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the Psalms, by the Book of Common Prayer, by other sound forms of prayer,
become furnished with properideas, and know,-what is indeed the right method for secret prayer,—how to pour forth some real feelings of your hearts before God. Speak to him in the name of his Son Jesus : Venture in that way, till you gain by experience some practical knowledge of God and his dealings with men. Provoke him not to anger by continuing still to live in any known sin; and make it your object to SEEK,
die. Christian believers, the subject of this dicourse speaks to you nothing but comfort. All your trials, temptations, crosses, inward and outward sufferings are ordained in number, weight and measure, by your God. Surely, he values you more than many sparrows; and, if “the very hairs of your head are all numbered," what is there of your minutest concerns that is not ordered by the Providence of God? He it was, who directed the first circumstances of your conversion by the influences of his Spirit. He ordered the Scripture-passage, the Sermon, the Book, the occasion, the friend,—whatever it was, —by which you were first awakened to real seriousness and godly concern. His Providence has been with
you, watched over you, and continued to supply you with pardoning and sanctifying grace. He has delivered. you from many snares; and you can recount many seasons in which he has, particularly, afforded you help and comfort. What remains but to be cheerful, and patient, and submissive to his will ? “ He shall guide you by his counsel, and after that receive you to glory."
FAMILY INSTRUCTION, RECOMMENDED FROM
THE EXAMPLE OF ABRAHAM.
Genesis, xviii. 19.
For 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
It is a very honourable character which the Lord here gives of Abraham, the father of the faithful. He is, in truth, one of the most eminent Saints of Scripture, and is particularly proposed as the pattern of believers in all ages.
He was justified before God by faith, having nothing whereof he might glory in himself, as St. Paul carefully and repeatedly assures us. But being thus justified in Christ Jesus, the promised seed, in whom alone all the nations of the earth should be blessed, he became a new creature, and produced the works of the new creature. This he did in an eminent degree, as in other respects, so in this, for which the Lord makes honourable mention of him in the text, namely, the religious instruction and education of his children and family. And the Lord in this passage, admits him to a familiar converse with
himself concerning the destruction of Sodom; and observes that his religious care of his household would be attended with the very best effects,—the propagation of piety and justice to posterity, and the fulfilment of the divine promises to them.
Thus far we see, in a very striking manner, how the faithful discharge of this great duty of a master of a family is esteemed honourable, by the Lord himself; and how extensively beneficial to mankind are its happy consequences in a variety of ways.- I dwell no longer on the particular character and case of Abraham, but proceed to press the duty on Masters of families among ourselves, and this may conveniently be done by stating and explaining several practical observations and directions. Parents and Masters are peculiarly concerned in this subject : I wish they may feel themselves so to be : Many weighty reasons call upon them to attend to it. Here is a pattern of great antiquity set before them, highly commended by the Lord on this very account; and the benefit accruing to posterity is described in the text as connected with the discharge of the duty. Let me beseech your attention, while I suggest to you some particular and important branches of family-education.
1. I would speak to christian people who are Masters of families, and who have had some experience of the power of godliness on their own souls. You cannot but be sensible that it is as much your duty as it was Abraham's, to command your children and your household after you, to keep the way of the Lord. Besides the same general reasons, which may be laid before ALL men, you have
special reasons. You know the value of godliness; the comfort of having a God to go to in time of trouble; the benefit of a Saviour and Mediator to atone for your sins, and of the quickening and sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost; and the hope of rest and glory beyond the grave. sure, if this be the case with you, you must have been beforehand with me, in knowing it to be your indispensable duty to instruct your children ; and it is impossible, if you truly fear God, but you must, in part at least, have discharged this duty. But I fear there is lamentably too little done in this way among us: it is a work which requires labour, care, attention, much more industry and self-denial than is needful for hearing the word of God, and attending divine worship. When you set yourselves to it, you
find it requires an exertion of spirit, which the slothfulness of nature in religious things does not easily admit; and therefore many of you, I fear, do far less than you might and ought to do in this business. I shall, in a few particulars, endeavour to assist the recollection, to promote good intentions, and to be a spur to negligence.
The first thing I would mention to you is familyprayer. It is doubtless, in itself, a reasonable and highly expedient thing, that families, who form little societies within themselves, should in some solemn way own their dependance, and acknowledge their obligations to the Lord of the Universe.
How is this to be done so properly as by daily calling upon God in prayer together? To you whom I am now
I addressing, I need say no more, by way of recommending the practice. That it has grown so much
out of use in the polite world, cannot be to you a serious objection against it. What, if the higher classes of persons, throughout Europe, are endeavouring more and more to resemble the beasts of the field, if like them they eat and lie down to sleep, with no reflection on their Maker or address to Him; and further, if they are grown so proud, as not to care for God, nor to let God be in all their thoughts, -We have not surely so learned Christ, as, in a matter of this sort, to be in subjection to them, or to be carried away by their example! You think yourselves, perhaps, unfit to be the mouth of
your families in devotion : It is acknowledged that many are unfit for such an undertaking; and there are those who are forward to attempt things for which they are not qualified : But we have good and sound forms of prayer, which you may make use of on these occasions. Surely, if you attend to this practice in a hearty, conscientious way, avoiding an unmeaning, cold formality, which is the too common bane of things of this nature, you may expect the divine blessing to accompany it to yourselves and your households. I fear the thing itself is by no means so commonly practised as it ought to be; and yet the time which it requires needs not be long. How much more time is often unprofitably employed, let our consciences say !
2. Let Christian Parents attend particularly to the instruction of the younger part of their household. If you yourselves are blessed with spiritual light and comfort in religion, will you withhold them, so far as in you lies, from those, who have a nature evil from the womb, and are exposed to