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Nor let us murmur at our stinted powers,
Many and great indeed are the advantages which must accrue to both Children and Servants where such Family Government is at once studied and maintained; nor must the Parents themselves now be forgotten, after duties, delightful in many respects, but arduous and difficult as these must ever be. What, then, shall be done for the Parents who excel in Family Government? Duty, it is true, always brings along with it its own reward, and, in the present case, a reward so rich, that it can with difficulty be expressed in language, and certainly can never be fully comprehended by mere description ; while the future enjoyment of both parents, in the present life, absolutely hinges upon their fulfilment of such duty. But still this is not all which is held out in Scripture to the parental eye: on Parents such as these, the Saviour of the world, even after. he was enthroned in glory, condescended to look down, and then did He point them out to general notice, upon one of the most important occasions which ever does occur in
his own kingdom here below. In his Church, intending there should always be found two classes of individuals bearing the highest responsibility; in both cases, it seems, he must glance at the subject of Family Government, or Domestic order, subordination and harmony: as much as to signify to every succeeding age, that they are Christians but of inferior character indeed, who have not paid a due regard to this duty; and that though other qualifications might seem, at once, to suggest a man to observation, this was a negative which was to destroy all other positives. Having oncé suggested, and even cherished the desire of such an office" A bishop then," says the Almighty, “a bishop then must be one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection, with all gravity ; for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God ?” The deacons, too, it seems, must 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. Favours these, which are the highest ever bestowed on mortal man on this side the grave ;-favours, 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 are 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 shewn 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 profit. able 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 Fa. mily 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
be at no loss in answering such a man, if he is called to converse with him. The particular duty to which
he refers, say, for example, Family Worship, is comparatively of small account. His question itself, is in dicative 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 him