« AnteriorContinua »
One great reason, perhaps, why there are so many such homes is, that there are now so many irreligious marriages, where husband and wife are 'unequally yoked together," one a believer and the other not. "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" Can there be family religion when husband and wife are traveling to eternity in opposite roads? No! There will be hindrances instead of "helps." If they marry not "in the Lord," religion will not be in their home. Says the pious Jay, "I am persuaded that it is very much owing to the prevalence of these indiscriminate and unhallowed connections, that we have fallen so far short of those men of God, who are gone before us, in the discharge of family worship, and in the training up of our households in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Family religion is implied in the marriage relation and obligation. It is included in the necessities of our children, and in the covenant promises of God. The penalties of its neglect, and the rewards of our faithfulness to it, should prompt us to its establishment in our homes. Its absence is a curse; its presence a blessing. It is a foretaste of heaven. Like manna, it will feed our souls, quench our thirst, sweeten the cup of life, and shed a halo of glory and of gladness around our firesides. Let yours, therefore, be the religious home; and then be sure that God will delight to dwell therein, and His blessing will descend, like the dews of heaven, upon it. Your children shall
"not be found begging bread," but shall be like "olive plants around your table,”—the “heritage of the Lord." Yours will be the home of love and harmony; it shall have the charter of family rights and privileges, the ward of family interests, the palladium of family hopes and happiness. Your household piety will be the crowning attribute of your peaceful home,-the "crown of living stars" that shall adorn the night of its tribulation, and the pillar of cloud and of fire in its pilgrimage to a "better country. "better country." It shall strew the family threshold with the flowers of promise, and enshrine the memory of loved ones gone before, in all the fragrance of that "blessed hope" of reunion in heaven which looms up from a dying hour. It shall give to the infant soul its "perfect flowering," and expand it in all the fullness of a generous love and conscious blessedness, making it "lustrous in the livery of divine knowledge." And then in the dark hour of home separation and bereavement, when the question is put to thee, mourning parents, "Is it well with the child? is it well with thee?" you can answer with joy, "It is well!”
HE RELATION OF HOME TO THE CHURCH.
THE Christian home sustains a direct relation to the church. This relation is similar to that which it sustains to the state. The nature and mission of home demand the church. The former is the adumbration of the latter. The one is in the other. "Greet the church that is in thine house." The church was in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, in the tent of Abraham, and in the palace of David. It must be in every Christian home, and every Christian home must be in the church. In a word, our families must be churchly.
This relation is vital and necessary,-a relation of mutual dependence. The family is a preparation for the church, subordinate to it, and must, therefore, throw its influence in its favor, be moulded by it, and labor with direct reference to the church in the way of training up for membership in it. As the civil and political relations of home involve the duty of parents to train up their children for efficient citizenship in the state.
so its moral and religious relations involve the duty of education for the church. Hence the Christian home is churchly in its spirit, religion, education, influence, and mission.
Family religion is an element of home, not only as a mere fact or principle in its subjective form, but in the form and force of the church. In its unchurchly form it is powerless. It must be experienced and administered in a churchly spirit and way, not as something detached from the organic embodiment of christianity. The rela
tion of the church to the family forbids this. The church pervades all the forms of society. It includes the home and the state. It gives to each proper vitality, legitimate principles, proper direction, and a true destiny.
But home is not only a preparation for the church, but completes itself in the church, never out of the church. By the "mystery " of marriage and the sacrament of holy baptism, home and the church are bound up into each other by indissoluble bonds. The one receives the mark and superscription of the other; the one is the type or emblem of the other.
The church, through her ordinances, ministry and means of grace, is brought directly "into the house," and operates there constantly as a spiritual leaven. It is the purpose of God that our homes be entrenched within the sacred enclosures of His church. The former, in its relation to the latter, is like "a wheel within a wheel," one of the parts which make up the great machinery of
the kingdom of grace, operating harmoniously and in its place with all the rest, and for the same end. The former is built upon the latter, -receives her dedication and sanctity from it. They are correlatives. The one demands the other. Hence they cannot be divorced. The individual passes over to the church through the Christian home. The one is the step to the other. They have the same foundation. Home is not erected upon a quicksand, but reared upon the same rock upon which the church is built. Like the church, it rises superior to all the fluctuations of civil society, and will live and flourish in all its tender charities, in all its sweet enjoyments, and in all its moral force, in the humble cottage as well as in the costly palace, under the shadow of liberty as well as under the frowns of despotism, in every nation, age, and clime. Like the church of which it is the type, it can never be made desolate; break it up on earth, and you find it in heaven. Its nuptial union with the church is like that between the latter and Christ. Nothing can throw over our homes a higher sanctity, or invest them with greater beauty, or be to them a greater bulwark of strength, than the church. Home is the nursery of the church. "Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God, and shall bring forth fruit in old age.”
Thus, therefore, we see that the relation between the Christian home and the church is one of mutual dependence. The latter, as the high