תמונות בעמוד

the night; and who gave refreshing sleep to our eyes, and grateful slumbers to our eyelids. We should, also, commit ourselves, for the day, to Him, who watches over all, and implore support, protection, guidance, and success in all our lawful undertakings. And, as the day should begin, so it should end, with prayer. How proper in tranquil silent evening, the pleasures, cares, and toils of the day, all being passed, to acknowledge, with gratitude, the arm, which has sustained us in our weakness, the wisdom, which has guided us amid all dangers, and the goodness which has supplied our returning wants; -to confess and bewail our sins and demerit;—to supplicate pardon and the blessings we need;—and to commend ourselves for keeping, during the silent watches of the night, to the great Shepherd of Israel, who never slumbers, nor sleeps! How reasonable, then, is it, that we should seek Him, that “turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night!”-that the family altar should blaze with morning and evening offerings, and that heartfelt devotion should kindle the flame!

In accordance with reason, the Scriptures desig-. nate morning and evening, as the proper seasons for family devotion. Under the Mosaic dispensation, morning and evening sacrifices were offered, accompanied with prayer. To this, undoubtedly, the Psalmist refers, when he says, “Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense” (this was the morning offering) "and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” It was the appointed duty of the Levites under the Law to stand, morning and evening, and thank, and praise God. Job offered morning sacrifices for his family. David says, "My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord! in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High! to

show forth thy loving-kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.” And he resolves, “Evening and morning, will I pray and cry aloud.” Daniel prayed at the time of the evening sacrifice. And, after the dispensation of Moses was abrogated, and the Christian dispensation was introduced, the continual sacrifice, which was morning and evening, was still observed. The apostles and primitive Christians were daily in the temple, praising and blessing God. The third and ninth hours were the times, at which they assembled. To these stated seasons, Paul referred in his directions to "pray always;"—to “pray without ceasing;"—and to "offer the sacrifice of prayer continually.”—Thus, it fully appears to be the indispensible duty of every family to attend, ordinarily, upon family prayer, morning and evening.

Antecedent to family prayers, should be the reading of the Scriptures. This duty has been lamentably neglected. And this is one great reason, why ignorance on divine subjects, and impiety, prevail so alarmingly, in the present generation. not so in the days of our fathers. Then the Bible was read, morning and evening, and then a seed was trained up to serve God. “That the soul be without knowledge, it is not good.” Ignorance is surely not conducive to piety or devotion. Previously to reading the Scriptures, it may be well to offer a short prayer,

that God would "open our eyes, that we might behold wonderous things out of His law” and that He would enable us to receive, with meekness, the ingrafted word, which is able to save our souls.” The Scriptures should be read in course, that regularity in reading may be maintained, and that the family, from day to day, may know what portion of Scripture is to be read. In reading the Scriptures, we should consider ourselves as holding a conference with the Divine Being. Herein we in quire after God and His will; and He reveals Him

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self and His will to us. The practice of read-ing the Bible will be found useful, as it creates a respect for the word of God, prepares the mind for devotional exercises, edifies Christians, and may be the means of converting sinners. In this way much good may be done*

Psalmody is the natural language of the heart, and seems to be a proper part of family devotion. This was practised in the days of the primitive church, and in the days of our pious forefathers. Then the voice of rejoicing and salvation in song was in the tabernacles of the righteous. Singing the praises of the Lord is a pleasing, and useful part of religious worship, and the most proper method of expressing thanks. God, knowing the constitution of our nature, has wisely instituted psalmody, that the melody of the voice may affect the heart, and elevate the thoughts. Hence the apostle exhorts Christians to “teach and admonish one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in their hearts to the Lord.” Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God, when they alone worshipped together in prison. Family worship must be defective, where holy melody is altogether neglected. Pleasant, therefore, is the consideration, that the religious public is waking up, both in sentiment and practise, in some good measure, to this subject. And, as religion advances in its true spirit and lustre, no doubt the singing of sacred song will prevail in family devotion. Let it not be said, that most families cannot unite in this heavenly exercise. If this be true, it is not owing, generally, to a defect in natural powers, but to a defect in education and application. Were proper exertion made, but few would be unable to sing in the devotions of family worship.*

* Archbishop Tillotson, who was no enthusiast in religion, speaks thus decidedly on this subject. “The principal part of family religion is prayer, every morning and evening, and reading some portion of Scripture; and this is so necessary to keep alive a sense of God and religion in the minds of men, that where it is neglected, I do not see how any family can in reason be esteemed a family of Christians, or indeed have any religion at all.”

Religious instruction is a part of family religion, proper to be attended to, morning and evening, especially on the Sabbath. Every Master of a family should set his house in order; and be in it what a preacher is in the pulpit. He should give instruction respecting the doctrines, duties, graces, and ordinances of the gospel. The Israelites were expressly required to instruct their families. “These words, which I command thee, saith the Lord, shall be in thy heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and thou shalt talk of them

when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” They were commanded to teach their children particularly the nature and design of the Passover. And David in the seventy eighth psalm, considers it the duty of parents to teach their children, from generation to generation, the wonderful works of God. Elsewhere, they are commanded to “ bring up

their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," and to “train them up in the way they should go." In the religious education of children, it is not only important, that they should be taught to read the Bible, but they should commit to memory the most important portions of it,t and, that they may be assisted clearly to understand its doctrines and duties, they should be taught catechisms, containing the fundamental principles of our


That great and good man President Edwards the younger, justly observes : "As it is the command of God, that all should sing, so all should make conscience of learning to sing, as it is a thing, that cannot be decently performed at all without learning. Those, therefore, where there is no natural inability, who neglect to learn to sing, live in sin, as they neglect what is necessary in order to their attending one of the ordinances of God's worship.” Let those who are wilfully dumb in God's praises duly consider this observation.

+ They may begin with commiting the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and some of the Psalms of David.

holy religion, accompanied with Scripture proofs. Catechetical instruction is profitable, as it gives just and precise definitions of sacred truth, which the memory can easily retain, and which may serve as a basis, on which to raise the superstructure of divine knowledge. The venerable and pious Mr. Baxter said, some years before his death, that he "esteemed catechising to be so necessary and useful, that he would be contented to spend the remaining part of his life in that work, though he should do nothing else.” Too much exertion cannot be made to instil into the minds of the rising generation, the truths of Christianity. It was a true observation of Calvin, If we would have the church flourish, we must begin in the good instruction of children.

Another part of family religion is acknowledging God at our tables. To supplicate the blessing of heaven upon the provisions we receive to nourish our animal natures, and to express sentiments of gratitude to him upon their reception, is reasonable, becoming, and according to Scripture. It is as proper thus to acknowledge God at one meal as another; and it should be done at every formal refreshment, whether in the morning, at noon, or in the evening. And uniformity, in this practice, is very desirable. Grace at meals is practised, more or less, in most nations. Even the heathen, it is said, make libations to their gods at their refreshments. Our blessed Saviour and his disciples, when they ate, gave thanks, or blessed the Lord, that is, prayed for a blessing to attend it. St. Paul, when in the perils of the deep, asked a blessing upon the food, before he, and those who were with him, partook of it. And saith God “Ye shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord your God;—when thou hast eaten and art full then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God.” Says the apostle, “God created meats to be received with thanksgiving of them, which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is

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