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and advantage of it are so obvious. A man who has felt the value of prayer for himself will be very anxious to bring up his children, and all else entrusted to his care, in the habit of prayer; and he will see that one of the best ways of teaching them to pray for themselves is to pray with them. But I cannot admit that God has not made it very clear that it is his will. I think a great deal of instruction is given us on many points by the examples of good men. Now we find the patriarchs both instructing their households and offering worship with them. You will remember that noble appeal of Joshua to Israel, just when he was about to give up his charge of them: 'Choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.'* It was a day of great rejoicing when David removed the ark from the house of Obed-edom to its resting-place in Zion; but it is said that when all the publio solemnities were over 'David returned to bless his household.'f The title of one of his PsalmsJ is, 'A Psalm and Song at the Dedication of the House of David.' We read in one of the Psalms,§ that' the Lord loveth the gates of Zion. more than all the dwellings of Jacob.' He specially loves 'the gates of Zion,' because there is offered within them the united worship of his assembled people; but then he does love the dwellings of Jacob, and it is implied, I think, that he loves them, too, because they are the scenes of holy instruction and of united worship. It is mentioned to the praise of Cornelius, the centurion, that he was 'one that feared the Lord, with all his house.'|| I think, George, that without much trouble I could find a good deal more that indicates God's approval of household worship."
"Well, uncle," said Atkinson, "I must admit that there is a great deal more about it than I had thought. Still, after all, what can little children understand about such things?"
"Whether your children can understand much or not," replied Mr. Eaine, "at all events your wife and your servant are old enough to understand them. Besides, little children often understand a great deal more than we are sometimes disposed to give them credit for. They can certainly see this, that if you pray with them and for them, you deem prayer a very solemn duty; and if you pray as simply as every one who has little children should try to do, they
* Josh. xxiv. 15. t 2 Sam. vi. 20. t Psa. xxx.
§ Pea. lxxxvii. 2. || Acts x. 2.
will understand a great many of your prayers. Besides, at family worship you will read God's word, and there are many parts of the Bible in which they will soon learn to take a deep interest." >
"That I'm sure they will," said Mrs. Atkinson; "for! nothing pleases the children better when I am alone with them than for me to read to them scripture stories; and I always find them willing to say such prayers as I teach: them."
"Then, you know," said Mr. Baine, "they will not be: always little children. They are growing up very fast; and I can tell you that if you leave it till they can enter fully into everything, you will have hard work to begin. You believe, George," he continued, after a moment's pause, "that God hears prayer, don't you."
"I can't say anything against that, uncle," was the reply
"Well, then, see what blessings you turn away from your children, if you do not pray for them. There is no telling what good gifts he bestows on children because of their parent's prayers, and on households because of their united supplications. On the other hand, there can be no doubt that he is greatly displeased with those who do not thus honour him. Besides, George, your children will not be always with you. They will very likely have to go out into the world; and in these days of travel and enterprise they may go to the very ends of the earth. Depend upon it—to say nothing of such mercies as God may give in direct answer to your prayers—the very remembrance of them will prove a safeguard and a blessing when your children are no longer beneath your eye."
"I see, uncle," said Atkinson, "that my neglect has been very wrong; but I don't think I could do it. I never prayed in my life before other people, and I am almost sure I should break down."
"I scarcely think you would do that, George. There is no need, you know, for you to offer very long prayers. Just think what blessings you and your family need, and ask for them in the simplest language you can find. The work will become easier as you go on. But if you really find that you cannot pray extempore, get a book of family prayers. Do without if you can, but it is far better to pray that way than not at all."
"But I've so very little time," said Atkinson. "We allow only half an hour at the shop for breakfast; and I i must not take much longer, for if I do, something is sure to go wrong."
"Make the service the shorter, then," replied Mr. Eaine; "and indeed, so far as the children are concerned, it is never well to be long. You know the old proverb, 'Where there's a will there's a way?' Besides, you're not so pressed for time in the evening."
"Not generally," was the reply.
"You are fond of singing, I know, George; and I could not help hearing on Sunday morning that your wife is a good singer too. Now it would be a pleasant and profitable addition to your reading and prayer if you would also praise God in some simple hymn that your children could enter into."
"Well, Mary," said Atkinson, turning to his wife, "what do you say?"
"There's nothing I should like better, George," replied his wife. "Indeed, I have often felt as though we were sadly wrong in neglecting it; you know I was always used to it at home."
"Suppose then," said Mr. Eaine, "we begin to-night. The children have been in bed a long time; and I dare say the servant is too, by this time; but we three can have prayer now, and you can gather them all together in the morning."
The good old man then read a chapter from the Bible, and implored God's blessing very earnestly on his nephew and his wife and children. Both Atkinson and his wife were deeply moved.
"I am afraid, Mary," said Atkinson, after Mr. Eaine had left them, and they sat at the fire-side by themselves, "that we shall have to go further back, and begin at the beginning. At any rate, I feel that I have really to learn to pray for myself. After all, that has been the great secret of our neglect of family prayer."
"I have no doubt you are right," said his wife. "Well, dear George, for our own sakes and the children's let us turn over a new leaf."
The following morning family prayer was established in George Atkinson's house, and it has been kept up ever since.
Are you the head of a family, reader, and has your house been hitherto without prayer? We entreat you to take into most serious consideration the duty of family religion. Perhaps your great difficulty consists in this, that you yourself are still without Christ. If it be so, seek salvation without delay—for your own sake and for the sake of the precious souls who are committed to your care. So long as you continue unsaved, you cannot discharge aright either this duty or any other. There is free forgiveness for all your guilt, through the precious blood of Christ; and you have but to go to him repentant and believing, in order to secure at once the pardon of every sin.
Let yours be the noble resolve of Joshua, "As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord."
"I DIDN'T LOOK HIGH ENOUGH."
It had been a fine day, one of those warm, genial [days which we naturally call lovely, rare but precious in our often ungenial spring, harbinger of the long-expected summer. The earth, the air, the sky seemed fall of life; and the little hills; to use the figure of Scripture, " rejoiced on every side." New life was in the song of the birds, in the bursting of the buds, in the flush of green which covered the brown fields; and new life seemed to fill and cheer every heart. The bare, bleak cold winter time was once more gone, and a pleasant, buoyant feeling in one's own mind, half hope and half sensation, made all things seem glad.
But, April like, the sunshine was not long without a cloud, and towards sunset a gentle but copious shower, soft and pleasant as the day itself had been, began to fall . Still the sun continued shining; and knowing, therefore, that there would be a rainbow to be seen I hastened to tell my children. All children like rainbows. Who cannot remember, almost as if it were yesterday, the enchantment of the scene as it appeared to him in childhood, when the bow in the cloud spanned the earth with its beauty, and when he thought of that which Noah saw as a token that the waters should no more cover the earth? So, as I like my children to love all sights and sounds of nature, and especially those which had a charm for my own childhood, I said, " Come and see the rainbow, there's one at the back of the house."
So we went to the back of the house to see the rainbow, and we looked and looked, but there was no rainbow to be seen. Now as the sun was still shining and the rain still falling, of course there was one; so I looked again all round, thinking it might be a somewhat faint reflection, though as the shower -was heavy and the sun bright, I did not see how that could be. But in vain, no rainbow did I see. But just as I was turning away, I cast my eyes upward, and there, resplendent in all its beauty of brilliant but blended colouring, a mighty arch, extending far up in the sky, was the bow in the cloud.
Why did I not see it before? Just for this simple reason: I forgot, at least did not think of the fact, that in proportion to the nearness of the sun to the horizon must be the height and span of the bow, and I had been looking near the opposite horizon for that which was far np in the sky. I did not look high enough. Its beauty soon faded, and the children soon went to bed, to sleep none the less sweetly and dream none the less pleasantly, that the last thing they saw before closing their eyes was one of the most lovely of God's wonderful works, and one which he has chosen to symbolize the glory of the Eedeemer,* no less than to be witness of his covenant with man.
But I thought, as I also turned away from the rapidly fading glory, there is in this a lesson. "I did not look high enough." Some people it is true look too high. "They set their mouth against the heaven, and their tongue walketh through • the earth, "f They speak loftily, and have a haughty look and a proud heart. Nothing seems good enough for them, and their fellow-creatures are as the dust beneath their feet. These, however, though they look high enough, and too high in one sense, yet really are grovelling and contemptible. Their thoughts and looks are confined after all to the narrow range of their own selfish lives. They are shut in their pride as in a prison, and can look no higher than the ceiling of their prison cell. But there are others who from despondency or unbelief do not look high enough. They look to themselves, and so have sorrow in their hearts daily. They look to the world or to earthly helpers, and so fail to see the bow of hope which is spread upon the face of the sky. They look to their troubles, and sit and brood over them shut up in themselves, or they carry them with them wherever they go, and bear them sadly and wearily with looks cast down to the earth. They count up their many trials and burdens, and look at them one after another, and when they [have come to the
* Key. iv. 3. See also Ezek. i. 28.