Chapter I.—What Is The Christian Home? Section I.—Home In The Sphere Of Nature.
"My home! the spirit of its love is breathing
In every wind that plays across my track,
From its white walls the very tendrils wreathing
Seem with soft links to draw the wanderer back.
There am I loved—there prayed for!—there my mother
Sits by the hearth with meekly thoughtful eye,
There my young sisters watch to greet their brother;
Soon their glad footsteps down the path will fly!
And what is home? and where, but with the loving?"
Home! That name touches every fibre of the soul, and strikes every chord of the human heart as with angelic fingers. Nothing but death can break its spell. What tender associations are linked with home! What pleasing images and deep emotions it awakens! It calls up the fondest memories of life, and opens in our nature the purest, deepest, richest gush of consecrated thought and feeling.
"Home! ’tis a blessed name! And they who rove,
Careless or scornful of its pleasant bonds,
Nor gather round them those linked soul to soul
By nature’s fondest ties,...
But dream they’re happy!"
But what is home,—home in the sphere of nature? It is not simply an ideal which feeds the fancy, nor the flimsy emotion of a sentimental heart. We should seek for its meaning, not in the flowery vales of imagination, but amid the sober realities of thought and of faith.
Home is not the mere dwelling place of our parents, and the theater upon which we played the part of merry childhood. It is not simply a habitation. This would identify it with the lion’s lair and the eagle’s nest. It is not the mere mechanical juxtaposition of so many human beings, herding together like animals in the den or stall. It is not mere conventionalism,—a human association made up of the nursery, the parlor, the outward of domestic life, resting upon some evanescent passion, some sensual impression and policy. These do not make up the idea of home.
Home is a divine institution, coeval and congenital with man. The first home was in Eden; the last home will be in Heaven. It is the first form of society, a little commonwealth in which we first lose our individualism and come to the consciousness of our relation to others. Thus it is the foundation of all our relationships in life,—the preparation-state for our position in the State and in the Church. It is the first form and development of the associating principle, the normal relation in which human character first unfolds itself. It is the first partnership of nature and of life; and when it involves "the communion of saints," it reaches its highest form of development. It is an organic unity of nature and of interest,—the moral center of all those educational influences which are exerted upon our inward being. The idea of the home-institution rests upon the true love of our moral nature, involving the marriage union of congenial souls, binding up into itself the whole of life, forming and moulding all its relations, and causing body, mind and spirit to partake of a common evolution....