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and noble, all whose ways are honest and upright, who makes the world the wide theatre for the exercise of virtue, and life the means of growth and faith; — is not that man felt in his home, through and through 2 and the great, underlying principle of his life, is it not the corner-stone of the home life? Take a man whose talk is only of business, of values, of money, whose thought is of markets and of trade, whose domestic intercourse is pitched to the same key that his world intercourse is. His children catch it : their thoughts, hopes, talk, are in harmony. A discerning ear detects in them the home-pitch; from your knowledge of the child, you know the father's tone at home. The child is broad or narrow, soars or delves, according as the principle of the home is. The thing the child hears, the thing he sees, the thing he detects, are the influences in his life. And we do not think enough of what the child detects. A friend of mine said to another, — a man moving among the fashions and conventions of life, and governing himself and his household by them, - after his son had gone out, upon whom he had been endeavoring to inculcate a moral principle he did not himself practise, “That boy will find you out.” Yes, and what a terrible finding out is this, all through the world, of parental inconsistencies and shams, that stand out livid and stark to the pure eye of childhood, notwithstanding the fancied security of our disguise ! And what shall prevent children, who have found moralities only the convenient coin of outside intercourse, from becoming hypocrites, and sycophants, and infidel? Let the father remember, that it is deeds, not words, which influence children; that they are quick to detect inconsistencies; that these at first create confusion, then excite suspicion, then lead to doubt, and perhaps end in making the child an accomplished knave or villain, a result which the parent fails to recognize as the culminating of his own depraving influence. As the Scripture says, in warning to the sinner, “Be sure your sin will find you out,” so may we say to the father, “Be sure your child will find you out; ” for every child, at some time, sits in judgment upon parental character, and woe to him who cannot stand before it ! From the long catalogue of special influences which enter into the life of home I shall select but two, and say a single word of each. From whatever other source flattery may come, never let it come from the home. Do not stoop to be the base pander to one of the lowest cravings of our lesser nature. Praise where praise is due, with wisdom, discrimination, caution, but of flattery, which “has ever something of the lie in it,” never let there be any between the inmates of the home. Beauty, grace, talent, accomplishment, are sure to have it in the world. That penalty must they pay there, that gauntlet must they run; but do not sully home with the presence of a thing so low and grovelling. I have known families which were nothing more than mutualadmiration societies, – parents flattering children, children flattering parents, brother repaying sister with usury. I have known parents sowing the seeds of a heart-corroding vanity, turning the gift of nature or the gain of art into the mere means of admiration and parade. And you all know what a upas-tree is that vanity planted and fostered under parental influence 1 Beside this, we should be very jealous of the influence we import into our homes, – the books, the visitors, the opinions, the customs, – things which get the more power from being connected with our homes. Many of these, if we met them casually, or judged them by their own merits, would have little or no influence upon us; but finding them at home, recognized and welcome, they assume a new aspect, acquire importance, and become dangerous. The home should be carefully guarded against the intrusion of those things to which only its sanction gives value and influence. There are, beside, outside social influences pressing with more or less constancy and importunacy upon
the home, modifying its arrangements, its purpose, and its discipline. Inevitably the home is influenced by social surroundings, depressed or elevated by the tone of sentiment outside. We cannot so isolate our home as to be free. We are social as well as domestic creatures, and social influences will make their way into our homes. If they are good in themselves and elevating, they should be welcomed and cherished ; if bad, watched and shunned. It is not altogether a misfortune that there is this outside influence. Few but may gain from an infusion of some other life into them ; few but may be the wiser and the stronger from resisting what they cannot approve. I know it is a difficult thing when growing children come, desiring this or that liberty or possession which is granted in some other home, when they complain of your strictness where other homes are lax, or get infatuated with styles and modes unlike their own; and I know no other way than to face wisely and calmly each separate case, compromise where no principle is at stake, yield something to the spirit of young life and the changes of habit and custom, and stand as a rock where conscience and duty bid. Let me, in conclusion, say, that I by no means Suppose the success or the failure of its inmates to depend entirely upon the influences of home. All virtue does not spring from these: all vice does not. God has other potent educators, and sometimes they rise against the influences there, and sweep them as with a spring torrent all away. Good children bless bad parents; bad children curse good parents. Dens of infamy and vice are recruited from pious homes. Why and how this should be we cannot say, but it is just often enough to make us watchful and in earnest, knowing as we well do that these are after all but exceptional, and that the great law is, As the home is, so is the man. We are not to be troubled or in despair. Give your children good principles, enforced by your own holy lives. Let the influences of home be all pure and good. Then dismiss your children to the care of God. Who, then, is the faithful and wise householder ? He who makes less of government than of influence, who hedges his home about with every thing that can purify and elevate, who is felt in it less by word than by example, who makes it his great work to broaden its sympathies, strengthen its integrity, and elevate its aim ; in whom no gross inconsistency between word and deed shocks the moral sense or blunts the moral sensibility of childhood, who makes of home that field of God he will sow and till, watching and choking the springing tares, cherishing and garnering the wheat. How few such householders there are! Amid the many waning things—things which we attach to the past rather than the present—is home influence.