Page images
PDF
EPUB

supplicate thee to give us such views of the glory of thy Sabbath in heaven as shall make all earthly pomp and pride to fade away in the comparison, and all our ambitious views in this life to be counted as low, and mean, and despicable things. May our Sabbaths henceforward be devoted to the contemplation of that sacred rest which is to come; and may the hours which are set apart from the secular labours of the week be occupied in a zealous preparation for that divine inheritance which is laid up for the people of God.

“Our minds have hitherto been wholly dark and blinded, 0 heavenly Father, as to the true nature of thine appointed Sabbaths upon earth. We have hitherto seen in them nothing more than that imperfect rest, and those frail observances, which such an institution can supply in the present state of thy Church. We have often experienced weariness on this day set apart for religious rest, and waited upon thee in the house of prayer under much distraction of mind. Often have we wondered at our own restless feelings on thy sacred day, and looked around us with displeasure at the vanities and follies of our fellow-worshippers. O may these painful feelings henceforward prove our best monitors; effectually teaching us that there is no true rest in the present state of things, and that the day of the Lord has hitherto been known to us only in its type or emblem. And may we learn from our own infirmities to desire more ardently that perfect peace which is promised in the latter days, when the effect of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance for ever.

“Henceforward, O holy Father, grant that thy Sabbaths may be more effectually reverenced by us, and more sensibly blessed to us. Let us not waste them in ineffectual struggles after present rest, but in earnest reachings after that rest which is to come, in animating contemplations of the glory which shall be revealed when thou shalt come with power to rule the earth, and in sincere and affectionate endeavours for the promotion of their spiritual good among whom we dwell, and with whom we hope to be associated in everlasting happiness. Grant, О heavenly Father, that our services on thy day may be such as shall tend to our advantage in the morning of 'thine appearing. And grant that our lamps may be furnished with oil before we lie down in the sleep of death, to this end—that, when the Bridegroom shall appear in the dawning of the spiritual Sabbath, we may be found ready to enter in with him to the marriage.

To thee, the God of all grace, be praise, and honour, and glory, rendered by us and by all thy people, from this time forth and for evermore. Amen.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XVII.

Fifth Commandment.--Honour thy Father and thy Mother; that thy Days may be long in the Land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

'THE fifth commandment,” said the lady of the manor, when the young party were once more assembled in her presence, “is to form the subject of our consideration this evening.

“I will open our discourse," said she, “ by a reference to a valuable commentator on Scripture, to whose writings I have more than once taken occasion to refer.

According to the principle which has hitherto directed our interpretation,' says this writer, this commandment (that is the fifth) must be considered as the abstract of relative duties. All other relations spring from that of parents and children, or partake in a measure of its nature; and this most nearly resembles our relation to the great Creator. Children are required to honour their parents; which implies that it is the duty of parents to behave honourably, by diligently performing the several parts of their important charge, as entrusted with the care of their offspring both in body and soul, and by a becoming deportment in all other respects. Yet children are not absolved from their duty by the inisconduct of their parents; (for which they must answer to God;) and such a limitation in this and other relative precepts would absurdly constitute all the inferior relations judges and lords over their superiors.'

“ This commandment,” said the lady of the manor, "we may consider as including all the respective duties between those persons who are in authority, and appointed by God as rulers over others, and those who occupy stations which require obedience. We will, therefore, consider this commandment under those two heads into which the subject naturally divides itself: first, the duties incumbent on those in authority; and, secondly, the duties of those from whom submission is required.

“I must, however, here remark, that there are few persons, with the exception of very little children, from whom the practice of both these kinds of duty is not required; a circumstance which renders it necessary that we should all learn how to obey and how to command. And I would further observe, that the most valuable character, and that which approaches nearest to the perfection which our Lord displayed in the flesh, is that which is able to rule with diligence and submit with humility."

The lady of the manor then proceeded to say, “ It is my intention, my dear young people, at some future time, to enter with you at considerable length on the duties of parents to children. Leaving therefore this part of my subject at present, I will, with your permission, read a short narrative, which I hope may not only afford you amusement, but profit.

“But, before I begin my story, I must premise one or two things. And, first, I would wish to impress this truth on your minds — that wherever there exist reciprocal duties between two persons, the failure of one party in the performance of what is required of him by no means releases the other from his obligations; and for this reason, that every duty is appointed by the Almighty, and should be performed as in his presence: nothing therefore that a fellow-creature can do, has power to destroy or alter those moral obligations which are established by God. For instance: there are reciprocal duties existing between a man and his wife, a servantand his master, a parent and his child; and though a parent, wife, husband, and child fail in their duties, the obligation remains equally binding on the other party.

« The fifth commandment,” proceeded the lady of the manor, “ is said to be the first commandment with promise—Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy. God giveth thee.' Now, although I receive the promise of long life in a spiritual sense, yet, taking it only in a

[ocr errors]

literal sense, I have observed, that families remarkable for filial piety, are often equally so for the longevity of the individuals composing them. I remember once, added she, “soon after I was married, while travelling through England with the corps to which we were then attached, that we were quartered for some months in one of the most ancient and celebrated cities in this island. We there, through the medium of a common friend, were introduced to a family, the elders of which had been intimately known to many literary characters in the middle of the last century--persons who were familiarly acquainted with Richardson, the famous novel-writer, and had been of the party to whom he read his manuscripts of Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison, and whoni he had often consulted concerning the deaths of bis highsouled heroines.

“ It was on a Sunday evening when we were first to be introduced to this family; and on this occasion several branches from the same stock, residing in the town, were to be assembled for the purpose of meeting us.

This meeting was to take place at the house of the eldest individual of the family, who resided in a venerable dwelling, to which there was admittance through the outer aisle of the cathedral, by a wide and handsome flight of stairs. We attended divine service in the evening, by candle-light, in the cathedral ; after which, we were ushered through the vaulted aisles and passages before mentioned into the large old-fashioned parlour, in which our new acquaintance had just assembled before us in order to our more ceremonious reception.

“ There was not wanting in the manner of some of these respectable persons there present, (for there were three generations, the youngest of which was in the early bloom of life,) a certain solemnity and dignity not commonly to be met with in these days, which suited well with the ancient parlour in which the party were collected together, a parlour which had seen many successions of monks and friars, and witnessed many of the inysteries of the Roman Catholic system. Yet with all this solemnity there was much friendliness of manner, which we valued the more, because we understood that the friendship of this excellent family was never offered where esteem was wanting. This evening, and many

« EelmineJätka »