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CONTENTS:-1. “ The Importance of Domestic Happi
ness.” II. “ The Means of Domestic Happiness."
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By SAMUEL MILLER, D. D.,
THE IMPORTANCE OF DOMESTIC HAPPINESS.
JOB v. 24—Thy tabernacle shall be in peace. Man was made for society; and the earliest form of society was that of the family. The all-wise Creator had scarcely made the first parent of our race, before he said — It is not good for man to be alone; I will, therefore, make an help-meet for him. And to show the importance and permanence, as well as the close and endearing character of this connection, he added-For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.
As domestic society was the first that was formed, so it lies at the founda. tion of all other, and enters more deeply into the order, the purity, and the happiness of our world than a volume could display. It does more to cement civil society, to create the tenderest relations, to soften the heart, to refine, polish, and harmonize the children of men, than all the laws which human wisdom ever formed.
The IMPORTANCE OF DOMESTIC HAPPINESS, then, is to be the subject of the present discourse. It is this blessing to which Eliphaz refers in the words of our text. Thy tabernacle shall be in peace. The word “tabernacle” signifies a family tent, or moveable dwelling. Such dwellings formerly were, and, indeed, still are, exceedingly common in Arabia, where Job is supposed to have resided, and in many other parts of the Eastern world. The term here may be considered as designating, by a very common figure, not only the tent itself, but also the family inhabiting it. This domestic circle, in the circumstances to which the speaker refers, shall be “in peace," that is, tranquil and happy; free from those sources of annoyance and suffering to which, in a different situation, it would not fail to be exposed :—at peace among its own members, and at peace with all around.
In showing the IMPORTANCE of domestic happiness, it is difficult to know where to begin, or where to end. Its points of contact with human enjoyment are so numerous, and its influence on the best interests of society, civil and religious, so deep and vital, that we can scarcely make an over-estimate of its value. A few of the more obvious and practical considerations which belong to the subject, will be presented with all plainness and brevity. May he who has the residue of the Spirit, direct our meditations, and grant that we may all know the happiness of which we speak, not by description only, but by the richest personal experience.
VOL. 10. No. 4.
1. The inestimable importance of domestic happiness appears FROM THE UNAVOIDABLE INTIMACY AND EXTENT OF ITS INFLUENCE ON HUMAN COMFORT. The degree of enjoyment which we find in scenes and with persons with whom we have no necessary connection, and with whom we may, if we please, avoid intercourse, is of comparatively small importance. He who finds little comfort in traveling may refrain from it : and he who has no taste for rural pleasures, may confine himself to his dwelling, or transfer his residence to a populous city. But who can measure the importance of our finding comfort in that place, and in that society, which we call our home; with which God, in his providence, has been pleased to connect us by ties of the closest kind; where we habitually reside ; where, of course, we pass the greatest part of our time; and from which we cannot escape without both sin and greater suffering ? Other scenes we occasionally approach ; with this we are, so to speak, ever in contact. Here we, as it were, “ live and move and have our being.” To find one's ties to this place, and to this society an alliance with misery, is indeed deplorable! To such an one, a state of suffering is not merely an occasional occurrence; it is the character of his abode ; it is an inmate of his tabernacle; it besets him day and night, in going out and coming in, in sitting down and rising up. He cannot escape from it without abandoning his family. In short, he who finds no happiness in the bosom of his household, must be a stranger to it the grenter part of his time; and if the consciousness of the want of it there, do not poison his enjoyment wherever he goes, and cause him to look with something allied to painful envy on scenes of eminent domestic comfort, when he witnesses them in other families, it must be because all the finer sensibilities of his nature have been blunted by the long continuance of discord and suffering.
On the other hand, whatever may be our sufferings abroad, if our own dwelling be the habitual abode of peace and love; and if, whenever we return to it, we are welcomed with the smile of affection, and surrounded with the comforts of a well-ordered family, and the endearments of conjugal and filial regard;—we have secured to us the very best elements of social happiness that this world can give. Here the laborer finds a constant and rich solace when he returns from his daily toils. Here the man of business, leaving the scenes of anxious care which distract and exhaust him, comes to his domestic circle to be soothed, refreshed and lifted up. The scholar here unbends, and seeks
among those to whom he is bound by the most endearing of all earthly ties, relaxation, repose, and intellectual renovation. And even the politician, wearied with the strife and conflicts of political parties, retires to the bosom of his family to find that disinterested affection, and genuine enjoyment which among rivals or sycophants he seeks in vain.
Accordingly, one of the inost eminent statesmen of Great Britain, not long since deceased,* bore a testimony on this subject which is worthy of being repeated and remembered. He declared, that whatever might be the clamor and violence of party zeal ; whatever the fatigue, the anxiety or the disgust which he suffered in the transaction of public business ;-he never entered his own dwelling, and sat down by his own fire-side, with his beloved family, with. out finding his wearied and agitated spirit immediately tranquilized, and filled with the most delightful serenity. There he found a refuge from all the heart. less selfishness of political partizans, and was enabled to leave behind him every element of animosity or vindictiveness.
Surely, then, it is the wisdom of every one who wishes to establish his happiness on the firmest basis, to study to make his own dwelling, as far as possible, the abode of harmony and love. He who finds not comfort here, will probably find it no where. The absence of this blessing, will be like a worm constantly gnawing at the root of his enjoyment : while he whose domestic happiness is well established, will seldom fail to experience its benign influence in all the walks of life, and in the discharge of every public and private duty.
* Edmund Burke.