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of the guilt and depravity of human nature, and not endeavour to awaken a conviction thereof in their consciences ? Can I see clearly my own need of such a Saviour as Christ, and not hold him up to their view, in every light that may attract their hearts and affections to him? Can I be persuaded of the infinite pleasure which the experience and practice of religion afford, and not from the bottom of my soul wish that they may largely participate of that divine pleasure ? Can 1, in fine, believe there is such a place as heaven, and not long, and pray, and use my utmost endeavours, to bring my children, friends, and servants thither alfo? O!' no. Religion is not a mere speculation : it is an operative principle, and these fruits of it are a noble evidence of its existence and prevalence in our hearts.
3. The regular maintenance of family worship, is the next duty to be considered.
We shall not here enter particularly into our obli. gations to this duty-that will be attempted hereaf. ter * : but only, following the line we have already pursued, describe it, and thew the influence of religion to qualify us for the right discharge of it. By Family Worship, we mean the affembling our child. ren and servants together, at convenient feasons, for the purpose of reading the scriptures, and offering prayer and praise to God. The master of every family ought to be king and priest in his own house. It is his province to determine the proper time for these folemn and pleasing exercises, and the manner in which they should be conducted. The several members of this little community being gathered together, a por. tion of scripture should be distinctly read ; this. fol. lowed, if the situation and circumstances of the family will admit, with a song of praise to God; and then the master, or some other person properly qualified, should devoutly present the fupplications of the whole house to Heaven.
: * Difc. IIT.
Certain prudential rules it may not be improper here to lay down, submitting them to the judgment and piety of those who preside in families. The morning and the evening seem each a fit feason for this social exercise. That time, however, should be chosen which may best conduce to the right discharge of the duty: not a late hour of the morning, for that* will clash with the hurries of business; nor a late hour at night, for that will indiípose persons to serious attention. The service, for obvious reasons, should not be protracted to an undue length : the whole may perhaps be comprehended within about a quarter of an hour.--Every one in the house should consider it as his duty to attend.-- The scriptures should be read in regular order, that so their connection may be understood, and the whole in a course of time gone through.- A particular attention should be paid to the circumstances of the family in the prayers address fed to God.-And as variety and brevity should be aimed at, to prevent tediousness, fo formality should be carefully guarded against, that being an evil which 100 often attends the frequent returns of these perio. dical exercises.
Family worship, thus conducted, with a due regard to the important ends of it, muft, I think, strike eyery good man as a most reasonable and pleasing service. The scriptures authorise it, and many intimations oc
cur therein to direct us in some of the circumstances thạt relate to it. But these I forbear to mention here, as also to combat the discouragements some pious minds labour under respecting the right discharge of tliis duty; it being our intention more particularly to consider these matters in the next discourse. How strange, this duty should be neglected! Yet so it is in too many families. And in most instances, to what is the total neglect of it owing but a want of religion? Nor is it indeed to be wondered, that they who have no sense of their dependence on divine Providence, and no taste for the exalted pleasures of devotion, fhould account a service returning fo frequently upon them, tedious and unprofitable.
But it is to those masters of families who have re. ligion at heart, that we mean here to address ourfelves. You, Sirs, feel your obligations to him that made you, preserves you, and saves you. It was his providence that led you into this social connection, gave you the partner of your cares and joys, and blesfed you with the hopeful offspring, which, like olive plants, surround your table. He pitched your tent for you;. he commanded you to erect an altar to him. And can you find it in your hearts to refuse obedience to his command ? or to decline a service in which you have already found your account? Think how great the pleasure the good man sometimes feels, whilft officiating at the head of his family in this little temple confecrated to Heaven! Recollecting the many undeserved favours he has received, how grate. fully does he acknowledge them! Calling to mind his own and their fins, how penitently does he confess them! Feeling the most anxious concern for their
best interests, how earnestly does he request not only temporal but spiritual bleflings! Viewing the blessed God in the character of an indulgent parent, how pasfionately does he commend them to his protection and love! And, amidst the various vicillitudes of life, trusting under the shadow of his wings, with what exultation of heart does he sometimes cry out, “O “ God, how excellent is thy loving-kindness * !"
Can such a scene as this be contemplated, and any heart among us, in which parental affection and genuine piety are united, remain indisposed to this duty? Be perfuaded then, O! be persuaded, Sirs, to fall in with the dictates of conscience, and the command of the blessed God. Say with Joshua, A's for me and my boufe we will serve the Lord. In this little congregation the great God will not disdain to dwell. “ He loves the gates of Zion, and he loves the dwel“lings of Jacob toot." Who knows but divine life may be communicated, as well as cherished and maintained, within your consecrated walls? Who knows but it may be faid of this and that child, of this and that servant, and of this and that friend who sojourns with you-faid of him in the noblent sense of the expression_“ He was born there I ?”
4. The next duty to be considered, is the obliging our families to attend regularly on the public worship of God.
By Public Worship we mean the offering homage to God in a larger circle than that of our own famiJies. Many families are to affemble together, at stated feasons, in one place, for this purpose. This prac. tice, under various forms, hath obtained from the be
ginning * Pl. xxxvi. %. Pf. lxxxvii. 2. Ibid. ver. 6.
ginning over almost all the earth. It is the dictate of pature, and the express appointment of scripture. The service required under the Mofaic dispensation confift. ed of numerous rites, which are now most of them abolished. Under the present, all that is expected of us in this social connection is, that we present our joint prayers and praises to God; that some one, duly qualified for the important office, explain and enforce the great truths and duties of religion to us; and that those who truly fear God profess their faith in Chrift, and their love to him, by the celebration of the two institutions of baptism and the Lord's supper.
Now, as every pious man will feel himself obliged to pay a due regard to public worship, so they who have families must be sensible it is their duty to ob. lige their children and servants to attend regularly upon it. At an early hour the master of a house, at the head of those under his care, should appear in his proper place. The affairs of his fainily should be so adjusted, as that not one member of it, except necesfity require, be absent. A passion for novelty, which may induce any of them to wander about to various places of worship, should be checked. His eye should properly watch their demeanour during divine service, that it be serious and attentive. At the close of the two stated services, the whole family should retire to their own home. Visits, except where offices of mer. cy are required, should be interdicted, and all social intercourses for the purpose of mere amusement avoided. Opportunity should be given every one to recollect seriously by himself what he has been about. And a suitable exercise in the evening, wherein the younger part of the family may have an opportunity