« EdellinenJatka »
MOTIVES FOR PARENTAL DUTIES.
233 The happy and important effect of such instructions, even where conversion does not immediately follow, has been evident in a multitude of cases. Young persons who have received a pious education, cannot easily forget that eterna world which has been often set before them. However they may slight religion, death and judgment still alarm them. They know they are wrong, and that their parents are right. Conscience will not let them sin at ease. Its warnings mar their pleasure, and often check their career, or render them wretched when they expect delight. And perhaps years after those who prayed with, and taught them, are gone to the grave, they are led to the Saviour, whose love was unfolded to them in their early years.
$ 6. Where parents would promote the eternal welfare of their family, let them sedulously and devoutly attend to family devotion. If a parent, not only pray for your children, not only occasionally in your closet pray with them, but daily in your family. Let your house be a house of prayer to the living God. Many excuses are offered for neglecting this duty; but the real cause of neglect is coldness and indifference to the things of God, and the eternal welfare of a family. Let that be subdued, and other excuses will vanish like mists before the rising sun. Who at the judgment-bar will plead against family worship, * or offer one excuse for its neglect ?
A striking testimony to the effect of family devotion and consistent piety, is recorded in the life of the late venerable minister of the gospel, Mr. Scott. His son observes, “ To his constant and edifying observance of family worship, in connexion with the steady consistent spirit and conduct, which, notwithstanding imperfections incident to human nature, they could not fail to remark in him, is, I am persuaded, very much to be traced, not only the blessing of God, which I trust has descended on his own family, but the further striking and important fact—that in very few instances has a servant, or a young person, or indeed any person, passed any length of time under his roof, without appearing to be brought permadarted into his mind : "Poor creature, you used to carry a saint, and now you carry a devil."-The issue was, he embraced religion, and his father's prayers were answered. Let no parent be discouraged from persevering in pious labours; but labour in hope, and pray in confidence.
* I once, to my surprise, met with some professors of religion that did so; but for this circumstance I should not have supposed that such persons had existed. For further observations on family devotion, see Doddridge's Address, published by the Religious Tract Society.
BLESSED EFFECTS PRODUCED nently under the influence of religious principle. And yet it was not much his practice to address himself closely and minutely, as some have done with very good effect, to such persons individually. It was not so much by preaching directly to them, as by living before them, making an edifying use of incidents and occasions, and being so constantly instructive, devout, and benevolent in family worship, that, under the blessing of God, he produced so striking an impression upon them.
Consider too, that in training up children in the way of piety, you may be diffusing good for ages to come. Many are the instances in which God has so blessed these exertions, that for age after age the stream of piety has continued to flow. One generation after another has caught the sacred flame, has felt the sacred principle, and though religion flows not in the blood, yet it has descended, like a fair inheritance, from parent to child, through a long succession of years. One instance of this kind, out of myriads, occurs in the case of the celebrated John Wesley. His mother was a pious woman, the daughter of an eminent nonconformist minister. He again was descended from a religious mother, who took so much care of his education, that he was under serious impressions so early, that he declared he knew not the time when he was unconverted. In this instance we see religion flowing on through four generations, and had we information to trace it farther back, might probably trace it for many more. On the other hand, a parent who neglects training up his children in the way of life, may be a principal means of diffusing ignorance and wretchedness, guilt and damnation, among his descendants for generations to come.
$ 7. Though the remarks here made have a peculiar reference to the effect of parental example and instruction, yet let them not be confined to that only. The influence of displaying piety at home is felt, and may be great, whatever be the situation which the disciple of Jesus fills. When one member of an irreligious family has been converted, if that member has adorned the gospel, has united piety, prudence, and prayer, it has often led to the conversion of many others. Some years ago I knew a youth awakened to the importance of religion, and deeply impressed with his own condition. He began to inquire for the path of peace; others of bis fa
BY DOMESTIC PIETY.
235 mily imitated his example. He joined the Christian church; two brothers older than himself, and two other relatives, connected with them by marriage, soon followed him. He has finished his course in hope, and his friends, it is trusted, are now walking in the way of peace.
The child may win the parent.* I know a young disciple of the Saviour, who, when she set out in religion, had parents who were both of them strangers to the gospel of salvation. But to see her child embrace religion while she knew it not, impressed the mother's heart, and under God was a means of leading her to inquire for the grace of life. She soon became a member of the church to which her daughter had been previously united.
The wife may win the husband; the husband the wife. Were it necessary, cases of this description might be mentioned, for they are many.
In the same way a pious master may produce incalculable good among those he employs. If he considers himself, as he should do, lying under a solemn responsibility with respect to his servants, and if he labour and pray for their conversion, his servants may have reason to eternity to bless the hour which brought them under his pious care.
Even the servant may win the employer. The effect of piety in persons in humble life may be great on those in cir
• The child may win the parent. The following proof of this occurred not long since in the United States of America. “Two daughters of an irreligious father, while away from home, embraced religion. The father alarmed, immediately sent for them home; but before the messenger reached them, they had made their lasting choice, and found the peace the world cannot give. They returned to their father's-not overwhelnied (as he expected) with gloom and despondency ; but with countenances beaming with a heavenly serenity and celestial hope.
" They told their father what the Lord had done for their souls-that they were pilgrims here-they kept in view the bright fields of promise as they traversed this desert of sin, and were looking for that city which hath foundations.
“Soon after their return home they were anxious to establish family worship. They affectionately requested their father to commence that duty. He replied, that he saw no use in it. He had lived very well more than fifty years without prayer, and he could not be burthened with it now. They then asked permission to pray with the family themselves. Not thinking they would have confidence to do it, he assented to the proposition.
“The duties of the day being ended, and the hour for retiring to rest having arrived, the sisters drew forward the stand, placed on it the Bible-one read a chapter-they both kneeled--the other engaged in prayer. The father stood and while the humble fervent prayer of his daughter was ascending on devotion's wing to heaven, his knees began to tremble, his nerves, which had been gathering strength for half a century, could no longer support him-he also kneeled, and then became prostrate on the floor. God heard their prayer, and directed their father's weeping eyes (which had never shed tears of penitence before) to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world."
DREADFUL EFFECTS OF NEGLECTING cumstances far above theirs. A pleasing instance of this kind has already been mentioned in chapter vii. $ 6. note.
Where the piety of servants has no other effect, yet it will recommend them to the esteem and confidence of discerning employers. It is true, such is the hatred of vital religion in some persons, that religion in their servants is the object of contempt and opposition; but many others know how to discern and value a servant rendered faithful by religion.*
$ 8. Besides all that has been urged, there are many other considerations, which should impress on your heart the importance of showing piety in your own home. If you
would not be stained with the hateful crime of hypocrisy, you must act this part. For surely no hypocrisy is more hateful, and none more mischievous, than theirs, who abroad seem pious, but at home manifest little or nothing of the influence of religion.
If you would not eternally undo your nearest friends and dearest relatives, you must show piety at home. Are you the child of parents who are strangers to religion and do you profess it? they will form their idea of religion from you. If they see you gentle and humble, affectionate and kind, patient of injury, and prompt to good, and shining in all the graces of the gospel, it will recommend religion to them ; and perhaps lead them to the Saviour and to heaven. But if they see you proud, passionate, quarrelsome, unkind, and disobedient, what will they think of your religion ? what will your conduct do, but seal them up under darkness and impenitence to the judgment of the great day? And at that day they may charge you as a wicked murderer, with having kept them in darkness, and contributed to damn them to eternity.
It is an awful fact, that where persons profess religion, and * The following is a pleasing instance of this nature: A few years back, there lived near Gamston a Mr. Jetterey. He had been in youth footman to the earl of Clare, a nobleman of liberal sentiments. In this situation he continued many years, and his steadiness, integrity, and civility, gave great satisfaction to his employer, and procured himself great respect. One circunstance, indeed, for a time, grieved the tender conscience of this pious youth. He was frequently, employed by his master in carrying messages to a distance on the Lord's day. This he felt was inconsistent with his duty to his heavenly Master; and he resolved at all events to decline it. When therefore he was again called into the parlour, on the Lord's-day morning, and ordered to go on business to a neighbouring town, he replied, in a manly, though respectful tone,“ My Lord, I stand ready to obey your orders six days in the week; but this day I have a greater Master than you to serve. Instead of being irritated at the freedom of his servant, this nobleman mildly replied, Have you? Why then go and serve him :" and treated him after wards with increased confidence,
! PIETY IN THE FAMILY CIRCLE.
237 yet honour it not by their conduct, they contribute in a dreadful degree to harden their own children or nearest relatives against the truth. Few are so hardened, as well as so careless, as the children of those professors of religion that display not piety at home. It is far better to be the child of a profligate, than the child of an inconsistent professor of the gospel. The child of a profligate, however nursed up in vice, is not hardened against the gospel, by seeing his parents profess it with their lips, but disregard it in their life; and thus, by being continually taught at home, to believe all religion hypocrisy. Hence there is more hope of the conversion of a profligate's child, than of the child of unholy professors of the gospel.
The effects of professing religion without displaying piety at home, are thus awful and dreadful in the extreme. Some years ago an aged minister mentioned to me a painful fact. In early life he spent some years under the roof of a person who was a popular preacher of the gospel, and who was the instrument of awakening many from a state of carelessness and sin. But while thus successful abroad in turning many to righteousness, at home he displayed little of the influence of religion. Family prayer was seldom or never practised in his house, He gave way to harsh and violent tempers. He had six children ; but alas! there was not reason to believe, that even one of them became a follower of the Saviour. They went on, driven as it were to perdition by their father's unholy conduct. On one occasion, when the writer had preached in a populous village, on displaying religion in the family, a respectable friend afterwards spoke of the importance of the subject, and uttered a sentiment to the following effect: That he could forfeit his life if he did not prove that the worst families, and the worst individuals, in the parish, were the children of persons that had professed religion. The writer mentioned this sentiment to a minister in another populous village in Derbyshire, and he asserted that in that village the same observation would hold good. Thus it is that persons, who profess religion, but do not honour it, in their own families, entail on their friends or their children hardness of heart, and profligacy or infidelity in this world, and eternal enmity to God and endless damnation in the world which is to come.