« AnteriorContinuar »
one flesh, live in eternal brawls, wrangles and contradictions, What is their house but a Babel ? Amidst such a tumultuous scene, Can the members unite their hearts and voices in the daily worship of their Creator? Or, Will God regard their offering, or accept it with good will at their hands? God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. Let all things be done decently and in order.
2. If social worship, and the religious education of children, are duties incumbent on all heads of families, then there ought to be a knowledge of the nature, a belief of the principles, and a regard to the duties of religion, in all who enter into the mar. ried state. The ignorant, the unprincipled, the profane, when they unite to become the heads of a household, are often the guilty instruments of bringing forward a family for ruin. Let none think them. selves qualified for so important a trust, until they have acquired such a knowledge of religion, and possess such a sense of its importance, as to be a. ble and disposed to maintain those duties of piety, government and instruction, which are expressly enjoined on all who are placed in that station. What, then, you will ask, Are none but the godly allowed to marry ? Know, my pert young friend, none who marry are allowed to be ungodly. Remem. ber, religion is of importance to you now in your single capacity; and its importance will be vastly in. creased, when you become the head of a family ; for then you will stand in a connexion with others, whose virtue and happiness will much. depend on your conduct.
And you, my brethren, who have children grow. ing up under your care, realize your obligation to bring them forward on the stage of life, furnished with such religious knowledge and sentiments, that when they, in their turn, shall become heads of fam. - lies, they may transmit religion to another genera:
tion. For this purpose, you must maintain the worship of God in your houses, in the manner which has been recommended. Perhaps there are some who study evasions and excuses, and determine to continue in their neglect. But after all you can say, I dare appeal to your conscience, whether there is not such evidence of the indispensable obligation of this duty, as would be more than sabiego w y enough to satisfy you in any case, where your mind
, a no stood previously indifferent. I dare appeal to your conscience, whether you are restrained from praying in your family, by a persuasion that it is an un. scriptural and unwarrantable practice ; or by an apprehension that it will bring guilt on your soul, and misery on your family. I dare appeal to your conscience, whether your neglect of family worship is not owing more to a spirit of indifference, than to a. ny real scruples in the matter. Bring the question home, for once, to your conscience, Whether you did not first omit it through disinclination, and then seek reasons to justify the omission ? It was not a sense of duty that dictated the neglect; but previ. óus neglect that suggested your evasions of the du. ty. However easy it may be, in the days of pros. perity, to reconcile your minds to a prayerless life, yet in the day of family adversity, when your children are by death torn from your embraces, or when you feel yourselves under his arrest, the reflection on such a life will pierce you through and through. Encouraged by God's gracious promisés in favour of the godly and their houses, and awed by the threatenings of his wrath against the families which call not on his name, adopt the res. olution of the pious captain of Israel As for me, and my house, we willserve the Lord.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus; who for
my sake hade leid down their own necks ; unto whom not only I live thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Like visc greet the church that is in their house.
UILA, and his wife Priscilla, the two persons whom Paul here salutes, are several times named in his epistles, and always mentioned with particular marks of friendship and esteem. His first acquaintance with them was at Corinth. It is said in the 18th chapter of the Acts, Paul came to Corinth, and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome. Aquila was by na. tion a Jew; the place of his birth was Pontus, a province in lesser Asia, where great numbers of Jews inhabited; and he had lately made his residence in Rome. But a company of thieves in Ju. dea, having fallen on one Stephanas, a servant of the emperour, robbed his baggage, and slain the sol. diers who guarded it, an edict was passed, requiring all Jews to leave that city. In conse
quence of this edict, Aquila, with his wife, came to Corinth, and there wrought in his occupation, which was that of a tent maker.
He is said, by the ancients, to have been a man of great learning. St. Jerom makes mention of him and of his writings. He says, the books of the prophets were, by this learned Jew, translated from the Hebrew into the Greek language, for the bene. fit of the Greeks. From this translation, which was extant in his time, he makes frequent quotations.
Paul, coming from Athens to Corinth, meets with Aquila, takes lodging in his house, and abides there for some time, working with him in his occupation, as he had leisure ; but preaching every sabbath, in the synagogue, to Jews and Greeks, who resorted thither to hear him. It was probably at this time, that Aquila and his wife first gained the knowledge and professed the faith of the gospel. As they enjoyed Paul's company for some time in their own house, as well as heard him preach statedly in the synagogue, they doubtless became well instructed in the nature and evidence of the Christian religion. Accordingly we find, that they were able to expound to Apollos the way of God more perfectly, than he had before understood it. · Paul's residence with them laid a foundation for a close and intimate friendship, which we find re. maining until the time of his death. In his second epistle to Timothy, which he wrote in his last bonds, when he was ready to be offered, he remembers them in his salutations.
How worthy they were of his affection and es. teem, we learn from the character given of them in the words which we have chosen for our text. With united attention they had helped Paul in his labours for Christ. With the hazard of their own lives they had preserved his for the service of the churches. And while they promoted the general interest of religion, they were careful to maintain it in their own family. They had a church in their house.
The contemplation of the character and example of these pious persons, will bring home to us some instructions in our own duty. • I. This godly couple appear to have been happily .united in all their concerns, and especially in the great concerns of religion.
On all occasions they are both mentioned together ; neither of them is once named without the other. They were one flesh, and one spirit. They appear as patterns of conjugal union. They dwelt together in days of tranquility, and jointly shared in the calamities of banishment. With united shands they laboured in the occupation by which their household (was supported. Wherever one went or resided, the other attended; whatever bu. siness employed one, the other assisted ; and in their salutations to the churches, both unite. When Paul salutes one, he salutes the other; he speaks of both as his helpers in Christ; he acknowledges both, as having laid down their necks for him ; and he commends both as presiding in their house, and rendering it a church of Christ. Aquila had such understanding in the things of religion, that he was able to instruct Apollos, a man mighty in the scriptures of the old testament. And Priscilla had made such proficiency in Christian knowledge, that - she was able to assist him in expounding the way of
the Lord. • Thus cemented by love, sharing together in all changes of condition, uniting in the labours of life, and cooperating in the duties of religion, they must have enjoyed all the felicities, which can spring from the conjugal relation.