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neglect of religious worship, or grofs mistakes as to the object of it.
IT fhall 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 refute apologies for the neglect of it; and conclude with an application fuitable to my fubject.
I. ATTEND then to the reasonableness of this duty. It is hardly needful to obferve, that the difference between family-worship and the other fpecies of devotion, viz. fecret and public worship, is, that the former is the act of a family, and fhould have a reference to the ftate of it at the time; the latter are the acts of an individual, or of a large fociety, and fhould likewise have a respect to their particu-lar circumftances. 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 confider it, this will appear to be a reafonable fervice. Every argument that can be propofed with refpect to the obligations. of prayer in general, might be urged with ftrength in fupport of this branch of it; but we shall confine ourselves to thofe which are more strictly connected with this duty.
1. The fupreme Being is the founder of families, and therefore fhould be acknowledged by them as fuch.
It is a clear principle of reafon, That God fhould
fhould be acknowledged by his rational crea tures 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 obvioufly fit, that those who are placed in it should frequently join in a corre fpondent act of homage to him who "fettleth "the bounds of their habitations." If fecret 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 focieties? It is God who is the establisher 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 ferve him. It is the Almighty who "placeth the "folitary in families; children are his heri66 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 refpective interefts, and directs every event that befals them. "A fon "honoureth his father, and a fervant his "master." The fubordination of nature and of fociety requires it. Should not then, our heavenly Parent and Mafter receive the homage of every family of reafonable beings,. feeing he is invefted with thefe characters in a much higher degree than they ever obtain a-mong men?
2. If we take a view of the ftate of families, we will fee the peculiar reasonableness and propriety of this duty.
Hath not every family many fins to confefs before God? Is not every member chargeable with adding to the guilt of their finall fociety, by innumerable omiffions and violations of duty? Are not many families apt to exceed in the ufe 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 folicitude and parfimony, on the other, in the management of their fecular affairs? Do not many children give early indications of perverse tempers, and a ftrong 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, abufe of the means of their education, the difregard or neglect of things facred? Do not fervants increafe much the guilt of families, both by frequent inattention to religious obligations, and the defective performance of the duties of their ftation ? Is it not then highly proper that family-fins, whether of a more or lefs aggravated kind, fhould be acknowledged before God in frequent and united acts of humble confeffion? May not judgements, instead of bleffings, be expected by those whofe tranfgreffions are not confeffed
ed with contrition, and whofe hearts are hardened through the deceitfulness of fin?
Further, the reasonablenefs of family devotion appears from the many favours we are daily receiving from the hand of God. It is the who gives us food and raiment, comfortable lodging, and refreshing fleep; it is he who protects us from innumerable dangers, who reftores the fick to health, and continues us in the exercife of our rational powers; it is he who profpers industry, and crowns our honeft undertakings with fuccefs. To his good providence we are indebted for being born in a land of liberty, and enjoying, in purity and plenty, the light and ordinances of the gofpel. Thefe and other bleflings are feattered with a more liberal hand upon fome families than on others; but there is none which doth not receive various proofs of the divine benignity. Should not thefe be devoutly acknowledged? Would not an indigent family, who derived their fupport from fome generous benefactor, be justly deemed moft ungrateful and unworthy, if the different members, or the head of it, as the mouth of the reft, did not exprefs a warm fenfe of fuch obligations. Is it not then unquestionably fit and reafonable, that a daily facrifice of thankfgiving and praise fhould be offered up by Chriftian 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 fhould daily implore the forgiveness of thofe fins of which every member of the family hath been guilty, and afk thofe fupplies of grace which are fuited to our different circumftances and occafions. When we confider to what duties we are called, and to what trials we are expofed, 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, ftrength to refift temptations to intemperance, unlawful gain, or any forbidden pleasure; knowledge, prudence, and activity, for the difcharge of their respective duties; fuccefs to their different ftudies and worldly purfuits; patience and fortitude of mind under the afflictions and disappointments of life? How proper is it to pray, that ungodly relations, children, or other domeftics, may undergo a faving change of nature; and that those who are religiously difpofed may go on, with increafing ftrength, in the ways of piety and holiness? As the circumftances of fami lies are various, the petitions of those who prefide in thefe united acts of devotion, should correfpond to their different emergencies and fituations.
How can you reafonably expect the bleffings of which you stand in need, if you are not at the pains to ask them? Did you know