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ST PAUL, in his epistle to Timothy, charges him to exhort the younger members of families, 'to learn to show piety at home,' as their first duty. He seems to have used the word 'piety' in a restricted sense -nearly as it was employed by ancient classical writers to denote the duties of children to their parents. We are at liberty however so to enlarge its signification, as to comprehend, under 'piety at home,' all the duties which grow out of our various domestic relations. How highly the Apostle valued this kind of piety, may be inferred from the strong terms in which he recommended it. 'If any man,' said he, 'provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel;'- and with good reason; for the want of practical goodness in the most intimate connexions of life, is of all wants the most disastrous to human happiness.

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I fear it is the tendency of this age, to underrate that kind of piety, which consists in doing right in a natural and quiet way. There is an inordinate appetite for strong sensations and startling effects; and they who are much engaged in what is technically called 'the religious action of the period,' are apt to regard 'patient

continuance in well doing' as no better than ( mere morality.' Thus discredit is thrown upon what is lovely, excellent and useful beyond all estimation, because religion is associated in the mind with the idea of doing or experiencing some great thing-of being the agents of miraculous power abroad, or the subjects of miraculous power at home. When religion is understood to consist in a burning excitement, or an eagerness to exert influence at the greatest possible distance, the common-place pursuits of daily life do not seem to have dignity enough to be taken under its direction. Yet what can Christianity do for a man, better than to make him good in those very relations, which demand his chief care and duty? In what possible way can it minister to human virtue and happiness more largely, than by rendering us kind, gentle and faithful in our domestic connexions?

It is not often that any great sacrifice, or any heroic act of duty, can be required of us. Common virtues are more frequently wanted, and therefore more valuable, than extraordinary ones. If religion has any power in our hearts, it must be manifested chiefly in our doing little things well. When a man separates his religion from his morality, making the former one thing and the latter another and a different thing, there is great danger that neither will be very good. It is a mischievous practice to classify our actions, and say these are moral, and those are religious duties. All duties are religious ones. The most common concerns of domestic and social life, and all the pursuits of industry, in which a question of right and wrong may be raised, are equally matters of religious obligation. The labors of the kitchen,


the nursery, the field, the counting-house and the workshop, are among the most important duties of religion; and unless we show our piety by acting well our part in our own immediate concerns —unless it make us amiable, diligent and faithful in our most intimate relations, we may be sure that there is something wrong in it. There may be but little glory, but there is a great deal of merit, and of happiness too, in 'showing piety at home'

in that narrow circle of duty, which God has made the principal sphere of our action. This may be illustrated,

I. By considering home as the best nursery of the christian virtues. Our domestic relations are far more intimate, and have far greater influence on our characters, than any other. Every family is a little community, bound together by the tenderest and holiest sympathies. All its members must share deeply in each other's joys and sorrows; their hopes, fears and interests are the same. No distress or mortification can fall upon one without affecting all. Each has an interest in the virtue and well-being of the rest; for here, as in the natural body,' if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and if one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.' The pain which one member feels, thrills through the whole body; the vices of a son have often wrung to agony the heart of a parent; the infamy of a father has covered a whole family with overpowering shame and wretchedness.

This intimate union, or rather identity, of interests gives rise to many duties, out of which must grow habits of virtue. One of the best of these habits is 1*


that of generous self-control not seeking our own gratification so much as the comfort of the domestic circle — 'preferring one another in love.' As all the members of a family are dependent on each other for a large part of their comfort, each must be willing to sacrifice, not only his whims and caprices, but sometimes his reasonable wishes. How lovely and excellent is domestic affection, prompting unselfish and untiring exertions, and finding happiness while seeking only to bestow it! It is almost every moment in our power to comfort or to annoy those, with whom Providence has intimately associated our destiny. Disinterested and generous kindness at home, then, is a duty of the highest importance. An unworthy self-indulgence, or an inordinate care for our own petty conveniences, will occasion innumerable vexations. There are cases in which want of courtesy is want of virtue; harshness becomes a crime, when it wounds sensibility. Rude and ungentle manners, betraying a disregard to the feelings of others of the same household, will embitter the whole stream of family comfort; indolent neglect may dry up its sources; and more than all, a violent, sullen or peevish temper may bring unspeakable misery into the circle of domestic affection.


There is indeed no school like home for the discipline of the temper and the heart. Whether your position requires you to command or obey to work with the hands or the mind- to give or to receive, you may always find occasion for forbearance and self-denial. There will be discipline for the temper, exercise for the generous sensibilities, practice and nutriment for every christian virtue. This field of action may seem too

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narrow for a heated and ambitious zeal; but it is ample enough to give development and growth to our religious principles, if we use every occasion for cherishing a kind and disinterested spirit, a patient and tranquil temper, and a readiness to receive and impart happiness. These principles, so often called into action along with our best and tenderest affections, cannot fail to form habits of quiet, contented and beneficent virtue.

The christian character is never more likely to grow strong and healthful than in this perpetual round of obscure and unostentatious duties. Its virtues then are genuine and substantial; for they have not been practised to be seen of men;'· no one can be always a hypocrite at home. They are not forced up to a rapid, sickly growth by the heat of exterior excitement, and therefore ready to wither and perish in a lower temperature of the feelings, whenever that excitement is withdrawn. They are sound, vigorous, deep-seated in the habits of life.

There may be a great deal of zeal to make a parade with abroad; but there can be no piety that is worth anything, unless we are willing to make it a blessing at home, by a patient and faithful fulfilment of noiseless and common-place duties. If we despise these as objects too humble for religion to notice, this life will afford us nothing better or even so good. The occasions for sublime virtue are rare; to most men they never occur at all. Christian principles will languish or die, if they are not habitually exercised in those little quiet duties which are always at hand. As human life is made up of a succession of moments, unimportant when considered singly, so character is formed by a long series

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