; it is lo withdraw from virtue the collateral support, which it derives from the dread of general disgrace. Be consistent in the selection of your associates ; and proportion, as nearly as circumstances may allow, your intercourse with individuals to their intrinsic worth. Pursue not the society of woinen of higher rank than your own; be not elated by their notice : “ let your moderation be known unto all;" not by artificial condescension, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.

In the progress of matrimonial life it is scarcely possible but that the wife and the husband will discover faults in each other, which they had not previously expected. The discovery is by no means a proof, in many cases it is not even a presumption, that deceit had originally been practised. Affection, like that Christian charity of whose nature it largely participates, in its early periods “ hopeth all things, believeth all things.” Time and experience, without necessarily detracting from its warmth, superadd judgment and observation. The characters of the parties united mutually expand; and disclose those little recesses which, even ia dispositions most inclined 10 be open and undisguised, scarcely find opportunities of unfolding themselves antecedently to marriage. Intimate connexion and uninterrupted society reveal shades of error in opinion and in conduct, which, in the hurry of spirits, and the dazzled state of mind peculiar to the season of growing attachment, escaped the vigilant eye of solicitude. Or the fact unhappily may be, that in consequence of new scenes, new circumstances, new temptations, failings which did not exist when the matrimonial state commenced, may have been contracted since. The stream may have derived a debasing tincture from the region through which it has lately flowed. But the fault, whether it did or did not exist while the parties were single, is now discerned. What then is to be the consequence of ibe discovery? Is affection to be repressed, is it to be permitted to grow languid, because the object of it now appears tinctured with some few additional defects? I aliude not to those flagrant desertions of moral and religious principle, those extremes of depravity, which are not unkiiown

to the connubial state, and give a shock to the tenderest feelings of the heart. I speak of those common failings, which long and familiar intercourse gradually detects in every human character. Whether they are perceived by the husband in the wife, or by the wife in the husband, to contribute by every becoming method to their removal is an act of duty strictly incumbent on the discoverer. It is more than an act of duty; it is the first office of love. “ 'Thou shalt not hate thy neighbour in suffering sin upon him,” is a precept, the disregard of which is the most criminal in those persons, by whom the warmest regard for the welfare of each other ought to be displayed.

To point out failings in the spirit of kindness is one of the clearest indications of friendship. It is, however, one of those delicate offices from which friendship may the most easily be deterred. If a husband find bis endeavours to discharge it frequently misconceived ; if he see them usually producing perturbations difficult to be allayed, and extending far and wide beyond the original subject of discussion; he may learn to think it wiser to let an evil exist in silence, than to attempt to obviate it at the hazard of a greater. If his conscience at any time call upon him to set before his associate in connubial life some defect, either in her general conduct, or in a particular instance, he ought unquestionably to fulfil the task with a lively conviction of his own imperfections, and of the need which he bas of indulgence and forbearance on her part. He ought to full ir with a tenderness of manner flowing from the genuine warmth of affection; with an ardent solicitude to shun, as far as may be possible the appearance of authoritative injunctions; and with prudence adapting itself to the peculiarities of the mind which he is desirous to impress. In all cases he ought to guard, with scrupulous anxiety, against exciting in the breast of his wife a suspicion that he is purposely minute in prying into her failings; and against loading her spirits with groundless apprehensions that the original glow of his attachment is impaired by those which he has noticed. But what if in one or in more of these points he should be negligent and defective? Let not a momentary quickness of manner, let pot an inadvertent expression hastily dropping from his lips, nor even the discovery of some emotions stained with human infirmity, be noticed with resentinent, or followed by retort and recrimination. Though he should evidently be liable to just censure himself, his admoniton may yet be wise; his reproof, if he be

« PreviousContinue »