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READ THE SCRIPTURES; a portion from one Testainent in the morning, and from the other in the evening. Both the Old and the New Testament are thus constantly brought before your families. If you pursue a regular course, going through one book before you begin another, your lessons will be always found for you. Those who have the talent of explaining the Scriptures in an impressive and lively way to their families, (and this talent will increase as it is used) will be able to give much additional interest by a few short observations or what has been read. Those who have not this talent
find excellent Helps for this purpose; as the Practical Observations in Scott's Bible, in Doddridge's Exposition of the New Testament, or Selections from M. Henry. Only in all take care to be brief, practical, familiar, and serious. Any thing lon
Any thing long, or critical, is out of place and tedious. Let each member of the family bring their Bible. Some have found that it helps to keep alive their attention to refer them occasionally to parallel passages, one of the family reading the passage.* The reading of the Scriptures daily in family worship is a plain and positive duty. How can you otherwise fulfil the express directions of the Scriptures themselves. Deut. vi, 7.
Occasionally sing A PSALM have time, and your family can join together in singing, this adds much to the cheerfulness of family devotion. " Psalmody," says Dr. IIammond, “made up a very
* Some have found it an excellent practice; and it is one which is recommended to pious masters and mistresses, to take some time in the course of the gabbatb, or any other fixed time that may be more convenient, to converse apart with each member of the family on the state of their mind, giving them suitable advice. This has been alleoded with the happiest effects. It discovers the true state of your family, -enables you better to pray for tbem, and with them, and gives you many happy opportunities of arousing the careless, strengthening the woak, encouraging ibe desponding, and confirming ibe strong.
great part of the Christian devotion, both in the publie assembly, and more privately in the family, and in their retirements in the closet.” When our Lord had instructed his family, the twelve Apostles, he sung a hymn with them, (Matt. xxvi 30.) and then prayed with them. John xvii. This great example may encourage us to go and do likewise. St. Paul says, “ Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in Psalms, and Hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord," Eph. v, 19; see also Col. iii, 16. Anticipate thus, on earth, the songs of the blessed above, learn here below the employments of heaven, and fulfil the promise, “ the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion, with songs, and everlasting joy upon
their heads.” Isa, xxxv, 10. CONCLUDE WITH PRAYER. To some, God has evidently given the spirit of grace and supplication, so that they can, after some practice and experience, pour out with ease and fluency the continued and refreshing stream of holy feelings and ardent devotion. This gift is bestowed on them for the benefit of others, and they ought freely to use it. It is also a gift which may be more generally attained, than is commonly supposed. Many pious poor, without human learning, possess it in a great degree. Let others use good forms. Happy are the families that have devout and heavenly-minded masters or parents, who pray for them in private, and edify them by praying with them!
The Lord's prayer seems particularly appropriate as a family prayer; and while comprehending the case and circumstances of the Universal Church, it still has a reference to that Church, under the idea of a family,“ a whole family," one in heart and mind, bowever sepa. rated or dispersed in person.
After those directions which have been given respecting private, the less need be said on family prayer.
Respecting the PROPER SUBJECTS to be mentioned, there are some things which may, with great propriety and interest, be brought before the family altar.
Any particular circumstances which have occurred should be mentioned. Is any member of the family unwell? the prayer of faith may save the sick. Is any allicted ? call upon God in the time of trouble, and he will deliver him. Has any member left your family for a season? by praying for him, though absent in body, you will be present in spirit serving the Lord.- Are any changes about to take place, any scheme to be effected, in which the family are interested, any one about to join or to leave the household -are any special means of grace, confirmation, baptism, or the Lord's supper before you ? these things may properly be mentioned, and their due improvement be requested of God in family prayer.
Much of the substance of the Scriptures which you have read, may generally be advantageously turned into prayer. This, while it gains the blessing and averts the evil about which you pray, will also impress the passages of Scripture more deeply in the mind and on the heart, and will prevent sameness and repetition of expression.
These local circumstances induce the writer to think that extempore prayer is often more suitable and affecting for a family, than a form of prayer.* Nor is the objection that those who pray with you, do not know what is coming, and therefore cannot join you, a really solid one. Experience confirms the remark of Bishop Wilkins, “that as a man may in his judgment assent unto any divine truth delivered in a sermon which he never heard before, so may he join in his affections unto any holy des
* The writer is far from desiring to press this upon all. He koows several good and judicious men who use forms. It is utterly wrong in any to think worse of those who do so, and to con. sider tbem on that account as deficient in the gift of prayer.
Do not such rather prove their own deficiency? for ibe true gift of prayer will be followed by charity, tenderness, and bumility.
which he never before heard.” But to sum up the heads of family prayer in a few words, attend to these four things.
FAMILY SINS. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another. James v, 17. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James iv, 10. This habitual, periodical, and mutual confession, morning and evening, of your mutual infirmities, your pride, your selfishness, your impatience, and your sinfulness, will have a great tendency also to soften down what is harsh and forbidding, and to unite you together.
FAMILY WANTS, whether spiritual or temporal. Here is a large scope for daily prayer. And here you may pray that each may fulfil their relative duties as father and mother, husband and wife, master and mistress, inmate, servant, and child; and that all may apply themselves faithfully, constantly, and diligently, in their respective situations, to the work which God, has given them to do; that they may exhibit the truth of David's saying, “ Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."
Family Friends. The parents, brothers, sisters, relatives, and friends of those assembled together, and the minister by whom they are instructed, should not be forgotten. Your immediate neighbourhood, the town in which you dwell, the nation to which you belong, all in authority, and specially the cause and Church of Christ throughout the world, the Jews and the benighted Gentiles, should all have place in your prayers.
FAMILY MERCIES. In the morning, after having been kept in safety through the defenceless hours of night, free from fire, accidents, or disturbance: in the evening, when the wants of the family for the day have all been supplied, it is surely right, and almost natural for you, to unite in acknowledging God's mercies. That you have bread enough and to spare, that you have light, life, liberty, health, and strength, call for your united praise. But above all, the common salvation, (Jude 3,) offered to you all; the common faith, (Titus i, 4.) which you all profess to receive; the union in Christ Jesus “ One body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one I.ord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all:” (Eph. iv, 4-6.) all these things bestowed on Christians, through the inestimable love of God in Christ Jesus, require you to offer united sacrifices of thanksgiving.
GRACE BEFORE AND AFTER MEALS is another part of family prayer, which no Christian master can neglect. The Apostle's direction is express. After reproving those who commanded to abstain from meats, he
« which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving, of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” i Tim. iv, 3, 4, 5. Only take heed of a few mere formal words. Be serious and devout in every approach to the great God.
The MANNER of conducting family worship is of much importance. Be not on the one side needlessly tender about your own reputation in mere outward things, nor on the other carless and remiss. Let us have a greater awe of God's majesty, than of nian's presence. We will now notice some things to be avoided.