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S E R M Q N

I.

Family-Worship recommended.

By ANDREW HUNTER, D. D.

Jos. xxiv. 15

As for me and my house, we will ferve the Lord.

T

HESE words are part of a solemn address to God's ancient people Ifrael, de

livered by Joshua at the close of an active and useful life ; and could not fail to command attention, as they proceeded from one no lefs venerable for age, wisdom, and experience, than for his unfhaken integrity, high rank, and illustrious deeds. Verf. 14. “Now " therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in “ fincerity and truth, and put away the " gods which your fathers served on the o" ther side of the flood, and in Egypt; and “ ferve ye the Lord. And if it feem evil unto you to serve the Lord, chuse you

this “ day whom you will serve, whether the gods " whom your

fathers served that were on the “ other fide of the food, (viz. Jordan), or “ the gods of the Aniðrites, in whose 'land

ye dwell." Then he adds his own fixed determination :,“ But as for me and my house, VOL. III. А

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we will serve the Lord;" that is, I am refolved to be religious myself to the end of life, and to recommend the service of God to my relations, and all under my roof, by my advice, example, and influence : I am determined to check impiety and licentiousness, and to use my best endeavours that all my family join me in the worship and obedience of the living God. Such is the purport of the reso. Tution of this worthy general.

Imagine not, however, that Joshua thought it entirely in his own power, or in the power of any master of a family, to make all those who dwell in his house fincerely pious and how ly. Many, after their best endeavours, have had melancholy experience of the contrary. To change the heart, is the work of God. But Joshua was resolved, that nothing should be wanting on his part to promote the spiritual welfare of all in his house; and trusted, that the divine blefling would render his endeavours fuccefsful. It is not unlikely, indeed, that the domestics of this good man were piously disposed, like himself; and that, from his knowledge of their character, he might venture to promise on their faithful adherence to the duties of religion : “ As for me and

my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Various are the methods by which the head of a family may promote the religious interests of those under his roof; by instructing them in the principles and duties of religion, join, ing with them daily in the exercises of devo

tion, frequent catechiling of younger persons, admonishing and reproving the thoughtless and vitious, and finally exhibiting in his own life an amiable representation of religion, a bright pattern of every Christian virtue.

To no cause can the present declining state of piety, and growing licentiousness of manners, be more justly attributed, than to the great neglect of family-religion. Were heads of families at due pains to perform the important duties now fuggefted, we might with reason indulge the pleasing hope, that our Zion would yet flourish, “ that righteousnefs “ would run down our streets as a stream, " and judgement like a mighty current." To thofe therefore in this affembly who are pla. ced in that character or relation of life, would I now address myself; and gladly would I persuade them to adopt and effectuate the refolution of the victorious leader of Israel, As for me and my house, we will serve the " Lord.”

The particular branch of family-religion which I propose to recommend at present, is family-worship: A very important duty; and which I am persuaded there is at this time the greatest need to inculcate ; for there never was a period in which it was more generally neglected. Every attentive reader of the context will discover, that serving the Lord means here, paying worship or homage to him, as expressed by adoration, thankfgiving, and sup plication ; for it is put in opposition to the

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neglect neglect of religious worship, or grofs mistakes as to the object of it.

It shall be my endeavour, in dependence on divine grace, 1. to point out and enforce the obligations to the daily practice of familyworship; 2. To examine and refutę apologies for the neglect of it; and conclude with an application suitable to my subject.

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I. ATTEND then to the reasonableness of this duty. It is hardly needful to observe, that the difference between family-worship and the other.fpecies of devotion, viz. secret and pu. blic worship, is, that the former is the act of a family, and should have a reference to the state of it at the time; the latter are the acts of an individual, or of a large fociety, and should likewise have a respect to their particu-lar circumstances. Now what can be more fit, than that a family should unite in the worfhip of the living God? In whatever point of view we consider it, this will appear to be a reasonable service. Every argument that can be propofed with respect to the obligations of prayer in general, might be urged with strength in support of this branch of it; but we shall confine ourselves to those which are more strictly connected with this duty.

1. The supreme Being is the founder of families, and therefore should be acknowledged .by them as such, .. It is a clear principle of reason, That God

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fhould be acknowledged by his rational creatures in every relation in which his providence hath placed them. Now, if this is unqueftionably one of the most important relations of life, it is obviously. fit, that those who are placed in it should frequently join in a corre-, fpondent act of homage to him who “ settleth " the bounds of their habitations.” If secret prayer is our duty as individuals, if public worship is binding on men as members of a community; family.worship is as much obligatory on us as members of families ; for what are families but fmaller societies? It is God who is the eftablisher of households ; it is he who formed for man a help meet for him, and who appointed the facred bond of marriage for the mutual comfort of both par. ties, and for the continuing of a feed to serve him. It is the Almighty who “placeth the “ solitary in families; children are his heri.

tage, and the fruit of the womb his re“ ward.” He is the father of all the families of the earth; his providence continually prefides over their respective interests, and di. rects every event that befals them.

( A fon " honoureth his father, and a servant his 6 master.” The subordination of nature and of society requires it. Should not then our heavenly. Parent and Master receive the ho. mage of every family of reasonable beings, seeing he is invested with these characters in a much higher degree than they ever obtain among men?

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