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answer; the office and business of a priest in the Old Testament consisted in these four things chiefly:
1. To instruct the people in the principles of religion, and their duty to God and each other; Mal. ii. 7. "The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth" therefore God rejected those priests that rejected knowledge; Hos. iv. 6. This is the work of householders, Deut. vi. 6, 7. "Thou shalt teach these things diligently unto thy children."
2. To manage the holy offerings and sacrifices for atonement on behalf of the children of Israel, Lev. xvi. 11. Aaron must make an atonement for himself, and for his house; *-and ver. 21. "Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel:" thus did Job, chap. i. 5; he rose early in the morning and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned." Thus must we do, confess the sins of our family, and beg pardon through Christ.
3. The priest was to intercede for the people, as Aaron was to take a censer, and put fire thereon from the altar, and put on incense, and stand between the dead and living, Numb. xvi. 46, 48. Hence the priest's office was to burn incense in the temple, and the multitude of the people were praying without, at the time of incense, Luke i. 9, 10. For as often as the priest entered into the holy place, he appeared as in the presence of God, that he might be a mediator between God and the people.† It is true, there is no mediator
⚫ Lev. i. 5, 8.
+ Nam quoties in Sanctum ingrediebatur sacerdos, quasi in Dei conspectum prodibat, ut inter eum et populum esset Mediator.Calv. in loc.
of intercession, no more than of redemption betwixt God and sinners, but Jesus Christ alone in a proper sense; yet as one may pray and prevail for another through Christ, so a pious householder may and must be the mouth of his family on their behalf.
4. The priest was to bless the people, Numb. vi. 23. Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, saying, on this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, the Lord bless thee, and keep thee," &c. Doubtless this was supplicatory, or by way of petition, and God answers that prayer, ver. 27, "And I will bless them." But how far they did this in the name, and by the authority of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I cannot say. Weemse tells us,* that the priests lifted up both their hands when they blessed the people. The text in Psalm cxxxiv. 2, "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary," alludes to this; because the priests could not lay their hands upon all the people, they lifted them up; for in blessing they were wont to lay on their hands, therefore Jacob laid his hands on Joseph's sons. There was a sacerdotal, a patriarchal, and a parental blessing. Thus the chief of a family blesseth his household, 2 Sam. vi. 20, "Then David returned to bless his household;" which was by prayer,
nd in the name of the Lord, pronouncing a blessing upon his family; not as a priest, nor as a prophet only but as a governor of his household, which the meanest householder may, and should do.
* Weemse's Christian Syn. p. 311.
+ Gen. xlviii. 17.
ARGUMENTS TO PROVE THAT GOVERNORS OF FAMILIES SHOULD SET UP ALTARS FOR THE WORSHIP OF GOD.
THE second thing proposed is, to bring forward proof of this doctrine, That householders should erect altars for the worship of God in their families.
1. The command of God. Prayer is a great duty required of all men; the text saith, Pray without ceasing,* 1 Thess. v. 17. This is not to be understood in the sense in which the Euchites or Messalians of old understood it, as excluding other duties, but either maintaining a praying disposition, or improving all seasons of prayer, using a constant course of praying; to form a custom of praying is a duty, therefore we are bid to watch unto prayer, as well as watch in prayer; that is, be sure you observe the hours and seasons of prayer, in your closet, in your family, and in public; be not absent; be not negligent. Then for the place, 1 Tim. ii. 8, “I will that men pray every where;" if in all places then in their houses, and with their families in conjunction; for it means our common dwellings, as well as temples, since there is no promise peculiarly appropriated to one place, more than another, under the gospel; for so was the prediction, "In every place incense shall be offered to my name." Then for the sorts of prayer, read Eph. vi. 18, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ;" that is, mental or vocal prayer; petition for good,
So Mephibosheth ate bread at David's table continually, that is, at meal times, 2 Sam. ix. 7. So in due season is explained, as signifying continually, Numb. xxviii. 2, 3. + 1 Pet. iv. 7. Col. iv. 2.
+ John iv. 21. Mal. i. 11.
deprecation of evil, intercession for others, thanksgiving for mercies; in public assemblies, in private houses, in secret closets. Certainly these kinds of prayer are necessarily included; and by good consequence inferred. Let none say, this is far fetched, for scripture consequence is good argument, as our Saviour proves the resurrection. If prayer at all times, in all places, of all sorts, be a duty, surely family prayer is a duty, for it must be included in these.
2. Scripture types show the obligation of family worship. The passover was celebrated in private houses, Exod.. xii. 3, "They shall take to them every man a lamb—a lamb for a house," that is, household, ver. 4. For the Hebrews say there must be ten, if one family was not sufficient, they must call in the members of another family; for it must all be eaten at once. The passover was a commemoration of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and the saving of their first-born, when the first-born of Egypt were destroyed. The master of the family took bread, and brake it, hence he was called a breaker; then he blessed it, saying, Blessed art thou, O Lord God, King of the world, who bringest bread out of the earth; then gave to every one about the quantity of an olive, to some the bigness of an egg. This, saith Weemse, was at their common supper with which the passover was joined ;† and doubtless religion should always attend our civil concerns. This exhibits family devotion; let none say, this was their sacrament; for though it was, yet it was family religion; and though it typified the Lord Jesus, and corresponded to the Lord's supper in the new testament, which is a church ordinance; yet
* Matt xxii. 29, 22.
+ Weemse's Christian Syn. pag. 132, whether there were two suppers or not. See Godwin, Moses and Aaron, lib. iii. c. 4. p. 137.
it also held forth God's worship in families. But a clearer type is the morning and evening sacrifice; one lamb was to be offered in the morning, the other in the evening; this must be day by day, continually, Exod. xxix. 38, 39. This was for every individual family, and person, and it must be every day, not only on Sabbath days, and other solemnities, but it shews that God must be daily worshipped; yes, it must be morning and evening, that prayer and praise may be the lock and key of the day. And David alludes to this, saying, "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning; and let my prayer be set before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”* This was constantly practised, but solemnly; yet we do not find that the whole assembly met every day, therefore it was most probably, a family exercise.
3. Natural religion prompts to it. There is certainly such a thing as the law and light of nature, which puts men on to what is morally good, and restrains them from, or checks them for, what is grossly evil; hence the apostle saith, "The Gentiles do by nature some things materially good, and natural conscience accuseth or excuseth;" so he appealeth to nature, as an argument, a fortiori; "Doth not even nature itself teach you?" Whence these Kovaì évvoia, common workings proceed, I dispute not, whether from some relics of God's image in man, (which some censure as Pelagianism,) or they be superinduced by God since the fall for the benefit of mankind. But doubtless such notions there are, as that there is a God, a supreme Being; that he is to be feared, loved, and worshipped; and that not only individually, but socially, in families as well as alone, or in greater assemblies; 1 Cor. xi. 14.
* Psalm v. 4. cxli. 2. + Rom. ii. 14, 15. See Mr. Capel on Temptation.