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but that of outshining their rivals in the pomp and pride of life. They hardly know the meaning of the word happiness.
"Father," says one to another, "has come home tonight as cross as he can be. I do wish he would go abroad again, and stay there. There is no living in the same house with him."
The mother is perhaps a vain and weak-minded woHer husband has so often detected her in petty acts of deceit, to accomplish her wishes, that he treats her with the most contemptuous neglect. She is accustomed to be trampled upon at home, and though she dresses her countenance in smiles when her fashionable friends call, she passes many hours in moping melancholy.
Now and then, the thoughts of death will force themselves-unwelcome intruders-into the minds of the members of this family. They see the embellished tomb, where moulder the remains of one who a few days before met them in the gay assembly, where "music's voluptuous swell" dispels for a time all thoughts of death and judgment. An acquaintance dies, and cold courtesy compels them to attend the funeral. And there, in the darkened chamber, and by the shrouded body of the dead, they cannot repel the terrible reflection, that they too must die. The gloomy thought sends faintness to the heart, and paleness to the cheek. They are living in the world without God. They are rejecting the Saviour. And death, that terrible foe to the unprepared soul, is coming with giant strides upon them. Thus are they truly joyless. All this external shew of wealth and splendour is but as the garnishing of the sepulchre. It but veils the desolation of the empty heart. We often read of misery in rags. There is also misery clothed in purple and fine linen.
From this scene of outward luxury and splendour, but of real wretchedness, let us, in imagination, visit a humble cottage, in one of the vallies, by the mountain's side. The river, there a little streamlet, ripples over its pebbly bed a few yards in front of the dwelling.
There is smoking before the fire, in a small tin pan, a cake of meal, which is to compose the supper of this lowly family. Two little children, a girl of seven and a boy of five, are sitting in one corner of the spacious fireplace, building little bonfires with splinters of wood. The mother of these children is busy preparing supper. The father, having just returned from the labours of the day, is sitting before the hearth, cheerfully talking with his wife, and, by the bright glow of the fire, repairing the bale of the water-pail, which has got broken. "Father," says little George, looking up with his rosy cheeks, "may Susan and I go with you to-morrow, and help you to get in the potatoes ?"
"O, yes, father!" exclaims Susan, "do let us go. George and I, together, can pick them up as fast as you can dig them. We can help you very much. Do let us go.
"Ah! you little chicks," says the mother, with a smile, "you are planning for some more rides in your father's wheelbarrow, I rather think."
"Yes!" the father replies, "when they work for me, I have a load both ways. And I hardly know which is the heaviest. I wheel the potatoes to the house, and then I find these two stout children in my wheelbarrow, and there is nothing to be done but for me to wheel them back to the field."
Well, father," says Susan, "I do not think it tires you very much to wheel us; for if it did, you would not run with us so fast as you did yesterday. It made us laugh so, that George almost fell out of the wheelbarrow."
"I am inclined to the opinion, on the whole," replies the father, "that I shall be under the necessity of employing these two hands to-morrow. But if you are going to work for me, you must be up early in the morning, and help your mother to get the breakfast ready while I am taking care of the cattle."
"O, that is good," says Susan to George, "we always have such a good time when we go with father."
They soon sit down at the supper-table. A farthing
candle, in an iron candlestick, gives a feeble light, which is almost eclipsed by the bright gleams of the wood fire which illuminate the room. A blessing is implored before this happy family partakes of its frugal repast. Soon after supper, the children, kneeling by their mother's side, bury their faces in her lap, as they repeat their evening prayer, and then retire for the night to their little bed.
At an early hour of the evening, the father takes the family Bible from the shelf. With the strong faith of the experienced and confiding Christian, he reads a portion of the sacred volume, and commends, in fervent prayer, his wife, his children, and himself, to the care of his heavenly Father.
"O God," he says, "thou art causing our cup to overflow with blessings. Thou art feeding us and clothing us, and supplying our every earthly want. And we pray that we may be prepared, in this our earthly home, for the joys of the celestial mansions. We thank thee, O God, for the beloved little ones thou hast entrusted to our care. We thank thee for their intelligent minds, for their affectionate hearts, and for their well-formed bodies. Wilt thou enable us to set before them such an example of consistent piety, that they may be won, by thy Spirit, to the Saviour, and that we may all hereafter meet, a happy family in heaven."
With such acknowledgments and supplications, he gives utterance to the deep emotions of his own heart. And soon all of this highly-favoured household are peacefully reposing, encompassed with mercies. Their humble and solitary house, in the midst of the mountains, is the abode of the purest contentment and joy. There are the external manifestations of poverty, but the heart is rich with heaven's choicest treasures.
These two pictures, which none will affirm to be untrue to nature, shew that the possession of wealth is by no means essential to happiness. All will admit this sentiment in theory, and yet its practical denial is the great bane of all earthly joy, and is ruining millions of immortal souls. Money, money, is the god of the world.
And in the eager adoration of that deity, the true sources of enjoyment, which God has pointed out, are neglected. A man may enjoy the highest degree of earthly happiness, though his coat be of homespun, though no carpet be spread over his floor, though he have no income but that which he can secure from the ground, by the labour of his own hands. What then must parents do to secure for themselves and their children the enjoyments and the privileges of a happy home?
1. The first thing to be done, is to obtain the full assurance that our sins are forgiven, and that we are prepared to die. While this question is in suspense, there can be no peace in the heart. You walk the streets, and meet the shrouded corpse borne to its burial. You ride in the country, and the tolling of the funeral bell vibrates through the valleys. You open the newspaper, and the record of the death of friends glares upon your eye. The providence of God is ever uttering in our ears the sentiment, You must die. And the immortal mind must be indeed like the troubled sea, until conscious that it is prepared for its awful flight into eternity. It is told of an ancient tyrant, that he placed an invited guest at his table, beneath a sharp-pointed sword, suspended to the ceiling by a single hair. And there the trembling victim sat, with the luxurious feast spread in mockery before him, expecting every moment that the brittle thread would be severed, and the polished steel be buried in his brain. Such is the condition of one who is surrounded by every earthly blessing, but conscious that he is unprepared to die. It is impossible that he should be happy. We cannot infuse joy around our firesides, and into the hearts of our children, unless we possess ourselves "a calm and heavenly frame." The stream cannot ascend higher than the fountain. If, then, we would make our earthly homes happy to ourselves, and to our families, the first, and the absolutely indispensable requisite is, that we should enjoy the cheerful hope that we are prepared to die.
2. The next essential is, that our passions be brought under entire subjection to the will of Christ. In every
family, there are many circumstances continually oc curring which are annoying, which tend to ruffle the feelings. And if the father or mother indulge in an irritable or a peevish spirit-if they allow sullenness or melancholy to cloud the brow, there is an end to happi ness in that household. The character of the parents will pervade the children. If the parents are hasty in their feelings, passionate in utterance, and easily vexed by disappointment, the children will certainly imbibe the same spirit. And discord will banish harmony from your dwelling. The parent must speak in those affectionate and gentle tones of voice which he would have his children cherish. He must bear up under his disappointments, with that cheerful and submissive spirit which he would have his children manifest under theirs. The parents must most carefully endeavour, at all times, to exemplify themselves the feelings which they would have to exist in the bosom of their family. There is a potency in this power of example, which the human heart cannot resist. There is a holy contagion in a gentle, an affectionate, a well-cultivated heart, which will spread irresistibly through a household. And O! what happiness is there in a united domestic circle, where love modulates all the tones of the voice; where mutual forbearance pours its oil upon all the bearings of the 'family movements; and where the power of disappointment and sorrow is, as it were, destroyed by the cheerful acquiescence with which each heart submits to all the allotments of Providence-the little annoyances, as well as the heavy afflictions of life.
3. The third requisite is, to make the promotion of happiness the subject of study and calculation. Some persons appear to have the talent to make those around them happy. It is because they think upon the subject. They are fertile in expedients to gratify sensitive affection. Human happiness is made up of little things-of little attentions. A kind word will send a vibration of joy through the heart. Let the promotion of happiness be one of the objects of your life. Be ever ready to sacrifice your own convenience to promote the happiness