John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott.

The path of peace: or, A practical guide to duty and happiness online

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottThe path of peace: or, A practical guide to duty and happiness → online text (page 1 of 10)
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.

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Ss affecttonatels BeTKcateTi


JoHii S. C. Abbott.

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Can that person be a christian, who is so
unamiable in character, that hjs companion-
ship is undesirable? Is devotional feeling ac-
ceptable to God, when unaccompanied by the
graces of a generous and a lovely spirit? And
yet how many christians are there, who are
any thing but agreeable companions or desira*'
ble friends!

"Mother," said a little boy, "I do not wish
to go to Heaven."

"And why not my son?"

"Why Grandfather will be there, will he
not?" * -

"Yes, my son, I hope he will."

"Well, as soon as he sees us, he will come
scolding along, and say, 'Whew, whew, whew,
what are these boys here for.' I am sure I
do not wish to go to Heaven, if Grandfather
is to be there."

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Who has not been conscious of similar
feelings? How many professing christians are
there, with whom one could not live happily,
even in Heaven, unless their characters should
be greatly changed.

It is of the utmost importance, — it is abso-
lutely essential to christian ^character, that we
should cultivate those dev(itional feelings, in-
culcated in the invaluable writings of Baxter,
Taylor and Doddridge, but it is no less essen-
tial that that we should accustom ourselves to
whatsoever things are true, honest and just,
pure, lovely and of good report. Moral char-
acter and devotional feelings have been, theo-
retically and practically too much disjoined.
It is our object in this book to inculcate their
holy and indissoluble alliance, and thus to shew
how we should live to be happy ourselves, to
promote the happiness of others, and to pre-
pare for the joys of Heaven.

Roxbury^ Sept 1. 1836.

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A Sabbath scene in Baltimore. Soene in Fittsba^b. The dying
child. The fashionable lady. Why affliction is sent. The
pious lady. The contrast. Sabbath amusements. Family
devotion. The design of the book, page 13



Communion with God essential to happiness. The efficacy of
faith. The fretflil Christian. Secret prayer. A grateful spirit
essential to happinesc. The guilt of ingratitude. Cheerfulness
to be cultivated. A gloomy wife and mother. Her sad influ-
ence upon her husband and son. The whist party. The moral
power of cheerfulness. An affectionate spirit essential to hap-
piness. The heartless family. The influence of affectionate
feelings in shielding from temptation. Avoid selfishness. The
winter night's ride. Decision of character. Stubbornness.
The drowning man, 42


Thb Familt.

Domestic happiness. Parental responsibilities. Family prayer.
Duty to domestics. Catholic servants. The diffident man.

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ReligiouH instruction. The neglected family. Sons of the
wealthy. Religions toleration. The divided family. The
intolerant father. To promote temporal happiness a duty.
Anecdote of Newton. Interest in children's studies. The
votary of pleasure. Chesterfield, 79

The Church.

Packet ships. The voyage. Ecclesiastical organizations. The
duty of making a profession of religion. The church member's
duty. Attending church meetings. The duty of the pious
wife, whose husband is not a Christian. Friendly intercourse.
Contention in churches. Different stations in life. Importance
yof harmony, < Ill

Your Nkiahbor.

Anecdote. Why Christians are often hated. Duties to oiu: fel-
lows. 1. Be honest. Examples of common dishonesty. The
lady shopping. The embarrassed merchant. The oppressive
lawyer. Anecdote by Rowland Hill. 2. Be generous. The
miserly clergyman. Why God asks for money. 3. Be open-
hearted. The manoeuverer. The prudent man. 4. Be polite.
The uncivil clergyman. Incivility is sin. The drover. Rules
of politeness drawn from the Bible. The " plain spoken "
man. 5. Be a good neighbor. Anecdotes. The two neigh-
bors. The Dutch gentleman. 6. Take an interest in the spir-
itual welfare of your neighbors. What is Eternity. The
way to influence, 150

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Not many months since I passed a sabbath
in Baltimore. As I came from church, in the
afternoon, I saw half a dozen young men sitting
around their wine, at the table they had not left
since dinner. Fumes of tobacco filled the room.
Their faces were flushed with wine and mirth.
With the sparkling glass ^n one hand, and the
lighted cigar in the other, their voices were just
bursting forth in the riotous song.

Old king Cole was a jolly old soul.

And a jolly old soul, was be, was he;

He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl,

And he called for hit fiddlers, three.

I Stood, for a moment, upon the stairs, and
looked in upon this scene of revelry — upon this
band of precocious yet apparently confirmed in-
ebriates. And this, thought I, is a practical

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exhibition of infidelity. These are the joys
which irreligion offers its votaries. In this school
infidelity would train up our young men, an<^
with these characters she would fill our land.

A short time after this, I was in Pittsburg.
As I sat at my chamber window enjoying the
mild, balmy air of one of the most lovely sabbath
mornings in June, no sound disturbed the sacred
silence, but the notes of a christian hymn, com-
ing faintly, yet sweetly from an adjoining room.
I listened and heard several youthful voices
uniting with the rich voice, of apparently the
husband and father, in the following words.

No more fatigue no more distress,
Nor sin, nor death, shall reach the place.
No groans shall mingle with the songs.
Which watble jRrom immortal tongnes.

And this, thought I, is a practical exhibition
of Christianity. These are the joys, the ennob-
ling, purifying, joys, which religion confers.
These are the moral influences with which it
would surround every individual of the human
race. It would seem that the infidel, himself,
could not hesitate to choose under which he
would have a son or a daughter educated. They,
whose hearts are attuned to the melody of such
hymns, and who are nurtured under the influ-
^ce of such a home, have entered the paths of

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Many who will peruse these pages have, per-
haps, long been seeking happiness in vain. Dis*
appointment has thus far accompanied your
search. You are dissatisfied with the present
and have no joyful anticipations to light up the
future. We would guide you in a better way.
We would lead you to fountains of pure and un-
failing joy. God has shewn us where those
fountains are, and if we follow His directions
we shall not seek them in vain.

The promotion of happiness, is the great ob-
ject which God has in view in all His operations.
For this He made men free; for this He gave
His law. Every sorrow which is sent to the
human heart, is sent in love, to promote real
and permanent enjoyment. He never willingly
afflicts. When the heart is crushed with the
heaviest weight of affliction, the voice of God
declares, that this affliction is the means, which
He is using, to banish sorrow forever, and to fill
the heart with joy. Yes! God loves happiness,
and is now, in every part of the universe, adopt-
ing those plans which to Him seem most effect-
ual for the fulfilment of His benevolence.

Do you question this assertion? Does your
mind revert to some chamber of pain and death

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where God has sent the destroying angel to
blight every earthly joy, and to accumulate
anguish, which shall for years oppress the heart,
by night and by day? Let us then enter this
chamber, and study the meaning of this mystery.
How pale the cheek and dim the eye of this
little sufferer. Her feeble moan is so affect-
ingly pensive, that tears gush from the eyes of
every beholder. She is a mother's only daugh-
ter; the choicest treasure of all God's gifts. ' But
the hand of death is upon her.- Medical skill
has been in vain. Prayers and tears have been
unavailing. The last hour has come. The
child is dying. Extended on her little bed,
with folded hands and fixed eyes she is heavily
drawing her last breath, as her spirit struggles
to be free. The mother, half delirious with
days and nights of sleeplessness and toil, is
unfortified for the heart rending scene. She
is overwhelmed with agony, — unutterable agony.
With firantic step she hurries to the bed, and
covers the cheek of her dying child with burn-
ing kisses. She sinks into a chair, by the bed
side, apparently exhausted with emotion, when
suddenly anguish gives her new strength, and
wringing her hands, she hurries to and fro
through the apartment, exclaiming, "my child
is dying; my child is dying; oh! she must not

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die; God have mercy, have mercy, on her poor
mother." Does God stay his hand? No!
Look at the little sufferer. Her convcdsions
become more frequent and more severe. She
tries to say "dear mother." But she only
articulates enough to let us know what she
would say, and to plunge a new arrow of agony
into the mother's heart. Even the groans of the
dying child are lost in the loud lamentations of
the distracted parent. Is this a picture of the
imagination? no! They, who are in the habit
of visiting chambers of sickness, know that we
faintly paint, from reality. Are such scenes
unfrequent? I^ol They are occurring every
hour of every day.

God has but to say the word and the diseiEise
is removed, and the child rises from her bed in
health and beauty. It requires not the least
eitertion on the part of God to sweep away all
this sorrow, and ta fill the dwelling with the
most rapturous joy. And why does not God do
it? Because he loves to see his children happy i,
He has perhaps tried all other means to wean
this mother's heart from sin, that she might be
really and permanently happy in Heaven. This
is His last resort, to make her happy. He lays
his hand upon her darling child, and He thus
speaks to her in a voice more loud and more

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impressive than He could in any other way.

And does He thus plead in vain? If He does,

it is because she refuses to yield to the efforts,

which God makes, to save her from sorrow, and

to make her the child of uninterrupted and

unending joy. This is the object God has in

view. It is one of the most signal evidences

of the efforts God makes to save from sorrow.

In a few days call in to that dwelling again, and

perhaps you will see the mother calm and

peaceful. She speaks of God and Heaven, in a

manner which shows you at once that she has

entered a new world of joy. She smiles, in the

midst of her tears, as she speaks of that happy

world to which she trusts her child has gone,

and already, in gratitude, she blesses God that

she has been afflicted. And in succeeding

years, as she draws nearer her heavenly home,

she thanks God with more fervor, that He, by

the death of her child, led her to think of the

salvation of her soul. And when she is taking

her departure from the world, she says that the

choicest blessing she had on earth was the voice

which came to her heart through her dying

child. God assures us that He never willingly

afflicts. He has fflled ^Heaven with joy, and,

would we yield to His directions and His

pleadings, He would imbue every heart with

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the spirit of Heaven and fill earth with happi-

God has told us what feelings we must
cherish, and what habits we must cultivate, if
we would be happy. And He has urged us by
the most powerful of all possible considerations
to pursue the path He has thus marked out.
He assures us that then we shall please Him,
and exhibit to the universe the purity of His
benevolence and the perfection of His plans;
that thus we shall promote the happiness of all
God's creatures, and saving ourselves from
ceaseless remorse, shall be elevated to dwell in
His courts, and to share in dignity and joy,
such as earthly eye has never seen, or earthly
heart conceived.

It will be my object in this little treatise, to
guide the reader to these habits of feeling and
of life. The Bible is the teacher whose direc-
tions I shall follow. In explaining and illus-
trating the principles of its instructions, I feel
confident that I am directing my readers to
sure and unfailing enjoyment. Your toil here
will most certainly be accompanied with suc-
cess. Here you cannot seek in vain. Even if,
for a season, your efforts appear to be unavail-
ing, the most triumphant success will be your
final accompUshinent. Why do to many pass

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their lives in the fruitless pursuit of pleasure,
and find in a dying hour that the past has been
but a dream of vanity, and that the most fearful
uncertainty clouds the future with gloom. It is
because, disobeying the directions of God, they
have sought enjoyment in regions where God
assures them that only disappointment and sor-
row can be found. They have forsaken the plain
path which God marked out for them, and en-
tering the wilderness of forbidden allurements,
have wandered and perished amid its glooms.

Life is strewed with the wrecks of temporal
and eternal happiness. Wherever the eye ran-
ges, or thought penetrates, we find the memo-
rials of disappointment and spiritual ruin.
Look at this young lady. She seems formed by
God, to be the recipient and the distributer of
the most pure and unalloyed enjoyment. Her
Heavenly Father has conferred upon her the
endowments of a good mind and an affectionate
heart. He has surrounded her with every
essential to earthly comfort, and placing the
Bible in her hands to guide her from the rocks
and quick-sands, which endanger her present
and future happiness, bids her obey its direc-
tions and be blest forever. What does she do?
Why, with an infatuation which is almost incon-
ceivable, she places the Bible upon her shelf

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unexamined, and plunges headlong into the
midst of those very dangers against which it so
affectionately warns her. Day after day, her
heart is oppressed with the ravages of disap-
pointment and chagrin; and yet her impetuous
career of thoughtlessness is unchecked. Watch
her movements as she glitters in the illumined
halls of gaiety. Her heart throbs in sympathy
with "music's voluptuous swell." She is half
intoxicated with the excitement of the scene.
In graceful measures she is gliding through the
giddy mazes of the dance, and for a moment
finds, perhaps, the counterfeit semblance of joy.
And yet the semblance is faint indeed. Rest-
lessness and vague anxiety rebuke her when
she says, "I have now found happiness.'' And
when, long after the hour of midnight, she re-
turns exhausted to her home, and her silent
chamber, and commits her throbbing head to
the pillow, the conflicting emotions of her bosom
are so turbulent and stormy, that she is a stran-
ger, not merely to happiness, but even to seren-
ity of mind and to the composure of ordinary
peace. She feels dissatisfied with herself, she
hardly knows why. In feverish dreams the
morning wears away. And when late she rises,
languid and dejected, to toil painfully through
the hours of the day, she is constrained to admit

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that the pleasure of the moment was most dear-
ly bought. She is sadly disappointed in her
pursuit, and yet, as she knows not where else to
look for joy, she continues in a kind of submis-
sive desperation, to be borne onward by the
crowd with which she mingles. Now why is
she not happy? Simply because she is seeking
happiness in the wrong place — in a place where
happiness never has been, and never can be
found. If she would attend to the directions
which God has given her, she would know at
once that it would be perfect folly to seek true
enjoyment in such scenes. But she does not
heed these directions. If, at times, she allows
her eye to glance over them, it is with careless
thought, or with a guilty feeling, that few as
her enjoyments are, God would make them still

God never prohibits any thing which.really
and permanently promotes our happiness. When,
in His word. He cautions us against any world-
ly allurement, it is because it is an allurement
to sorrow, and not to joy. When He enjoins
upon us any duty, or any act of self-denial, it is
because obedience to that injunction will pro-
mote the reign of peace and joy in the heart.
But the fashionable lady, in the whirl of gaiety
and exciting show, does not believe this; she

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sees no beauty in those peaceful walks to
which her Father's hand would guide her. The
shadfes, which God assures her will be soothing
and refreshing, to her appear dark and gloomy.
She has not confidence in God's declarations,
and breaks away from His hand, to pursue the
false glitter against which He warns her. At
last she wakes from this exciting dream, but
she awakes not to life, but to death. In the
chamber of silence and pain she reviews her
worthless life, and weeps in bitterness of spirit
to find that she has lived in vain, and is going
down to an unhonored grave. In the retrospect
of her privileges and opportunities for doing
good, she can hardly find an event upon which
her mind reposes with pleasure. The past is
all one dead level of uselessness, she has lived
for herself alone, and yet she has done herself
no good. She has passed her life in the pursuit
of f>leasure, and is now, at its close, farther
than ever from the attainment of her object.
Death is coming to claim her armed with ter-
rors. The grave is dark and dreadful. For
judgment she is all unprepared; the Savior is a
stranger to her; the spirit has ever been grieved
away, and all the talents which were entrusted
to her keeping, have been uncultivated. She
has nothing to look forward to, but guilt

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and shame. She utters loudly in the ears of
weeping friends, the language of lamentation
for her folly, and dies, leaving her sad history a
warning to others, that God knows, better than
we, what will promote the happiness of the crea-
tures He has made.

But the question again arises, why does God
prohibit the pursuit of pleasure, in those scenes,
which, to say the least, appear alluring to the
youthful heart? The prohibition seems not to
be the arbitrary decision of God, but has its
foundation in the very nature of man. God has
not placed us in the midst of scenes capable of
affording us real enjoyment, and then com-
manded us to abstain from these enjoyments.
He has created us but little lower than the an-
gels, with minds immortal, and capable of
infinite expansion, and burning with desires for
angelic joys. In trivial pursuits, we can find
nothing which affords satisfaction to minds cre-
ated with such noble endowments. The well
fed kitten finds its congenial element of joy,
when frisking by the fireside. These joys are
adapted to its nature. But this young lady,
who seeks enjoyment in the color of a ribbon, or
in the frivolities of fashion, is out of her element.
She is an immortal being, and has stooped
to things too trivial for an immortal mind; and

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until God degrades her mind, and gives her a
lower place in the scale of being, she can not
satisfy the aspirations of her soul with such
emptiness and vanity. She wonders why she is
not happy. She has forgotten her rank in the
scale of being! She has forgotten who is her
Father! She has forgotten that she is the heiress
of all heaven's treasure! She brings her immor-
tal mind, with its vast capacities, with its un-
limited powers, to seek enjoyment in those friv-
olities, which are only adapted to the nature of
the playful kitten, or the sportive lamb! And
yet she wonders why she is not happy!

It is true that the frown of God is upon us,
' when we thus forget our nature and our destiny.
But it is not His frown alone which darkens
our sky. The empty void of the heart, so uni-
versal, as to have becomie a proverb, with all
nations, and at every age, can only be filled by
the pursuit of objects adapted to the .elevation
of our nature. Even if God did not regard
with displeasure the waste and the perversion of
our faculties, it necessarily results from the
constitution of man, created in the image of
God, and allied in dignity with angelic spirits,
that he can not be satisfied with any pleasures,
but those which are pure and elevated. He must

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottThe path of peace: or, A practical guide to duty and happiness → online text (page 1 of 10)