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that pomp or splendour, which so often coa vers the deformity of vice, a mean of throwing a lustre upon religion, and of rendering a thing so truly excellent in itself, more refpectable in our eyes.
2dly, It is but too obvious, that the neglect of family-worship prevails chiefly among. those who either are; or imagine themfelves to be of a better rank than others : nay, some who were punctual in the performance of this duty while their station and circumstances were low, have been observed to lay it aside, when, by the bounty of Providence, their state became more profperous, This presents us with a very melancholy prospect, and threatens nothing less than the utter extinction of family-religion. For if once it becomes a maxim, that this duty is below the rank of a gentleman, then every one who affects to be thought of that rank will forbear it. In this case, it is imposlible to foresee where the evil may stop ;- aš there are few people in the world, who do not imagine that they either are, or deserve to be, of equal consideration with their neighbours. I have therefore, thought it necef
fary to pitch upon nothing lower than a royal example, that the vanity of no man may take it amiss when I call upon him to follow it.
We have an account, in the preceding verses, of David's bringing up the ark of God from the house Obed-edom, into his own city. This was done with shouting, and with the found of the trumpet; the king himself, girded with a linen ephod, attending the folemnity, with the highest expressions of thankfulness and joy. When the ark was set in its place, in the midst of the tabernacle that was prepared for it, then David, as we read in the 17th verse, offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings before the Lord, and afterwards dismissed the afsembly with presents which he dealt among all the people, having first blessed them in the name of the Lord of hosts. This he did as the father of his people. But he did not stop here. The duties of his public office and character did not make him forget what was incumbent upon him in his priTate capacity : for, as my text informs us, * Then David returned to bless his house
s bold;" i. e. to pray with them and for them, and probably to offer up his familythanksgivings for the great national mercy which he had been celebrating in the public affembly.-- From this plain and instructive passage of Scripture-history, I shall take occasion, in the · First place, To prove, that it is the indispensable duty of all to whom God hath given families, to worship God publicly in their own houses ; or, that every man is bound, according to the example of David,
to bless his household.” In the
Second place, I shall show you the reas fonableness of this duty. And then, in the
Third place; I shall represent to you the advantages which accompany the practice of it, and the pernicious confequences which must follow from the neglect of it.
I BEGIN with proving, that it is the indispensable duty of all to whom God hath given families, to worship God publicly in their own houses. This is a truth which : even the light of nature doth very plainly
teach us. A family is a fociety connected together by such strict ties, that every argument for the propriety of private prayer, is equally conclufive for that of family-devo. tion of this even the Heathens were senfible: for besides their tutelar 'deities, who were supposed to preside over cities and nations, and who had public honours paid to them in that character, we read of household-gods, whoin every private fainily worshipped at home as their immediate guardians and benefactors.
But the light of Scripture affords us a ; more clear and satisfying discovery of our obligations to this duty, as well as of the proper manner of performing it. It reveals to us that great Mediator, by whom we have access to the throne of grace, and through whom all our religious services are accepted by God. It not only represents prayer as a privilege which we are permitted to use, but expressly requires it as a duty which we are bound to perform. Thus we are commanded, “ In every thing, by prayer and “ fupplication, with thanksgiving, to make “'our requests known unto God; to pray VOL. III.
“ always, with all prayer and fupplication * in the Spirit, and to continue in prayer :”. And it is observable, that this last exhortation is particularly addressed to masters of families, as you may read, (Coloff. iv. 1, 2.), “ Masters, give unto your servants. that “. which is just and equal, knowing that ye “ also have a Master in heaven.” The Apostle goes on, still addressing them in the same character ;. “. Continue in prayer, and “ watch in the fame, with thanksgiving." In the same strain Paul writes to Timothy,(1 Tim. ii. 8.), “ I will therefore, that men “ pray every where, lifting up holy hands, “ without wrath or doubting.” And surely, if in all places men ought to lift up holy hands unto God, much more ought they to do so in their own families, which are immediately under their care, and for whose spiritual as well as temporal interest they ought to be chiefly concerned. Accordingly, we learn from the facred history, that this has been the uniform practice of good men in all ages of the world. The care of the ancient. Patriarchs, to keep up familyreligion, is very remarkable. We find A