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The substance of the following chapters, was delivered by the Author, in a course of sermons which followed a series of expository lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians. The consecutive method of preaching, which he principally uses, is attended, he thinks, with this, among many other advantages, that it brings under the review of a minister, many subjects which would otherwise be overlooked; affords an opportunity for the introduction of some topics, which, from their peculiarity, seem to require such a way of access to the pulpit ; and also furnishes an apology, for the discussion of others, which the fastidiousness of modern delicacy has almost excluded from the range of pastoral admonition. On entering upon the first branch of relative duties, the Author was so much under the influence, perhaps improperly, of this excess of refinement, and felt so much the difficulty of making a public statement of the duties of husbands and wives, that
he had determined at one time, to relieve himself from
the embarrassment, by merely reading large extracts from Mr. Jay's beautiful sermon on this subject. After he had preached two discourses, and thus discharged, as well as he was able, this rather perplexing task, he received a numerously signed petition from many husbands and their wives, belonging to his congregation, requesting that they might be permitted to read in print, the statement of their mutual obligations, which they had heard delivered with so much fidelity and impartiality from the pulpit. Instead of being limited by this request, the Author has gone beyond it, and sent forth the whole series of relative duties, thus furnishing a manual of advice, in which all the members of the household may find something appropriate to the peculiarity of their circumstances.
It is an unquestionable truth, that if a mån be not happy at home, he cannot be happy any where; and the converse of the proposition is no less true, that he who is happy there, need be miserable no where. “It is the place of all the world I love most,” said the interesting Author of the Task, when speaking of home. And he may be felicitated who can say the same. Any attempt, however feeble, to render the domestic circle, what it ever should be, a scene of comfort, is at least benevolent. Nor is this a hopeless effort; for he who has the bible in his hand, and speaks as the oracles of God, can disclose at once, and in few words, the important secret. The principles of greatest consequence to mankind, whether we refer to science or to morals,
lie not buried deep in gloom and mystery, but are to be found, like the manna of the Israelites, upon the
surface of things. The secret of happiness lies folded up
in the leaves of the bible, and is carried in the bosom
of religion. The Author knows of no other felicity, and therefore does not profess to teach any other. Let the two parties in wedded life, be believers in Christ Jesus, and partake themselves of the peace that passeth understanding ; let them, when they become a father and a mother, bring up their children in the fear of God; and as a master and a mistress, be diligent and successful in instructing their servants in the principles of religion, and if happiness is to be found upon earth, it will be enjoyed within the hallowed circle of a family, thus united by love, and sanctified by grace.
The Author does not deny, that much of worldly comfort may be, and often is, enjoyed in some families, which neither possess nor profess a serious regard to the claims of religion ; while it must be acknowledged on the other hand, that there are to be found professors of religion, whose households are any thing but happy ones. In reference to the former, it may be affirmed, that piety, while it would raise their enjoy. ment to a sublimer kind, and a higher degree of happiness in this world, would also perpetuate it through eternity; and in reference to the latter, it may be remarked, that their disquietude is not produced by religion, but occasioned by the want of it.
A mere profession of the christian faith, is rather a hindrance to felicity than a help : nothing short of real religion can be expected to yield its joys.
In the following pages, there will be found numerous and long extracts from an incomparably excellent work, by the Rev. Christopher Anderson, of Edin
burgh, entitled, “ The Domestic Constitution.”
that volume, the Author feels, that his own is not
worthy, in any instance, to be the harbinger ; but should he find that he has introduced any families to an acquaintance with a treatise, so well worthy of
their most serious attention, he will be thankful for
that measure of
enefit, and rejoice that he has not
laboured in vain.
Edgbaston, September 13, 1828.