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be men“ ruling their Children and their own houses well ;"! not indifferently, but well.
Thus did the Redeemer of mankind, not only fix his eye on this subject, but by so doing, and at such a time, meant to fix ours.
So invaluable and singular a prize or bounty is nowhere else held out, in the whole compass of the Book of God, to any who excel in any other way. Favors these, which are the highest ever bestowed on mortal man on this side the grave ;-favors, too, by which he not only meant to fix the eye of his associated people, but of every member there, in every age, at every such solemn and interesting moment ; and thus, in a way peculiar to himself, while providing for the government of his own House, bring up also, in a secondary manner, the government and guidance of the Family, to the highest possible pitch of perfection ! Suggesting, at once, equally, to both pastors and their flock, that upon this one subject, in a vital degree, depended the moral health and energy, the peace and prosperity, of his whole kingdom !
After all this, however, it is fully granted, because it is true, that no man, whether in his individual, or domestic, or social capacity, even by faith in God, or obedience to Him as an effect of that faith, can ever be raised entirely above the curse pronounced at the beginning on the family of Adam ; nor will any such man ever admit the vain expectation : but still he finds that, through the tender mercy and kindness of God, that curse may be greatly mitigated ; and he is the only person who knows, for himself, and in his domestic circle, that wisdom's
ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”
In our search after Domestic felicity, therefore, come we must, at last, to the same conclusion which the wisest of men once did, in his inquiry after sublunary bliss in general :-“ Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter : Fear God and keep his commandments ;' since this, after
all that can be said, involves the whole happiness of man : “ for God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Then will this filial fear and obedience be found to have involved the only happiness which can bear such scrutiny; the only enjoyment which will then be shown to have been legitimate, and the only species of enjoyment on which the Almighty Judge will pronounce the sentence of his final and everlasting approbation.
The obligations to Family Worship—The abuse to which it has
been exposed–The best seasons for Family Devotion—The profitable performance of Domestic Worship.
ALTHOUGH all that is incumbent on the Father or Mother of a Family might be inferred from what has been already advanced, and is certainly implied in many passages, the religion or Christianity of a Family is so essentially connected with the principles on which Divine Worship is offered there, and the spirit in which it is conducted, that some special notice of this subject becomes necessary. The observations which follow, therefore, are intended to embrace the obligations to Family Worship-the abuse to which it has been exposed—the best seasons for Family Devotion—with the various exercises which are included in the profitable performance of Domestic Worship.
I. The Obligations to Family Worship.-The disposition of some men, professing Christianity, to ask peremptorily for a particular precept in all cases of incumbent moral duty, is one which every Christian would do well to examine ; not only that he may never be troubled with it himself, but that he may be at no loss in answering such a man, if he is called to converse with him. The par
ticular duty to which he refers, say, for example, Family Worship is comparatively of small account. His question itself is indicative not merely of great ignorance; it is symptomatic of the want of religious principle. When a man says, that he can only be bound to such a duty, a moral duty, by a positive and particular precept, I am satisfied that he could not perform it, in obedience to any precept whatever ; nor could he, even now, though he were to try. The truth is, that this man has no disposition towards such worship, and he rather requires to be informed of the grounds of all such obligation.
If you have been accustomed to look a little deeper than the surface of human character, you will find that men of this description secretly cherish the idea, that they have found out the way of living happily enough without holiness ; and should they also seem to have drank deeply into such principles, I should as soon expect to cure insanity by reasoning as to cure them. They know not, as yet, what Scripture has so emphatically called, " the plague of their own heart;" but while to this alone we can direct them, there are not wanting individuals who require to be fortified even against such poor sophistry.
The duty of Family Devotion, therefore, let it be remembered, though it had been minutely enjoined as to both substance and season, would not, after all, have been founded only on such injunctions. I want the reader. thoroughly to understand the character of a Christian, the constitution of the Family ; and out of this character and that constitution, he will find certain duties to arise necessarily ; that is, they are essential to the continuance and well-being of himself 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
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 express 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 majesty 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