( Originally Published 1879 )
WHAT a hallowed name! How full of enchantment and how dear to the heart! Home is the magic circle within which the weary spirit finds refuge; it is the sacred asylum to which the care-worn heart retreats to find rest from the toils and inquietudes of life.
Ask the lone wanderer as he plods his tedious way, bent with the weight of age, and white with the frost of years, ask him what is home? He will tell you " it is a green spot in memory; an oasis in the desert; a center about which the fondest recollections of his grief oppressed heart cling with all the tenacity of youth's first love. It was once a glorious, a happy reality, but now it rests only as an image of the mind."
Home! That name touches every fiber of the soul, and strikes every chord of the human heart with its 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.
Some years ago some twenty thousand people gathered in the old Castle Garden, New York, to hear Jennie Lind sing, as no other songstress. ever had sung, the sublime compositions of Beethoven, Handel, etc. At . length the Swedish Nightingale thought of her home, paused, and seemed to fold her wings for a higher flight. She began with deep emotion to pour forth "Home, Sweet Home." The audience could not stand it. An uproar of applause stopped the music. Tears gushed from those thousands like rain. Beethoven and Handel were forgotten. After a moment the song came again, seemingly as from heaven, almost angelic. Home, that was the word that bound as with a spell twenty thousand souls, and Howard Payne triumphed over the great masters of song. When we look at the brevity and simplicity of this home song, we are ready to ask, what is . the charm that lies concealed in it? Why does the dramatist and poet find his reputation resting on so apparently narrow a basis? The answer is easy. Next to religion, the deepest and most ineradicable sentiment in the human soul is that of the home affections. Every heart vibrates to this theme.
Home has an influence which is stronger than death. It is law, to our hearts, and binds us with a spell which neither time nor change can break; the darkest villainies which have disgraced humanity cannot neutralize it. Gray-haired and demon guilt will make his dismal cell the sacred urn of tears wept over the memories of home, and these will soften and melt into tears of penitence even the heart of adamant.
Ask the little child what is home? You will find that to him it is the world—he knows no other. The father's love, the mother's` smile, the sister's embrace, the brother's welcome, throw about his home a heavenly halo, and make it as attractive to him as the home of the angels. Home is the spot where the child pours out all its complaints, and it is the grave of all its sorrows. Childhood has its sorrows and its grievances, but home is the place where these are soothed and banished by the sweet lullaby of a fond mother's voice.
Was paradise an abode of purity and peace? or will the New Eden above be one of unmingled beatitude? Then " the Paradise of Childhood," " the Eden of Home," are names applied to the family abode. In that paradise, all may appear as smiling and serene to childhood as the untainted garden did to unfallen man; even the remembrance of it, amid distant scenes of woe, has soothed some of the saddest hours of life, and crowds of mourners have spoken of
"A home, that paradise below
There childhood nestles like a bird which has built its abode among roses; there the cares and the coldness of earth are, as long as possible, averted. Flowers there bloom, or fruits invite on every side, and there paradise would indeed he restored, could mortal power ward off the consequences of sin. This new garden of the Lord would then abound in beauty unsullied, and trees of the Lord's planting, bearing fruit to his glory, would be found in plenty there—it would be reality, and not mere poetry, to speak of
" My own dear quiet home,
Home of my childhood! What words fall upon the ear with so much of music in their cadence as those which recall the scenes of innocent and happy child-hood, now numbered with the memories of the past! How fond recollection delights to dwell upon the events which marked our early pathway, when the unbroken home-circle presented a scene of loveliness vainly sought but in the bosom of a happy family! Intervening years have not dimmed the vivid coloring with which memory has adorned those joyous hours of youthful innocence. We are again borne on the wings of imagination to the place made, sacred by the remembrance of a father's care, a mother's love, and the cherished associations of _brothers and sisters.
Home ! how often we hear persons speak of the home of their childhood. Their minds seem to delight in dwelling upon the recollections of joyous days spent beneath the parental roof, when their young and happy hearts were as light and free as the birds who made the woods resound with the melody of their cheerful voices. What a blessing it is, when weary with care and burdened with sorrow, to have a home to which we can go and there, in the midst of friends we love, forget our troubles and dwell in peace and quietness.
There is no happiness in life, there is no misery like that growing out of the dispositions which consecrate or desecrate a home. Peace at home, that is the boon. " He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home." Home should be made so truly home that the weary tempted heart could turn toward it any where on the dusty highway of life and receive light and strength. Should be the sacred refuge of our lives, whether rich or poor. The affections and loves of home are graceful things, especially among the poor. The ties, that bind the wealthy and the proud to home may be forged on earth, but those which link the poor man to his humble hearth are of the true metal and bear the stamp of heaven. These affections and loves constitute the poetry of human life, and, so far as our present existence is concerned with all the domestic relations, are worth more than all other social ties. They give the first throb to the heart and unseal the deep fountains of its love. Home is the chief school of human virtue. Its responsibilities, joys, sorrows, smiles, tears, hopes, and solicitudes form the chief interest of human life.
There is nothing in the world which is so venerable as the character of parents; nothing so intimate and endearing as the relation of husband and wife; nothing so tender as that of children; nothing so lovely as those of brothers and sisters. The little circle is made one by a singular union of the affections. The only fountain in the wilderness of life, where man drinks of water totally unmixed with bitter ingredients, is that which gushes for him in the calm and shady recess of domes-tic life. Pleasure may heat the heart with artificial excitement, ambition may delude it with golden dreams, war may eradicate its fine fibres and diminish its sensitiveness, but it is only domestic love that can render it truly happy.
Even as the sunbeam is composed of millions of minute rays, the home life must be constituted of little tendernesses, kind looks, sweet laughter, gentle words, loving counsels; it must not be like the torch-blaze of natural excitement which is easily quenched, but like the serene, chastened light which burns as safely in the dry east wind as in the stillest atmosphere. Let each bear the other's burden the while—let each cultivate the mutual confidence which is a gift capable of increase and improvement—and soon it will be found that kindliness will spring up on every side, displacing constitutional unsuitability, want of mutual knowledge, even as we have seen sweet violets and primroses dispelling the gloom of the gray sea-rocks.
There is nothing on earth so beautiful as the house-hold on which Christian love forever smiles, and where religion walks a counselor and a friend. No cloud can darken it, for its twin-stars are centered in the soul. No storms can make it tremble, for it has a heavenly support and a heavenly anchor.
Home is a place of refuge. Tossed day by day upon the rough and stormy ocean of life—harassed by worldly cares, and perplexed by worldly inquietudes, the weary spirit yearns after repose. It seeks and finds it in the refuge which home supplies. Here the mind is at rest; the heart's turmoil becômes quiet, and the spirit basks in the peaceful delights of domes-tic love.
Yes, home is a place of rest—we feel it so when we seek and enter it after the busy cares and trials of the day are over. We may find joy elsewhere, but it is not the joy —the satisfaction of home. Of the former the heart may soon tire; of the latter, never. In the former there is much of cold formality; much heartlessness under the garb of friendship, but in the latter it is all heart--all friendship of the purest, truest character.
The road along which the man of business travels in pursuit of competence or wealth is not a Macadamized one, nor does it ordinarily lead through pleasant scenes and by well-springs of delight. On the contrary, it is a rough and rugged path, beset with "wait-a-bit"thorns and full of pit-falls, which can only be avoided by the watchful care of circumspection. After every day's journey over this worse than rough turnpike road, the wayfarer needs something more than rest; he requires solace, and he deserves it. He is weary of the dull prose of life, and athirst for the poetry. Happy is the business man who can find that solace and that poetry at home. Warm greetings from loving hearts, fond glances from bright eyes, the welcome shouts of children, the many thousand little arrangements for our comfort and enjoyment that silently tell of thoughtful and expectant love, the gentle ministrations that disencumber us into an old and easy seat before we are aware of it, these and like tokens of affection and sympathy constitute the poetry which reconciles us to the prose of life. Think of this, ye wives and daughters of business men! Think of the toils, the anxieties, the mortification, and wear that fathers undergo to secure for you comfortable homes, and, compensate them for their trials by making them happy by their own firesides.
Is it not true, that much of a man's energy and success, as well as happiness, depends upon the character of his home? Secure there, he goes forth bravely to encounter the trials of life. It encourages him, to think of his pleasant home. It is his point of rest. The thought of a dear wife shortens the distance of a journey, and alleviates the harassings of business. It is a reserved power to fall back upon. Home and home friends! How dear they are to us all! Well might we love to linger on the picture of home friends! When all other friends prove false, home friends, removed from every bias but love, are the steadfast and sure stays of our peace of soul,—are best and dearest when the hour is darkest and the danger of evil the greatest. But if one have none to care for him at home,—if there be neglect, or love of absence, or coldness, in our home and on our hearth, then, even if we prosper without, it is dark indeed within! It is not seldom that we can trace alienation and dissipation to this source. If no wife or sister care for him who returns from his toil, well may he despair of life's best blessings. Home is nothing but a name without home friends.
The sweetest type of heaven is home—nay, heaven itself is the home for whose acquisition we are to strive the most strongly. Home, in one form and another, is the great object of life. It stands at the end of every day's labor, and beckons us to its bosom; and life would be cheerless and meaningless did we not discern across the river that divides it from the life beyond, glimpses of the pleasant mansions prepared for us.
Heaven! that land of quiet rest —toward which those, who, worn down and tired with the toils of earth, direct their frail barks over the troubled waters of life, and after a long and dangerous passage, find it—safe in the haven of eternal bliss. Heaven is the home that awaits us beyond the grave. There the friendships formed on earth, and which cruel death has severed, are never more to be broken; and parted friends shall meet again, never more to be separated.
It is an inspiring hope that, when we separate here on earth at the summons of death's angel, and when a few more years have rolled over the heads of those remaining, if "faithful unto death," we shall meet again in heaven, our eternal home, there to dwell in the presence of our heavenly Father, and go no more out for-ever.
At the best estate, my friends, we are only pilgrims and strangers. Heaven is to be our eternal home. Death will never knock at the door of that mansion, and in all that land there will not be a single grave.
Aged parents rejoice very much ,when on Christmas Day or Thanksgiving Day they have their children at home; but there is almost always a son or a daughter absent—absent from the country, perhaps absent from the world. But Oh, how our Heavenly Father will rejoice in the long thanksgiving day of heaven, when He has all His children with Him in glory! How glad brothers and sisters will be to meet after so long a separation! Perhaps a score of years ago they parted at the door of the tomb. Now they meet again at the door of immortality. Once they looked through a glass darkly. Now, face to face, corruption, incorruption—mortality, immortality. Where are now all their sorrows and temptations and trials? Overwhelmed in the Red Sea of death, while they, dry-shod, marched into glory. Gates of jasper, capstone of amethyst. thrones of dominion do not so much affect my soul as then thought of home. Once there, let earthly sorrows howl like storms and roll like seas. Home! Let thrones rot and empires wither. Home ! Let the world die in earthquake struggles and be buried amid procession of planets and dirge of spheres. Home ! Let everlasting ages roll in irresistible sweep. Home ! No sorrow, no crying, no tears, no death; but home ! sweet home ! Beautiful home! Glorious home ! Everlasting home ! Home with each other! Home with angels ! Home with God! Home, Home! Through the rich grace of Christ Jesus, may we all reach it.