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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

The child's head will be pillowed upon discord


and the home influence depends

upon the relations between father and mother. Unless there is on both sides respect first, and then love, such love as brings an all-embracing sympathy, and so an outer and inner harmony,--harmony between life and its laws and harmony between heart and heart,--the child's head will be pillowed upon discord, his cradle will be rocked by restlessness, and his character can hardly fail to be unsymmetrical. We have all seen the wickedness of man, that it is great in the earth; but why should it not be, when he is conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity; when his plastic soul is moulded amid jarring elements, and the voices that fall upon his infant ear--voices that should be modulated only to tenderness and love, and all the sweet and endearing qualities--are sharpened by coldness, embittered by disappointment, shrill through unremitting toil and rough with sordid ambitions? I only wonder that children bred up in such uncongenial homes come to be so much men and women as they are. No outbreak of treachery or turpitude astonishes me, when I remember the discordant circumstances into the midst of which the baby-soul was born. The only astonishment is, that every soul tends so strongly towards its original type as to have even an outer seeming of virtue. I wonder that, when the twig is so ruthlessly and persistently bent, the tree should reach up ever so crookedly towards heaven. Kind Nature takes her poor warped little ones, and with gentle, imperceptible hand touches them to a grace
and softness which we have no right to expect, but to never that divine grace, that ineffable sweetness, of which the human soul is capable, and to which in its highest moods it ever yearns. O, if this one truth could be imprinted upon this age,--the one truth that the regeneration of the world is to come through love,--what hope could one not see for the future! God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, and henceforth there is no more offering for sin. It only remains for us to enter into the holiest by this new and living way which he hath consecrated for us. The offering of Divine love is complete. Let human love come in to do its part, and the human soul shall be sanctified from its birth. When clamor and wrath and evil-speaking and evil-feeling are banished from the household hearth, murder and plunder and lust will fly from the public ways. When the child is the child of mutual love and trust and reverence and wisdom, he will never belie his parentage.

We give to the dead their honors,--meet homage for the dust that shrined a soul. All passion is hushed, all pettiness vanishes in the presence of the dread mystery. But there is a mystery more dread, a mystery to which death is but as the sunshine for clearness,--the only sunshine which lights up its hidden labyrinths. It is the inexplicable secret of life. Fear not before the power which kills the body, but is not able to kill the soul. Stand in awe before that Power which can evoke both soul and body from nothingness into everlasting life. Death does but mark the accomplishment of one stage in a journey, with whose inception we had nothing to do. It is but a necessary change of carriage at some relay-house,--an involuntary and inevitable event in which we are but interested spectators or passive participants. But whether the Spirit shall set out on its journey at all, and what shall be the manner of its going, what its sustenance by the way, and what the light upon its path,--these are matters for concern; for these involve the weightiest responsibilities which man can bear. To fashion an infinite soul and send it forth upon an infinite career,--infinite susceptibilities laid open to the touch of infinite sorrow,--oh! to him who has ever faced the facts of being,--not death, not death, but this irrevocable gift of life, is the one solemnity, the awful sacrament!


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