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when you may lie in the grave. You would give to yourself a kind of omnipresent influence, that your example and precepts at least may speak when they are away from you, or when your tongue may no more be able to give utterance to the precepts of experience, or to the tenderness of parental love.
Now contemplate for a moment the influences from the world, against which a parent would guard.
There is, first, the influence of formed plans and employments. The schemes of yesterday travel over the night watches, and meet them in the morning. They are still under the influence of the world which they met yesterday. Their schemes may not be complete. The world which they saw before they retired to rest; the opinions which they heard; the temptations which they met, shall put forth new power in the freshness of the morning. The charm has not been dissolved by the slumbers of the night. The forming habits have not been crushed, or even slept, while they have sought repose. The influence of the world which you feared yesterday, will meet them again in the morning. The enemy that made advances, did not lose his hold, or even slumber while they reposed. The ever sleepless foe is strengthening his power, riveting the chains, and making his prisoner sure. Can there be any way so likely to break in upon this influence, as by a solemn presentation in the morning, to the God of grace; to bring in the parental power, and suffer them to see that you are influenced by better things; and to bring down all the sacredness of the religious feeling, to arrest and annihilate this malignant influence?
A second influence from the world, results from your own plans, and views, which they see from day to day, and with which they are becoming increasingly informed and familiar. They see what engrosses your thoughts. They know what is in your heart. You are encompassing them with a set of influences in your family, and plans, which is each day determining their views of the relative value of objects. If religion has no place—no obvious, seen, and prominent place, in those plans, they will understand it; and they will learn what to think of it. Let the pleasures of living be all; or the gains of traffic be all; or adorning be all; or the first and last energies in your house, and your conversation be to grasp the world, and your children will be among the first of mortals to comprehend your whole character. Other men may learn it slowly. Your chil. dren will learn it at once. And to-day shall deepen the lesson of yesterday, and to-morrow shall write it with the pen
of a diamond on their hearts. Can there be any way of meeting this influence so direct, and decided, as by a solemn presentation of them to God, in the morning and evening; and by thus leaving on them the deepfixed impression, that though engaged of necessity in the world, yet that you are not unmindful of better things, and that your first and last thoughts are given unto God? This act will shed a new influence over all your doings. It will teach the child that your worldly plans are not primary, or all. It will satisfy him that your toils for gain are the result of necessity, and duty; not of idolatrous choice. It will show that religion is the deep volun. tary preference of your soul; excited not by selfishness and interest, but by love and a conviction of its truth and importance; and though your ardour in worldly achievement should be little varied, yet all your efforts will assume to their view a new direction, and put on a new aspect.
A third influence which your children are to meet, that needs a guardian power, is that which proceeds from other men, and other families—from the nameless attractions, and seductions, that go forth each day from the world. Of this you can know nothing definite. Your family go forth to encounter you know not what. You know not what new and untried scenes of temptation they shall meet before the shades of evening descend around them. You know not what new baits and allurements the world shall present, when they are away from the watchful parental eye. You know not how attractive some form of evil shall appear to them-how it shall appeal to youthful passion, or dance in delightful vision before the mind just awake to the sentiments of pleasure, vanity, or ambition. Long since you passed through such scenes, and you know their power. You felt their danger, and you would guard your children from the seductive influ
To you of riper years, and wisdom, there may be no danger. To them, all is fresh, attractive, lovely, like the first light of a morning, without mists or pestilential vapours. They know not the dangers; and are slow to learn. Still further, you little know what companions they may meet with, before the evening. The spendthrift, the profligate, the infidel—the young man, profane, flippant, confident, polished, yet dissolute; or the aged man skilled in the cunning of unbe. lief, and knowing each avenue to the youthful heart, may meet him, and in a moment undo the slow work of parental instruction of many years.
Now I submit it to you, whether there can be any so effectual safeguard against this, as family devotion? I do not affirm that it will be infallible. But I ask whether any influence can be formed so likely to shield from these dangers, as the solemnity of an invocation
of the presence and blessing of God; and the expectation of a similar solemn presentation in the evening. It is a kind of familiarizing the mind in early life, to the judgment seat of God. It is a species of arraignment there each day, to suffer His all-seeing eye to rest on each thought and deed. That God hears prayer: and that God is every where. To him, it is as easy to guard your child when away from your roof, as when the
eye of the earthly father is upon him. That God will see each temptation; mark each alluring influence; go before each child in the hour of danger; and restrain the power of the tempter. He can impress parental precept on the soul; and when the theatre, or the tavern, or the gambling place allures, the power of God unseen, can freshen in his memory the precepts of a father, and recall the expressed wishes, and the pleadings of a mother. All the influences in this world are under his control; nor can there be any way so effectual of meeting them as to secure the favour of that God who can give them a direction to virtue and to heaven. Greatly do I wonder, that in a world of temptations like this, and at a period of life so exposed as that of childhood and youth, any parent dare suffer his children to go forth into the allurements of a city, or a wicked world, without having once asked the Father of mercies to take them beneath his protecting care, and to defend them from the ills that may bring ruin into their souls; and wo, deep and inconsolable, into your own bosom. And much do I marvel, that any parent can send them forth upon the ocean of lifeamid the billows that break around the frail bark, and never seek for them the protection of that God who rides upon that ocean. And I wonder much that you can fail to implore the help of Him, who, when your eye shall sleep in death, and the child shall walk over your unconscious grave, can stretch forth a hand more mighty than yours, and speak with a voice more tender than yours, to save him from the ways of ruin and despair. And much do I wonder also, that there is rest to your pillow, when you have offered no sacrifice of praise to God for preserving mercy, and sought no protection from him whose eye never slumbers nor sleeps.
III. I remark, thirdly, that the direct influence of devotion in obtaining the ends of the family organization, may be, and should be incalculably great. I mean the influence in all those great interests which you are endeavouring to secure. One of these is family governmentra thing, which to be efficient, must be mild, steady, consistent, firm. There are two ways of governing a family. One is with the rod of a tyrant, and the rage of the furies; by cold, unfeeling statute, and never-ending reproof; by passion, and fire, and wrath. The other is by love, and tenderness, and discipline, administered with calmness, and yet with a faithful hand-by calling into exercise all that is tender in the social affections—all the budding and blossoming ingenuousness of the child-by the aid of conscience and of reason—and by severity only when other means fail; and then suffering the feelings of the father to be seen, at the same time that the firmness of the ruler shows itself to the child. The one is modelled on the plan which tyrants choose; the other is the plan of God. The one shuts God out of view; the other is like him, and borrows its features from the Divinity. And this one truth is established, and will yet be better known-that the model of a proper domestic administration is God in his moral government and is a bringing down the great principles in which he acts, to