« FöregåendeFortsätt »
be found any which answer this description : but our clergy do not sufficiently consider that compositions calculated for the pulpit, are not always adapted for the purposes above specified. In our opinion, Family Sermons ought to be short, plain, pious, and practical. They should not tire by length, nor perplex by profundity. The plain truths of the Christian religion, the social and personal virtues, should be their subjects, and these should be treated with a view to practical application, rather than to learned explanation.
"Our modern sermons are considerably shorter than those of the last age, but they are still too long for domestic use. Children and servants are soon tired of listening to admonitions ; and when languor prevails the mind ceases to be in a proper state to receive instruction. Above all things, therefore, he who composes Family Sermons, should avoid prolixity and dry argumentation. He should endeavour to put himself in the situation of a sensible and well-disposed master of a family ; who wishes to embrace the opportunity afforded on the Sunday evening, of inculcating on those under his care and authority, the lessons of religion and virtue. Such a man, in making such an attempt, would select no subject of controversy, would discover no desire of display, but would strive with all brevity, affectionately and piously to address their plain understandings, consciences, and feelings."
The author has inserted this paragraph, because there is such a remarkable coincidence of reflection, and because by such an authority he would strengthen his own opinion. He apprehends there is only one article in which the work now introduced will be found to differ from the plan re
commended above. And it is this. He has brought forward, sometimes more fully and distinctly, and oftener still by connexion and implication, subjects which the conductors of this celebrated review may consider as too much partaking of the controversial, and speculative, which they would entirely exclude from such a perform
But the author is satisfied, not only of the truth, but of the importance of these doctrines : he has seen their beneficial influence particularly exemplified; and he is persuaded the inculcation of them is necessary to ministerial usefulness. And as he has written from conviction, and has delivered himself without censoriousness, he expects from impartiality, the same candour with which, notwithstanding difference of sentiment, his former works have been received.
MASTERS OF FAMILIES.
MASTERS OF FAMILIES,
You have often heard, and perhaps always admired the resolution of Joshua. He had gathered all Israel together in Shechem, and thus addressed them : If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose ye this day whom ye
serve; whether the gods which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell : but, as for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord. This determination derives a considerable force from the person who forms it. It was Joshua. But who was Joshua ? A soldier, a hero, a commander-in-chief of the armies of the living God; the governor of Israel; the principal man in the state. He it was, who, in the presence of an assembled country, was not ashamed to say, as for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord.
And does religion degrade talents, tarnish dignity, disparage greatness? It ennobles titles, and adds lustre to a crown. Are they only the vulgar, the foolish, the dastardly, who profess to ac
knowledge God? God has been served by persons of all ranks, and of all distinctions. In every age of the world, some of the wise, the mighty, the noble have been called. And nowhere does religion shine to more advantage, than in circumstances of elevation. Nothing is more pleasing, than to see a combination of greatness and goodness in the same character. And nothing can be more useful. The higher classes have more opportunities and capacities for doing good than others. They are like a city set upon a hillthey cannot be hid—they are widely visible. Their influence is extensive and powerful. Their example not only regulates manners, but morals : for, it would be easy to prove that morals, equally with fashions, work downward—from superiors to inferiors. If the great distinguish themselves by the profession of the truth, the worship of God, the practice of virtue, they will be sure to draw others after them. Whereas, if they are infidel, irreligious, vicious, they are infected fountains, poisoning the multitude that drink of the streams, and spreading mischief all around.
Observe, also, the independence with which the determination is expressed. Joshua was by no means indifferent to the welfare of others. He wished all who heard him to choose the God he had chosen, and serve the God he served. But he cannot allow himself to be influenced by them. If they will not follow him, he resolves to go alone. “ O ye seed of Abraham, if you forsake him—which God forbid—not I. If you will not cleave to him, I will; and, if there were no individual in the nation, or in the world, to accompany me, I would say as I now domas for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord.”