by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
I was delighted when riding one Sunday evening from the place where I had supplied for a minister, to see in one place a father with four or five young ones about him, sitting on a small plot of grass before the cottage door. He had a large Bible on his knee, and they had their Bibles too. He in the midst was holding his finger up with all solemnity and earnestness in simple style endeavouring to enforce some sacred truth.
It was a road little frequented on Sunday, and I would hope that scarce a rumbling or rattling noise was heard on the holy day of rest, save the gig bearing the minister to and fro from the place of his labour, or other vehicles carrying devout worshipers to the house of God.
It seemed almost sacrilege to drive by, even though I was returning from a sacred errand. It seemed some sort of sacrilege, I say, to break the spell of the moment, and to take the eyes and the attention of the little ones even for an instant from such sweet employ.
A little further was a house which had a small workshop joining it. The door was open, but no one was there. There stood a chest, and on it was a Bible of the largest style. On the floor below was a cushion which still bore the impress of the knees which there, we trust, had bent in wrestling prayer.
Perhaps a mother had been begging at the Redeemer’s hands the souls of her dearly-beloved children; or perhaps some son, in answer to that mother’s prayer, had been secretly pouring out his soul for mercy from the hands of God.
Yet once more we saw a little girl spelling over to her parents the words of the Book of Truth, and one felt constrained to pray that the daughter and the lowly pair might be able to read their titles clear.
I have seen hills and forests, vales and rivers, fine buildings and romantic ruins, but never, never have I seen a sight so simple, beautiful and yet sublime. Blest households, may you not be solitary instances, but may God raise up thousands like you!
Household piety is the very cream of piety. There is no place in which religion so sweetly opens all its charms as in the family round the hearth. Who does not admire the house reads from the sacred page the Word of inspiration, and then seek for a blessing on themselves that day, or in joyful strains give thanks to heaven for the manifold mercies freely and constantly dispensed?
A Home Without Prayer
Who, on the other hand, can refrain from pitying the family with whom the day is a round of duties begun and ended without one prayer to God? No place where all may come together and feel as one! No way for the parent to express his thoughts of love for his offspring’s souls!
I know the sweetness of kneeling at eventide beneath the parental roof, and then hearing the father say, “Lord, we bless Thee that our son is again returned in health and strength, and after an absence from each other we bless Thee that we are now met an unbroken circle. Oh, our God,we beg most earnestly of Thee that we may all meet around the throne in heaven, not a hoof being left behind!”
The father’s words are all but choked in their utterance whilst he weeps tears of joy to think that his firstborn is walking in the ways of God, and the mother sobs aloud, and her tears are falling big with gratitude, that once more she is kneeling beside her son, the delight of her eyes, whilst the whole tribe are around her secure from death and ill.
Man! Woman! Have you no family altar? Then, from my most inmost soul, I pity you. I pity the wretch without a chair or bed to rest his bones on; I pity the miserable creature who shivers in the wintry blast and finds no fire to give the needed heat; but more I pity the homeless who has no altar —no family prayer. Half happiness is absent where this is neglected. I despise unmeaning formality, but this is no form. Cease Spoiler! Lay not thy ruthless hand on this most sacred thing; rather let the queen of night forget to rise with all her train of stars than family devotions even begin to be disused.
The Glory of a Nation
The glory of Britain is her religion, and religion’s proudest glory is the Christian’s home. Who is so foolishly alarmed as ever to suppose that an invading host will ravage our fair shores when the whole land is studded with castles—not with turret towers, its true, but yet with places where the God of Jacob dwells, residing as a fire around, a glory in the midst?
Go, invader, go, the prayers of households will blow thee adown the white cliffs of Albion like the chaff before the wind! The flag of old England is nailed to the mast, not by our sailors, but by our God; and He has fastened it there with something stronger than iron. He has nailed it with the prayers of His people—the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, with whom He delights to rest. From the tents of Jacob arise the fair-footed sons of Zion who on the mountains stand declaring good tidings of great joy, and from these tabernacles a host, glittering and white, who continually praise God.
(Family Devotions by C. H. Spurgeon)
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