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of God fell very dreadfully on him and on his offspring. To all this it may be added, that there is much which christian parents have it in their power to secure. They can uphold the stated and regular observance of family worship. If their children are not of weak intelligence, they can lodge very much of scriptural statement even in the infant mind. And, therefore, if the devotional exercises in an elder's house be irregular and intermittent; or if his family, when applying for admission into the church, be found, on examination, to be ignorant of revealed truth and unfamiliar with its language, at a loss to express one bible doctrine, or prove it by a single text, and still halting and blundering when the commonest passages have. been hinted at and half repeated, there is a demon.' strated and radical evil in such household administration, and an imperative call for humiliation and amendment. But who of us has not need to institute such reformation ? In what circle of kindred or friends is there not too little of religious discourse, too little of devotional spirit and engagement, too little of dissuasion from sin, consolation under trial, and stimulus in duty ? In the prospect of death, men set their house in order; but the best preparation for that solemn issue is to order it well in life. habitual converse with endeared relatives have a kindness, and faithfulness, and sacredness, befitting the prospect of soon parting from them, with an ulterior hope of again meeting them to part no more, for ever. Would we be found with the seed of Abralam, and inherit the promise of having our families
blessed in him? Then let us copy that faithfulness which elicited the acknowledgment : 'I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.' * Would we be favoured with Joshua in guiding a chosen people to a promised country—a spiritual Israel to a heavenly Canaan? Let us adopt his pious resolution : “As for me and my house, we will serre the Lord.'t Would we sing with David of mercy, as well as of judgment? With him let us exclaim : "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.'1 A right discharge of public duty will always dispose us to visit our habitations, and not sin; and, on the other hand, the transition will be appropriate and joyous from the private tabernacle of the upright to the public tabernacle of the congregation-from a dwelling of Jacob to the gates of Zion.
It is time, however, to speak of the duties which devolve on elders as such, and which directly respect their official appointment. These duties are performed by elders individually, or in their collective and sessional capacity. It may be well to consider these two classes of duties distinctively and in succession.
Gen. xvii. 19.
+ Josh. xxiv. 15.
| Ps. ci. 1, etc.
OFFICIAL DUTIES OF ELDERS VIEWED INDIVIDUALLY-EACH
HIS DISTRICT - · DISTRICT ROLL-BOOK VISITATION OF CHURCH MEMBERS-VISITATION OF THE SICK-EXPOSTULA
TION WITH OFFENDERS-ATTENTIONS TO THE YOUNG
Sect. 1.-Each elder should have a portion of the congregation, residing within a defined district, committed to his special superintendence. An arrangement of this character is absolutely indispensable to the good of the church. If all the elders have charge of all the members, each will trust to another; and the infallible result will be, that congregational duty will fall into confusion and neglect. Let no elder, then, want his district; without it he is a sentinel at large, or, in other words, no sentinel at all. The district of each elder should be of such extent as he can effectively overtake. If it be too large, he will not do it justice ; and when he cannot do all the duty, he will find a ready excuse for not dring almost any duty, and for discharging his whole trust in a negligent and cursory manner. A precise rule is not attainable in such cases, because elders have very different measures of time at their command ; and what is moderation for one, might be excess for another ; but, generally speaking, no elder should be charged with the inspection of more than twenty, or, at the most, twenty-five families.
SECT. 2.-Each elder, to whose care a section of
the congregation has been assigned, should also have a district roll-book. Some might get on without it; but in most cases it is necessary, and in all cases useful. This roll should not be a meagre list of names. The bounds of the district, with the localities it comprehends, should be first of all stated. After the names of the members, their place of residence, their occupation, the number and ages of their children should be all notified; and hints may be subjoined of any peculiarities in their circumstances and history, which a minister or other friend would find advantageous in visiting and addressing them. There is no difficulty in giving this plan effect. District roll-books are now on sale, which indicate by their headings how they are to be filled up, and leave no room for perplexity or mistake. A degree of carefulness is required in keeping them correct, as church members come and leave ; and, even while they remain in the same congregation, often shift from one district to another; but if the lists be corrected frequently, they will be corrected easily, and a reluctance to undergo this small amount of trouble would be a sorry token of fitness for the eldership.*
It may seem trivial to dilate on a matter of statistics and registration; but even morals have
* I beg to call most favourable attention to Mr D. ROBERTSON'S Church Stationery, including the Communicant's Roll-Book, tlie Elder's or Deacon's District Roll-Book, the Clergyman's VisitingBook, etc. A more general use of these auxiliaries to ecclesiastical superintendence would do much to originate or promote important reformation in our churches,
their mechanism essential to their working, and the instrumentality now recommended is of first consequence to spiritual superintendence. Its importance will become more manifest, as the scheme of which it forms a part becomes more fully developed. But our elders will bear with us meanwhile, when we entreat them in no case, and on no account, to want this tabular view of their districts, or fail in bringing them up to the existing date with scrupulous fidelity. If professors in our colleges keep catalogues of their students, and carefully record their attendance and appearances, with every circumstance affecting a just estimate of their respective standings—if our elders themselves, in their secular callings, not only register the names of parties with whom they deal, but preserve the most exact account of every circumstance in every transaction—is it too much to expect that a kindred vigilance be dislayed, and similar memoranda preserved, by responsible stewards in the house of God?
Sect. 3. The preceding suggestion will be the more easily acted on, if attention be paid to another, which we now subjoin, in exhorting elders to visit their districts. The elder may accompany the minister, as is very common, in his regular ministerial visitation ; but the elder should also visit his district alone. The minister has to inspect all the congregation, and a considerable time is required to complete the circuit of all its families. He is often grieved, indeed, that his periodical calls, owing to the pres.