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Seconti American,


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R 1932 L

Entered, according to the act of congress, in the year 1835,
by Theophilus Fenn, in the clerk's office of the district court of
the eastern district of Pennsylvania.

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The following pages have been translated with the view
to interest and instruct the American reader, more than for
the purpose of spreading before the public a literal transla-
tion of the original. Some passages have occasionally
been omitted on account of their idiomatical obscurity; —
others because it was thoucrht thev contained but little inter-
esting to the American public» In some instances, also, when
the text appeared to be unnecessarily diffuse, it has been
abbreviated, while at the same time great care has been
taken to preserve the full meaning and spirit of the author.

The intelligent reader need scarcely be informed that
there is, in many respects, a wide difference between the
manners, and customs of Germany and America ; and that
these tend in a great degree to embarrass the translation of
a work that was written solely for the moral and religious
improvement of the former and its adaptation to the views,
feelings, and circumstances of the latter. Under these cir-
cumstances it has been a particular desire, in the selec- {
tion which compose the present volume, to choose such
subjects as more particularly condemn the vices and immor-
alities, which, in a greater or less degree, our national
and individual character partakes. With what success this
task has been accomplished, it is for the public to judge.

Note. — Owing to the hurry of the press, a few typo-
graphical, and other errors were overlooked, until too late
for correction ; but none, perhaps, that will materially injure
the sense.


Introdvictory Reflections

New Year's Meditations

Family Devt tion


Domestic Peace

Contentment with our Situation in Life

f he Proper Selection of our Enjoyments

False Economy

The Father

The Mother

Domestic Sorrow

The Evils of Poverty

The Pleasures of Poverty

The Evils of Wealth

The Pleasures of Wealth

The Religion of Childhood (First Reflection)

The Re'ig'.on of Childhood (Second Reflection)

The Newly Married

Matrimony (First Reflection)

Step Parents

Matrimony (Second Reflection)

Unmarried Life (First Reflection)

Unmarried Life (Second Reflection)

Old Age ......

The Art ^ f Reaching an Old Age (First Reflection)

The Art of Reaching an Old Age (Second Reflection)

The Farmer

The Mechanic



Patrio'.ism and Death

Harmony Among Citizens

The Calamities of Nations

The Departure of Winter

Power of Prayer

Danger of Hastily Formed Pious Resolutions

The Necessity of Faith

Love and Fear of God (First Reflection)

Love and Fear of God (Second Reflection)

» rsyer . • « < •



I have visited alike, the humble cottage, the noisy camp,
and the glittering palace. In all places I have found man-
kind disposed to religious conversation — anxious for an im-
provement of heart, and striving to live in this world, so
as to secure a brighter existence in the world to come. But
alas ! those holy desires are too often neglected, or lost, in
the pursuit of worldly pleasure and dissipation. It is
thus that we sometimes assume entirely opposite natures.
In the temple of God, we are full of meekness and devo-
tion ; in the bustle und crowd of the world, full of deceit
and hypocrisy.

I have often found a pretension to religion, without its
reality ; the/ear of God, without the love of him ; a deter-
mination to do good deeds, without bringing them into
practice ; and an outward show of devotion to Christ, with-
out being one of his disciples or followers.

A thousand voices are complaining of the decay of
Christianity. It is not without cause. On one hand I ob-
serve idleness, mockery and pride, leading away their vie-
tims in foolish pursuits, and weakening the warning voice
of the inward judge ;— on the other, I behold both young and
old, from the sprightly youth to the hoary headed man,
tormenting themselves with fearful doubts of the existence
of a God, the realities of an eternity, and the future state
of their souls ; thereby depraving the public mind, and de-



stroying domestic peace and happiness ; accompanied with
a thousand appalling circumstances.

The present decline of Christianity, and destruction of
moral order, is partly owing to the late wars ; as also, to
many injurious and superficial writings, that unhappily,
are often read with a superficial understanding. But there
are also, many other sources, from which stream our misery.
I will grieve no one by nameing them. I aim at a more ex-
alted object ; and cheerfully will I close my eyes in the hour
of dissolution, if I have, in the least degree, succeeded in
furthering the cause of true religion, by restoring domestic
piety and devotion.

Nothing inclines our hearts so much to the performance
of good and christian actions, as a communion with God,
in an hour of solitude. The soul is then free from the
trammels of all earthly things, and returns to the fountain
of eternal light and life, from which it had its origin.
Could there be a more beautiful picture of domestic happi-
ness, than that of the father and mother, in the circle of
their beloved offspring, entertaining each other with rational
ideas of their creator — his majesty and power — the sub-
limity of his works — the infinitude of his wisdom and good-
ness — the religion of Jesus Christ, and the prospect of
happiness beyond the grave? What a delightful sensation
steals through their minds upon an occasion like this ; and
with a tear of emotion, they inwardly resolve, while pilgrims
on the earth, to live worthy of his name. Those who have
already experienced these feelings, will acknowledge the
truth of my words, and those who have not, should strive


without ceasing, to possess themselves of so rich a treasure,
which the world can neither give nor take away.

For the promotion and increase of virtue and happiness,
these pages are intended to contribute. To the youth who
go forth into the world, with a thousand anticipations of
good and evil, they shall be warmly devoted. May they
impart to them a proper sense of their own dignity — fill
them with gladness and joy, and inspire them with religious
courage in the hour of danger and difficulty. They shall
likewise be devoted to the father and mother, who are
quietly gliding down the pathway of existence ; and may
they tend to elevate their souls to God, and influence them
so to train up their children in christian meekness and sim-
plicity, as to render them an offering fit for heaven. To the
aged and solitary, who, in the evening of their days look
forward to the dawning of an eternal life, they are also
designed to afford useful and salutary instruction.



There is something very solemn in the commencement
of a new year. It is like the stilhicss of the sabbath, when
we pour out our souls in secret devotion, to the invisible
creator. The pealins; of bells, and sounding of trumpets,
mingled with holy songs, welcome its approach. The youth
are shouting with exultation. Friends and acquaintances
are wishing each other happiness. Children are sending
up prayers for the welfare of their parents — the poor for
that of their benefactors — and the people, assembled in their
churches, are more fervent in their supplications for the
prosperity of their rulers.

The lapse of a year is equally important to all ; to the
king on his throne, as to the peasant in his cottage : to the
father in the midst of his workmen, as to the mother in the
circle of her children : to the old and wearied man upon his
couch, as to the buoyant and sprightly youth, who is full of
joyful expectations.

We look upon the past as a dream, and the future is
spread out before us as the mist that hangs upon the moun-
tain top. To the melancholy, there are forebodings of
misery and wo : to the sprightly, there are anticipations of
happiness and joy. Every one is looking eagerly forward,
and anxious to read his destiny, that lays concealed in the
dark and unrevealing future.

With uncertain hopes and expectations, every one now


resumes his business, and forms new schemes and projects.
The christian, also, commences his Hfe anew, under the in-
fluence of fear and hope. But with what sentiments does
he enter upon the new year, that is to bring with it some
new joy or sorrow 1 He seeks the depths of retirement and
solitude, where his soul holds eloquent communion with
itself, and pours forth his thanksgivings to the throne of the
Eternal. Hear his prayer : —

" I am unworthy of the great love and mercy which
thou hast shown me ! Thou art the disposer of every bless-
ing that I receive ! Thou hast guided me through a thou-
sand dangers of which I was ignorant ! In all my sorrows
and troubles, thou wast with me ! Thou didst v/atch over
me and my family, sinful and wicked as we were ! What-
ever may have appeared mysterious in thy providence
during the past year, was no doubt, intended for my good !
With what infinite wisdom dost thou govern the universe,
and direct every thing so as to contribute to the happiness
of man !

" Oh, God ! thou art full of goodness and mercy ! Watch
over me, and my family, and my kindred ! Do not desert
us, even though we should forsake thy ways ! Thy erring
children, weeping and sorrowful, are ever glad to be restored
to thy love.

" Oh Lord ! thou hast ever guarded over and protected
me ! I pray thee still to extend to me thy tender mercies !
Full of confidence, I look to thee for support ! I will cling
to thee, as the tender infant clings to the embrace of its
parent ! I will follow the precepts of thy beloved Son, and


be satisfied with whatever evil or good may attend me in the
coming year !

" Oh. most heavenly Father ! like an ignorant child I
make known to thee my wishes, but thou wilt only grant
me those which will be beneficial to me ! I will resign my-
self, and my kindred, and all who are dear to my heart,
into thy hands, for Thou, alone, art God ! I will divest my-
self of every fruitless sorrow and vain hope, and rely only
on thy providence for support !"

We should not anticipate too much of evil or good that
may await us in the future. Both are equally pernicious.
Neither be deluded by hope. It ever leads men astray.
When they confidently expect to realize some good fortune,
without any sure foundation, they are apt to regulate their
projects in accordance with those deceitllij views, and when
it is too late, find they have been engaged in a blind and
foolish enterprize. We seldom recollect how frequently we
have already been deceived in our expectations.

When we are disappointed in our hopes, we grow peevish
and are compelled to endure many bitter moments, which
we might have easily avoided. Hopes deceived, are always
accompanied with pain, sometimes rendering us unjust to
our fellow men, and scoffers at the goodness of God. But
we must blame ourselves alone ; it is the result of our own
foolishness and imprudence.

Be not too ardent in your hopes, or you will be unpre-
pared for any incidental evil that may bcfal you. If you
flatter yourself with glowing prospects, it renders you ef-
feminate, and you will be unable to brave the storm that


may unexpectedly break in upon you. The christian pre-
pares liimself for every extremity, and is armed with courage
to stand fearlessly forth in the hour of peril, even as the
unshrinking soldier in the presence of his enemy. He looks
to heaven and is satisfied with its decrees. If he experien-
ces an unexpected joy, or encounters an unexpected misfor-
tune, he regards both with the same christian and exemplary

Hope only to earn thyself happiness by a just and vir-
tuous conduct. This hope will seldom disappoint thee.

Virtuous actions always have their reward. Leave off thy
vicious habits, and thou wilt be respected by those who
despise and hate thee. Thy amiable qualities — thy engag-
ing manners — thy desire to serve others without selfishness
— thy endeavour to speak good of every one — thy zeal in
business that is entrusted to thee — a withdrawal from all
indecent things ; these, will secure to thee the confidence
and love of those who now look with indifference and con-
tempt upon thee. In what does our permanent happiness
consist, but in so demeaning ourselves, as to be satisfied
with our own conduct, and gain the respect and esteem of
all good men ? If thou art unhappy, it is thy own fault.
Divest thyself of thy evil propensities, which render thee
hateful to those around thee, and destroy thy peace and
serenity of mind. Do not foolishly expect happiness at
the hands of others, which thou canst better and more per-
manently create for thyself. If it seems too diflicult for
thee to correct the evil of thy ways, then cease thy bitter
complaints, for thou hast not the courage or resolution to
strive after happiness.


Hope only for that reputation and wealth, which thou
canst honestly acquire by thy own industry and perseve-
rance. Depend always on thyself and the goodness of
God, rather than the assistance of other men, or on inci-
dental circumstances. The more we learn to depend upon
our own exertions, the more noble and exalted we become,
and better able to accomplish every good. Why then
shouldst thou hope for great riches ? Is it not because it
flatters thy vanity ? Thou shouldst learn that he who is not
contented with what he can acquire by his own industry, is
not deserving of any greater blessing.

Hope only for that degree of joy in this world, which thy
own prudence in human life will secure to thee. Be guided
by thy own experience. God gave thee reason and under-
standing, to be the creator of thy own happiness. Avoid
all hazardous undertakings ; be prudent in thy expenditures ;
careful in the choice of thy friends ; avail thyself of every
means to profit honestly by thy trade or occupation ; show
a proper respect to those whose opinions or standing in so-
ciety is different from thine own ; then thou wilt avoid much
uneasiness of mind, and the circle of thy friends will be
unto thee a paradise, which will prove a fa^ greater trans-
port, than all those fanciful, but deceptive pictures of thy

Time is as an empty field, whereon grows neither good
nor evil of itself. Like the husbandman, thou must culti-
vate it. What thou sowest, that shalt thou also reap. If
thou scattercst the seed of prayer, and shalt nurture it by


thine own prudence and care, the dews and sunshine of
heaven will reward thee with a golden harvest.

If thou shouldst meet with sudden happiness or good
fortune, it will be the sweeter and more blessed to thy soul.
Oh, how great is the goodness of our creator ! In the com-
ing year, he will shower upon us many unexpected bless-
ings !

Do not live in constant year. We suffer more from the
anticipation of evil, than the misfortune itself. It poisons
the health, and destroys many little pleasures which we
might otherwise enjoy. Fear with some men becomes an
evil habit ; they are always complaining, and forever tor-
menting themselves with foolish apprehensions. In their
madness, they deprive themselves of every worldly enjoy-

Unnecessary fear renders us spiritless, and causes us
to adopt a wrong mode of life. Prudence will teach us to
avoid all fruitless anxiety of the mind, and calmly to par-
take of the enjoyments of the present. It will also enable
us in the hour of affliction, to diminish our apprehensions of
evil, and increase the brightness and fervor of our hopes.
The mariner in the midst of the ocean, is deliehted with a
clear sky, and a favorable breeze. Then, should he torment
himself with apprehensions of storms and shipwreck ? —
but clouds are gathering in the heavens ! — a fearful storm
is beginning to rage — the wind is howling and leaping
through the sails, and the roaring and angry billows threaten
him with destruction ! Unnecessary fear would increase
his danger. But he confidently trusts in God, who accom-


panies him through the perils of the deep ; and, collecting
his strength, he manfully contends with the wind and
waves, and saves himself from the jaws of destruction.

Lessen thy fears, and if thou hast been hitherto unhappy
or comfortless, experience will teach thee that life is never
without its changes. If the morning is clouded, the bright-
ness of noon may chase away the obscurity. Unmingled
joy or sorrow, is seldom of long duration. Why should
we despair at the seltmg of the sun, when we know he will
smile upon us so soon again ? Consider the whole extent
of thy present adversity, and if every thing on earth is dark
and desolate, remember that God will never forsake thee.
Then do not despair !

Fear not, for God is always with thee. If thou shouldst
be left without hope, or the enjoyments of life, thou hast
still a treasure in the inexaustible goodness of thy creator.
If death has deprived thee of a relative or friend, do not
give way to unavailing grief over their graves. Thou art
also a wanderer to eternity, and will meet them in the skies.
If thou hast suffered by the injustice of thy neighbors ; if
the malice of thine enemies hath afflicted thee ; if the deso-
lating hand of war hath deprived thee of thy property ; let
not thy courage forsake thee, for he who watches over the
stars, will not fail to number thy tears. Strive to think that
the sufferings thou hast endured the past year, were only a test
of thy christian virtues ,* a lesson to govern thy future life.
Thou wert born for another world, and not for this shadow of
earthly existence. By virtue, and wisdom, and greatness
of soul, thou wilt one day be fitted for the enjoyments of


heaven. The evils of this life, therefore, which exist but
for a moment, tend to increase and strengthen the power
of thy mind, and prepares thee for eternal glory.

Thou hast nothing but thyself to fear ; for thy imprudence
and uncontrolled passions, are thy most formidable enemies.
If thy present situation is painful to thee, encounter thy
difficulties with christian fortitude. Consider, maturely,
those means by which thou canst best relieve thy distress ;
and thy heavenly father, who watches over the smallest
worm, will give thee his assistance.

To thee. Oh, Lord, I cheerfully surrender myself, and
whatever may happen to me in the ensuing year, shall not
estrange my affections from thee. If thou art with me,
why should I be terrified or discouraged ? With the new
year, I will endeavour to live more worthy of thy holy
name ; and whatever pain and struggling it may cost me, I
will strive to lay aside my vicious inclinations, which secretly
ruin me.

Should the present year be appointed for my death, may
I be prepared to stand before thee, with a purified spirit,
while the tears of my friends are bedewing my grave. I
will prepare myself for the event, and look upon it as the
signal, that is to call me away to the enjoyment of unmingled
happiness, which thy infinite goodness has prepared for the
righteous in the world to come.



It is a beautiful thing to behold a family at their devotions.
Who would not be moved by the tear that trembles in the
mother's eye, as she looks to heaven, and pours forth her
fervent supplications, for the welfare of her children 7 Who
can look with indifference upon the venerable father, sur-
rounded by his family, with his uncovered locks, kneeling
in the presence of Almighty God, and praying for their
happiness and prosperity ? In whose bosom is not awakened
the finest feelings, on beholding a tender child, in the beauty
of its innocence, folding its little hands in prayer, and im-
ploring the invisible, yet eternal father, to bless its parents,
its brothers and sisters, and its playmates.

It can not be denied, that in former times, there existed
more true piety, than at present ; nor that there was more
integrity and nobleness of soul ; more philanthrophy and
domestic bliss ; with less of selfishness, hypocrisy and foul-
mouthed slander.

With what is termed the refinement of our manners, has
partly disappeared our sense of religious duty. We think
chiefly of wild and extravagant pleasures. We seek for
happiness in the pomp and show of the world, when we
might have found it in our own bosoms. There are certain
persons who affect to believe, that a public manifestation of
their religious feelings, would be a disgrace ; but they do
not hesitate to mingle in idle, indecent and riotous assemblies.


They would not be found reading their bible, but they are
ready to peruse corrupt and immoral books. Thus the heart
grows desolate, even in the midst of its fancied improve-
ments ; and in its desires, descends to the level of the brute.
The carelessness and immorality of parents, are frequent-
ly destructive of the peace and prosperity of their families.
But many will yet return to the simple and exemplary life
of our forefathers, and be reinstated in their virtues.

Public worship, is of inestimable value. But it often
becomes a mere habit. In the dissipations of life, the heart
grows cold, and ceases to employ itself with the things of
heaven. How soon do those beautiful impressions vanish
from our minds ! How soon are the holy vows and repent-
. ant tears, which accompanied them, forgotten or despised I
It seems we would only be christians on the Sabbath, as
tliough every day in the week was not equally worthy of
our devotion to God.

We should not make a vain show of our religion.
Christian meekness will be found in a solitary corner ; but
the hypocrite sounds his trumpet, and goes forth into the
streets, that he may have glory of men.*

How delightful, on the contrary, is piety and devotion,
when brought within the limits of a single family. Here,
the father and mother become the priest and priestess of
the Almighty! Here is erected the temple of God! Here
assembles the little family, after the labour of the day is
completed! Here they look abroad into the heavens, and
gaze upon the glittering stars — proclaiming the magnificence

* Matthew, vi. 2.


of their creator — and while they believe they can trace in
them, the existence of other beings, similar to themselves,
who may at the same time be worshipping God, they rejoice
to think that their own prayers, will also ascend, in the
stillness of night, to the invisible and all pervading spirit.

These devotions operate even upon the hearts of little
children. They behold their parents full of humbleness
and reverence, and their minds receive the impress of those
feelings and emotions. Therefore, accustom your children
to prayer in early life. They may not comprehend its
meaning, but it impresses them with the idea of a superior
being ; and when their understanding is awakened, they
will the more readily appreciate its importance.

Prayer, to have its proper effect upon the heart, must
not always be the same. It must gush from the fountains
of the soul, or otherwise, it becomes a task, merely for
the memory, in which the feelings do not participate. And
is not this a mockery? There can be but little devotion,
when the mind wanders from the solemnity of those high
duties. A single earnest thought of the Divine goodness,
is worth a thousand passionless prayers.

If the father and mother be not always inclined to pray
from the impulse of their own feelings, there are many
excellent prayer books, written by pious and worthy men,
that will embellish and improve the mind, and infuse into
us their spirit and devotion. The prayers of our relations
and friends, when assembled together, leaves a vivid im-

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Online LibraryHeinrich ZschokkeHours of devotion → online text (page 1 of 15)