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PEETY IN THE FAMILY CIRCLE.
237 yet honour it not by their conduct, they contribute in a dreadful degree to harden their own children or nearest relatives against the truth. Few are so hardened, as well as so careless, as the children of those professors of religion that dis
play not piety at home. It is far better to be the child of a - profligate, than the child of an inconsistent professor of the
gospel. The child of a profligate, however nursed up in vice, is not hardened against the gospel, by seeing his parents profess it with their lips, but disregard it in their life; and thus, by being continually taught at home, to believe all religion hypocrisy. Hence there is more hope of the conversion of a profligate's child, than of the child of unholy professors of the gospel.
The effects of professing religion without displaying piety at home, are thus awful and dreadful in the extreme. Some years ago an aged minister mentioned to me a painful fact. In early life he spent some years under the roof of a person who was a popular preacher of the gospel, and who was the instrument of awakening many from a state of carelessness and sin. But while thus successful abroad in turning many to righteousness, at home he displayed little of the influence of religion. Family prayer was seldom or never practised in his house. He gave way to harsh and violent tempers. He had six children ; but alas ! there was not reason to believe, that even one of them became a follower of the Saviour. They went on, driven as it were to perdition by their father's unholy conduct. On one occasion, when the writer had preached in a populous village, on displaying religion in the
family, a respectable friend afterwards spoke of the import} ance of the subject, and uttered a sentiment to the following
effect: That he could forfeit his life if he did not prove that the worst families, and the worst individuals, in the parish, were the children of persons that had professed religion. The writer mentioned this sentiment to a minister in another populous village in Derbyshire, and he asserted that in that village the same observation would hold good. Thus it is that persons, who profess religion, but do not honour it, in their own families, entail on their friends or their children hardness of heart, and profligacy or infidelity in this world, and eternal enmity to God and endless damnation in the world which
is to come.
MOTIVES FOR PROMOTING $9. How will relatives meet the relatives their unholy conduct has ruined ! how will unholy parents meet their injured children, at the tremendous bar of final judgment! A pious writer observes, “ Who has so much to dread in the prospects of judgment, as the parent, whose child may rise up, and, addressing the Judge, may say, 'Lord ! this father, this mo. ther, of mine, never warned me of this day; or warned me with so little solicitude, that I thought the danger could not be great. Hence I followed the multitude to do evil, and neglected my everlasting interests till I find it now proves too late. But ah, Lord ! are there no mitigating circumstances in my case? If I had been faithfully warned and entreatedif an anxiety similar to what was felt when my body was in danger, had been manifested towards my soul, surely I should not have been in these circumstances. O Lord ! it is, in a great measure, chargeable upon my father, upon my mother, who conversed with me upon every subject except my soul, that I am now doomed to hear the sentence, Depart, thou cursed.' "*
Every motive that affection can urge, should lead you to labour and pray to promote the best interests of those with whom you are connected in the strongest ties of nature. Else, if you enjoy religion and they are strangers to it, how soon a day of dreadful and eternal separation will arrive! Ah, in that day friends, united here in nature's strongest, dearest ties, but not united in the ties of grace, must part asunder to meet no more for ever. Families that once met around the same hearth, sat around the same table, and passed the best and happiest years of life beneath the same roof, must separate to an infinite and eternal distance. One part rising high in glory in the blissful climes of heaven, the other sunk deep in eternal despair in the pit of fire and woe. The parents in heaven, and their once beloved children in hell; or, perhaps, the children welcomed by the Judge of all to life and bliss, and their unholy, unhappy parents doomed to all the horrors of eternal night. Brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, here much and mutually beloved, when they leave this world must frequently separate for ever. One crowned with glory will join the family of the first-born, the other sink beneath a load of unforgiven sin to. misery and despair. They PIETY IN THE FAMILY CIRCLE.
* Ward's Sermon on the Design of the Death of Christ.
239 who once were united in such fond attachment, now united no more. They part, and part for ever. They pursued their journey in union through the little span of time, but now, while some exult in all the light, and love, and joy of life eternal, their once beloved associates, swept into the gulf of perdition, feel nothing but guilt, remorse, despair, and wretchedness; and anticipate not one bright moment in the dreary ages of an eternal night. O, my friend, can you bear the thought of such a separation between yourself and those you hold
most dear ? Do you not tremble at the idea of so dismal a 2° parting from the child you tenderly love ? or the dear parent
you revere ? or the brothers or sisters, who have been the afÈ fectionate companions of your youthful hours ? or the hus
band, or the wife, that is now the fond soother of your care ?
Yet, if you are devoted to Jesus, and they are not, it must come. s How should the dreadful idea add fervour to your prayers,
and life to your endeavours, to snatch them as brands from the burning! But perhaps they are consecrated to the Saviour, and you are not. O can you bear to be the wretched outcast ? to see your child, or your parent, your brother, or your sister, your husband, or your wife, ascend to heaven, while you, with a broken heart, look after them in vain ? to see them rise to glory and eternal life, while you sink to darkness, mis sery, and despair? If the thought is dreadful, what will be the reality? Flee from the dreadful heart-breaking woe, and make their God and Father yours.*
* Perhaps a brief but impressive narrative may add force to these remarks. “I have known," said a pious father, “the grace of God for nearly thirty years;" but in spite of all my advice, my five sons and two daughters, all grown up, ran on in the broad way to destruction. This cost me many a prayer and tear; yet I saw no fruit of all my labours. In January last, I dreamed that the day of judgment was come. I saw the Judge on his great white throne, the holy angels sitting around him, and all nations gathered before him. I and my wife were on the right hand, but I could not see my children.
“I then thought that I must go and seek them; so I went to the left hand, and found them all standing together; tearing their hair, beating their breasts, and cursing the day that they were born. As soon as they saw me, they all caught hold of me, and said," O father! we will part no more !'-I said, 'My dear children, I am come to try, if possible, to get you out of this dismal situation.' So I took them all with me; but when we were come within a bowshot of the Judge, I thought he cast an angry look, and said, • What do thy children with thee now they would not take thy warning wher, upon earth : they shall not share the crown with thee. Depart, ye cursed!' At these words, I awoke, bathed in sweat and tears. A few days after this, as we were sitting altogether on a sabbath evening, I related my dream to them: no sooner did I begin, but first one, then another, yea, all of them, burst into tears; and God fastened conviction on their hearts. Five of them are now rejoicing in God their Saviour. I believe God is at work with the other two; so that I doubt not that he will give them also to my prayers.
to them: Fonto tears; and God their
240 FUTURE HAPPY MEETING OF A PIOUS FAMILY.
$ 10. How happy is that family where all, united in the Saviour's love, are travelling together to eternal life! What prayers, what labours of love will not such a prospect recompense! It is true, death will tear that family asunder, and snatch one by one, till all the once happy circle are snatched away ; yet they are cheered with the bright prospect of forming a family again, where adieus and farewells are a sound unknown. How sweet is their united devotion, when
“ Kneeling down to heaven's eternal King,
“ While circling time moves round in one eternal sphere.” How sweet will be their future union! O blessed day, when they who associated below, shall meet in realms above! Blessed day, when they who mingled sorrows here, shall meet to mingle raptures there! when they who shared together the trials of earth, shall share in sweeter union the triumphs of heaven! For ever safe! for ever and for ever blest! far from every evil ! far from every grief! No longer soothers of each other's woe, but partakers of each other's felicity ! Assaulted by temptation, afflicted by calamity, stained by sin, humbled by imperfection, alarmed by danger, never more! Security is their privilege, as happiness is their portion. The boisterous storms of time cannot follow them, sheltered safe from every storm. The blasts of affliction shall beat no more on their now peaceful home. The inroads of disease shall no more alarm, nor the assaults of death break their eternal union. The time for these things will be no longer. These began and ended in the field of mortal existence; but the peaceful mansions of the blest are for ever sheltered from them. Happy tranquillity, which nothing through eternal ages can disturb ! lasting harmony, which nothing can dissolve! delightful security, which nothing through eternity shall ever alarm! and happy, happy union, which shall continue unbroken, while the infinite periods of an eternal day are rolling for ever along! Blessed family! with what melody will they join the everlasting song, “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and
This good old saint, before he exchanged time for eternity, had the happi. ness of seeing the remainder of his children converted to the truth as it is in Jesus, and adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour, by useful lives."
INSTITUTION OF THE SABBATH. 241 riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto HIM that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the LAMB, for ever and ever!"
O, my friend, with such inducements, who that feels the Saviour's love, and true affection for his beloved connexions, would not wish to show piety at home!
ON THE SABBATH, AND ITS IMPROVEMENT.
§ 1. OF all the institutions designed by heavenly mercy to
promote the temporal and eternal welfare of mankind, there is no one of such immense importance, and productive of such immense benefits, as the sabbath. “Whereever the sabbath is not, there is no worship, no religion. Man forgets God, and God forsakes man." Where the sabbath is not regarded, man degenerates to a brute, a heathen, an infidel, or an atheist ; and hastens, with a rapid step, to the scene where he will bear all the character, and all the features, of a fiend. Where the sabbath is loved, venerated, and improved, peace smiles, hope blooms, piety matures and ripens, and the soul hastens onward to the period, when the sabbaths of time shall be exchanged for the long sabbath of eternity.
$ 2. God, at the beginning of time, appointed a sabbath. This solemn season for rest and religion he ordained should then be the seventh day. “ God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which Ġod created and made." There is reason to believe that this day was regarded as sacred by the patriarchs, and it is decisively clear, that it was esteemed holy be
(a) Gen. ii. 3.