You are preparing, in your present situation—to act the
part to which Providence may have destined you upon earth; and it is every
way probable, according to the natural course of events, that in a few years
you will be found at the head of a household of your own. This opens to you
not only an interesting scene—but also an important and very responsible
one. From the nature and constitution of society, the destiny of one
generation is powerfully affected by the conduct of that which precedes it.
The husband influences the wife—the father the child—and the employer the
Consequently, of how much significance is the character
of the head of a family! How many households are scenes of discord and
wretchedness, and are at length reduced to poverty and ruin—by a drunken,
pleasure loving, or idle father! How many who enter life with the fairest
prospects of comfort and success, throw all away by sin! They draw some
lovely and virtuous young woman into the companionship of life with them,
see a family rising around—and are bound by every tie of justice and honor
to provide for the comfort of their wife, and the prosperity of their
children. But they had acquired habits of indolence or
extravagance in youth, and all goes wrong—until ruin drives them from
that home, which industry and sobriety would have enabled them to maintain.
At length the wife dies of a broken heart—and the children become vagrants
in the world. True religion would have prevented all this, and preserved
that home to be a scene of order, peace, plenty, and respectability!
But even where things do not reach this point, and there
is neither vice nor poverty—but morality, and success—still think of a
family without true religion, an atheistic household, in which there is no
family worship, no instruction, no regard to eternity—a mere temporal
society—though followed with eternal consequences! Every father and mother
is answerable to God for the souls of their children—and oh! what an account
will those who are ungodly have to render to him at the day of judgment!
What an eternity will such parents have to spend in the bottomless
pit—with those children whose souls sank there through their guilty
True religion will fit you to preside with dignity over
your household—it will add the sanctity of the Christian to the authority of
the parent—and render obedience, on the part of your children—more pleasant
and easy, as given to one who has such high claims to it. How will your
family prayers tend to keep up, in all other respects, family order! Piety
will strengthen and soften every domestic tie, as well as consecrate every
domestic occupation. True piety will lighten the cares of business, brighten
the scenes of prosperity, and yield consolation in the dark season of family
sorrow. If called to leave your wife and family—it will mitigate the pang of
separation, by the prospect of eternal union in a world where death has no
power. Or if required to surrender a pious wife or children—it will prevent
the sting of that sorrow which has no hope. What a bliss then to a family,
what a benignant and heavenly inhabitant—is sincere, consistent, eminent
piety—as it shines forth in the form and character of a godly father and
And now, young man, let me entreat you to consider what
is the true character of your present life—viewed in relation to the life
that is to come. Are you now at home—or are you away from home? Let the poet
answer. "Strangers into life we come, And dying is but going home!"
This present world is not our HOME—and unhappy is the
man who makes it such. Heaven is the home of immortal man. During the whole
time we are upon earth, we are away from home; and away from it, that we may
prepare, like a child at school, or a youth in his apprenticeship—to go at
length finally and fully to possess and enjoy it. This present world is not
your REST. How short and uncertain is your continuance upon earth! You
cannot remain many years, you may not remain one; for what is your life but
"a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away!" At a
moment's notice you may die! A flash of lightning—a heart attack—a ruptured
blood vessel—the overturn of a boat or a carriage—may plunge you suddenly
into eternity! You are suspended over that vast gulf by 'the brittle thread
of human life!' Instead of living to old age—you may not live to be twenty!
Instead of living to be a employer—you may die before your apprenticeship is
finished. Place your finger on your pulse and say "If this stop—and any
second it may stop—I am instantly in heaven or hell!"
Can you call this present world home? Ought you to feel
at home here? Should you wish to consider this your home? For what a home is
it—but such a one as he had whose dwelling was among the tombs? Home! What!
would you desire it to be such, where there is so much to disturb, distress,
and annoy? No! God has provided some better thing for us! Heaven, I repeat,
is the home of immortal man!
It is to this to which the hope of the pious in every age
has aspired; and the prospect of which has cheered them amid all the sorrows
of life. "Two more stiles," said the martyr, as he walked across the fields
to the place of execution, "and I shall be at home!—at my Father's house!"
"I am going home!" is the common and joyful exclamation of many dying
Christians. And what a home! The home of saints, of martyrs, of angels, of
Christ, of God!
What is the PREPARATION for such a home? True
religion—nothing but true religion. That home is a holy one. Heaven
is in fact the home of true religion itself—for this present world is only
in a wayfaring pilgrimage state. True religion is a heavenly visitant upon
earth, traveling back to her native skies, and will never be at rest until
she finds herself in the presence of God, her Divine Parent. Nothing,
therefore—but true religion, can prepare a soul for heaven. You may have a
good knowledge of the arts; you may have a competent, or even
profound acquaintance with learning and science; you may have
great public talents, which fit you for action and for influence
among your fellow men. But what have these things to do with preparation for
heaven? What reference have they to the eternal state?
Nothing but holiness will prepare you for a holy heaven!
Would a knowledge of trade, agriculture, or science, prepare anyone, without
the knowledge and manners of a courtier—to reside at a royal court? How much
less in heaven! No, it is sincere, experimental piety alone, which can
prepare you to enter into the presence of God. This 'heavenly character'
must be acquired on earth—or it can never be acquired at all. Begin then at
once. It is a preparation for eternity—and who can commence such a work too
early? You may have but little time allotted for this transcendently
momentous affair. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might;
for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave,
where you go." Live for eternity—live for heaven—and the only way to do
this, is to live by faith.
Once in heaven, you will never leave it! There will be no
going out forever!. You will leave your Father's house no more! The
celestial family will never break up! Once at home there, you will be at
But neglect true religion, and you can never be admitted
to the regions of blessed immortality. Your parents may be there—but you
will be excluded, and shut up in outer darkness forever! I can imagine you
in the day of judgment, pressing to lay hold upon the hand of your
father—but he turns from you as from an object of disgust, exclaiming, "Your
father no longer." You then direct an imploring eye to the mother who bore
you, and laying hold on her robe, piteously exclaim, "My mother, do you not
know me?" Gathering up her garment of light, she shakes you off, with the
dreadful disownment, "I know not the enemies of my Lord." They pass to the
right hand of the Judge—while you, by a power you cannot resist, are sent to
the left! And what remains? You will present from that day the melancholy
spectacle of an outcast from heaven—a homeless immortal—a vagrant in the
universe—a wretched wanderer through eternity!