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The Value of Domestic Happiness.
GOD, eternal, inexhaustible fountain of all hap
piness and joy, how various, how abundant are the sources of satisfaction and pleasure which thou hast opened to us thy children, and to the enjoyment whereof thou invitest us by thy good providence! If thou have beset our path of life with numerous obstructions and difficulties for our discipline and correction, yet hast thou embellifhed it with numberless beauties and satisfactions which impart to us courage and strength to vanquish those difficulties. If thou lay upon us sometimes heavy duties, toilfome businesses, severe afflictions; thou dost mitigate and alleviate them to us by still more various and greater recreations and comforts. Yes, we may, we should be even here on earth delighted and happy; and if we are not so, it is by our own fault. In the capacities, in means, in opportunities, in encouragements to it, thou lettest none of us be wanting. But too frequently we let ourselves be
wanting in the wise and faithful use of that which in its native tendencies by thy decrees would make us happy! But too often we allow ourselves to be cheated by the semblance of things; disdain truth and wisdom and virtue, the only sure guides to happiness; and are submissively misled by error, by folly and vice into the road of trouble and misery. And then we doubt of thy goodness, murmur at thy constitutions and dispensations, and complain of the lamentable lot of humanity! God, how unjust are we frequently towards thee, and how inimical to ourselves! Ah, forgive us our transgressions, most merciful father, and lead us back from our deviations. Let the light of truth dissipate the errors and prejudices that so often misguide us. Teach us ever better to know and more worthily to use the wise and kind provisions thou hast made for our happiness. Grant that we may all seek and find it there where thou wilt that we should seek and find it, and let us all become constantly more intelligent and good, and thereby more qualified for its enjoyment. Bless to this purpose the meditations that are now to employ our thoughts. Enable us to perceive the happiness of domestic life, to which we are called by thee, in its real form, and derive from it all the felicity that it is capable of procuring us. Grant our requests, which we implore of thee in the name of our faviour Jefus, and entirely relying on his promises and resigned
to thy will, in his own words we further
for ourselves and for others to thee: Our father, &c.
MATTH. xxi. 17.
And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany,
and he lodged there.
IT not unfrequently happens, that man goes to
a distance in search of what lies by him, for what is inviting him at home to immediate enjoyment; and this is commonly the reason that he either does not find what he seeks for at all, or not so complete as he could with. Thus all mankind are in quest of satisfaction and happiness. But probably they least search for it where it would be the most easily, the most certainly, and the most completely found. They overlook or disdain the sources of it which lie nearest to them, and are already in their pofseffion; which no man can debar them from, no man can render tasteless or contestable; which flow indeed without noise, but in a copious and uninterrupted stream : and rove about in anxious pera plexity after others, which can only be discovered with great labour, only sparingly enjoyed, from which they cannot always, from which they can but feldom draw undisturbed, can never entirely flake their thirst, and often run the hazard of taking in bitterness and death with the waters of them. I will speak without a metaphor. Mankind too often seek their principal pleasure, their whole felicity, in what is called the great world, in numerous and brilliant companies, in distracting and fascinating amusements, in extensive connections with such persons as are distinguished by their rank, their train, their opulence, their luxuries, and their magnificence, and live sumptuously every day, or rather seem as if they lived. Too often do they run from one such glittering circle to another, from one such company of counterfeit freedom and joy to another, in hopes of assuaging their thirst for pleasure and happiness. But how seldom do they there find what they seek! How much seldomer do they find it so pure, so complete, as they expected!. How oft do they there mistake the shadow for the substance, appearance for reality, and find themselves lamentably and shamefully deceived in their most flattering expectations! And how much more easily and fatisfactorily, how much more sincerely and completely might they have found and enjoyed this pleasure and happiness, if they had been contented to look for it, not so far off, but nearer at hand; not in noise, but in quiet; not in what depends on mere accident, but is in their own power; in short, if they had fought for it in domestic life?
Yes, in this little unrenowned circle, there is far more real, solid joy, than in grand and brilliant
companies ; more happiness and greater variety of it is to be found in this fmall round of occupations and pleasures than on the vast theatre of glaring shows and tumultuous diversions. Here, in the enjoyment of domestic happiness, it is that the wise man, the christian, principally seeks and finds refreshment, recreation and pleasure. Here even our lord, whose taste and sentiments were in all respects fo humane and generous, fought and found them. Wearied by the labours of the day, and the contradictions of his eneinies, he left them, as our text informs us, and went out of the city into Bethany, there to participate in the peace and comfort of a family united together by the tenderest affection, the family of Lazarus and his sisters, and to increase their fatisfactions by his presence and converse. This humble abode of domestic happiness he preferred to the lofty palaces of the great, to the festivities of the rich and the riotous mirth of the voluptuous. Happy they, who in this respect likewife are so minded as Jesus was! They can never be deficient in real felicity.
Yes, my dear friends, great, uncommonly great, is the value of domestic happiness! But infinitely greater to them who know it by experience, than to such as are only acquainted with it from description. May I be enabled to do justice to it at least in my representation! In order to this, let us en. ter upon two inquiries. The first, how should do. mestic life be constituted, that it may have a great 7