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multiplied a thousand fold; and we should still need, the property, the talents, the influence, the example, the exertions, the prayers, of all the subjects of divine grace.
And can their services be dispensed with -now?
-God is not the God of confusion, but of peace and He has said, Let every thing be done decently, and in order. It is his providence that determines the bounds of our habitation, and furnishes the several stations we occupy and into these we are to look for our duties and opportunities. Men are often led out of their own proper sphere of action, in order to be useful: but it is ignorance, if not discontent, and pride, that tempts them astray.
As the stream of a river is most lovely and beneficial, when it patiently steals along its own channel, though it makes not so much noise, and excites not so much notice, as when it breaks over its banks, and roars and rolls as a flood: so good men are most acceptable, and useful in their appointed course. Wisdom will estimate every man, by what he is, not out of his place and calling, but in them. There we naturally look after him; there we unavoidably compare him with his obligations; there we see him habitually-and there he gains a character, or goes without one.
It is to be feared, that some even of the stricter professors of religion, have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. It blazes at a distance; but it burns dimat home. In a day like the present, there will be many occasional calls of public duty; but it will be a sad exclamation to make at a dying hour, "My own vineyard have I not kept." In the spiritual, still more than in the temporal neglect, "He that provideth not for his own, especially those of his own house, hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
"You wish to serve your generation ?" It is well that it is in your heart; but let it be according to the will of God. And how does this require you to proceed? From public relation into private, or from private into public? Does it order you to waste time and strength, to go to a distance; and begin labouring, where difficulties will be too great, and means too few, to allow of your improving the waste, back to your own door? Or, to begin near; to cultivate onward; to clear and fertilize the ground as you advance; so as to feel every acquisition already made, converted into a resource to encourage, support, and assist you, in your future toil?
"You long to be useful?" And why are you not? Can you want either opportunity, or materials-you, who are placed at the head of
families; you, who are required to rule well your own households; to dwell with your wives according to knowledge; to train up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; to behave towards your servants, as remembering that you also have a master in heaven.-Behold, O man of God, a congregation, endeared and attentive, committed to thy trust. Behold, a flock whom you may feed with knowledge and understanding; and before whom you may walk as an example in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Behold a church in thy house. Behold an altar on which to offer the morning and evening sacrifice of prayer and of praise.
Here, observe these things without prefering one before another; here teach and exhort, and reprove with all long suffering and patience; here officiate-and "Ye shall be namcd the PRIESTS of the Lord; men shall call you the MINISTERS of our God."
The remark of Baxter is worthy our regard "If family religion was duly attended to, and properly discharged, I think the preaching of the word, would not be the common instrument of conversion." And Gurnal says"The family is the nursery of the church. If the nursery be neglected, what in time will become of the gardens, and the orchards."
The Author will not endeavour to establish the duty of domestic worship. Many excellent things have been written upon this subject : and what he, himself, could offer in support of the practice, is already before the public.*
It is futile to allege, as some have done, that there is no positive and express command for it in the scripture; when nothing would be more easy, than to prove the will of Godfrom the simplest deductions, from the fairest reasonings, and from the most generally acknowledged principles.
The examples of the faithful; the commendations which God has bestowed upon them in his word; his promises and threatenings; the obvious and numberless advantages resulting from domestic devotion, as to personal religion, and relative government-with regard to those that preside in the family; and as to instruction, restraints, and motives-with regard to relations, children, and servants :-All this must surely be enough to induce any man, capable of conviction, to terminate with a broken heart, the mischiefs of neglect; and to swear unto the Lord, and vow unto the Mighty God of Jacob-"Surely, I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my
* See the Introduction to the Author's Four Volumes of Short Discourses, for the use of Families.
bed, I will not give sleep to mine eyes, nor slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the Mighty God of Jacob."
As to objections arising from-shame—a want of time-the unfashionableness of the usage or its interfering with visits or dissipations all this, in a being, who yet owns himself to be a moral and an accountable creature, is unworthy of argument, and would be too much honoured, by the attempt of refutation.
There is one thing however, which deserves notice. It is the apprehension of inability to perform this duty. With respect to some, if not many, it is no breach of charity to conclude, that this is an excuse, rather than a reason. It is disinclination, or at least, the want of a more powerful conviction, that hinders them from adopting this salutary usage, rather than incapacity. There are few cases in which the old adage is not to be verified: "Where there is a will, there is a way." You feel little difficulty in making known your distresses or wishes to a fellow creature and the Lord looketh, not to the excellency of the language, but to the heart. The facility would be increased by practice, and the divine blessing.
And I cannot but earnestly recommend the use of free and extemporaneous prayer, where it is practicable. There is in it, a freshness,