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Indulgent God, whose bounteous care,
Remark, my soul! the narrow bound,
Show pity Lord, O Lord! forgive,
Thine earthly sabbaths, Lord! we love,
ASSISTANT TO FAMILY RELIGION.
A SERMON ON FAMILY RELIGION.
JOSHUA Xxiv. 15.
BUT, AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE
THESE are the words of Joshua to the children of Israel. Having assembled them together, and related to them a brief history of the Lord's goodness to their ancestors from the days of Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, he exhorted them to engage, with holy devotedness, in his service. "Now, therefore," said he, "fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods, which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt, and serve ye the Lord. And, if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods, which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in
whose land ye dwell; but, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Whether the Israelites complied with his exhortation or not, whether they served the living and true God, or, false gods; Joshua had determined, most decidedly and deliberately, to serve the Lord of hosts, and to exert all his authority and influence to induce his family to unite with him in this sacred duty. The phrase "serve the Lord" usually signifies, in the Old Testament, worship Him. This, undoubtedly, is the meaning of it, as used by Joshua, for it stands opposed to the worship of false, or, strange gods.
The text, thus introduced, leads to the consideration of Family Religion. We will,
I. Present the arguments in favour of Family Religion;
II. Point out the time for its observance, and the duties included in it;
III. Consider the manner in which it should be observed;
IV. Notice some excuses which are made for the neglect of this duty.
I. Then, we are to present the arguments in favour of Family Religion.
These are derived from the light of nature, and Divine Revelation.
From the character of God, and the relation subsisting between Him and man, we infer the duty of Family Worship. Jehovah is possessed of all possible perfections and excellencies. He is, therefore, worthy of our highest love, praise, and service. His all perfect and adorable nature challenges our unceasing homage. It is this, that makes Him the object of individual worship; and it is this, also, that makes Him the object of family worship. Families owe to God no less homage than individuals. Besides, God has created us with social natures to be improved for religious purposes. Consequently,
our social natures bind us to social devotion, and to family devotion, for a family is a radical and natural society, and the first society, that was ever established. Further, God is the Founder, Preserver, and Benefactor of families. Their existence, at first, depends upon His will; so, also, does their continuance. Should He withdraw from them His all-supporting hand, their domestick connexion would be dissolved. All the blessings they enjoy as families, whether temporal or spiritual, flow from the Father of mercies. He is their kind and munificent Benefactor. And should they not render the full homage of their hearts to Him, from whom they derived their existence, on whom they constantly depend, and from whom they receive every good and perfect gift which they enjoy? Yes; propriety and gratitude demand it.
The principal design, in the establishment of families, is another argument for Family Religion. They were instituted, that God might seek a seed to serve Him, and thus promote His glory; and, that religion might be transmitted from generation to generation, and extended throughout the earth. In order to this, family religion must be maintained.
The duty of Family Religion may, also, be argued from the personal benefit, which results from it. Religion is the one thing needful-the pearl of great price. It restrains from those vices, which are ruinous to the soul, subdues rebellious dispositions and passions, quiets the troubled conscience, removes the bitterness of affliction, consoles the distressed, delivers from eternal wretchedness, and prepares for eternal glory. It places its possessors under the immediate guardianship of God. How vastly important, then, is Family Religion, which is a great means of promoting piety in households! If, in families, the Scriptures were devoutly read, suitable religious instructions, given, and prayers and praises, solemnly offered, would not the conse