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to hell. Tacitus said of Agricola, “that he governed his family, which many find to be a harder task than to govern a province.” It is not government of that old Roman stamp that we wish to have as the result of parental intercourse, – the exercise and control of mere will, - but the government which results from a wise, considerate, intelligent, and impartial love.
HAVE now a few words to say of those subtile influences—more potent and more delicate than any authority or power — which have so much to do with shaping the character and controlling the destiny of home. They are things which may not be catalogued or accurately defined; but, undefinable, nameless, innumerable, they are always at work upon the heart, and always accomplishing results vast, important, and lasting. We outgrow, we set aside, other control; other influences are partial and transient, — imperative to-day, to-morrow they have yielded, but the influences of the home of our childhood are felt in the home of our maturity, in the small as in the great, in conduct and character and faith. Do we not know this from our own consciousness, has not the experience of life repeated and re-repeated the fact; and is it not evident that our children must carry with them out of their homes influences of some sort,
as strong and as permanent as we took out of ours ?
A home—good or bad — is the result, not of authority, of direct, sharp, positive law, but of influence. I do not think this is generally understood. The aim of a parent is to establish authority, to make his will felt. The home is to have a rigid, inflexible law. That established, the matter of home rule is settled. The requirements and the falling off of each day is measured by that, and the fatal thing to have done is to have sinned against the law of the house. Now, as I have already said, law is essential to the well-being and development of the home; yet he who should suppose that a home is to be governed only by authority would make a very grave mistake. Authority is limited. “It cannot modify dispositions, nor implant sentiments, nor alter character.” It is an outside thing; he who is under it is never free * from a certain feeling of constraint and subjection. It regulates actions only. It cannot reach opinions or affections. This is the work of influence, so that he who should rule by law, who should be watchful over, jealous only for, his authority, would fail in just that thing which he wished to do. He might compel his children to a little circle of prescribed duties, but he could never inspire them with the large sentiment of obedience, outrunning positive injunctions. What a home wants is domestic influences rather than laws. In the more complicated and artificial relations of society we must have authority. Without law, exact and absolute, there is no safety. But in the home, authority, in the sense in which the world uses it, authority as it is sought to be enforced, in many homes, is not merely undesirable and inefficacious, but positively hurtful. One may not govern his home as he would a city, or a state, or a penitentiary. Just in proportion that it is attempted will the home fail. It is possible to have a thoroughly ordered household, drilled as admirably as the crack corps of a regiment, but that household is not a home. He is not a faithful and wise servant who establishes such a rule. We may take a lesson both from nature and from revelation. The things in nature most forcible, most reliable, the things constant and resistless, are influ-, ences. It is not the shock of the earthquake, the force of the tornado, the sweep of the storm, to which she intrusts her various missions, terrific and immediate as they are in their effects, but to the dew, to the sun, to gravity, to electricity, which act noiselessly but continuously, whose power, exerted invisibly, we become conscious of only in results. So in revelation. God has displaced the old dispensation of authority by the new one of influence, reaching us not through law, but, as the word in its origin signifies, by the flowing in of his spirit of love and truth into our spirits. Law, authority, was of Moses, while grace
and truth — not law and authority, but influences, subtile, invisible, irresistible powers — are of Jesus Christ. Just that wisdom which God selects for compassing his ends we should adopt in the carrying out. of our own, and rule the little world God gives us as himself he rules the vast worlds of matter and of spirit. We have all, probably, some vague idea of home influence; but of the momentous thing it is — to judge from what one sees— there can be very little just conception, while of the separate, individual influences which go to make up home influence and our connection with and responsibility for them, we seem very generally insensible. Of a few of the more obvious and direct of these only shall I undertake to speak, frankly confessing my inability to grapple with a subject whose height and depth and breadth no man may measure. To trace the origin, the compass, and the results of the influences of home would be to exhaust all history and biography, to run back to the first family, and through all families, and on to all the issues of eternity. Indeed, to trace the influences exerted by a single member of the home, through all their varied windings and effects, would baffle the keenest intellect and the broadest wisdom. Only the Infinite can do it. I do not know that I could quite subscribe to the