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PRAYERS FOR FAMILY USE;
EDWARD JAMES, M.A.,
CANON OF WINCHESTER, AND VICAR OF ALTON.
Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the
midst of them. - Matthew xviii. 20.
Sold for the Alton National Schools, with the hope of removing a Debt,
price 9d. singly, or 50 at 30s. for distribution among the poor.
/ 138.c. 34.
HOLYBOURNE, BINSTED, AND KINGSLEY.
MY DEAR PARISHIONERS,
I address this to each one of you, as my only means of reaching some, and the best hope I have of reminding all who need to be reminded, amidst their daily employments, to think more seriously of the
one thing needful,” which alone can bring any to peace at the last.
With this view it has been one constant aim of my ministry among you now for near twenty years, to take every mode of recommending and promoting habits of family prayer; well knowing, that, they who are daily trained for God in domestic worship, will not be absent from the place where his honour dwelleth, on the day which he sanctified for himself from the beginning of the world; and I am especially desirous to set this matter before you now, from the conviction that habits of family piety fostered in the enlightened bosom of our own Church will be, under the Divine blessing, the best defence against the dark wiles of Jesuits, whom we must expect to find secretly at work in our parishes, if the late Papal aggression is suffered to remain only half-checked in our free and Protestant land.
First, then, let me point out to you how we are invited to this duty by the blessing which Scripture records upon family worship from the earliest times. We see it upon Noah when he had gathered his sons round the altar which he built on leaving the ark ;—then “God blessed Noah,” and established his covenant with him; and on Abraham, when God declared that he would hide from him nothing that he would do, “ for I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.” Of Job sanctifying his sons and offering burnt offerings for them early in the morning, it was said “there is none like him in the earth, an upright man, one that feareth God : ” Joshua was “ magnified in the sight of Israel" of old, as he is throughout the world now, for his noble resolution “ as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” We read of holy David, that “evening, and morning, and noonday, did he pray,” and that, in all his triumph and thanksgiving on bringing up the ark to Jerusalem, he did not omit to “ return to bless his household” (2 Sam. vi. 20). Nor can we fail to observe how many of his Psalms are models of prayer, adapted for lifting up the soul to God under all circumstances of private and domestic, as well as public worship; and delightful is the encouragement for such use of them which the Christian draws from reflecting that our great example, the promised Son of David, Jesus Christ himself, while he was on earth, not only repeatedly quoted them in application to himself, but appears (as Bishop Horne has pointed out) to have made them the manual of his devotions also, uttering his prayer from the 22nd Psalm as he hung on the cross, and in the last dreadful extremities of his human agony commending his Spirit to the Father in the words of the 31st, showing how truly those words were his own. Surely in such use of the Psalms, while " the word of Christ thus richly dwells in im,” the Christian, whether in the hour of distress, or of joy and thanksgiving, may see blessed tokens of the Redeemer's love, and encouragement to prayer in his name, whether in public or in private worship. And did he not teach us to pray? Was he not an example of prayer ? — Though the Son of God, and himself the “way and the life,” yet in his human nature he habitually prayed to the Almighty Father-he prayed among his chosen discipleshe prayed in private on the Mount of Olives;—and can we be followers of Christ? Can any man say, “I believe in Jesus Christ our Lord,” who has not faith for such duty as this?