Page images

brazen wall, which can be of no avail unlefs accompanied by the Almighty power of God. "A Paul may plant and an "Apollos water, but it is God who must give the increase." My dear fellow mortals, I know you cannot deny the obligation of the duty, you cannot by all the exertion of geni. us offer any excufe approbated by your own minds and fatisfying to your own confciences. The advantages of this homage, and the dangers of neglecting it have been stated before you; I fhall bring forward no more encouragements, nor terrors upon the subject. The whole matter is left with God and your ⚫wn fouls, the blood of which I pray may not be found in my fkirts. Yet I cannot refrain from recommending to your fe. rious confideration our text with its connection, "If it seem " evil to you to ferve the Lord, after all the reafons and in"ducements laid before you, chufe this day whom you will "serve, but as for me and my houfe, we will ferve the Lord." Bear in mind the words of the Prophet. "If God be God, "follow him, but if Baal be God then follow him."

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


The Great Importance of Family Government.

Sam. iii. 13. For I have told him, that I will judge his house forever, for the iniquity which he knoweth, because his fons made themfelves vile, and he reftrained them not.

WERE I asked, what is the greatest bleffing or the greatest curse to mankind? My answer would be, the proper or improper government of families. Where families are wifely and kilfully governed, it is a fuperior bleffing to the world. It caufes heavenly dews to defcend like rain upon the mown grafs. Celestial favours are showered down upon governors and governed; the love and promifes of God will dwell in that house. And it is bleffed individuals, that form a blessed church, town or common wealth. As the well government of families tends to the profperity and happiness of the world, so the reverse is the most deadly curfe. A hoft of the evils which infest the human race derive their origin from the derangement, ill-government and mismanagement, of families.


Thef- become Ichools of Satan, where ignorance, brutishness, fenfuality and every vice prevail. Here envy, ftrife, contention, pride, covetousness, revenge, with all the abominations, which have contaminated human nature, continually refide. From the wickedness of families, the wickedness of fociety both in church and state proceeds. How important and neceffary a work is it, to cat falt into thefe corrupted fountains? If these fources of evil could be purified, and the viciousness of families cured, it would prevent many of the calamities of the earth. Multitudes of the judgments which fall upon the world are caufed by the ill-government of households. Of which we have an awful ia tance in the melancholy story before us.

Eli feems upon the whole to have been a man of fome degree of piety, but was grofsly deficient and finful in one point, to wit, in the government of his family. And his evil condu& here, brought the judgement of God upon himself and his pofterity. Hence the Lord appears in vifion to young Samuel, and makes known to him the things that were quick. ly to come to pass, respecting Ifrael in general and the family of Eli in particular. Behold, faith the Lord, I will do a "thingin Ifrael, at which both the ears of every one that "heareth it shall tingle." This tremendous judgement we have upon record in the next chapter, when the army of Ifrael was defeated by the Philiftines, and the Ark of God taken. But all the remaining part of the vifion is against Eli and his houfe. From this eur text is taken. "For I have told him, "that I will judge his houfe forever, for the iniquity which he

knoweth, because his fons made themselves vile, and he re"ftrained them not." This is the denunciation of heaven against this wicked and ungoverned family. The Lord had heretofore informed him by a prophet, and pre-admonished him of the privileges, favours and honors which he enjoyed, of the base conduct of his children, his indulgence and allowance


of them in their iniquitous courfes, and that the juft punishment of divine vengeance should be inflicted upon him and them. He was not punished without due warning, and he had time given for repentance and reformation. God had faid to him by the prophet. "Wherefore kick ye at my facrifice, and at my offering, which I have commanded in my habitation, and honoreft thy fons above me. Behold the day is come that "I will cut off thy arm and the arm of thy fathers house, and "there fhall not be an old man in thy house forever, and the "man of thine, whom I fhall not cut off from my altar, fhall "be to confume thine eyes, and to grieve thy heart, and all "the encrease of thy house shall die in the flower of their age." Thus he was previoufly and fully acquainted with his fins for which he was to fuffer. He knew that he had not governed his family, according to reafon, nor according to the power in his hands, nor agreeably to the commandments of God. Therefore it was determined, that he should be made a public ex ample to all future generations, that rulers of families might fear and tremble, and avoid his unhappy conduct.

But here enquiry may arife, did not Eli govern his family? Did he not reprove his fons for their ill behaviour? And what more could be required? It is true he rebuked his fons, but it was in a manner altogether unbecoming a parent vefted with his authority. He treated his wicked children, as many carelefs heads of families in our day treat theirs. Perhaps they fay to their children guilty of the blackest crime, "These things that ye do, my children are not right, they arenot of good re. port therefore be advised to refrain." What fort of reproofs did Eli adminifter, when his fons had been guilty of fuch attrocious abominations, that decency prohibits the repetition. He spoke in foft and timid language "Why do ye fuch things? For "I hear of your evil doings by all the people. Nay, my "fons, for it is no good report, that I hear; ye make the Lord's

"people to tranfgrefs." Obferve the tenderness and lenity of every word, as tho' he fe ared and reverenced his children, ra ther than they him. Some may be ready to fay, what could he have done more? They were arrived to the age of men, and past that correction which might be proper for children. The answer in this cafe fhall be a reference to God himself. He is an infinitely fit and wife judge, and his judgement was quite otherwise. It appears exceedingly probable, from Eli's temper and character, that when they were children, he was finfully careless and indulgent, and did not even then inftruct correct and govern them as he ought. But God is not dif pleafed, because he reproved them, but because he did not rebuke them fharply, and exert his authority in reftraining or punishing them according to their deferts. "His fons made

themfelves vile, and he reftrained them not." It is more than probable had they been ruled by a proper difcipline, when young, and not been allowed in an exceffive license or left to their own heads, when they became men, they would not have acted the flagitious part they did. Attend to the declarations of heaven, God will pour out his judgments, because they were not now restrained, even in their state of manhood. Eli had it in his power as a father, as an ecclefiaftical and civil officer, if he could not reclaim them, to have depofed them from the priesthood, banished them from his family, or to have executed upon them the laws of the land; to have brought them before the elders of the city, and there accufed them of their crimes, difobedience and rebellion, and they would have been ftoned to death, and thus he would have averted evil from his houfe, and the bleffing of God would ftill have attended him and his family, and it might have fufpended the awful judgments which fell on the nation. But he granted them all indulgence in their childhood, and reftrained them not when they grew up, therefore for this iniquity will the Lord "Judge his house for"ever." O! how dreadful a curfe is this, to be inflicted, not

« PreviousContinue »