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portant thing is that which we the Puritans and we children of the Puritans have been traditionally accustomed to overlook, that the child's home shall be made happy. I do not believe anything in the life of the child is quite so important as this. A man may grow old; and, as he grows old, he may come in contact with such sides of the world that he loses faith in almost everything. He loses faith in every man. He loses faith in business, in the industrial condition of the country. He thinks that the universe is out of joint; and he may lose faith in God. But, if, away off at the beginning there is a picture that memory calls up, of a happy home, if his father was just and kind, and did the best he knew, and, above all, if he can remember the tender, cherishing, brooding love of his mother, there is something still to which you can appeal, there is something still which can be saved. Too much cannot be said about it. I know orators have dwelt on it, and poets have sung it in all ages; but there is nothing quite so wonderful in many ways as this home mother love. There is no other love so unselfish, there is no other love that will bear so much neglect, so much abuse, that is absolutely incapable of forgetting. There is no other love like this; and, if the mother can bathe the life of her boy in this love, and let him carry it with him as an atmosphere to breathe from that day till his death, she has done more for him than in any other possible way can be accomplished.
Then the next thing a man should do as father is to see to it that his children are educated and trained in the best possible way for the work of their life. It is very difficult sometimes to find out what a boy or a girl is specially fitted for. There may not be any particular bent to determine the matter. But if a father can train the child, educate him in general ways, make him intelligent, educate hand and eye and ear and brain so as to fit him to cope with the conditions of life, whatever they may be, then he has bestowed upon him the ability to be a man.
I believe also that he should train him into independence of thinking. Here is the obverse of what I said in regard to
this as related to the father. The father should not attempt, as though he were infallible, to engraft his own opinions, intellectual, political, or religious, upon his child. The only true education that any man can have in this regard is a fitness to think, to observe, and to make up his own mind intelligently. I should consider that I had rendered my children a very poor service, indeed, if I had simply stamped them, as though they were wax, with my own ideas. I believe in my own ideas with all my soul: if I did not, I should not hold them; but I would rather have my children differ from me and depart radically from any and every one of my opinions than simply to take them on authority from me. I do not believe the father has any right to impose himself as an authority in any direction on his children. It is his business to train them to be free, to be intelligent, to be independent, to look over the world, and walk the ways of the world for themselves.
And let us not be afraid of our children getting beyond our reach too soon. I know so many cases where fathers and mothers absorb the children, hinder their free and full development, try to make them mere adjuncts and accessories of their own lives, instead of training them into freedom as soon as possible. You do your children a radical and permanent wrong, if you attach them in this way to yourselves. A father has no right, merely because he wants his daughter in the house and enjoys having her there, to frustrate or interfere with her prospects in life, keeping her selfishly instead of fitting her to be the woman that she is capable of becoming. A mother has no right in this direction. It is our business to train the boys and girls both into independence of us just as rapidly as possible. And, if we do that, holding them and trying to hold them only by free bondage of love and gratitude, we shall find that we have them closer to us than as though we treated them in the other way. I have not noticed such a thing since I was a boy, and do not know how prevalent it is in the country still; but, when I was a boy, I remember many boys whose lives were held by legal
bonds to the home in such a way that they learned to hate it, and would run away from it at the very first opportunity. I have known boys who would buy their time of their own fathers because they were tired of staying at home, and wished to have an opportunity of living a life of their own. You know it is the law that a father can hold the services and take the money of his child until he becomes of age; and I have known farmers to take that advantage of their boys until, instead of loving, they learned to hate the home. Hold your children, but hold them by bonds of love, and love alone; and then you will have a tie that time nor distance nor even death is capable of touching,
And now one brief point at the last. You noticed in the inscription from the old Egyptian tomb that I read this morning that it praises the man as almost the highest culmination of his virtues, in that he "never left his home in a bad temper." I wonder how many of us could have that on our tombstones? I would add to that, Never enter your home in a bad temper, and never have a bad temper between the time of entering and of leaving, if you can possibly help it. In other words, one of the most important things in regard to the happiness of the home is the atmosphere, that intangible something from which we cannot escape. You know what it means. You know that sometimes in the home it is sunny and sweet and peaceful and restful, and that again, though nothing may be said and nothing done, there is neither peace nor rest. There is something in the air that disturbs and chills: the mercury falls, and it is cold. I believe and here I am preaching to myself -I believe that a man has no right to take his business worries and outside cares into the home. I am preaching against myself, I say, for I know I often do it; but I still say I have no right to do it, and no one else has any right to do it. Let us, if we cannot control the weather anywhere else, keep one spot over which no clouds hang, one spot where the sun shines, one spot where all can sink down with a sense of perfect restfulness and peace.
Let us live out then, so far as we may, the ideal of a man in the relation which he sustains to the family, as child, husband, father. Let us try to-day to forestall the future and to create such conditions as will some day be universal.
Our Father, O blessed word, in Thee we find rest and peace and refuge. Give us strength, and let us try in our relations to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect. Amen.