« PreviousContinue »
With a religion none can now obey ;
If the cloud which burst over poor King Saul was long of drifting to leeward, and forty years afterwards was still discharging its thunders; on the other hand, the blessing of which Abraham was full, is, it seems, not even yet exhausted! Yes; the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. Even now, in his conduct towards the Jews, there is more of design to be seen than towards any people on the face of the earth. Their peculiar preservation is in order to their ultimate calling; and blessed indeed is the party who shall be employed, under God, as the conductor to break that cloud which has hung over them so long. Break when it may, it will burst in blessings on their head ; nor is there any single event in which the church, nay, the world is so much interested.-" Through our mercy they also shall obtain mercy; but what shall the recovering of them be, but as life from the dead ?”
Thus, however large the compass which He may fetch in his mysterious judgments, the God of Abraham, ever faithful to his word, will fulfil his promise, literally, in all its magnificence.
Under this head I might proceed to almost any length; but, presuming that the following section will be received as a practical illustration and proof of the same subject, to it I refer the reader, as affording ample evidence of the divine blessing resting on a parent's endeavors.
THE MORAL POWER PECULIAR TO THE DOMES
This Power a combination of qualities: First, The beneficial power of the Parent over the Child, illustrated by reference to Abraham -Isaac-JacobMoses—Solomon-and the Parents of the Apostles. Second, The Power which the Parent enjoys of forming the Child to greatness of character, or extensive usefulness, illustrated first by reference to Scripture characters, and then to others of modern date; viz. Alfred—Washington—Sir William JonesMilton-Boerhaave---Linnæus---Pascal---Cowper- Baxter–Hall -Doddridge-Edwards-Dwight-Lady Rachel Russel-Lady Bacon,Mrs. Ilutchison-Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe-Mrs. CecilMrs. Dwight-Miss Smith--Miss Bacon, and many others. Third, The Power of the domestic Constitution in forming the character of Servants. Fourth, The Power of resistance to evil, inherent in the Family Constitution, illustrated by reference to Joshua, and the remarkable history of the Kenites or Rechabites.
To understand this domestic constitution aright, and to feel impressed with a sense of its importance in the economy of nations, it becomes necessary to observe it in actual operation, and in the singular effects of which, under the blessing of God, it has been the cause. The moral power thus conspicuously displayed by it, will, I presume, furnish another most striking proof of its divine origin.
We have already remarked, that it is in a family where
the parents are Christians, and of course are regulated by the oracles of God, that this constitution is seen in all its strength and beauty. Another family, though of the same constitution, resembles an apparatus, in motion indeed, but shattered and deranged; while, in this, we see the same apparatus in order, proceeding harmoniously, and reaching the end intended by its Maker. The moral power to which I allude is not so much the power of numbers, for these are not great; but various modifications of power, which are found scattered elsewhere, yet individually moving and sustaining other bodies, are here combined. There is much of power in authority, much in precept and in example, much in union and in sympathy : they are here all united. Here each of these have an appropriate sphere of operation, in which they thrive and grow to the greatest extent; and not only so, but they grow best in harmony with each other, growing and strengthening with each other's growth and strength.
There seem to be, at least, four different points of - view in which this power ought to be regarded. These
contemplated, first separately, and then in union, will display both its peculiar character and prodigious extent. First, The influence or power which the judicious parent acquires over the child, and the beneficial purposes to which this power, in such hands, naturally tends. Second, The power which the parent enjoys of forming the child to greatness of character or extensive usefulness. Third, The power inherent in the domestic constitution to form, or reform, and improve the character of servants. Fourth, The irresistible energy inherent in the constitution itself, as a whole, for preserving religion or morality, and repelling evil or the corruption of manners.
First, THE INFLUENCE OR POWER WHICH THE JUDI. CIOUS PARENT ACQUIRES OVER THE CHILD, AND THE BENEFICIAL PURPOSES TO WHICH THIS POWER, IN SUCH HANDS, NATURALLY TENDS.
Witness the power which Abraham must have acquired over Isaac, when you see him yield to his father on the top of Mount Moriah, for I have no idea that any violence was used. Witness the influence of this son over Jacob, when called upon to discover the object of his highest veneration by solemn oath. Then you hear him swear “ by the Fear of his Father Isaac.” See him also on the way to Egypt, yet afraid to go down, and, as soon as he arrives at Beersheba, the border of Canaan, lest he should plant his foot on forbidden ground, see him solemnly recognize his connection with Isaac. There he offers sacrifices to the God of his Father Isaac, and the Almighty as strikingly adverts to this. He replied in a vision of the night, “ I am God, the God of thy Father: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up; and Joseph shall put his hand on thine eyes.”—Dead or alive, as though the Lord had said, it matters not, for my promise of blessing extends to thee and thine beyond the grave: still “I will bring thee up." So Joseph, under God, was the instrument employed closing his father's eyes in death, and bringing up his body into the land of promise. Witness the influence of Jacob on Joseph. One day, when yet only a lad, Jacob had said to him, “What is this dream that thou hast dreamed ? Shall I, and thy mother, and thy brethren, indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” Yet Joseph lived to show the old man how all this might be true, and how he could still retain for him the highest regard and affection. See him, though “ Lord of all Egypt,” bowing before his venerable parent, and venerating and cherishing him, bringing even his children to receive their old grandfather's blessing ; and see him afterwards, in company with his brethren, and in exact compliance with his father's request, carrying the bones of the patriarch up into Canaan with so much respect. Witness the influence of his parents on Moses. Here was
education too--that powerful engine-standing in the -way, and which, so far as it went, must have chained him down to Egypt: but all is as nothing before the influence of his nursing mother and father. The choice of Moses is ascribed, indeed, to faith, for nothing else could account for it; but “ faith cometh by hearing ;” and in the court of Pharaoh, or from Pharaoh's daughter, what had he heard, if his parents had not instilled into his mind their own principles ?
But I need not here multiply examples, with which the Sacred Scriptures abound; otherwise one might dwell on the influence and power of many parents : the influence of such a mother as Hannah over such a son as Samuel ; the influence of the grandmother of Timothy on his mother, and of his mother on him, the man of whom even Paul said afterwards, “I have no man like-minded,” or so dear to me.
THE APOSTLES.—There is, however, one illustrious group of examples, which must not be so passed over : they will be seen standing in the closest connection with our blessed Saviour himself, who, in laying the foundation of his own imperishable kingdom, availed himself to such an extent of the power of parental influence and natural attachment. The principle on which he proceeded in the selection of his particular friends and apostles, if it is discoverable, is certainly a subject of great interest and laudable curiosity ; it has therefore often afforded matter of speculation. Observe, however, the following facts, and then say whether it does not actually seem as though, by his procedure, he had intended to commend the subject now before us to the most serious attention of Christians individually, and the Christian church in all ages.
Of the twelve men whom he selected for apostles, while