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mean to employ the present Lecture, in giving a general delineation of the female character, as it is represented in the passage now read, and as being the purpose and act of the great Lord of nature, “an help meet for man.” Every creature was intended to yield help to man; the flower, with its beauty and fragrance; the tree, with its nutricious fruit; the animal tribes, with all their powers of ministering satisfaction to the senses or to the mind. Adam surveyed them all with delight, saw their several characters in their several forms, gave them names, observed and glorified his Creator's perfections displayed in himself, and in them. But still he was alone amidst all this multitude; the understanding was employed, but the heart wanted its object; the tongue could name all that the eye be. held, but there was no tender, sympathetic ear, to which it could say, “ how fair, how lovely, how glorious is all this that we behold!” “For Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” The want of nature is no sooner perceived by the great Parent of man, than it is supplied; the wish of reason is no sooner expressed than gratified. Paternal care and tenderness even outrun and prevent the calls of filial necessity. Adam has felt no void, uttered no complaint, but “ The Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him an help meet for him.” And with God, execution certainly and instantaneously follows design. “ And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh,” Verse 21–24. How completely suitable an helper God provided for man in a state of sinless
perfection transcends imagination, much more description; all that is lovely in form, all that is graceful in manner,
all that is exalted in mind, all that is pure in thought, all that is delicate in sentiment, all that is enchanting in conversation. This felicity was made subject to alteration; this harmony was not to continue perfect; but the original intention of the Creator was not to be defeated, no, but even in a state of degradation, difficulty and distress, as in a state of purity and peace, it was still the destination of Providence, that woman should be “an help meet" for man. In what important respects we are now to inquire.
The first and most obvious is, as his counsellor and coadjutor in bringing up their common offspring. Edu. cation, on the part of the mother, commences from the moment she has the prospect of being a mother; and the care of her own health is, thenceforth, the first duty which she owes to her child.* From that moment too she becomes in a peculiar sense “an help meet” for man, as being the depositary and guardian of their most precious joint concern. How greatly is her value now enhanced! Her existence is multiplied, her duration is extended. A man-child is at length born into the world; and what helper so meet for the glad father in rearing the tender babe, as the the mother who bare him. There are offices which she, and only she can perform; there are affections which she, and only she, can feel; there are difficulties which she, and only she, can surmount. Nature has here so happily blended the duty with the recompense, that they cannot be distinguished or separated. In performing every act of maternal tenderness, while she tends and nourishes the body of her infant, she is gradually and insensibly forming his mind. His very first expressions of look, voice and gesture, are expressions of the important lessons which his mother has already taught him, attachment, gratitude, a sense of obligation and dependence. Hitherto she is the sole instructor, and “a stranger intermeddleth not with her joy.” The dawning of reason appears; the solici. tude of a father awakes; what a task is imposed upon him! Who is sufficient for it? But he is not left to perform it alone. The Lord God has provided him as an help meet for him,” one prompted by duty, drawn by affection, trained by experience, to assist him in the
* The instructions given to the wife of Manoah, and mother of Sampson, the Nazarite (Jud. xiii. 4.) “Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine, nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing," are not merely arbitrary injunctions, adapted to a particular branch of political economy, and intended to serve local and temporary purposes; no, they are constitutions of nature, reason, and experience, which unite in recommending, to those who have the prospect of being mothers, a strict aitention to diet, to exercise, lo temper, to every thing which, affecting the frame of their own body or mind, may communicate an important, a lasting, perhaps indelible impression to the body or mind of their offspring. A proper regimen for themselves is, therefore, tlre first stage of education for their children. The neglect of it is frequently found productive of effects which no future culiure is able to alter or rectily.
Delightful task! To rear the tender thought;
In the more advanced stages of education, after the pupil is removed from under the maternal wing, of what assistance to the father, of what importance to the child, are the delicate ideas, and the tender counsels of a wise and virtuous woman! Read the words of king Lemuel, the prophecy which his mother taught him,” Prov. xxxi. 1—9, and judge whether a mother may be an useful “ help” in instructing a son, a grown son, and that son a prince. In truth, the mother's inluence over the child, as it begins earlier,
so it is of much longer duration than the father's. The son, having become a man, or approaching to that state, begins to feel uneasy under the restraints of paternal authority; he longs to shake the yoke from off his neck; he pants for independence—he must obtain it. But what ingenuous young man ever felt a mother's yoke galling, or longed for emancipation from the silken fetters in which her gentle fingers had entangled his soul? In the perfection of understanding, in the plenitude of power, in the self-gratulation of independence, to her milder reason he still submits, her unassuming sway he readily acknowledges, and, independent of all things else, he feels he cannot do without the smiles of maternal approbation, the admonitions of maternal solicitude, the reproofs of maternal tenderness and integrity.
Whatever be the dispositions, whatever the faculties of the child, whether earlier or later in life, the busi. ness neither of father nor masters can proceed wisely and well without the co-operation of the mother. Who knows so well as she, the road to the understanding, the road to the heart? Who has skill like her to encourage the timid and repress the bold? Who has power and address like a mother's to subdue the stubborn and confirm the irresolute? Who can with such ex. quisite art draw out, put in motion, and direct ordinary or superior powers; place goodness in its fairest and most attractive light, and expose vice in its most hideous and forbidding form? In the case of those persons who have unhappily grossly deviated from the path of virtue, how many have been stopped, converted, brought back, by considerations of maternal feelings--shame, and sorrow, and regret; and by the recollection of early lessons, and principles, and resolutions. Having been “trained up, when a child, in the way wherein he should walk," the man calls it to remembrance in old age, approves it, returns to it, and “ departs from it” no more.
In educating the children of her own sex, the mother seems to be more than “an help mect” for man. The trust chiefly, if not entirely, devolves on her: and where could it be deposited so well? The knowledge she has of herself, experience of the world, and maternal affection, are all she needs to qualify her for this arduous undertaking. A mother only can enter into the feelings, and weaknesses, and necessities of a young female, entering on an unknown, varying, tempestuous, dangerous ocean; for she remembers how she herself felt and feared, what she needed, and how she was relieved, and assisted, and carried through. And to a mother only can a young female impart the numberless, nameless anxieties which every step she takes in life necessarily excite. When she converses with her mother, it is only thinking aloud. A mother's conduct is the loveliest pattern of virtue, and the hope of a mother's applause is, next to God's, the most powerful motive to imitate it. The superiority of female to male youth in respect of moral, whatever be the case as to intellectual improvement, is clearly deducible from the larger share which the mother has in the education of the one, than of the other. And the more liberal and enlarged spirit of the times we live in, procuring for the female world a more liberal and rational education, is daily evincing to what an equality of intellectual endowment they are capable of rising, and thereby of, in all respects, fulfilling the design of the Creator, who said in the beginning, “ I will make for man an help meet for him."
I now proceed to mention a second most important respect, in which it is the obvious intention of Providence that woman should be " an help meet" for man, namely, the care and management of his wordly estate.
In a paradisaical state man did not, and in what is improperly called, the state of nature, he could not long continue. In the former, there was labour, imposed not as a burden or a punishment, but bestowed