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of acts, insignificant perhaps in themselves, but as units in the sum of moral existence and germs of deep-rooted habit, they will influence our whole future destiny.

I would not be understood to recommend that kind of exclusive benevolence, which, like selfish charity, begins and ends at home. As social beings we have other and remoter relations, each of which imposes its own duties. All the kind affections are diffusive in their character; God has given us a sympathetic nature, that we may employ its powers and affections in receiving and communicating happiness. Home must not be a sphere of repulsion. We may become thoroughly and inordinately selfish, by a too exclusive devotion to those, whom we are in the habit of regarding as a portion of ourselves. We are not allowed to retire into lonely and unsocial existence, feeling none of the hidden ties by which all generous hearts are linked together, and sending abroad no thrilling affections to seek answering sympathies in other bosoms. By no means, Both happiness and virtue are promoted by a large and free communion of mind with mind, and of heart with heart. As social beings, we have social wants and social duties. But as our duties are more numerous, our obligations more intense, and our good office's more wanted in proportion as our connexions are the closer, I would endeavor to make home the centre and nursery of all kind affections and generous virtues; and let them flow out from this exhaustless fountain of good influences, whenever remoter objects call for their exercise. Home then has claims upon us, to which all other claims are by their own nature secondary. How important it is, that we should all be true to these sacred

claims! If every individual would be faithful to these first duties which nature has prescribed, how few would be the demands for foreign aid and sympathy! How large a proportion of the whole of human misery is caused by those, who are, in some way or other, false to their domestic relations!


There is a great deal implied in making provision for our own.' Who are our own? All, certainly, to whom we are bound by ties of nature or affection. And what is this provision? Nothing less than happiness. It is not to provide for physical wants only; but for intellectual, moral, spiritual- all the wants of our imperishable nature, by the gratification of which happiness may be secured or misery averted. If it is our duty to provide bread for our families, it is not less our duty to provide every means of knowledge, virtue and comfort. This comfort we may promote by showing 'piety at home' in some of its most blessed fruits-diligence, good temper, kindness, a considerate and tender regard for every feeling which we may have power to wound or to soothe. How much of self-control, of disinterested affection and of deep religious sense of duty it requires, to be a good father, or mother, or husband, or wife, or son, or brother! Almost every grace and virtue under heaven is put forth in habitually showing piety at home.' Every step taken in this course of natural and tranquil duty is carrying ourselves, and perhaps others, towards the perfection and glory of our nature.


Though it was my main design to speak generally of the duties we owe each other in the domestic relations, I cannot leave unnoticed a particular obligation of parents to their children. Their influence qualifies them in a

peculiar manner, to cultivate the minds and affections of the young immortals committed to their charge. Whether high or low, rich or poor, all are responsible for the religious instruction of their own. There is an education which no learning can give, and no wealth can buy, which nothing but parental affection can impart. None but parents can inspire children with the unbounded confidence necessary to make their influence complete. This, observes an eloquent writer, 'is a part of domestic education, which cannot be devolved on strangers, and which, if not performed by parents, is not performed at all. A religion of the head may be acquired elsewhere; but for the religion of the heart, the child must drink it in with the accents that flow from the parental heart, as they fall from the parental lips.' Sunday schools and other schools must not be regarded as substitutes for parental instruction and influence; but merely as aids and extraneous advantages. And let no parent suppose himself incapable of fulfilling this sacred duty. 'God never places beings in a relation to each other,' says Dr Channing, 'without giving them strength to perform the duties arising from it. In all the arrangements we make for the improvement of children, we must be careful not to interfere with the natural connexions which God has established; but endeavor to aid and give effect to the influence of such connexions.' We must endeavor then to make home the nursery of early devotion.

This leads me to notice another branch of domestic duty, of such importance that it is often emphatically called 'family religion.' I mean habitual domestic worship. I fear this practice is not held in sufficient

estimation. If we would accomplish the sublimest ends of existence, as spiritual and immortal beings- if we would fulfil the highest domestic duties with joy, hope, and success if we would keep our hearts open to the most blessed influences and consolations of religion, we shall seek communion with the Father of our spirits in the bosom of our families; and our filial and cheerful piety will heighten the joys of our lot, and take away the bitterness from the inevitable sorrows and disappointments of life. Let the sacred fire, once kindled on the domestic altar, never be quenched. Never let our children and domestics be left to suppose that God is for one day forgotten. Let them daily see that we place our confidence and hope in Him; that we seek protection under his sheltering providence ; that we find our happiness in his service; that we feel his presence in our loneliness, and rejoice in our hours of devotion, when his spirit comes over our hearts in peace and in power. Let them see that we are faithful disciples of Jesus; and we may then teach their young affections to spread outward and upward from the circle of domestic love, and gather round the kind Saviour who took little children in his arms and blessed them. This is a duty of vast importance, not to ourselves only, but to our children, and even to remote generations, whom the breathings of a pious spirit may successively reach. Time will put no limits to its good influences; they will extend from age to age, and be fully known only in eternity.

II. Home is not only the nursery of life's best virtues, but, when these virtues are cherished, it is the abode of its purest happiness. The sum of human enjoy

ment is not to be measured by transient raptures resulting from powerful excitement. Violent emotions are never lasting; and I do not know that they are often desirable. If a man cannot find happiness enough to satisfy him in the tranquil and rational pleasures of home, he is not likely to meet with it anywhere. He may have a kind of enjoyment; but he will look in vain for peace in a life of feverish dissipation. His inordinate excitements will be succeeded by languor without the rest of the weary, and remorse without the hope of the penitent. He has launched upon a fluctuating ocean, now agitated by an inspiring breeze, now subsiding into a sluggish calm—not the tranquillity of reposing nature, but the fearful stillness which betokens the coming tempest and shipwreck.

In the home of virtuous life there is pleasure, pure, peaceful and satisfying. All that is dear in friendship or tender in affection, all that can interest our sympathies or awaken our sensibilities, is associated with the word 'home.' The happiness of the domestic fireside is unenvied, often unnoticed, because it is not ostentatious and imposing. It is felt in the deep silence of the soul, but is too delicate and sacred to be proclaimed and admired. There are joys and sorrows of the heart, with which the stranger intermeddleth not.'

This happiness, so pure, so tranquil, so dear, is accessible to all, who do not turn away from its living fountains in pursuit of coarser pleasure. It belongs to every heart, which is rich in social virtues and affections. These may be taught to grow and cluster round our own loved home, and ripen into fruits to gladden and bless it. And they are not rare and exotic plants, reared with a toil

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