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Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as dear children.

THERE is probably no scene in the present world which presents a more interesting prospect to the eye, or which is usually described in terms of more ardour and animation, than a well regulated family.

The natural relations come more easily, uniformly, and directly to the heart than any other, and among these the domestic relations excite peculiar interest. There is nothing in this world which is so venerable as the character of parents; nothing so intimate and endearing as the relation of husband and wife ; nothing so tender as that of children; nothing so lovely as those of brothers and sisters. The little circle is made one by a single interest, and by a singular union of affections Children are born with a thousand circumstances of endear

The anxiety and distress with which the dawn of their being is attended, make them objects of peculiar tenderness from their birth. They are then absolutely helpless, and live only on the care of others. Every moment, both when awake and when asleep, they demand of their parents, with irresistible


claims, the protecting hand, the watchful eye, and the ever attentive heart. If neglected, they suffer; if forgotten, they perish. How rarely are they forgotten; how rarely, even in poverty, sickness, or profligacy, which, especially the last, so effectually harden the heart against all objects beside those of absolute selfishness. The very cares and toils which are employed on them, only render them more beloved, and an ample reward is furnished for all the labour, expense, and suffering undergone in their behalf by their health, their safety, their comforts, and their smiles.

Infancy speedily terminates in childhood. At this period commences a new train of affectionate and unceasing efforts to form their minds to knowledge, virtue, and usefulness. While the care and expense with which their daily wants are supplied, are continued, and increased, both are additionally demanded to furnish those supplies which are now become necessary for their minds. In this situation the parents become more amiable, and the children more interesting. Their minds, hitherto confined to the house and the court-yard, are now, for the first time, permitted to wander abroad to the confines of that universe in which they are ultimately to live and act. By ten thousand successive cares and efforts, both of the parents and of others employed by them, the children are taught successively the various kinds of knowledge which will expand their views, and qualify them for business. At the same time, those useful habits of thinking and acting are begun, which will enable them to be beneficial to themselves and their fellow-men. Gradually, as they advance in years, capacity, and strength, they are matured into the character and the hopes of adult age; are taught to think, judge, and act for themselves, and are enabled to sustain the relations, and perform the duties which may render them blessings to mankind.

To this end all the instructions which they receive, all the impressions made on their hearts, all the examples set before their eyes, and all the habits inwrought into their character, unitedly conspire. Of the innumerable efforts made in their education, not one, unless radically unwise and mischievous, has probably been made in vain. How many have these efforts been, and of what indispensable importance to those for whom they were made ? How amiable the character of parents in making them; how deserving of the love and the veneration of their children?

During this period, also, the minds of children are opened to the knowledge of God, and to the truths and duties of the religion which he has taught mankind. Almost at the dawn of life they learn the existence, character, presence, and agency of this glorious and awful Being. From Him, they are informed, they have derived their existence, their continuance in life, their safety, their comforts, and their hopes. They are taught, as soon as they are capable of receiving the instruction, that the end for which they were made is to glorify him by faithfully obeying his pleasure, and that to him they are accountable for the manner in which they employ their faculties and their time. With these instructions they also learn, that they are sinful beings; that to save them from sin, and the misery which it produces, and with which it is rewarded, the Son of God came into the world; published the glad tidings of salvation ; lived a humble, suffering life, and died on the cross. In consequence of the wonderful mediation of this glorious person, they behold the gates of heaven opened to evangelical faith, repentance, and holiness, and immortal life dawning anew upon this cloudy, melancholy world.

Inseparably intertwined with these inestimable precepts, all the duties which they owe to their Creator, their fellow creatures, and themselves, are by degrees unfolded to their view, and impressed on their hearts. At the same time, they are fashioned with unceasing care, toil, and tenderness into a spirit of submission to parental government; and prepared by slowly imbibed habit for submission to all other authority, both human and divine. In this manner they are prevented from becoming savages ; and, imperceptibly to themselves, are moulded into men. In this manner they are prepared to take their place and station in the universe, and fill the sphere destined to them by their Maker. In this manner they are fitted to live and act in obedience, not to blind and furious

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passions, but to sober reason, enlightened conscience, and evengelical piety.

Thus the great task goes on; and, laborious as it is, goes on cheerfully, until it is completed, and the children are sent abroad into the world to repeat the same exertions for their own offspring. On this occasion, the parents distribute to them, with a bountiful hand, a liberal share of their own earnings, during a life of industrious and frugal toil. But parental love stops not here. It goes with their children wherever they go ; resides with them wherever they reside; rejoices when they rejoice; mourns when they mourn, and blends its hopes, and fears, and sufferings with their’s. With life only does it expire; and its closing scenes are the dying bed and

the grave.

In surveying such a family, how many interesting objects are presented to a considerate eye, and a susceptible heart ? The world furnishes not so delightful an image of tenderness as maternal care, watching, sustaining, and cherishing its beloved offspring. The world never beheld the human character in so lovely a form, as that of the smiling, prattling infant, lisping its half formed thoughts and sweet affections in the artless eloquence of nature, and imitating every thing which it sees or hears in a manner wholly inimitable by others. Through the successive periods of childhood and youth, the eye of an observer is not less interested by the sight of amiable, hopeful children, passing honourably through the several periods of education ; imbibing useful knowledge ; forming useful habits; interchanging daily their mutual offices of affection ; receiving daily blessings from their parents, and retributing them with the delightful fruits of filial duty. At the parental board, or at the fire-side, who that has a heart would not be richly gratified to behold the brothers and sisters of such a family looking round on each other with love, and raising up to their parents, sitting at the head of the happy group, the eye of duty, gratitude and veneration ?

Who would not mingle in the tenderness, the complacency, the smiles of the parents, while they behold themselves revived in their children, and living in their persons and their descendants through succeeding generations ?

A still more interesting prospect is presented by the same family, assembled for their morning and evening devotions, and with one united voice calling down from heaven blessings in which every one is to share. Equally delightful is the sight of the same family going to the house of God in company; blending hearts and voices in the worship of the sanctuary; assembling around the table of Christ to celebrate the wonders of redeeming love ; realizing with transport, as well as with humility, their own united interests in the blessings purchased by the death of the Son of God, and edifying and warming the hearts of all around them with their fervent and undissembled piety.

There is no situation in which such a family can be seen without emotion or without profit. I will, however, follow them only to one more. Even this family must leave the world. The parents, highly as they are reverenced, must die before their children, or follow them, beloved as they are, to the grave. With what emotions must they commit to the dust a father and a mother, to whom, under God, they owe all, all which they are, and all which they hope for in the future world. While they mourn the loss of these, the best of all earthly friends, with the veneration and tenderness, begun in the affliction of nature, and completed by evangelical virtue, how must their views be exalted and their hearts warmed with rapture, while contemplating the flight of their friends to the regions of immortality, and hoping and preparing speedily to be reunited to them in the bonds of eternal love and the possession of unfading joy.

To the view which I have given of this subject God himself has set his own seal, and furnished an abundant warrant for much more than I have said. He has formed the whole race of Adam into families, the first of which he planted in Paradise, to people the world with inhabitants, who should obey his pleasure, and be only amiable in his sight. After the apostacy he began, and has ever since continued, to select from among mankind all the penitent and virtuous, to be a peculiar

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