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The case which Joshua here supposes, is neither an impossible nor an unusual one. thousand instances, you will find yourselves alone, if you are resolved to obey the dictates of truth, and the calls of duty. If the whole world lieth in wickedness, and you will be holy in all manner of conversation and godliness, you must be singular. If you live among fools, and are wise, you must be singular. If you live among the poor, and are rich, you must be singular. And, it is presumed, that you would have no great objection to this. And why should you be 80 terrified at the charge of singularity, in a cause infinitely more honourable? Nothing is so excellent as goodness, and no goodness is so praise-worthy as that which is singular. This shows a purity of motive, and a dignity of principle. This argues a grandeur of mind, a soul not meanly enslaved by custom, but asserting its own freedom, and daring to think and act for itself. · Such a man does not wait for the company and countenance of others, to embolden him; he can venture by himself, and despise the shame: when, as he advances, abandoned crowds pursue him, with their sneers and reproaches. Such was Abdiel
.“ Faithful found Among the faithless, faithful only he; Among innumerable false, unmoved, Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified, His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal; Nor number nor example with him wrought To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind, Though single. From amidst them forth he passed Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustained Superior, nor of violence feared aught.”
can secure us.
On such a man the Saviour fixes his eye, and cries, • Them that honour me, I will honour. He that confesseth me before men, him will I confess before my Father, and the holy angels. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life !" It
may be remarked, that the resolution is personal. Indeed, he begins with himself. As for ME, and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Nothing can dispense with an obligation to personal piety. Nothing merely official, or relative ; nothing we do for others, while we are destitute of the grace of God in our own souls,
Many will say to me in that day, Lord! Lord! have we not prophesied in thy name ? and in thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy name done many wonderful works ?" And indeed those who are regardless of their own souls, are not very likely to be attentive to the souls of others. Mere profession, and a regard to decency, may carry you some way ; but there is nothing like a personal experience of divine things, to inflame zeal. Unless you serve God yourselves, your efforts will be transient, partial and irregular. They are also likely to be unsuccessful. A drunken master is a poor preacher of sobriety to servants. A proud father is a miserable recommender of humility to children. They will do as you do, rather than do as you say. Your example will counteract all the effect of your counsel ; and all the convictions you would fix in the mind, will bound off like arrows from an impenetrable shield.—« Thou, therefore, which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal ? thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit house ;
adultery ? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ?
You should, therefore, begin both to do and to teach. You should be able, in an humble measure at least, to say to those who are under your care,
be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Personal religion must precede domestic; therefore Joshua does not say, my house shall serve him without me. But, domestic religion must accompany personal ; and, therefore, Joshua does not say, I will serve him without my he includes both.
And thus, finally, the determination is relative and extensive : As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord. But, the question is—How could he
this? Could he be answerable for his family, as well as for himself? We may consider this two ways as expressing either his happiness, or his duty.
If he could say this from a knowledge of his family—if after observation he was assured of the good and pious dispositions of all those who were under his care—we should say he was a happy man indeed! This has sometimes been the case, but the privilege is not common.
The words, therefore, are rather to be considered as an expression of his duty. Not that he supposed it was in the power of his resolution to make the members of his household truly pious. He knew that God alone is the author of conversion—but he knew also that God uses means, and requires us to use them : that it is only in the use of them he has promised his blessing—and therefore, that it is only in the use of them we can expect it. Were we to hear a pious husbandman saying, " This year I will have wheat in this
field, and yonder I will have barley,"-you would not mistake him. He does not mean to intimate that he can produce the grain, but he can manure and plough, and sow, and weed-he intends to do this—and then to look for the Divine blessing to give the increase.
Thus Joshua resolves to endeavour, in the wise and zealous use of all proper means, to render the family he governs truly religious. He would instruct, reprove, admonish, encourage them.He would address every principle of action; every passion in their bosoms. He would seize every favourable opportunity, improve every striking occurrence to impress the mind with seriousness. He would cherish every promising appearance. He would lead them to the house of God, and keep them from profaning his holy day. He would pray not only for them, but also with them: and worship God, not only in the closet, but in the parlour, and with his children and servants in the train.
And this, O ye masters of families—is that which I wish to enforce upon you all. O! that I could find out acceptable words as well as words of truth! O! that I knew by what arguments I could induce you to establish the worship of God in your own houses !
To render our reasoning upon this subject easy of apprehension and remembrance, let me call upon you to consider domestic religion in reference to God—in reference to yourselves—and in reference to your families.
I. Think of it in reference to God. To him family religion has a three-fold relation. The first is a relation of responsibility. For we are required to glorify God in every condition we occupy, and in every capacity we possess. For instance. If a person be poor, he is commanded to serve God as a poor person—but suppose he should become rich: he would then be required to serve him as rich; and from the time of his acquiring this wealth, he would be tried by the rule of wealth. If a man be single, he is commanded to serve God as single; but no sooner is he placed over a family, than he is required to serve God as the master of a family, and from the moment of his obtaining this new connexion, he will be judged by the duties which belong to it. God has committed to him a trust, and he expects him to be faithful to this trust. He has given him a talent, and he expects him to use this talent. In a word, he has made him a steward, and he will call him to give an account of his stewardship. When, so to speak, the man has been tried, then comes forth to be judged the master of the family ?-Bring forth the law of the house-Have you walked by this rule ?- What have you done for me here? Nothing! Did I not assign you the government of a family: and, to qualify you for this very purpose, did I not give you a peculiar authority and influence? How have you employed them. ?--Anticipate the proceedings of this awful day, and judge yourselves, that you may not be condemned with the world.
The second is a relation of gratitude. How numerous and pressing are your obligations to his kindness and his care? He has crowned your wishes, and supplied all your wants. were a poor, solitary, insignificant individual, he raised you into consequence, and multiplied you into a family. Behold thy wife, like a fruitful vine by the sides of thy house; and thy children,