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morning, and offered burnt-offerings for each of them." And lest it might be thought that this family-worship was only occasional and accidental, it is added at the close of the verse," Thus did Job continually." Nor was this peculiar to the patriarchal state, when each family was a church by itself; but the same good practice was continued after the Jews were formed into a national church, and had priests appointed to preside in the public worship. Thus Joshua vowed, not only for himself, but likewise for his house, that they would serve the Lord: which plainly imports a resolution on his part to use all the means in his power to make his family do so: particularly to worship God before them, and to take care that none should dwell in his house who would not join in this holy service. The example of David in the text is abundantly plain; for though he had priests and Levites about him, yet he did not devolve the work upon them, but he himself, as head and master of the house, "blessed his household."
In the New Testament writings it is very usual to give private families of devout Christians the name of Churches. But surely this would have been a most improper appellation, if God had not been publicly acknowledged, and the daily sacrifices of prayers and praises had not been offered
These, I think, are sufficient intimations of the
will of God in this matter; and may serve to convince any man, who acknowledgeth the divine authority of the Scriptures, that it is the unquestionable duty of all who have families to maintain the worship of God in their houses. The reasonableness of this duty was the
Second thing which I proposed to show and this, I hope, will appear from the following considerations.
1st, Families are natural societies, formed originally by God, and held together by his Providence. Previous to all civil or religious establishments families subsisted. All the obligations which are incumbent on communities of any kind were originally, and still continue to be, incumbent on particular families. Were the present state of society to be dissolved, and the patriarchal state restored, it is evident that familyworship would be the only worship of God. Is it possible, then, that this original obligation can ever be cancelled? What is there to be pled as a reason for cancelling it? Will you say, that the private duty is superseded by the public ordinances which we have the opportunity of attending? This argument might as well be used to disprove the obligation to secret and personal devotion: and therefore, by proving too much, it proves nothing at all. For can any person seriously be of opinion, that the providence of God hath be
stowed these public' advantages on us, in order to relax the obligations which we owe to him in our houses and in our closets? But,
2dly, As God is the founder, so he is likewise the gracious benefactor of our families. All the blessings which we enjoy flow from his bounty, and depend entirely on his favour. Surely, then, if personal blessings claim the private acknowledgments of the person who receives them, family blessings ought, in like manner, to be acknowledged by united thanksgivings in our household. Were a man, having a numerous offspring, to receive some signal favour from an earthly benefactor, by which his circumstances were changed from meanness and want to an easy or a decent competence; would it not be a natural acknowledgment for him to bring his family and children in their best apparel, and present them to his benefactor, fed and clothed with his bounty, to offer him their united thanks? Would not such a scene be delightful on both sides? Would it not be enjoyed as a very lovely appearance, even by a mere spectator? And is there less beauty or propriety in the same acknowledgments offered to the God in whom we live and breathe, and who giveth us all things richly to enjoy? Doth he set the hedge of his protection around us, and defend us from the many evils to which we are continually exposed; and shall he yet have no tribute of praise offered up from those houses in which he maketh
us to dwell in safety? How disingenuous and unreasonable must this appear to every candid and grateful mind!
3dly, As we receive all our family blessings from God, so we are guilty also of many family sins against him; and ought therefore to join together in the penitent confession of our sins, and in deprecating the judgments which we have deserved. In a word, whatever reason there is for single persons to worship God, there is the same reason for families to do it. As there are personal sins, and wants and mercies, so there are family sins, family wants and troubles, family mercies and deliverances; and therefore it must appear highly reasonable, that the members of each family should unite together in humiliation and prayer and thanksgiving. Those who sin together, should ask forgiveness together; and those who receive mercies together, should join in praising their common benefactor.
Thus have I endeavoured to show, that familyworship is not only a duty by virtue of the divine command, but is so fit and becoming in itself, that although the authority binding us to it were less apparent, yet every man who allows himself to think, must immediately be convinced, by his own reason and conscience, that such homage is certainly due to God, and that they are highly criminal who refuse or neglect to offer it. I proceed now, in the
Third place, To represent to you the manifold advantages which accompany the practice of this duty, and the pernicious consequences which flow from the neglect of it.
1st, Then, the practice of this duty would be of great use to promote even your temporal and · worldly interest. I address myself to you who are parents or masters; and surely this consideration must appear in your own eyes to merit some regard. I need not stay to prove to you, that your prosperity, as well as your comfort, depends very much upon the dutiful behaviour of your children, and the fidelity of your servants. This, I suppose, you will readily acknowledge. Now it is evident to a demonstration, that nothing can contribute more effectually to this than the good practice which I am recommending to you. Bring the fear of God into your families, and that will secure your authority better than any thing else can do. The influence of a religious principle will be as powerful and operative when you are absent from them as when you are present, because God is always present; and consequently the obedience which flows from a regard to him, must in every place, and at all times, be the same. Hereby, too, you will gain their esteem and love; which are the most powerful and permanent of all bonds of duty. There is a certain majesty in the image of God, which commands reverence to itself, even from the worst of men. Thus, we are told of He