« VorigeDoorgaan »
and worthy of so serious notice, ought to be introduced into our family worship.
In most families, there are some, whose minds are tender, and whose capacities are but small: He therefore who speaks in prayer, should utter with the tongue things easy to be understood; and while he prays in the spirit, he should pray with the understanding also; else, How will they who occu Py the room of the unlearned, say, Amen, at his petitions and giving of thanks, seeing they understand not what he says?
6. In our daily worship, tediousness should be avoided.
For want of prudence in this matter, it is pos sible, some young persons, in religious families, have been led to disrelish religion, more than they would otherwise have done." Youthful minds cannot long be fixed in close attention, without pain and weariness. When the service becomes burden. some, it is no longer edifying. If family worship is customarily drawn out to undue length, the young, instead of attending on it with pleasure, will seek occasions to shun it. Our Saviour cautions us not to imitate those, who use vain repetitions, and think they shall be heard for their much speaking. In our closets, we may give full vent to the fervour of our own devotion: But in our family prayers, to which Christ's instructions especially relate, we should consult the devotion of our fellow worshippers. And the model, which he has given us, shews, that these should be compendious, plain and familiar.
7. Every master of a family should be careful, that the manner of his life correspond with his de yotions.
He should maintain the worship of God, not as a substitute for holiness of life, but as a mean of promoting it. And in this light he should teach his
children to regard it. If, while he is strict in his prayers, he is loose in his morals, or if, while he requires their attendance on the forms of devotion, he indulges them in the practice of iniquity, he represents religion as a self-contradiction, and teaches them to view it with utter contempt. When Jacob was about to erect an altar to God at Bethel, where God had ordered him to dwell, he said to his household, and to all who were with him, Put away the strange gods which are among you, and be clean, and change your garments, and let us arise, and go up to Bethel, and I will make there an altar unto God. The Apostle Peter urges husbands and wives to a virtuous behaviour in that relation, that their prayers be not hindered. He teaches them, that they cannot pray together to their own, and the family's edification, unless they live together, as heirs of the grace of life. David contented not himself with blessing his household, but resolved, that he would behave himself wisely in a perfect way
that he would walk within his house with a perfect heart and that he would not countenance in his family a wicked person.
I shall now close this discourse with two remarks. 1. Union between the heads of a family appears to be a matter of great importance.
The maintenance of social worship, and the transmission of religion, by a pious education of children, is evidently one end for which families are formed. Where prayer is hindered, one great design of the domestick relation is defeated. Social. worship can be acceptable only when it is offered. with humility, meekness and love. Fellow worshippers must be like minded one toward another,. lift up holy hands. without wrath, and forgive, if they have aught against one another, or against any man. Wrath, clamour and contention are palpably contrary to the spirit of prayer. If the heads of a family, who ought to be one spirit, as well as
one flesh, live in eternal brawls, wrangles and contradictions, What is their house but a Babel ?Amidst such a tumultuous scene, Can the members unite their hearts and voices in the daily worship of their Creator? Or, Will God regard their offering, or accept it with good will at their hands? God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. Let all things be done decently and in order.
2. If social worship, and the religious education of children, are duties incumbent on all heads of families, then there ought to be a knowledge of the nature, a belief of the principles, and a regard to the duties of religion, in all who enter into the married state. The ignorant, the unprincipled, the profane, when they unite to become the heads of a household, are often the guilty instruments of bringing forward a family for ruin. Let none think themselves qualified for so important a trust, until they have acquired such a knowledge of religion, and possess such a sense of its importance, as to be able and disposed to maintain those duties of piety, government and instruction, which are expressly enjoined on all who are placed in that station. What, then, you will ask, Are none but the godly allowed to marry? Know, my pert young friend, none who marry are allowed to be ungodly. Remember, religion is of importance to you now in your single capacity; and its importance will be vastly increased, when you become the head of a family; for then you will stand in a connexion with others, whose virtue and happiness will much depend on your conduct.
And you, my brethren, who have children growing up under your care, realize your obligation to bring them forward on the stage of life, furnished with such religious knowledge and sentiments, that when they, in their turn, shall become heads of famlies, they may transmit religion to another genera.
tion. For this purpose, you must maintain the worship of God in your houses, in the manner which has been recommended. Perhaps there are some who study evasions and excuses, and determine to continue in their neglect. But after all you can say, I dare appeal to your conscience, whether there is not such evidence of the indispensable obligation of this duty, as would be more than enough to satisfy you in any case, where your mind stood previously indifferent. I dare appeal to your conscience, whether you are restrained from praying in your family, by a persuasion that it is an unscriptural and unwarrantable practice; or by an apprehension that it will bring guilt on your soul, and misery on your family. I dare appeal to your conscience, whether your neglect of family worship is not owing more to a spirit of indifference, than to any real scruples in the matter. Bring the question home, for once, to your conscience, Whether you did not first omit it through disinclination, and then seek reasons to justify the omission? It was not a sense of duty that dictated the neglect; but previ ous neglect that suggested your evasions of the duty. However easy it may be, in the days of prosperity, to reconcile your minds to a prayerless life, yet in the day of family adversity, when your children are by death torn from your embraces, or when you feel yourselves under his arrest, the reflection on such a life will pierce you through and through. Encouraged by God's gracious promises in favour of the godly and their houses, and awed by the threatenings of his wrath against the families which call not on his name, adopt the resolution of the pious captain of Israel, As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord.
ROMANS xvi 3, 4, 5.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus; who for my sake have laid down their own necks; unto whóm not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Like wise greet the church that is in their house,
AQUILA, and his wife Priscilla, the
two persons whom Paul here salutes, are several times named in his epistles, and always mentioned with particular marks of friendship and esteem. His first acquaintance with them was at Corinth. It is said in the 18th chapter of the Acts, Paul came to Corinth, and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome. Aquila was by nàtion a Jew; the place of his birth was Pontus, a province in lesser Asia, where great numbers of Jews inhabited; and he had lately made his residence in Rome. But a company of thieves in Judea, having fallen on one Stephanas, a servant of the emperour, robbed his baggage, and slain the soldiers who guarded it, an edict was passed, requiring all Jews to leave that city. In conse