Billeder på siden

ness produceth ingenuous subjection; affection maintains authority more than domineering rigour; let it appear that you rule your families under God, and for God. I confess this theme is more proper to the next subject of the regal or magisterial power of householders, whither I remit it; yet a word or two may be allowed, as due order and government do promote God's worship; be sure that every member in your family know and keep in their posts and places, that there be no interfering or envy: and see that all order their business both within doors and without, so as to attend family prayer; and see that you do not overcharge them with so much business as to render them incapable, either by unseasonable attendance on their secular concerns forcing them to be absent, or by overtiring them, that they are fitter to lie down in their beds, than to fall down on their knees and lift up their hearts to God in prayer; learn to order your affairs with discretion.* Let every work know its time, and every one know his work, that confusion may not shut out religion: order facilitates any business, prevents impediments, and produceth good success; I know that some families cannot ordinarily be reduced to such a good order as some others; but if masters were prudent to contract their worldly business into a less compass, or wisely to make arrangements, though their families be numerous, and business urgent, they might do much this way. Oh be not greedy of gain to trouble your own house: cumber not yourselves or yours with many things, but mind the


one thing needful." Be sure you maintain religion whatever you do; "Give unto God the things that are God's." Learn to divide the hoof aright, that the world encroach not upon God's due, or rob him of his right: if you separate religion from your calling, it is Psal. cxii. 5.

+ Luke x. 42.

mere heathenism; if you separate your particular callings from your religion, it becomes enthusiasm. Unite them together, and they will be mutually helpful to each other, and to you in a due pursuit of both: change of employments will make both a pleasing recreation; observe the apostle's rule: "Brethren, let every man wherein he is called therein abide with God;" 1 Cor. vii. 24. Let your condition, station, relation be what it will, engage God to be with you, bespeak his presence by prayer, and sanctify all your civil actions with religious exercises.



I HAVE briefly despatched the preparatives for erecting and managing family worship, in a due order. I now proceed more directly to the carrying on of this worship solemnly, that you may please, glorify, and enjoy God, while you profit and edify yourselves and others in this exercise; in which I propose two classes of instructions, which concern the matter and manner of family worship.

1. As to the matter, or words in family prayer, the Holy Ghost saith, "Take with you words and turn to the Lord; say unto him, take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously_"* by words, he means not only phrases, or literal expressions, for therein hypocrites may abound, but,

(1.) The subject matter, to be treated on, as Joab

* Hosea xiv. 2.

put words into the woman's mouth; that is, the main purport, design, or manner of her similitude, not every syllable she spoke.

(2.) Practise accordingly, keep the law; act as real saints, for the ten commandments are called [7] words, and our compliance therewith must answer our professions and prayers, else we do nothing; we must live up to our prayers.†

(3.) The word also signifies an ordering, regulating, and marshalling of things, and indeed we cannot order our words before him, by reason of darkness, therefore must we be very cautious and exact, as the wise man admonisheth, Eccl. 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," that is, well weighed in prayer or vows, God is of infinite majesty not to be despised, of transcendant holiness not to be offended, and of unsearchable knowledge not to be deceived, nor to be flattered with vain repetitions; study not to speak fine but fit words, not many but weighty, proceeding from thy heart, directed unto God, and pertinent to the matter in hand.

(4.) Words may signify arguments in prayer, so Job vi. 25, "How forcible are right words," that is, proper arguments, as appears from the latter clause; "but what doth your arguing reprove?" accordingly holy Job wisheth, "Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come near to his seat; I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments;" not to out-argue God, or to prove him

* 2 Sam. xiv. 3.

+ Hebræi eâdem voce exprimunt verba et res, quia verba debent esse realia, et homine digna præsertim apud Deum.-Vid. Pol. Crit. in loc. Exod. xx. 1. Job xxiii. 3, 4.

unjust, no, nor to move God to that which is not his will, for "he is in one mind, and who can turn him ?”* No, he is righteous and unchangeable, I dare not deal with God, or challenge him to deal with me upon terms of strict justice, but upon terms of new covenant grace, pleading his promises made to sinners in Christ, and soliciting for the performance of them.

And now I proceed to assist householders in the matter of their family worship, particularly in prayer. I shall produce some stones out of the word of God for rearing this family altar, and the rather because it has been a general complaint of many, and a principal objection with them, that they knew not what to say if they should kneel down in their houses with their families. But to such as are willing though feeble in their addresses to the throne of grace, I shall subjoin these two instructions for their assistance:

1. Attend upon a powerful ministry. There you will hear directions, motives, precepts, promises, scripture arguments to quicken and direct you in this practice; there you may gain knowledge of God the object of worship, of Christ the mediator and advocate, of the Holy Ghost that must assist you; there you will get a good understanding of God's mind and will, which will furnish you with ability, and further your acquaintance with God; "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding ;"t that man is prepared to every good work. But how shall a person obtain this sacred understanding? I answer, one way is by the ear, as man lost true wisdom by abusing that sense, and hearkening to the Syren song of the subtile serpent; so the scriptures frequently call you to hearken to the voice of God in the ministry of the word; light, and life, and love may *Job xxiii. 13.

+ Prov. iii. 13.

come in at that door, "Hear and your souls shall live; faith comes by hearing;" men may receive the Spirit, by the hearing of faith.* But how shall men breathe without spiritual life? and how can men pray without the assistance of the Spirit? "how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed, and how shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher?"+ nor is it any kind of preacher that you must hear, but you must take heed whom you hear, that they be sent, that is, duly qualified and regularly commissioned; you must take heed what you hear, that it be not men's fancies, but the approved word of the living God; you must also take heed how you hear; alas! any kind of hearing will not do; you must pray and prepare before you hear it, set yourselves in God's presence, cast out sin, apply the word to yourselves, mix it with love, own God's authority in it, hide it in your hearts, meditate on it, and resolve upon the practice of it; and who can tell what blessed fruits it may produce in your hearts and lives? Pray "that the word may have free course, and be glorified ;" and if it be so in you, the fruit of preaching will appear in your prayers as well as practice. A heart opened to the word, will


open the mouth wide in prayer;" || but if you will not hearken to God's voice, you will have no voice to God, nor will God regard what you say; for "he that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” §


"Search the scriptures;" ¶ these contain both the rule and matter of prayer; if you be mighty in the scriptures, you will be mighty in prayer. God loves

* Isa. lv. 3.
+ Rom. x. 14:
§ Prov. xxviii. 9.

Rom. x. 17, Gal. iii. 2.

2 Thess. iii. 1. ¶ John v. 39.

Psal. lxxxi. 10, 11.

« ForrigeFortsæt »