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“Without the knowledge and the love of God, a family is but a collection of individuals who may have more or less of natural affection for one another; but the real bond, the love of God our Father, in Jesus Christ, our Lord,-is wanting."
We, therefore, abuse the idea of home when we divest it of the religious element. As the family is a divine institute and a type of the church and of heaven, it cannot be understood in its isolation from christianity; it must involve Christian principles, duties, and interests; and embrace in its educational functions, a preparation, not only for the State, but also for the church. The church gives to home a sacred religious ministry, a spiritual calling, a divine mission; investing it with prophetic, priestly and kingly prerogatives, and laying it under religious responsibilities.
This gives to the Christian home its true meaning, and secures for its members
"A sacred and home-felt delight,
A sober certainty of waking bliss."
Such was the home of Abraham, who "commanded his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judge ment,"-of Joshua, who with "his house served the Lord,"-of David, who "returned to bless his household," of Job, who "offered burntoffering according to the number of his sons,' -of Cornelius, who "feared God with all his
house," of Lydia, and Crispus, and the jailor of Philippi, who "believed in the Lord with all . their house."
How many Christian parents practically discard this attribute of home! While all their temporal interests cluster around their home, and their hearts are fondly wedded to it as their retreat from a cold and repulsive world, they never think perhaps that God is in their family, that He has instituted it, and given those cherished ones who "set like olive plants around their table." They are faithful to all natural duties, and make ample provision for the temporal wants of their offspring; the mother bends with untiring assiduity over the cradle of her babe, and ministers to all its wants, watching with delight every opening beauty of that bud of promise, and willingly sacrificing all for its good. With what rapture she catches its first lispings of mother! The father toils from year to year to secure. it a fair patrimony, a finished education, and an honorable position in life. How unremittingly these parents watch over the sick-bed of their children and of each other; and oh, what burning tears gush forth as the utterance of their agonizing hearts, when death threatens to blight a single bud, or lay his cold hand upon a single member!
This is all right, noble, and faithful to the natural elements of home. Natural affection prompts it, and it is well. But if this is all; if Christian parents and their children are gov
erned only by the promptings of nature; if they are bound together by no spiritual ties and interests and hopes; if they are not prompted by faith to make provision for the soul, and for eternity; then we think they have not as yet realized the deepest and holiest significance of their home.
The Christian home demands the Christian consciousness,—the sense of a spirit-world with all its obligations and interests and responsibilities. Oh, is it not too often the case that even the Christian mother, while she teaches her babe the accents of her own name, never thinks of teaching it to lisp the name of Jesus,-never seeks to unfold its infant spirit,-never supplies. it with spiritual food, nor directs its soul to the eternal world! In the same way the pious wife neglects her impenitent husband; and the pious husband, his reckless wife. There is too much such dereliction of duty in the homes of church members.
Our homes give us an interest in, and bind us by peculiar bonds to, the eternal world; those loved ones who have gone before us, look down from heaven upon those they have left behind; though absent from us in body, their spirits are still with us; and they come thronging upon glowing pinions, as ministering spirits, to our hearts. Mother! that little babe that perished in your arms, hovers over thee now, and is the guardian angel of your heart and home. It meets thee still! And oh, how joyful will your
home-meeting be in heaven! Children! the spirit of your sainted mother lingers around your home to minister in holy things to thee. She has left you in body; she lies mouldering now in the humid earth; but she is with thee in spirit. Your home, dwelling in the sphere of the church on earth, has a spiritual communion with the sainted ones of the church in heaven. Thus, as the home-feeling can never be eradicated, so the home-meetings can never be broken up. Even the dead are with us there; their seats may be empty, and their forms may no longer move before us; but their spirits meet with us, and imprint their ministrations upon our hearts.
The dead and the living meet in
"We are all here!
All who hold each other dear,
Each chair is filled, we're all at home!
Let gentle peace assert her power,
And kind affection rule the hour
We're all-all here!
Even they-the dead-though dead so dear,
Brings back their faded forms to view.
THE MISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN HOME.
Ir in the family thou art the best,
t home is a divine institution, and includes the religious element, moving in the sphere of nature and of the church, then its calling must be of God; its mission is divine; it is designed to subserve a spiritual purpose; it has a soulInission. This was the view of David when he "returned to bless his household.” To him his family was a church in miniature, and he its priest. Thus too Joshua felt that his service of God must include family worship.
What then is the mission of the Christian home? It is two-fold, the temporal and eternal well-being of its members. It is the mission of home to provide for the temporal well-being of its members. They are parts of one great whole. Each must seek the welfare of all the rest. This involves obedience to the law of co