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Consider, Sir, for I address myself to every particular person, seriously consider the apparent reasonableness of family religion. Must not your consciences presently tell you, it is fit that persons who receive so many mercies together, should acknowledge them together? Can you in your own mind be satisfied, that you and your nearest relatives should pay no joint homage to that God, who hath set you in your family, and who hath given to you, and to the several members of it so many domestic enjoyments? your Creator and theirs, your preserver and theirs, your daily benefactor and theirs? Can it be right, if you have any sense of these things each of you in your own hearts, that the sense of them should be concealed and smothered there, and that you should never join in your grateful acknowledgments to him? Can you imagine it reasonable, that when you have a constant dependence upon him for so many mercies, without the concurrence of which your family would be a scene of misery, you should never present yourselves together in his presence, to ask them at his hand? Upon what principles is public worship to be recommended and urged, if not by such as have their proportionable weight here?

Indeed the force of these considerations hath not only been known and acknowledged by the people of God in all ages; we have not only Noah and Abraham, Joshua and David, Job and Daniel, each under a much darker dispensation than ours, as examples of it: But we may venture to say, that wherever there has been a profession of any kind of religion, it has been brought into private houses as well as public temples. The poor heathens, as we certainly know from the remaining monuments of them, had their lares and their penates, which were household images, some of them in private chapels, and others about the common hearth, where the family used to worship them by frequent prayers and sacrifices. And the brass, and wood, and stone, of which they consisted, shall (as it were) cry out against you, shall rise up against you and condemn you, if while you call yourselves the worshippers of the one living and eternal God, and boast of the revelation you have received bis prophets and by his Son, you presume to omit an hoage, which the stupid worshippers of such vanities as these cot to present to them, while they called them their Gods. ersuaded then I beseech you, to be consistent in your con

Ether give up all pretences to religion, or maintain a and uniform regard to it, at home as well as abroad, in the s well as in the closet, or at church. But the reasonableuty, and the obligations which bind you in consciactice of it, will farther appear, if you consider,

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The many advantages, which will, by the divine blessing, attend a proper discharge of it. And here, I would more particularly represent the good influence, which family devotions are likely to have,-upon the young persons committed to your care,-upon your own hearts,—and upon the advancement of a general reformation, and the propagation of religion to those that are yet unborn.

Consider in the first place, what is most obvious, the happy influence which the duty I am recommending might have upon the young members of your family, the children and servants committed to your care. For I now consider you, as a parent, and a master. The father of a family is a phrase, that comprehends both these relations; and with great propriety, as humanity obliges us to endeavour to take a parental care of all under our roof. And indeed,

You ought to consider your servants, in this view, with a tender regard. They are probably in the flower of life, for that is the age which is commonly spent in service; and you should recollect how possible it is, that this may be, if rightly improved, the best opportunity their whole life may afford them for learning religion, and being brought under the power of it. If your servants are already instructed in it, by being brought up in families where these duties have been maintained; let them not, if they should finally miscarry, have cause to impute it to you, and to testify before God in the day of their condemnation, "that it was under your roof that they learnt the neglect and forgetfulness of God, and of all that their pious parents, perhaps in a much inferior station of life to you, had in earlier days been attempting to teach them; to teach them, in moments taken from labour, or from repose almost necessary for their subsistence." On the other hand, if they come to you quite ignorant of religion, (as if they come from prayerless families, it is very probable that they do,) have compassion upon them, I entreat you, and endeavour to give them those advantages which they never yet had; and which it is too probable, as things are generally managed, they never will have, if you will not afford them.

But I would especially, if I might be allowed to borrow the pathetic words of Job*, intreat you by the children of your own body. I would now as it were present them all before you, and beseech you by all the bowels of parental affection, (which I have myself so strongly felt,) that to all the other tokens of tenderness and love, you would not refuse to add this, without which many of the rest may be worse than in vain.

Job xix. 17.

Give me leave to plead with you, as the instruments of introducing them into being. Oh remember, it is indeed a debased and corrupted nature you have conveyed to them. Consider, that the world, into which you have been the means of bringing them, is a place in which they are surrounded with many temptations, and in which, as they advance in life, they must expect many more, so that in plain terms, it is on the whole much to be feared, that they will perish in the ignorance and forgetfulness of God, if they do not learn from you to love and serve him. For how can it be expected they should learn this at all, if you give them no advantages for receiving and practising the lesson at home?

And let me further urge and intreat you to remember, that these dear children, whose tender age, and perhaps amiable forms and dispositions, might attract the affection and solicitude of strangers, are committed to your especial and immediate care by God their Creator. And he has made them thus dependent upon you, and others that have in their infancy and childhood the care of them, that there might be hereafter a better opportunity of forming their minds, and of influencing them to a right temper and conduct. And can this by any means be effectually done, if you do not at proper times call them together, to attend to the instructions of the word of God, and to join in solemn prayers and supplications to him? At least is it possible, it should be done any other way with equal advantage, if this be not added to the rest?

Family worship is a most proper way of teaching children religion, as you teach them language, by insensible degrees; a little one day and a little another; for to them, line must be upon line, and precept upon precept. They may learn to conceive aright of the divine perfections, when they hear you daily acknowledging and adoring them: Their hearts may be early touched with pious remorse for sin, when they hear your confession poured out before God: They will know what mercies they are to ask for themselves, by observing what turn your petitions take: Your intercessions may diffuse into their minds a spirit of love to mankind, a concern for the interest of the church, and of their country; and, what is not I think by any means to be neglected, sentiments of loyalty towards our sovereign and his family, when they hear you daily invoking the divine blessing upon them: And your solemn thanksgivings for the bounties of providence, and for benefits of a spiritual nature, may affect their hearts with those gracious impressions towards the gracious author of all, which may excite in their little breasts love to him, the most noble and genuine

principle of all true and acceptable religion. Thus they may become christians by insensible degrees, and grow in the knowledge and love of the truth, as they do in stature.

By observing your reverent and solemn deportment, (as reverent and solemn I hope it will always at such seasons be,) they may get some notion of an invisible Being, before they are of age to understand the definition of the term God; and may feel their minds secretly impressed with an humble awe and veneration, before they can explain to you their sense of it. And whatever instructions you give them concerning his nature and his will, and the way of obtaining his favour by Jesus Christ, all your admonitions relating to the importance of that invisible world we are going to, and the necessary preparation for it, will be greatly illustrated by the tenour of your daily devotions, as well as by those excellent lessons which the word of God, when solemnly read to them morning and evening, will afford. Nor is it by any means to be forgotten, that while they hear themselves, and their own concerns, mentioned before God in prayer, while they hear you earnestly pleading for the divine blessing upon them, (especially if it be in expressions wisely varied, as some particular occurrences in their lives and in yours may require,) it may very probably be a means of moving their impressible hearts; as it may powerfully convince them of your deep and tender concern for their good, and may add great weight to the instructions you may address to them: So that it may appear, even while you are praying for them, that God hears*. And indeed I have known some instances of excellent persons, who have dated their conversion to God, even after they had begun visibly to degenerate, from the prayers, from the serious and pathetic prayers, which they have heard their pious fathers, perhaps I might add their pious mothers, presenting before God on their account.

Indeed were this duty properly attended to, it might be expected, that all christian families would, according to their respective sizes and circumstances, become nurseries of piety; and you would see in the most convincing view, the wisdom of providence, in making human infants so much more dependent on their parents, and so much more incapable to shift for themselves, than the offspring of inferior creatures are.

Let me then intreat you, my dear friend, to look on your children the very next time you see them, and ask your own heart, how you can answer it to God, and to them, that you deprive them of such advantages as these? Advantages, without which it is to be feared, your care of them in other respects will

*Isa. lxv. 24.

turn to but little account, should they be ever so prosperous in life. For what is prosperity in life without the knowledge, and fear, and love of God? what, but the poison of the soul, which swells and kills it? what, but the means of making it more certainly, more deeply, more intolerably miserable; when all its transient and empty amusements are passed away, like a dream, when one awaketh? In short, not to mention the happy influence it may have on their temporal affairs, by drawing down the divine blessing, and by forming their minds to those virtues, which pave the way to wealth and reputation, health and contentment, which make no enemies, and attract many friends; it is, with respect to the eternal world, the greatest cruelty to your children thus to neglect giving them those advantages, which no other cares in education itself exclusive of these can afford: And it is impossible, you should ever be able to give them any other equivalent. If you do your duty in this respect, they will have reason to bless you living and dying; and if you neglect it, take care that you and they come not, in consequence of that neglect, into a world, where (horrid as the thought may now seem,) you will for ever be cursing each other. And thus I am fallen insensibly, because so naturally, from what I was saying of the concern and interest of those under your care, to your own, so far as it may be distinguished from theirs.

Let me therefore press you to consider, how much your own interest is concerned in the matter; the whole of your interest, both spiritual and temporal.

Your spiritual interest is infinitely the greatest, and therefore I will begin with that. And here let me seriously ask you, do you not need those advantages for religion, which the performance of family duty will give you, added to those of a more secret and a more public nature, if peradventure they are regarded by you? These instructions, these adorations, these confessions, these supplications, these intercessions, these thanksgivings, which may be so useful to your children and servants, may they not be useful to yourselves? May not your own hearts have some peculiar advantage for being impressed, when you are the mouth of others in these domestic devotions, beyond what in a private station of life it is otherwise possible you should have? Oh these lessons of religion to your own souls, every morning and evening, might be (if I may be allowed the expression,) either the seed, or foretaste, of salvation to you. Nay, the remoter influence they may have on your conduct, in other respects, and at other times, when considered merely in the general as religious

Psal. lxxiii. 20.

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