Page images
PDF
EPUB

strength revives in his heart, and a firmer courage awakens there, and toil and peril sink in the comparison to things of nought. He is ready to meet them, he glo. ries in vanquishing them, and he triumphs in the thought of the bright smiles and the happy looks that will afterwards greet him in the earthly paradise of his heart, the sanctuary of his home. Home! there is power of the very word to call out the warmest feeling of his nature, to enkindle the purest aspirations of his soul. How many are the ties that endear his home to him! how will he recall them all! and when he sits down in its quiet shelter again, how will his affections twine themselves with renewed force around the partner of his destiny, the children of his hope ! How will his heart greet again the unchanged smile of th one, and dilate with rapture at each improved grace of the other! He who is so blessed enjoys a world of happiness, quiet and unobtrusive in its nature, but not the less deeply felt that it cannot bear to be talked of.

All his joys are shared, all his griefs soothed: nothing is reserved, nothing concealed, all is participated. No enemy enters into the circle round his fireside ; kind and affectionate hearts are there alone. Who would think loneliness preferable to this existence? Who would rather retire to the gloom and iso. lation of solitude, than abide in the bright sunlight of domes. tic bliss, and feel his heart expand under its sweet in. fluences ?

There is also an elevating power in an attachment to a worthy object. It is this which has secured the virtue and consequent happiness of thousands. The ties of home have prevented many from making shipwreck of themselves in every age. We do not say that vice and misery have never entered the sanctuary of domestic happiness. Where is the temple into which they have not penetrated? But we say that the motives which thrill on the heart of one in this situation are more likely than any motives to make him a virtuous and therefore a happy man. We know that

many profligates have been deaf to the holy pleadings of affection, and scoffed at its influence ; but we believe that many more have by these pleadings been recalled, and by that influence reclaimed, from wandering in the path of folly, and led to walk in that of virtue. Nor indeed can it be doubted, that on the mass of mankind this influence has always been beneficial.

We would throw no darker colours on a life of solitude than what are actually there, neither is there any occasion for exaggeration : but there is a closing scene to every life, and who can view the solitary individual in declining years, and not feel that his situation is desolate? During his life he may have employed himself in the gathering of wealth; but the question now intrudes itself, who is to enjoy its fruits ? His friends have been dropping from around him : some have been swept away by death ; others, dissenting from his example, have surrounded themselves with the ties of domestic life, and in the absorbing interests of their new connexion nearly forgotten him ; while the few who remain firm are, like himself, sinking into the feebleness, the querulousness of age. His strength has passed from him, his head is blanched, but his heart is uncheered. He is, in short, like the last withered leaf, fluttering on the tree when the autumn sky is cheerless, and the autumn wind is sweeping past.

Let us now turn to the contemplation of an opposite picture, and view the different situation of him, who, going down the vale of life, has the way smoothed and cheered to him by the kindness of a devoted partner, the assiduities of affectionate children. His head may be frosted o’er with age, but the sunbeam of love still gilds it. Strength may have passed from his enfeebled limbs, but the active exer. tions of his children will supply to him the necessity of much personal effort. The retrospect of his life will be pleasant ; and what is there like the holy enjoyment of his upright mind, when he looks on the circle who have risen

up

around

[ocr errors]

him, and reflects that, though high the trust committed to him, he has acquitted himself in a manner worthy of it? What joy is there equal to that of the aged parent, who gazes on his children, and feels that, though he may leave them no stores of gold or silver, he has been the means of giving them the rich heritage of principle—he leaves them in possession of unsullied virtue ? And what equal to his participated rapture, when he turns to the being who has shared this trust with him, and with her rejoices as he reflects how the budding promise has ripened into the full blossom, and their most fervent expectations been more than surpassed? How rich a fund of happiness is contained for both in the remembrance of the past ! To. gether have they shared the storm, together will they be glad in the sunshine, while every recollection of their former life only makes them more firmly resolved to go down the vale of life, hand in hand, and with hearts at. tuned to harmony.

Such are some of the bright spots which gleam and glitter along the land of reality; and in truth there are more of these than we imagine. Such is a faint semblance of domestic happiness, based on the foundation which God has established. Let not then any individual, who can remember the gentle charm of a mother's smile, the thrilling influence of a father's prayer, bear testimony against that union to which he stands so deeply indebted. No; never should he who has from his infancy been blessed by social endearments, and partaken of social enjoyments, doubt their power to render man happy, or deride the source from which they spring. It is this tie which has given him much of the happiness he has received ; and he must be sensible, that, in a state of solitude, and without some connecting link, the asperity of the one sex would be unsoftened, and the feebleness of the other unaided. There should be some connexion between them, and no compact is so sacred as the one of which

we have been speaking, and which has been established by God himself. Nor is it small praise to say, that it is this union alone which provides man with the asylum of home, that scene where his best sympathies are called into exercise, till they assume the form of pure and holy principles of action, and the domestic sanctuary becomes an Eden upon earth, and is surrounded with a bright halo of purity and happiness.

A PRIZE ESSAY.

BY STEPHEN CONGAR.

RELIGION AND VIRTUE NECESSARY TO CONSTITUTE HAPPINESS

IN THE MARRIAGE UNION.

In every rational and beneficial pursuit of human life a regard must be entertained for the fundamental principles of religion and virtue. If this be not the case, and if these important principles of action be despised and disregarded, we shall either fail in obtaining our objects, or we shall find them not productive of that happiness which we expected. This truth is obvious, if we admit that the tendency of virtue is to promote human happiness, and that of vice to increase human wretchedness. It is all-important, therefore, in the beginning of life to assume and support these principles, in whatever situation we may be placed, or with whatever cir. cumstances surrounded.

What may safely be advanced with regard to every period of life, and every state of existence, will apply with peculiar force to the state of matrimony-without them, in. deed, a real marriage union cannot exist.

In order to show the necessity of religion and morality, let us consider the circumstances which are implied in a marriage, and the fulfilment of which are necessary to its happiness.

First — The husband and the wife shall be as one flesh. There must be no fundamental difference of character. If this difference should exist, it is evident that it will be fol.

« PreviousContinue »