« ZurückWeiter »
not make those countries Republics. Presbyterians, Methodists, Bap. tists, &c. &c. have among them many good men—many who follow Christ as far as those systems will permit men to follow Christ; but none of them being Christ's church, will permit its members to follow Christ fully. A person can practise and enjoy republicanism only in a Republic. Christ's religion can only be preached and enjoyed in Christ's own church,
Our volumes, one and all, prosecute the demolition of all sectarismthe union of all God's people, upon God's own foundation-the conversion of the world to the original and true gospel of Christ—the setting up of the ancient institutions of Christ for the reasons, purposes and objects assigned by the Apostles.
The cause of education becomes a more and more interesting object in pursuance of this plan. We must begin at the nursery. We must have family, school, college, and church education, adapted to the entire physical, intellectual, moral and religious constitutiou of man. Of these the first in time, place and importance, is the domestic and family training. We have been dreaming for ages, and are only just now awaking to the importance of education-pot merely to its importance, but to the rationale—the philosophy of the thing called Education.
To this subject, as essentially connected with the speed and progress of the current reformation, a more full and marked attention shall be paid. An uneducated person is not competent to the full display of Christian excellence to the full manifestation of Christian character. No person is well educated—is properly taught or trained, that is not a Christian. But we cannot fashion human nature but in the soft clay of its infancy and childhood — As the twig is bent the tree's inclin'd.'
A few lessons on the training of households-on the Christian nurture, will, in the form of examples, be submitted in the present volume, in the style of ‘Family Conversations in the Domestic Circle.' But in this age of frailty in promises, we find it most prudent to promise little. It is, indeed, fast passing into a proverb, “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall never be disappointed;" and .6» Happy is he who maketh no promises, for then he is not likely to be a covenant-breaker.” We shall, however, endeavor to hold on our way, and to labor honorably and assiduously in the prosecution of the great objects so long and so often overtured to our contemporaries.And may grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied to every one who sincerely and faithfully labors with us, by word of action, in this blest cause of holy truth and of human redemption!
BETHANY, VA. JANUARY, 1840.
THE CHRISTIAN'S HOUSE. The superabundance of grace displayed in the Christian system is not likely to be appreciated, much less exaggerated, in this cold and selfish and sensual age. It would sometimes seem to me as though not one of a thousand in the whole army of the church militant, did realize the amount of privilege, of wealth and honor guarantied to those in covenant with the Lord Messiah. The state and estate are, it would seem, alike unknown and unknowable, to the plodding votaries of man-made systems of devotion-seekers of religion-apprenticed converts—the speculative catechumenoi of sectarian schools.
The religion of the Lord Messiah is indeed a personal affair—a spiritual concern—a soul-absorbing, subduing, ennobling institution. The subject and the object are persons, not things—not doctrines, not theories, not forms; but living, thinking, talking, acting agents. The elements of this celestial invention are one person believing, trusting in, loving, admiring, rejoicing in, and obeying another person. It is the intercourse, the commerce, the converse, the intimacies, the communings and communications of two kindred minds of very unequal standing—of very dissimilar rank and dignity. It is a sinful creature pardoned, reconciled, sanctified, adopted, saved, in covenant with the supreme intelligence, the uncreated God, as appearing in the
person and character of the incarnate WORD, the only begotton Son of God.
The disparity of their rank greatly heightens the confidence, affection, and esteem of the humbler party, and delights the superior in
affording a wider and a deeper channel for the benignant communications of his condescending love. A league of truer, purer, and more enduring amity can always be formed and maintainəd between a magnanimous and generous Prince and his own reconciled subjects, than between Princes of equal rank and independence. The forest oak that kindly raises from the ground the humble vine, receives not only its fond embraces for the help and protection which it affords, but it is also adorned by the beauty of its foliage, as well as honored by the music and the melody which its flowers, its odors, and its fruits allure to its branches.
No co-partnery on earth like marriage, and yet this is but a feeble type of an eternal union of all interests between the Bridegroom of heaven and his earthly spouse. He gave himself for, and then transfers himself to his bride; and thus by an everlasting covenant the parties are united in an identity of interests, honors, and enjoymenis commensurate with all the powers of blessing and being blessed, possessed by the contracting parties. Did Christians realize all this, how different would be their earthly career from what it too often is. Their hearts would be temples for the Spirit of Holiness, and their houses Bethels for the God of Jacob.
By a recurrence to the patriarchal age, to the time of Jacob, we shall find the origin of Bethels. This renowned patriarch of eternal fame, whose new name Israel is transferred to all the elect of God, and whose first name is a part of God's own memorial to the end of all generations, had commenced his earthly pilgrimage; and with the blessing of his father upon his head, and the prayers of his mother, he had set out to form an alliance with the remnant of the faithful in the motherland of his pious ancestors.
On the first night of his pilgrimage he had the celebrated vision of the ladder suspended from the threshold of heaven to the rocky pillow on which, amidst the hazle thicket, he slept so sweetly and dreamed so trwy, while his father's and grand-father's God spoke to him of unborn ages, and promised to be with him in every place whither he went, or in which he waked or slept during his whole peregrinations, until his return to the covenanted land. It was then the fear and awe of the heavenly Majesty constrained these words—"How dreadful is this place: this is none other but the house of God:* this is the gate of heaven.” When the patriarch rose up early in the morning he took the stone on which he had slept, and setting it up for a monumentaj pillar, he anointed it with oil, and called the place Bethel. There he made his covenant with God, and solemnly vowed allegiance and do votion to him, on the the terms of an immutable covenant.
• Beth El is the Hebrew for the house of God.
Now it occurs to us that what was true of Israel is still true that all the the Israel of God are a covenanted people that the God of Jacob is still their refuge, and the Holy One of Israel is yet their King. Therefore we should still build an altar and rear a pillar to his name. Every Christian dwelling should still have its family altar, and its monumental record of what God has said and done. If, indeed, as the Apostles say, the Christian people are, severally and collectively, "a habitation of God through the Spirit,” “a holy temple," "a spiritual house”-then I ask, Should not their dwellings be houses of prayer and of song, and in them be heard the melody of praise” continually?
We come, then, directly to the point, and affirm it as our conviction that all Christian dwellings should be Bethels_houses consecrated 10 God, in which his word should be read, his praises sung, and his name invoked on all the days of the year. Wherever the people of God under the first dispensation pitched their tents, they erected their altars to the Lord. Under the second dispensation they were, by divine commandment, daily to read or teach the word of God to their families. Then it became a proverb, that “the voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous."'*
May we not then say to the righteous under the third dispensation, “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all you that are upright in heart:"-"for praise is comely for the upright.” “Thy statutes,” said a Jewish king, "have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage;" and will not a Christian father say as much of himself and his house as a Jewish king? Are not Christian householders as much bound by divine authority to bring up their families for the Lord—to nurture and train them for the royal family of heaven! And what son of God is there who has a heart, a tongue, and a Biblechildren and servants under his care, and will not anoint his pillar, erect his altar, and worship the Lord constantly in his family? Thus teaching his children by his example how much he loves and delights in God, and with what pure affection and tender love he seeks their moral excellence and their eternal life.
Needs it be proved that those children who morn and even receive the parental benedictions along with their stated lessons from God's own book, have brighter evidence not only of the piety and godly sincerity of their parents, but also of their parental tenderness and affection! What knowledge or belief can the sons and daughters of prayerless professors have of the piety or Christian benevolence of their parents? Surely they afford them no unequivocal demonstrations of genuine lenderness, no convincing proof of unsophisticated affec
* Psalm crviii. 15.
tion, who seldom or never bow the knee with them, and invoke in their own language the blessings of God upon their sons and daughters. Natural or animal affection for their offspring they may have; şo have inferior animals. But where, I ask, are the proofs of that heaven-born Christian affection and feeling that looks to the true and eternal interests and honors of our offspring! It cannot be seen, and as little can it be imagined, in the absence of those demonstrations of parental piety.
The two branches of religion are piety and humanity. These, in all their developments towards Creator and fellow-creature, contain the whole. They are visible, sensible, and demonstrable things. They are to each other in equal ratios—as cause and effect: the more of the one, the more of the other. Theories, or doctrinal views of these things, are not the things themselves. We want to see the things, the effects, the fruits of piety more fully displayed in our generation, and more especially amongst those of our brethren who certainly are standing on higher and holier ground than other professors; and from whom all men expect not merely a more rational, a more scriptural theory; but a purer, a holier, a more divine and heavenly practice. Every one in our ranks is, by profession, a saint--a “partaker of the heavenly calling;” and from such all men look for a more scriptural piety, a more perfect morality than can be developed or displayed under a party dispensation of opinionism and sectarism.
On this account, brethren, I have made my New Year's first offering to the press consist of a few plain practical remarks and reminiscences on the subject of consecrating all our dwellings into Bethelsof erecting an altar in every Christian family, upon which we shall constantly offer our morning and evening sacrifices to the Lord. This is the practice of all the exemplary members of our churches in the whole ranks of cur profession, so far as known to me. I have, however, heard of some professors very remiss in this all-important service; and for their sakes it is our duty to present this free-will offering as the first fruits of the Year 1840.
Family instruction and social prayer are as indispensable means of family salvation as any other means to any other desirable ends in a moral system. Besides, what pleasure does it afford all householders and heads of families to believe that the angel of the Lord encamps around their dwellings, and that their places of repose are houses consecrated to the Lord in which he deigns to dwell. This persuasion sweetens all social and domestic enjoyments, and greatly elevates the dignity and moral excellence of all the inmates of such consecrated homes. No person who has long lived in a Bethel can ever after relish the tabernacles of ungodly men. Some instructions for those