By Louisa Lane Clarke
It might be sufficient to sum up the ordinary duties of a mother--a christian mother, and say that these were all that were required of her; but those who carefully observe her conduct perceive many peculiarities in the management of her children which belong especially to her station.
Herbert says, "that as in the house of those that are skilled in music all are musicians, so in the house of a preacher all are preachers." And this is particularly true with respect to the pastor's children. They are so many little mirrors reflecting the characters and lives of their parents; and by their voices much is told of that which passeth within. There is not a mother in the parish that has not scanned the minister's nursery, and taken to herself a lesson there from, either to justify her own weakness or to uphold her in well-doing. There is not a child who does not look up to the minister's son with a double reverence for his father, or take advantage of. his disobedience to despise the pulpit admonition. The parson's wife feels this: and even the unborn child was sanctified by prayer, a Levite from his birth, and brought to the baptismal font, as one devoted to his God, to claim every privilege of the covenant.
To pass over the first cares of infancy, when the mother naturally gives up most time to her little ones, when she teaches the lisping lips to pray, and early bends the stubborn will; we notice what reverence the young child is taught for all holy things, for the house of God, the word of God, his day, his ordinances, and his minister; the father having, as it were, twofold authority over body and soul, so that to resist his commands is to resist God. They are taught that rudeness, insubordination, disputings, deceit, and idleness, are dishonouring to their father's house, offences against their parents and their God. All this is learned in their first years; their mother has taught it day by day, and these lessons are not easily forgotten. She gives them habits of industry by early associating them in her own pursuits. They assist her in the garden, they share in the poultry-yard, they have a class at school, they carry comforts to the sick, they prepare linen for the poor as soon as their little fingers can hold the needle; thus filling up those hours when study is over, they are saved from the temptations of idleness, and the young mind is bent towards that benevolence and thoughtfulness which are so lovely in the christian character.
They are seldom permitted to associate with neighbours' children; for even the best are but sinful creatures, and the mother is jealous for her child, lest an hour in the evening should mar a whole day's work, and a careless word fall like tares in some unstable heart, to spring up into disobedience or vanity or falsehood. She is careful not to suffer the mother to contend with the wife, or to annoy her husband by the petty cares of the nursery, the noise of infants, the reports of the school-room, when already harassed by many duties, needing a cheerful welcome to his fireside, and pleasant converse to refresh his spirit. Nevertheless, in all grave matters he is constantly referred to, and from his decision there is no visible appeal; least of all does the parson's wife contradict or oppose her husband before those to whom he is both a spiritual and earthly father.
If one christian mother is more watchful than another, it is surely this one. Her children are neat and plain in their dress, courteous in manner, gentle in speech, and obedient in all things to their parents, whether present or absent. Yet above all she watches their heart; each visible sin, each rising passion, each unholy temper, and turns the shield of believing prayer against every temptation which may assault her little ones.
She prays, and she acts her prayers; that which she teaches them, they see in her; if it were not so, the precepts of God's word would seem as idle tales to their young minds.
And training them thus in the way they should go, she stands at the last in humble and joyful confidence before her God, and looking up she says, "Lord! here am I, and the children whom thou hast given me."