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not sow, or expect domestic happiness without proper care and culture.
As piety is necessary to the soul of an individual, it is equally necessary to the welfare of a family. Religion strengthens the ties of nature, and sanctifies the various relations of life. Whoever seeks the salvation of his own soul, must feel concerned for the salvation of those who are closely connected with him; and as closet prayer sweetens solitude, family prayer improves the society of our little domestic sphere. " The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked; but he blesseth the habitation of the just.” (Prov. iii. 33.) “Christianity,” it has been well observed,
'passes by no relation we can sustain; it attends us in every character, and exhibits itself, like life and health, in the whole moral system. While it begins in the individual, and teaches him first to care for his own soul, it assumes this not as its boundary, but as its centre; here it may and must have its source, but its outflowings must be sufficiently wide to reach the whole family of man.”
I. I shall beg the reader's attention to some considerations, designed to shew the fitness and expediency of Family Prayer.
1. The fitness and expediency of family prayer will appear, if it be considered, that it opens a path, in pursuing which, we imitate the best examples of piety and zeal.
The heathen had, besides their temple deities and public solemnities, their household gods, and private worship; and as Christ declares, that the men of Tyre and Sidon shall condemn the people of Samaria, so the conduct of Trojans, Greeks, and Romans, may put those professing Christians to the blush, who have po more appearance of religion in their dwellings, than if they were open and avowed Atheists. Many customs, which have become odious and contemptible, can be traced to a good origin; as the stream, which in its progress receives debasing mixtures, and after a long course is found corrupt and baneful, was yet pure at the fountain head. The usage of sacrificing among the heathen, was, doubtless, derived from our first parents, who had this institution from heaven. But what originated in the wisdom and grace of God, was soon perverted by the folly and depravity of men, and became the occasion of the grossest and vilest idolatry. It is, I think, highly probable, that the reverence shewn by Pagans to their household gods, sprung from the practice of family worship in the primitive times.
a remnant of tradition, disfigured, indeed, by a thousand hideous absurdities and palpable errors, yet retaining some faint outlines of its origin. In
the patriarchal ages, it should seem that every pious head of a family was at once the instructor, the ruler, and the priest of his own house. In the Book of Genesis we find, that wherever Abraham pitched his tent, he built there an altar to the Lord. While he sojourned among strangers, exposed to the craft and cruelty of enemies, or to the scorn and contempt of idolaters, bis prime regard to true religion was in this manner eminently displayed. He reared an altar for God, when a man of worldly policy would have thought only of raising a bulwark for his defence. This patriarch, whose faith was so strong and victorious, was commendably zealous in promoting family piety. Not content with providing for their temporal wants, he felt and manifested a deep concern for their spiritual and best interests, of which we have direct assurance from the testimony of God himself. (Gen. xviii. 19.) “ For I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”
The exact time when Job lived cannot now be ascertained, but it was probably before the Israelites' departure from Egypt. In his prosperity, we see the tender and serious solicitude which he manifested for the welfare of his family. His children, like many others who live in affluence, were fond of eating and drinking, and sensual pleasures; by a regular interchange of visits, by a quick succession of entertainments, and by a constant round of festivities, they winged their tardy hours, and contrived to keep alive the blaze of mirth; but the pious father's heart was full of anxiety and fear for the consequences :" And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings, according to the number of them all; for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” Job i. 5.
Joshua, the valiant captain of the Lord's host, after conducting the chosen tribes into Canaan, pressed the people to be decided, and said, “ Choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Josh. xxiv. 15). Prayer is so interesting and needsul a branch of religion, that we cannot be said to serve God without it. Let then the heroic resolution of Joshua be well considered; and let it stand as the basis of your own, and aid to bind this duty upon your conscience. When David had with great joy conveyed the ark to the tabernacle, it is said, then he returned to bless his household.
(2 Sam. vi. 20.) The most natural interpretation which can be given of this passage is, that he called his family together, to solicit for them, by prayer, the blessing of the God of Israel. To the examples above specified, many others might be added; and let us remember, it is the counsel of the wise, that we should “ walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.”
2. The fitness and expediency of family prayer will appear, if its adaptation to the circumstances and relations of domestic life be well considered.
You every day receive not only personal, but also family mercies, from the bountiful hand of God; and ought you not jointly to return daily thanks for them? When you retire to rest, who seals up your senses, and refreshes your bodies with sleep?
Who guards your habitation from consuming fires, from cruel spoilers, and from all the dangers incident to the night? You must answer, “ The Keeper of Israel,” who neither sleeps nor slumbers. His mercies are new every morning, and ought to draw forth an early and willing tribute of praise from the united hearts and tongues of every family. When the evening comes, who defended and upheld you through all the toils and duties of the day? Who supplied you with things necessary, useful, and con