The Strength Of A Nation Stems From The Home
By George R. Stuart (1857 – 1926)
The longer I live, the more I visit from home to home, the more I see of the sorrows and cares, the successes and failures of this life, the more I am impressed that the home problem is the greatest problem of our civilization. From the proper or improper settlement of the home question comes more of joy or sorrow, more of weal or woe than from all other questions combined.
Around the home circle of the cottage or the palace are greater possibilities of joy or sorrow than in all the rest of the world. Not only does the happiness of the world center in the home but the moral, social, and civil life of the world emanates from the home.
Every man steps from the home door into the social, moral, and civil world. What he is upon the home step he will be in the field of life.
The Home of a Nation
Henry Grady, the brilliant Georgia orator, tells us where he found the home of his country. As he stood in Washington and looked upon the Capitol for the first time, tears came to his eyes and he said to himself: “Here is the home of my nation. That building is the official home of the greatest nation God’s eye ever saw.”
A few weeks later, after spending the night in an old-fashioned country home, where the noble Christian father read from the Bible and knelt with his children around the family altar; and after having associated for a day and night with the manly Christian man and the noble Christian woman in this old-fashioned Christian home, he said:
“I was mistaken in Washington; that pile of marble, magnificent as it is, is not the home of my country, but here in these country homes are reared the men and women of my country.”
These homes give us our men and women. Brick and marble do not make a country; men and women make a country.
God Starts a Nation
When God Himself would start a nation, He made the home life the deciding question, and selected Abraham as the foundation. God chose Abraham on the grounds set forth in Genesis 18:19 – “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.”
God’s ideal nation starts with the home, with the father of the home walking in the ways of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, and his children and his household following after him.
The two central ideas of the home life expressed in this text are the fundamental ideas of a successful home and national life.
Home authority and home example are expressed in the words, “He will command his children and his household after him.” The ten years I spent as a schoolteacher, where from the log schoolhouse in the mountains to the boarding college of the towns, I met every class and condition of children – where I learned the great truth of this text, that home authority and home example settle the great question of life and character.
The years spent as a Methodist preacher, visiting from house to house, and the years spent in traveling over this great country of ours, have only furnished illustrations on every hand in proof of the fact that neither the law nor the Gospel can make a Christian nation without the help of home authority and home example.
Anarchy is not born in mob demonstrations; outlawism is not born in street gangs. The question of obedience to law is settled in childhood. The child who does not obey his father and mother will obey neither social, civil nor divine laws.
When God said, “Children, obey your parents” (Eph. 6:1), He told the world where obedience originates.
The most dangerous sign of the times is the neglect of home life and the growing disrespect of children for parents.
A little six-year-old boy can scream and stamp and boss a household, postpone a trip, change a program, and bring father and mother to his terms.
I was in a home sometime ago where a father asked a little six-year-old child to shut the door. She replied: “I won’t do it.”
He said: “Poor daddy will have to shut it himself.”
She replied: “I don’t care; I won’t.”
And I saw “poor daddy” get up and shut the door. Having been an old schoolteacher, I wanted to borrow that child for about fifteen minutes; but upon mature reflection I decided that her father was the fellow that needed lending.
A lady once heard me tell this incident. Her little boy was present. She asked him on their return home if he had heard the incident. He replied, “Yes, Mamma.” She asked him what the little girl needed, supposing that he would answer, “A whipping”; but the little philosopher replied, “She needed a daddy.”
The need of the world today, in the vernacular of that child, is some first-class daddies and mammas.
The learning of the academy, the college, the university may fade from the mind, but the simple lessons of home defy years and live on. The words of a mother make deeper impressions than any other words that touch our childhood.
Solid Piety and Wholesome Authority
When solid piety and wholesome authority go hand in hand, obedient and pious children follow. Example and authority go together. God knew that Abraham would command his children after him.
How many a wayward boy all over the country might be saved by the proper combination of wholesome authority and a godly example! Our children are turned out on the streets of the cities, and God only knows where they go and what they do. The boys and girls in this country are like Tennessee oats in dry weather – they “head” too soon. Girls are women at thirteen, the boys are men at fifteen.
I wish, while our moral atmosphere is literally full of hawks of hell, that our mothers and fathers would keep their children close under the parental wing and shield them from the temptations of the evil one.
Mrs. Susanna Wesley, who gave to the world such a noble family, the lives of whom will bless the world for generations to come, heeded the command of God in the rearing of her nineteen children. Her first step, she says, was to get complete control of the child. How that is done I cannot tell you. I wish I could give an unerring rule, but the rule differs with the disposition of the child. One thing is true: authority is necessary. Take the child and the problem to God; but as you love your child and fear your God, secure his/her obedience to your authority.
My Own Mother
I am profoundly thankful above all things for the fact that I have a good mother – a mother who, when she said, “George, you shall not,” saw that I did not. If I did, then she did. I owe all that I am morally and religiously, to the authority of a good mother....
Fathers and mothers, hear me! Little children are looking up into your faces, asking which way to go. They are following your footsteps. Do not lead them wrong. God help you, stop tonight. Gather your little ones into your arms and turn your back on sin and your face toward God.