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You will say then, What must we talk about ?- What?-surely people of good sense, and such you wish to be considered, cannot be at a loss for subjects to discourse of. Let the whole stock of your little party be fairly brought to market, and there will be no want of useful and pleasant commodities to traffic with. Are you all strangers to history, business, nature, morality, and religion ? No.-These sources then will furnish an ample supply for the elitertainment of the evening.

Suppose some one were to relate a remarkable incident in the story of his ancestors, his family, or his country: upon that tale would hang another, and these pleasantly told would not fail to instruct and amuse.-Suppose the conversation should turn upon matters of trade and commerce, may it not be so managed as to divert at the same time it informs ?-Or if a curious question respecting any of the works of nature is started, think you that some present of a sprightly imagination are not capable of in-, vestigating it, so as to create admiration and pleasure ?-Young people have memories: and why may they not be allowed to recite productions of innocent wit and pleasantry in poetic numbers ? Who shall be offended at the entertainment ?--Or if the. attention should be led by some circumstance to a point of morality, may not the discussion of it for half an hour very agreeably engage your judgment and passions ?-Some events of a singular kind may have happened to this or that person in the course of the past year, either escapes from eminent danger, or the acquisition of some unexpected good. Why may not such, events, with all the circumstances of them, be related; and so the whole company become sharers with their friend in his happiness, and enjoy with him a grateful remembrance of the seasonable interposition of Providence ?- I will add, if there is a prudent, pious, cheerful Christian in the circle; why may he not be allowed to throw in now and then a hint or reflection of a religious kind ? It may shed light on the mind, and do good to the heart, without savouring of affectation, or tending to give disgust. And such hint or reflection leading on to further discourse of the same nature, (if it meet the approbation of the company) will put them all, it is to be hoped, into a temper to attend,

5. To the duties of family worship.

I am aware the very mention of family worship on these occasions, will be apt to give offence to some sort of people. But why? Is there any thing in this service incompatible with the cheerfulness of a festival ? Surely it is not, at least it ought not to be, a tedious, formal, uninteresting business. And if there is a stated season for it in the house where we are assembled, what decent satisfactory reason can be assigned for setting it aside ? It will not take up much time: and to say your minds are so dissipated that you cannot compose yourselves to it, is in effect to say that your mirth has exceeded the bounds of prudence. And will such excuse be pleasing to God or to yourselves on the reflection? How disingenuous to make your duty to him, from whom you derive all the pleasures of convivial intercourse, servilely yield to your ungenerous abuse of those pleasures ! On the contrary, will not a quarter of an hour spent in prayer and praise to God, be likely to have the happiest and most salutary effect? It will recall your wandering thoughts and passions to the supreme Good. It will revive in your breasts a pleasant remembrance of your obligations, as a family, to the Father of mercies. It will put you in perfect good humour with one another, and send you to your several houses and your rest with easy minds, if not joyful hearts.

And now to this arrangement of circumstances, relative to family-associations, we might oppose the irregularities too frequent on such occasions; and draw an argument from thence to enforce what we have been recommending. But I do not mean · here to lead you into houses where gross immoralities are practised. Scenes of intemperance, lewdness, and profaneness, such as drew down the vengeance of Heaven upon the families of Job, Eli, Aaron and others; are too painful to be held up to the view of a virtuous mind. And no person who has any regard to decency, will hesitate a moment to determine, whether the pleasures of an evening spent in the manner we have recommended, are not far preferable to those of lawless mirth and dissipation.

But what I mean to observe is, that the little trifling amusements mentioned above as proper for children, and very allow- . able on these occasions; should not wholly engross the time of grown people. Such diversions may for a while give pleasure:

but is that pleasure comparable to the entertainment resulting from the rational amusements we have proposed? The freely discoursing on subjects civil, moral, and divine, is a manly, cheerful, and improving way of spending our leisure hours. Knowledge thus circulated, with all the aid that variety of wit, imagination, and reason can give it; will entertain and enrich the whole company: and the social affections hereby excited will enliven the animal spirits, and add a glow of real pleasure to the heart. Every one will be delighted with this gainful commerce, carry away with him the most agreeable reflections, and impatiently wish for the next return of these convivial meetings.

DISCOURSE XII.

HEAVEN CONSIDERED AS A FAMILY.

John xiv. 2.-In my Father's house are many mansions ; if it

were not so, I would have told you : I go to prepare a place for you. Among the many figures used in Scripture to represent the blessedness of heaven, none is more instructive and pleasing than that of a Family. Domestic connections are the first in nature, and if the duties resulting from them were rightly discharged, they would be productive of the noblest enjoyments. With the assistance therefore of this figure we propose now to lead you into a contemplation on the joys of heaven; and from thence to derive an argument in favour of those tempers and duties which have been so largely explained and recommended in the preceding discourses. Now it will be necessary, at our entrance on this delightful subject, to present you with the picture of a family that approaches as near to perfection as possible. Such a picture we shall draw. Excuse me if the colouring is too high. We mean it should glow on the bosom of the be

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holder, and kindle there all the passions of admiration, delight, and rapture.

The family we have in our eye (and I flatter myself more than one such family has existed in our world) were in affluent circumstances. Their habitation was neat, convenient, and elegant; it did honour to the skill of the architect, without offending the simplicity of nature. The father was a wise, affectionate, good man: a sincere disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus, whose doctrine he professed, and whose example he followed. A rich treasure of knowledge he had acquired, and with it the happy art of communicating that knowledge to others in a plain, easy, and pleasant manner. The welfare of those entrusted to his care lay near his heart, and the schemes he daily planned for promoting it, which originated in prudence and benevolence, succeeded to his wish. His fervent piety, like the precious ointment that ran down from the head of Aaron to the skirts of his garment, diffused its sacred fragrance through all the house. The counsels of divine wisdom, which flowed like a silver stream from his lips, were sweetly mingled with the most pleasing expressions of paternal tenderness and love; and his was the felicity to persuade with greater energy by his example than his words.

The partner of his life, inexpressibly dear to him, had all the charms which virtue and religion could add to a form that commanded admiration and love. She was modest, prudent, and kind. Her happiness consisted in attaching the affections of her family to herself, and so disposing the affairs of it as that barmony and cheerfulness should prevail through the house: and the measures she took to this end were followed with the same success that crowned the generous offices of her husband. Nor was she less attentive than he to the duties she owed to God: her devotion was as sincere, though perhaps more rapturous than his. Such being the character of these amiable people, it is not to be wondered that they reigned securely in the affections of their domestics; and possessed an authority over them, on all occasions cordially acknowledged without their seeming to assert it.

Their children (for they had a numerous family) inherited the virtues of their parents, as well as a striking resemblance of their

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persons. While young they fondly hung on the bosom of the mother, amply rewarding maternal attention and care with the playful and endearing smiles of infant-simplicity, Beauty bloomed in their countenances ;

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of expanded, the seeds of religion, which had been carefully sown in their breasts, sprung up under a divine influence, and promised a fair and joyful harvest. They knew, they felt, they acknowledged their ignorance, guilt, and depravity; and looked for pardon and eternal life through the mediation and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each step they advanced towards manhood, furnished some pleasing proof of their progress in knowledge, purity, and benevolence. Filial obedience was their delight, and when a temptation to undutifulness at any time found access to their imagination, it was quickly opposed by the warm resentments of unconquerable attachment. The social commerce daily carried on between their parents and them, in the most soft and easy manner, was a continual source of growing pleasure to them both: as was also the commerce that subsisted among themselves. Friendship, that balm of human life, was here enjoyed with little or no interruption. A.mutual exchange of sentiments and passions, accompanied with a thousand offices of generous love, confirmed the union nature had created. And so they were happy in a degree beyond what is usual in the present life. They tenderly bore each other's griefs, and sincerely shared in each other's joys. How good, how pleasant must it have been to behold brethren thus dwelling together in unity!

The characters, too, and deportment of the servants were such as entitled them, not only to the good-will, but the affection of the family. They were modest, faithful, diligent, and cheerful; contented and happy in their stations, and ever disposed to do their duty from motives of love as well as interest. The golden rule of doing to others as we would have them do unto us, was deeply imprinted on their breasts: and it was their aim not only to escape the reproaches of a self-accusing conscience, but to enjoy the commendations of those they served, and more especially the approbation of the great God.

In a house composed of such members, it may be easily imagined peace and pleasure must have abounded. The welfare of the whole was the object of every individual, and each one par

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