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HEAD OF A FAMILY,
ON BEGINNING FAMILY WORSHIP.
MY DEAR FAMILY AND FRIends,
THE duty and importance of family prayer have determined me to begin this sacred service immediately, and to continue it regularly from this day, morning and evening.
All common excuses for neglecting it are wholly insufficient. To say that we have no time for such a duty is to suppose that all our time does not belong to God, and that our really profitable employment of it does not depend upon his blessing. All other employment of time may be expected to prosper as we openly acknowledge and honour him daily with a portion of that time which he has given us. To say that we are ashamed of owning God and his truth, before our fellow men, is to bring ourselves under the terrible sentence- "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of man
be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
There is far more danger of neglecting family prayer than in attending to it. We may possibly be sometimes inconvenienced in our employments, or we may possibly sometimes offend those whom we desire to oblige by family worship, but it is a far more serious evil, by not duly attending to the directions of God's holy word in that employment of time which affects our eternal interest, to offend our highest and best friend, even the Almighty, who can alone make any other friendship delightful or profitable to us. It is his declared and solemn purpose to pour out his displeasure upon the families that call not upon his name, (Jer. x. 25,) and let us be more afraid of that wrath than any other displeasure. It is also his gracious promise, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all other things shall be added unto us; and let us trust his promise.
The examples of God's faithful servants and the blessing of God which followed their conduct, furnish weighty and unanswerable reasons for this duty. Thus our God testified of Abraham: "I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." Gen. xviii. 19. Let us be followers of the faith of Abraham. Of Joshua, again, it is tes
tified that he said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua xxiv. 15. Let this, by God's grace, be our purpose also.
We find, both in the Old and the New Testament, that the devoted servants of God were men who honoured and worshipped God in their own dwelling.
We are brought together in God's providence as a family, not merely for our worldly comfort and in order to provide for each other the comforts, and conveniences, and advantages of this life. We are brought together in the grace and loving-kindness of God, that we may be helpful to each other in higher and better interests; that we may be trained and educated in one family below, to fulfil the duties of this life towards all our fellow-creatures, and to be made meet to share in the privileges and joys of the great family of God, to be gathered together in his heavenly kingdom,
Created by one Almighty Father, redeemed by the blood of one Lord, Jesus Christ, having all the promise of one Teacher, the Holy Ghost, and the hope of one eternal home; altogether dependent, as we all are, for life and breath, salvation and eternal glory on the grace and goodness of the living and the true God, how right, and meet, and just it is that we should daily together praise his name and implore his favour and blessing!
I trust therefore that nothing but absolute necessity will hinder us, from this time forward, from re
gularly assembling together, morning and evening, for the purpose of reading the Scriptures and uniting in family worship, and, if practicable, singing together the praises of our great God and Saviour.
Only let us take care that we come together, into the immediate presence of our God in family prayer, with seriousness and earnestness, with humility and reverence, looking to God himself to give us that spirit of grace and supplication without which our prayers will become a mere form and a solemn mockery, but with which we shall be strengthened and established, comforted and refreshed in the way to our heavenly home.
It is the gracious promise of our Redeemer that where two or three are met together in his name, there he will be in the midst of them, and that what two of his disciples agree on earth touching any thing to ask of God, he will do it for them. Let us, having full confidence in the faithfulness of these gracious promises, meet in his name. Let us not doubt but that he himself will be, though invisibly, yet really in the midst of us. Let us be sure that no true prayer made in his name shall be made in vain, or fail of obtaining for us that mercy, and grace, and blessing which we need for our present and eternal good.
We have also the gracious assurance of the word of God that Christ has entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, and
that he there ever lives to make intercession for us, and to offer up the prayers of his people. We have also the faithful promise of God that his Spirit helps our infirmities, and when we know not what to pray for as we ought, he makes intercession for the saints, according to the will of God.
I entreat, then, your assistance, my dear family, that this may not be the service of one, but of all; not the prayer of one leading the devotions, but the prayer of all, offering one united desire of the heart in the sight of Him who is a Spirit, and requires that we worship him in spirit and in truth. Let us draw near to God with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. May we thus become more and more united to Christ our living Head, and then to each other in him, more and more helpful to each other, and so preparing for fuller and higher joy in his presence through eternity.
Read Psalm 1, or 101, or 127. Read or sing a hymn.*
A FIRST FAMILY PRAYER.
Almighty and most merciful Father, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who hast graciously promised that thou wilt be the God of all the families of Israel and they shall be thy people, behold we
I See Family Hymns in the Author's Christian Psalmody.