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“ How pleasant 'tis to see
Each in their proper station move;
In all the cares of life and love!"
Peace is preservation. To how many disasters is a family exposed, if God withdraw his protection! A great wind may come and smite the four corners of the house, and it may fall and bury us in the ruins. A man may start up from his bed, and hear within the noise of thieves and robbers seizing his property and threatening his person. At midnight, when deep sleep falleth upon man, he may be awakened by the cry of fire, and see the flames consuming his substance and not leaving an avenue by which to carry off his babes.—What a blessing it is to have a tabernacle in peace!
Nor shall the tabernacle only be preserved, but the owner too. And thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin. It is a mercy, when we go from home, to come back alive and well; for, though we are too little sensible of it, we always travel in jeopardy. Let us reflect-We might have been robbed and terrified by wicked and unreasonable men. We might have been groaning under the pain of bruised limbs and broken bones. Our lives might have been spilt upon the ground, and we might have died among careless and mercenary strangers, and our friends have received the sad intelligence broken to them by degrees,—that we were no more.
And surely for all this God expects from us something better than sin. But a man would sin, in this case, if he visited his habitation without thankfulness, and did not fall down and adore the Preserver of men. He would sin, if his gratitude were not lively and practical, and if by the mercies of God he did not present his body a living sacrifice and resolve to walk within his house with a perfect heart, to set no wicked thing before his eyes, to hate the works of them that turn aside-to watch over his conversation and to guard his temper—and to flee passion and pride, and the love of money, which is the root of all evil-to be satisfied with his lot, and resigned under his trials-to behave towards his servants as one who has a master in heaven—to train up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,-ruling well his own house after a godly sort—that God may derive a revenue of glory not only from himself, but from his family.
He would sin also did he not confide in him in future more simply and firmly—for God by these instances of his attention and proofs of his faithfulness, solicits us to trust in him, commands us to give up our fears, and says, Cast all your care upon me, for I care for you.
Let us observe one thing more, and concludeDomestic piety crowns domestic peace. It should be our daily prayer when we go out and when we come in, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil. In all our employments and in all our enjoyments to be preserved from sin is the greatest privilege ; it should therefore be our greatest concern. Sin is a dreadful thing, for it is always the attraction of wrath. The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but he blesseth the habitations of the just. The house of the wicked shall be overthrown, but the tabernacle of the righteous shall flourish. Let us keep sin out of our dwellings, and say with Joshua, As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord—and neighbours, and angels and God will say, The voice of rejoicing and of salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous. Peace be both to thee and to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast. Amen.
GOD THE BEST OF FATHERS.
Ifye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your
children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him ?---Matt. vii. 11.
THE parental relation is a very familiar and a very instructive one. It is therefore often employed to hold forth the union between God and his people. But, while it aids our conception, it cannot do justice to the subject. Man, from whom our idea of this relation is taken, is evil ; whereas our Father which is in heaven is perfect. Defects appear in the dispositions and actions of every earthly parent; but when the Supreme Being assumes the character of a parent, he fully exemplifies it-he does much more than was ever seen, ever heard of in this relation before. And hence, according to our Saviour, we may learn as much from the difference as from the resemblance in this striking comparison. Let us then see how pre-eminently he sustains the parental office, and learn thereby the happiness of his children.
The first instance of superiority is derived from knowledge. Men know not always what is good for their offspring. Sometimes they ignorantly yield to their wishes, and in effect give them stones instead of bread, and serpents instead of fish. Not knowing sufficiently their talents and dispositions, they may place them in a line of business which will embarrass or ensnare them, instead of one in which they would appear to advantage. From the same principle, they may advise them to form connexions which would prove their vexation through life or hinder them from unions which would complete their happiness. They may not know how to approach their minds most successfully by instruction; to fix them if volatile ; to give them confidence if timid.-By checking they may chill, and by indulgence they may not only encourage, but dissipate. -All these disadvantages necessarily arise from our defective knowledge.
But our Heavenly Father is the only wise God. His understanding is infinite ; and it is our happiness that he knows what we really need; knows when to refuse, and when to yield; and so arranges our circumstances in life, as to make all things work together for our good.
The second instance of superiority is derived from correction. It is thus that the apostle distinguishes between fathers of our flesh, and the Father of spirits. They verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, often from whim and caprice, from fretfulness and passion, to relieve their feelings rather than to comply with their convictions. Hence, if they did not rebuke
us at the very moment of provocation, they could not do it at all; whereas, if they had been concerned for our welfare, the reason for correction would have remained when the irritation had subsided.—But he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. There is no tyranny in God; there are no uneasy sensations in him. If he afflict, it is not from passion, but principle; and this principle looks only to the advantage of his children.
also err on the other side : we may be too soft to the faults of our offspring, and our tenderness may degenerate into foolish fondness. Eli is an awful example of this. His sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. It is said also of Adonijah, that his father David had not displeased him at any time, in saying, Why hast thou done so ? A fine father, truly !-But it is cruel to connive where we should punish: he that spareth the rod hateth his son. And God regards the soul, and will not sacrifice our profit to our feelings. If our welfare require it, he will frown, or withhold the tokens of his love, or shut us up for a time, or smite us, and severely too ; nor let us think hardly of his dealings with us, since it is written, Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law.
Behold a third instance in which God surpasses every earthly parent. They cannot be always with their children, so as to attend to their circumstances. They sleep, and are unable to watch over them. They are employed, and business draws them off, and occupies all their thoughts. They journey, and leave their little ones behind them with many an anxious feeling. There is an age when their children go from them. School or