« ZurückWeiter »
which have accompanied you all your life long; and let your gratitude animate you to a course of steady obedience to the Divine law. Look back with unfeigned contrition and grief on your past sins, and betake yourself to the blood of the Lamb for pardon and for peace. Set before your mind the honourable path of piety, probity, and filial affection, and ever connect your true happiness with the progress you make in that path. Be kind to your excellent mother and to your dear sisters, and the dew of heaven will rest upon your own habitation.
“Now you are come to man's estate, let your conduct be marked with dignified steadiness in the career of goodness, and cherish the hope of the glory which will illumine the close of such a course.
“ The Bible I have put into your hands this morning I most earnestly commend to your daily perusal. You will listen to its admonitions, encouragements, and laws, when my head is under the clods of the valley. It is the revelation of Divine mercy and love to a perishing world. I commend you to God, to whose service you were dedicated in baptism, and to the word of his grace. May you be preserved blameless to the day of the Lord Jesus ! I ever am your most affectionate father.”
To the same son he further writes :
“ The providence of God seems to call your gravest and most serious attention to a deeply interesting subject : it is the taking an open and decided part in regard to the claims of Christianity. If your mind be satisfied as to the Divine origin of our religion, justice to the character of the Son of God demands that you should make a public profession of that conviction, and unite yourself to the visible church. Though such a measure would give more pure joy to your excellent mother's heart and mine than gold or silver could impart, yet let not this motive influence you. It is your own personal affair. Look up to God for divine direction. Consecrate a reasonable measure of time to deep and searching inquiry into the matter; and may the Father of lights guide your steps, and lead your mind to a safe conclusion! I shall not cease to pray for you. If you see things in the light in which they should be viewed, you will yield yourself to the Lord, as the master of your service and the happiness of your life.
“ The theme of to-morrow, in the course of the history, is the evidence of the resurrection of our blessed Lord ; a theme infinitely dear to our hearts. It discloses to us scenes of existence pure and permanent, and overflowing with unmixed joy. These prospects, as they open on the mind, ennoble, purify, and elevate our thoughts above every thing low and vulgar-above every thing which is unsuitable to our rational nature and our most sacred joys. I assure you, my dear — , I speak not as a professional man when I say, that these are the objects which, in a long and very diversified life, and amid much inward suffering, which friendship itself has never listened to nor heard, have supported, and soothed, and invigorated my soul, and borne me onward. Were my heart disposed to implore on your head one blessing richer than all others, it would be the well-grounded and elevating hope of a blessed immortality. God, I humbly trust, will create, cherish, and preserve this hope in your mind, and then all shall be well.”
In another letter :
“ God has laid you under the strongest obligations to love, obey, and serve him. I am sure your heart will tenderly feel them, and incline you to call him your own Father and your own God. Oh, my dear son ! live near to him in your thoughts, desires, and hopes. Consider every earthly friend as the instrument of his goodness, and as the medium of his grace and love. There was a thought that powerfully burst in upon my mind on reading your account; it was this, that by this measure Divine Providence may be preparing you for the performance of those duties which you will owe to your excellent mother and sisters when I am no more. I repose confidence in. your filial and brotherly affection; and this confidence affords support and consolation to my mind."
These letters are excellent models of parental counsel,- so mild in persuasion, so powerful in excitement, and so solemn in entreaty; and most happy is it when a parent can, like Dr. Waugh, recommend religion to his children as the blessing of his life — when its precepts are the rule of his conduct, and its promises his hope for futurity. It may be imagined how highly prized were the counsels of such a parent, where gentleness beautified the manners, charity melted the heart, and awe sanctified the whole deportment. When such counsels are not so esteemed, there is too much cause to suspect that harshness and terror have been employed to enforce them, or that the monitor's heart and life have been strangers to their power.
It is most interesting to mark in these letters the union of piety so fervent with so much practical wisdom and prudence. Many good men have failed in their counsels to their children as to the affairs of this life, through a defect in sagacity, from the seclusion in which they lived, or an absurd idea that such concerns were beneath their notice. But Dr. Waugh knew human nature and human life thoroughly; and while earnestly, and above all things, directing the aspirations of his children to their “ better birthright,” he neglected not the humbler cares and duties connected with their earthly welfare.
It was customary for Dr. Waugh's children to meet together under his roof on particular occasions; and these family gatherings were affectionately kept up not only during their youthful years, but also after the cares and duties of active life, and the separate sympathies of new social ties, had withdrawn many of them from the paternal hearth. Without differing in external circumstances from other family parties of a like social nature, they assumed, under his patriarchal eye, a character peculiarly interesting and delightful. Dr. Waugh himself, unless called from home by some solemn duty or unexpected contingency, never failed to be present, and diffused over the circle the radiance of his own grateful spirit; leading them back, in his felicitous way, over the incidents of their early days, and the dealings of Providence with each and all of them ; lighting up grave reflections with innocent pleasantry and facetious anecdote; growing young again in heart amidst his children's hilaritydelighting all, and with all delighted,—yet ever mingling wisdom with their mirth. Such is the happy picture his family love to look back upon. On one of these occasions, when nine of his children were present, being detained at a distance by peculiar circumstances, he addressed this letter to them :
“ 50, King's Road, Brighton, August 24, 1823. “My beloved CHILDREN, “ I feel my heart glad in the anticipation of your meeting to-morrow under your aged father's humble roof. My heart and its best affections are with you. What ground of gratitude hath Divine Providence supplied to me in your preservation, in the culture of your minds, in the respectable stations in society into which God's paternal care hath introduced you, and in the reasonable prospects of honourable conduct and usefulness which open upon our minds in your future career. Peace and love the most solid and fraternal take entire possession of your souls, and foul fa' the breath of low jealousy that in evil hour shall ever blight the blossom! Every purchased and promised blessing be in your cup! By the gentle, but holy and powerful ligature of heavenly affection, may you and yours be ever bound together! Let the celestial plant take deep root in your bosoms; let your prayers for each other fan the growing branches : may the breath of temptation only shake it into strength! May the virtues of your lives shed fragrance on the name you bear, and awaken your offspring to the imitation of paternal worth !
“ Your affectionate father and faithful friend.”
We see in this letter how similar his feelings were to those of Job, who, when his sons feasted in each other's houses, and called for their sisters to partake with them, sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all.
We may here mention a circumstance which shews how very amiable he was in his family, and how their happiness was bound up in him. When it was deemed necessary that a deputation of the directors of the London Missionary Society should go to the South Seas, to examine the state of the mission there, a wish was very generally