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the hand of God is not acknowledged in them, they are considered as coming without design, either good or bad; and especially without any design to lead them to repentance. Nor is there, in such men, the slightest desire that their sufferings should issue in reformation. The spirit of prayer is an alien from all the impenitent. They may use the name of God, indeed; but it is only as a mere exclamation, savouring more of profaneness than of prayer. If they direct their desires for relief to God, it is not with the purpose of spending future life in his service, but of returning to their sinful pleasures. Let all such hear the warning voice of God :-He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. Which leads me to remark,
2. This subject furnishes solemn reproof and warning to such as have experienced affliction, and yet have not repented. Have you not found that the
is bitter? This bitterness is the genuine extract of your own sins, prepared and given, that by this foretaste you might be admonished and repent. With the admonition came this timely and affectionate warning; Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish. Those who perish, will find—not a single cup of bitterness—but an horrible tempest-a deluge of divine, unmingled wrath. Is it no encouragement, that, instead of being doomed to destruction, you have been spared and preserved ? preserved, too, that you might have space for repentance. Surely this kindness is encouraging. Instead of destruction, God has sent you afflictions; light, when compared with your guilt; short, when compared with eternity. Do you still wait for invitation? God the Father, who afflicts you, and who afflicted his beloved Son for your sake, invites you; Jesus Christ, who died for sinners, invites you; the Spirit, the Comforter, says, Come; and this would be the language, could you hear their voice, of the spirits of just men made perfect, as well as of the whole Church on earth. How deeply interesting is your situation! The next affliction may decide your eternal destiny. Hearken then to the voice of God; Turn ye at my reproof : behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you; I will make known my words unto you. Kiss the Son, lest ne be angry,
and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those that put their trust in Him.
Lastly. This subject affords instruction and peculiar encouragement to Christians. You must not expect to escape the chastisements of your
Father; he will give you this proof of your adoption into his family. During your successive trials, you may discover the latent evils of your heart, the weakness of your religious principles and affections, the defects of your character. These discoveries might not be made in prosperity; and yet they are important to your progress in the divine life. They teach you to be more watchful, more humble, more earnest in prayer for divine aid; they render more precious to your heart Jesus, and his atoning blood, which cleanselh from all sin. Then bear every loss, endure every suffering, with filial resignation. It is your Father who afflicts. Cherish the spirit, and you may then use the language of the Saviour: The cup which
my Father hath given me, shall I nol drink it ? Those who wear the white robes in heaven, came out of great tribus lation. Faint nol, when you are rebuked of your Father; these are the rebukes of infinite wisdom and kindness, intended to invigorate the pulse of devout affection in the heart. Wherefore, lift up the hands which hang down. Adore the Wisdom, which has so arranged the events of life, that all things shall work together for good to them that love God. Neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nay, in all these things, we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And brethren, if it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the CAPTAIN of their salvation perfect through suFFERINGS,- let us never wonder, if we, bearing abou! in our body, the dying of the Lord Jesus-must through MUCH TRIBULATION enter into the kingdom of God.
Let us rather, with the apostle, glory in tribulations. For tribulation workelk patience, and patience experience, and experience hope ; and hope maketh not ashamed: For in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God; that he may
in due time. Fear not trials by the way: for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Fear not death: for if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you, he that raised Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit, that dwelleth in you. And when, from the Judgment scene, they, who have despised reproof and received all their good things in this life, shall descend to make their everlasting bed in hell,-you, who have chosen rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, shall ascend triumphant, to dwell with Abraham, and with Abraham's God and the Lamb, for ever and ever.
II. SAMUEL VI. 20.- Then David returned to bless his household.
In the life of this great and good man, though we find much to lament, yet we find more to admire and love. Any one who delights to survey the developement of human worth, must be pleased to follow him in his gradual rise from the shepherd's staff to the sceptre of empire.
At the period to which the text refers, his many troubles were gone, and he was the acknowledged king over both Judah and Israel. The surrounding nations, who had long and too successfully invaded the land, had been subdued once and again; so that his name was feared and respected abroad, as well as loved and venerated by his own people.
But, in the height of his renown, David did not forget that he was a husband and a father. On the day alluded to in the text, having blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, we see him, at the proper season, retiring from the midst of admiring thousands to bless his household-He offered up prayer, as a husband and a father, in the midst of his family. With this illustrious example before us, our present object will be, TO RECOMMEND AND ENFORCE THE DUTY OF FAMILY WORSHIP.
Perhaps there are few subjects that need to be treated with more plainness and tenderness than this. For not only your own welfare, but the welfare of your children and children's children through many generations, may be considered as intimately connected with your attention to this duty.
Let me observe at the commencement, however, that when I urge the duty of worshipping God in the family, I do not mean, simply, asking a blessing from Him at meals. I should be grieved and surprised to know that any one before me needs exhortation on this point :~that any one who even occasionally comes into God's house, should live in such open and avowed forgetfulness of God, as to sit down several times daily, at the table of His bounty, without once acknowledging the hand that feeds every living thing. But, brethren, if you know of any such, to guard you against their example, consider that the word of God respecting them is, “Let their table become a snare before them; and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.” No: when I speak of the duty of worshipping God in the family, I mean, assembling them together, and as the first employment in the morning, and the last in the evening, unitedly reading a portion of God's word, and unitedly addressing His throne. With this explanation, let me now invite your attention,
I. TO THE OBLIGATIONS enjoining this service;
II. TO THE ADVANTAGES resulting from it.
First ; The OBLIGATIONS to family worship. There are certain duties of religion resulting so plainly from the relations we bear to each other, and to our Maker, that they are perhaps not made the subject of express commandment. But these duties are often among the most sober and essential parts of Christian obedience: and we find our warrant for them, and our obligation to them, in their manifest connexion with God's glory and our own welfare ; in the richest promises of divine mercy; in the most fearful denunciations of divine wrath ; and in Scripture examples, recorded with Heaven's approbation and praise. So is it with the duty of Family Worship. Of all associations, the first in importance, as well as first in time, is that of the family. In proportion as its relative duties are well discharged, Church and State are safe and prosperous.
These duties never will be discharged without the instrumentality of household devotion. But by uniting in daily prayer, members of a family may be made to realize that they have a common Father and God, who is now their Witness, and will hereafter be their common Judge. Indeed so important has this been considered in every age, that the very Heathen themselves had their household Divinities Gods, whom as families they worshipped, and to whom they daily looked for the blessings, which as families they needed. And if any parent living in a Christian land, and believing in the true God; and having children growing up around him, whom he has been instrumental in bringing into being, and whose being he may be instrumental in making a blessing or a curse to themselves and the world; if such a parent, I say, can habitually neglect the plain duty of leading his children in the worship of the one living and true God ;-alas, the example is a most lamentable contrast to that of the Pagan, devoutly, though ignorantly, bowing with his family to an idol of wood or stone. Yes, brethren, the religion of nature, as well as the religion of the Bible, prompts to family worship. There is not a feeling which belongs to us as fathers, which does not plead for this duty :
There is not a relation which we sustain, either to children or servants, but it speaks out, and enjoins let there be an altar to Heaven, at which the father and head of the family may minister, and call down blessings on those around him.
And while we find not only warrant, but arguments for this duty in every kind feeling of a father's heart, which even the darkness of paganism can not destroy; we at the same time find the Most High adverting to it in language that may well alarm such as have neglected the duty. Says the inspired Prophet, Pour out thy fury upon the Hcathen that know thee not; and upon the families that call not on thy name ; for they have eaten up Jacob and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate,
If we advert to history, for examples, we find that in every age there have been wise and holy men, who have felt the importance of this duty, and acted accordingly. Of Abraham we have as God's own testimony, “ I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." Of Moses, the head and lawgiver of Israel, it is said, “ He was faithful in all his house as a servant, for the testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.” “Joshua declared his purpose, “ As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” And Cornelius, the Roman centurion, was chosen to receive the vision which issued in breaking down the wall of partition between God and the Gentile world, with this account of his character and family, “One that feared God with all his house, which
gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.”
We might also advert to profane history, and mention the names of a Hale, a Walton, a Bacon, and others, famed afar for whatever is wise, and noble, and grand; and yet men who could daily find time to retire from the service of their country, and the allurements of philosophy, and to join with their families, morning and evening, in the humble worship of God. Of such statesmen I could say, as did Sheba’s queen, of Solomon, “ Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom.” How pure and blissful the reign of happiness around them ; for their dwellings are houses of prayer! But, not to anticipate ourselves, let us next consider,
II. THE BENEFITS RÉSULTING FROM THE OBSERVANCE OF THIS DUTY.
Among these I might name that peace of mind to the head of the family himself, which is the natural consequence of rightly discharging this duty. There is a weight of responsibility, which every reflecting husband, father, and master, will feel deeply, when he considers himself the first and nearest earthly guardian of those around him; and which must fill him with the consciousness, that the Divine guidance and blessing are daily needed by himself and them.. Whether all or any of the children in whom his name and interests are to live, when he is gone, are to fall into wretchedness and disgrace, or to rise to happiness and honour, depends on Heaven's guidance. Whether all or any of them are to be swept into an untimely grave, depends on Heaven's care. God alone sees the end from the beginning; and is able to avert every impending evil from them, and to turn them from every sin. And what parent has devoted his children to God, and daily united in commending his family to Heaven's guidance and care, without feeling a peace of heart to spring from the duty, to which the unworshipping father must be a stranger ? Wherever business may call
you think of home, and of the dear immortals that dwell there, is it not an anchor of the soul, to be enabled to reflect, that on the morning when
left them, you coinmitted them to the care of Him, whose eye is