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Think of God. Remember with whom you have to do and what you have to do with him. Do not confine family worship to prayer. Include also reading the Scripture, and if possible singing the praises of God."
Be short. A few minutes of simple and affec tionate devotion is far better than eking out nearly half an hour, by doubling over the name of God, telling the Supreme Being what he is, and by vain repetitions.
AN ADDRESS TO MASTERS OF FAMILIES.
Be early. Do not leave it till the family are drowsy and stupid.—But here a case of conscience occurs, and such, alas! as the inconsistencies of the present day would render too common. "When should those of us have family worship, who attend pubic amusements; for instancethe theatre." I answer, by all means, have it before you go. When you return it will be late ; and you may not feel yourselves quite so well affected towards it. We have known professors who have always omitted it when they came home from the play-house. Besides, if you have it before, you can implore the Divine blessing; beseech God to be with you: and to assist you in redeeming time, in overcoming the world, in preparing for eternity.
Reader! you may imagine that the author has written this with a smile, but he has written it with shame and grief. He earnestly wishes that many would adopt family worship-but he is free to confess that there are some of whom he should be glad to hear that they had laid it aside.
RETURNING FROM A JOURNEY.
Thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin.Job v. 24.
IN the Scripture God hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence. There is a suitableness in it to every character, and to every situation in life. It cautions youth, and it sustains age; it soothes the poor, and it humbles the rich. It is equally useful whether we are in a state of solitude or society. It teaches us how to behave ourselves in every connexion we form, and in all the circumstances through which we pass. The words which I have read may be considered as a promise made to a good man with regard to his absence from home. When he goes a journey at the call of Providence, he may leave all his concerns with the Lord whom he serves; for he will sustain him, and suffer no evil to befall him, nor any plague to come nigh his dwelling.
The person to whom this promise is made is supposed to have a house. It is called a tabernacle, and it is so named in allusion to the houses
of the Easterns, which, especially in the days of Job, were principally tents or tabernacles to enable them to move the more easily from place to place, in feeding their flocks and herds. Abraham is commended for not building a fixed mansion, but reminding himself even by his external circumstances, that he was a stranger and a sojourner as were all his fathers, and that there is none abiding. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. And would it not be well for us to view our abode, however pleasing or durable it may appear, as only a temporary residence-a shelter of accommodation for a traveller? "Soon shall I be called to leave this dwelling-I am going the way of all the earth-soon shall I ascend these stairs for the last time, and in this bed, I shall soon close mine eyes to sleep, till the heavens be no more. .”—David, therefore, calls his palace the tabernacle of my house.
However plain the building may be, it is a mercy to have a house to live in., To be homeless is a condition the most pitiable. Let us think of Cain, expelled from the presence of the Lord, a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth. Let us think of those whose doom David does not implore, but foretell: Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg; let them seek bread also out of their desolate places. Let us think of those good men who wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. Of the apostles, who could say, we have no certain dwelling-place; and, above all, of our Lord and
Saviour, who, while foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, had not where to lay his head. Let us think of all this, and be thankful to the kindness of Providence for a tabernacle to which human skill has added so many conveniences and comforts. Hence springs the powerful idea of home, to which the wandering tribes in savage countries are strangers. We insensibly acquire a love to inanimate things, and derive no little pleasure even from local prejudices. Who can feel indifferent to a place where he received his birth-where he passed his days of infancy, and indulged in the diversions of youth-where his body has been so often refreshed with sleep, and screened from piercing cold and descending torrents, and where he has shared so many social joys, from conversation and books around the friendly fire, or in the adjoining garden!-Home has a thousand attractions.
But, dear as it is, we must sometimes leave it. In these cases, indeed, we should always remember the intimation of the wise man: As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place. Persons who have families and callings should not be too frequently nor too long from home; it will cherish a roving disposition, multiply expense, injure those affairs which require inspection, and produce a nameless train of evils. But sometimes journeys are necessary: business may call a man abroad; friends and relations may live at a distance; health may require a change of scene; and so of the rest. Now, when God calls us abroad, he will take care of us; and we may hope to find the old proverb true: "The path of duty is the path of safety."
Hence he is reminded of the welfare of his
house and family in his absence. Thou shalt know that thy tabernacle is in peace.
Peace means prosperity. Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord, that wolketh in his ways— for thou shalt eat of the labour of thy hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. The Lord can keep off disease: he can render business successful: he can afford every needful supply. What peace can there be while children are crying for food and there is none to give them? But fear the Lord, all ye saints; for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. Suppose they have not so much as others-Philip Henry tells us, that "the grace of God will make a little go a great way;" and David tells us, that a little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
Peace is harmony. There can be no happiness in a family among the members of which are found reserve, suspicions, bickerings, and contentions. Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. What is pomp without concord? what is abundance without union and attachment? Better is a dinner of herbs, where love is, than a stalled ox, and hatred therewith. Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices, with strife. It has been said, that quietness under a man's roof is only exceeded by one thing, viz. quietness in his conscience. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!where all move in concert, mutually attentive to serve and please, exchanging nothing but tender affections and kind offices.