Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

“ hear ; thy command I haften to obey." Such was the meaning of his words, and of his practice. For he does not delay, or hesitate : "THEN Jacob said “ unto his household, and to all that were with him, “put away the strange Gods that are among you, and “ be clean, and change your garments ; and let us “ arise, and go up to Bethel.” From hence we may observe also,

Fourthly; That holy preparations become the solemn service of God. They are generally deemed necessary for ministers. It is supposed they ought to be pre. viously alone ; to fix their attention ; to impress their minds; to implore the divine assistance and blessing. But have hearers no need of this ? Are they to engage in the worship of God, entirely regardless of the nature, the importance, and the influence of divine insti. tutions ? To omissions of this kind it is owing, that ordinances in our day are become as unprofitable as they are common. If before you came together, you retired, and endeavoured to obtain an abstraction of mind ; if by reflection you procured a seriousness of frame, so friendly to devotion ; if by examining your selves, you discovered what sinful prejudice, or passion, was likely to render you partial hearers ; if you

formed a resolution to lay yourselves open to the influence of the word, and to rectify whatever appeared to be wrong; if you remembered that you are accountable even for your attendance, and that the word you hear will judge you in the last day; if you came with eager desire and earneft expectation, founded on the promise of God, that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and above all, with prayer, knowing that

,

*66

ye hear.

< neither is he that planteth any thing, nor he that wa“ tereth, but God who giveth the increase ;” were you thus to enter on the service of the sanctuary ; I ask, would there not be a natural tendency in all this to render the means of grace impressive and efficacious. and is not this the only authorized way in which you can hope for the divine blessing? Rash entering upon duty is rarely profitable. God may meet with us unawares, but where has he promised to do it ?” “ Draw “ nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” “Keep

thy foot when thou goeft to the house of God.” " Offer not the sacrifice of fools.” “Take heed how '

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness, and “superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness “the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." These are the commands of God, and they regulate our hope, as well as our practice. And in this inanner our good old forefathers worshipped; then pub, lic services were not so multiplied as to abridge, if not exclude the duties of the family and the closet ; then hearing the word was not rendered an entertainment so customary, common, and trifling ; with them divine worship was an awful thing; they prepared for one duty, by another ; and like wise performers, they tu. V ned the instruments before the concert began.

Fifthly, There may be wickedness in a religious family. We find “strange gods” even in Jacob's househould. We may view iniquity in such a situation two ways. First, as a good man's affliction ; and a dreadful affliction it will prove. It is bad to have fickness in his house, but it is worse to have fin, the plague and pestilence of the soul. How, says he, can I bear to

H

see the destruction of my kindred ! Secondly, as a good man's fault. Could we see things as God does, and be able to trace back effects to their causes, we should soon perceive the source of the disorders and wickedness which prevail in many houses. Masters of families ! have you ruled weil the charge which God has given you? Have you behaved towards your servants, as remembering you have a master in heaven? Have you shewn them a kind and pious attention ? Have you had your children in subjection? Have you trained them up in the nurture and admcuition of the Lord? Have you instructed them only in particular dogmas, or impregnated them with the spirit of christianity; and endeavoured to render its duties lovely and practicable? Have you not provoked them to wrath, till they are discouraged? Or has not your indulgence become connivance, so that you have resembled Eli, whose

sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them

not ?" or David, “ who had never displeased Adoni“jah at any time in saying, why hast thou done so ?” Have you maintained order ; or lived in a confusion favorable to every evil work? Has daily devotion been seriously performed? Have you enforced all by your own walk and conversation ? Have you set no evil thing before your eyes ? While you have preach. ed meekness in words, have you not recommended passion by example? While you have taught them humility by precept, have you not enforced pride by practice ? And are you surprised to find irregularities in your family? Wonder if you please, but wonder at your own folly in seeking by the wayside to gather

grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles.” Complain if

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

you please, but complain of yourselves. Are you so unreasonable as to expect to “ reap where you have $( not sown, and to gather where

you

have not straw. sed ?”

Again, we remark that our religious concern should not be confined to ourselves only; we are to engage our families to accompany us in the exercises of devotion. Thus Jacob would not go alone, but call upon his household, and all that are with him ; each must prepare, and each must attend. And of Abraham, says God, “I know him that he will warn 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 s he hath spoken of him.” In the same disposition was Joshua, who said, “ as for me and my HOUSE, we “ will serve the Lord.” We may add the centurion ; she feared God, with all his House.” In your own

, HOUSE families you possess an authority and an influence ; “ a “father has honour, a master fear.” Servants and children naturally obey. This authority and influence you are to employ, for religious, as well as civil purposes; and to vary the exercise of them according to the condition of those who are in family connection with you ; using command with some, persuasion with others, means with all.' As the head of a family, you are to mind the souls of those who are under your care, as well as their bodies. They are not designed to live here only, or principally ; they are hastening into eternity. And you are not to live here always ; you will soon be called “ to give an account of

. “ship, and you will be judged, not only as an india

your steward

a

vidual; but as the owner of an HOUSEHOLD: after the man has been tried, the master will be suinmoned

; O that you may “ give up your account with joy, and “not with grief.” Even here you have the advantage of domestic religion; the voice of salvation and of

rejoicing is in the tabernacles of the righteous ; such households only are safe and happy. How pleafing is it to see all the members of a family worship ping God together daily in their own house! How lovely to observe them coming forth in the morning of the fabbath, all going to the house of God in company! Ministers are encouraged, while they see in such households the nurseries of their churches, and address with pleasure a hopeful assembly, formed by the union of a number of amiable, orderly, serious families. But they are pained to see you disjoined, and coming in alone; the father without the son, and the mother without the daughter. Shall I intimate here the propriety not only of your engaging your families in religious duties, but of taking them along with you, as far as circumstances will allow, to the same place of worship? Thus you will be certain of their attendance, by their being under your eye; while they will be preserved from that faftidiousness, and vagrancy of mind, so much cherished by loose and various hearing.

Once more we may observe, that deliverance claims service; that

prayer

answered is to become praise. Jacob relolves to distinguish himself for God, who had appeared fo wonderfully for him ; and to make the place of mercy, the place of duty: "there will I make

" an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which !

[ocr errors]
« EdellinenJatka »