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venient, and blessed you in your basket and your store, in your going out and coming in? "He in whose hand your breath is, and whose are all your ways."
There are not only personal, but also family sins, daily committed under your roof; and ought you not jointly to confess and bewail them daily before God? Who can number the false steps, the rash deeds, the foolish and idle words, the vain and corrupt imaginations, found in your house, within the narrow space of one day? And will you sin together, and not pray together?
You have family wants, which none but God can supply; and ought you not jointly to spread them before him? Besides bread to eat, and raiment to wear, and beds to sustain your weary frames, you need a thousand blessings for your souls, which God only can bestow. He commands you to seek them, and they shall be given; and are they not worth asking for? You have family trials, under which you need support; family difficulties, in which you need direction; family labours, which require both diligence and perseverance: and shall there not then be family prayer, to seek divine grace, guidance, and strength? Remember that it is God who makes you to dwell in safety, and crowns your undertakings with success. Neither the thinking
head, nor the active hand, nor the piercing eye, can accomplish any thing without him. "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows." Ps. cxxvii. 1, 2. 3. The fitness and expediency of family prayer will appear, when its evident utility is well considered.
It is clearly useful, as the best means of engaging the protection of heaven. "There can be no surer way to safety and success," says Bishop Atterbury, "than by disclaiming all confidence in ourselves, and referring the events of things to God, with an implicit affiance." The house in which prayer is made has a far better security than Troy had in her boasted palladium; for the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. There shall no evil befall thee, nor any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Satan said, "Does Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath? and thou hast blessed him in the work of his hands." This passage contains a solid truth, though it came from the Father of Lies. Had there been ten praying families, or even individuals, in Sodom, the
tempest of fire would not have consumed it. Polanus mentions a town in Switzerland, consisting of ninety houses, which, in the year 1584, was destroyed by an earthquake; except a part of one house, in which a man was engaged earnestly praying with his wife and children.
Family prayer is evidently useful, as the best means of promoting domestic peace and harmony. Devotion is calculated to quench those sparks of resentment which adverse opinions and clashing circumstances are so apt to strike out, and which must either be speedily extinguished, or they will break into a flame. Those irritable and fretful tempers, which so much imbitter human life, are frequently softened and improved by the exercise of devotion, when every other means has proved ineffectual. If we have occasion to stay but a short time in a house where cursing and swearing are heard, we generally find there a want of concord and union, and the fermentation and prevalence of almost every evil passion. Those who have not been baptized in the stream of charity, but dipped in the waters of Meribah, having imbibed the element of strife, are too eager to distill drops of acrimony and gall even into the domestic cup, which ought to be sweetened with the mingled ingredients of kindness and affection.
What a contrast to such a house is the dwelling which daily resounds with the voice of supplication and praise! The former is a nest of hornets, a den of fierce savages and blaspheming demons; the latter is a habitation of piety and peace, a little Bethel, a house of God, and the gate of heaven. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!*
How much piety tends to enhance the felicity of the conjugal relation, must be obvious to every one who candidly considers the subject. The following remarks are so just, that I shall make no apology for giving them to the reader.
"Should the religious man discover in his wife a portion of that imperfection, which enters into the character of every ́mortal creature, instead of alienating his affections, it will lead him to redouble his expressions of attachment and tenderness towards her. To love her person, to provide for her wants, to anticipate her wishes, to alleviate her pains, to prevent her fears, to raise her thoughts to heaven, to assist her in placing her confidence on the rock of ages, to promote her happiness and joy, are the subjects of his unremitted attention and prayers. Although the head of a family, when religious, is its greatest blessing, yet, if religion reign in its other branches, he will not be its only blessing. Another will appear the next in order, and very little inferior in point of importance, in the wife, the mother, and the mistress. In her, if the meekness of Christ be added to the softness of her sex,-if the wisdom, which is from above, be added to natural sagacity and prudence,-if the love of God be combined with love to her husband, — she will, by divine grace, be an inestimable blessing to her family. She will soothe the cares of her husband,—she will increase his substance,-she will be a most effectual assistant in carrying on the instruction and goverument of the family, in
Family prayer is evidently useful as one of the best means of impressing the minds of the young with the importance of religious truth, and of advancing the prosperity of the church. Parents have a solemn charge, "to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." They are commanded not only to receive divine truths, but likewise" to teach them diligently to their children, and talk of them when they rise up, and when they lie down, when they sit in the house, and when they walk by the way." The head of a family, who daily reads the divine Word, applying it for counsel and reproof, and pours out his heart to God with those in whose welfare he is so deeply interested, exemplifies these heaveninspired precepts. "All the duties of religion," says Dr. Dwight," are eminently solemn and venerable in the eyes of children. But none will so strongly prove the sincerity of the parent; none so powerfully awaken the reverence of the child; none so happily recommend the instruction he receives; as family devotions, peculiarly those in which petitions for the children occupy a distinguished place." In
which she will promote affection, regularity, and happiness ;she will almost entirely bear its cares, and prepare its joys ;she will encourage the faith and hope of every individual within it, and will walk with them as as an heir of the grace of life."' -Jones's Sermons.