A few years ago in central Illinois a godly mother, who died at the age of 95 left the following testimony.
"A devoted Methodist minister came to our community during our early married life and preached the Gospel in our home. Husband and I both were converted and erected a family altar which we never permitted to be broken down. Thirteen children came to bless our home, two of which died in infancy. The other eleven were all converted before they were sixteen years of age. Three of my sons are ministers of the Gospel. Two sons became local preachers and two of my children married preachers. The rest are all Christians and are a blessing in their respective churches and communities. I attribute the success we had in rearing so large a Christian family, to our early conversion, our regular church attendance and to the family altar around which we gathered our family twice every day. —Selected.
Henry Clay, the great American statesman and orator, once lodged overnight at a humble cabin in his native state of Kentucky. The family was in the habit of holding worship morning and evening, but the father trembled at the thought of doing so in the presence of a guest so distinguished. The children were becoming sleepy, and the wife by significant gestures suggested that the time for prayer had come. The man hinted to his guest that perhaps he would like to go to bed. But Mr. Clay with great politeness said that he did not feel at all sleepy, and that, unless it was intrusive, he would be happy to enjoy the society of his host longer. Of course, the man could not object. Still the matter of prayer could not be postponed without sending the children to bed contrary to their settled custom. At last, with considerable trepidation, the father told his guest that he could stay and unite in their devotions or retire at his option. Mr. Clay promptly replied that he would remain. When the wonted exercises, gone through with much fear and trembling, were over, Mr. Clay, with no little feeling, approached the man, and said: "My dear sir, never again feel the least hesitation in the discharge of your duty to God on account of the presence of man. I saw your embarrassment, and remained on purpose that you might never feel it again. Remember that every man of sense will respect the individual who is not ashamed to acknowledge his dependence upon his Maker; and he deserves only contempt who can cherish any other feelings than reverence for `the consecrated hour of man in audience with Diety.' I would rather know that the prayers of a pious man, no matter how humble his position in life, were ascending in my behalf than to have the wildest applause of listening senators. "—Gospel Herald.
Dr. Beiderwolf relates the following interesting incident: "The story is told of a little Japanese girl who studied at an American College and spent a Christmas vacation in the home of one of her classmates. She had seen much else in America, but the thing she longed most of all to see on the inside was a Christian home, and such a home this one was known to be. She had a delightful time and as she was about to leave at the end of the vacation time the mother said, `How do you like the way we American folks live?' `Oh,' she said, `I love it. Your home is beautiful. But there is one thing I miss,' said the girl with a faraway look in her eyes. 'It is this that makes your home seem queer to me. You know I have been with you to your church and I have seen you worship your God there. But I have missed the God in your home. You know, in Japan, we have a god-shelf in every home, with the gods right there in the house. Do not Americans worship their God in their homes?'"
Christianity can never leaven our country unless it pervades the home life.—Selected.
After preaching on the family altar one Sunday morning, one of my deacons went home and announced at the dinner table that they were going to have family prayers. He took out a Bible and began to read. He got along all right until he started to pray. He had never prayed before in the presence of his children, who were nine and eleven years old. He tried to pray, but the prayer would not come. The little girl began to titter, and then the boy began to titter. The mother smiled, and he was a good sport and smiled too. It ended with all laughing. He did not let the children know how his heart was broken. He went to his room and got down on his face and asked God to forgive him. At the supper table that evening, he again opened his Bible and read; and then he knelt down and prayed with his children, and there was no tittering. There was a sweetness, and after prayer the little girl put her arms around her father's neck and thanked him. He had brought something precious into that home.
I heard a freshman get up in a group of young people in Montreat, N. C., and say, "I have missed something in my life. My father and mother have never read to me out of the Bible nor prayed with me." I would rather have my right hand cut off than have my child get up in front of five hundred people and say that about me.—Courtesy Moody Monthly.
Henry W. Grady visited Washington, D. C., and when he went back to Atlanta, Georgia, he wrote an editorial about the Capitol at Washington, described it beautifully and called it the home of the Nation, the center of American life. Some months passed, and he went back to his old home in Georgia. And then when he returned to Atlanta, he wrote another editorial, and in it he said that he made a tremendous blunder when he wrote that first editorial. He said that the center of this country is not in the United States Capitol — it is in the houses and in the cottages and in the old farm houses and in every home in this land in which there is a family altar. The Christian home is the center of American life from which all the rest of it moves and radiates. And Henry M. Grady was justified in apologizing for his mistake.—Christian Index.
One of the noblest of missionaries was John G. Paton. No man evidenced more heroism and sacrifice than did that kingly, wonderful soldier of the Cross. Read the biography of this devoted missionary. You will find on the first page the secret of that life of service, the one memory around which all the rest of Paton's ministry centers. That recollection is of his father with his old family Bible twice a day at the family altar, children all around him hearing the message of God, then down on their knees together. Paton says that in that old home his father's mighty religious influence made him all he was and started his missionary life and work. As you read the rest of his biography, you will find this spiritual influence in operation all through his life.— King's Business.
I know two men that lived in a country home in their boyhood, and they became rich men when they went away from home. They went occasionally to visit their father and mother living in the old home. And finally the father and mother went to Heaven. The sons did not know what to do with this old home. One of them said to the other, "If you'll sell out your interest to me, I'll tear down the house and I'll build a summer home there, and let you come out to it when you want to." Accordingly they took a trip out to the old homestead to tear it down. Around that spot there swept many sacred memories.
Then these two brothers, past middle life and rich, went into the house, and looked around through it. One walked up and down in front of the old fireplace, and the other sat down. Finally one said to the other.
"You know, Bob, what I'm thinking about? I've changed my mind since I've been here. We're not going to tear down this old house. This house is going to stand here; it's not going to be torn down."
"That is a strange thing," the other brother said. "because when I was walking up and down in front of the fireplace, that is the same thing I was thinking about." He looked over at the chair in which father used to sit. "Here is the old chair that father sat in when he read the Bible when we had family worship—the chair around which we knelt as father lifted our heart to God."
They stayed there two hours to talk things over. They both got down on their knees by the old chair, repented and wept their hearts out before God. They went back, saved men and gave their money to God and lived for God.
And the old house stands. Not a single thing was moved out. It was too sacred to touch, because the family altar had stood there. It is a great thing to go back to the old house.—Gospel Herald.