« PredošláPokračovať »
Glasgow, or New York, or Paris, or anywhere else, it is a bad world that they will be living in. Understand that at the start. I might say while your children are about you, give them a bias-give them a prejudice-against drink, against card-playing, against dancing, against music-hall and theatre-going, against pantomime-seeing. Yes; I sayit deliberately. Understand the world that you are in. Of course, do not let all our teaching be negative—“Don't do this; don't do that; don't do the other thing." Develop them on the positive side, and give them such sound, and pure, and healthy tastes, especially as regards music, and literature, and recreation, that these dead flies will be allowed to stick to the wall. Train them up so that they will have that “unction from the Holy One,” that will say to them, “These things are of the earth earthy: they are of the flesh fleshy. They do not answer my tastes. They do not help me. Instinctively I feel that they are destructive; they are soiling; they are souring. I shall pass by them, turn from them and go away.”
Now, especially about the drink. Teetotalism to me is so obvious that I find it difficult to preach special sermons about it. I marvel that every Christian is not a teetotaler, either for his own sake or some other body's. But you will allow me to say a word about it to-day. While the children are about you let the sideboard be swept clear of intoxicating liquors. Understand yourself; understand them. Understand the dangers on every hand in that world into which they are going. Remember the wreck and ruin that has come to your neighbour next door, in your own square, whose son has gone down. You know it; you talk about it in whispered utterances. You heard a grand racket, it may be, last night; and it was his son coming tumbling home drunk in a
hansom. Take care of your own.
His daughter is away down the giddy dance of death. Take care of your own. Your children are just as likely to go wrong as any other person's, just because they are your bairns. Sin is in them. I have read about a man-nay, I do not need to say “I have read,” for the man came to me and said, “ Minister, I do not believe in that. I want my boys and my girls to grow up, and to find out things without prejudice and without bias. I do not wish my boy to go to a Band of Hope. I do not wish my boy to go to a Sunday-school. I give them my own example and my own training. They see nothing morally wrong about me." The poor-what shall I call him ?—the poor fatuous blockhead! as if we could keep the hearts, and imaginations, and minds of our children like an unwritten page. Every day they live, the world, and the devil, and the flesh are certain to write things there, and to give them their bias, and set, and prejudice. Remember that when the prince of this world comes to them, in one or another of his thousand ways, he does not find them empty
He finds something in them of himself, of his world, of his maxims, and of his ways.
Therefore you cannot too early begin to give your children a set to whatsoever things are pure, and temperate, and safe, and sound, physically, morally, spiritually—in eating and drinking, in dress, in recreation, in books and friendships. While the children are about you let there be an example of total abstinence from anything that has the savour of evil and of danger. You cannot begin too soon.
Some mothers once were discussing the question when to begin with children. “I begin at ten with my children.” Another wise old hen clucked out that she began at eight; and another at six ; and a very old grandmotherly dame rose, and said, “ Well,
if I had my way, I would begin with the mother twenty years before the child was born.” That is about the time. Oh, give us mothers of the right stamp, and then you may train the children as you like. They will come all right. Many of us here know that. There are fathers sitting here whose children are turning out well, and you do not take very much credit. It was the mother. God guided you to a wife who trained the children, and put the right stamp
I have wandered a little. I come back again; or, rather, I am not wandering : I am keeping to the point, but sometimes taking a wider circle. Let there be especially a strong and healthy sentiment at home, and in the teaching of the Bible-class, and in the teaching of the Sabbath-school, against gambling, against swearing, against this giddy rushing after amusement, and against drink-drink in all its forms. I grant that here in England you do not see the reeling, staggering drunkenness that you see in Scotland, but I cease to be deceived by that. England is just as drunken every whit, although I grant there is not the rolling, staggering drunkenness, simply because the national beverage yonder compels a man very soon to stagger and to go off his feet. Here in England you have men-you have Christian men—God forbid that I should deny them the name of Christian—who all the day long are standing in two or three inches of beer. They are for ever wet-shod. They are soaking and puddling in it all the day long, and all the week through ; and as it goes on, their eyes become a very glass, in which you can gauge how it is rising in them. I speak what I know, and testify what I am compelled to see and to smell. Now, I say, we know this. Canon Farrar could put it eloquently; so can other men, but I will stand here and say that no man shall outstrip me in putting it plainly to the people who are before me. Let us understand how this drink curse and cancer is eating everywhere. Medical science utters its cool, calm, calculating voice, and tells us that if we, through a certain climacteric of our being—we fathers and mothers-keep steadily sipping our alcoholic liquors, and soaking our being with these liquors, we very likely shall produce a generation of children who will not be able to withstand a craving for drink. You may do it with apparent safety ; but you have not secured your children's safety. They may go down where their fathers and mothers stood.
While our children are about us let us know the world we are in and its dangerous customs, and, if we love our children, let us lead them straight.
My time is almost gone, but I do trust that while our children are about us these remarks that I have made will come to us with humbling and healing power.
God grant that none of us may have to lament in our old age, as poor Job is lamenting, that they are all gone. And the Lord grant also that our lament may not have the added bitterness that they are gone in shame, that they are away in moral defeat and disaster. While they are with us let us love them wisely; let us hold them as a sacred trust; and then, when old age comes to us, and we are looking back through other years, we shall not have cause to lament. I think I see you just now-father here, mother there, and that beautiful half-moon of children, this one, and this one, and this one. There they are, a beautiful half-circle round the fire. Now the children are about you; oh, how shepherded, how guarded! The wolves of sin, and the tearing dogs out there in London, have never come in. You have
your children all folded in sight. That will not be long. What is it to be in the end ? God grant that when you and I become old, and when our children have gone from us, and we are counting them up, we shall be able to say, as their names come before us, that they are safe, either doing well out in the great world, or doing better than well up yonder.
“I have a son, a third sweet son,
His age I cannot tell ;
Where he has gone to dwell.
What looks he weareth now,
Adorns his holy brow." But while we know that the others may go wrong, these are housed, and are safe for ever.
Oh, what a world of wisdom and of consolation in Wordsworth's simple story about the little cottage girl who would count up the family in an unbroken enumeration !
" 'But they are dead, those two are dead,
Their spirits are in heaven.'
And said, 'Nay, we are seven.'” I have pictured, I trust, things as they are just now with some of us. Let me run on, ten, twenty, thirty, forty years ahead, and perhaps father and mother are still livingfather here, mother there; but no half-moon of children in between. You can draw your chairs as closely together now as in your earliest married days before the children came. They are all gone. I look in upon you; I see your white head, I see your bowing, tottering frame. I look in upon you in the rosy sunlight of an evening, and of the evening of life, and you are thinking and talking about the