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Abraham. And one of the chief excellences in his character, and that which, next to his faith, chiefly called forth the approbation of God, was his conduct as a master of a family. 5 I know him," said God, “ that he will command his children and his household after him, and that they shall keep the way of the Lord.” And, in the same spirit, Joshua, in his address to the people, declared that, whatsoever they should choose to do," as for me and my house we will serve the Lord;”—a most pious resolution, which every head of a family would do well to imitate. There should be a total disregard of the world's opinions or customs when they interfere with the service of God. It is by compromising and wavering that men make themselves ridiculous and uncomfortable ; while the straightforward Christian is sure to be respected. Let your friends know that you keep the Lord's day holy and have daily prayers, and do not dine out on the fasts appointed by the Church, and say grace every day before and after dinner; and though they may wonder at first, they will soon be reconciled to your habits,--perhaps follow your example.
I lately met with a delightful little book called the Rectory of Valehead, which struck me as
being conceived in the true spirit of Christian churchmanship, and well worthy of the perusal of every head of a family. The author describes the Christian household as a little church in itself-an epitome of the Church universal. The head of the family is the priest or bishop, who takes oversight of the flock. It has its ordinances and liturgy, its canons and rules, which, though unwritten, are not, on that account, less dutifully observed. It has its fasts and festivals, consecrated to some affecting incident of joy or sorrow. It has its saints and martyrs whose memory it reveres,—"some gentle affectionate beloved member, whom they have laid in the grave, premature in age but not in godliness; whose existence amongst them seems now as the visit of an angel whom they have been entertaining unawares, whom they cannot even now persuade themselves that they have really lost, but conceive to hover about the once beloved abodes, and shed a hallowing protection on its inmates.” Of course all this is not intended as a substitute for the ordinances of the Church, but rather as a mode of carrying out its spirit in a Christian family. Let me strongly recommend you and Mary to read the book together, after your marriage..
With regard to the form of your family liturgy, that must of course be left to your own discretion. It is highly necessary that the whole family should be acquainted with the words, or else obviously they cannot join in them. I have sometimes used, with alterations, the prayers compiled by Bishop Blomfield, which are suited to every day in the week. But I find that when the same forms are used week after week, there is nothing gained in the way of variety,– even if that were desirable,and they soon become as familiar as the prayers of the Church Liturgy. I am inclined therefore to think that, after all, the Common Prayer Book is the best ; and even that greater variety may be attained by the judicious selection of its prayers and collects than in any other way. The general Confession and Lord's Prayer might come at the beginning, and the general Thanksgiving and Blessing at the end; and, in the interval, whatever collects, prayers, scripture lessons, or psalmody were deemed most suitable. Many of the prayers might be altered to suit any peculiar circumstances of your household; and there are certain events which should be always noted, -such as the holy Communion, and the fasts and festivals.
· These are merely hints which I throw out for your consideration. But what I am particularly desirous, as your friend, and, as I may soon add, your brother, is, that you begin family worship, from the first day you are head over a household. If you do, God's blessing will be with you. That it may be so, and that He may shed abundantly on you and on your family every temporal and spiritual benediction, is the sincere prayer of your affectionate friend,
G. H. A fortnight after the receipt of this letter Ridley arrived at Welbourne to claim his bride at the hands of her brother. Never was there an union of truer or purer hearts than when these two knelt before the altar; and never did Herbert feel a glow of more sincere satisfaction than when he pronounced over his sister and friend the Church's blessing :
"God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with His favour look upon you; and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace, that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting.”
“ Mysterious to all thought
A mother's prime of bliss,
Her infant's thrilling kiss.
She joys that one is born
Into a world forgiven,
And dwell with her in heaven.
When the glad earth is offering all her best,
We read of certain heathen nations, amongst whom it was the custom to make great lamentation at the birth of a child; deeming that another wretched being was born into a world of misery. But such is not the voice of nature,