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ized as the "common salvation." While therefore the church, as a body, is required earnestly to uphold the essential truth of the gospel, "the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves." The whole contest for the faith once delivered to the saints, must be conducted without strife or vain-glory, and with the meekness and gentleness of Christ; so that the sanctifying power of the gospel may be manifest even in controversy, and win opposers from the snare of the devil. The enemy will come in like a flood, the powers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places will attack the citadel of truth, and the church must maintain her ground, standing fast in the Lord but she will always do it most successfully by keeping the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace, and putting on bowels of mercies, kindness, tenderness, humbleness of mind. "Union is strength." And a union on such principles would be mighty indeed to the pulling down of strong holds.
3. In reference to differences of opinion among those who name the name of Jesus, and acknowledge his reign in their hearts, if they be of minor consequence, and not necessary to salvation, they must not be dwelt upon, as if of more importance than the vital and practical points of the Christian faith. On this subject there is doubtless much error in the practice of the church; much that prevents the cultivation of peace, grieves the Spirit of all grace, and throws a cloud over the horizon of the Christian world. The Psalmist considered the prosperity of the Redeemer's kingdom to be dependent on its peaceful condition, and every righteous soul will doubtless respond to this call to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem :" "For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, peace be within thee." But how shall we sincerely offer up petitions for her welfare, or her unity, while those points on which we disagree, are magnified into mountains that separate us from each other; and the infinitely more important matters of agreement, are almost buried in oblivion, and excluded from exercising their appropriate influence to bind together the members of the body in sweetest harmony of love? Oh! when shall the children of God leave off doting about strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, railings, evil surmisings, and perverse disputings, and desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby? When shall bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from the midst of them? When shall foolish and unlearned questions, which only tend to dissever, be dropped, and the weightier matters of the law be presented to the view of the church? Not until then will peace be extended unto her as a river, and her borders be enlarged.
We are too prone here to act on the principles of the world, too unwilling to compromise, and meet on the broad ground of the common faith. Why should not the precious, soul-reviving truths of the gospel on which we harmonize, have more influence in uniting us in love, and peace, and Christian communion, than the confessedly minor ones on which we differ, in driving us asunder? "Come," let us say, like Abraham to Lot, "let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me, for we be brethren." Let us yield all that we can, and yet be on the platform of essential, saving truth: and thus, while we mutually overlook small mistakes and misapprehensions, we can unite in praying for the peace, and laboring for the prosperity of Zion.
4. Peace will be promoted by not dwelling too exclusively on a
single aspect of divine things, nor magnifying one particular doctrine above another of equal importance in the word of God.
From the various relations in which men are placed, and the different circumstances of their birth and education, they naturally adopt variant views, and cherish discordant sentiments. Some have always read the Bible with a certain system prominent in the mind, and others, with an opposing one. Hence their interpretations of many of the more obscure, and some even of the plainer instructions of God's word, will be dissimilar, and modified by preconceived opinions. And from the fact of never diverting their attention from this one view of the revelations of the gospel, in which they may have been built up by the only authors to whom they have had access, they are prepared to maintain it against every other system, and that, too, with warmth and zeal. Thus members of the church of Jesus Christ often engage in vain disputes of no avail, and oppose one another with all the unholy passions which nestle in the hearts of the unregenerate.
All minds will not apprehend the same system precisely alike, especially if it be extended over much ground; nor is it of high importance that they do, if there be mutual patience and forbearance, and no disposition each to exalt his own adopted creed to such a pitch of extravagant fondness, as to exclude all others as absolutely false and dangerous, and those who maintain them as unworthy of Christian courtesy and fellowship. We must be willing, for the sake of peace, to sacrifice a little selfish affection for our own philosophy, remembering that others entertain it as warmly for theirs.
5. In controversy, verbal or written, impute nothing to opponents which they do not allow―neither pervert their meaning, nor attribute consequences to them which they disclaim.
The peace of Christ's kingdom would be much increased if all controversialists would bear this remark in mind. How many seem intent on finding something erroneous in the writings of those who may not fully accord with them in sentiment. And for this purpose, when they cannot point out glaring error in the general propositions, either search for it in a perverted interpretation of the language, or conjure up horrific consequences which the candid reader can never allow. But how utterly unkind and unchristian, and how foreign from the Spirit of the Master is it, thus to refuse the hand of brotherly love to one who, while he agrees with us certainly in the main, would also rather retract his promulged opinion, than entertain the consequences attributed to it! Out of these imagined and falsely charged views, arise most of the heart-burnings and discords among brethren, and most of those clouds of dust which whirl about the paths of the church, impede her progress, and spoil her beauty.
6. Abstain from censoriousness, and pride of intellect. These faults are intimately connected, and where they exist have a direct tendency to stop the current of the river of peace, which makes glad the city of God. We must ever remember that the understandings of men are not all cast in the same mould, but almost as various as the individuals of human society, and that all have not the same appetencies. Some find one mode of worship adapted to their feelings, and in that experience most profit and pleasure; others choose a different form, and under it sit with most comfort and improvement. Now we may not presume to pique ourselves on our superior wisdom, and the propriety of our choice, and therefore censure those who depart from us
into another chamber of the house, which, however inferior in our estimation to that we have selected, is in accordance with their taste, and best adapted to their wants. We must not be wise in our own conceits, and say, "we are the people, and wisdom will die with us," thus assuming to ourselves a singularly correct judgment, wrapping around us the robe of self-complacency, and walking forth in self-important majesty, expecting the world to follow in our wake. No! brethren, No! In those matters which are plain to the wayfaring man, and cherished by the whole Christian world, we must be steadfast, immovable but while we cry with one voice for peace, peace, we must not imagine that all the light of Heaven has settled upon our minds, and that in order to the attainment of this blessed end, others must borrow of us, and extinguish their own. In things of "doubtful disputation," which from this very circumstance are less important, less necessary, and from which come the "wars and fightings" of the church, we must put away all censoriousness, distrust our own decisions, open our minds to further illumination, and continually wear the veil of modesty. Thus shall we enter into a covenant of peace, and dwell safely in quiet habitations, and the God of peace dwell with us.
In view of results so desirable, we carmot but reflect, how unholy the flame which burns in the Christian's heart, when he cherishes any dispositions opposed to the peace of Jerusalem. Oh! how should the church humble herself before God, and, weeping tears for past offences, pour forth the fervent prayer, "Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee." Truly, "they shall prosper, that love thee, O Jerusalem !"-When, Oh! when shall it be said of Zion spiritual, "She is beautiful, the joy of the whole earth, her walls salvation, her officers peace, her exactors righteousness!"
VOL. 10.] SEPTEMBER, 1835.
[WHOLE NO. 112.
By SAMUEL MILLER, D. D.,
PROFESSOR IN THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, PRINCETON, NEW-JERSEY.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DOMESTIC HAPPINESS.
JOB V. 24-Thy tabernacle shall be in peace.
MAN was made for society; and the earliest form of society was that of the family. The all-wise Creator had scarcely made the first parent of our race, before he said—It is not good for man to be alone; I will, therefore, make an help-meet for him. And to show the importance and permanence, as well as the close and endearing character of this connection, he added-For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.
As domestic society was the first that was formed, so it lies at the foundation of all other, and enters more deeply into the order, the purity, and the happiness of our world than a volume could display. It does more to cement civil society, to create the tenderest relations, to soften the heart, to refine, polish, and harmonize the children of men, than all the laws which human wisdom ever formed.
The IMPORTANCE OF DOMESTIC HAPPINESS, then, is to be the subject of the present discourse. It is this blessing to which Eliphaz refers in the words of our text. Thy tabernacle shall be in peace. The word "tabernacle" signifies a family tent, or moveable dwelling. Such dwellings formerly were, and, indeed, still are, exceedingly common in Arabia, where Job is supposed to have resided, and in many other parts of the Eastern world. The term here may be considered as designating, by a very common figure, not only the tent itself, but also the family inhabiting it. This domestic circle, in the circumstances to which the speaker refers, shall be "in peace," that is, tranquil and happy; free from those sources of annoyance and suffering to which, in a different situation, it would not fail to be exposed :-at peace among its own members, and at peace with all around.
In showing the IMPORTANCE of domestic happiness, it is difficult to know where to begin, or where to end. Its points of contact with human enjoyment are so numerous, and its influence on the best interests of society, civil and religious, so deep and vital, that we can scarcely make an over-estimate of its value. A few of the more obvious and practical considerations which belong to the subject, will be presented with all plainness and brevity. May he who has the residue of the Spirit, direct our meditations, and grant that we may all know the happiness of which we speak, not by description only, but by the richest personal experience.
VOL. 10. No. 4.
I. The inestimable importance of domestic happiness appears FROM THE
UNAVOIDABLE INTIMACY AND EXTENT OF ITS INFLUENCE ON HUMAN COMFORT.
The degree of enjoyment which we find in scenes and with persons with whom we have no necessary connection, and with whom we may, if we please, avoid intercourse, is of comparatively small importance. He who finds little comfort in traveling may refrain from it: and he who has no taste for rural pleasures, may confine himself to his dwelling, or transfer his residence to a populous city. But who can measure the importance of our finding comfort in that place, and in that society, which we call our home; with which God, in his providence, has been pleased to connect us by ties of the closest kind; where we habitually reside; where, of course, we pass the greatest part of our time; and from which we cannot escape without both sin and greater suffering? Other scenes we occasionally approach; with this we are, so to speak, ever in contact. Here we, as it were, "live and move and have our being." To find one's ties to this place, and to this society an alliance with misery, is indeed deplorable! To such an one, a state of suffering is not merely an occasional occurrence; it is the character of his abode; it is an inmate of his tabernacle; it besets him day and night, in going out and coming in, in sitting down and rising up. He cannot escape from it without abandoning his family. In short, he who finds no happiness in the bosom of his household, must be a stranger to it the greater part of his time; and if the consciousness of the want of it there, do not poison his enjoyment wherever he goes, and cause him to look with something allied to painful envy on scenes of eminent domestic comfort, when he witnesses them in other families, it must be because all the finer sensibilities of his nature have been blunted by the long continuance of discord and suffering.
On the other hand, whatever may be our sufferings abroad, if our own dwelling be the habitual abode of peace and love; and if, whenever we return to it, we are welcomed with the smile of affection, and surrounded with the comforts of a well-ordered family, and the endearments of conjugal and filial regard; we have secured to us the very best elements of social happiness that this world can give. Here the laborer finds a constant and rich solace when he returns from his daily toils. Here the man of business, leaving the scenes of anxious care which distract and exhaust him, comes to his domestic circle to be soothed, refreshed and lifted up. The scholar here unbends, and seeks among those to whom he is bound by the most endearing of all earthly ties, relaxation, repose, and intellectual renovation. And even the politician, wearied with the strife and conflicts of political parties, retires to the bosom of his family to find that disinterested affection, and genuine enjoyment which among rivals or sycophants he seeks in vain.
Accordingly, one of the most eminent statesmen of Great Britain, not long since deceased,* bore a testimony on this subject which is worthy of being repeated and remembered. He declared, that whatever might be the clamor and violence of party zeal; whatever the fatigue, the anxiety or the disgust which he suffered in the transaction of public business ;—he never entered his own dwelling, and sat down by his own fire-side, with his beloved family, without finding his wearied and agitated spirit immediately tranquilized, and filled with the most delightful serenity. There he found a refuge from all the heartless selfishness of political partizans, and was enabled to leave behind him every element of animosity or vindictiveness.
Surely, then, it is the wisdom of every one who wishes to establish his happiness on the firmest basis, to study to make his own dwelling, as far as possible, the abode of harmony and love. He who finds not comfort here, will probably find it no where. The absence of this blessing, will be like a worm constantly gnawing at the root of his enjoyment: while he whose domestic happiness is well established, will seldom fail to experience its benign influence in all the walks of life, and in the discharge of every public and private duty.