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ing God; and “who hath hardened himself against the Lord, and prospered ?" To neglect this service, is to neglect an important means of our own salvation, and of that of our children and servants; and shall not He require it who has furnished us with the means of life ? and will not they justly reproach us who perish through our neglect? Are we, indeed, prepared to entail present unhappiness and eternal damnation on our own offspring ? To neglect this service, is to despise the warnings of God's word, the promises of his blessing, the overtures of his mercy ; it is to despise peace of conscience, purity of heart, and integrity of life; it is to trifle with all that is sacred in religion, and all that is solemn in the realities of the eternal state. Ponder this, ye who live without family prayer, and say whether your consciences are at ease as you anticipate the judgment to come ?
Let none object, We have not time. Is not all your time the property of God, and are you not bound to glorify him with it? Will you plead that you have not had time to pray when He shall call you to account, and the voice of your children's blood shall cry unto him from the ground ? Say not, We have not ability to pray. How do you know this when you have not tried ? Better use a form, if you have not the gift of prayer, than neglect a solemn duty. Some, perhaps, are afraid that the family will object to it. This may be true ; but it does not destroy your obligations, or alter your duty. You are to rule your children and your own household well. Others are afraid of being singular. Happily the singularity is not now great ; but if you stood alone in this matter, has not Christ said, “ He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; nd he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me; and whosoever will not take up his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me?"
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” “Behold, the Judge standeth before the door.”
“ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
“ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he shall not depart from it.”
“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”
“Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord ; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands; happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house; thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.”
THE FIRST INSTRUCTIONS OF A CHILD. What is the kind of knowledge which children generally acquire of the existence of a being who is greater and wiser than man ?—They are told that God is a great being, who is in heaven, who made them, and all things. In language similar to this, and about as easy for a child to understand, the same idea is often repeated. Thus loosely and imperfectly conveyed, this truth becomes transmitted into something like the following :-God is a very large man ; no, not a man, but like a man ; for he sees, and hears, and makes, and he sits in the clouds ; he made the earth, the sun, the trees, the cows, men, horses, chairs, and every thing else that we see. No one will deny that a confusion something like this exists in the minds of young children, and there are few but will remember their own early be wilderment on even this very threshold of religion. This mixture of truth and error is the common result of defective knowledge. Children, as well as others, who receive incomplete ideas, will arrive at false conclusions.
The next step which a child has to take in error is probably in the course of its early reading lessons. Even in the present day of improvement our schools are not free from lessons tending to confuse more than to enlighten a child's mind. It reads sentences somewhat similar to these :--God is love, God is wise, God is great, God is good. In such lessons the attributes of the Almighty are read and rehearsed, without any illustration of these attributes. Words without ideas are learned, or perhaps, worse still, words with false ideas. What conceptions can a child have of the love, the wisdom, the greatness, or the goodness of God, without clear explanations of those amazing attributes, in language, and by the help of analysis, suited to a child's mind ? Besides, it is probable, if this is not done, that a child will affix such meanings to these words as it is in the habit of applying to things of time and sense, and thus finite ideas are attached to Him who is infinite. Perhaps some sentence similar to the following occurs in the course of a child's reading at this period :—We are fed by God day by day. Here is an elliptical form of expression, far above a child's comprehension. The child is aware that literally it is fed by its parents or friends, and its mind becomes more confused than before respecting the nature of God. If the above sentence be reduced to language within a child's understanding, it will appear something like the following :-God at first created all animals (enumerate some) and all vegetables, (enumerate some,) and he makes them increase and grow. Vegetables and flesh of animals are the food of man.
We eat them. We feed on them. We are fed by eating them. They are given to us by God. If God had not given them to us, we could not be fed. Not one day only, not two days only, &c., but every day, day by day. The inductive method of teaching is too little followed in England. Splendid success accompanies it on some part of the Continent, and in various parts of the United States of America. Its value can only be seen in its effects on the child. The above lesson would, I doubt not, make a durable impression on a very young mind, but even this should not be communicated till care has been taken to show the existence of a God.
THE AGED DEIST.
BY THE EDITOR. Yes, there are pleasures in sin. We have known them, and have pursued them from month to month, and from year to year. As we have gratified our wishes in their enjoyment, we have been the objects of envy to others, who could not pursue them to the same extent. We have proved the fact we have now asserted, as to the existence of these pleasures, and will maintain it, deny it who may.
Yes, there are sorrows in religion. The Christian has griefs with which all other persons are unacquainted. Religion has its commencement in a heart broken for sin ; through life such a man is the subject of peculiar afflictions; and death itself is welcomed as a relief from his sufferings.
All this is true; and what then? Is religion all sorrow? Is sin all pleasure ? Ah! no, quite the reverse. The sorrows of religion are the source of joy; they purify the heart, raise its moral tone, and introduce to the pleasures which are for evermore at the right hand of the blessed God. Is sin all pleasure ? No. The man who tastes them feels that a sting attends them, which mingles poison with the wine of his bliss. The enjoyments of sin are low and base in their origin, degrading in their nature, short in their duration, and calamitous in their results. They originate in the temptations of Satan acting on the depravity of the heart; they lead their possessor far from the Great Source of all good ; they end, at the very farthest, at death ; in life they often, in retrospect, afford much pain; they give additional point to the sting of death, and will awfully add to the misery of the sinner in the day of judgment, and in the regions of eternal despair. Listen, friendly reader, to a narrative of plain facts.
Henry Marshall was a native of the North of England ; his parents felt no proper sense of religion, and his education was derived from a public school, where the forms of devotion were observed, but its spirit was the object of ridicule. He became, as he grew up, immersed in the pleasures of the world ; sensual gratifications were the only objects of his pursuit; and what mankind generally mistake for happiness, the only thing he desired. Conscience often presented its salutary check; the Christian preacher would sometimes proclaim in his ears, “ There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof is death ;" and the decease of a relative would occasionally demand a state of thoughtfulness which contributed much to lessen his enjoyment. He soon found, indeed, that if he continued to pursue his present course, he must do something to get rid of the anguish of spirit which the claims of conscience and of God often inflicted.
Nor is it always difficult to do this. Marshall had unhappily drank into the political system of Paine, and he was gratified to learn, from one of his companions, that this coarse and sophisticated writer had done what he could to demolish the superstructure of Christianity. Feeling most forcibly that the religion of the Bible would never allow him to pursue the sinful pleasures of the world in peace, Marshall sat down to the books of this unhappy infidel with the avowed determination to be a free-thinker, but really in a state of bondage to prejudices against Christianity, and with a secret resolution to reject his Bible, if he could be furnished with a plausible excuse for doing so. wonder that, under such circumstances, he soon became a decided and zealous deist? He found the religion of the Bible opposed to sin, and
this, with him, was a sufficient reason for its rejection. He collected around him a number of the gay and thoughtless, exerted his influence to deliver them from what he called the trammels of education, and not a few of them became the enemies of the government of Heaven, injurious to their fellow-men, and daily more prepared for an eternal residence with blasphemous rebels against God.
When I first knew poor Marshall, he had removed to a part of the kingdom very remote from his native place; he had resided in the parish in which I met with him, evidently an unhappy man, for thirty or forty years; and had awfully assisted to sow the seeds of infidelity throughout the whole neighbourhood. More than seventy winters had scattered their snows on his head, and, proud of his supposed intellect, he stood prominently forward as the bold, uncompromising apostle of infidelity. Half-educated young men mistook his sophistical declamation for argument, repeated after him the thousand times refuted objections against religion, and identified the sins of professors with Christianity itself.
It was a favourite topic with this unhappy man, that pleasure is the only object worthy of pursuit; and that the gratification of our desires, of whatever kind, constitutes the secret of happiness. Hence he urged the importance of seeking to enjoy ourselves now, as death would soon lay us in eternal sleep; thus saying, with the ancient heathen, " Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die;" and hence the pleasures of the table, the conversation of the scorner, and the commission of awful sins of other kinds, went to characterize his life.
And was he happy? I have seen him, reader, when his sophistries have been exposed to his associates, trembling with rage; I have seen him, when the realities of God and eternity have been presented to view, and their awful splendour painted before him, agonised with fear; and I have seen, when an appeal has been made to his conscience,—when he has been asked if he dare, feeling as he must sometimes feel, that he was not far from the end of his mortal career, confidently assert his conviction as to the non-existence of an hereafter; if he dare, with death before him, declare that he had no fear of a world to come, and that he looked forward to the
with composure, I have seen him, on such occasions, dumb, and powerfully agitated. Nay, I have even heard him admit, in some of his more serious moments, when away from his companions, that he durst not think of death—that he felt the possibility of religion being true—that certainly those who lived under its influence were far happier than others—and that if his hopes of its falsehood failed him, his disappointment would be great indeed.
Reader, this man was a “lover of pleasure more than a lover of God.” I saw him in all the decrepitude of old age. Nature had withdrawn from him his former flow of animal spirits, his vices had destroyed his health, infidelity denied alike the sympathy of friendship, and calm serenity of mind. He ceased to boast of the consolations of deism, but continued to reject the truths of revelation. Death removed him from this scene of his sins, but the manner of his departure was carefully concealed by his family from all who knew him.
And are these, O sin, thy pleasures? Will they impart no dignity, , no hope, no peace to my soul ? Will they afford no consolation when the trials of life.weigh down my spirits ? Will they diffuse around me no happiness? Will they embitter my cup as I approach another world? Will they add new pangs to the world of misery, as I contemplate how awfully I have contributed to the misery of those around me ? If this be the nature, and these are the effects of the pleasures given by infidelity, I hereby for ever renounce them ; I will choose, with Moses, “ rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
What if religion has its sorrows! They are feelings of a holy and salutáry kind. They are the tears which flow from regret for deserting the Fountain of joy. They prove that religion has softened the heart, and that the blessed God is disposing us to seek happiness in the way of his own appointment. Oh, my dear reader, let us return to the Great Being, who created and who has blessed us, but from whom we have so awfully departed ; let us be truly grateful that he invites our approach to the throne of his grace, and give to his service the remaining portion of our days, looking for the enjoyment of his mercy, through our Lord Jesus Christ, even to eternal life. There is deliverance from hell, and the happiness of heaven, to be obtained from none other; but here even we may find it. Let us not then close our eyes to the mercy of Heaven, nor our ears to the invitations of almighty grace, which call us to the pleasures which are at the right hand of God for evermore.
THE TREASURED BLISS. It must be as wonderful that man should dwell with God in heaven, as that the Lord should dwell on the earth ; and yet, great as is the privilege, all the saints shall share it. These sanctuary services are intended to fit the soul, through the influences of the Holy Spirit, for approaching the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, the church of the first-born, God the Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. Our earthly Sabbaths are but foretastes of a Sabbath that shall never end. The necessity for distinct houses for worship shall shortly cease. When the beloved disciple at Patmos had a vision of the holy city, he saw no temple therein ; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. In heaven, so direct will be the displays of the Divine glory, and so amply and immediately will the dilated faculties of the soul be filled from the fulness of God, as to render all auxiliaries for ever unnecessary.
Raise your contemplations, beloved brethren, to that state of perfect blessedness which is before you. In their nature and in their source, the joys of saints in heaven and saints on earth are the same; but, in numerous circumstances, they greatly differ. When we meet in his sanctuary now, the assembly is a mixed one. He that feareth God, and he that feareth him not, sit and hear, and sing together ; but in the mansions above, the people will all be holy. Here, in their happiest moments, the saints find a sinful nature defiling their purest services;