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Lord Bishop of Rochester
Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us — LUKE ii. 40. T T were useless, even dishonest, to pretend that the Lord's mother was not seriously disappointed with Him ; nay, if the word had not a disrespectful sound with it, we might he bold to say that she was vexed. Certainly He defended Himself with a warmth which implied that some injustice had been done Him. It is clear, however, that great indulgence must be shown in our criticism of her conduct. She was weary with long searching, unnerved by serious anxiety, and (for she was a woman after all) somewhat discomposed at finding that the dearly loved Child, about whose safety, and even life, her motherly fancy (as is the way with mothers) had conjured up even dismal forebodings, was safe and happy and diligently employing Himself, apparently without any consciousness of the uneasiness she was suffering on account of Him, or any notion that it was other than right and suitable for Him to be there. The recollection of a past oi unbroken dutifulness, flawless innocence, ineffable love did not come to reassure her
THE HOME 37 of His motive and rectitude, as we gently think it might have clone. It simply placed in mure vivid contrast with all she had hitherto known of Him this first act of self-emancipation from her control. In the overwhelming emotion of the moment she lost her balance. We neither revere nor love her the less for acting as any true woman must have acted, and as all of us might almost have been glad to have acted ourselves.
The incident itself, however, is full of interest and importance for the government of a Christian home. While of course it has a unique interest as an event in that earlier history of our Lord, of which we are permitted to know so little, it also disphrys Him as the type and ideal for opening youth, as well as for ripened manhood. In this incident, as in every other of His life which the Holy Ghost has recorded for us, He "has left us an example, that we should follow in His steps." i. There are stages, epochs, crises of growth Important and progress in the spirit as well as in the body / of man to be expected, appreciated, and recognised as they occur. The laws of our moral as well as of our physical nature are inexorable and benignant. We must neither lament, nor resent, nor ignore, nor resist them ; but face, accept, and use them as they manifest themselves in the opening years. 2. Occasionally there will he an apparent
38 QUESTIO S OF FAITH A D DUTY suddenness in their manifestation. Ripeness will seem to come all at once. There will be a sudden spring from April to June in the soul. The secret fancy has been dreaming, the will maturing, the nature discovering itself, while the parent knew not of it. It seems as if a mine had been sprung on him, and a sense of unfairness goes with it. This is natural, but unreasonable. ature cannot wait for us until we choose to open our eyes and say we are read}'. When the blossom sets the fruit appears. There is no sin in this. It cannot be otherwise. 3. The fact that surprise, or disappointment, or even pain results from it, is not of necessity through any fault of the child. Who besides Mary would dare to think a doubtful thought of Jesus ? Probably she soon regretted her momentary if natural heat. Certainly it often
does happen with us that there is abruptness and wilfulness, and perhaps (delightful) audacity, from sons and daughters with earthly parents. This is the accident of the case, and results from human infirmity ; it in nowise affects the essence of it. That the parent feels pain is perhaps inevitable. But love, and good sense, and an instinct of justice, and the compensations that are in store, soon heal the wound. 4. For if we deal patiently, and tolerantly, and large-heartedly, and do not scarify with too much pungency the eager and almost boyish
THE HOME 39 dogmatism which with so much charming audacity settles all the problems under the sun, and harmonises the sciences, and expounds the politics, and arranges the affairs of the universe, the silly season passes, and other and rougher hands than ours put long and sharp pins into the bladders of self-conceit which our boys and girls arc wont to blow up ; and when they subside, as they usually do, they are grateful to us for not having too much made them absurd in their own eyes, while we have pleasantly smiled in our hearts, with no bitterness in the smile. Youth, with all its disdains, and caprices, and conceits, and gasconadings, is still the leverage of the world, is still the most lovable and beautiful thing in it. 5. Let us remember that a real love of knowledge is a noble thing, and that what we have to do with the young is not to frown at it, or hinder it, or be frightened at it, but to encourage it thankfully, and to watch it, with eyes half closed, that we may direct it judiciously. The greatest safeguard for the young amid the quicksands and trials of opening manhood is to have a taste, an occupation, an accomplishment, even a hobby of some sort or other, if it only keeps them during the handful of critical years from the grosser
stumbling-blocks. The pursuit of knowledge no doubt has risks of its own, but surely they are less deadly and corrupting than those which are concerned with the indulgence of the senses.
40 QUESTIO S OF FAITH A D DUTY Reason is the highest gift of God, and He claims it as a duty that it be trained and cultivated for Him. 6. In the end, our self-restraint, and human kindness, and faith in God's holy will shall have their reward. We read of the blessed Jesus that " He went down with them, and came to azareth, and was subject to them." So, if we deserve it, shall it be between us and our children in the end. We shall lose nothing by granting them what belongs to them, but we shall gain more. They must be helped, not hindered, over that difficult stage of the life's journey which sees childhood develop into youth, and youth into the independent life. It is only fair to remember that we, too, have been much as they are, and may ourselves occasionally (though it is quite forgotten now) have been somewhat odious, and moody, and self-opinionated, and capable of governing the empire, and masters of taste, and with a formed opinion on every conceivable subject at the ripe age of eighteen. We, long ago, have passed through it, and they, too, will pass through it, if we will give them time. Let us try to make friends with them. It is not always possible, but it is unspeakably wise. Let us encourage them to confide in us. Sometimes they will take their confidences to others, and only when strangers have failed, and the irreparable blunder is committed, in their helpless despair they entrust their wrecked fortunes to their
THE HOME 41 parents. Sometimes all our love, and our counsels,
and our example, and our patience will seem to fail, and it is chaos. Our refuge and hope in such a case must be God, Who is their Father as well as our Father, Who has other ways of guiding and healing, and restoring, and blessing than are open to us. othing can take from us the inestimable consolation of casting the burdens of our children's needs, and sins, and infirmities on Him to Whom the whole world can come at the same moment, and have a full hearing. Wherever our children may be, whatever they may be, we can always pray for them. Our Father Which is in Heaven understands the burdens of a parent's heart, and can supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
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