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students in divinity, on the same topic. "And you, my friends, who were his more peculiar care; his children, of whom he travailed in birth till Christ should be formed in you; whom he was so solicitous to have fitted for the service of Jesus, and the care of souls; alas! who can blame your tears, or withhold your grief? My father! my father! the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof! It is not possible for me to express the blessing you had in him. O what an useful guide and director was he! How dear were you unto him! How wise and pious were his instructions and advices! How much were his thoughts taken up about you, making them all serve for his great design of fitting you for the holy function! You know how desirous he was, both to have you good men, and well fitted for the holy ministry. Consider how, above all things, he directed you to the purifying of your hearts, and the exercises of true repentance. Think what gravity he required in your behaviour, what modesty and humility in your words and conversation, what abstraction from unsuitable business or company. Call to mind the care he had of directing your studies aright; how he diverted you from such learning as was not apt to give you a sense of piety and religion; took you off from an itching curiosity about questions and strifes of words, which minister to vanity and contention; persuaded you to cleanness of heart, truly pious designs, and frequent devotion, as the best dispositions and helps for knowledge; and directed you to such books and studies as might serve to give you a right and deep sense of Christianity, and of the importance and duties of the holy function. Remember how much he bewailed the unseemly haste, and unfit methods and arts, which some used to thrust themselves into the holy ministry; and admired the different conduct of the holy men in old times, who, sensible of its great weight, and apprehensive of their CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 128.
own insufficiency, were almost always forced to it by the people and the governors of the church. Consider, I beseech you, of what importance he thought it, both for your own souls and those which might be your charge, that you should use all prudent means to examine yourselves beforehand, of your fitness, both in heart and spirit, for that employment; and the purity of your intentions; designing truly the service of Jesus Christ, and the good of men's souls, and not the sor did ends of vanity, worldly-mindedness, or ambition. O that these things may sink into your hearts, and that you may continue in the things you have learned of him!"
Professor Scougal's counsels respecting the character, temper, and spirit of a Christian minister, may be summed up under the following heads:-Fervent love to God; ardent and devoted zeal for the honour of his heavenly Master; warm affection for that portion of the household of faith to whom he is appointed to dispense the bread of life, with tender pity and compassion towards perishing sinners; purity of heart; humility; patience; meekness; deadness to the world; and heavenlymindedness. And, certainly, no man was more eminently qualified to give counsels on those topics than Scougal; for, to quote the words of Dr. Gairden, " His piety was eminent and singular, always accompanied with an unaffected humility; his spirit and disposition was ever peaceable; his love to God and the souls of men, made him study the divine art of becoming all things to all men, that he might save some. None was ever more mortified to covetousness or filthy lucre. His charity and alms-giving were exemplary: in all things shewing himself a pattern of good works. In his doctrine he shewed uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, and sound words, that could not be condemned. His discourse was always modest, and his conversation useful. He watched all occasions of doing good to men's souls,
and would not let them slip. Never man was more apt to teach, being gentle to all men. Those that opposed themselves to the truth, or were overtaken in a fault, he endeavoured to instruct and restore, in the spirit of meekness, avoiding foolish questions and strifes of words. And by walking in all good conscience before God and man, he hath, among other things, given a singular instance of gaining the love and esteem, and of preserving his person and his office from contempt, so that even scarce any man despised his youth." Thus the pupils of Scougal beheld in their master, as in a glass, the temper and character of a minister of the Gospel. With a view to attain that heavenly-mindedness which ought to characterise the ambassadors of Christ, he earnestly inculcated upon the students to be frequent in self-examination and prayer, and in the study of the holy Scriptures; and he particularly recommended to them the diligent perusal of St. Paul's Epistle to Titus, as the best model for the formation of the clerical character.
(To be continued.)
FAMILY SERMONS. No. XLIV. Gen. xviii. 19.-"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."
THESE words shew the great regard which God paid to Abraham, in determining not to hide from him the judgments he was about to inflict on Sodom and Gomorrah. And the reason of Abraham being thus honoured, is stated to be, the care which he took to train up and instruct his children and household in the knowledge of God, and to fix in their minds right principles :-"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." The particular means which Abra
ham employed for this purpose, are not stated; but we may presume that one of them was, establishing the daily worship of God in his family, and communicating religious instruction to those who composed it. There is, indeed, no passage of Scripture which directly enjoins family worship. Nor is this to be wondered at. The Bible does not give us a regular system of laws and observances. It is a book of a higher order, and considers man in a nobler point of view. It lays down and enforces principles. It presents to us a Father's love to his children, and requires from them the duties and the feelings of children. When once the principle of a child-like fear and love of God is planted in the heart, there will be little occasion to command and threaten: the principle itself will powerfully incline to all obedience. Under the Law, indeed, many positive rules were given; but under the Gospel very few observances were enjoined. But, then, the noblest principles were called into action. The spirit, still more than the mere letter, of the law, was to be observed, and a higher and purer obedience was required. Thus did our Lord describe the nature of his own dispensation in respect to worship: "The hour is coming, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, worship the Father;" that is, not consider divine worship as confined to a particular place or mode; "but the hour cometh, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Accordingly, our Lord did not lay down any particu lar rules even for public worship. He did not name the day of the week which should be set apart for the purpose, nor state in what manner it should be conducted. All these lesser points he left to be settled by his disciples, assured that if their souls were influenced by Di
vine love, they would not fail to offer up a worship which would be acceptable to him, because it would be a sincere and spiritual worship: it would be the offering of the heart, in righteousness and true holiness.
This remark equally applies to the duty of family worship. It must be remembered, that our worship of any kind extends not in its effects to God. It is of no use to him, adds nothing to his essential glory, and adds but little to the holy tribute of perfect adoration paid to him by all the hosts of heaven. It derives its whole value from its being a freewill offering, the sincere and ardent expression of a heart penetrated with a sense of his kindness, and earnestly desirous of glorifying his name. But though family worship has not been expressly commanded, it is not on this account less a duty, nor is it less criminal to neglect it. For the obligation to perform any action is not founded on its having been particularly and specially commanded, and distinctly explain ed, but on the unchangeable laws of right and wrong, on the relation between us and God, and on the state of dependence in which we stand towards him. The duty which a son owes to his father, does not depend on the formal manner in which it may be enjoined, nor on the severe penalties by which it may be enforced its obligation is of a higher nature; for it is a part of that law of love which is higher than positive institutions. The angels in heaven have probably no written law, which expressly points out this and that duty, and forbids such and such a crime; but they have a law written in their hearts, which disposes them to universal obedience. They feel, that the duty which they owe to God admits not of being defined: it is immeasurable in its extent, and infinite in its duration. They do not limit their obedience by saying, This is not forbidden, That is not commanded; but they strive with all their powers to glorify God, and to
pay him an obedience as pure and perfect as possible. God has honoured us, by putting us under a law equally grand and extensive: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength; and thy neighbour as thyself.""Love is the fulfilling of the whole law:" it comprehends all that has been specially commanded, and it comprehends infinitely more than words can explain or precepts define.
He, therefore, who loves God as he ought to do, will not say, Shew me the precept which requires me to pray two or three times a day; point out where it is written that I must call my family together to worship; tell me the passage which commands me to go to church twice on the Sunday. No; but it is his fervent desire to honour and worship God as much as he can. The possibility of its being done, consistently with other duties, and with the natural infirmity of man, is the only measure of the extent of his obedience.
If this principle is admitted, and its extent understood, the only question, as to family prayer, will be, How far will such a worship be agreeable to God and useful to my fellow-creatures? If it is calculated to honour God, and to be useful to man, there is no longer a question about its obligation. On this ground, then, the duty of family worship. may safely be made to rest. It ho nours God; it is useful to man; while it is so far from being opposed to any of the commands of God that it harmonizes with them all.
1. What can better express the sense of the honour due to God, than that a family should daily meet for the purpose of solemnly acknowledging that He is their great Benefactor,their Friend, their Father? We assemble in public worship weekly, to solicit mercies in common with all our fellow-creatures. We pray to God in private for private mercies, confessing to him our private sins. But our relation as a family, dwell
ing in the same house, sharing in the same mercies, united together in the closest bands, demands a social worship, which family instruction may be given, family mercies acknowledged, and grace for the discharge of family duties implored. How just and necessary is it, that God, the author of all domestic relations, the giver of all social happiness, should be acknowledged as such; that his blessing, which alone can unite the discordant wills and unruly tempers of men, so that they may dwell together in peace and happiness, should be sought in common; and that the defects, which every member of the family has to deplore, and of which all perhaps have been witnesses, should in common be lamented, while grace is implored to prevent them for the future! Besides, if God receives no tribute of honour in the family, it will, in many cases, not be given to him at all. From public worship many persons are frequently shut out by sickness or other causes; and even when they attend, it is an act of a general and public kind, which is apt to be performed in a cold and formal manner. And as for private worship, it will be entirely omitted where there is no regard to God. So that, if family worship is neglected, there may be persons living in it, as much strangers to the worship of God as if they were heathens, entirely ignorant of his name and truth. And if God is pleased, as he doubtless is, with the honour paid to him by all ranks of his creatures; if he is pleased to behold a state of order and harmony; holy principles and correct conduct; a just sense of the duties which they owe to him, and an earnest endeavour to fulfil them; how must he look upon those families who never join to praise him; who shew not, by any united act, that they even consider his blessing to be of any importance to them! Surely we may expect that his displeasure will be shewn to the families who thus disregard his holy name.
2. But let us consider the utility
of this practice, as it respects the se veral classes of the family separately, and the whole collectively.
First as it respects servants.-These have often had little opportunity of religious improvement. They are also usually in the flower of their age;-a season which, if rightly employed, may have a material influence on the remainder of their lives. And here let the masters and mistresses of families seriously consider, as in the presence of God, whether they are not solemnly bound to give to their servants, dwelling under their roof, all the religious instruction in their power. I would seriously call on every master to consider, whether, as a Christian, he is not responsible for them; whether they be not part of his charge; whether God will not require from him an account of the endeavours he has used to promote religion among those whom Providence has placed under his roof, and under his controul. Will it be suffi cient to mark a desire of discharging his duty to God and to his neighbour to say, "I engaged my servants to do my work: I did not stipulate to teach them religion?" This may be true; but, remember, your duty does not depend on what you may have stipulated, but on what it is in your power to do. Duty is not a voluntary undertaking: it is imposed on us by God. We are bound to do all the good in our power; and we are answerable for the neglect of any thing we might do for the glory of God and the benefit of man. To improve the spiritual condition of those who are supported by us, and form part of our family, is a duty as clear and solemn as any to which we can be liable. But it may be said, They can pray and read the Bible in private, and also attend church. But will they do so? Will persons, perhaps not well educated, and at a time of life when they are apt to be thoughtless, do this? And may not the judicious and kind advice of a master greatly help to fix their principles and direct their con duct through life; as the neglect of a
master's care at that critical time may be the means of their ruin? They have now no parents to watch over them they are left to themselves, or, rather, are committed by Providence to the care of masters, who stand in the place of parents to them.
But if it be the duty of a master to attend to the religious improve ment of his servants, this must be done at some stated time, or it will be seldom done at all. And if it be his duty to instruct one servant, it is a duty which he owes equally to all. It is a matter of convenience, therefore, to do it daily; and to assemble the whole family for that purpose. Instruction may then be given to all, and it may be given without the dissatisfaction which might attend a particular address to an individual selected from the rest.
Family worship is, in the second place, a most advantageous way of giving religious instruction to children. It is thus communicated to them, like language, by insensible degrees; for they must have line upon line, and precept upon precept. They may learn to conceive aright of the Divine perfections, when they hear a parent daily acknowledging them. Their hearts may be touched with remorse for sin, when they hear the confessions of a parent daily poured out before God. They will know what mercies they should implore for themselves, by observing what turn a parent's petitions take. His daily intercessions may infuse into their young minds a spirit of love to mankind, a concern for the interests of their country and of the church of Christ, and sentiments of attachment to their king. His so lemn thanksgiving for the bounties of Providence, and for spiritual blessings,may produce those grateful impressions respecting the gracious Author of all good, which may excite in their breasts love to Him; that noblest, most acceptable, and most efficacious of all principles. By observing his reverent and solemn behaviour, they may obtain some just
idea of an unseen Being, and feel their minds impressed with awe and reverence, before they can affix any meaning to the name of God. And whatever lessons a parent may give them concerning the nature and will of God, and the way of obtaining his favour through Jesus Christ; or the importance of the eternal world, and the means of being prepared for it; will all be greatly enforced by the tenor of his daily devotions, and by the excellent admonitions which the word of God, when solemnly read and judiciously explained, will af ford. Nor should it be forgotten, that when they hear their own cases solemnly mentioned before God, and the Divine blessing implored for them, it may help to affect their hearts with a sense of their parent's tender concern for their good, and add great weight to his instructions; so that, while he is praying, it may appear that God is answering his prayers.
And now, in the third place, I would beg leave to ask the heads of families, if they do not themselves need those helps which the performance of family worship will give them.-May not the instructions, the confessions, the prayers, the intercessions, the thanksgivings, which may be so useful to their children and servants, be useful to themselves also? May not their own hearts have advantages, for being suitably impressed when performing their domestic devotions, even beyond what they have in private? And may not such devotions have a considerable influence on their conduct at other times? A sense of common decency would engage those who pray with their families to avoid many evils, which would appear doubly wrong in a father or master who took the lead in the devotions of his family? Could drunkenness, or lewdness, or swearing, or quarrelling, or evil speaking, be indulged by him who daily prayed with his family for grace? Would not the inconsistency be so glaring, that either the sins or