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to thew forth in the morning, and heads of families devoutly calling his faithfulness every night. on God, morning and evening,
After the deluge, we find Noah confefling their fins, asking for. with his family erecting an altar giveness through the Mediator, unto the Lord ; for the purpose | petitioning for favors for themof not only offering family prayer, selves and others, and offering but family praise, for delivering thanksgiving for benefits they them from the deluge which swept have received, there is certainly, away the inhabitants of the old according to experience, much world at large. (Gen. viii.) Af. more reason to hope that their ter Jacob returned from Padan-minds will be seriously impressed aram, he “ said unto his house with these subjects, than though hold, and to all that were with they never heard a prayer ut. him, Put away the strange gods tered in the house of their educathat are among you, and be clean, tion. We acknowledge that the and change your garments. And hearts even of the most profigate let us arise, and go up to Bethel, are in the hand of God, and that and I will make there an altar un. he can by his Spirit take one from to God, who answered me in the a synagogue of Satan, and make day of my distress, and was with him a member of his own family ; me in the way which I went." but this fact furnishes no argument (Gen. xxxv. 2, 3.)
| against parental fidelity, nor does These instances, with others it diminish the obligations of heads which might be adduced from fa- of families to train up those com, cred history, prove the duty of mitted to their care in the nurture family worship. The altar of and admonition of the Lord. praise was an altar of prayer, at The ability of the Most High is which the families of Noah and not the rule of our duty, but the Jacob united. Instances are daily word which he hath given to us, occurring in which families are re. By this, as well as providence, we quired to unite in rendering thanks learn, that a pious education has to God for deliverances and mer. a strong tendency to form the cies. This duty implies family mind to a wife and good course. prayer.
While the members of families 3. A third argụment to enforce hear the heads of them praying, the duty of family prayer, may be from day to day, for the sorrowful taken from the hopeful good in and the afflicted, the rich and the fluence which it may have on the poor, the high and the low, the youth in families. Most house. righteous and the wicked, the holds are made up of a majority church and the world, and for of young persons ; and it is rare their souls in particular, is it not to find a family without a child or much more probable that they a youth in it. In the morning of will feel the worth of gospel sal. life, the mind receives a direction, vation, than if it were not in that even on moral and religious subo | folemn manner fet before their jects, which is feldom loft. Hence minds? it is of the greatest importance 1 4. The duty of family prayer that the first impressions be good, may be inferred from its tendency or favorable to a pious course of to prevent openly vicious practices living.
from being allowed in houses. While the young behold the ! There are some vices which throw
families into such disorder as to best means, or refifteth very clear prevent a regular arrangement in light. This observation will be any thing, and consequently shut found to apply, with very few, if out seasons of collecting for devo- any exceptions, to the profligates tion. Let much of the night be who have been educated in a land spent in gay company and vain of gospel light. We conclude amusements, evening prayer will | from it that family prayer has a be omitted, and so also will prayer Arong tendency to hand religion in the morning ; because this will | down to future generations ; and be consumed in Neep to make up that to be a member of such a for the loss of rest in the proper family ought to bę esteemed a high time. Besides, when animal na- privilege. Would it be fair reature has been exhaufted by anuse foning to conclude that there was ments, a torpid and careless frame no benefit to be derived from memof mind usually follows, which is bership in Chrift's family when he very remote from a dispofition to was on the earth, because there was call upon God.
a Judas among the twelve ? Can we believe that houses of 6. As we advance in the pres. riọt, profaneness, gambling, and ent subject, an allusion will next debauchery, would continue to be be made to a few fcripture passasuch, if God's name were invoked ges which imply the duty of famin them, both morning and even- | ily prayer. ing? Let those who have kept A fair argument in support of such houses, set up the practice of the duty which we are now confamily prayer, and continue in it, lidering, may be drawn from the and they will find a revolution in morning and evening sacrifices un. the manners of their domeftics, der the law. (Exodus xxx. 6, 7.) as well as in themselves.
Aaron was directed to burn in-5. The duty of family prayer, cense on an altar made for that may be argued from its tendency purpose, every morning when he to propagate piety from one gen- dreffed the lamps, and when he eration to another. We are jufti- lighted the lamps at evening. fied in this conclufion from expe- This was ftiled a perpetual inrience. We find many more in. cense before the Lord throughout ftances of praying families where the generations of the children of the heads had been trained up in Israel. That this kind of offering houses of prayer, than among was to be accompanied with prayer, those who had been educated in a is plain from Lukei. where it is different manner. We also find declared that while Zecharias was many more pious persons descend. burning incense in the temple of ing from such families, than from the Lord, the whole multitude of those of the opposite character. the people were praying without.
Sons of Belial have, indeed, There is great propriety in of been seen to arise out of religious fering prayer to God in our famifamilies. It has been observed of lies, morning and evening ; besuch, that they are uncommonly cause thefeintroduce the two prin. abandoned to wickedness : This cipal divisions of the day. When affords good evidence of the worth the day commences or opens with of the means which they had en- the morning light, it appears joyed. No one ever becomes very highly becoming, that we return abandoned unless he abuses the thanks to God for our preserva.
tion during the hours of sleep and quire it, the kind of prayer prac. of darkness, and that we ask for tised, morning, noon and night, the divine care, direction and sup- was secret and not social prayer. port in the business, and amidt the Hence no argument can be drawn temptations and dangers of the from it that family prayer is to be day. When the light disappears, performed in a stated manner, ex. it is equally proper, that we ren- cept in the beginning and the close der thanks to our kind Beneface of the day. torfor the mercies and deliverances | The evidence in support of famexperienced through the hours ofily prayer'is increased when we at: labor and care ; and that we look tend to the commendation given up to him for his protection by the Almighty to Abraham, the through the defenceless hours of resolution of Joshua, and the pracflumber, as well as during our tice of David. Jehovah teftifia wakeful moments.
eth concerning Abraham, “ ForI It has sometimes been asked know him that he will command why family prayer is rot to be fta- his children and his household af. tedly performed three times in a ter him, and they fhall keep the day from the words of the Psalm. way of the Lord, to do justice it. Pfalm lv. “. Evening and and judgment ; that the Lord morning, and at noon, will I may bring upon Abraham that pray and cry aloud ; and he shall which he hath spoken of him.” hear my voice.” To this it may (Gen. xviii. 19.) Joshua resolvbe answered that it evidently ap- eth, “ As for me and my house, pears, that the Pfalmift refers to we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua fecret prayer in this place, and to xxiv. 15.) When David attenno other kind; as will be plain to ded on the joyful occasion of any one who examines the cou). bringing the ark into his place, and tents. It is also plain that the after he had finished the offerings Psalmist uttered the resolution just made at that time he “ returned mentioned in a time of trouble, to bless his household.” (2 Samwhen it is altogether suitable that ( uel vi. 20.) the people of God should look to From the divine attestation gir. him by prayer continually. Dan. en to the renowned Patriarch, iel when the Jewish church was in from the resolution of Joshua, and captivity, prayed and gave thanks from the practice of David, we to God three times a day. (Dan. can incontestibly prove that famvi. 10.) Péter, amidst the law ily religion is sanctioned by the bors and the dangers which he was authority of God. Can we have called to perform and endure, re- any idea of social religion without tired for prayer about the middle social prayer? All will grant who of the day. (Acts x. 9.). It is profess to believe the bible, that said that the more devout among social prayer belongs to public the Jews used to retire for prayer worship. How then is it possible at noon, as well as in the morning to exclude social prayer from the and in the evening. The same family, when this last is only a practice is said to have been ob smaller assembly than that which served among the primitive Chris | collects at the house of God? tians. But it does not appear But a greater than Abraham, that the divine law required it; Joshua and David is here. Jesus or if we supposed that it did re. ' Christ, the Son of God, hath ap
not! We God will they
peared in the flesh, and hath in- make this objection, confider the culcated family prayer by his ex. antiquity of any practice as a sufample. Often do we find him ta- ficient reason for rejecting it, unking the particular disciples who less in religious concerns ? The composed his immediate family, | use of money in commerce is very afide from the multitude, and pray- ancient. We find it as far back ing with them. The
as the time of Abraham. Will 7th, and last argument which I you refuse to receive money for shall adduce in support of the du- the property which you sell, bety which has been urged, shall be cause it is an old custom ? Will taken from the passage recorded you neglect to till your ground, or in Jeremiah x. 25. “Pour out thy to plow and sow, because it is an fury upon the heathen that know old custom? thee not, and upon the families The other part of the objection that call not on thy name.” | is, that family prayer is “ handed Those families cannot be consider- down by tradition,” The word ed as calling upon God who do tradition is used in a good as well not pray to him in a social man- as in a bad sensein the bible. That ner. We read their doom. The it is often used in a bad sense, no wrath of God will be poured out one will deny who is much acupon them. If they remain in quainted with the inspired writings. their prayerless state, it may be Paulexhorteththe church in Thesexpected that they will, if they salonica as follows : " Brethren, do not already, hold all serious stand fast, and hold the traditions religion in open contempt, and which ye have been taught, whe.. that they will go from bad to ther by word, or our cpistle.” worse until it shall be awfully veri- | (2 Thess. ji. 15.) Here the fied in their punishment that the word traditions is used in a good curse of the Lord is in the house | sense. In order to determine of the wicked.
whether any thing which is a matHaving attempted, in a brief ter of tradition, be good or bad, and plain manner, to show that we must determine from whom it family prayer is a reasonable and cometh. If it is of human ori. scriptural duty of great impor- gin, it has no claim to bind the tance, I proceed,
conscience, but if it cometh from II. To considersome of the ob | God, it is obligatory upon us. I jections which have been brought trust that it has been made to apagainst it.
pear that family prayer is of God. OBJECTION 1.
and that therefore it is handed " I don't think it to be worth down to us from him. Let not while to attend to family prayer, the objector, therefore attempt to for it is an old custom handed Thield himself in his neglect, by down by tradition.”
urging that family prayer is an In reply, I would observe, that old custom handed down by tra. family prayer is an old custom. dition. It is coeval with the existence of
OBJECTION 11. godly families. But what ob- ' “ Some pray in their families jection can lie againft the prac- who practise evil in their lives, and tice from its great antiquity? Is therefore have no proper sense of it a bad or a foolish custom because the duty which they profess to it is an old one ? Will you who perform.”
Reply. There is no one, whe-yourselves as Noah did in the old ther he pray or not, who does not world, and as Lot did in Sodom. practise evil. There is not a just You may be instrumental of reman upon earth that doeth good forming others by your example. and finneth not. When we charge A few religious families generally our neighbor with having no prop- ftrike a damp upon the loose who er fense of what he is doing while are near them, and check them in in family prayer, we ought to be their career. cautious left we be guilty of the But if you should meet with rath judging which is condemned reproaches and sufferings for in the scriptures. A difpofition righteousness' sake, you will have to fuspect the fincerity of every the approbation of your own conone we meet, does not discover a sciences, and what is infinitely good temper in us.
greater, the approbation of God. But let us suppose the worst if you are called to be fingular in which the objector can intend the ways of piety, and if you meet which is, That some praying heads with scoffers every day, the period of families are false to their en- will soon come when you shall regagements, and fraudulent in their ceive a glorious reward in heaven, dealings. What relief can you and when hypocrites, unbelievers, prayerless heads of families find mockers, and cavillers of every here? It is a melancholy fact that kind, will be filled with fhame, the best things in life have been and held up as objects of everlastperverted to bad purposes by wick. | ing contempt. ed men. What does this prove? | овЈЕст10N Iv. Not the badness of the thing per- “ I am so diffident that I canverted, but the badness of the not lead in family prayer.” man who is guilty of such abuse. The diffidence of which you Should your hypocritical neighbor complain is a difficulty which go on to hell after all his seeming | moft labor under, in their first en. devotion, what relief will this af- trance on this duty. If you labor ford you, when you must give ac- to overcome it, you will find it to count of yourself to God? Will | decrease. It will diminish by a you dare plead then the hypocrisy continued course of praying. En. of others, to save you from the deavor to set the fear of God be. condemnation of the prayerless ? fore your eyes ; which can carry Remember that each one is to be you above the slavish fear of man. judged in the next world ac- Be fervent in your supplications cording to his own character, and to Him who helpeth our infirmi. not according to the character of ties, and you will rise above overanother.
whelming discouragements in adOBJECTION 1.
dressing the throne of grace. 6 Most around me neglect fam
OBJECTION V. ily prayer; I cannot therefore en- « I have no gift in prayer, and dure the fingularity or the scoffs therefore must be excused from with which I shall be viewed and leading in family devotion." treated, if I set up the practice."! Reply. Placed as you are at
Is it indeed fó, that irreligion the head of a family, be suitably generally prevails in your neighbors affected with the thought of neg· hood ? Make an effort to item the lecting to seek God with your
torrent of iniquity. Distinguish household. Conlder also that