Page images

which neither possess nor profess a serious regard to the claims of religion ; while it must be acknowledged, on the other hand, that there are to be found professors of religion, whose households are any thing but happy ones. In reference to the former, it may be affirmed, that piety, while it would raise their enjoyments to a sublimer kind, and a higher degree of happiness in this world, would also perpetuate it through eternity ; and in reference to the latter, it may be remarked that their disquietude is not produced by religion, but occasioned by the want of it. A mere profession of the Christian faith, is rather a hindrance to felicity than a help ; nothing short of real religion can be expected to yield its joys.

In the following pages, there will be found numerous and long extracts from an incomparably excellent work, by the Rev. Christopher Anderson, of Edinburgh, entitled “ The Domestic Constitution.” Of that volume, the Author feels that his own is not worthy, in any instance, to be the harbinger ; but should he find that he has introduced any families to an acquaintance with a treatise, so well worthy of their most serious attention, he will be thankful for that measure of benefit, and rejoice that he has not labored in vain.

Egbaston, September 13, 1928,


[blocks in formation]

A FAMILY! How delightful the associations we form with such a word! How pleasing the images with which it crowds the mind, and how tender the emotions which it awakens in the heart! Who can wonder that domestic happiness should be a theme dear to poetry, and that it should have called forth some of the sweetest strains of fancy and of feeling? Or who can be surprised, that of all the sweets which present themselves in the vista of futurity, to the eye of those who are setting out on the journey of life,this should excite the most ardent desires, and engage the most active pursuits? But alas! of those who in the ardor of youth, start for the possession of this dear prize, how many fail! And why? Because their imagination alone is engaged in the subject: they have no definite ideas of what it means, nor of the way in which


it is to be obtained. It is a mere lovely creation of a romantic mind, and oftentimes with such persons, fades away,

“And like the baseless fabrick of a vision,

“Leaves not a wreck behind.” It may be of service, therefore, to lay open the sources of domestic happiness, and to show that these are to be found, not in the flowery regions of imagination, but amidst the sober realities of piety, chaste love, prudence, and well formed connexions.

These precious springs are within the reach of all who will take the right path that leads to them : and this is the way of knowledge. We must make ourselves acquainted with the nature, designs, and importance of the family compact : we must analyse this union to ascertain its elements, its laws, and its purposes. Who can be a good member of any state, without knowing the nature of its constitution, and the laws by which it is directed? And it is equally vain, to look for domestic happiness without a clear insight into the ends and laws which Providence has laid down in the formation of the household.

In the discussions which have been agitated, to settle the question, as to the form of civil government best adapted to secure the welfare of the human race, the FAMILY CONSTITUTION has been too much overlooked. Specalation has been indulged, and theories proposed by their respective authors, in reference to the greater aggregations of society, with all the confidence of oracular authority; while at the same time, it is evident they have forgotten, how much the well being of states is dependent on the well being of the families of which all states are composed. If there be any truth in the figure, by which a nation is compared to a pillar, we should recollect, that while individuals are the materials of which it is formed, it is the good condition of families that constitute the cement which holds it together, and gives to its fine form, solidity and durability. Let this be wanting, and however inherently excellent the materials, however elegant the shape, however ornamented the base, the shaft, or the capital may be, it contains in

[ocr errors]

itself a principle of decay, an active cause of dilapidation and ruin.

The domestic constitution is a divine institute. God formed it himself. He taketh the solitary, and setteth him in families ; and like all the rest of his works, it is well and wisely done. It is, as a system of government, quite unique ; neither below the heavens, nor above them, is there any thing precisely like it. In some respects it resembles the civil government of a state; in others, the ecclesiastical rule of a church ; and it is there that the church and the state may be said to meet. “ This meeting, however, is only on a very small scale, and under very peculiar circumstances.” When directed as it should be, every family has a sacred character, inasmuch as the head of it acts the part of both the prophet and priest of the household, by instructing them in the knowledge, and leading them in the worship of God; while at the same time, he discharges the duties of a king, by supporting a system of order, subordination and discipline. Conformably with its nature, is its design; beyond the benefit of the individuals which compose it, and which is its first and immediate object, it is intended to promote the welfare of the national community to which it belongs, and of which it is a part: hence every nation has stamped a great value on the family compact, and guarded it with the most powerful sanctions. Well instructed, well ordered, and well governed families, are the springs, which, from their retirements, send forth the tributary streams that make up by their confluence, the majestic flow of national greatness and prosperity ; nor can any state be prosperous, where family order and subordination are generally neglected ; nor otherwise than prosperous, whatever be its political form, where these are generally maintained. It is certainly under the wise instruction, and the impartial sceptre of a father, and within the little family circle, that the son becomes a good citizen ; it is by the fireside and upon the family hearth, that loyalty and patriotism and every public virtue grows ; as it is in disordered families, that factious demagogues, and turbulent rebels, and tyrannical oppressors are trained up to be their neighbor's torment, or their country's scourge. It is

« PreviousContinue »