by John A. James, 1828
"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Colossians 3:18-21
It is an unquestionable truth, that if a man be not happy at home, he cannot be happy anywhere; and the converse of the proposition is no less true, that he who is happy there, need be miserable no where. Any attempt, however feeble, to render the domestic circle, what it ever should be, a scene of comfort, is at least benevolent. Nor is this a hopeless effort; for he who has the bible in his hand, and speaks as the oracles of God, can disclose at once, and in few words, the important secret. The principles of greatest consequence to mankind, whether we refer to science or to morals, lie not buried deep in gloom and mystery—but are to be found, like the manna of the Israelites, upon the surface of things. The secret of happiness lies folded up in the leaves of the bible, and is carried in the bosom of religion. I know of no other way to felicity, and therefore does not profess to teach any other.
Let the two parties in wedded life be believers in Christ Jesus, and partake themselves of the peace that passes understanding; let them, when they become a father and a mother, bring up their children in the fear of God; and as a master and a mistress, be diligent and successful in instructing their servants in the principles of religion, and if happiness is to be found upon earth, it will be enjoyed within the hallowed circle of a family, thus united by love, and sanctified by grace.
I do not deny that much of worldly comfort may be, and often is, enjoyed in some families, 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 anything but happy ones. In reference to the former, it may be affirmed, that piety, while it would raise their enjoyment to a sublimer kind, and a higher degree of happiness in this world, would also perpetuate it through eternity. While in reference to the latter, it may be remarked, that their disquietude is not produced by religion, but occasioned by the lack 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.