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is not easily attained ; many a persevering effort, and many a struggle with wandering thoughts, will mark the path to its acquirement. But it is well worth any amount of labour that determined energy, prompted by earnest aspiration after excellence can put forth.
It is not, however, sufficient that we possess the capacity of fixing the mind firmly and continuously on a given subject; we should keep it on the alert-a watchful student of men and things, on every variety of aspect, that the ordinary movements of nature and society present. We lose much for want of watchfulness. Some of the best lessons in human nature may be learnt from the trifling incidents that mark our daily intercourse. It is a healthy mental habit to mark them.
In mentioning a course of study,' the question probably refers merely to the pursuit of knowledge through the medium of books. We may remark generally that the direct object of study is to enable us to answer the two questions, what is ? and what ought to be? These inquiries introduce us into the whole circle of physical and moral science. Now a mind that ardently loves truth will ask these questions eagerly, and so far as its limited capacities admit—will spare no labour in endeavouring satisfactorily to answer them. The more extensive and searching are its investigations, the greater will be its desire to accumulate information; for the love of truth, as we have before remarked, grows in proportion as it is exercised.
In endeavouring to fix on a beneficial course of reading, we are met by the difficulty of selection from that vast treasury which the accumulated labours of ages has furnished. The noble legacy which genius and learning have bequeathed to the intelligence of posterity. We must satisfy ourselves with specifying a very few of the most important branches of general study. Perhaps we shall not err in assigning a prominent place to the acquisition of sound historical information. By such information we would be understood to mean—not a mere acquaintance with the details of history—for this alone, however extensive and accurate is scarcely worthy the name of science ; but a thorough knowledge of the relation which facts sustain to one another-of their causes and influenceof their bearings on society. For instance, it is comparatively of small amount, that I know when Cæsar lived—and what he achievedmor that I am acquainted with all the sickening details of the French Revolution-unless, in the one case, I am able to trace the influence which the career of the noble Roman exercised on the empire, or the world; for after his day the terms were synonymous, and unless, in the other case, I can intelligently point out the causes and effects of that great social convulsion which so materially altered the relations of the civilized world. History performs its highest office when it helps us to self-knowledge—when it holds up man to his own contemplation, and throws illustration on the character and principles of the providential government of God.
The pbilosophy of mind, as it has been treated by a variety of eminent authors, constitutes another branch of study of great importance. It is necessary that we should have clear views of what our powers are ; and the way in which they may be rightly exercised. One of the chief dangers attending the pursuit of this science, is, that of bewilderment amongst a host of various, and often conflicting theories,-for, out of the multitudes who have written on the subject, each author has his own system, which in the majority of cases, differs from that of every other. Perhaps it will have a beneficial effect on the formation of good mental habits, if our reading, as regards this science, be rather select than dif
VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE FAMILY.
fuse. With regard to the natural sciences, an individual will be guided in a great measure by taste and inclination, as to the amount of attention he bestows on them.
No one mind can grasp the whole circle of the sciences; there must be selection. We can only say, that the study of the phenomena of nature is well adapted to aid in forming the good mental habits to which we have referred. Love of truth, attention, and observation, will all aid in the pursuit of studies of this nature; and will be strengthened by them.
The same remarks will apply in great measure to the cultivation of an acquaintance with general literature, or the belles lettres ; under which term, as including works that appeal more directly to taste and imagination, are to be ranged some of the noblest works of genius that we possess.
We would remark generally in reference to works of fiction-that our time is too limited to permit any large amount of it to be bestowed on literature of this character.
A world of reality is around us; if we carry our investiga ns to the utmost limit of possibility, we cannot traverse more than a small department of its vast field ; our life therefore is too short to allow of our indulging in any lengthened excursions amidst “fiction's scenes and fancy's songs ;' our time is required for pursuits of a sterner and loftier character.
While, however, the branches of study to which we have referred, may be justly regarded as of great importance, from their adaptation to form good mental habits, we have still to allude to another, the influence of which, upon the same object, is of yet greater efficacy. We mean the science of theology, with all its momentous bearings upon our present interest, and our future destiny ; and here we would assign to the Word of God, that place to which it is entitled, and which it uniformly claims.
Surely nothing can be better calculated to form good mental habits, than a thorough investigation of the revealed will of the Being who created the mind, -whose it is,—whose will is its law,—and the principles of whose moral government, as they will ultimately decide its destiny, should be interwoven with the very frame-work of its character. It is when other studies are presented in reference to the forwarding and elucidation of this, the highest of all,—that they will be found to fulfil their loftiest purpose, and to afford the richest enjoyment.
VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE FAMILY. The Family is a society. “ It is not good that man should be alone,” said the great Creator, when He had formed him out of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. God knew what was best for the promotion of human happiness. Infinite wisdom controlled and directed the destinies of his race. Hence it is said, “God setteth the solitary in families.” Here are the primordial elements of the social relations. Poetically, it has been said : Man, the bermit, sighed till woman smiled." He longed for that tender and delicate companionship, which was to constitute the chief charm of his mortal existence. Even in a state of perfect and immaculate holiness, he needed one to complete the harmony of his existence, to fill up the measure of his happiness. God only could bestow this inestimable gift. Thus was the foundation of the family laid. The dignity, the advancement, the prosperity of society in
VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE FAMILY.
every form depend on the same qualities and conditions in the family. The angelic state is different. In the spirit-land they “neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God." Pure, passionless, spiritual is every form of celestial existence. In heaven will be found, after the completion of the drama of earth, one great redeemed family, that will be neither increased nor diminished in the progress of endless duration. This, then, is a subdivision of earth. “ That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual.” Our progress is through a certain natural constitution hereafter. “ The first man is of the earth, earthy." And such are all they who descend from him. “As is the earth, such are they also that are earthy; and as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” The socialists of earth, the foundation of which is laid in the family constitution, being sanctified, become the socialists of heaven. Our pupilage below is brief. Our
perfection in heaven will be complete. What influence more strongly affects the memory in all the future, latest years of our life, than the recollection of the home circle ? What sweetness, blended with what sadness, is there in the feeling! The sadness would prevail; it might deepen into melancholy, but for that beneficent provision, by which, having passed the period of childhood and youth, we enter the maturity of our years, and ourselves assume the prerogatives of the parental state, looking down with a more exquisite affection
those below us. Thus we once looked up from the position of childhood to those above us. But, if the pleasure is enhanced, so is the responsibility. And responsibility is not without its healthful influence. Nay, its exercise is frequently with delight, preventing that stagnation, which "might otherwise oppress the spirits. None enjoy more keenly the luxuries of the home circle, than those virtuous, pious parents, who have striven to cultivate on the right basis the socialities of home. These are the preparations for that better, blessed world, to which all God's children aspire.
The Family is a sanctuary. I use the term in a secondary sense. mal idea of the sanctuary is associated with something holy and to be revered. And as it became a place of refuge to the fugitives, so I regard the family as, in an important sense, a refuge. Thus, in a literal sense, the common law regards a man's house as his castle, his natural place of protection and defence, Economically and morally considered, the family is the refuge, the protection, the defence of its members. If on earth there be a refuge for man, from earth's ills, toils, temptations, and calamities, it should be found there,
To the man of business, wearied with multiplied perplexities; to the industrious labourer, exhausted with the toil of the day; to the professional man, tired of the competition and strife that beset him on every side; to the politician, disgusted with partizan intrigues, and the scramble for office and power ; to the traveller, returning from remote parts, to which curiosity, or the love of gain had led him; to the sailor, long tossed on the stormy sea, perhaps a circumnavigator of the globe; to the soldier who has perilled his life in the "imminent deadly breach," or chased the phantom, glory, amid the dangers of the battle-field ; to all who in any form are subject to the painful conditions and experiences of this busy, bustling life, how welcome the sight, the sensibilities, the charm of home; how refreshing to find one spot, where the heart can repose itself in quietude and contentment, undisturbed by the shade of a doubt that there every bosom beats a responsive welcome to the affection of his own; a welcome that greets him with a sincerity he is incapable of suspecting. Nay, even guilt, with all its pe
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nal' sorrow and shame, will meet the tender, though reproving, look from those expectant eyes; and should the tear of penitence be detected on the cheek of the transgressor, who so quick to forgive the injury; so ready to inspire hope in the desponding bosom; so eager to spread the mantle of charity over all failings, as those devoted ones AT HOME? If thou art an unfaithful or neglectful husband, and hast left at home a fond and faithful wife ;, if thou art a prodigal son, and hast abandoned an anxious mother ; if a wandering brother, and hast deserted thy lovely and affectionate sister-oh, return to the sweet spot of thy truest happiness, perhaps of thy glad and innocent childhood, linked as it is with a thousand precious and pleasant associations. Go there, and refresh your wasted spirit at that pure fountain of domestic love. Then, if ever, will thy spirit burst forth in supplication to God!
Oh, thou fond father or mother, when thou, like Joshua of old, dost say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” dost thou not feel thyself moving, in the strength of that resolution, to do a great work for God on earth? The mothers that have trained up sons for usefulness on earth, have also been preparing contributions for the happiness and glory of heaven. The
graces and virtues that are cultivated around the sanctified domestic circle, are types of heavenly things; adumbrations of the sweet perfections of thought, emotion, love and devotion, that shall for ever dwell in the bosoms of the redeemed, in glory. How sacred, then, should be the retirement of home! On that altar should the flame of devotion be perpetual and burning. Holy sacrifices should be daily witnessed there, and in every heart should the Holy Spirit be a welcome guest. A transporting assurance it would be, to know that all your family would meet in heaven! But no revelation could establish this so satisfactorily, as the devoted piety of all your family on earth. Blessed is the household, to which, like that of Bethany, Jesus loves to resort; to rejoice in its joys, to sympathize with its sorrows, and raise the affections of its inmates from earth to heaven, teaching (himself the resurrection and the life, the certainty of the reunion of pious souls in a state of sinless purity, and of endless bliss. Thus may it be with all our beloved ones. For such a consummation may we daily pray, and indefatigably toil. And may the grace of God help us to be “ faithful in all our. house" here, and happy with all our house, hereafter !
SPARED, BUT NOT SAVED.. A child was sinking into the arms of death ; at least, those thought so who had watched it through days and nights of convulsive throes.
Its mother could not give it up. She had prayed for strength. She had tried to submit, but her heart stood out against God, and she refused to say,
thy will be done.” When the man of God came to her, and reasoned of the wisdom and righteousness of Him in whose hands are the issues of life and death, she assented to all he said, and then added, “ But I cannot give him up.” “ Shall I pray with you,” asked the venerable man. O yes, sir,
pray." “And for what shall I pray ?” he inquired. “Pray that my darling may be restored."
He did. He prayed with earnestness that God would spare the life of that child, and raise it up to comfort its mother's heart. And then he prayed that she might bow in meekness to her heavenly Father's will, and say, "it is
ANECDOTE OF DR BEILBY.
well ;" even if her darling was taken from her sight. The prayer was ended, and the man of God, in faithfulness, then assured the mother, that God might answer their prayers in judgment. “ He may spare the life of this child to be a living curse to you and to himself; you may weep bitterly over his career on earth, and more bitterly when you lay him at last in the grave.'
But she was not moved. She longed for his life. How could she live without him ? If he should live, she would watch him with ceaseless care ; she would pray with and for bim ; and thus she would train him up to serve the Lord, who was so good to spare him.
And he did live. God appeared for his deliverance from the malady that threatened to be his death, and the child recovered. O, how rejoiced was that mother's heart! She was all but frantic with delight, as she had been with grief before. Her boy lived. He grew up to be a young man, He became a handsome youth,—fond of society ; gay, frolicksome, wild, dissipated, corrupt, abandoned, ruined ! He lived to despise his mother; to mock and insult her; to trample on her heart-strings ; to laugh at her tears and scorn her prayers; and at last he died a wretched outcast—a hardened profligate. The harvest was past and the summer was ended, and he was not saved !
And his mother knew it. She felt it all the time, when he was running his profligacy and crime. She felt that he was spared in judgment. She had wept tears when hanging over his little cot, in infancy, as then she thought he would die. But now her heart is bleeding, breaking. If he had died in childhood, it would have been so sweet to think of him in the arms of Him who said, “Suf. fer them to come unto me." But now he is lost, lost, lost! Alas, for her boy! He is spared, not saved.
This is a fact; and there are those who can testify to much of it. There is a lesson of power in it, that mothers, that parents would do well to heed. Our prayers are not always answered in mercy. God may grant our desires, and send leanness into our souls. So he may give us what we ask, and make that very gift the sorest, saddest curse, the world has for us. Children are a blessing when they are not ours only, but the Lord's. Yet, when we claim them as our own, and cling to them as if we would not let the Lord have them, to set them as gems in his crown, he may give them to us, and let us try our best to bring them up without him! If they are ours, and not His, they will perish. We may watch, and teach, and pray, but if God be not their keeper, guardian, and guide, their Redeemer, Sanctifier, and Saviour, they may live to be a hundred years old, accursed.
If our children sicken, and we fear they are to die, let us bow to the will of Him who gave, and has a right to take away. It is doubtless right and best that He should do what seemeth to Him good. It may be very hard for us to part with them. They have wound themselves so thoroughly into our affections, that we feel as if we must die with them. But we know not the future of their lives, if they live ! Yet, if they die in childhood, we know their future—they will be forever with the Lord. It is better, then, to leave them with Him, who knows so much better than we, what is for our good and theirs. “ He doeth all things well.”
ANECDOTE OF DR. BEILBY. On one occasion, having been called to attend a young lady in consumption, he embraced an early opportunity of informing her of her danger, and of the probability of her illness, ere long, terminating fatally. He begged her solemnly