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2. If we take a view of the state of families, we will see the peculiar reasonableness and propriety of this duty.

Hath not every family many fins to confess before God? Is not every memberchargeable with adding to the guilt of their finall society, by innumerable omissions and violations of duty ? Are not many families apt to exceed in the use of the lawful comforts of life, or deficient in gratitude to the beneficent author of them? Are not the heads of many families chargeable with idleness, inactivity, and prodigality, on the one hand, or with immoderate solici. tude and parsimony, on the other, in the management of their secular affairs? Do not many children give early indications of perverse tempers, and a strong tendency to do what they are forbidden ? Are they not often guilty of acts of undutifulness to their parents, of lying, the contempt of good advice and reproof, abuse of the means of their education, the disregard or neglect of things facred? Do not servants increase much the guilt of families, both by frequent inattention to religious obligations, and the defective performance of the duties of their station ? Is it not then highly proper that family-fins, whether of a more or less aggravated kind, should be acknowledged before God in frequent and united acts of humble confeflion? May not judgements, instead of bleslings, be expected by those whose transgressions are not confef


ed with contrition, and whose hearts are hardened through the deceitfulness of fin ?

Further, the reasonableness of family de. votion appears from the many favours we are daily receiving from the hand of God. It is he who gives us food and raiment, comfortable lodging, and refreshing sleep; it is he who protects us from innumerable dangers, who restores the fick to health, and continues us in the exercise of our rational powers ; it is he who prospers industry, and crowns our honest undertakings with success. To his good providence we are indebted for being born in a land of liberty, and enjoying, in pu. rity and plenty, the light and ordinances of the gospel. These and other bleflings are fcattered with a more liberal hand upon some fa. milies than on others; but there is none which doth not receive various proofs of the divine benignity. Should not these be devoutly acknowledged? Would not an indigent fainily, who derived their support from fome generous benefactor, be justly deemed most ungrateful and unworthy, if the different members, or the head of it, as the mouth of the reft, did not express a warm sense of such obligations ?. Is it not then unquestionably fit ånd reafonable, that a daily sacrifice of thankfgiving and praise fhould be offered up by Christian families to that almighty and gracious being, on whom they continually depend, and from whom they receive every enjoyment. Again, as we have many bleflings to ask from


God, for ourselves, and those with whom we are connected, it is evidently proper to pour forth united fupplications to the Hearer of prayer, and Father of mercies. We should daily implore the forgiveness of those sins of which every member of the family hath been guilty, and ask those fupplies of grace which are suited to our different circumstances and occasions. When we consider to what duties we are called, and to what trials: we are exposed, in this probationary state, how needful. does it appear for the head of a family to fupplicate, in behalf of himfelf, and those under his roof, strength to resist temptations to intemperance, unlawful gain, or any forbidden pleasure; knowledge, prudence, and activity, for the discharge of their respective duties; success to their different studies and worldly pursuits ; patience and fortitude of mind under the afflictions and disappointments of life? How proper is it to pray, that ungodly relations, children, or other domestics, may undergo a faving change of nature; and that those who are religiously disposed may go on, with increasing strength, in the ways of piety and holiness? As the circumstances of families are various, the petitions of those who preside in these united acts of devotion, should correspond to their different emergencies and fituations.

How can you reasonably expect the bleft: ings, of which you stand in need, if you are not at the pains to ask them? Did you know


of a person who could give you a cure for any loathsome and dangerous disease, to which your families were liable, would you not apply for it with the most solicitous importu. nity and can any family who are sensible of their present guilty and needy condition, hesitate a moment about joining with frequen. cy and united ardour in imploring bleflings much more important, and which, we are af. sured, the great object of prayer is both able and willing to bestow on every sincere fuppliant ? for if earthly parents, “ being evil, “ know how to give good gifts unto their s children, how much more shall our Father " who is in heaven give good things to them « that ask him?"

Be perfuaded, then, to be regular in your family-devotions. It is a reasonable and becoming service. Even the Heathen nations appear to have been sensible of the reafonableness of this duty. Though their notions concerning the Deity were very erroneous, and their worship grossly faulty ; yet they presented their homage in a relative or family.capacity as well as individuals. They had their penates, or household gods, to whom families addrefled their devotions. Such seems to have been the teraphim, or graven image, which Micah, a man of Mount Ephraim, had in his house; and on account of which he hired, a priest, or domestic chaplain. These deities were considered and worshipped as the guardians of their habitations, and protectors of their families. The prosperity of their

children, children, and success of their secular affairs, were supposed to depend as much on their benign influence, as the issue of battles, and other public undertakings, on the propitious countenance of the objects of their public worship. Though we acknowledge the mode of their worship to have been grofsly fuperftitious, the practice itself is a clear proof of their conviction of the obligations to familydevotion. Their conduct is in some measure a pattern, I wish I had not reason to say, that it is a reproof, to many families in Christian countries, who live in the habitual neglect of this duty. O may they profit by the admo. nition! for it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, for Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgement, than for those who counteract the brighter discoveries of the gospel. The Almighty Thall " pour out his fury up66 on the families that call not on his name.”

3. This leads me to point out, in the third place, the obligations to family-worship from divine revelation.

Now I own, that I know of no clear and express precept in the scriptures enjoining this duty. Indeed, as it was a branch of natural religion, it was not to be expected; for it hath been often and juftly remarked, that revelation does not directly enunciate, but proceeds upon a fuppofed previous knowledge and acknowledgement of such truths as are discoverable by the human understanding. This duty, however, seems to be implied in


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