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PART SEVENTH.
UNION WITH GOD IN THE WORK OF MAN'S REDEMPTION.



CHAPTER VI.


OF UNION WITH GOD IN THE REDEMPTION AND SANCTIFICATION OF THE FAMILY.


Definition of home. — The home of all beings ascertained by a law of nature. — Is found in the harmony or union of two beings in one.Reference to the law of adaptation and union in the vegetate world. — Reference to the same law in its application to the lower animals. — Of the principle of union in moral beings. — The subject illustrated fmm the nature of the Godhead. — View given in the Scriptures. — Remarks suggested by the subject.

WE proceed now, in the natural order of these inquires, from the individual to the family. Holiness does not annul, or even alter, the laws of nature, but only restores and perfects their action. And, accordingly, we shall be united with our heavenly Father in the great work of restoring and perfecting the family, when we endeavor to ascertain and to aid in the fulfillment of the intentions of nature.

We begin our remarks, therefore, by saying, that every being must have its
home. By home, we do not mean simply a locality, a place of residence. The man, who is banished from his native land, and is confined to some rocky isle in the ocean, has his locality, but it is not his home. If it is so, why does he so often cast his streaming eye over the broad ocean, as if to catch the glance of some other land? Home, therefore, in being something more than simple locality, is that locality where the affections find their centre and are at rest.

2. And we may add further, that the home of every class of beings, excluding all idea of uncertainty and vagrancy, is ascertained and fixed by a law of nature. It would be unreasonable to suppose that the origin, or the position, or the physical habits, or the enjoyments, of any beings, especially in their regular or normal state, are accidental. On the contrary, all beings have their sphere or circle of life; — a sphere definite, wisely adjusted, and perfect. And this is not all. Every sphere, embracing as it does various and multiplied capacities and opportunities of action, has its
centre. And that centre, in being constituted by a divine arrangement, and with the divine approbation, may be said to harmonize with the divine and infinite centre. And, accordingly, harmonizing as it does both with God and with the facts and incidents of its own sphere of life, it is the place, and the only place, where the highest happiness of created beings is realized. It is the place, therefore, in distinction from all others, and above all others, which constitutes their HOME.

3. That home or centre, of which we now speak, will always be found to be, — certainly in the case of all moral beings, — the harmony or union of two in one. The permanent coming together, the consolidation, if we may so speak, of two natures existing in the same sphere of life, constitutes not merely the place of meeting, but the place of affectional rest and happiness. The true domicile of all sentient and moral beings, therefore, is the domicile, the home of the heart, whenever and wherever the heart is at rest. And that place of rest is ascertained and verified by that union of two in one which has just been mentioned. And, accordingly, it may be said of all moral and accountable beings that they are at home and are happy in being united, first with the divine or infinite centre, which is God; and then, in being perfectly united, under the divine direction, with other correspondent or mated beings in the same sphere of life; — a union, which may be described as the local or finite centre, namely, the centre in relation to the species or class of beings to which they belong. And until they attain this central position in their own sphere of life, a centre which corresponds to and harmonizes with the divine or infinite centre; in other words, until they reach this home of the heart’s rest in love, there is always a desire which is not satisfied, always a yearning of the spirit which is not met, a deep and painful want of completed bliss.

Such is the truth of nature in this matter. Such is the truth of God, who in the book of nature has everywhere written truths which are eternal. And, accordingly, the family institution, which has so close a connection with the interests and hopes of humanity, has an everlasting basis.

4. Of this great truth we have some shadowing forth, some feeble disclosures, in the lower creation. It would hardly be out of place to say that we have an intimation of it even in the arrangements of the vegetable kingdom. The botanist is unable to develop his science without making reference to distinctions, combinations and results, which remind one of the relations of a higher state of existence. The trees and the flowers have their correspondences, their attractions. A poet of no mean name has sung the "Loves of the Plants.” [
Dr. Erasmus Darwin.]

5. Still more striking and decisive are the evidences of the natural and permanent relationships of love, which are furnished by the animal kingdom. In how many tribes of animals the instinct of love seeks, with unerring perseverance, its corresponding relationships! And when those, which are fitted and are destined for each other, have established their companionship, how delightful and even affecting is their unity in labor, in suffering, and in joy! Their nest, or cavern, or excavation in the earth, becomes to them a home, hallowed by the ties of a reciprocal or correspondent nature, sustained by unchanging fidelity, and undisturbed by foreign intrusions.

Never does the bird of the mountains dwell in his distant and wild home without a companion. Wherever he goes, he cannot separate himself from the instincts of union. Another bird of the mountains sits by his side on the dark and solitary cliff, which human eye has, perhaps, never visited. They build their nest by a common labor; and their young, born from the attractions of a two-fold nature, are fed by a care which love will not permit to be divided.

6. But this principle of reciprocal adaptation, and of union founded upon it, is more fully developed and perfected in moral beings.

I take it for granted as a first and indisputable principle, that happiness must be the result of a divinely ordered and perfect constitution of things. It is true, as we have had frequent occasion to say, that love is, and must be, the
life; that is to say, the central and moving principle of such a divine constitution. But love is not necessarily free from sorrow; — although it must be admitted, that true happiness cannot exist without love. The love, which good men have to erring and fallen sinners, is necessarily more or less mixed with grief. This being the case, the question naturally arises, — When can a truly holy or love being be said to be a happy being; — not only happy, but enjoying happiness in the highest degree? This is a question, which it is obviously necessary to solve, in ascertaining the true constitution of an order of moral beings. That is to say, it is necessary to answer the question, — Under what circumstances can the highest happiness be secured to such an order of beings? And the answer, as it seems to us, is this. A moral being is happy in the highest degree, when it meets with another being, constituted on the same principles of holy love; and meets with it under such circumstances as to behold the unspeakable beauty of its own benevolent nature reflected back upon itself in the mirror of the other's loving heart. Seeing itself in another, and therefore, feeling another in itself, it not only recognizes but realizes, by the necessities of its nature, the eternal law of unity.

A love being, that is to say, a being, whose central principle of movement is holy love, cannot see its own love, because it is the nature of holy love to turn its eyes from itself, and to see the wants, and to seek the good, of another. But being unable to see itself in itself, when it sees and recognizes itself imaged forth in the bright heart and countenance of another, it seeks the company of such a being by a natural impulse, and rejoices in it "with joy unspeakable." In other words, the issues of perfect happiness are from the meetings and unions of true or pure love. It is not merely soul meeting soul; but the divine rushing into the arms of the divine. Stated in still other terms, the happiness of love consists, more than in anything else, in seeing the face of love. This is the philosophy, not more of the true joy of earth, than it is of the true joy of heaven.

7. If these views are correct, they are applicable to all moral beings They are applicable to man; — and with appropriate modifications which do not vitiate the principle at the bottom of them, they are applicable to angels, and to all other classes and orders of moral existences. There seems, then, to be a just and adequate foundation for the doctrine, of which we find some intimations and glimpses from time to time in experimental writers, that all holy beings have their correspondences. That is to say, they have other beings in the same rank of existence who, in their physical, though purified and perfected, nature, in intellect and affections, and also in providential position, correspond to their own necessities, and which constitute, therefore, the completion or complement of their physical part, and of their perceptions and loves. In these different personalities, which are destined in their appropriate time to form a
completed unity, there is the same central principle of movement or action, namely, holy love. Under the inspiration of this central power, they continually move from object to object, among the various objects and beings which are presented to them in their appropriate sphere of life; dispensing love to others, and receiving love in return; but, still, feeling that the wants of their inward being are not fully satisfied until their equal and mated spirit, the correspondence and complement of themselves, is revealed to them. Then, under the attractions of mutual love, which is wiser and stronger than mere arbitrary and positive law, they unite together; — and they do it under such circumstances that it is not possible to separate them. They thus fulfill the purposes of their Maker; and realize in time a marriage, which, in spirit and essence, is eternal. Made and mated to each other, their thoughts flow in the same channel; the pulsation of one heart is the pulsation of the other; in the fulfillment of the divine will they become acquainted with and enjoy the various works of God within the limits of their sphere of being; they have a common purpose, a common happiness, a common life.

8. The Godhead itself, mysterious and unsearchable as it is, is the fore-shadowing, the antetype of the family. Man is said to be created in the divine image; but the combined man, which constitutes the family, far more than the solitary man or woman, is the true image of God. And the reason is,
"God is love.” And if he is so, then there must have been an eternal Beloved. Otherwise, he would have been the most miserable of beings. Absolute solitude is inconsistent with happiness. What could be more miserable than a being, the very essence of whose nature is love, without an object to meet and to satisfy its unalienable and mighty tendencies? And that object, to meet the ends for which it exists, must be as infinite as the love of which it is the subject. And if it must be infinite, because nothing short of infinite would be an appropriate object of the divine affections, it must also have been eternal, because otherwise the divine affection, through countless ages, would have had no object at all. And hence, there is, and must be, innate in the Godhead, the infinitely beloved, the Chosen and Anointed of the Father, the Eternal Word, the Immanuel. But this duality of existence, which is constituted into unity by the unchangeable bond of the affections, cannot be perfectly happy except in some object possessing a like infinity of character, which may be regarded, speaking after the manner of men, as "a procession or emanation" from the two. And this re-production of itself, infinite in its nature, perfect in its love and by "an everlasting generation," constitutes and completes the adorable family of the Trinity.

9. Man, created in the divine image, is male and female; and these two are one. And their united existence, deriving a new power from their union, multiplies and images itself in a third, which is also a part of itself. It is man, therefore, in his threefold nature, — the father, the mother, and the child,— the beautiful trinity of the family, and yet so constituted that in man's unfallen state it would never have suggested the idea of a weakened or discordant unity, — which may be regarded as the earthly representation, the visible, though dim, shadowing forth of the divine personalities existing in the unity of the Godhead. The original type is in the infinite; but it is reproduced and reflected with greater or less degrees of distinctness in all orders of moral beings.

10. If any, however, should suppose that these suggestions are not sufficiently based on facts and arguments, we do not wish to press them unduly upon their acceptance. Perhaps they have more weight with us, than they have with others; — and we ask no other reception for them than that to which they are justly entitled. At the same time we cannot deny our own conviction, founded upon such considerations as we have been able to give to the subject, that the family relation, as it is recognized and established in the New Testament, has its foundation in the nature of things, and is eternal. This, it will be perceived, is a very different doctrine from that which makes it a mere positive institution, founded upon arbitrary command. It will be conceded, I suppose, that God never mends his own work. His conceptions, founded upon, or rather involving, the fact of a knowledge and comparison of all possibilities of being and action, are always perfect. And, consequently, when we ascertain what his views and plans of things are, we ascertain that which is unchangeable.

The idea of the family, namely, of duality in unity, reproducing itself in a third, which combines the image of both, is entitled, if we are correct in what has been said, to be regarded as a plan or arrangement of things which God has adopted as the best possible to be carried out and realized. And if so, it bears the stamp of divine perpetuity, as well as of divine wisdom.

11. It may be well to repeat and to keep in mind some of the leading principles, on which this conclusion is based.

One is, that every being has its two-fold centre; first, its centre or home in God; second, its centre or home relative to its sphere of life; — the one corresponding to and harmonizing with the other. Another principle is, that the life of holy or unfallen beings is, and must be, holy love. It is this principle, which brings their powers into movement, and constitutes them active beings. A third principle is, that love, in whatever beings it may exist, must have an object. Being a principle which does not turn back and rest upon itself, but which always has a tendency to move outward, it cannot exist without having an object somewhere. A fourth is, that love, by its very nature, has an attractive as well as an emanative power. That is to say, while it goes out to others, it attracts others to itself. A fifth is, that the highest happiness of holy beings, drawn towards each other as they are by the attractions of love, will be secured, and can only be secured, when they find objects perfectly correspondent to themselves. And it is only when they have experienced this completed happiness, that they have found the true centre of their created sphere of life, and are at home.

And, accordingly, it will be found, as the laws of intelligence and feeling obviously require this state of things, that to every spiritual existence in the universe, though differently constituted and sustained in their different spheres of life, there is, and must be, a correspondent spirit. The union of these two constitutes the highest happiness; a happiness which is never experienced in this degree, antecedent to such union. And this union, which thus results in the highest happiness, is indissoluble. The moment that such beings are unveiled to each other as perfect correspondences, the mutual attraction, at once strengthened to its highest intensity, becomes irresistible; and the bond which binds them, stronger and more beautiful than clasps of gold, can never be rent asunder.

In support of these views we might refer to other sources of argument, which are frequently adduced in discussions of this nature. An argument in support of the permanency of the family, as it is constituted among Christian nations, is frequently drawn from the fact, that the sexes are equal, or nearly equal, in number. The subject has been frequently argued, also, in connection with the instinctive tendencies of our nature, both mental and physical, which so universally impel men to domestic associations. Such considerations go to confirm the views which have been taken; but they are so generally known, and so often referred to, that it is not necessary to dwell upon them here.

12. But, looking now in another direction, the Scriptures, if we rightly understand them, furnish confirmation of the general principles which have been laid down. The Bible, in the primitive records on the subject, represents that man was created in God's image. It also represents, that man and woman were one; and that woman was made from man; — the two existing henceforth in a diversity, but correspondence of form, and with an unity of life. If the passages to which we refer, do not expressly state it, it is obvious that they naturally imply and involve the doctrine of correspondent or mated spirits, of duality in unity, to the exclusion of all affections to others which are inconsistent with such unity. There is a passage in the prophet Malachi, in reproof of the conduct of the Israelites, which throws some light upon this subject. The Israelites had become dissolute in principles and manners; — a state of things, which showed itself in violations of conjugal fidelity, and in frequent divorces. "The Lord," says the prophet, "hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously; yet she is thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did he not make
one? Yet had he the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? [That is to say, wherefore did he create one only? And the answer is,] that he might seek, [that is, prepare or secure to himself,] a godly seed. Therefore, [he adds,] take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously again the wife of his youth."

The passage is a decided and just reproof of those frequent violations of the true idea of the marriage state, which had crept in among the Israelites. God was offended; and the prophet gives the reason of it. When God, in the beginning of things, had created man, he separated from him, in the moment of his "deep sleep," a part of his existence And from that which he thus separated, he made the counterpart and completion of humanity in woman. He made
one. In the language of the prophet, he had "the residue of the spirit;" and therefore he might have made a greater number. But that perfect conception which he had of a moral constitution of things, and of the elements of moral happiness, did not allow of more than one.

It was necessary, being good and perfect in himself, that he should so create man, as to evolve or develop from his existence, so long as it continued an unperverted existence, the highest possible degree of happiness. But perfect happiness cannot grow on the basis of a divided affection. It is only fulness of love, or love in the highest degree, — a state of mind which seems to be inconsistent with a multitude of objects of love, — that is crowned with fulness of bliss. And besides, that form or arrangement of the domestic constitution which limits the central or highest affection to one, was foreseen to be most favorable, as we should naturally suppose it would be, and as the passage in Malachi implies, to the birth and training of a "godly' seed." Polygamy and concubinage, and still more other systems, which propose a yet wider and more vicious liberty, are obviously inconsistent with that degree of watchful care, and religious instruction, which is necessary in training up a seed or people for God. And I think it cannot be doubted that the perpetuation of a godly seed is one of the objects involved in the constitution of a moral order of beings. Holiness, like sin, has its law of origin, and its line of descent.

13. At a later period, the language of the Saviour is this: "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning, made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, therefore,
God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

"They said unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives;
but from the beginning it was not so." [Matt 19:3]

14. The form of the original institution, established in infinite wisdom, was not only that of correspondent spirits, of soul formed and mated to soul, but that of permanent as well as perfect union. Those facts of mental and providential correspondence, which led to the union in the first instance, necessarily involved and established its permanency. Various expressions in the New Testament conform to and strengthen these views. Everywhere are denunciations uttered against the violation of this bond of the heart. Everywhere are encouragements uttered to the preservation of its purity, and the increase of its strength. "Husbands," says the apostle Paul, "love your wives, even as
Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." [Eph 5:25] These are remarkable expressions. Christ's love is perfect. Christ’s love never changes. The expressions of the apostle, therefore, harmonize well with the declaration of the Saviour, that in the beginning, the husband and wife were not allowed to be separated; that the union, when made in the truth, and as it ought to be, is of God, and that no human power has authority to rend it asunder.

15. Without quoting any further from the Scriptures, we will only notice the fact, that God very frequently illustrates the strength of the love which is due to him, by references to conjugal love. He speaks of his people as espoused to him. He repeatedly calls himself their husband. Speaking, for instance, of the rebellious Israelites, he says, in a certain place, "they brake my covenant, although I was an husband unto, them." [Jeremiah 31:32] And he compares their unholy wanderings from him to the conduct and the crime of a wife, who violates the marriage obligation. Such illustrations and references, if they do nothing more, may properly be regarded as showing the estimation which our heavenly Father places upon conjugal love. If they do not directly assert as much, they certainly seem to imply, that in a truly holy and perfect state of things, husbands and wives would love each other with something of that sacredness and purity of affection with which God himself is loved.

In other cases, he illustrates the relation he sustains to his creatures, by referring to the constitution of the family as it is presented to our notice in other respects. "A son," he says, in a certain place, "honoreth his father, and a servant his master. If I then be a father, where is mine honor?” And again it is said in another place, "As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." And it is thus, in a multitude of instances, that the family illustrates the relations of God to man, and of man to God. And it is not surprising that references and illustrations of this kind should be so frequent. The family embodies the highest forms of truth, as well as of beauty.

It is there that we see justice, which, standing alone, would smite and destroy, tempered with mercy. It is there that we see filial love sustained and heightened by reverence. It is there, especially, that we find illustrations of the higher truths of religious experience. Where else do we find so fully exemplified the lesson of the nature and laws of pure love, as we find it in the family? The love which exists in the family, — the love which flows between those who, in different persons, constitute the unity of its head, — the love which flows from the parents to the children, and reciprocally from the children to the parents, — is so far divested of selfishness, even in the present injured and fallen state of things, as to give some idea, faint though it may be, of the pure love of a better world. And, in the true or holy family, that is to say, in the family where hearts are first filled with the love of God and then of each other, we may be said to have the realization of heaven, as well as the idea of it.

16. In connection with the general views which have been presented, a number of remarks remain to be made. And one is this: One of the results of the diffusion of holiness, and of the spirit of union with God, will be to recognize to every man and woman the right, not merely to a home, but to that best of all homes, the home of the heart. Much has been said, among social and political philanthropists, of the right of each man to a portion of land, a homestead; and, undoubtedly, there is a great religious, as well as social idea, at the bottom of this suggestion. But if man has a right to a home for his body, much more has he a right to a home for his soul. His soul's home is love. To love and to be loved, and in such a manner as to secure the highest happiness, is the sacred right of all moral beings; and the obstructions which exist in the present state of society to this desirable result, will gradually be removed. Such is obviously the design of Providence; and those who are united with God will aid in it.

17. Another remark is this. The union of souls in the marriage state, like everything else, ought to be under the guidance of the Spirit of God. The first work, both of man and of woman, is the recovery of their own souls, their spiritual sanctification. Until this is done, they are not fitted, — certainly not in the full sense of the terms, — for anything else. And especially do they fail of being fitted for true mental union.

In the present state of the world, and in the imperfect condition of human things, it will often be the case, that those who are brought into the marriage state by human arrangements, and under the forms of human law, have not been united by spiritual attraction. Such marriages cannot be happy; — certainly not in the highest degree. It will be very different, in proportion as holiness advances in the world. In a purified, or millennial state of the race, the first step towards the finite marriage will be the marriage union with the Infinite. This, as we have already intimated, is the first great work of man under all circumstances; a work which cannot be superseded by any other; and without which no other can be perfectly done. When the soul is once united with God, it becomes the subject of the divine guidance; and while it loves all, and seeks the good of all, it enters into the state of perfect union only with that soul which develops most perfectly corresponding traits of character. The instinct of holiness will lead together kindred hearts; and the truth of spiritual union will take the place of the falsehood and misery of that union which merely allies the body without the union of the mind.

18. A further remark, closely connected with what has just been said, is this. If the views which have been presented are correct, one of the results of God's great work which is now going on in the world, will be, to raise and perfect woman's position and character. The darkest page in human history is that of the treatment of woman. Oppressed by man's depravity, injured in her most sacred affections, — the slave of man instead of his companion,— she has bedewed the earth with tears, and has had consolation only in that faith in God, which is appropriate to her confiding nature. But when, in the progress of divine truth, it is understood that man cannot fulfill his own destiny, and is not the completion of himself without her, — in other words, when, by being restored to God, he is restored to himself, — he will also be restored to that which is a part of himself; and will thus perfect, in completed unity, what would otherwise necessarily remain in the imperfection of an undeveloped and partial nature.

And, in connection with the accomplishment of this desirable end, nothing is to be considered as unimportant which in any way tends to secure it. And this leads to the remark, that female education, considered in its religious aspects, is one of the great works of God which will more and more characterize the coming ages. A general conviction on this subject is beginning to he felt; but it must be admitted that the way in which this conviction, and the hopes involved in it, are to be realized, is not well understood. And, accordingly, educational efforts for the improvement of the intellect are out of proportion to those which are designed for the improvement of the heart. What we need now, and what the designs of God upon our race require us to have, are seminaries, in which all necessary sciences and literatures shall be attended to, but in which it shall be understood and taught, at the same time, that the first and indispensable knowledge is that of repentance and salvation through Christ, and of sanctification by the constant indwelling and guidance of the Holy Ghost. In other words, we need seminaries in which the education of the female heart in holiness shall take the precedence of all other forms of education.

19. A fourth remark, in connection with the views which have been presented, is this. In the progress of religion in the world, it may reasonably be expected that the power of God will be especially manifested in families. Each household, linked together by peculiar and strong ties, will constitute practically a church of God. The holy man, at the head of his family, stands forth in a special sense the representative of his heavenly Father. Such is the peculiar nature and the importance of his position, that he speaks, if he is a man of true religion, with an authority which belongs to no other. He is a priest, — not, indeed, by the forms of earthly ordination, — but still a priest, like Christ himself, by the inspiration of God, and after the "order of Melchisedek." It is from him and through him, if he sets a good example, and fulfills his office of teacher or priest of his household, that the child obtains, more distinctly than in any other way, his first ideas of our Father in heaven. And then add to the example and influence of the father, that of the mother, (for the father is not the completed or perfect man without the mother,) — an influence so gentle, so constant, so effective, — and it will be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the family constitution, considered in its relation to human virtue and happiness.

I am reminded, in these remarks, of a passage in the beautiful poem of the Cotter's Saturday Night:­

"Then, kneeling down to heaven's eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays;
Hope springs exulting on triumphant wing,
That
thus they all shall meet in future days:
There ever bask in uncreated rays,

No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
There ever hymning their Creator's praise,
In such society, yet still more dear,
While circling time moves round in an eternal sphere."


Within a few days, and since commencing the writing of these remarks, an incident has come to my knowledge, which illustrates the subject. A young man not far distant, having arrived at an age when it seemed to be proper for him to do so, left his father's house to engage in some business in another place. He was soon exposed to unforeseen temptations, and fell into great sin. He not only sinned, but became hardened and desperate in sin. His friends followed him, reasoned with him, entreated him, but all in vain. The victory of the great adversary, who had entangled him in his toils, seemed to be complete. They then made one request; — that, fixed and desperate as he was in his vicious course, he would so far yield to the common claims of humanity as to visit once more his father's house, and permit his aged parents to look upon him before they died. It was with great reluctance that he consented. As he came back, the home of his youth rose before him. The fields, where he had wandered in the delightful days of childhood, expanded in his sight; — beautiful in themselves, but, alas, how changed to him, who had lost the mirror of beauty in his own darkened heart! All received him with those unaffected tokens of benevolent interest, which are the natural language of love. There were no reproofs, no remonstrances. They understood that he came back professedly a sinner, — and a sinner by choice. And having already exhausted their efforts for his recovery, they had no courage to do or say anything more.

Accordingly, the day of his return passed away without any visible signs of penitence and returning union. And yet he was a son and a brother. The bright sun went down over the hills; and the various members of the family, resting from their labors, shared in each other's society. At the usual hour in the evening, they gathered around the domestic hearth, as had ever been their custom, that they might pray together, and mingle their hearts in penitence and faith, in the presence of their Maker, before they slept. The father read the Bible, and prayed; and they sang their evening hymn. This affecting scene, that Bible which had warned and instructed his childhood, a parent's supplication, that sacred song in which brothers and sisters joined, the presence of so many beloved objects, the peace and purity of the dear and sacred heaven of home, presented in contrast with the wretchedness and sin of the scenes to which he had recently been accustomed, broke the barrier of his rebellious spirit; the tears of true penitence and love fell from his eyes; and he was rendered doubly happy by being restored, at the same time, to the centre of affections in God, and the centre of affections on earth.

20. Among other things which are suggested in connection with the general topic under consideration, it may properly be added here, that these views aid us in rightly estimating the laws of the affections. Everything has its nature. Of course, everything has its laws, not excepting the passion or affection of love.

The original, or first centre of love, is God. From this great and divine centre, it flows out and embodies itself in other centres. Love, as it exists in God, is like the ocean. The ocean is the great centre of waters. It always retains its central position; but, at the same time, it diffuses itself everywhere; — forming other subordinate centres, in plains, and on mountain tops, in fountains and in lakes, from which issue a multitude of streams and rivulets, giving life and beauty. In like manner, the great ocean of love in the Godhead empties itself into subordinate centres, which are in harmony with itself, and which, in imitation, as it were, of the great centre, and being, in fact, but continuations of the ebbings and flowings of the great central ocean, send out their waters of life to all within their sphere of movement.

The central love, then, in the sphere of human life, is in the family. From the family, where it is kept full from the great centre in the Godhead, it flows out to the neighborhood, the state, and the world. If it is full and beneficent at the source, it will be full and beneficent in its issues; and not otherwise. Truth, like beauty, always harmonizes with itself. Truth, in the centre of the affections will always secure a right or true movement. He, who is not true to his father and mother, his wife and children, his brother and sister, being false at the centre, is not, and cannot be, true to his neighborhood, his nation, and mankind. How is it possible for him to be true in his affections, when the truth of affection is not in him? And besides, if it were possible that his love, or rather the pretense of love, could be given, it would be hardly possible that it could b received. Both the state and humanity would instinctively reject an offering which is false at the core.

21. Again, this subject throws light upon the discussions which are now held in different parts of the world on the subject of social reorganization. These discussions, which already shake society to its basis, are of immense consequence. The intellectual ability which has been brought to them is of the highest order; and it has been sustained, in many cases, by a life of benevolence and self-sacrifice. Willing as we are to do justice to the ability, and the good motives of those who agitate these great problems, it is obviously the duty of the friends of humanity to give a careful attention to their movements, and to prevent if possible the introduction of error. We are ready to give credit for many good suggestions, which will, in due time, produce their appropriate fruits. But it has attracted the painful notice of many true friends of human progress, that propositions have been started, from time to time, which affect the existence of the family.

To build up society by the abolition of the family seems to the Christian a strange idea. This is not to reorganize and to improve society, but to destroy it. As Christians, we are bound to do everything, and, what is more, we shall love to do everything, which will tend to improve the condition, and to increase the happiness, of our fellow-men. But we cannot throw away the Bible; — we cannot violate the first principles of Christianity, especially when they are confirmed by sound reasoning, have their signatures and proofs in the affections, and are strengthened by the lessons of all history. To injure the family by bringing its claims into doubt, by diminishing its purity, or weakening its authority, is to do an injury to society in general. Law, order, the state, intellectual improvement, morals, everything, would, fall with the family. And it would so, because the family is of God; and nothing which is of God can be shaken out of its position, or be lost, without causing the most disastrous results.

22. What has now been said leads to another remark, in some degree connected with it. Some persons have supposed, (we hardly know upon what grounds,) that in the approaching and perfected period of the church, which is conveniently denominated the millennial period the family institution, admitted by these persons to be necessary until that time, will then be dispensed with. If this view were correct, it would be of but little importance to contend against those erroneous efforts for the immediate reorganization of society, to which we have just now referred.

Perhaps the idea of the millennial extinction of the family has arisen from the imperfections, the sorrows and the sins, which now attend it. But, it is hardly necessary to say, it is unsound reasoning, which condemns a good thing, especially if it be a great good, on account of the perversions to which it is sometimes liable. Undoubtedly the imperfections and perversions, with which the family is now surrounded, are all destined to cease in that better period; — but it seems to us, that nature, reason, and the Scriptures, all point to the conclusion, that the thing itself, the substance of the institution, will remain. Any other view would, of course, deprive the mind of a centre of love and of spiritual rest in its appropriate sphere of life; and leave it under the necessity of wandering from object to object gratifying momentary impulses, of seeking rest and finding none. Such a view presents to us a state of things made worse, instead of being improved; — a reduction from a higher and holier state to one less perfect; — in other words, a millennium
retrograde.

We admit that sin has obscured the ideal of the family, as it existed and as it still exists in the mind of God. We know, very well, that the family does not now present its true aspect. But if it is true that the divine beauty of the original conception is greatly marred, it is also true that its brightness will be restored with the extinction of the sin which has obscured it.

23. We conclude these views of this important subject with a single remark further. It seems to follow from what has been said, (and the view, we think, might be supported from other sources,) that the social principle will be sustained in full exercise in heaven. It seems to us that the law of sociality, out of which spring families and societies, is universal and eternal. It would, perhaps, not be too much to say, that the perfect development of the social principle constitutes heaven; — and that, on the other hand, perfect isolation, which is the complete or perfected result of selfishness, constitutes hell. It is a great mistake, as the matter presents itself to our apprehension, to suppose that heaven is a solitary place; and much more that it is so spiritualized as to be a mere abstraction, — a place without locality, an existence without form, a form without beauty. Heaven has far more substance in it, than such shadowy conceptions would seem to imply. Heaven is not the extinction of existence, nor the mere shadow of existence, but a higher and purer state of existence; the growth and perfection of that, of which we have the obscure idea in the present life.

And, accordingly, reasoning from the identity of truth, which is the same above as it is below, we cannot hesitate in saying, that love is the life of heaven, as it is of earth. And such is the nature of love, that it must have objects there, as it has here. It must have its laws there, as it has here. It must have its great centre and also its subordinate centers there, as it has here. It must fulfill its own ends and grow up into society there, as it does here. To be in heaven, and not to be in the exercise of love, is a contradiction. Angels have their loves; — and heaven, if they were not allowed to exercise their benevolent affections there, and to group themselves together in bright clusters, in accordance with the constitutive and eternal laws of moral beings, would cease to be heaven to them, and would become a place of sorrow. And it is one of the consolations which God allows us in the present state, in being permitted to believe that the wants of the heart here will be met and solaced hereafter; — that those suffering, but holy, ones, who have been smitten and robbed in the rights of the affections here, will find kindred spirits, (celestial stars, as it were, reflecting their own brightness,) who will mast and embrace them, and will wipe away their tears at the threshold of the New Jerusalem.