« AnteriorContinuar »
common mercies to give thanks for ; it is there? fore highly reasonable that the governor should call them together, as many as can be at leisure, twice a day, in the morning and in the evening; and, by himself, or some one of the family, confess their sins to God, offer up their prayers for what they want, and their thanksgivings for what they enjoy.
Gratitude and self-interest require this.
Gratitude for those common blessings which they enjoy from the best of Beings; for their existence, their health, their continual preservation, and, above all, for their redemption from sip and death, by the blood of Christ..
Self-interest also requires this. · For promoting family religion is the best means of promoting the temporal as well as the eternal welfare of the whole family; because godliness has the promise of the life that now is, as well as that wlich is to come. And, on the other hand, when it is neglected, we may reasonably expect, that God will, according to the prophet Jeremiah, pour out his fury upon the families that call not upon his name.
And not only the reasonableness of the duty, but the practice of our blessed Saviour, and the example of the primitive Christians, enforce it. We read that our Saviour was often alone praying with his disciples, who were then his little family. And the primitive Christians were so , exemplary in this particular, that St. Paul, in his epistles, often styles the house of such families, a church: Salute the brethren, says he, which are in Laodicea, and Nympas, and
the church which is in his house, and in several other places.
I think I need say no more to convince you that family prayer is a Christian duty; I shall, therefore, proceed in the
Third place, To consider the objections that may be made to this duty.
And one may be, that as family prayer is now almost totally disused, at least by the generality of those who profess themselves to be members of the church of England, a man who attempted to introduce this in his family would be looked upon by his neighbours as a singular, precise fellow; and, perhaps, be branded with the name of a Methodist., • Now, as to the singularity of it, I am willing to hope, that it is not so singular as many imagine: I hope there are many families who make a conscience of performing this duty, and yet are no Methodists. Strange! that what has been universally acknowledged as fit and reasonable by the best and wisest of men, and enforced by the example of Christ, should, in these days, be thought an exercise only becoming a mad Enthusiast.
Surely, this is doing great honour to the cause of Methodism, and is a great reproach to us of the established church. What! cannot a man worship God in his family without being a Methodist ? Surely he can. It only becomes á Methodist to assert such a thing; and too many of them, I am afraid, have too much cause to assert it. .
However, if we will consider, we shall easily be persuaded, that the disuse of family religioni is as much chargeable upon every individual governor of a family as it is upon the generality ; because every governor that omits it, contributes to make it so much the more gegeral, therefore has no reason to charge it upon his neighbours.
A man cannot be justified in his neglect of this duty, because he fears to be singular. Had Noah feared to be singular when God con manded him to build an ark for the preservation of his family, they must have perished in the deluge. Joshua did not fear to be singular, when he spoke. The words in the text. If, saith he, it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, chuse you this day whom you will serve, whether the Gods which your fathers served, that uere on the other side of the flood, or the Gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And this resciution of his had that good effect upon the people, that they likewise unanimously agreed to serve the Lord. And were a few governors of families to follow the example of Joshua, they might also excite more to do so.
I am aware but of one more objection, and that is, that it interferes with our worldly business. “Men who are obliged to earn their bread with the sweat of their brows, must attend early to business, therefore cannot find time to pray with their families.”
To this it may be answered, that though it may, so happen that a man cannot attend his family of a morning, yet he may depute some one in his house to perform this duty in his absence; and, in the evening, he can always be present himself when his work is done, which is never so late as to exclude family worship: and he will find more satisfaction in this than in spending his time at a public house, as is generally the case. ..
As to such as are not obliged to bodily labour, and gentlemen of fortune, our nobility, and such like great families, they are utterly inexcusable, and can by no means acquit themselves to their own consciences, or in the sight of God. Give me leave now, in the .
Last place, To apply what has been said to your serious consideration.
Are you not all desirous of making a suitable provision for your childrenDo not men, in general, strive to accumulate wealth, to give their children a good education, and set them up in the world? And should you not much more be careful to instruct them in the principles of religion ? to give them an early sense of piety, and a just reverence of God? How monstrously inconsistent then is it to be continually anxious about their temporal prosperity, and, at the same time, neglect, their better part, their precious and immortal soals? But when men do so, it shews that they hare no true notion of religion themselves; for if they had, if the love of God were shed abroad in their own hearts, it would naturally leail them to do their utmost to provide for the spiritual welfare of others, and especially those of their own house,
We are apt to complain when our servants are unjust to us; and yet, who can be more unjust than those who, in return for their servants labours, take no care to provide for their inestimable souls?
The time will come when they shall know they ought to have given them some spiritual as well as temporal wages; and that if any of them are lost through the governor's neglect, he will most assuredly be called to an account
for will most assunough the cover mat if any of
The blessing of God upon our families ; the good success of our honest endeavours in procuring a comfortable subsistence; and, above all, a peaceful conscience, and a glorious prospect of futurity, depend, in a great measure, upon family religion.
But if neither the favour of God, our tem poral prosperity, nor the good of our children and servants, will have any effect upon us, per-' haps the consideration of a future judgment at the bar of heaven, before which all must appear; may have some influence upon us. 'We must all, says the Apostle, appear before the judgment seat of Christ; there to answer for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good, or whether they be evil. If this be the case, (and no one can disprove it) how then will that sérvant, who was made ruler over his lord's household, and neglected to give them meat in due season, excuse himself beford his lord, when he comes? He may, perhaps, with the utmost horror and despair, behold the wife of his bosom, his children, who were his crown and