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self as a Christian.Parent, and of the constitution over which he is set. In this case there can be no question as to their obligation, and for a precept there is no necessity. The Almighty, in his word, has not only said nothing in vain, but nothing except what is necessary. Now, as to Family Worship for a particular precept, I have no wish; no, not even for the sake of others, because I am persuaded that the Christian, in his sober senses, will naturally obey, and no other can.
To apply, however, this request for a precise precept to some other branches of Family duty, what would be thought of me, were I to demand an ex« press precept to enforce my obligation to feed my children, and another to oblige me to clothe them? one to express my obligation to teach them the use of letters, and another to secure my training them to lawful or creditable professions or employments ? “All this,” very properly you might reply, “is absurd in the highest degree; your obligation rests on much higher ground; nay, doth not nature itself teach you in this, and much more than this? Very true, I reply; and is renewed nature, then, not to teach me far more still ? To what other nature are such words as these addressed : “ Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Yes, God in his word has addressed us, not as men of perverted reason, but as accountable beings. If we out of generals collect not particulars, and infer not from plain grounds the necessary conclusions, wo is unto us : it will go ill with us in this world, and in that also which is to come. It becomes not the man jesty of God to trifle with his creatures; and if, in his public edicts, his mind is expressed, it were unworthy of him to descend to what is already enough revealed. In his word I expect that a grandeur will be found worthy of the supreme Lord of all; and I adore Him, that, having put the heart right, he hath in many ways left room for all to ascertain whether it really is so. If, therefore, nature itself is supposed in Scripture to teach me so much, assuredly the renewed nature is there also supposed to teach me much more.
These observations may enable the reader to account for the fact, that the world had gone on for many ages, and been favoured too with no small portion of divine revelation, without prayer, in any form, having been once enjoined or instituted as a duty, whether in the closet, the family, or the church; a division, by the way, which, though proper enough for the sake of illustration, is but of comparatively modern date. No; from the beginning the piety of the heart led men to take up this subject in the only way which was natural, and proper, and safe ; from the beginning such men had always prayed and worshipped, and that thousands of years before Paul had said to Timothy_“I will that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”
The very first injunction in Scripture, therefore, respecting such a moral duty, was likely to occur not in the way of positive institution, as something which then only had begun to be incumbent, and then only to be begun, and much less something which was before unknown. Accordingly, it turns out, that the “ first injunction respecting prayer, in the Volume of Inspiration, the terms of which regard it, as in any sense generally obligatory, does not occur. until the world was at least three thousand years old, and the Jewish church about eight hundred.* Perhaps the passage which might be styled the second, does not occur till at least two hundred years later."
At the same time, the manner, the seasons, the spirit, the constancy, the universality of prayer, as the attendant of piety, I find scattered over the whole volume, from the earliest times. Nay, it is not a little remarkable, that the
prayer is recorded, happens to be the supplication of a Parentthe fervent wish of a Father for his Son ;£ and the very next presents this same Parent before us, interceding with peculiar earnestness for the vilest of men.g
To return, however; let it be observed, that the human family, being of God's own creation and institution, it owes him, on this account, corresponding acknowledgment and worship. All his works, in all places of his dominion, are therefore called upon to praise him. All things which have been made by him, were made for him ; and if this was the end he had in view, when nature itself was framed, it was especially the end with regard to man, in his individual, and relative, and social capacity. If this is true, as to nature in all its branches, it is still more so of the system as a whole: if it is true of the individual, it is still more so of the systems or constitu
* Psalm cxxii. 6.
Gen. xvii. 18.
+ Jerem. xxix. 7. 8 Gen. xviii. 24.
tions which he has framed: if true, of the man as a solitary being, still more so of the Family: if true, as to the Christian, still more so of the Church.
With regard to a Family, in particular, it is more especially bound to own its dependence and subjection to its Divine author, because it is the foundation or first cause of all society, whether moral, political, or religious. Hence Abraham obtained the testimony of God's highest approbation : hence, long before the Mosaic economy was in existence, there were sacrifices peculiar to families, as already noticed, when the Father acted as the administrator. Thus, Job of fered burnt-offerings for himself and for his Children, and Jacob for his. This is particularly worthy of remark, since, though we have no intimation whatever on the subject, there must have been a revelation here from God; for though the duty rises necessarily out of the Constitution itself, the form of it must have been regulated by his will. For the office and duty of a priest, or an offerer of family sacrifices, neither Job nor Jacob had their warrant from the light or law of nature. Such an office depended on institution; and this institution proves to demonstration the early and peculiar regard of God for the family of human beings. Nor did even the Mosaic economy altogether abolish a practice, which stood on far more ancient grounds. So the family of Jesse had a yearly sacrifice, that is, a free-will offering and sacred feast, when the various branches all assembled, even in mature life, to acknowledge a source from whence they had derived such blessings.*
* 1 Samuel xx. 6.
Granting that, in this instance, the whole were pretended, no such pretence would have been sustained, had such things not been customary, to a certain extent, although not so frequent as in the patriarchal age, or before the appointment of the tribe of Levi to act as priests.
Independently, however, of all this evidence with any rational Christian Parent, I may confirm and es. tablish his mind on much higher ground than even that which these pointed examples afford. To such a Parent I might say—“Without hesitation, you will admit that your obligations to your family are to be measured now, and on the day of final account, by your capacity—as a Man by your natural, as a Christian by your spiritual capacity? And however you may feel conscious of falling short daily, that you are under obligation to honour God to the utmost limit of this capacity? You will also allow that, standing where you do, you are not now, like a solitary orphan without relatives, to be regarded only as a single individual ? God himself, your Creator, your Saviour, and your Judge, regards you as the head of a family, and therefore, in possession of a sacred trust, you have the care of souls. Now, if you really do measure obligation by capacity, then will you also at once allow, that you must do what you can, that He may, from your Family, have as much honour as possible.
Without hesitation you will also allow that God daily preserves you ? And does he not also preserve your Family? But if he preserves, he has a right of property in each and all under your roof. Shall He not, therefore, have from you acknowledgment of this? If daily he preserves, shall he not be daily ac