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"will doing fervice as unto the Lord, and not " unto men."
Laftly on this argument: The exercifes of family-devotion may prove greatly beneficial to your friends, visitors, or those who may occasionally join you in this duty. A favoury and lafting fenfe of divine things may thereby be produced in their minds; they may have cause to look on your houfes as places where they became first acquainted with God, and your devotions as the happy means of communicating fpiritual life, or filling them with the confolations of religion: "He that "walketh with the wife fhall become wife, "but a companion of fools fhall be de"ftroyed." Let a regard then to your domeftic profperity and comfort determine you to adopt, and put in practice, the refolution of Joshua, "As for me and my houfe, we will "ferve the Lord."
Confider, further, parents, that the intereft of your country will be highly promoted by fuch a conduct, as well as the advantage of your families. There is not so true a patriot as the man who is uniformly religious. The city or country which contains many pious citizens, hath a more powerful defence than ramparts, walls, or military preparations, can afford. Had there been even five righteous perfons in Sodom and Gomorrah, these cities would have been faved from deftruction. It is a truth abfolutely certain, though little attended to or acknowledged, that the present
fafety of the wicked themselves, is owing to their being intermingled in fociety with the juft. Their prayers avert divine judgements, and draw down bleffings upon the places in which they refide, and the communities with which they are connected; their authority, advice, and example, reftrain many from grofs impiety and immorality. Nothing almoft can contribute fo much to preserve and increase a holy feed, as family-religion. The devotional exercifes of a well-regulated family, and the inftructing of children and fervants in Chriftian principles and duties, have an evident and ftrong tendency to promote their growth in grace and religious know. ledge. Families are, in the nature of things, the firft of focieties; out of them larger focieties are formed, or rather they are a combination of them. If families, therefore, are under due government, if the members of them are well-difpofed, the church and ftate to which they belong must be in a flourishing condition. Thefe are nurseries of good men, and good fubjects; this is a fountain from whence proceed many healing ftreams to water the city of our God, and to enrich the countries through which they flow.
The inftructions and impreffions received in youth are generally lafting, and influence mens future character through life. None will be found to be fo honest and induftrious in bufinefs, fo affectionate and faithful in the difcharge of relative duties, or fo zealous and active
active in any caufe of public concern, as those who have been educated in religious families.
Confider the extenfive as well as the benign influence of the duty now recommended. Your children, trained to devotional exercifes, and formed, by the divine bleffing, to the love of piety and goodness under your care, may establish afterwards families of their own, and fet up their altars to God there. They may probably imitate your laudable example, in praying with their children and fervants, and in teaching them carefully those things which relate either to faith or to practice, to their prefent comfort, or future happiness. They again, it may be hoped, will be equally attentive to the religious concerns of their pofterity. By these means a feed fhall be preferved, and multiplied, to ferve God, which fhall be accounted to him for a generation : "One generation fhall praise his works to an"other, and declare his mighty acts. Even "the children who fhall be born, fhall arife "and declare them to their children, that
they alfo may fet their hope in God, and "keep his commandments."
It may be reafonably expected, too, that many of the fervants who have lived in your houses, and have been accustomed to prayer, will carry a praying fpirit out of them; and that when married, or when they have got families of their own, they will maintain the worship of God, and educate their children
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In this way may a fpirit of piety be diffused far and wide, and tranfinitted perhaps from age to age as long as the world lafts.
But, on the other hand, if you neglect this duty, how pernicious may be the confequences to your country, and to pofterity? I cannot exprefs my fentiments on this fubject more ftrongly than in the words of a late pious writer, Orton's Difcourfes, p. 130. "In confequence of your neglect of family-worship,
your children and domeftics may omit it in "their families, and their childrens children 66 may omit it; fo that perhaps, before the "end of the world, there may be hundreds, "and even thousands, defcended from you, "who have in effect learned irreligion and
impiety in your houses, and from your ex. "ample; or at least have never learned reli"gion there. Their wickedness and mifery "may be traced up as high as your neglect of family-worship, and be in fome degree "charged to your account. You had a thou"fand times better leave your families beg
gars, than leave them enemies to God, and "ftrangers to prayer. Whereas, by a faith"ful care in this duty, you may leave a "praying feed, that fhall be the fupport of "religion in every future age, and your joy "and crown of rejoicing at the appearance of "Jefus Chrift." I therefore befeech you who are heads of families, if you love your country, and have a regard to the beft interefts of pofterity,
pofterity, to maintain the worship of God in your houfes.
The laft argument by which I fhall briefly urge your complying with the refolution of Jofhua, "As for me and my houfe, we will "ferve the Lord," is the pleasure or fatiffaction attending family-worship.
What unfpeakable pleasure must it afford to a pious man, to fee his family united in the worship of the great Father of all, and to hear out of the mouths of babes and fucklings the high praises of God? What fatisfaction must it give to a devout and affectionate parent, to communicate to young minds fentiments of piety and virtue, to fee them receiving with eagerness religious inftruction, and profiting by his prayers and example? What joy must arife from the profpect of their becoming ere long pillars of the church of Chrift, and bleffings to fociety? What pleasure must it yield to a master, to obferve his fervants attending with reverence on the ftated devotions of the family, and difcovering the beneficial influence of these religious exercifes, by their piety, diligence, and regularity of manners? How pleafant muft it be to children of proper difpofitions, to feel the watchful and tender care of their parents about their best interests? how agreeable to join with them in thankfgiving to their heavenly Father, and in interceffions for the divine bleffing? Nothing can tend more to increase the joys of domeftic life, VOL. III.