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The EXAMPLES OF OTHER HOLY MEN are similar to that of Abraham. Consider the holy determination of Joshua, who declared to all Israel, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; as for me and my house we will serve the Lord." Josh. xxiv, 15. Neither the exalted station which he occupied, nor his various and pressing public labours, prevented his attention to the religion of his family. When David had brought the Ark of God into Jerusalem with gladness, sacrifices, and thanksgiv ings, after discharging all his public duties, and blessing the people in the name of the Lord of Hosts, he returned to bless his household. 1 Sam. vi, 20. In addition to these might be brought the examples of Job, (ch. i, 5.) Daniel (ch. vi, 10.) and others. While the ark rested in the house of Obed-edom, a blessing came upon him and all his household. Would you then obtain the blessing of God on your household, let your family be daily assembled for prayer and praise. Observe the praise given to Cornelius; he was a devout man, and one that feared God, with all his house; which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway." Acts x, 2. The early Christians practised this duty. St. Paul greets the Church in the house of Priscilla and Aquila, when they were at Romé, (Rom. xvi, 5.) and sends the salutation of the Church that was in their house when they were in Asia. 1 Cor. xvi, 19. We may probably gather hence, that he alludes rather to the assembly of a religious family than to that of a stated congregation. See also Col. iv, 15. Philemon 2. When Peter was released by the angel from prison, "he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, where many were gathered together prayjpg." Acts xii, 12.
These examples are brought forward to shew you, that in duly attending to family worship, you are "followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
The EXAMPLE OF JESUS CHRIST confirms the obligation arising from that of good men. He was the head of his family, and his apostles belonged to his household. Matt. x, 25. We perpetually read how he instructed them in private, and asked them various questions as to their religious knowledge. Matt. xiii, 51; xvi, 13. He often prayed with his disciples. Luke ix, 18; xi, 1. You call yourself a Christian: then remember. "he that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. 1 John ii, 6.
THREATENINGS are pronounced AGAINST THOSE WHO DISREGARD THIS DUTY. Those who neglect the worship of God in their families, lie, (awful thought!) under the displeasure of the Almighty, under the frown of the Most High. Observe what is said, (Jer. x, 25.) « Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not upon thy name." Now, if heathen nations and familes are to be thus punished, judge you what will become of those families in a Christian land, living as heathens, without regard to God and his worship. Indeed, "if any provide not for his own, and specially for his own house," (both in temporal and spiritual things,) "he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an Infidel." 1 Tim. v, 8. Ah, Chistian, I am sure if you have hitherto neglected this duty, you should, without delay, "fly for refuge to the hope set before you in the Gospel;" seek for pardon through the blood of Christ; and henceforth walk in newness of life.Yes, begin to-day, while it is called to-day, (Heb. iii, 13.) to practise the duty.
Family prayer has also some peculiar advantages.It is A MOST IMPORTANT MEANS OF PROPAGATING PIETY TO POSTERITY. Children are creatures of imitation.They love to copy all that they see in others. The characters of unborn generations may depend on your conduct in this matter. Eph. vi, 4. Prov. xxii, 6. David says of the Lord, "He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children, that the generations to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments." Ps. lxxviii, 5-7. Perhaps the present degraded condition of the millions of immortal souls now living in idolatry, with all their guilt and misery, might be traced up to the neglect of family instruction, as one principal cause.
Family worship, when duly conducted, is attended
WITH MANY HAPPY EFFECTS ON YOUR WHOLE FAMILY.
No wonder that those who neglect this, are continually troubled with the misconduct and perverseness of those under them and about them; no wonder that jarrings, dissensions, and other disagreeable circumstances, are continually disquieting them. It is just what might be expected. How can they, who neglect the worship of God in their families, look for peace, or comfort in them? I am sure, also, that I may confidently appeal to those who have regular and daily family prayer, that, when conducted in a simple and devout spirit, it has a tendency to remove, or allay, all those unhappy passions to which our common nature is subject, and which, more or less, appear in every family. It unites the members of the family together, gives the head of it a feeling of
tenderness and affection for those under him, and makes them esteem and love him. Some masters are, on this account, almost considered as angels in their families.Cecil says of family worship rightly conducted, may be used as an engine of vast power in a family.It diffuses a sympathy through the members. It calls the mind off from the deadening effect of worldly affairs. It arrests every member with a morning and evening sermon, in the midst of all the hurries and cares of life. It says, "There is a God!" "There is a spiritual world!""There is a life to come!" It fixes the idea of responsibility in the mind. It furnishes a tender and judicious father, or master, with an opportunity of gently glancing at faults, where a direct admonition might be inexpedient. It enables him to relieve the weight with which subordination or service often sits on the minds of inferiors."
Family prayer gains for us THE PRESENCE AND BLESSING OF OUR LORD. There is a promise of his presence, which appears peculiarly applicable to this duty. Matt. xviii, 19, 20. Many have found in family worship, that help and that communion with God which they had sought for with less effect in private prayer. It was the experience of one Christian, "I find more of the presence of God, and more of the real spirit of prayer, in praying with my family, than in almost any other means of grace." Surely, the Christian, who really loves his Saviour, would regularly call his family together to pray with him, from this consideration alone, that he might enjoy more of his Lord's presence.
Dr. Buchanan strikingly CONTRASTS A FAMILY WHICH WORSHIPS GOD, AND A FAMILY WHICH WORSHIPS HIM NOT; and the excellence of the remarks wili j stify the length of the quotation, "How painful is it to redect." he says,
"that there should be, in this kingdom, many domestic societies among whom the worship of the Deity is not known, in whose houses no grateful accents are ever heard, no exultation of heart for the divine goodness.― There are, indeed, accents of exultation and mirth;" and the harp and the viol, and the tabret, and the pipe, are in their feasts;" but there is no remembrance of God; they regard not the operation of his hands. While even inanimate nature, in a certain sense offereth praise to the great Creator, and fulfilleth his will; THESE men pass through life in silence! Insensible to the mercies, or judgments, or power, or providence of the unseen God; yes more insensible than the inhabitants of heathen lands, upon whom the light of truth hath never shined.
"How different is the scene which is presented in those happy families, where the voice of prayer and thanksgiving consecrates every day! where the word of God is devoutly read, and infants are taught to lisp their Creator's praise. There, from day to day, domestic peace, and love, and harmony are cherished by the sublimest motives, and strengthened by the tenderest and the most powerful sanctions.-On the hallowed day they repair, with gladness of heart, to their respective places of worship, and mingle with assemblies which meet with much more delight for praise and prayer than. other assemblies for worldly mirth.-And let not the world contemn, or disturb their holy exercise. For we learn from Scripture, that it is from such families and assemblies, who are the salt of the earth, worshipping in the midst of us, that the incense of prayer ascends IN BEHALF OF THE COUNTRY, and is accepted in heavenly places through the intercession of the Mediator."
Though these reasons would of themselves be suffi