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of almost infinite magnitude, since it does not concern merely the present pleasure or comfort or faith of two individuals, but their after lives, their lives when they have come into the burden and heat, when they are passing through experiences and trials — the lives, present and future, of those who shall in God's time and providence be intrusted to them. In the many and strange experiences which inevitably lie before two wedded souls, there will be no so great need as that of sympathy upon religious subjects. Where from indifference or from conflicting faiths that cannot be, is a lack for which nothing can make amends. There will come conflicts, trials, when even the agreement to disagree will not suffice. Positive, mutual sympathy only can. Unhappy will it be, indeed, for those who, loving each other tenderly, find, at the times of the Father's chastening, and when they most need the support that comes of faith, that they are indeed separate from each other— that which sustains the one as bread from heaven, to the other only a stone. Nor is this difference seen to be a very wall of partition in times of trial alone. The family is no sooner begun, and children become old enough to ask questions and receive the simpler rudiments of religious knowledge, than the difficulty assumes a still graver aspect. It must touch and control the home life in all its relations. Whose views of religion are to be considered the laws of the house ? In which faith shall the child be educated 2 A certain necessity seems to decide that it shall be the mother's. The father has to submit, or do what he may indirectly to counteract a more frequent, and probably a more persistent influence than his own. He must cease to be directly the religious educator of his child, which no true parent can without exquisite pain. He must stand tamely by and submit to have his child trained in what he considers error, or he must risk the family harmony in his effort to counteract the lessons of his wife. Either way is bad for him, bad for the child, bad for all. Mothers are not always proof against temptation to exercise unduly a power which is thus gained over the child, while the child learns to take sides, or in the bewilderment of contradictory teachings, gets, in its growing years, to reject that wholly which has come to it so strangely recommended. I think there are few of any thought and experience who have not been witness to the sad complication of difficulties in homes arising out of this difference in religious faith in the heads, who have not seen it the one vitiating and blighting influence in homes which had every other element of happiness or success, who have not found it the single jar in lives of an otherwise beautiful symmetry and finish. It is not a trifling matter therefore. It to ought receive most serious attention. It ought to be one of the things to be taken into the account when persons are making up their mind to marry. If temper, if education, if similarity of taste, if position, if a hundred other things may and should come in to help the decision of a discrete person, if there are things, always recognized, which should modify and regulate the impulses of the affections, why should not religion be one of them, that which is in itself gravest of all, since it shapes and controls all life, while its influence extends beyond it? It is no narrowness, no bigotry, but rather the broadest prudence and the truest wisdom, which decree that it is not well that two firmly established, discordant faiths should meet at the beginning of a new home, and become as it were stones of offence for its corner. To make home life thoroughly happy and united, one faith should run through it — father, mother, children, after the same way worshipping the Father. No words can describe the mischief that has been so largely done in these later days, by those who have laid themselves out, to lead away our young women from their home faith, by those who never measure themselves with men, but make it a specialty to seek this class of converts. I am not going to say that the faith of home is by any means always what it should be, but even that does not sanction the sort of intruding, whose object is the leading captive the young and inexperienced. It does not make one any better to know the means which have been made use of by Christian ministers to break up the happy harmony of home, oftentimes in an underhand way which does not savor so much of godliness and care for souls, as of something much lower and wholly personal. I am glad that I do not believe that God makes any such demand of me. The pleasantest thing about a home to me is, to find a thorough unity pervading it from the least interest to the greatest — the children growing in it into the faith of the parents, following them in that as in lesser things. There are such homes. I am glad that I know them. May they never be saddened by the straying away of any. May none, climbing up some other way, decoy from the fold a single lamb There are other things I would like to say of the home life. The theme is more than fruitful. Let this suffice. It is a thing of beauty, it is a thing of shame, as you and I shall make it. God will not make it the one, or prevent it from being the other. He ordained it, but he gave it to us to shape. That shaping is our life work. We lay the corner, we add joint to joint, we give the proportion, we set the finish. It may be a thing of beauty and of joy forever. God forgive any infidelity in us which shall prevent it from putting on its appointed glory !
HE FIRST thing about a Home is the House, a part of the Home too little considered, which yet has more to do with the character of Home than we are aware. If the prairie, the mountain, the seaside, the environments of nature, are felt to have large influence in shaping the character, — things whose influence is external and must be superficial, - why shall not much more the house, the centre of our daily action and affection, mould and control our lives? The child receives inevitable and indelible impressions from the house in which he is brought up. We know that by our own experience, and a very little thought will show that, as men and women, our lives are still influenced very much by the house we live in. This is none the less true because we cannot always separate and analyze these influences. I cannot tell you why or how, perhaps, but I know that the house I live in shapes to a very considerable extent my char
acter. Its situation, its convenience, its facilities for 1 (1)