« AnteriorContinuar »
will not a quarter of an hour, spent in prayer and praise to God, be likely to have the bappiest and moit falutary effect. It will recall your wandering thoughts and passions to the fupreme Good. It will revive in your breasts a pleafant remembrance of your obliga. tions, as a family, to the Father of mercies. It will put you in perfect good humour with one another, and send you to your several houses, and your reit, with easy minds, if not joyful hearts.
And now to this arrangement of circumstances, re. lative to family associations, we might oppose the irregularities too frequent on such occafions, and draw an argument from thence to enforce what we have been recommending. But I do not mean here to lead you into houses where gross immoralities are practised. Scenes of intemperance, lewdness, and profaneness, such as drew down the vengeance of Heaven upon the families of Job, Eli, Aaron, and others, are too painful to be held up to the view of a virtuous mind. And no person who has any regard to decency, will hesitate a moment to determine, whether the pleasures of an evening, spent in the manner we have recommended, are not far preferable to those of lawless mirth and dissipation.
But what I mean to observe is, that the little trifling amusements, mentioned above as proper for children, and very allowable on these occasions ; Mould not wholly engross the time of grown people. Such diverfions may for a while give pleasure, but is that pleasure comparable to the entertainment resulting from the rational amusements we have proposed? The freely discourfing on fubjecis civil, moral, and divine, is a manly, cheerful, and improving way of spending
cur Jeisure hours. Knowledge thus circulated, with
all the aid that variety of wit, imagination, and reafon E can give it, will entertain and enrich the whole com
pany; and the social affections hereby excited, will
enliven the animal spirits, and add a glow of real pleae sure to the heart. Every one will be delighted with : this gainful commerce, carry away with him the most
agreeable reflections, and impatiently with for the next return of these convivial meetings.
per DISCOURSE XII.
HEAVEN CONSIDERED AS A FAMILY.
Joan xiv. 2. In my Father's house are many mansions ; if it
were not so, I would have told you : I go to prepare a place for you. A MONG the many figures used in fcripture, to 11 represent the blessedness of heaven, none is more instructive and pleasing than that of a Family. Domestic connections are the first in nature, and if the duties resulting from them were rightly discharged, they would be productive of the noblest enjoyments. With the allistance, therefore, of this figure, we propose now to lead you into a contemplation on the joys of heaven ; and from thence to derive an argument in favour of those tempers and duties which have been lo largely explained and recommended in the preceding discourses. Now it will be necessary, at our entrance on this delightful subject, to present you with the picture of a family that approaches as near to perfection as possible. Such a picture we shall draw. Excuse me if the colouring is too high. We mean it Thould glow on the bosom of the beholder, and kindle there all the passions of admiration, delight, and rapture.
The family we have in our eye, (and I Aatter my. self more than one such family has existed in our world) were in affluent circumstances. Their habitation was neat, convenient, and elegant; it did honour to the skill of the architect, without offending the fimplicity of nature. The father was a wise, affectionate, good man; a fincere disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus, whose doctrine he professed, and whose example he followed. A rich treasure of knowledge he had acquired, and with it the happy art of communicating that knowledge to others, in a plain, easy, and pleasant manner. The welfare of those entrusted to bis care, lay near his heart, and the schemes he daily planned for promoting it, which originated in prudence and benevolence, succeeded to his wish. His fervent piety, like the precious ointment that ran down from the head of Aaron, to the skirts of his garment, diffused its sacred fragrance through all the house. The counsels of divine wisdom, which flow. ed like a filver stream from his lips, were sweetly mingled with the most pleasing expressions of paternal tenderness and love ; and his was the felicity to perfuade with greater energy by his example than his words.
The partner of his life, inexpressibly dear to him, had all the charms which virtue and religion could add to a form that commanded admiration and love. She was modell, prudent, and kind. Her happiness consisted in attaching the affectionis of her family to herself, and so disposing the affairs of it, as that har
HEAVEN CONSIDERED mony and cheerfulness should prevailthroughthe house; and the measures she took to this end were followed with the same success that crowned the generous offices of her husband. Nor was the less attentive than he to the duties she owed to God : her devotion was as fincere, though perhaps more rapturous than his. Such being the character of these amiable people, it is not to be wondered that they reigned fecurely in the affections of their domestics, and pofleffed an autho: rity over them, on all occasions cordially acknow. ledged, without their feeming to affert it. *. .**
Their children (for they had a numerous family) inherited the virtues of their parents, as well as a stri. king resemblance of their persons. While young they fondly' hung on the bofom of the mother, aiaply rewarding maternal attention and care, with the playful and endearing smiles of infant fimplicity.' Beauty bloomed in their countenances; and as the powers of reason expanded, the feeds of religion, which had been carefully sown in their breasts, fprung up under a divine influence, and promised a fair and joyful harveft. They knew, they felt, they acknowledged their ignorance, guilt, and depravity, and looked for pardon and eternal life through the mediation and grace of the Lord Jesus Chrit. Each step they advanced tosvards manhood, furnished some pleasing proof of their progress in knowledge, purity, and benevolence. Filial obedience was their delight, and when a temptation to undutifulness at any time found access to their imagination, it was quickly opposed by the warm refentments of unconquerable attachment. The social commerce daily carried on between their parents and "them, in the most lost and easy manner, was a conti