Are you not only a housekeeper, but a mother? Oh, sacred and beautiful name! how many cares and responsibilities are associated with it! And how many elevating and sublime anticipations and hopes are given to inspire and to cheer! You are training young minds whose plastic texture will receive and retain every impression you make; who will imitate your feelings, tastes, habits, and opinions; and who will transmit what they receive from you to their children, to pass again to the next generation, and then to the next, until a whole nation may possibly receive its character and destiny from your hands! No imperial queen ever stood in a more sublime and responsible position than you now occupy in the eye of Him who reads the end from the beginning, and who is appointing all the trials and discipline of your lot, not for purposes which are visible to your limited ken, but in view of all the consequences that are to result from the character which you form, and are to transmit to your posterity!
And you who never are to bear a mother's name, but must toil for the children of others with little earthly honor or reward, remember that the blessed Lord "took upon himself the form of a servant;" that he came "not to be ministered to, but to minister;" that those who voluntarily take the lowest place are most likely to stand highest at last; that all sincere service is accepted and precious; and that our labors in this life are to bear their fruits through everlasting ages.
Remember that you have a Father in heaven who sympathizes in all your cares, pities your griefs, makes allowances for your defects, and is endeavoring by trials, as well as by blessings, to fit you for the right fulfillment of your high and holy calling.
But the heaviest care and sorrow that ever oppress a woman who, as housekeeper, has the control of children and servants, are her responsibilities as to the eternal destiny of those guided by her teachings and example. Our cruel war took thousands of our noblest youth to terrible sufferings in prisons and battle-fields, and to a torturing death. Multitudes of these sacrificed their all to save their country as really as did our Lord when he suffered for the whole world. And yet many of these martyred heroes gave no evidence of that change which their bereaved parents were trained to believe could alone save their beloved ones from everlasting misery. How many mothers have hid in silent anguish this never-healed wound - this crushing sorrow!
The most available remedy for such distress is much that is suggested in Chapters XXV. and XXVIII.; and the following queries may aid in obtaining the true teachings of the Bible on these momentous questions:
Are the definitions given in those chapters of the words right, righteous, love, faith, and repentance, in reference to future eternal safety, sustained by common use and by our dictionaries? What texts illustrate the distinction between right as to motives, or intention and right as to resulting consequences?
What texts show that wrong actions, owing to mistaken opinions as to what is right, do not necessarily destroy evidence of a righteous or virtuous character?
What texts show that the righteous character which secures eternal safety consists, not chiefly in emotional love to God, but rather in a controlling principle of obedience to his will, as manifested in both his natural and revealed laws?
What texts show that at some future period (it may be millions of ages hence) there will be a final separation of the righteous and the wicked?
Are there any texts which show that in the intervening ages there will be no improvement of character for those who fail in this life? and are there any which show that there may be for some, if not for all?
Are there any texts which show that the character of every human being is fixed at death?
Are there any texts which show that some of mankind will be forever sinful, and forever separated from the righteous?
Are there any texts which show that all mankind will finally become righteous, and thus forever happy?
When all the texts in the Bible on these questions are collected and arranged, when applying the rules of interpretation, these considerations are to be noticed:
1. That the word "Hades," in many cases, is translated "Hell," when its proper translation is "the place of departed spirits." The story of Dives and Lazarus, and of the repentant thief, can be properly explained only by ascertaining the meaning the Jews attached to the words Hades and Paradise; for Christ, of course, expected them to be thus understood.
Again, the meaning of many texts depends on the subject before the mind of the speaker. Thus when Christ replied to the question," Are there few that be saved?" did he refer to all beings in the whole universe, or to the present world, and to that present time when "the righteous" were comparatively a small portion of mankind?
Again, much that relates to the spirit-world can not be fully taught or comprehended. St. Paul says that, when caught up into the third heaven, he saw things not "lawful" to utter, or, as some interpret it, "impossible" to utter.
Again, the results thus gained from the Bible should be considered in connection with the analogies of nature and God's providence in regard to the continued development of mind and character, which in this life has so short and imperfect a period, and in most cases so many and great disadvantages.
In completing such an investigation, much time and mental effort may be required, but is there any employment of time and intellect so important as this end?
In offering these suggestions, the author may refer to her own extended observation of the results of religious educa-tional training in the family, as witnessed in the diverse sects with which she has mingled, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish; for she counts excellent and intelligent friends in all.
She finds all united in the belief of a future life in which the character formed in this life controls the eternal well-being; so that those who are trained to truth, justice, and mercy will be forever happier than those who grow up in sin and wickedness.
She finds that the right education of children and servants is more and more an object of care and effort; and that, as the consequence, the world is growing better rather than worse.
And finally, she rejoices in the increasingly open avenues to useful and remunerating occupations for women, enabling them to establish homes of their own, where, if not as the natural mother, yet as a Christ-mother, they may take in neglected ones, and train future mothers, teachers, and missionaries for the world.