(Excerpted in full from "Biblical Motherhood” by
Rosalie J. Slater, The Journal II, FACE, 1990, pp. 73, 74.)
Lydia Sigourney, an American
Christian mother, describes the role of motherhood in her Letters to Young Ladies, and in her Letters to Mothers. In her
Preface to the latter volume she writes:
"You are sitting with your child in your arms. So am I.
And I have never been as happy before.
Have you? How this new affection
seems to spread a soft fresh green over the soul. Does not the whole heart blossom thick with
plants of hope, sparkling with perpetual dewdrops? What a loss, had we passed through the world
without tasting this purest, most exquisite fount of love.
"Now, how shall we bring up the babe, which Heaven hath lent us? Great need have we to repeat the question of
the father of Samson, to the angel who announced his birth, ‘how shall we order
the child?’ Surely, we shall unite with fervour in his supplication to the
father of Angels, ‘teach us what we shall do unto the child.’
"Are you a novice? I am one also.
Let us learn together. The
culture of young minds, in their more advanced stages, has indeed been
entrusted to me, and I have loved the office.
But never before, have I been so blest, as to nurture the infant, when
as a germ quickened by Spring, it opens the folding doors of its little heart,
and puts forth the thought, the preference, the affection, like filmy radicles
or timid tendrils, seeking where to twine.
"Ah! how much have we to learn,
that we may bring this beautiful and mysterious creature, to the light of
knowledge, the perfect bliss of immortality!
Hath any being on earth, a charge more fearfully important than that of
the Mother? God help us to be faithful, in
proportion to the immensity of our trust.
"The soul, the soul of the babe, whose life is nourished by our
own! Every trace that we grave upon it,
will stand forth at the judgment, when the ‘books are opened.’ Every waste-place, which we leave through
neglect, will frown upon us, as an abyss, when the mountains fall, and the skies
shrivel like a scroll. Wherever we go,
let us wear as a signet-ring, ‘the child!
the child!’ Amid all the musick of
life, let this ever be the key-tone, ‘the soul of our child.’” [Sigourney, Letters to Mothers, pp. vii-viii;
Hall-Slater Library Collection.]
the opening words of Lydia Sigourney set the tone for the quality of her
reasoning with mothers upon the life subject of educating and guiding the
development of our children. Through her
consideration of many subjects we sense the tender spiritual and moral concern
that she is addressing. In her chapter
titled "Early Culture,” she gives counsel and direction:
"Mothers, take into your own hands, the
early instruction of your children.
Commence with simple stories from the Scriptures, from the varied annal
of history, from your own observation of mankind. Let each illustrate some moral or religious
truth, adapted to convey instruction, reproof or encouragement, according to
your knowledge of the character and disposition of your beloved students….
"Cultivate in your children,
tenderness of conscience, a deep sense of accountability to God, a conviction
that their conduct must be regulated by duty, and not by impulse…. Give one
hour every morning, to the instruction of your children, one undivided hour to
them alone…. Review what has been learned throughout the day, recall its deeds,
its faults, its sorrows, its blessings, to deepen the great lessons of God’s
goodness and forebearance, or to soothe the little heart into sweet peace with Him
and all the world, ere the eyes close in slumber. [Sigourney, Letters to Mothers, pp. 91-92.]
all early mothers of our Republic, Lydia Sigourney knew that motherhood in America
was critical to the development of a character
to support Christian self-government.
So her teachings always recalled mothers of America, even as the Scriptures
recall to us the mothers of Israel, to their accountability to all who
entrusted them with the education of their children.
"And now, Guardians of Education, whether
parents, preceptors, or legislators—you who have so generously lavished on
woman the means of knowledge—complete your bounty by urging her to gather its treasures with a tireless hand. Demand of her as a debt the highest
excellence which she is capable of attaining.
Summon her to abandon selfish motives and inglorious ease. Incite her to those virtues which promote the
permanence and health of nations. Make
her accountable for the character of the next generation. Give her solemn charge in the presence of men
and angels. Gird her with the whole
armour of education and piety, and see if she be not faithful to her children,
to her country, and to her God.
". . . For the strength of a
nation, especially of a republican nation, is in the intelligent and
well-ordered homes of the people. And in
proportion as the discipline of families is relaxed, will the happy
organization of communities be affected, and national character become vagrant,
turbulent, or ripe for revolution.” [Sigourney, Letters to Young Ladies, as quoted in Verna Hall’s, Christian History, Vol. I, p. 410].
Look forward to the release of Lydia Sigourney’s Letters to Mothers to be
reprinted by FACE later this year. You’ll
want to own this reprinted treasure and gift it to all the women and mothers you know to promote and restore "the intelligent and well-ordered homes" of America through Biblical womanhood and motherhood.