Page images

of such servants is punished by the sloth or dishonesty of these very dependants; and thus, too, the Almighty chastises righteously, the master's or mistress's neglect of his assistance, and contempt of his honor, by the inevitable consequences; for so, it seems, it not only is, but so it must be. Yes, servants, though unwittingly, will take a speedy revenge, if their masters consider Christianity and the fear of God as forming no part of the obligation between themselves and their domestics. Not only will they perplex, but, it may be, defraud those who have deprived them, by their neglect of family worship and family instruction, of the only principles which can produce a sense of duty. As soon might they hope for the labor of these servants, without allowing them food and wages, as expect integrity and interest in their families, without taking any steps to implant or promote the principles of either.

It has been justly remarked, that “all authority over others is, in fact, a talent with which we are intrusted,”? for their benefit as well as our own; and so the discharge of our duty to them is only, in other words, securing our own interest as well as theirs. This, however, is especially manifest in the case of servants dwelling under our roof, as members of the same family. There, by how much our care over the souls of our servants contributes to their knowledge of God and themselves, so far have we secured their conscientious regard to our interests, and furnished them with principles which will not only augment the stock of domestic happiness, but certainly contribute towards the divine favor resting on our dwelling, as well as on all that we possess. Thus, then, is the fear of God, in master and servant, found to be at once the only foundation of relative duty, and the only effectual security for the discharge of it.

This connection, in short, once formed between master and servant, and reciprocal duties implied in it, the duty and the care of a master is no longer optional, any more than a parent's duty to his children, and his care over them. Duty and care are imposed upon us by God, and they rise out of the very relation in which we stand to our servants.

SUPERIOR AND INFERIOR SERVANT.-Independently, however, of the connection between master and servant, there is one of no small moment between the servants themselves, which must not be forgotten. In a large family, wherever there are more than two servants, instead of their forming, as with many, a separate and separated community, they should form, though in some sense a distinct, yet an intimate branch of but one family. If they do so, the connection between the servants themselves will not be neglected. This is the more necessary, from the system of tyranny, among servants in a large family, which proceeds occasionally to great excess, unknown to the master. Let not such a man feel surprised, if he is informed, that, without the slightest occasion for it, there dwells under the same roof with himself, one human being, perhaps more, who is degraded into a mere fag, and drags out a miserable existence. The blame is his. Insight is incumbent, and access to him, at certain periods, should be open to all. True, subordination is absolutely necessary to domestic happiness : a general principle of deference from the inferior to the superior, analogous to that among children from the younger to the elder, must exist; but to the superior servant say, “ So live with your inferior, as you would wish your superior to live with you.” The size of the establishment is here no apology; for the task, far from being insuperable, is, in the end, its own reward, and brings along with it many gratifications. The late King of Great Britain, in his own

family, is said to have been most exemplary in this duty, to the great benefit of his domestic servants. There are, indeed, many men, and even men of war, who have excelled in it. They have compared their army to a family, and, acting accordingly, have shown to us the duties incumbent on its master. Witness the behavior of the late Emperor of the French, when proceeding on his fatal expedition into Russia. Napoleon's inspections then were frequent and systematic. “He overlooked not even the youngest soldier; it seemed as if every thing which concerned them was to him a matter of deep interest. He interrogated them. Did their captain take care of them! Had they received their pay? Were they in want of any requisite ? He wished to see their knapsack-in short, all particularities which delighted the soldier. They told each one how Napoleon occupied himself with their minutest details, and that they composed his oldest and real family. If he happened to meet with convoys of wounded, he stopped them, informed himself of their condition, of their sufferings, of the action in which they had been connected, and never quitted them without consoling them by his words, or making them partakers of his bounty. On his guard, he bestowed particular attention: he himself daily reviewing some part of them, lavishing commendation, and sometimes blame ; but the latter seldom fell on any but the administrators."'*

What an example! yet what a melancholy misapplication of talents! And the crowning misery is, “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” But let the master of a family proceed on similar principles; instead of leading those under him to ruin, both children and servants may, by him, as an instrument, not only be prepared for enjoying this life, but be conducted to immortality.

* Segur.

ServANTS AND CHILDREN.-By many parents this is a connection which they most of all overlook : it is indeed one to which many have scarcely ever adverted; whilst others, from a haughty and childish, not to say mean regard to the distinctions of rank, will not condescend to study it. Provided that the children are kept clean and neat ; if the servants also speak kindly to them in their parents' presence, and seem to entertain some degree of affection for them, nothing more is thought of. But of what principles are these servants? Have you calculated how they will or may act when out of your sight? Is it not worthy of some reflection, for what end persons of an inferior station in society should have been brought home to dwell, of necessity, in such close contact with your children? You well know, that, through a very slight failure in only one point of administration or government, mischief may be generated, which another day will sap the foundations of the whole fabric. So it certainly may be with a family: while the master is going on from day to day, during the infancy of his children, heedlessly saying, that “ business must be attended to," or, “I cannot attend to every little thing.” But surely the connection between servant and child can be of no inferior importance, when consequences so fatal to your future peace and your children's benefit are involved in it. By the unprincipled language, the deceitful or improper conduct of only a single servant, has an immoral pestilence or plague been introduced into many a family; the effects of which have continued to molest long after the servant was gone, or perhaps dead. And where is the safeguard against such an evil to be found, if it is not in the principles of parents; in their conscientious proceedings when choosing servants in the first instance, and their superintendence afterwards ? Think not, parents, of the kitchen, the laundry, the parlor, the table, or the manner only, in all cases—think of the children too; and remember, that, with these servants, or at least some of them, your children must of necessity come frequently in contact.

There was one man of whom you have heard, who, though a King upon the throne, thought not such a subject below his notice. “Mine eyes,” said he, “shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me. He that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me: he that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.” Were the heads of families to act on similar principles, not only would they secure the blessing of God on their family, but prevent much evil in the church of God. This high end, among others, David had in view ; for this was, in fact, one branch of his instrumentality, when resolving to cut off “all wicked doers from the city of the Lord.So, in modern times, the character and conduct of unprincipled servants being so treated, would effectually prevent their being received into church-fellowship, or would prove the happy key to their being expelled from it.

To return, however, to the nursery, or rather the domestic roof-observe only, that these servants are, in truth, the first individuals, taken from the great body of civil society, with whom your children are one day to mingle and converse, and their connection with them is the first link of their connection with it. At this safe and early period, under your own eye, and in miniature, you have an opportunity of ascertaining how they are likely to conduct themselves in the wide world afterwards. Here, if your servants are persons of character, is the first little enclosure which will afford you a marked display either of the amiable or corrupt dispositions of your children. Now, for what end, need I ask, are these two parties thus

« PreviousContinue »