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no time to prepare for eternity! A heart to pray is wanting more than time to pray. They, who wish and desire this service, will find time to perform it. There is no well regulated family, which cannot be called together, for half an hour, before the business and pleasures of the day commence, and after they close, to address, in prayer, the Author of their being and blessings.
Inability to perform family worship is sometimes alledged as a reason for not attending to it. In obviating this objection, let it be remarked, that if the heart be rightly disposed, a person does not need any uncommon ability to discharge the duties of family worship, in a decent and edifying manner. The heart of a good man will teach his mouth wisdom, and add knowledge to his lips, and, out of the fulness of his heart, his mouth will speak. And if it speak naturally, and, in the main, properly, it is enough. The plainest and simplest language, addressed to the Majesty of heaven, appears far preferable to laboured, pompous, and artificial expressions. If a man really wants and desires, he can make his wants and desires known. The famishing can ask for food. The beggar can plead with importunity and fervour. The criminal, under sentence of death, is eloquent for life. The Publican's prayer, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” uttered by a humble soul, will avail more, than an hour's elegant speech of one, like the boasting Pharisee.
Besides, if necessary, much assistance may be derived from the Bible, that inexhaustable storehouse of the richest materials for prayer. Here may be found the most proper sentiments, and the most expressive language on this subject. The Psalms of David, the Prophecies of Isaiah and the Gospels and Epistles should be particularly consulted. Help may be obtained, too, from books, of devotion, containing a great variety of excellent forms of prayer,
written for families as well as for private persons.* If a person will, in this way, covet earnestly the best gifts, he will be enabled, to good acceptance, to lead in family devotions. By resolution and perseverance, hundreds have overcome their embarrassments.
Other reasons have been offered for the neglect of family worship; but they are so frivolous, that they deserve neither to be named, nor answered. They are mere excuses, rather than reasons, and arise from disinclination of heart to the duty. Persons of reflection, candour, and ardent piety will never make them.
In conclusion, let me appeal directly to those of you, who are heads of families. How do you feel, and how will you act in consideration of the vastly important object of Family Religion? Will you not suffer your houses to be temples of the living God, and, from the family altar, grateful incense to ascend to heaven, morning and evening? Will you not commence and close the day with the most excellent, and noble, and pleasurable, and heavenly services of family worship? Or will you expose yourselves to the alarming denunciation, and everlasting displeasure of the Most High? O! be entreated by the authority of the great God, the comfort and salvation of your own souls, and of those committed to your care, and by the best interests of religion, to adopt the pious resolution of Joshua, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Morning and evening, read the Word of God, instruct your households in the great principles of Christianity, and offer unto your Father in Heaven prayer and praise. In this entreaty, I plead for the *“Extemporary prayer,” says Dr. Scott,“is far better for domestic worship, than any forms can be, both as admitting of adaptation to the vary. ing circumstances of families, and cases of friends and relatives to be remembered in our prayers; and also as giving scope to more enlargement in intercession, according to occurring events, for all sorts and conditions of men.” But the practice of reading prayers in family worship is to be commended where this important duty would otherwise be neglected.
happiness of the present and future generations;-) plead for the prosperity of Zion and the world. Let these weighty motives constrain you to discharge this delightful, this profitable, this imperious duty. Happy, thrice happy the family! where God's Word is read, where suitable instructions are given, and where prayer and praise are wont to be offered. God loveth, and will bless the dwellings of Jacob. AMEN,
ASSISTANT TO FAMILY RELIGION.
A SYSTEM OF NATURAL AND REVEALED RELIGION, IN THE FORM OF QUESTION AND ANSWER, ACCOM PANIED WITH SCRIPTURE PROOFS, IN THIRTY-TWO CHAPTERS.
The existence and character of God, and the condition and duties of man, as manifested by the light of nature. *
Question 1. How does it appear, that there is
Answer. From our own existence and what is seen existing around us. (*)
(a) Ps. 19. 1–3. The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Rom. 1. 19, 20. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in (among) them, for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.
* By the light of nature is meant the instruction respecting, doctrine and duty, which may be obtained by the right use of man's rational and moral faculties in considering the being and perfections of
Q. 2. How do these things prove the being of God?
A. By their very existence, and by the design discoverable in them.
1. By their very existence. The visible universe is ever changing, and is, therefore, not eternal; for that, which is eternal, is self-existent, and that, which is self-existent, admits of no change in kind or degree. All things, then, which are seen, began to exist. Consequently, they either created themselves, came into existence by chance, or were created by some other being. But, self-creation is a contradiction; for it supposes, that a being can act before it exists, or, that an effect is the cause of itself. Creation, by chance, is absurd; for to say, that a thing is produced, and yet, that there is no cause of its production, is to say, that something is effected, when it is effected by nothing, that is, not effected at all. All things, then, that do appear, must have been created by some other being, for there is no other possible supposition. And the being, who created all these things, is God.
2. The design, discoverable in the constitution, regularity, harmony, and government of the visible universe, proves the being of God. Design implies a designer, and this designer must exist before the things designed. Consequently, the design, manifest in all things existing around us, proves a designer, and this designer must have been God; for no being but God could have formed this design.
Q. 3. Is there any other evidence of the being of God from the light of nature?
A. There is. The impression upon the minds of men generally, that there is a Supreme Being, and the harmonious belief of all nations, whether
God, and the relation He sustains to the human race, and they sustain to Him, and to themselves, and to one another, as manifested by the works, of creation and providence;-or the knowledge of doctrine and duty, which may be acquired in all ways other than the Bible.