The Christian Family
Joshua 24:15. "As for ME and my house, we will serve the Lord."
The image of this impressive passage is taken from the highest form of human society- the family constitution. There exists not, among earthly institutions, a diviner, holier, or more beauteous one than the domestic. It was among the earliest, as among the wisest and most beneficent, creations of God; and, when it has been preserved in its integrity- pure, honored, and sanctified -it has proved a well-spring of individual happiness, social progress, and national prosperity, of the loftiest character.
The human race- sinful and divided as it is- has never entirely lost its family instincts and domestic yearnings. Separated from its Divine Creator, and, consequently, separated from itself, mankind still crave and strive after unity. To meet this want and to satisfy this desire, men have devised and employed various expedients. The sword has been drunk with blood; Commerce has spread its canvas upon every sea; Ecclesiasticism has employed its engine of power; but all attempts to accomplish a unity of the race into one great family, under one supreme human will and head, have proved signal and complete failures. Thus the experiment has been tried without effect, upon a grand and costly scale.
But what was impossible for man has proved possible with God. The Lord Jesus has done what no chivalry, or commerce, or ecclesiasticism could do. By His incarnation He taught the doctrine of a common humanity; a humanity shared alike by the subject as by the Sovereign, by the unlearned as by the philosopher, by the slave as by the master- the human race "made of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth" and by His death upon the cross, He moulds all who believe in Him into one holy brotherhood, constituting the ONE FAMILY of God. Now, of this essentially one family of God, the domestic institution is a beautiful and perfect type. It is from this institution the passage which I have selected, as suggesting the thoughts of the present introduction, derives its expressive image.
Joshua was the head of a household. He was an eminent servant of God. As such, he was one of the most distinguished personal types of the Lord Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament. On the death of Moses he was appointed to lead the sacred tribes into the promised land. Although the great legislator of Israel had brought them up out of Egypt, and had led them through the wilderness to the borders of Canaan, he was not permitted to complete the work he had undertaken, but was compelled to relinquish into the hands of Joshua the honor of settling the tribes of Israel in the promised land. It is, perhaps, in this part of his remarkable history that his typical relation to the Lord Jesus Christ first appears. Moses could only lead the children of Israel to the border of Canaan; but Joshua led them into Canaan, and settled them in the good land.
Thus did the Lord Jesus Christ accomplish for us what the law, of which Moses was the type, could not do. The law convinces of sin, but is totally inadequate to justify or save ; and, therefore, could never effect our entrance into heaven, and make us possessors of the inheritance which we lost in the first Adam, but which we regain in Christ the Second Adam. Thus, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes." Thus, too, we are taught that, "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified:" that, as the sacred tribes looked to Joshua to conduct them into Canaan, and not to Moses, so we as sinners are to look in faith to Jesus, and not to the law, to bring us to heaven.
The law is a mirror to reflect our sinfulness, and not a laver to cleanse our guilt. Looking into this holy and perfect law, we see our true image as sinners- but, washing in the atoning blood of Jesus, we are cleansed from all sin. Joshua, therefore, signifies Jesus, because he temporally saved the children of Israel by conducting them fully into Canaan; and so it was said of our blessed Savior, "His name shall be called JESUS, for He shall SAVE His People from their sins."
But, in addition to his civil relation to the Church of God, Joshua filled the sacred office of a Christian minister; he was, as it were, a priest over his own house, and hence it was a pious house. It was here, amid its hallowed influences, doubtless, that his personal piety was nourished, his religious character was nurtured, and his spirit was trained and encouraged to undertake and achieve great things for God and for His Church.
He lived in degenerate times- amid much laxity of morals and religious declension, against which he was enabled, by the grace of God, to oppose a powerful and decided resistance. The children of Israel were proud, vacillating, and rebellious. To them he addressed the solemn, searching words, "You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God; He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. Put away the strange gods which are among you, and incline your hearts unto the Lord God of Israel." And then appealing to his own personal and solemn decision, he gave utterance to the noble sentiment of our text. Whatever religious declension might exist within the church, however the people of the land should pervert their ways, decline from the fear of the Most High, forsake His ordinances, and set up strange gods in their dwellings, and be so corrupt as to destroy their households, there yet can be one home consecrated to God, one sanctuary within which true piety should find a retreat- one safe asylum for real religion, one altar upon which should glow the fire of faith and virtue, of devotion and love to God.
"As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord." He had vowed to the Lord, that both he and his family should be on the Lord's side, and from that vow he would not go back. He could not rule the State nor command the Church to the extent that he wished; but he could be the minister of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ in his own home -among his own kindred; and he was resolved that, personally and relatively, both he and his house should serve the Lord. If all the tribes of Israel had determined to leave God- if all the families of these separate tribes had determined to forsake the sanctuary and abjure the worship of the Most High, yet this pious parent's heart was fixed, his mind was determined; he would dare to be singular, and to stand alone, though the thousands who had cast off the fear of Jehovah should bend upon him their contemptuous frown. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Holy and magnanimous resolve!
Let us first contemplate the sphere of Joshua's religion: it was his HOME. Next to the Church of God, the most sacred enclosure, and the most important and precious institution, is the domestic. Home is a hallowed and endeared spot. No earthly association can be so important or interesting as a family. Here exist the closest relations, here flow the warmest affections, and here are experienced the tenderest sympathies. It is here the painter finds the most touching subject for his pencil; and the poet the sweetest inspiration of his song. Whatever loneliness reigns in other communities, or clouds shade other spots, there is always companionship and sunshine here.
But this is not all that constitutes a happy home. Although the family connection may be viewed as the only sanctuary of earthly bliss, we cannot blind our eyes to the fact that sin has invaded its sanctity, poisoning its joys, marring its loveliness, and shading its brightness. There may, it is true, be much that is amiable and attractive where nothing exists but the natural affections, clothed in their native simplicity, and regulated by refined education; but, apart from home piety, severed from the Christian graces shedding their heavenly influence over the family circle, all this loveliness of nature fades into the cold light of an inanimate picture, the color is brilliant, and the figures expressive, but the whole lacks life!
The body is fair and symmetrical, but the soul- the living image of God- is absent. I have referred to the importance of the family institution: it cannot be exaggerated. It is here that human life begins, and often closes, its earthly pilgrimage; here it is trained for this world, and disciplined for the world that is to come; here the seeds of thought are sown, and the young ideas are taught to shoot; here the germs of those principles are implanted that are to regulate all the future of our being; here the boy is trained to be the man; and the bud of feminine virtue and loveliness, beneath the warm sunlight of a parent's eye, blooms into the full-blown flower of the future woman.
Here, too, is the cradle of greatness. From this sacred ark, the Pulpit and the Bench, the Senate, the University, and the National Service draw the great men by whom their ranks are replenished and enriched. But, transcending in importance is the truth that, the family is the nursery of the family of God- the earthly home is the school of the home of heaven. Within the domestic garden God is training His trees of righteousness- the plants and flowers of paradise. There are, perhaps, few of God's children who are not able to trace some of their earliest and deepest serious thoughts and religious impressions, the formation of sacred tastes and habits, which, in subsequent life, exerted so happy a control, to the influence and ministry of a Christian home. It was home instruction that sowed the seed, home influence that promoted its growth, and home example that gave to the bud its existence, to the flower its perfection, and to the tree its shape.
The relation of the Christian family to the Christian Church is of the closest and most solemn nature. It is both the type and the nursery of the Church. The Church rises out of the family, to which it is strikingly and beautifully analogous. Thus Christian parents are the nursing-fathers and the nursing-mothers of the Church. I do not know of a more touching and impressive argument for the cultivation of "piety at home,"than this. Let every pious family keep this thought prominently before it- We are contributing to the up building of that glorious Church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood; from our sacred enclosure she is transferring to her own our sons and daughters- destined, in their turn, to supply an endless succession of the "holy seed" to the Church of our "Lord Jesus Christ, of whom, the whole family in heaven and earth is named."
Here is an argument for family religion, and a plea for the ministry of home, cogent and irresistible! Honored and happy parents, who live to see the precious seed of truth and piety you sowed in early years- perchance with "strong crying and tears "-now yielding so rich a harvest. Your sons as plants, grown up in their youth; and your daughters as corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a palace. Such will ever be the fruit of the ministry of home.
Viewed in this point of light, what sacred spots, what centers of influence, what sources of power, and what founts of happiness are Christian homes! They may be humble and obscure; often embittered with domestic affliction and darkened with the clouds of adversity, the pressure of poverty, the anxiety of sickness, the shadow of bereavement may seldom be absent; and yet they are Christian homes, and therefore happy homes! Christian love unites the members, God's fear rules their hearts, His Word is the light in the dwelling, and the peace which Jesus gives shades with its balmy wing the sacred circle.
"Better than gold is a Christian home,
Where all the fireside charities come
The shrine of love, the haven of life,
Hallowed by mother, or sister, or wife.
However humble the home may be,
Or tried with sorrow by heaven's decree
The blessings, that never were bought or sold,
And center there, are better than gold."
Nor must we entirely overlook the moral relation of the Christian family to the State: it is close and vital. As families compose the fabric of the State, so the State derives its character and stability from the moral and religious character of those families. The Commonwealth will be what its domestic institution makes it. When society cease to be molded into families, and families cease to be sanctified by religion, "Ichabod " may be written upon the State- for its glory and its stability will have departed!
The family constitution is a vast moral power, and may be employed as an engine for good or for evil to an incalculable extent. Compare the moral and religious condition of England and Scotland with Spain and France; then, institute an inquiry into the domestic economy of each, and it will not be difficult to arrive at the cause of so vast a moral difference between nations, in other respects equally great and noble. In France and in Spain the family enclosure is invaded by a foreign foe, styled the Director, or Spiritual Guide; and the family hearth has ceased to be the corner-stone of God's own domestic institution, and both the temple of home and the edifice of religion are eaten at the very core, and sapped at the very base by "the canker-worm of many a gentle heart." But both of England and Scotland, as of other Protestant countries, it may be said of this sheltering vine- the family constitution- as was beautifully said of the Jewish Church of old- "You prepared room before it, and did cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river."
I return to the thought- Christian families constitute the nursery of the Christian Church, and the Christian Church constitutes the conservator of the State. A nation in which the Domestic Economy is lightly estimated, or whose families are destitute of religion- in which no domestic altar is reared, where God's Word is discarded, and household instruction is neglected, and family government is prostrated- will, in spite of fervent preaching, and popular education, and costly philanthropy, naturally and inevitably lead to bad government, a dissolute people, the prevalence of social wrong, religious paralysis, and moral death.
On the other hand, let society be built up into families; let those families be organized upon, and be regulated by, the principles of God's Word; let the head be a king, a priest, and a prophet in its midst; let parental authority be maintained, and filial obedience be observed; in a word, let them be homes in which God is feared; Christ is confessed, the Sabbath is hallowed, and piety is nurtured, and we shall behold the reverse of the sad picture I have sketched- a sound Commonwealth, a healthy Government; a peaceful community, advancing religion, a prosperous Church, and a happy country.
Of what moment, then, that our domestic constitution should be molded by vital godliness- that family government should be based upon the precepts of the Bible- that home-life should be sanctified by the spirit of holiness, and that our households should be sanctuaries of God: parents, children, servants, all forming the Church in the house. "Blessed is every one that fears the Lord; that walks in His ways. For you shall eat the labor of your hands: happy shall you be, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of your house: your children like olive plants round about your table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that fears the Lord. The Lord shall bless you out of Zion: and you shall see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, you shall see your children's children, and peace upon Israel." Such was the sphere of Joshua's religion.
Let us now look at his religion itself. It began with himself. "As for me." The parent is the head of the family- its sovereignty of authority and government. A father's position is one of immense power and responsibility. How important that he should be a man of God- a priest in his own house! Here the ministry of home has its seat. Home piety seldom rises above the parental standard; like father, like children. It was a noble testimony to Abraham's paternal piety which Jehovah bore, when He said of him- "I know that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord."
Of what infinite moment, then, that the father of a family should be a Christian man- that his influence should be sanctified, and his example sanctifying; that his religion should be the religion of the Bible, which is the religion of Jesus; and that his domestic life should be a "burning and a shining light," shedding its softening, hallowing influence upon all the relations, and duties, and members of home.
Not less important is the domestic position of the mother. A mother's influence is proverbial; it cannot be too highly valued, nor too warmly appreciated. She is the central power of home. She may not be called the head of the family, but its heart she certainly is. To her hands the interests of the family are chiefly confided; on her the happiness of home mainly depends. She it is who supplies the Church with its brightest ornaments, the pulpit with its holiest ministers, the state with its strongest pillars. She shapes the destiny of future generations; and if she is a holy woman- a praying mother, trusting in God, and faithful to her mission- there is not a strong and a brave man battling with the world, guiding the state, or toiling for the Church, who is not, like Anteeus, all the stronger, the braver, and the happier, by the power of her influence, the music of her voice, and the memory of her love.
Of what moment, then, that the mother should be a godly, Christ-loving, praying woman! A child left to itself," says Solomon, "brings its mother to shame." Why the mother, and not the father? Because the early mental and spiritual training of that child- the development and mold of its character were more especially confided to its mother's hands; she becomes, as it were, responsible for its future course. The man is what the child was; and the child is what a mother's teaching, prayers, and example make it.
The history of a pious mother's influence is one of the most instructive and interesting the Church historian ever compiled. In addition to the sacred history of Moses and Samuel, of John the Baptist and Timothy, we might refer to at least a majority of the twelve Apostles of Jesus as the offspring of holy women; who, though moving in the humbler ranks of life, possessed the patent of a higher nobility than man could confer, in that they belonged to the devout women of old who waited in the temple for the "Consolation of Israel." They were holy women, therefore they were praying mothers; and it is utterly impossible that the prayers and early pious instruction of a Christian mother can be entirely lost.
Let one or two examples suffice: A weak and sickly infant was once launched into life. He was the last of a family of twenty children. So frail and helpless seemed this little boy that he was laid aside as one that was dead. A mother's quick eye, however, detected signs of animation, and her warm bosom roused the sinking pulse, and her sleepless care won back the life doomed to destruction. He grew up a sickly child, of feeble constitution and pulmonary tendencies. And yet that little sickly, consumptive boy was the embryo of a great and holy man. Hidden in that fragile frame were germs of great intellectual power, -one of the noblest, loveliest, and most commanding spirits that ever animated our humanity. Sitting upon her lap, his pious mother was wont to interest and instruct her frail sickly child from the china Dutch tiles which ornamented the chimney-piece of her humble room, upon which were rudely yet truthfully traced various Scripture histories. Thus, when he could read, the mind of her pupil was well stored with a large amount of Scripture knowledge, both of the Old and the New Testaments. Referring to this interesting fact when grown to be a great and good man, he says- "The wise and pious reflections which she made upon these stories were the means of enforcing such good impressions on my heart as never were worn out." Such was the basis upon which in after years rose one of the noblest Christian characters, and such the nucleus around which were gathered those holy principles and lovely thoughts, and yet lovelier disposition, which through forty years of suffering life shed their holy light and influence upon countless other minds. And as long as the Church on earth lasts, and vital godliness is admired, and religious truth influences, Doddridge's "Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul," will never die.
And when you consult the Biblical Commentary, and sing the Spiritual Hymns, and trace the progress of experimental religion as they flowed from the pen of Philip Doddridge, pause, and bless the memory of that mother whose hands sowed the precious seed which in after years yielded so golden, so great a harvest- and yields it still!
One of the most interesting annals of the Christian Church would be a compilation illustrating the power and success of a mother's prayers. Recently a young sailor, the son of pious parents, left his boarding-house in one of our large cities, bent on a sinful excursion. On his way he passed a mission station, where a religious service was being held. Attracted by the sound of music, but doubtless influenced by the Spirit of God upon his heart, he was induced to enter. The truth which he then heard was brought home with a quickening and converting power to his soul; and he went to sea again a new creature in Christ Jesus. On his return voyage, he found, on his arrival, a letter awaiting him at the Post Office: it was from his mother, announcing the heavy tidings of his father's death. She informed him that on her retiring from his grave she bowed at the throne of grace in a special and importunate prayer for the conversion of her absent child. On comparing dates, the sailor-boy discovered that that earnest prayer was ascending to God from the stricken heart of his widowed mother at the very time that he was so strangely led to the mission service, and from thence went to sea with a new song of salvation in his mouth. Well may this converted sailor ask, as with deep emotion he related the circumstance of his conversion, "Can any one doubt the efficacy of prayer?"
Christian mothers! your child may be far away from the sheltering home, voyaging on the stormy sea, or dwelling in some distant climate beyond your voice. But he is still within the reach of the mightiest power a mother can wield- the power of prayer! And although you cannot throw around him your maternal arms to shield him from the evil of the world, you can invest him with your wrestling believing petitions, and secure on his behalf the Arm which encircles the globe, and is mighty to save. Oh that the Church of God may be filled with such praying mothers!
But the religion of home, though it naturally begins with the head- the united head of the family is not to remain there. Joshua would not serve the Lord alone. His noble resolution embraced all his belongings. "Me and my house." He was not content with his own personal religion and devotedness. He was not satisfied to go to heaven himself, indifferent to, and unaccompanied by, those who stood to him in so close, tender, and responsible a relation as children and domestics. If he had ceased to be a leader, he had not ceased to be a parent. Nor did he merge his personal in his official duties, and in serving as a minister the Church of God, forget that he was a minister to the Church in his own house.
It is sadly to be deplored that many of Christ's ministering servants, and also many private heads of families, are so completely engrossed by the public, and absorbed by official and professional engagements, as to leave almost entirely neglected, or but slovenly performed, the ministry of home. "He made me keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept," may well be the lamentation of many officially connected with the Church of God.
But what an illustrious example of supreme devotedness to God in all the relations of life, domestic and official, have we before us! No office-bearer in the Church was, ever called to a higher post, to more exacting duties, or to a weightier responsibility than Joshua! And yet this was his noble resolve- "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!" Official engagements were not allowed to override individual responsibility; nor were the claims of the Church permitted to set aside those of the family. The interests of the tribes of Israel did not interfere with those of his household, nor the reponsibilities which attached to his official relation to the Church of God, crucify the obligations and duties which bound him to the home of his heart. Weary from the public duties appertaining to the sacred tribes, like David, after settling the restore dark, he "returned to bless his household."
And not to bless them only, but to be blessed, to experience within its sacred bosom the soothing and repose found only there, amid the anxieties, chafings, and jadedness of official and public life. What an ark of wealth- what a haven of safety- what a pillow of rest is a Christian home, whose the motto is- "We will serve the Lord!"
The whole subject resolves itself into a conclusion pregnant with the most weighty and solemn thought that real religion- the religion of Christ- is the true conservative principle- the only true safeguard- of a home. It was the astute remark of an eminent divine of a former age, "A family without religion is like a house without a roof, exposed to every storm." And of another who, at a later period, when referring to the advantage of family prayer, speaks of it as, "The border which keeps the web of daily life from unraveling." Can the Christian mind picture to itself a spectacle more melancholy than that of a family without vital religion?- the circle being wholly for this world, without any consideration of the world to come. It is devoted intently and supremely to the pursuits and pleasures, to the gaieties and enjoyments of this life; it has no thought beyond the gratification of its own selfishness. Time is devoted to dress and fashion, to the ball, the theater, the opera, and the gratification of sense.
Its tastes may be refined, its manners polished, its mind cultivated and intelligent; there are not lacking affection, sympathy, assimilation of tastes, concord, and mutual well-pleasing: but it is a "home without a roof," -it is entirely destitute of the hallowing, softening, ennobling influence of religion. God is not feared, Christ is not confessed, the saints are not recognized by the members of that family; the Gospel of Jesus is scorned, the name of God profaned, and the subject of religion tabooed as distasteful, or banished as a bore.
Am I drawing a too highly colored picture? Then, take a family decidedly of the world, yet with some semblance of religion. Prayers may be read, the house of God frequented, the Sacrament observed- and this is all! With this outward form of godliness there is no world-crucifying, sin-mortifying power. The one is still in the ascendant, and the other maintains the mastery; and, with all its sacred profession and form, it is still a family without religion- a family without God!
Contemplate the future- the eternal future of that family! One by one passes away into eternity; the silver-haired sire, the venerable mother, the manly son, the beautiful daughter- each and all without a saving interest in Christ, without the converting grace of the Spirit, without a good hope of heaven: and all to meet again in the world of woe, to deplore their folly, and to rue in endless suffering and mutual reproach their fatal choice. O there is something in the thought too appalling for the mind to dwell upon- a whole family passing unprepared into eternity! -lost, forever lost!
Truly, a family destitute of vital religion has no covering amid the pitiless, pelting storms of this world's adversities, and no shelter from the eternal storm of Divine wrath in the world that is to come. But it is not too late earnestly and prayerfully to seek family religion. Fairly and in good faith try the experiment. Enthrone God supremely upon the domestic altar; make Him the center of your family- to whom your first and last thoughts shall converge, from whom your chief happiness shall flow, and in whom all your highest and noblest actions shall end. Seek the converting power of the Holy Spirit, the sanctifying grace of Christ Jesus. Put away from you the strange household gods you worship- an infidel and frivolous literature, immodest works of art- the card playing- the private theatricals- the licentious dance- with everything inconsistent with a Christian home- a home regulated and sanctified by the holy, unearthly, unworldly religion of Jesus; and let this be the all-governing principle of your home, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Listen to the invitation of God- "Come, you and all your house into the Ark." Let not any neglect, as Christian parents, of the religious duties of home- any indifference to the moral and spiritual welfare of our children and servants, any too fond parental indulgence or allowance of wilful filial disobedience, any sanction given to Sabbath desecration, or neglect of Bible study, or ignoring of the family altar- give countenance or weight to the popular, I had almost said vulgar, notion that the children of ministers of the Gospel, and those of Christian parents, are the worst trained in Christian knowledge, and the most lax in the religious principles, precepts, and duties of life- in a word, are the most irreligious children of society! The accusation I believe to be wrong in theory and unfounded in fact. Nevertheless, let not this shadow rest upon our domestic escutcheon through our too great absorption in public life, to an exclusion of the claims and power of the ministry of home.
"We will serve the Lord!" This is the noblest end of life- may this be this our aim! What Christian parent longs not that this should be the distinctive feature of his house? Of what infinite moment that you should be a truly converted parent, loving God, and serving the Lord Jesus Christ ! O consider your parental responsibility, the force of your teaching, the power of your example, the influence of your whole life in molding the future destiny of your household. Let not your children have reason to curse your memory; but, rather, when the clods of the valley press lightly upon you, may they rise up and call you blessed!
As a Christian parent, then, you have every encouragement to persevere in carrying out the noble resolution, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." The promise is to you and to your children- and oh what a promise it is- "I will be a God unto you, and to your seed after you." Plead that great and precious promise in faith, and God will make it good, and shower upon your domestic circle such blessings as He only can bestow- such as shall cheer and hallow your dwelling now, and enrich you and yours hereafter. Happy home! when Christianity is the all-ruling, all-pervading power. All is harmony and peace within its sacred enclosure. Animated by one and the same holy religion of Jesus, and traveling the same road to Zion, the members of such a family take sweet council together, and are helpers of each other's joy. The natural asperities of temper are softened, discordant feelings and interests are harmonized, coldness and selfishness are banished, and the domestic circle becomes an emblem of heaven.
Into that heaven all shall finally enter, and eternally meet! Think not that this holy circle, where Christ's cementing love was felt, and by whom God was worshiped with the beauty of holiness, are, when they go hence, forever lost to each other. Oh no! that pious family shall meet again, to go no more out forever; but to enjoy, with cherubim and seraphim and with the spirits of just men made perfect, unmingled happiness, perennial joy, and immortal glory! Thrice blessed family! You made the happy choice, and formed the noble resolution that you would serve the Lord. Yours was the wisdom not to set your affections upon the riches, the honors, or the pleasures which endure but for a moment, but on things eternal- on God, on Christ, on holiness, on heaven. You preferred affliction with the people of God, to the pleasures of sin for a season. You chose the despised LAMB as your pattern. You followed His steps, bore His cross, did His service; and He sustained you in every trial, soothed you in grief, was with you in death, and has now planted your feet triumphantly on Mount Zion. Such is the golden, everlasting fruit of the Ministry of Home!
"Father of all! Your care we bless,
Which crowns our families with peace;
From You they spring, and by Your hand
They have been and are still sustained.
To God, most worthy to be praised,
Be our domestic altar raised;
Who, Lord of heaven, scorns not to dwell
With saints in their obscurest cell.
To You may each united house
Morning and night present its vows;
Our servants there, and rising race,
Are taught Your precepts and Your grace.
Oh, may each future age proclaim
The honor of Your glorious name;
While, pleased and thankful, we remove
To join the family above.