« PreviousContinue »
wealth. If a man be single, he is command- | What a dreadful look has this Scripture to ed to serve God as single; but no sooner is wards a wicked family! What a benign ashe placed over a family than he is required pect towards a righteous one! What a treto serve God as the master of a family: and mendous thing is "the curse of God:” and from the moment of his obtaining this new this does not hover over the building, does connexion he will be judged by the duties not look in at the window, does not stand at which belong to it. God has committed to the door—but is in the house,” spreading him a trust, and he expects him to be faithful through every apartment, and feeding like a to this trust. He has given him a talent, and worm upon all the possessions. You may he expects him to use this talent. In a word, see the appearance of pleasure, and as you he has made him a steward, and he will call draw nigh, you may “hear music and danchim to give an account of his stewardship. ing”—but there is no peace, saith my God, When, so to speak, the man has been tried, unto the wicked.” Magnificence may reign then comes forth to be judged the master of there; there may be rich furniture, and a the family ! Bring forth the law of the house table spread with dainties—but what are all -Have you walked by this rule? What these when the divine anger has said, “ Let have you done for me here ?—Nothing! Did their table be made a snare, a trap, and a I not assign you the government of a family: stumbling-block, and a recompense unto and to qualify you for this very purpose did I them?” And if this be the case with their not give you a peculiar authority and influ- good things—what will they do in the evil ence? How have you employed them ?- day? What can be expected under their Anticipate the proceedings of this awful day, disappointments and afflictions—but impaand “judge yourselves, that you may not be tience, and rage, and despair ? condemned with the world."
But he “ blesseth the habitation of the just;" The second is a relation of GRATITUDE. and his blessing with bread and water is a How numerous and pressing are your obli- good portion. "If they have but little, it is gations to his kindness and his care! He has sanctified. Their enjoyments are relished. crowned your wishes, and supplied all your Their trials are alleviated. Religion opens a wants. When you were a poor, solitary, in- refuge, when every other refuge fails, and significant individual, he raised you into con- applies a remedy to evils otherwise remedisequence, and multiplied you into a family. less. They have a God in trouble. His Behold “thy wife, like a fruitful vine, by the grace is still the same. His providence is sides of thy house; and thy children like making all things work together for their olive plants round about thy table.” Whose good. Their walls are continually before “secret has been upon thy tabernacle ?" him. The voice of rejoicing and of salvation Whose providence has “ blessed the labour is in the tabernacles of the righteous! This of thy hands?" Whose vigilance has suffer- brings us, ed " no evil to befall thee, nor any plague to II. To consider family religion IN REFERcome nigh thy dwelling ?” And will you ENCE TO YOURSELVES. basely refuse him the glory which is due unto And here, in the first place, you ought to his holy Name? Will you refuse to ho- be concerned for your spiritual welfare. You nour him in a family in which he has scatter- ought to value that which has a tendency to ed so many blessings ? Shall thy house, restrain you from sin, and to excite you to which should be the temple of his praise, be holiness." Now it is easy to see that the only the grave of his mercies?
practice we are recommending has such an The third is a relation of DEPENDENCE. For influence. Can he who is going to prayer can you dispense with God in your dwellings? with his family swear or be obscene? He Are not all your schemes, your exertions, and will be upon his guard, if it be only to prethe assistances you secure, “less than no- serve himself from the charge of hypocrisy. thing, and vanity," without his aid and his Another feels no such motive. He can inblessing ? " Except the Lord build the house, dulge himself in bad words, and vile tempers, they labour in vain that build it. Except the without incurring the reflection of inconLord keep the city, the watchman waketh sistency. And because he makes no pretenbut in vain.” “It is vain for you to rise up sions to virtue, he may imagine himself at early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sor- liberty to practise vice. rows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep." And upon this principle it is that many reThe wisest course therefore is to secure his fuse to make a profession of religion—to favour, who has all events under his control, come to the table of the Lord—and to adopt and " is able to do for us exceeding abundant-family worship. They reason properly enough ly above all we ask or think.” And is this that in consequence of this they must beto be done by irreligion ?
come more watchful and circumspect. But Observe his promises and his threatenings. what can we think of the principle? What can Or rather let us observe one of them. “ The we think of a man who fears to be restrained curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: from the commission of sin, and to be urged but he blesseth the habitation of the just.” I to the performance of duty ?
Such a practiee also will secure tranquillity of doors as soon as they were sick, and they of mind. The omission of this duty leaves a knew not where to lay their head-the world sting in the conscience, occasions many a would execrate you. If you were to suffer bitter reflection through life, and plants a your children to go naked, to beg their bread, dying pillow with thorns. When you see to perish with hunger in a ditch, or take your those who were placed under your care going little ones and dash them against the stones astray, becoming the victims of error and vice -you would be shunned as a monster. But and misery, it will not be easily in your you act a far more criminal, and a far more power to suppress the rising, or to soothe the infamous part, by disregarding their spiritual painful accusation—" Ah ! this might have and everlasting welfare. Doubtless Herod been prevented, had you discharged your after killing the infants in Bethlehem was duty. Does not their destruction lie at your viewed and shunned with horror-but he was door ?" But the man who has faithfully' dis- far less cruel than you. He only destroyed charged his obligations, feels an internal the body, you damn the soul. He only slew composure. If indeed his efforts be not crown- the children of others, but you murder your ed with success, he will lament; but this own! “If any provide not for his own, and grief differs very materially from that torture especially for those of his own house, he hath which springs from self-condemnation for a denied the faith, and is worse than an infitrust betrayed, for opportunities neglected, del.” And can you imagine you have done for exertions omitted. He has a satisfaction this, when you have endeavoured to answer under all his distress; and his rejoicing is the question, “ What shall they eat, and what this, the testimony of his conscience, that in shall they drink, and wherewithal shall they simplicity and godly sincerity, not by fleshly be clothed?” What is the body to the soul? wisdom, but by the grace of God, he has had What is time to eternity ? You may amass for his conversation with the world, and more them riches, you may leave them an estate; abundantly to them-ward.
but your house is the way to hell, going down But surely you are not indifferent to your to the chambers of death. temporal circumstances. You wish to have Under this article, let us observe more dispeace and order in your dwelling. You wish tinctly two things. to have your property secured, and your busi- The first is the importance of Religion to ness well performed. You wish to see fide the individuals under your care. Is it not lity, diligence, submission. You wish to be the one thing needful ?" Is it not “profithonoured and obeyed. But do men gather able to all things, having promise of the grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ? Surely life that now is, and of that which is to you cannot expect these things to be pro- come?". You cannot deny this. Can yon duced without principle; and what principle then be indifferent to the religion of your offcan so certainly and fully produce them as spring, without being indifferent to their wel. religion? What else can enforce them by fare? While you say by your practice, that sanctions and motives so awful, so binding, it is nothing to you whether they be pious or and which operate equally in all places and vicious—do you not at the same time, and in at all times; and thus secure the performance the most undeniable manner, declare that it of duty, when you are absent as well as pre- is nothing to you whether they be respectasent? By teaching them to regard God, you ble or infamous ? loved or abhorred of God? teach them to regard yourselves. Piety is saved or lost for ever? the firmest basis on which to build morality. And the second is this
the probability of To which we may add, that when religion is their becoming religious by your means fairly exemplified in character, there is a ma- Baxter gives it as his opinion, That if family jesty and a force in it: it surrounds the pos- religion was duly attended to, the public sessor with an awe that represses a thousand preaching of the word would not long be the impertinences, and extorts respect.“ Abra- common method of conversion. Without ham commanded his children and his house-adopting this sentiment in all its extent, we hold after him"-and what a son had he in may observe that there is certainly enough Isaac! what a servant in Eleazar !
to encourage the heads of families to exert III. Let us therefore consider this subject themselves, and to condemn them if they do IN REFERENCE TO YOUR FAMILY. The mem- not. If the crop be so valuable, who would bers which compose it are in reality parts of not sow, especially if he could “ sow in hope ?" yourselves: children are natural parts, and | And who knows not the force of early imservants are civil parts of yourselves. These pressions, and the strength of early habits ? have therefore peculiar claims upon you; and Who has not read, “ Train up a child in the what would people think of you were you to way that he should go, and when he is old avow that you had no regaril for them, and he will not depart from it?" In such famiwould do nothing that would advance their lies there has generally been a seed to serve welfare? If in the cold you denied your ser- the Lord. And this has appeared not only in vants warmth, if you gave them bad food, children; how often have servants had reason and short allowance; if you turned them out to say, “ Blessed be God that ever I entered that family. There were the eyes of my un- instruct and impress them, that we cannot derstanding opened. There were my feet help wondering how it was ever possible for turned into the way of peace.”
the former to be looked upon as a greater
test of piety than the latter !–God forbid that MASTERS and PARENTS! I have thus en- we should decry public worship, or the preachdeavoured to bring into a small compass the ing of the word: he has commanded us “not arguments for the worship of God in your fa- to forsake the assembling of ourselves togemilies. On a subject so frequently discussed, ther, as the manner of some is”—but that novelty was not to be expected; but I hope man is surely under a mistake, who thinks to that what has been said, will be found suffi- please God by incessantly running from one cient to convince your judgment, and deter- public opportunity to another, while he leaves mine your practice.
his children to run wild, to grow up in ignoI cannot conclude the Address without la- rance, and to profane the sabbath. menting that there is so little attention paid I have stated the case strongly. But where to Family Worship, in a country professedly this evil does not prevail in the extreme, it Christian, and in a period supposed to wit- operates in the degree; and I cannot help ness an increase of godly zeal. There is no sincerely wishing that the cause of the commore religion in the families of some who plaint could be removed. It is very desirapretend to believe the Scripture, than there ble that useful bodies of men should be renwould be if they were atheists. To see many dered more useful; and this in the case before attending so regularly and frequently the us could be easily done, if those who have the preaching of the Gospel, would lead to a con- lead would more strenuously inculcate the clusion, or at least a hope, that they were importance of family religion, and regulate the true worshippers of God; but when we the length and frequency of their public serfollow them home to their own dwellings, we vices accordingly. find them no better than heathens. Hea- There is another thing which, because it thens! forgive me this wrong-1 blaspheme has a relation to the subject before us, I notice. you by the comparison. You had your house- Of late years a considerable number of perhold gods, which you daily worshipped, and sons not in the ministry have been stimulated which nothing could induce you to resign- to go of a Saturday evening, or a Sunday I only ask you to be consistent. If you are morning into the towns and villages as occaIsraelites, be Israelites indeed!
sional preachers. The motive was laudable; It may be asked, whether we imagine that but it has also contributed to the effect we there is any peculiar deficiency with regard have deplored. Families are thus frequently to family devotion in our day?' And to this bereaved of their head on the sabbath; and we readily answer, we are persuaded there who knows not that the sabbath is the prinis; and it appears both in the frequent neg- cipal day in which men of business can be lect, and the superficial performance of it, much in a religious sense with their families? especially contrasted with the commonness I hardly know how to censure this; I do not of profession, and the frequency of public or- in every instance. But it may be well to ask, dinances. We wish to speak freely, but whether God ever calls us to a course which without meaning to give offence. It is easy requires us to neglect or violate those duties to see in the lives of our good old forefathers, which he has enjoined in his word ? In a what a value they set upon the morning and general way, the ministry requires a man's evening worship of God in their houses. whole attention. And when Providence With them it was an object, and an object has furnished the means of a respectable of first rate importance: they entered upon introduction to the office by institutions for it with seriousness and preparation; they ar- improvement, it is a duty to avail ourselves ranged their worldly business, and their of them. household affairs, in a subserviency to it; But to return. Let me beseech masters of public worship did not exclude it, or drive it families with all imaginable importunity not up into a corner. But of late years an undue to think this practice a matter of indifference, stress has been laid on public exercises; and which they are at liberty to perform or negopportunities of hearing have been so multi- lect. It is a duty. It is a duty of unspeakaplied, as to produce a kind of religious dissi- ble importance. Do not therefore put it off pation, so that persons of a religious character, longer. Begin this very evening, and before as well as persons of a worldly, are seldom you lie down in your beds honour God in at home; there is some entertainment every your families. evening in the week, and every hour of the But we have not time!" What time sabbath. And hence there is very little in- does it require? Out of four and twenty clination or time for family duty. It is so hours cannot you furnish a few moments for much easier to go and lounge in a place of God, or rather for yourselves ? Would you worship, and hear some new performer, than think that time lost which is best employed ? to retire into the closet to examine the heart, “ There is nothing got by stealing, or lost by and call together a family, and endeavour to I praying.” Surely, if you have no time at
present, you could redeem a little by order, variation. Think of God. Remember with by economy, by diligence. To every thing whom you have to do, and what you have to there is a season, and a time to every pur- do with him. pose under the heavens.
Do not confine family worship to prayer. “ But I have not the capacity!" Have you Include also reading the Scripture, and if ever fairly made the trial? Would not your possible sing the praises of God. ability increase by exercise? Is it not a Be short. A few minutes of simple and want of inclination, rather than of power! affectionate devotion is far better than eking " Where there is a will there is a way." out nearly half an hour by doubling over the And this would be the case here; for you name of God, telling the Supreme Being would find that if incapable of leading the what he is, and by vain repetitions. devotion of the family extemporaneously, you Be early. Do not leave it till the family could furnish yourselves with excellent forms. are drowsy and stupid.—But here a case of And it is to be lamented that prejudice should conscience occurs, and such, alas! as the inever preclude the use of them when it is consistencies of the present day would render needful.
“When should those of us have “ But I have neglected it so long, that I family worship, who attend public amuseam ashamed to begin!" You ought to be ments; for instance—the theatre ?" I answer, ashamed of sin, but not of duty. You ought by all means have it before you go! When to be ashamed that you have lived so long you return it will be late; and you may not without it; but you ought not to be ashamed feel yourselves quite so well affected towards that you are wiser and better than you once it. We have known professors who have alwere. Again. You say, “If”- -But I ways omitted it when they came home from will answer no more of your objections. They the playhouse ! Besides, if you have it beare only excuses: and you know-yes, you fore, you can implore the divine blessing know—that they do not satisfy your own upon it; and beseech God to assist you in reconsciences now, and will avail you nothing deeming time, in overcoming the world, in in the great and terrible day of the Lord. preparing for eternity !!
But some of you live in the habit of family Reader! You may imagine that the Auworship. It will not therefore be amiss to thor has written this with a smile! but he has conclude with a few words by way of direc- written it with shame and grief. He earnestly tion.
wishes that many would adopt Family WorBe spiritual in the performance. There is ship. But he is free to confess that there are great danger of formality, where things cus- some of whom he should be glad to hear that tomarily return, and with little possibility of they had laid it aside.
pleasing and durable it may appear, as only a temporary residence-a shelter of accommo
dation for a traveller? “Soon shall I be RETURNING FROM A JOURNEY. called to leave this dwelling-I am going the Thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in these stairs for the last time, and in this bed
way of all the earth-Soon shall I ascend peace; and thou shait visit thy habitation, I shall soon close mine eyes to sleep till the and shalt not sin.-Job v. 24.
heavens be no more,”—David therefore calls In the Scripture, “God hath abounded to his palace the tabernacle of his house. wards us in all wisdom and prudence.” There However plain the building may be, it is a is a suitableness in it to every character, and mercy to have a house to live in. To be to every situation in life. It cautions youth, homeless, is a condition the most pitiable. and it sustains age. It soothes the poor, and Let us think of Cain, expelled from the preit humbles the rich. It is equally useful, sence of the Lord, “a fugitive and a vagabond whether we are in a state of solitude or so- in the earth.” Let us think of those whose ciety. It teaches us how to behave ourselves doom David does not implore, but foretell; in every connexion we form, and in all the “ Let his children be continually vagabonds circumstances through which we pass. and beg; let them seek bread also out of their
The words which I have read may be con- desolate places." Let us think of those sidered as a promise made to a good man- good men who “wandered in deserts and in WITH REGARD TO HIS ABSENCE FROM HOME. mountains, and in dens and caves of the When he goes a journey, at the call of Provi- earth”—of the apostles, who could say, dence, he may leave all his concerns with the have no certain dwelling-place;" and above Lord whom he serves, for he will guide his all of our Lord and Saviour, who, "while steps, and suffer no evil to befall him, nor foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had any plague to come nigh his dwelling. nests, had not where to lay his head.” Let
The person to whom this promise is made us think of all this, and be thankful to the is supposed to have A HOUSE. It is called a kindness of Providence for a tabernacle to tabernacle: and it is so named in allusion to which human skill has added so many convethe houses of the Easterns, which, especially niences and comforts. Hence springs the in the days of Job, were principally tents or powerful idea of home, to which the wandertabernacles, to enable them to move the more ing tribes in savage countries are strangers. easily from place to place, in feeding their We insensibly acquire a love to inanimate flocks and herds. Abraham is commended things, and derive no little pleasure even for not building a fixed mansion, but remind- from local prejudices. Who can feel indiffering himself, even by his external circumstan- ent to a place where he received his birthces, that he was a stranger and a sojourner, where he passed his days of infancy, and inas were all his fathers, and that there is none dulged in the diversions of youth-where his abiding—“ By faith he sojourned in the land body has been so often refreshed with sleep, of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling and screened from piercing cold and descendin tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs ing torrents—and where he has shared so with him of the same promise: for he looked many social joys, from conversation and books for a city which hath foundations, whose around the friendly fire, or in the adjoining builder and maker is God.” And would it garden !—Home has a thousand attractions. not be well for us to view our abode, however But, dear as it is, we must sometimes С 2*