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by taking thought for the soul bofore feeding the body. In the evening it would be well to attend to this duty before any should be so weary or heavy with sleep as to be unfit for actively uniting. The practice of those is highly improper who only attend to this duty on the Sabbath. There can be nothing of the power of religion where there is almost nothing of the form. Such persons are even more inexcuseable than those who are uniformly neglectful. They cannot plead timidity, or incapacity, or ignorance; their occasional observance of the duty proves that their general neglect arises from aversion to religion, and a preference of the world. Nor can they be commended who neglect this duty in the morning, which is the most suitable time for attending to the principal thing. We ought to offer to God the first fruits of our increase, and with equal reason the first of the day. “Cursed be the deceiver who hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth to the Lord a corrupt thing." And cursed be the deceiver who hath in the day an hour of valuable time, and offereth to the Lord only a worn out, useless hour in the evening. Our warrant for worship in the morning is even more full and explicit than for worship in the evening. “Lord thou shalt early hear my voice. I will show forth thy loving kindness in the morning. I prevented the dawning of the morning and cried. I will sing of thy power; yea I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning.", This is a duty which should in no case be set aside without the most weighty reasons. It is said of the Sabbath, " In earing time and in harvest thou shalt keep it.” So we may say of family worship; when worldly business is most urgent, it not so urgent as the great business of serving God and seeking salvation. The hurry of business is no better excuse for neglecting worship than for violating the Sabbath. God requires time for the one as really as for the other; and the sin of withholding it is in both cases a robbery, and a robbery which will never be to our advantage. The Jews took God's time, and he recovered it again by seventy years' captivity in Babylon. And if we take any of his time to ourselves, how easily and how certainly will he make us losers by the fraud. How easily can he visit with famine, or sickness, or war, and recover in vengeance what we refuse to lend him on usury.
Some may plead a want of capacity for attending to this duty. of all prayer, you can use a form of words which God has accepted, and sanctioned by a place in his word; you can pray more in one sentence than many a hypocrite in a tedious and high sounding harrangue. It is not a multiplicity of well chosen words, it is not correctness nor elegance, nor outward earnestness which makes prayer; it is not an offering up of words, but of desires; and if the heart pray, it is little matter about the language. The most earnest and effectual prayer goes beyond the power of language, and is signified by groanings which cannot be uttered. Those who have weak capacities should pray much in secret; they should read much in the scriptures; and there is no fear, if their hearts be set upon the duty, but that they will acquire the gift. Some
may be deterred from this duty by timidity and shame. If they be overcome by a sense of their unworthiness and unfitness for appearing before God, they should consider that these are the very reasons why they should go to him to be made better. If we were clean we would have no need of washing; if we were whole we would have no need of the physician. But if they be overcome through the fear of man, they should remember the words of our Lord, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.” Guilt is always fertile in excuse, and the neglecters of worship in the family will always have something to say in self-defence; but if the matter were searched to the bottom the true cause of the neglect would be found aversion to the duty. Where there is a willing mind, men.. will make light of difficulties which are mountains in the way of others. Many pious females and inexperienced youths, when called in providence to attend to this duty, have conquered their Hạtural timidity, and been useful examples of devotion to their households. And there is no house whatever be the circumstances of its inmates, where an altar should not be erected for the worship of God, and daily perfumed with the incense of prayer.
IV. It is the duty of the heads of families to see that their children and households walk in the ways of the Lord. For this Abraham was commended, that he not only walked himself in, the way of the Lord, but commanded with authority his children and household to keep the same way. It is not enough to tell them their duty, it is necessary to enforce obedience.
Christ not only prayed with his disciples, but he taught them ta pray, and in this he was an example to the heads of families. They should begin by teaching children such forms of prayer as are suitable to their age and capacity. They should cause them
to repeat these frequently. And when they are capable of understanding their duty and obligation to God, they should give them time, encourage them, and when other means fail, compel them to retire by themselves evening and morning for prayer. And though they may at first be exceedingly reluctant, the blessing will generally accompany the means, and God will give them hearts to pray, not only without compulsion, but in defiance of opposition, and like Daniel, in the face of death. How many children are ruined by the neglect or sinful indifference of parents in this particular. How many have reason to bless God that he favoured them with parents who would not let them alone-would not let them ruin their souls-who were more obstinate in enforcing duty than nature could be obstinate in opposing it. How many cherish feelings of gratitude and respect for such severity in parents which all the indulgence of the careless never could procure. O, that you could feel the vast responsibility of your situation in having the care of souls, and the vast importance of early impressions on the mind, and early habits of devotion! Be assured you will gain nothing by negligence, you will lose nothing by faithfulness.
Heads of families should see that all in the house observe the Sabbath. Thou shalt not only remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy thyself, but thy son and thy daughter, thy man-servant and maid-servant, and thy cattle, and the stranger who is within thy gates. Children are under the same law with their parents; are equally bound to refrain from the profanation of the Sabbath; and as in the civil so in the divine law the parent is made responsible for the conduct of his child while under his authority. Servants must submit to the laws of the house in which they dwell, and keep the Sabbath. For their conduct God makes masters responsible as well as for the conduct of children. This was charged as a grievous sin in the Israelites, that in the days of their fasting, they exacted all their labours; they did not labour themselves but exacted the labours of their servants. It is common to say that we have no controul over their moral conduct, and cannot be charged with their sins. But we have controul over our own houses to admit or refuse whom we please. In this Abraham was commended that he would not only command his children but all his household in the way of the Lord; attending equally to the instruction and behaviour of all committed to liis care. In the 101st Psalm, sometimes called the householders Psalm, David tells us what kind of servants he would keep. "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes; a froward heart shall depart from
me; I will not know a wicked person.” He would
not have the slanderer, the proud, the deceitful or the liar: “But. mine eyes, (says he,) shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.” And how often has negligence in this matter been punished both by the temporal and eternal ruin of children. Let it not be said by professors that it is difficult to procure servants of a religious character, for it is not impossible; and a little loss or inconvenience should not deter us from our duty. It would be better to search every corner of the land for a faithful servant than by employing one who is profane greatly hazard, yea almost insure the ruin of children. Cattle must rest upon the Sabbath. Though their labours might sometimes be continued without our attention, God has appointed this day of rest in mercy to them, as well as for higher ends to man. And the stranger who is allowed to enter our gates whether as a traveller or visitor must keep the day. He may be offended by the restraint, but better offend every man than the one God.
Heads of families should see that all in the house attend to the worship of God in the family and in public. The resolution of Joshua was that he and his house would serve the Lord. Cornelius feared God with all his house. We are told that, “Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange Gods that 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.” So Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and his vow. And to the same purpose we may apply what is said in the Song, "Feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.” That is, bring up thy young under the ministry of Christ's servants. The young may understand but little of what is said and done, yet they are more close observers of character and conduct than we are generally aware. They may receive from ordinances however imperfectly understood deep and lasting impressions. And if there were no other advantage, they are in the way of God's blessing, and may form those habits of devotion which we would wish. them to follow.
Heads of families should restrain their households from all profanity and impiety in their conduct. It is recorded in praise of Abraham that he would command his house to keep the way of the Lord; and instead of teaching them fraud, deceit, malignity and pride, he would teach them to do justice and judgement, to deal honestly with men, and walk uprightly before God. On the other hand it is recorded with disapprobation of Eli, that his sons were vile and he restrained them not. Many parents would not
have done as much as Eli, and yet accounted themselves examples of faithfulness. He told his sons that their conduct was wrong, and rebuked them sharply. Nay, my sons, says he, for it is no good report which I hear; ye make the Lord's people to transgress. Yet God reproves him as a partaker in their sins, because he restrained them not with the force of authority. And for this neglect, his sons must perish together in one day, and in the midst of their sins; the gray hairs of Eli must descend to the grave with sorrow and shame; his house must be cut off from Israel.
Heads of families when visited by judgements, guilty of great sins, or otherwise called to the duty, should fast themselves, and cause all in their houses to fast. This is a duty very generally but not totally neglected. The authority for it you will find in (Zech. xii. 12.) a passage evidently referring to New Testament times. “And the land shall mourn, every family apart, and their wives apart,” &c. This duty could scarcely fail of promoting liveliness in the service of God, and should especially be observed by those who find themselves in a state of spiritual declension.
(To be concluded in our next.)
THE GLORY OF MINISTERIAL SUCCESS, DUE TO
GOD ALONE. A Sermon, from MSS. of the late Dr. Shaw, on 2 Cor. iii. 6, 7.
“ I have planted, Appollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then, fleither is he that planted any thing, neither he that watereth ; but God that, giveth the increase.”
The name of the apostle Paul, has been long famous in the Christian church. After the lapse of eighteen centuries, his crown. of glory preserves all its original freshness and beauty of colouring. The grandeur and permanence of his fame are in no degree owing to such achievements as those · by which either the Greeks, Romans, or Orientals, arose to the the highest pinnacle of human glory. He has not filled the world with the sound of his name, as a conqueror, lawgiver, or a monarch, for he never sought nor sighed after any species of this false greatness, the love of which so generally prevails in every human bosom. The soul of the great apostle of Christianity was cast by divine grace in a happier mould, and his ambition“ dealt in nicer things than routing armies, and dethroning kings.” His exertions lay in another line, and the glory he sought was of a different and more exalted kind. Having 'embarked heart and soul in the godlike enterprise of converting the nations from idols to the living, God, his fame has filled the whole christian world and his doings produced larger effects upon the destinies of the church than