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whose favour their temporal and everlasting happiness depends. Erect an altar, Sirs, to God urder the tent he has pitched. Dare rot adopt any worldly schemes, or enter into any domestic connection, without first consulting him. Having him for your friend, all will be well : his arm will protect you from every danger, and his hand pour upon you every needful good thing.
2. How great is the condescension and goodness of the ever-blessed God, in deigning to dwell under our humble roofs !
Will he indeed, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, take up his abode with men. What heart among us but glows with gratitude and love at these joyful tidings ! Let.us, my brethren, at the head of our several families, in a transport of devout affection, welcome this kind and generous guest into our houses. “ Lift up your heads, O ye gates, even lift them up, " ye everlasting doors of the heart, and the King of “ Glory shall come in*.” Let us give him the enter. tainment he demands, even that of cordial love and unreserved obedience. Let us present him the facrifices he requires, even those of daily prayer and praise; remembering what he himself hath graciously said, “ Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me: and to him: " that ordereth his conversation aright, will I thew " the salvation of God t." And let us tremble at: the thought of so demeaning ourselves in the habita. tions he has thus honoured, as ever to provoke him : to depart thence. .
3. and lastly, If the presence of God with his peo. ple here renders their dwellings so light, secure, and
happy:: * Psal. xxiv. 9. , , + Pfal. I. 23.
happy; how glorious must that house be which he has prepared for their reception above!
It has often been observed that an habitation wherein virtue, friendship, and piety reign, is a lively em, blem of the heavenly state. But the latter infinitely
excels the former. That house on earth which is most devoted to God, has yet more or less of imper. fection, forrow, and fin in it. But these evils are held at an eternal distance from those bright manfions, in which our heavenly Father resides above. There, in due time, his whole family whom he hath redeemed with the blood of his Son, will be assembled together. The most perfect knowledge, purity, and love, shall prevail among them. His presence, without an intervening cloud, shall gladden all their hearts. And, in the character of kings and priests, they shall be employed in acts of the most exalted and rapturous devotion, to him that fits on the throne, and to the Lamb, for evermore.
Rom. xvi. 5.
W E have laid before you, in the former dif
V course, the duties of Family religion in gene. ral; that of Family worship merits a more particular discussion. To this purpose we have chosen the words just read, as the mode of language the apostle here uses will very naturally lead us into a pleasing view of this subject.
Indeed it is not absolutely certain that the little alsembly here fpoken of, is to be understood restrictively of the family of Priscilla and Aquila, as possibly other persons might occasionally meet with them in their house for religious worship. But that the a whole Christian church at Rome are intended is unlikely: and it is the more fo, as a great number of persons are mentioned in the following verses who belonged to other households. And it is remarkable, that in an epistle written from Ephesus to Corinth, the
apostle, having addressed the salutations of these fame persons, (who happened at that time to be at Ephesus) and of the church in their house, he immediately adds, “ All the brethren greet you *.” From whence it should seem natural to conclude, that the family (or church in the house) of Aquila and Priscilla, and the church of Ephesus, are clearly distinguishable from each other t. But I do not mean to lay the stress of the argument respecting our obligations to family worship on the words of the text, or on passages of a similar nature. Other evidence we have to adduce. Yet, as the text will admit of the sense we have given it, we may be allowed to accommodate it to the purpose we have in view [.
* 1 Cor. xvi. 19, 20. + That the first epistle to the Corinthians was written, not from Philippi, (as is said in the note added to the epistle in our Bibles) but from Ephesus, Dr Whitby has, I think, clearly shewn in the preface to his commentary on that epistle.
I Wolfius, in his curæ philologicæ, observes on this paffage, “ Sunt qui exiftimant, per Ecclesiam, quæ ad domum hujus vel illius effe dicitur, intelligi tantum familiam domefticam numerofiorem. Theophylactus : 8Tw nocy 8T06 Evdoxifeos, W5E TOV OLLON αυτων παντα ποιησαι πισες: τετες γαρ εκκλησιας ωνομασε. Similiter alii patres apud Suicerum, Tomo I. Theusari, p. 1051. Vitringa tamen hic intelligere mavult fideles, qui ad ædes mem. bri Ecclefiæ nobilioris foliti fint congregari. Hæc enim expofitio maxime fatisficere videtur fignificationi receptæ vocis Exxhnocu ficut præterea conftat, primos fideles in ædibus privatorum Ecclefiæ membrorum conventus fuos agere confuevisse. Ita Act ii. 46. cap. v. 42. Cumque privati unius ædes non caperent tantam hominum multitudinem, quanta Ecclesiam Hierofolymitanam constituebat, non potuit non fieri quin plures ad hoc inftitutum destinarentur.” But Dr Whitby seems clearly of opinion, that where a whole family was converted to the Christian faith, such family was called a church. See his notes on the text, and on i Cor. xvi. 19
· Aquila and Priscilla, to 'whose family we consider the falultation in our text directed, were originally Jews, born in Pontus, and by occupation tent-makers.
It is very probable, from several circumstances, which ' we shall not mention, that they were people of consi
derable wealth. Where, and by what means, they were converted to the Christian faith; we are not toid. But it is evident, from the reception the apoftle me: with in their house at Corinth, and Apollos afterwards at Ephesus, from the attention they paid to the latter, “ whom,” it is said, “ they took unto them, and ex“ pounded unto him the way of God more perfect" ly *," and particularly from the honourable mention made of them in this context, and in the Corina thians, that they were persons of diftinguished charac-. ters for knowledge, benevolence, and piety. The aa postle tells us, in the verses preceding the text, that "they were his helpers in Christ Jesus ; that they “ had for his life laid down their own necks; and “ that to them, not only he gave thanks, but alfo all “the churches of the Gentiles.” What led them first to Rome is not certain ; ' but it seems they left that place, upon the ediêt published by the Emperor Claudius for banishing the Jews from that city, and came to Corinth, a city of Greece t. From thence they removed to Ephesus, where they refided when the apostle writ' his first epistle to the Corinthians, in which he transmits their salutations to that church, describing their family by the fame terms as in our text. And afterwards they returned to Rome, for at that place it seems they were when the apostle sent this e
piftle Acts xviii. 26.
# Ibid. ver. I, 2.