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fome of the general exhortations with refpect to prayer as "Pray without ceafing," and "In every thing give thanks; for this is the "will of God in Chrift Jefus concerning you. "Praying with all prayer and fupplication in "the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all "perfeverance and fupplication for all faints. "Offer the facrifice of praise to God conti"nually; that is, the fruit of your lips, gi"ving thanks to his name." As frequency in all kinds of religious addreffes is fo ftrong. ly recommended by the Spirit of God, the united homage of families, as being one important fpecies of prayer, appears to be comprehended in thefe exhortations. The words of our Saviour are remarkable in Matth. xviii. 19. "I fay unto you, that if two of you fhall
agree on earth as touching any thing that "they fhall afk, it fhall be done for them of "my Father which is in heaven. For where "two or three are gathered together in my 66 name, there am I in the midst of them;" a promife which, though it may be extended to public worship, is more immediately applicable to focial and family devotion. That excellent prayer which our Lord taught his difciples, is exhibited in the form of an addrefs from an affociated body: "Our Father which "art in heaven, give us this day our dai. "ly bread," &c. It is well adapted to a family when united in acts of adoration, fupplication, and thankfgiving, to their common Parent and Sovereign,
But this duty of family-worship is clearly recommended by the example of feveral of the' faints in fcripture. Their conduct is declarative of the genius of our holy religion, and the best commentary on its inftitutions. The true character of its profeffors may be learn ed from the lives of thofe whofe virtues are recorded in the infpired writings, as patterns of piety and obedience to fucceeding generations.
Abraham, who was diftinguifhed by the appellation of the Friend of God, and Father of the faithful, is justly celebrated for the good government of his family; of which this duty is an effential part. How honourable is that teftimony concerning him, Gen. xviii. 19. "I "know him, (fays the Moft High), that he "will command his children, and his houfe
hold after him, and they fhail keep the "way of the Lord, to do juftice and judge"ment." Similar to his was the conduct of Job; to whom there was none like or equal in all the earth, a perfect and upright man, one who feared God, and efchewed evil. We are informed how careful he was, in his profperity, to temper mirth with piety, and attend to the religious interefts of his family: "His fons went and feafted in their houses, "every one his day; and fent and called for "their three fifters to eat and drink with "them. And it was fo, when the days of "their feafting were gone about, that Job "fent, and fanctified them, and rofe up ear
"ly in the morning, and offered burnt of"ferings, according to the number of them "all for Job faid, It may be that my fons "have finned, and curfed God in their "hearts. Thus did Job continually." Job, i.
Queen Efther, too, is famed amongst thofe devout worthies who have not been afhamed to honour God in their families. When her nation was threatened with deftruction, the iffued this pious and fuitable order: "Go, gather together all the Jews that are "in Shufhan, and fast ye for me, and nei"ther eat nor drink three days, night or "day." Obferve her own refolution: "I alfo "and my maidens will faft likewife, and fo will "I go in unto the King, which is not accor "ding to the law; and if I perish, I perish.'
King David, after having fixed the ark in its proper place, and joined in the public devotions fuitable to that folemnity, returned to blefs his household, or recommend them to the divine favour. The 30th pfalm was probably compofed and ufed at the dedication of his houfe. In the 101ft pfalm, he lays down a plan of conduct as the mafter of a family, as well as a monarch.
John the Baptift taught his select attendants to pray.
Our bleffed Saviour, whofe life is the only perfect pattern of virtue, was likewife eminent for the practice of this duty, The facred hiftorians frequently remark his joining with VOL. III.
his family or little college of difciples in prayer to God.
Cornelius, the Roman centurion, is defcribed to have been a devout man, and one that feared God with all his houfe, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.
Other fcripture-examples might be mentioned; but thefe are fufficient for evincing family-worship to have been the practice, and of courfe to be the duty, of the faints. Agreeably to these excellent patterns, the bulk of devout Chriftians, in every age and country, have affembled their families, to offer up frequent and united devotions to the great founder of families. Keep then habitually in view thefe venerable characters, and be ambitious to refemble them. Deem it your honour, no lefs than your duty, to be imitators of the bleffed Jefus, and of thofe who, through faith and patience, are now inheriting the promifes. Paul, in the conclufion of his epiftles, often falutes the faints by name, with the churches or focieties of worshippers in their houfes. Let your houfes alfo be as temples of the living God; let your families be nurseries of religion, and focieties of devout worshippers.
4. Attend to the obligations of family-worfhip, from intereft, or the ufeful purposes to which it is fubfervient.
Thefe are various, both with respect to the body and the foul, time and eternity. Were
they confidered with ferioufnefs and impartiality, they would prove powerful inducements to this duty. If performed with fuitable difpofitions of mind, it will draw down the blefling of Heaven upon your families, and your honeft industry. True piety is the moft effectual prefervative from dishonesty, intemperance, and debauchery, which ruin at once the character, fortune, and conftitution. It affords the strongest excitements to industry in business, and the faithful difcharge of the relative duties of life. The fear of God, and the fenfe of a future judgement, which are the principles of moft powerful operation on human conduct, are cherished by the exercifes of devotion. With what propriety can that perfon who hath implored, in the prefence of his family, the divine direction and bleffing on his fecular affairs, neglect his bufinefs, and fpend his time and fubftance in idleness and riot? How can he act the part of an unkind husband, an unfeeling father, a fevere and unreafonable mafter, or an unfaithful friend, after having made a folemn approach to a God of love, and interceded for them and himself before the fearcher of hearts ? Can it be reasonably fuppofed, that one who acknowledges God regularly in his houfe, will dare to profane his name, and deride facred things, in the very prefence of thofe who have been the witneffes of his religious addreffes ? A regard to outward profeffion and character muft powerfully restrain from fuch indecency