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An ARGUMENT for AND PERSUASIVE unto the great and important DUTY OF Family Worship: WITH Rules and Directions for the due Performance of it.

By Benjamin Colman Pastor of a Church in Boston.

2 Sam. vi. 20.

Then David returned to bless his Houshold.

BOSTON, N. E. Printed by Gamaliel Rogers, for THOMAS HANCOCK at the Bible and Three Crowns near the To [...] Dock. 1728.

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An Argument for AND Persuasive unto the great and important Duty OF FAMILY WORSHIP.

IT having been no small part of the Honour and Glory of my Country, from the beginning of it, that it has been famous for the practice of FAMILY WORSHIP, to which under the Grace and Blessing of GOD the Virtue, Religion and Prosperity of it must be (if I judge right) very much attribut­ed; I am therefore moved and inclined to look over the Arguments & Motives unto, and the Reasons for this great and important Duty, and leave them (as they have occurr'd to me) with the Children of my People, that this GLORY may still dwell in our Land.

The Method, in which I shall dispose my Tho'ts on this Argument, shall be this:

  • 1. To say what I mean by FAMILY WORSHIP:
  • 2. To prove it to be a Duty, and show our Obligations to observe it.
  • 3. To [Page 2]lay down Rules for the due Performance of it. And
  • 4. To urge the Duty with some proper Motives.

I. By FAMILY WORSHIP I mean, That standing re­ligious Order, and Usage in a Houshold, wherein the Head of the House doth ordinarily every Day, at stated and appointed Times, call the Family together for the performance of such holy Exercises, as are proper to them in their worshipping GOD together.

This is a distinct kind of Worship from solitary and secret, which is a Persons retiring by himself a­lone (into his Closet, Matth. vi. 6.) to meditate, read, pray to and praise GOD. It is also a distinct thing from public Worship, in Church Assemblies and Congregations, for the Administration of Instituted Ordinances. So likewise it is diverse from the private Meetings of religious People at one anothers Houses, occasionally to pray together and hear the Word.

There are parts of Instituted Worship, that do by no means belong to Family Worship. GOD never meant the Sacraments of the New Testament to be ad­ministred by Masters of Families in their houses. These belong to the public Ministry of Religion in the Churches of CHRIST. And excepting Cases of necessity, or in times of persecution, there can be no pretence for the Administration of Baptism or the Lords Supper, in private Houses. And then the Ad­ministration should be by a Minister of CHRIST, and to more than a private houshold. Wherefore Sacra­mental Administrations are no part of Family Worship. — Nor is there any Argument from the Sacraments of the Old Testament to those of the New. Circumci­sion and the Passover were in their Institution a kind of Family Ordinances; but so were not the Baptism of CHRIST and his Supper.

Only the Exercises and Duties of natural Worship are proper to Families, as such. Natural Worship is [Page 3]that which the Consideration of the Being and Per­fections of GOD dictate to the Reason and Conscience of Man. This also belongs both to public and secret Worship.

Prayer and Praise; Adoration and Thanksgiving; Confession, Supplications and Intercession; are pro­per and necessary parts of Family Worship. So is reading the Word of GOD to our Housholds. Also the singing of Psalms : Catechising the Children; and a religious asking GODS Blessing on our daily Food, with hearty Thanksgiving for it*. These are the principal religious Exercises, that do properly belong to the Worship of GOD in our Houses.

II. Now to shew our Obligation thus to worship GOD with our Housholds, I shall argue

  • 1. from the light of Reason, and natural Conscience,
  • 2. from Scripture Revelations.

1. As to the light of Reason, and natural Consci­ence, it is indeed very hard, for us who enjoy the Gospel to say, What the bare light of Nature and Reason, in this our fallen state would teach us. We are so alienated from the Life of God thro' the Ignorance that is in us, by reason of the Blindness of our hearts, that probably no one of us would have had a tho't of worshiping GOD with our Families, had we been born and bred Pagans and Salvages. But yet I am confident, that Reason duely exercised, and natural Conscience hearkned to thereupon, would soon lead and bring Men to worship GOD both in secret and with their Families. At least our Reason under the common Illuminations of Scripture, is fruitful of Ar­guments for so plain a Duty.

[Page 4] The light of Nature teaches us that there is a GOD, and that he ought to be worship'd by us, and if sing­ly and apart by our selves, why not socially and to­gether? And if socially, why not in Families, which are distinct Societies? And why not firstly in Fami­lies, which are the first Societies that Mankind came and comes into? For Families are the Original of all Societies, and consequently the first social Worship was of necessity in a Family. This is plain and easy Reasoning, level to the Capacity of every Child: But how strongly and irresistibly doth it conclude for the Worship of GOD in Families?

To let in a gleam of Revelation here: Who but GOD is the Institutor and Founder of Families? He made at first but one Pair; He put them together and blessed them. He could have made many Fami­lies at once, plac'd them together, and ordain'd the first Act of Worship to have been from an Assembly of men. But it pleased the GOD of the Spirits of all Flesh to make at first one only Family out of which all the Families of the Earth have sprang. And why did He this? seeing He had the residue of the Spirit, and could as easily have made a million Families at once? Why may I not be allow'd to say — That He might seek a godly Family, a religious Houshold! that this might be his First-fruits from the Earth, a­mong men! that Families might be sanctified unto Him for ever, by the rendring of the first social Wor­ship in them; and that this sacred Dignity might be put and entail'd upon Housholds, that for the first Ages of the World the whole Worship of GOD was in them. And should not his solemn Worship continue in them to the End of the World?

All the Nations of the Earth own that Families are distinct Societies, and that they have a Government of their own; Laws and Rules proper and peculiar to themselves, for their own weal and good Order. [Page 5]Witness the famous LAW of King Ahasuerus, directed to every People after their Language, both to great and small, That every Man shall bear Rule in his own House. Esther i. ult. Say then, shall he not rule for GOD? and acknowledge HIM in his House with constant dai­ly Devotions? Shall these primary, necessary, uni­versal, perpetual Societies of Men be without the Adoration, Confession and Praises of GOD in them? Has the great GOD nothing to do with these Societies, nor they with Him? No? tho' He be the Author, Preserver, Feeder and daily Benefactor of the Fami­ly? the Health of it, and its GOD? Is not the Family what it is by his Providence? can it subsist a day without Him? And yet no Worship of GOD in it from day to day! no Prayer? as if it had no De­pendance on Him! Does it indeed want no Benefit or Blessing from Him? nor expect any? that it craves none! And does it receive none from day to day? that there are no daily Offerings of Praise in the House! Or does GOD indeed keep and feed the Fa­mily from year to year; and has He no Altar, no Sacrifices in it? but the doors of the House are shut against Him! He shut out of it! This profaness, this Atheism is implied in the want of Family Worship; in defiance to Reason and Conscience.

At the same time, Can a Society be more adapted and engaged to worship together daily, than a Family is? Is any other Society framed and formed like this for daily worship? living together under one Roof, and united in mutual and near Relations to each o­ther! and tied together by those bonds of Love and Endearment, which should bind them to GOD, whose all Souls are, the Souls of Parents and Children, Masters and Servants! — O with what a sacred Pleasure should a Man call the Family of his Love together, to worship GOD? Can he own a GOD, and love his Fa­mily, and not love to pray with them and for them? [Page 6]Doth not even Nature teach this? — Methinks he must be willingly ignorant, who questions it, not lik­ing to retain GOD in his knowledge; his Disaffection to his MAKER (horrible to speak) overthrowing even his natural Affection to his Family!

Again, Let Nature and Reason judge of the spe­cial Need and Occasion of Worship in our Families. Are there no Family Mercies daily wanted, which GOD only can give? nor any received from Him e­very Morning and Evening, for which Thanksgiv­ing ought openly to be render'd? And are there not sometimes Family Sins, for which the Houshold have reason to humble themselves together before GOD? And are there not at times Family Afflictions, the Rod of GOD upon our House, which call the Hous­hold to mourn together, under the mighty Hand of GOD? — Surely there is the same Reason why Fa­milies should pray and give Thanks together, in the case of Family Mercies needed and received; as there is why single Persons should do so in the case of personal Needs and Receipts. And there is the like Reason for Family Humiliation and Supplication in case of Family Sins and Corrections, as why a Per­son or People should humble themselves and pray un­der personal and public Sins and Judgments.

I will close this Argument from the light of Reason, by remembring You of the Houshold Gods, and Fa­mily Religion (if I may so call it) of the Heathen; however brutish and abominable it sometimes was. The Learned know well that they had their Penates, which were plac'd (we are told*) in penetralibus Domi, in the innermost places of the House, as the Guardians and Protectors of it, and its sacred Trea­sure. They had also their Lares , another kind of [Page 7] Domestic Gods, on which they bestow'd the figure of a dog, to express Watchfulness and care of the House.

Now however they prostituted their Reason, and debas'd Religion, vilely acting like fools and beasts in these Idolatries; yet we may piously and justly reason thus with our selves therefrom; That the Remains of natural light, and Tradition, taught these miserable Families of Men, that there ought to be religious Worship in their Housholds. For tho' they chang'd the Truth of GOD into a lye, yet their Consciences bare a Witness to the Truth before us, and shew'd the Work of the Law written in their Hearts. How vain soever these their Imaginations were, and how grossly soever their foolish heart was darkned; yet their Houshold Idolatries may rise up in Judg­ment against the more profane Christians and con­demn them.

2. But I come to argue from Scripture and reveal'd Religion. Only let me premise, 'That there are some things, and those some of the most important in Religion, both of Doctrine and of Practice, which are so plain from the light of Nature, and such evi­dent Deductions from the first and more general Principles of Religion; that the Scripture rather sup­poses them and takes 'em for granted, than particu­larly teaches or requires them. And such a Doctrine and Duty I take this of FAMILY WORSHIP to be.

Revelation would not suppose Mankind so ignorant or profane, as to need a direct and positive Law for Family Worship. A GOD, a Family, and Law for Worship, must imply and infer Family Worship. — And bear this in mind, That right Deductions and true Consequences from the Scripture, are just and pro­per Scripture proofs. Witness our SAVIOURS Argu­ment for the Resurrection of the Body. Luke xx. 47.

[Page 8] This being promis'd, I shall now gather up some of the Notices and Intimations of the Mind of GOD from his Word about Family Worship; amounting to a plain Revelation of his Will in the matter; and then go over some Scripture Examples for the Duty: In both of which I shall keep to the Order of Scripture.

The first Family was sanctified to GOD in the day wherein it was form'd and constituted. When the LORD GOD bro't Eve to Adam he blessed them toge­ther, and thereby set them apart for Himself to be a holy Pair, a religious devoted Family. And the first thing we read of in Adam's Family is his Sons wor­shiping the LORD in his appointed Way. And tho' it be true, that this was their open worshiping apart, yet it leads us into the certain knowledge of Adam's worshiping with them, and of his instituting them as well by Example as by Instruction and Precept in the appointed Worship of GOD.

When Noah and his Sons came out of the Ark the preserved Family made their solemn Thank-Offering of every kind. This was indeed as much an Act of public Worship as could then be render'd to GOD, yet it is as true that it was, and could be, no other than a Family Worship.

Afterward the pure Worship of GOD was preserved in the Houshold and Family of Abraham, who as he journeyed from place to place built Altars unto the LORD, and called on his Name *. His praise and ho­nour in the sight of GOD was the religious Order of his Houshold . I know him that he will command his Children and his Houshold after him, and they shall keep the Way of the LORD. GOD gave him the Cove­nant of Circumcision, which was a Family Ordinance, for the Consecration of the Houshold to GOD; and indeed of all the Heads of all the Families that should [Page 9]descend from him. Doubtless express and solemn Worship accompanied the Act of Circumcision, that Seal of the Righteousness of Faith. Every Family therefore from the loyns of Abraham were hereby put in the way of Family Worship. For were the Children holy? And must not the Parent see the mark and sign of GOD'S Covenant put upon them? And yet afterward might he bring up the devoted Seed without praying with them?

But to pass to the Law of Moses: The Passover was the other Seal of GOD'S Covenant from his time, and it was a Family Ordinance. The Master of the House had this Care laid upon him. Exod. xii. 3. There was a Lamb for a House: They eat it as holy Societies, in religious manner; it was a Feast to the LORD thro'out their Generations. The Family re­new'd their Covenant with GOD, and were anew sanctified to him, in their celebrating this Ordinance of Worship.

Or let us look into the Law of the Holy Sabbath, and it seems to cast a special eye on the Religion and Worship of the Houshold, laying the Head of the Family under the Charge of GOD in that matter; Thou, thy Son and thy Daughter, thy Man-servant and thy Maid-servant. — Look also into the Laws for the Feast of Weeks and of Tabernacles, and they are given in like manner; Deut. xvi. 10, 14. Thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy GOD, thou and thy Son and thy Daughter, &c. Or look into the Rule for solemn Mourning, as on the day of Fasting and Supplication, and it runs thus, Zech. xii. 10. Every Family apart, and Person apart. Truly it is the Will of GOD that on the Sabbath-day, and upon all days of public Fasting or Thanksgiving, there be special Exercises of Religion performed with our Families, as well as in our Closets or in public Assemblies.

[Page 10] Pass we now to the Scriptures of the New Testa­ment, and we find there many Precepts and Directi­ons of GOD our SAVIOUR, which do more plainly im­ply and infer the Duty of Family Worship. Such are those Words of the Apostle, Ephes. vi. 18. Praying ALWAYS with ALL Prayer, and watching thereunto with all perseverance. "All Prayer must mean all kinds of Prayer; public, private, secret; solitary and social. But Family prayer is one kind of Prayer, and there­fore to be attended always, and watch'd unto with all perseverance.

Another Text that seems to look to Family Prayer is that, Philip. iv. 6. Be careful for nothing, but in e­very thing by Prayer and Supplication let your Requests be made known to GOD. Men are in a special manner apt to be careful and anxious how to provide for their Housholds, how to feed and clothe their Fami­lies; But let Family Prayer and secret Prayer be the Antidote and sovereign Remedy against this sick­ly and painful disorder of our Minds. Carry the care of your Families to GOD in daily Prayers. But shall this be only in Secret? Why not also in Pray­ers with them?

Another place that has a fair Aspect on Family Worship is Col. iii. 17. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed do all in the Name of the LORD JESUS, giving Thanks unto GOD and the FATHER by Him. In the verse before the Exhortation is, Let the Word of CHRIST dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms &c. And in the verse after Wives are exhorted to submit themselves unto their own Husbands as is fit in the LORD. Whatsoever there­fore is done in the Houshold, in word or deed, is di­rected to be done in the Name of CHRIST, with conti­nual Thanksgiving to GOD. — And then in the be­ginning of the next Chapter, Masters of Families are required to continue in prayer, and to watch in the [Page 11]same with Thanksgiving. These Precepts are directed to Housholders by name, to continue in daily Prayers and Praises with their Families. This seems the most fair and easy, natural and genuine sense of the Pre­cept in this place.

Again we are taught and commanded, I. Thess. v. 17, 18. to pray without ceasing, and in every thing to give Thanks. If in every thing, then surely in our Families, for all Family Mercies. — A like Precept we have I. Tim. ii. 8. I will that Men pray every where, lifting up holy Hands without Wrath. If every where, then surely in our Houses, and with our Housholds. This is one of the first places that occur to us. And the Caution of holy Hands, without Wrath, is pecu­liarly proper to Housholds, where Angers and Wraths do especially unfit for holy Prayers. — It follows, Let the Women adorn themselves with Sobriety and good Works, and let the Woman learn in Silence with all Sub­jection; for Adam was first formed and then Eve. Which seems to determine the Apostle's meaning in foregoing Discourse to Family Prayer.

Moreover, That our Houses should be places for Prayer, and that there should be occasional Prayers with the Houshold, is plain from the Commandment and Direction of the Apostle James, v. 14, 15. Is any sick among you? let him call for the Elders of the Church, and let them pray over him —. But is this the only Occasion that there is for social Prayer in Families? Should there be Prayer on this Occasion with the Houshold, and on no other? Or if the Eld­ers of the Church must be called on this, or the like Occasion, is not the Master of the Family to pray and give Thanks with it on many other Occasions? And are not such Occasions frequently and daily return­ing on us? And if on greater Occasions there should be more solemn and formal Supplications in the House and for it, should there be no prayers in it and for [Page 12]it on lesser and more ordinary Occasions, returning every day? Or if one of the Family be taken dan­gerously Sick once in the year, or in several years, and this be a loud Call for the Prayers of the Hous­hold; Is not the continued Health of all the Family from day to day, and it may be from year to year, as loud a Call for the united daily Thanksgivings of the Houshold?

But to look into the Epistles of Peter and close with him. How applicable to Families and Family Worship are his Words, I. Epist. ii. 5. A spiritual House, an holy Priesthood, to offer up spiritual Sacrifi­ces, acceptable to GOD, thro' JESUS CHRIST. The Church of GOD is a spiritual House, and so should our Families be also. Believers in CHRIST are a holy Priesthood, but in a special manner to their Housholds; to offer up with them (as well as by themselves in secret) the spiritual Sacrifices of Praise and Prayer. — See also I. Peter iii. 7. Let the Husbands dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour to the Wife as to the weaker Vessel, and as being Heirs to­gether of the Grace of Life, that your PRAYERS be not hindred. The several Relatives in a Family should live together as Heirs of the Grace of Life; there­fore they should pray, both together and apart, for one another: But especially the Care about the Prayers of the Houshold lies on the Head of the Family. It is supposed that there be Prayers in the Family; that the Husband pray for and with the Wife; and why not the latter as well as the former? And the Husband is wisely directed to treat the Wife with Tenderness, to bear with her Infirmities, and by governing himself well toward her to keep up love and peace in the Family; That so their Prayers, and those of the Houshold, whether together or apart, be not hindred.

These are some of the Notices and Intimations of the Mind of GOD in his Word about Family Worship; [Page 13]amounting (as I judge) to a plain Revelation of his Will in the matter, and so to a Precept and Injunc­tion concerning it.

I conclude this Head with the Words of the vene­rable Mr. Baxter on this Argument; "Let me tell you (says he) that it is Ignorance to call for particu­lar and express Scriptures that require praying in Families, as if we tho't the general Commands were not sufficient, and did not comprehend this parti­cular.

I come now to consider the Scripture Examples for Family Worship: By which I mean what we find related and recorded concerning one Person and a­nother, bearing a favourable Aspect on this Practice.

I might name Adam, Noah and Abraham, but for­bear, having hinted at them before. Iacob was a like godly Worshiper with his Houshold, having learn'd it of his pious Ancestors, and inheriting the Spirit with the Blessing of Abraham. He died, as he liv'd, worshiping with his Sons around him, pouring out Prayers for them, and blessing them, one by one, in the Name of the LORD.

Job was a like devout Worshiper of GOD with his Family. GOD gave him seven Sons and three Daugh­ters, and as in their Childhood he had daily worship'd with them, so when they were adult, and setled in Houses of their own, he frequently call'd them toge­ther to worship with him: He sent for them and sanc­tified them, offering Burnt-Offerings, according to the number of them all: Thus did Job continually. These were his Family Sacrifices, and he was very constant and solemn in them.

Joshua gave his sense of Family Religion, the De­votion and Worship of the Houshold, in that famous and noble Resolve, Josh. xxiv. 15. As for me and my House, we will serve the LORD. He resolv'd for him­self and his Houshold, those that were his immediate [Page 14]Charge and Care, living under his roof. Himself and his house he joyns in the Worship, for they daily joyn'd in it. "I and my Domestics, I with them and they with me; I and they together and apart. He spake as the Master and Head of a Family.

Jesse, the Father of David, was a religious Hous­holder and worship'd GOD with his Family. David speaks of occasional Sacrifices in his Fathers house. 1. Sam. xx. 6. They had their annual or monthly Sacrifices, and why not the daily?

David had learn'd of his pious Father, and was taught of GOD to bless his Houshold; i. e. to pray and give thanks with them, to GOD, for his Blessing on them. This became so great a King, and so illustrious a Saint, the Man after GOD's own Heart. Who would wish for a better Pattern or Teacher? Would to GOD that all Kings would learn of him, all Rulers imitate him, in the Devotions of their Hous­holds. To be sure all Saints will gladly follow his more than royal Example. The least and lowest a­mong us may have a Houshold to rule and bless, and has this Authority in his own House, as much as the Prince hath in his. II. Sam. vi. 20. Then David returned to bless his Houshold. From an extraordina­ry Act of solemn public Devotion, from blessing the Congregation of Israel, both as a Prophet and their Prince, he came home and bless'd his Family in the Name of the LORD. He bless'd and prais'd GOD with them that day, and implor'd his Blessing on them. Every Man is a King and a Priest in his own House, to rule for GOD and to lead in his Worship. He returned to bless his House: It seems to speak his Custom and Use to bless it. Was this the only time? or the first or last time that David returned from GOD's House to bless his own? No, it seems to have been no new thing to Him or them. He was wont to do so on Sabbaths and other Festivals. His Hous­hold [Page 15]no doubt expected Him; and were in waiting to receive his Blessing. Michal alone was out of frame, but not so the Maids of Honour attending her.

I will name but one more Example from the Old Testament: It is Daniel. Three times a day he wor­ship'd GOD openly and solemnly in his House. How else should his Enemies have known his Practice, or been able to have convicted him as they did? Had it been the Worship of his Closet, the Rule ever was and is to shut the window and the door, and pray to Him that sees in Secret. But Daniel's daily Prayers were open in the sight and hearing of his Enemies. Doubtless it was the Worship in his Chapel, or of his Houshold together.. Dan. vi. 10, 11. Now when Da­niel knew that the Writing was signed, he went into his House, and his windows being open in his Chamber to­ward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave Thanks before his GOD, as he did aforetime: Then these Men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making Supplication before his GOD. Judge if this be not meant of Daniel's Worship with his Houshold, rather than his retired Devotions by him­self. Neither Morning nor Evening prayer were wanting in Daniel's house. They that pleas'd might make themselves Witnesses of the Worship of his House, nor would he change the Order of it for the Kings Decree. The door of his Chapel stood open for his Brethren of the Dispersion and others. He chose to die rather than cease his Family Worship for thirty days.

From the Scriptures of the New Testament I shall only name our LORD Himself, and Cornelius the first-fruit of the Gentiles.

JESUS is the great Pattern to his Church; the pat­tern of Prayer and Devotion, alone by Himself and with his Disciples. The Families of the Earth are [Page 16] blessed in Him, with respect to his Example in this point. He has taught them to pray both together and apart. JESUS had a Family. He chose and or­dained the Twelve to be with him. Mark iii. 14. They attended him wherever He went, as his pro­per Domestics. Tho' He had not where to lay his Head, yet there was a Family Relation between Him and the Twelve, of Master and Servants, Teach­er and Scholars. They left all and followed Him. He called them his Houshold, and Himself the Master of the House. Matth. x. 25. And as such he fed them from day to day, and eat the Passover with them. Mark xiv. 14. He often taught them in private, and pray'd with them in private, as his Domestics. Luke ix. 18. As he was alone praying, his Disciples were with him i. e. He was praying with them, by them­selves only. He was not alone by Himself, for the Disciples were with him. It was a Family Prayer. It was neither public nor secret Prayer, but private with his Houshold. And such we may call his wondrous Prayer just before his Passion, John. xvii. What a famous and glorious Instance was this of Fa­mily Worship, on an extraordinary Occasion? where­in therefore our LORD was the more inlarged and af­fectionate. Thus JESUS is the Pattern for Family Worship to all Worshipers.

And whom shall we name after Him? Which of the Houshold? Peter, or James, or John? Neither of the Twelve, tho' doubtless they followed the Ex­ample of JESUS in this Duty; But let CORNELIUS (a Gentile Worshiper, a Centurion of the Italian Band) have this Honour; as a good Soldier of JESUS CHRIST. We have his excellent Character, Acts x. 2. A de­vout Man, and one that feared GOD with all his House, and prayed to GOD always. As he was praying in his House, he had a Vision of an Angel of GOD; behold a Man stood before him in bright clothing. The best [Page 17] Expositors take it for a pregnant Instance of Houshold Worship. And if so, it was a good Beginning, a good and leading Example, among the Gentile Con­verts. He prayed always, with all his House. It was at the ninth Hour, the time of the Evening Sacrifice. If it was a Family Prayer, GOD put a double honour on it; By one Vision he directed Cornelius to send for Peter, and by another he prepar'd Peter to go. But above all, He pour'd out the HOLY GHOST upon these Gentile Worshipers, while Peter preach'd to to them. Thus did the HOLY ONE own and honour the Prayers of Cornelius and his Houshold. Let it encourage and confirm all believing Housholders in the practice of Family-prayer.

Methinks the elect Lady and her Children were such a Family of Devotion; and Lydia and her House; and so Priscilla and Aquila, Nymphas and Philemon, with the Church in their House. Probably their Chris­tian Neighbours might meet for Worship at these Houses on Lord's days and at other times. But doubt­less the Families were as little Churches, and worthy to be so called because of the good Order and daily Worship of GOD in them. "It is fit (says Calvin) that all the Families of the Faithful should be so or­der'd as to deserve this Honour. "It rests upon e­very Head of a Family (says Bp. Davenant) so to exercise his Houshold in the true Religion, that it may d [...]rvedly obtain the Name of a Church". A reli [...] Family is a holy Community; like the House of [...]aham and Jacob; or as the House of Obed-edom, wh [...] the Ark rested in it. "Religion in the pow­ [...] of it, reigning in a Family, turns a House into [...] [...]hurch". — Such a Family had an Epistle direc­ted to them; namely that to Philemon: To Philemon, our dearly beloved and Fellow-labourer, and to the Church in thy House. Other Epistles were written to the Churches in such a City or Province; but this to [Page 18]a godly Person and his religious Houshold: Like one of the Epistles of John, to the elect Lady and her Children. "It was the Aggravation of the Fault of Onesimus (as One observes) that he left such a Family, and ran away from such a Master, where he had been well taught both by Word and Exam­ple. ‘All Families should be Nurseries of Religion, as Philemons was; i. e. Societies in which GOD is daily call'd upon, where he is daily praised, where his Word is daily read, and the Sabbaths of GOD are rested on, and kept religiously in the private and public Duties of them:’ Where GOD's Law is in the Heart of Parents, Masters and Mistresses, and is diligently taught unto the Children. Such Families are Nurseries for the Church and Table of CHRIST, to fill them with worthy Communicants. Onesimus upon his Repentance was restored in this Family, as a sinning Member is in the Churches of CHRIST, above a Servant, a Brother beloved.

And thus I have gather'd up the Voice and Sense of Scripture, as truly and briefly as I could, on this important point of Family Worship; and have kept very much to the Order of Scripture in doing it. From hence have the Godly in all Places and Ages of the Church, gone into the practice of this Duty. And all that uprightly practice it have the pleasure, comfort and profit of it. None ever repented of it, or are like to repent of it. These are the footsteps of the Flocks, and thus the Sheep feed, and their Lambs with them, besides the Shepherds Tents.

III. I come now to give Rules and Directions a­bout the Duty of Family Worship.

1. We must be frequent and constant in the Duty. Let no day pass without secret and family Prayer, reading GOD'S Word, and solemn Thanksgiving to Him for personal and relative Mercies. Let GOD [Page 19]have his Dues in thy House, his morning and even­ing Sacrifices. Psalm xcii. 1 It is a good thing to give Thanks unto the LORD, and to sing Praises to thy Name, O MOST HIGH! to shew forth thy Loving kindness in the Morning, and thy Faithfulness every Night. Psalm v. 2. My voice shalt thou hear in the Morning, O LORD! in the Morning will I direct my Prayer unto Thee, and will look up. Psalm cxli. 2. Let my Prayer be set forth before Thee as Incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the Evening Sacrifice. These stated Exercises should never be omitted, without a plain Necessity constrain to it; but in extraordinary Cases, as those of great Affliction and Sorrow, the Family may need to be pray'd with three and four times a day: And Days of Prayer may be call'd for in them.

It was Mr. Baxter's declared Judgment, That the Master of a Family ought rather to omit secret Pray­er in his Closet, than private Prayer with his Hous­hold. ‘Family Prayer (says he) is of greatest Ne­cessity, because each Person is concerned in it. You must rather take up with Family prayer alone, than with secret alone.’ — Let us not on any little pretence, or small occasion, omit this Duty. Let us walk before GOD in our houses in this daily Course. Let us be constant and steddy in it, like the Sun in its Circuit, as Day and Night in their return. As the Sun ariseth let us get up to worship and serve GOD, the Father of Light; And as it knows its going down, so let us know and keep our Hour of Evening Prayer.

2. Let us be seasonable in Family Worship. It is doubly beautiful, pleasant and profitable in its Season. Out of season it very much loses its beauty, pleasure and profit. Yet the Occasions of Families may cause some Variety here. One and the same Time will not sure all Families, nor always the same Family. The Rule in general is, When the Houshold can be best [Page 20]and most together. Another is Not too late in the Morning, nor in the Evening.

The first looks too slothful, and often comes by drowsing too long in Bed. But let GOD and our Souls have the first and fresh Tho'ts of the Morning. Let us not stay to do a good part of the Mornings Work before we wait upon GOD. Fresh and fasting may be a good Rule; healthful to the Soul and ho­norary to GOD. First let us serve GOD with our Houshold, and then serve our selves of them. So let all the Work of the Day be sanctified early, by the Word and Prayer. Let GOD'S Work be done before our own. Psalm cviii. Awake up my Glory, awake early. The Letter here agrees to a Morning Song, from an early Riser. Such have a great Ad­vantage both for secret and private Worship.

But more especially let not the Evening Prayers be late and drowsie, dream'd over half asleep. It is best for Families to be early in bed, and much more to be early in the Evening Worship. Late Visits neces­sarily cause late Prayers in our own and others Fami­lies. Staying late at the Tavern is yet a worse Disor­der, where the Heads of Families too often keep one another till the Season is past for the Evening Wor­ship, and they are unfit for either private or secret Prayer. But if we loiter and trifle away the Even­ing in our own Houses, till it grow late and the Hous­hold are half asleep, it comes near to the same thing. — It is therefore a special Rule in the Case before us, that we keep Time and Season in praying with [...] Families. And truly it might have been even better sometimes to have omitted the holy Service, than to have attended it in the disorders of Sleepiness and Yauning. The Oblation is vain, and the Incense becomes an Abomination. Both GOD and Man is weary to bear them.

[Page 21] 3. We should neither be too long, nor too short, in Family worship. An Error on either hand is hurtful. Prolixity should be carefully avoided; much less should it be affected. It makes the Duty tedious, and is the way to b [...]ak in upon the commanded La­bours of the Day, or necessary Rest of the Night. — On the other hand, T [...] be cursory and slighty in Family Worship is to make nothing of it, or worse than nothing. Let us not grudge to GOD the Time and Pains of a sutable Supplication and Thanksgiving.

Family prayer should be rather short than long. But let it be long eno' to answer the Intention and design of it. It is neither to be crouded into a single Peti­tion or two, nor should it be drawn out into a great length. In all social Prayer the Rule and Caution to us is that, Mat. vi. 7. Use not vain Repetitions, nor think to be heard for your much speaking. Yet at some times we are called by Providence, and directed by the SPIRIT of Grace, to be longer than other. Wis­dom is profitable to observe and direct. At times again we may and should shorten our Prayers. But see (says Mr. Baxter) that formal Affectation be not the lengthener of your Prayers at any Time, nor carnal Weariness the shortner of them.

There are times of Family trials and afflictions, es­pecially when Sickness and Death come into our Houses, which call us to inlarge our Supplications, with Confessions to GOD, and Humiliations before Him: Again there are times of Family mercies, which call us to abound in Praises and Thanksgivings to GOD: Let Providence lead us, and a Spirit of sin­cere Devotion act us, and let the Glory of GOD and the Edification of our Houshold direct and govern us.

4. Let us be sure that we be serious and sincere, and also reverend solemn and fervent in the Exercises of Family worship. Let us take heed that we be not [Page 22]formal and customary, cold and careless, dull and lifeless in the Duty. Let it not be a meer Form and round of Worship. This can't be too earnestly warn'd or watch'd against. GOD looks to the Heart and Spirit in all our Worship. The same Exercise of Grace he requires from us, in the Closet, in the Family, or in the Church. We have to do with the same GOD in all places and at all times, and unto Him we must lift up our Souls, and call upon him in Truth. The Precept and Rule to us is, Heb. xii. 28. Let us have Grace whereby we may serve GOD accepta­bly, with Reverence and godly Fear. He is greatly to be feared in a Family of Worshipers, as well as in the Assembly and Congregation.

And as we must sanctify the LORD in our Hearts, so we should be grave, reverend and solemn in our Voice, Gesture, Deportment and Behaviour, while we worship GOD in our Families. Indeed we should beware of being noisie and ostentatious in it, not af­fecting Show or the Observation of Men; but yet neither let us be afraid of being observed, seen or heard by others, but desire to have our Light shine before them; if they may be excited hereby to glori­fy our FATHER which is in Heaven. Aim at the pleas­ing and honouring GOD, and the Salvation of thy Self and Family; and by thy reverend Example con­strain the Reverence of thy Houshold; and by thy Earnestness and Affection endeavour to move their Affections, and make them in earnest: And by thy Authority command all in thy House to show Seri­ousness and Reverence. Humility and godly Fear, Faith Love and earnest Desire, with holy Pleasure and Satisfaction, is the Life and Soul of Worship; all in all in it; whether it be in secret, in private or in public.

5. Tye not your Self to a Form, nor yet indulge too much Liberty of Speech, in Family Worship. A [Page 23]good Form may be useful and needful for some, but it is not to be advised or chosen without Necessity. The modesty and bashfulness of some understanding Christians is not Reason eno' for such an Indulgence. It were rather fit for some more bold and conceited Persons. A small Gift may suffice for sutable & pertinent Family Prayer. Let us covet the best Gift in it, and do our best; and then the least will be accepted of GOD. But if any use a Form, let him not be formal in it, but still pray with the Spirit and with Understand­ing. To such I would recommend the Forms prepa­red by the Rev. Mr. Henry in his Book called, A Method of Prayer.

Some by taking too great Freedom in Family pray­er, have but spoilt the Devotion of the Houshold, and expos'd the Duty to contempt. It had been much better if such had used some good Form of sound Words. The wise Housholder must think so­berly, what will most honour GOD and edify the Family.

Both Ministers in public, and Housholders in pri­vate, should take heed what Liberties they allow themselves in Prayer. And yet, both Families and Congregations must make Allowances, at Times more especially, for Infirmity and Weaknesses in those that lead in Prayer. Solomon's warning and caution is needful to be kept in mind, Eccless. v. 2. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty, to utter any thing before GOD: For GOD is in Heaven and thou upon Earth; therefore let thy Words be few: "well considered and digested. That wise Proverb of Solomon is of great Use, as well in the religious as common Use of Speech; In the multitude of Words there wanteth not Sin, but he that refraineth his lips is wise. "It is not eno' (says Mr. Henry) that what we speak comes from the Heart, but it must come from a composed Heart. As the Mouth must not be [Page 24] rash, so the Heart must not be hasty. We must think twice before we speak, either from GOD in Preaching, or to GOD in Prayer.

Let us be careful and reverend in our coming boldly to the Throne of Grace. Let us take with us Abraham's Words and Frame, Behold I have taken up­on me to speak unto the LORD, who am but dust and ashes!

6. On the LORD'S-day we should ordinarily be more inlarged in Duties of Worship, both in the Clo­set and in the Family. The Day is holy for this End and Use, that we should spend it in the "public and private Exercises of GOD'S Worship. As we must needs attend the public Assemblies, on the LORD'S-day, for it is a holy Convocation; So it is the Sabbath of the LORD in our Dwellings. This is no Judaizing, but as it was from the Beginning, is and ever shall be. So we call the Sabbath our Delight in the best manner, and find not our own Pleasure on it; think not our own Tho'ts, nor speak our own Words. As the Sacrifices under the Law were doubled on the Sabbath-day, so it is fitting under the Gospel that our Family Sacrifices of Praise and Prayer be inlarg'd and doubled on the LORD'S-day. If on other days the Word of GOD should be read in our Houses, on this more. If Prayer and Praise be requisite every day, surely they are more on the holy Sabbath. Then especially we should remember the LORD our Sanciti­fier, and be found in all the Means of our Sanctifica­tion, whether more private or public. And what is the fruit of the neglect of Family worship on the LORD'S-days, but sports and pastimes on them, and o­pen profaness and debauchery. Hence comes the loss of all serious Religion, and the growth of all manner of Irreligion. Let us therefore be the more abundant and solemn in Family Worship on the LORD'S day. Secret and private Worship thereon [Page 25]prepares for the public, and that again should inlarge us for the other: As David returned from the most solemn Exercises of public Devotion, to bless his own Houshold. These had not tir'd and unfitted him, but the more prepar'd him for his Family Thanksgiving in the Evening.

7. In our Family prayers let it be a Rule with us, that there be much of Thanksgiving and Praise in the Duty. Indeed GOD sometimes puts our Fa­milies into Mourning, and calls them to solemn Hu­miliations, Confessions and Supplications; as hath been said before. Nor ought Confession of Sin, with Supplications for Grace and Mercy, to be ever missing in Family prayers. But we are too apt to be want­ing in the part of Thanksgiving and Praise, in our daily Devotions, by our Selves or with Others; which is a very ill and ungrateful thing

Our personal and Family Mercies are many and great from day to day, and they call for a religious notice every day. In the days of our Afflictions and Mournings, the darkest days that pass over our Houses, our Mercies are new every morning and e­vening, & ought never to be forgotten or overlook'd. How much less in the Months that GOD preserves us, and while his Candle is shining on our Tabernacles: Then should the Voice of Rejoicing and Thanksgiving be loud in them, every Morning and Night. — This likewise makes the daily Service pleasant to the Hous­hold, and tends to raise and fix the hearts of the Fa­mily in the holy Duty; Praise being comely for the Upright, and the joyful Work of Heaven & Eternity. We should never be weary in it now, as we hope ne­ver to cease from it hereafter. Psalm civ. ult. I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live, I will sing Praises to my GOD while I have my Being. My Meditation of Him shall be sweet, I will be glad in the LORD.

[Page 26] The first Petition in the LORD'S-prayer is, Thy Name be hallowed, and Doxology closes it, For thine is the Kingdom, Power and Glory: So let us be evermore awaking up our Glory, to give Praises and not be Silent.

Let no Family afflictions unfit us and put us out of Tune for this; no Bereavement or Death in our Houses: But in this Case let us learn of the excellent Example of Job, who when his Family and Estate were destroy'd together, fell down in his House and worship'd, saying, The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken; blessed be the Name of the LORD! Shall we receive Good at the Hand of the LORD, and shall we not receive Evil?

8. Let no leven of Wickedness be found in our Dwel­lings. This is a necessary and special Direction for the effectual and fervent Worship of GOD in our Families. For if we regard Iniquity in our hearts, the LORD will not hear our Prayers, Psalm lxvi. 18. Sin spoils all our Worship, of every sort; mental or oral, solitary or social. The Sacrifice of the wicked is Abo­mination. Most wise and necessary is Zophar's Ad­monition to us, Job xi. 13, 14, 15. If thou prepare thy Heart, and stretch out thy Hands to GOD; if ini­quity be in thy hand put it away, and let not Wickedness dwell in thy Tabernacle; for then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot. It is the Rule and Law in all Prayer, and at all Times, James iv. 8. Cleanse your hands ye sinners, and purify your hearts ye double-minded! draw nigh to GOD and he will draw nigh to you. The Man that had been blind from his birth knew this, that GOD heareth not Sinners; but if any Man be a Worshiper of GOD and doth his Will, him He heareth. Spoken like a Child of Light. As therefore the Jews were to search their Houses and purge them from Leven, in their Preparation for the Solemnity of the Passover; so we must wash our Hearts from wickedness when we go to pray to our FATHER in [Page 27]secret, and cleanse our Houses from it, when we go to bless them in the Name of the LORD; who will not else bless them at our Prayer. Prov. iii. 33. The Curse of the LORD is in the House of the wicked, but he blesseth the Habitation of the Just.

9. In a particular manner watch against Anger, Strife & Wrath in thy Family, that the Worship of GOD in it be not hindred. This old Leven spoils the Prayers of Housholds, and makes them become Sin. There is no greater hindrance either of secret or fa­mily Prayer. It takes away the heart and face for the Duty. The Law to us is, I. Tim. ii. 8. I will that Men pray every where, lifting up holy Hands, without Wrath. A wrathful Mind can't lift up a ho­ly Hand to GOD. The disorder of the Heart pollutes the Prayer. The GOD of Peace and Love can ne­ver endure the Prayers of a House where there is Anger and Strife, Confusion and every evil Work. The hearts of such a Houshold cannot joyn in Prayer, and how should GOD accept it? The Rule is, Live in Love, and the GOD of Love and Peace shall be with you. Only such Relatives can pray as Heirs together of the Grace of Life, I. Pet. iii. 7. GOD would not hear Job and his Friends pray together, or for one another, after their angry and quarrelling Disputes, till they were reconciled: Job xlii. 8. Take with you seven Bullocks and seven Rams, and go to my Servant Job; he shall pray for you: And the LORD turned away the Captivity of Job, when he prayed for his Friends. Near Relations are most of all bound to love and pray for one another; but if they fall in the Love, they will also in the Prayers which they owe to one ano­ther. Families should be of one Heart and Soul, as they are of one Blood; and then there is Harmony and Power in their Prayers when they make one Voice to GOD. If two of you agree on Earth (said our LORD) it shall be done for you of my FATHER [Page 28] which is in Heaven. When we stand praying we are requir'd to forgive our very Enemies, and to bless them that curse us. How then can Families, which are Societies more especially under the Law and Bonds of mutual Love, unite in Prayers, if Love be wanting in them? This is my Commandment (said our LORD JESUS) that ye love one another: How then can two or three be together in his Name, if it be not in the Spirit of Love? There is neither Church Communion, nor Family Communion, without the Law of Kindness and Love ruling in the Hearts of the Members. I. John iv. 7. Beloved, Let us love one another; for Love is of. GOD, and every one that loveth is born of GOD, and knoweth GOD: He that loveth not knoweth not GOD, for GOD is Love.

10. "Watch your worldly Business, that it do not eat out the Life and Seriousness of daily Worship". This is one of Mr. Baxter's Rules and a very good one. For as the Friendship of the World is Enmity to GOD, so nothing is more Inimical to vital Piety, to secret or family Religion, than the Spirit of this World; the Cares of it and the Deceitfulness of Riches. These choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful; and these choke and drive away the Spirit of Prayer.

— Some are so taken up with their worldly Cares and Businesses, that they can find no Time or Lei­sure for Family Prayer. They rise early, sit up late, and eat the Bread of Carefulness; but neither seek to GOD for it, nor thank him for it, as they ought in their Families, while he daily feeds 'em. One goes to his Farm, and another to his Merchandize, but they desire to be excused from the Prayers of the Closet and the Family, day by day. They are cumber'd with many things, and neglect the One thing needful; which is to sit at JESUS feet, and hear his Word, and come in his Name to the Throne of Grace. — Fami­ly prayer is not of the World, even as CHRIST is not [Page 29]of the World. It is of the FATHER, and spiritual, and the World hates it. — Let the Object and Manner of Worship be wrong and false, and the World goes after the Beast: Let it be an Idol that is worship'd, in a corrupt and carnal manner, only with bodily Ado­ration, and every Family shall have its Houshold-God, of Wood or of Gold; but go to set up the spi­ritual and pure Worship of GOD in a Family, and the Spirit of this World rises against it, and can't endure it, can't admit of it; but finds a thousand Objections against it and Excuses from it: Then Time can't be found for it, or Inability for it shall be pleaded, or the Necessity of the thing shall be questioned; whereas all the while it is only the Spirit of Demas possessing the Person, even the Love of the present World. So necessary is the Apostle's Prohibition and Dehortation, I. John ii. 16. Love not the World, nor the things of the World; if any Man love the World the Love of the FATHER is not in him. A spiritual Mind, abstracted from this World and the things of it, is absolutely necessary to a Life of daily spiritual Worship. This is the Victory that overcometh the World, even our Faith. It is true, that Diligence in our worldly Callings must accompany our daily Pray­ers in our Families; else we tempt GOD and put our selves out of the way of his Blessing. That gives us our daily Bread, and we must ask it of GOD. And the Rule to us is that, Philip. iv. 5, 6. Let your Mode­ration be known unto all men, for the LORD is at hand; Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by Prayer and Supplication, with Thanksgiving let your Requests be made known unto GOD.

11. In the choice of your worldly Callings, in put­ting out your Children, and in making Marriages for your Selves and Them; have a due Respect unto this Duty and Priviledge of Family Worship. Chuse not to settle in such a Way as will not well consist [Page 30]with this Duty. Prefer that Business, and way of Living, which will best agree with the Religion of the Closet and of the Houshold. For this Advan­tage think it worth while to abate something of worldly Gains. Chuse not to put your Children in­to such Families where the Worship of GOD is not upheld; and much less be willing to marry them to such Persons who are like to be disinclin'd thereunto. So let us endeavour to preserve and propagate Fa­mily Religion from Generation to Generation.

12. And lastly, Let all our Family Sacrifices be presented to GOD in the Name of JESUS, in Whom all the Families of the Earth are blessed. Carry thy Houshold daily, and all thy Family Worship, to the Blood of the great Sacrifice, CHRIST our Passover. Get all the Souls of thy House, and all thy Prayers for them, sprinkled with the blood of the LAMB. That shall secure thy House from deserved Wrath, and procure for it all the Blessings it needs. By Faith in a sacrificed Saviour, the Lamb slain, we may plead, and wrestle, and prevail for our Selves and Ours, as Iacob did. He wrestled with the Angel of the Cove­nant for his Houshold, and was named Israel. Go thou, in the Name and Strength of CHRIST and do likewise. He is a merciful and faithful High-Priest, to pray for thee, to breathe in thee, and to bear away the Iniquity of thy holy Things. If He wash not Us, our Offspring, and our Offerings, how shall we be accepted by the Holy GOD? If he put the Incense of his Merits to thy Prayers, they shall come up be­fore GOD a sweet Odour.

And thus I have given Rules and Directions about the Duty of Family Worship.

IV. An Exhortation, with Motives to the Duty, do yet remain. Let us be exhorted to the Practice of this Duty, in that wise and religious Manner which [Page 31]has been directed to. Let such as are in this holy Practice in their Houses, be exhorted to continue therein, in the Fear of GOD. And let those that are Strangers to the Practice be admonished and warned in the Fear of GOD to come into it. And to move both the one and the other, let me plead with them, for GOD'S sake, for the sake of their Families, for their own sake, and for the sake of the Public, both in Church and State. — These are plain Motives and powerful Arguments, and should sink down into our Hearts; both to convince those that do not daily read the Word of GOD to their Houshold, and pray with them, of their Sin in this Omission and Neglect; and to encourage and confirm Others to persevere in this Duty by the Grace of GOD.

First then, For GOD'S sake, for the Glory of his Name; from Love to Him and from Fear of Him; to please Him, to obtain his Favour, and to avoid his Wrath; let us all come into and continue in this religious Practice of Family Worship. The Honour of GOD should be ever uppermost in our Hearts, and ly with weight there; it being the chief End of Man: And all our Endowments, with all the Advantages which GOD puts into our. hands, should be made to subserve thereunto. In like manner, Nothing should come with more force and power on us, to deter us from living in the Allowance of any Evil, or in the Neglect of any commanded Duty, than the Disho­nour we bring thereby to the Name of GOD.

Now what doth the Glory of GOD call for from us in our Families? Let us put it to our own Consci­ences, and let our Reason and Understanding impar­tially answer. Is it not for the Honour of GOD, and for our glorifying Him together, that we daily and devoutly worship Him with our Houshold? And is it no Dishonour to the Great GOD if he is not so wor­ship'd, day by day? tho' He be the Founder of [Page 32]the Family, its Preserver and dully Benefactor! tho' It is HE has formed the Head and every Member of the Family; has brought them together and built them up into a Houshold? His Secret has been on the Tabernacle; his Candle shining on it, his Eyes watch­ing over it, his Hands supplying it plentifully; tho' it is HE that has girt it with strength, bless'd the small Beginning of it, and increased the latter End of it. Or if it be afflicted, its Afflictions come not out of the Dust, nor does its Troubles spring out of the Ground; but it is the Rod of GOD upon it, which he only can remove; or sanctify, which is far the better. How then can GOD be glorified in the House, if in every Case he be not religiously regard­ed in all his Ways toward it; and that by all the Houshold together, as well as every Member apart? — As our Father Jacob in all his Family Mercies, and in all his Family Afflictions, gave the same Glory to GOD; in all his Fears concerning them, and in all his Joys in them. When he look'd upon his Sub­stance, his Word was, The LORD has given me these Flocks: When he look'd upon his Houshold, he said, I pass'd this Jordan with my Staff, and GOD has made me two Bands: When he fear'd for his Family he carried them to GOD and wrestled in Prayer for them; O GOD of my Father! deliver me I pray thee from the hand of my Brother; for I fear him, lest he come and sinite the Mother with the Children.

This is to give Glory unto GOD as the GOD of our Families. And thus we teach our Children and Ser­vants to glorify GOD with us; to know Him, to love him, and to fear him, to pray unto and praise Him by themselves alone. This is better done by Exam­ple and Practice before them every day, than any other way we can think of. Not that other ways should be omitted, but this to be sure observed. So Eleazar, the Servant of Abraham, learn'd to acknow­ledge [Page 33]the LORD GOD of his Master in all his ways; to depend on Him, to seek him and give him Glory, in every Affair and Concern of the Family; and more especially in the greater and more important ones: When therefore he stood by the Well he pray'd, Gen. xxiv. 12. O LORD GOD of my Master Abraham! I pray thee send me good speed this day, and show kind­ness to my Master Abraham: Behold I stand by the Well &c. And when GOD had given him the Token of his Favour which he had pray'd for, the Man won­dring at the Thing bowed down his Head and worshiped, and said, Blessed be the LORD GOD of my Master Abraham, who has not left my Master destitute of his Mercy and Truth; I being in the Way, the LORD hath led me to the House of my Masters Brethren.

Thus Children and Servants learn to honour and reverence GOD by living in Worshiping Families. And so GOD has Glory not only from the Head of the House, but from many a Branch of it; the high­er & lower Members of it. So it seems to have been in the happy House of Cornelius, who feared GOD with all his House, and prayed unto GOD always. — In a word, By Family Worship we train up our Families for the Worship both of the Closet and of the Tem­ple; and teach our Housholds to pray both in secret and in public. And so the Glory given by Ours un­to GOD in both, may be very much owing to the Worship in the Family.

For GOD'S sake therefore, and for the Glory of his Name, let us be found in the holy Practice of Fa­mily Worship: which is the first Motive.

Secondly, For our Family and Houshold's sake, for our Children and Servants sake, let us not live with­out Family Worship; but in the daily and devout practice of it. Let me plead with such as neglect this Duty, for the precious Souls committed to their Care by GOD the Father of Spirits; which ought to [Page 34]dear to them and for whom they must give Account to GOD. Be prevailed on by the natural, strong and tender Love which you bear to your Offspring; and by that Care and Concern which you are bound to have for the Servants in your House, to keep up the Worship of GOD therein.

The Apostle tells us, That if any man provide not for those of his own House (meaning their Bodies) he hath denied the Faith, and is worse than an Infidel. I. Tim. v. 8. What an infidel House then is that, wherein the Souls of the Houshold are utterly neg­lected; and the Children and Servants are train'd up in Ignorance of GOD, in Irreligion and Profaness; without reading GOD'S Word to them, and without Prayer to Him for them, from day to day? How should such Children learn the Fear of the LORD, without which they perish? O destroy not those Souls for which CHRIST died; and which should be to thee as thy own Bowels, and more than so. While you are far from hating their Flesh, why should you not tenderly care for their better and immortal Part, their living Spirits? Can you pretend that you love your Family, without a religious and godly Care for their Souls?

How did Abraham's Love work toward his Hous­hold? GOD tells us how he lov'd his GOD and his Family; Gen xviii. 19. For I know Abraham, that he will command his Children and his Houshold after him to keep the Way of the LORD. So Job's Love to his Sons and Daughters wro't by his fearing for them, lest they should sin against GOD, and by his calling them to his solemn Sacrifices, which he offered for them. So David's Love wro't, to his Houshold; even in his blessing them from time to time in the Name of the LORD; and also in teaching and charg­ing them, I. Chron. xxviii. 9. And thou S [...]mon, my Son, Know thou the GOD of thy Father, and serve him [Page 35]with a perfect Heart &c. Every religious Parent feels within himself the moving Words of the great Apostle to the Elect Lady concerning her Children; I have no greater Joy than to hear of thy Children walking in the Truth.

In a word, How can Masters be just to their Ser­vants, as knowing that they have a MASTER in Hea­ven? or how can Parents train up their Children in the Nurture and Admonition of the LORD; if they do not lead them into the Fear and Worship of GOD from day to day? But indeed they wickedly neglect the private Means of their saving Illumination and effec­tual Calling, Conversion and spiritual Edification. For surely, Parents and Heads of Families are the Ministers of GOD for this within their own Walls, and are to attend continually on this very thing.

But does this seem to be so much as aim'd at, while Worship, the Means of Grace, is neglected in thy House? How knowest thou, O Man, but that thou may'st save thy Houshold, by the reverend Worship of GOD among them? Have you never heard of any that have dated their Conversion from such a Prayer in a Family? The excellent Lady ASHURST (of whose Piety and great Devotion I was once a Witness for many Weeks together) was an Instance of this Mer­cy. And thousands there are and thousands, both living and deceased, who are blessing GOD, and will bless Him for ever, that his Providence disposed of them into such Families of Religion. — On the o­ther Hand, How knowest thou, O Man, but the want of Family Worship in thy House may turn to the loss and eternal perdition of thy Soul, and of the Souls of thy Houshold! And then, How will they and thy own inraged Conscience rise against thee in [Page 36]the Day of Judgment, and condemn thee? Which leads me to the third Motive,

Thirdly, For thy own sake, for the sake of thy own Soul; for thy Comfort and Peace in Life and Death, and for thy Safety in the Day of Judgment; main­tain the Worship of GOD in thy Family. On thy doing thy Duty to GOD, and to thy Family, depends thy own eternal Salvation. If thou dost not consult the glorifying GOD in thy. House, and the Saving thy Houshold, thou destroyest thy own Soul.

You must watch for the Souls of your Family, as one that must give an Account for them to GOD: But what Account can you give of the Neglect of Family Worship, and therein of the Neglect of the Souls committed to thy Care? Will not GOD require them of thee another Day? And say to thee as in I. Kings xxvi. 39. Thy Soul shall go for these Souls if they perish: Or as it is in Ezek xvi. 20. Thou hast taken my Sons and my Daughters, and hast sacrificed them to Satan, to the World and thy Lusts. And thus you and yours may perish together.

Not that Family Worship will save a Man or his House; but it is a Means of Salvation that is by no means to be neglected. Nor that all must necessari­ly perish, who are so unhappy as to live in prayer­less Families; but the loss of eternal Salvation is en­danger'd hereby. And if a prayerless Housholder, and some of his Houshold, perish hereby, his Con­demnation will be the greater, because of his pro­fane Ingratitude to GOD, and his unnatural Neglect of his Family. He shall be judged as a profane Wretch toward GOD, and an unnatural Father to his immortal Offspring, and a despiser of his own Soul and Ways. His Offspring and Servants will rise up in Judgment against him, and accuse him, that he never instructed them by Word and Example in the Worship and Fear of GOD, nor in the Care of their [Page 37]own Souls. And how will he ever look them in the face? and much less GOD who put them under his Care? His Guilt will fly in his face, and his own Heart rise and condemn him. The blood of Souls, even of his Wife and Children, may cry a­gainst him from the Earth before he die, as the blood of Abel's body did against wretched Cain. This punishment will be greater than he will be able to bear, nor will he be able to say, Was I their Keeper? Abel's Soul was not destroyed with his Life; but ve­rily a murder'd Soul (whether thy own or anothers) will be found a more horrid and hideous Guilt, than any meer murder of the Body, and to deserve eter­nal Death.

And if the Guilt of prayerless Housholders may be found such in the Day of Judgment, what Pain and Terror may their Sin give them in the day of sore Affliction, or in the day of Death? Suppose this Man upon his Death-bed, and his Houshold gathering about him in that dark hour; how will he take leave of them whom he has never pray'd with? How will he do then to bless them, or they him? How shall his dying lips pray for them, as Jacob pour'd out Blessings on his Sons, sitting up in his Bed? O it must be a melancholly parting, from a Family that you have never pray'd with! Pray consider it, and let not another Evening or Morning pass without a Family Prayer For they or you may die before to Morrow: This Night may their or your Soul be required or called away: And can you think of dy­ing and going into Eternity, without having pray'd together as a Family? How do you think to meet in Heaven, and live praising and blessing GOD together for ever and ever? Or how can you think of being cast together into Hell, & for never blessing GOD toge­ther in this Life, come to blaspheme him for ever, and curse one another eternally, in the World to come?

[Page 38] But before Death comes, how miserable are such Families, such Relatives, in all their Afflictions? What Comfort can they find from one another under them, who have never been us'd to worship and pray together? What miserable Comforters are such like to be to each other? How can they pray for one another or speak of the Consolations of GOD to one another, in the days of their Trouble & Distress?

On every Account therefore, present or future, for the sake of thy own Soul pray with thy Houshold dai­ly; for thy happy and holy Living here, and for the eternal Well-being and Happiness (if it please GOD) both of thy Self and Family.

Fourthly and lastly, The last Motive may be taken from our Duty to the Public, both in the State and in the Church. No Man is born for Himself alone, nor yet for his own House. We have our Nei'bours Good, the good of our Nei'bourhood, of the Place wherein we dwell, of the Country we belong to, and of the World wherein we sojourn, to act for. The Good of all these we may promote or hurt, by hav­ing or not having the Worship of GOD upheld in our Families. Yea the Good is unknown, and so the Evil, that comes to the Public, by Peoples doing or not doing their Duty in their private Relations. Family Worship and Government make Places happy, and the want of it makes them miserable.

1. The Good is unknown that the Public receives; unknown is the Benefit to a People both in Church and State, by the serious Worship of GOD in Families. There we may ordinarily suppose the best Family Watch and Government. The Housholder that re­solves by GOD'S Grace to sing of Mercy and Judgment in his House, is most like to proceed and (like Da­vid, Psalm ci.) walk within his House with a perfect Heart, setting no evil Work before his Eyes, nor suffer­ing Pride or Frowardness to dwell with him, nor him [Page 39] that telleth lies to tarry in his Sight. And it is from Families so taught and rul'd that the State, and Church is most like to be supplied with worthy Persons, from one Generation to another. Religious Families are the Nurseries for the Churches of CHRIST, to supply them with worthy Members and Communicants. These may be most look'd for from praying Houses. And it is happy for a People when the State also is sup­plied with Judges and Counsellors from such Hous­holds; who will be like to be Patrons of Religion and Examples of it in their Generation. Without THESE the Earth and all its Inhabitants dissolve, but these bear up the Pillars of it. Religion and Virtue, Piety and Devotion, Temperance and Honesty, Fru­gality and Diligence, Justice and Righteousness, Hu­mility and Charity, and every thing of good Report, are like to be propagated from such Families. And the Blessing of GOD, which makes a People prosper­ous, is like to attend a Place for the sake of such Housholds. We may bless them in the Name of the LORD and say, The LORD bless thee, O Habitation of Righteousness! As Godliness has the Promise of the Life that now is, so the Remains of it in a wicked World are very much owing to the Re­ligion and Government and good Order of Families. There is the Rice and Foundation of Rule and Sub­jection in the State, and so of the public Peace and Tranquility.

2. Unknown is the Mischief and Woe to the World, to Church and State, from the Want of Family Wor­ship and Government. The profaness and corruption that fills the Earth is very much owing to the Neg­lect and ill Education of Children. It would be ve­ry much more than it is, if there were not many re­ligious Housholds, here and there. Family Worship is a mighty Restraint upon the Lusts of many, and prevents abundance of Sin. But where Family Re­ligion [Page 40]ceases, the fountains of the great Deep break open, and Wickedness comes on as a Flood. Surely the fear of GOD is not in that Place, and they live as without GOD and CHRIST in the World. Salvation, in the Means of it, is far from those Houses, and they count themselves unworthy of CHRIST'S coming un­der their Roof. They say to the Almighty, depart from us; and Wo unto them if He depart from them.

Irreligion is propagated from such Houses, and their Posterity (that come of them) are like to be prayerless and graceless like their Ancestors. So they become a Curse to the World, and bring down the Wrath of GOD upon the Places where they live. As it is written, Pour out thy Fury upon the Heathen that know thee not, and upon the Families that call not up­on thy Name. Wo to the World for this Offence a­gainst GOD, which if it were universal would soon bring on the Violence that filled the Earth before the Flood, and the Corruption of Sodom after it; and so the Wrath and Vengeance of GOD to the uttermost; as it was in both those Cases.

If therefore we have any Regard to GOD, to our own Souls, to the Souls of our Housholds, and to the Good of the Places where we live; to the Weal of Mankind and to the Welfare of the Church of CHRIST; let us earnestly come into and be stedfast, immove­able and abounding in this great and important Duty of Family Worship.

Consider how much you owe it to GOD, to your Selves, to your Families, and to the World. Let the Love of GOD, and of your Nei'bour, of your Hous­holds, and of your own Souls, constrain you to this necessary and reasonable Service: Wherein the Ho­nour of GOD, the temporal and spiritual Advantage of those that are your own Bowels, and your good Account in the Day of CHRIST, as well as the Good of your Country & Posterity, are all so nearly interested.

[Page 41] How can you say that you love, honour or fear GOD if you do not worship Him in your Housholds? Or how can you say that you love your Families, while you neglect this? At least, How can you say that you love and care for their precious & immortal Souls, which should have your first Love & chief Care?

But let those that are found in this religious Course and Practice be greatly encouraged and confirmed in it, by what has been said. The LORD increase You more and more, You and your Children. This is the Generation of them that seek Him; that seek thy Face, O GOD of Jacob! This godly Seed the LORD seeks; He seeks, and forms and finds them in this Way. The LORD loves these Dwellings of Jacob, loves to dwell in them. These are his Bethels, Houses of Prayer. As the Ark in the house of Obed-edom bro't down the Blessing of GOD on it, so let the Worship of GOD in thy House do on thee and thine. The LORD bless thee and keep thee, make thee fruitful and multiply thee. GOD has given you the Heritage of those that fear his Name; the LORD is your In­heritance. Your Houses shall be called his Houses of Prayer, among all People. The Churches of CHRIST and his Ministers salute you much in the LORD. The LORD, the Keeper of Israel watch over your sprinkled Houses; for the bunch of Hyssop with the atoning Blood on it hangs at your door: May he ever cleanse and water you with the heavenly Influences of his SPIRIT and Grace! And may the Voice of Re­joicing and Salvation be ever with you, as in the Ta­bernacles of the Righteous..

We thank GOD that there are so many praying Fa­milies in the Town, and thro' the Land; and so ma­ny Families of Distinction among us that are Exem­plary for this Duty. We are sorry that there are any, so many Houses, in the Town, or in any part of the Land, where GOD is not daily worship'd. If [Page 42]there were not a prayerless Houshold known among us, this would be our Glory and Safety.

Yet to Those that keep up the solemn Worship of GOD in their Houses, let me say, — Rest not in such a Course of holy Duty as your Righteousness; that be far from you. Neither look on the Person or Family of thy prayerless Nei'bour with any Eye of spiritual Pride, as if thou wert holier than he or his; but walk humbly with GOD and lowly before Men. Live every day agreeably to thy Family De­votions, and daily perform thy Vows. Be thou in the Fear of the LORD all the day long; that thy Prayers may not become Sin, and be cast back as dung in thy Face. — Walk daily with GOD in Secret: It may be some pray with their Families, who do not pray in their Closets: But GOD has strictly requir'd secret and retir'd Prayer, by our selves alone. — Neither content thy Self with secret and family Worship, but walk thou and thy House in all the Commandments and Ordinances of the LORD blameless, in all his Insti­tuted public Worship. For the LORD loveth the Gates of Zion more than [...] the Dwellings of Jacob. He loves the Worship of the Houshold well, but that of his Temple more. [...] an especial manner let the Sab­baths of the LORD be sanctified in thy Dwelling, by the Word of God and Prayer. — And finally, To Worship add Family Instruction and Government. When you have pray'd with your Houshold, then watch over them in the LORD. So be unto CHRIST a King, as well as a Priest, in thy House: to rule for Him, as well as to offer up Spiritual Sacrifices.

[Page 43]

APPENDIX. From the Whole Duty of Man: CHAP. V. SECT. xii.

A Second sort of public Prayer is that in a Family, where all that are Members of it joyn in their common Supplications: And this ought to be very carefully attended to, first by the Master of the Family, who is to look that there be such Prayers; it being as much his part to provide for the Souls of his Chil­dren and Servants, as to provide food for their Bo­dies. Therefore there is none, even the meanest Housholder, but ought to take this care. — What choice soever they make of Prayers let them be sure to have some; and let no Man that professeth him­self to be a Christian keep so heathenish a Family, as not to see GOD be daily worshiped in it. But when the Master of the Family hath done his Duty in this providing, it is the duty of [...] Member of it to make use of that Provision, by [...] constant and diligent at those FAMILY PRAYERS.

FINIS.

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