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lence in their condemnation, imposes eternal silence on the faltering tongue, and clothes all the future in horrors unutterable. Nor does one ray of hope break in upon the darkness that wraps up the sinner who has rejected the redemption of Christ, either from the world he has left behind him, or from heaven above him. No voice of mercy greets him. No angel of the covenant comes near, with whom he may wrestle for a blessing; and no Lazarus leaves Abraham's bosom to convey a drop of water to cool his tongue tormented in the flame. For him there is no Saviour now, no comforter, no heaven, no glory, no happiness, no hope! Fallen spirits are his only companions, and fawning tempters are become his tormentors. Despair broods. over his heart. He sinks. He dies-forever dies!
Forever? Oh, yes-forever, and forever! Sinner, reflect while not too late, that when thy season of probation shall be passed, when the offers of redemption cease to vibrate on thine ear, and the gates of thy prison-house are shut upon thee, thou shalt never come out, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
Think not that tears will avail thee, then! No place of repen tance will be found. Thy doom is sealed by thine own act; and no prayers nor vows will break the seal, and give thee liberty. Not even the blood of Calvary will avail thee then. To-day, that blood suspends the execution of the curse denounced. Today, you are invited to the feast of love, and assured that believing, you shall be saved. But that invitation rejected, the Judge will issue the decree of which you have oft been forewarned in vain, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still-and he that is unholy, let him be unholy still!" Persevering sinner! read there your doom. O, consider-repent-believe and LIVE!
BY REV. HENRY W. PARKER,
BROOKLYN, N. Y.
"A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway."-Acts x. 2.
A true family is one, though it be many. Father, mother brothers and sisters, have, as it were, one brain and one heart. The same purpose animates them; the thought of one becomes the thought of all; and a like joy or sorrow throbs through all. They partake of the same food, and have a share in every luxury and privation. They have one treasury of wealth, be it much or
little, on which each has some claim. They are interested in the same diversions and pleasures-usually, to a great degree, in the same tastes and studies. They occupy one position in society, and in the state. Is it not right, then, that they who are one in physical, social, intellectual and civil respects, should have a part in the same religious feelings and exercises? Having each a share in the lower interests, ought they not to partake also in the higher? Having the same larder, purse, fireside, and rank, shall they not have the same God and a common altar of worship, around which they may gather? Having the same blood, mind and heart, ought they not to be of one conscience and spirit, participating in a household devotion?
It is so in every family which is a family, in the full meaning of that word-which is a harmonious, living unity, pervaded by a like general faith,-not a mere joint-stock company, not a mere lodging-house of kindred, not a loose association of individuals. It is so, and has been so, even among idolators. In the words of Jeremiah, "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger." Thus the whole household are animated by the same belief and contribute to the same worship, which is a fitting expression of the one common belief. And in a civilized infidel family, all are tinctured with the same creed of denial, and all worship in reality, if not in form, whatever earthly idol, or shadowy abstraction, is set up in the place of God. Much more is this community of feeling and act, in a truly enlightened and religious household, illustrated throughout Bible history and by all our observation. For example, the first act of Noah, after the Deluge, was to build a family altar; in a later age, Joshua declared that "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." David "returned to bless his household;" in Gospel times, children were brought to Christ, as they are now brought in prayer, that he may bless them; and we find Cornelius commended because, as a devout man, he feared the Lord with all his house, and prayed to God always. The fair inference is that he maintained household worship; and it is said that his prayers came up for a memorial before God, that is, obtained favor. And so looking along down the ages to the present time, we find that it has been an immemorial usage in pious families-so much so that it is generally held to be a momentous Christian duty, whe ther fulfilled or neglected.
These, then, are our first reasons for Family Worship, namely, that a household, being united in all other interests, should be so in religious sentiment and observance; that, as a fact, it is so even among the heathen; and that, everywhere, there is usually a household uniformity of non-religious feeling and custom, if not of religious; that where there is a fireside piety, it is fitting and
imperative that it go forth into the act of fireside devotion; and, moreover that it has been so in all ages, and is so, in every really devoted family-is indeed taught by Scriptural example and doctrine. Here are some five considerations in favor of the blessed usage.
Not to dwell upon these, let us notice next, in this connection, the exceeding and sacred importance of the household, as a fundamental part of the scheme of nature, providence and grace. It is God who, in David's words, "setteth the solitary in families." The household is at first a man's very personality, and it is the first little community, church and state, into which he comes. As, therefore, we have religious observances peculiar to each sphere of life, there should be those peculiar to that sphere which is first of all, and indeed underlies and embraces all others. Since man, as an individual, should withdraw to commune alone with God; and, as a member of Christ's body, should meet his brethren for prayer; and, as a member of the community, should unite in the public worship of the Sabbath; and, as a citizen, should swell the chorus of national thanksgiving and prayer; and, as a part of the rational universe, should join in spirit with the adorations of Heaven itself, of all holy intelligences,-should not man, as a member of the household, have household prayer The individual soul, the church, the community, the state, and the angelic world, has each its worship, in its several capacity; is the family a sphere too unimportant to have its worship also? It is rather the epitome of all spheres of life, all institutions, all modes of existence. Especially is it, or should it be, the image of the church of God-the first miniature church, and so should have its worship, and keep in view chiefly its sacred character. Happy is that home which is in such a case, whose God is the Lord! God would enlist in his loving service all the strength of solitary thought, and all the strength of church-life, and of congregational sympathy, and of national feeling, and of heavenly communion; so would he gather up the tender ties of relationship between father, mother, sister and brother, and twine them into another golden cord, to bind the soul to his throne-often the strongest cord of all.
Further, the usage accords with the injunctions to various and frequent prayer. Cornelius "prayed to God alway;" we are exhorted to "pray without ceasing," and, again, "to pray always with all prayer and supplication, and in everything with thanksgiving to make our wants known to God"-in other words, to observe all kinds, and on all suitable occasions. What kind of prayer is more beautifully distinct as a species, than the one in question? What occasions more suitable than the ordinary ones of family life-the assembling to partake of the morning or evening bounty of God's providence, or the occasion of retiring to rest? And then how much occasion at these times !-how much
reason to pour forth united thanks for the blessings enjoyed in common by the least prosperous household, to seek pardon together for sins to which all may be accessory, and to ask a continuance of home blessings, earthly and heavenly. Then, too, how powerfully does the usage suit itself to the unusual occasions of the house!-sickness, extraordinary troubles, disobediences, unexpected blessings, separations, departures on journeys, anddeaths. They only, who have for years gathered around the home-altar, know that no joy, no consolation, drawn from the world, found even in individual religion and private prayer, can be compared to the flame of gratitude in joy, and of comfort in sorrow, which is kindled on that altar-that altar which is, indeed, made of loving hearts, beating with the same blood and cemented together in prayer. There are some who observe fireside devotion on extraordinary occasions, so evidently good and needful is it then. But, every day, there is new and varied occasion; and any ordinary one may, unknown to us, be destined to be memorable. The family, separating as usual in the morning or at night, may never meet again in life!
Further, home blessings, particularly of a spiritual kind, are no doubt often secured in this way alone-such as otherwise never would have been granted by Heaven. One of the great arguments for public Sabbath worship, in unison with our neighbors and men everywhere, is, that then we are of course drawn to think of our mercies and needs as a community, a nation and a world; for a prayer-meeting, it is, that then we feel the burden of our church gratitude and wants; for closet-devotion, it is, that our attention is there chiefly called to our own personal account with God. And so, for Household Prayer, a great reason is, that our hearts thus best may bear the burden of home interests to the throne of grace; these weigh strongly upon us then; we offer definite and urgent and all embracing prayer, with necessary reference to these; and, furthermore, we have the promise that where a few are met in Christ's name, and are agreed as touching anything they shall ask, it shall be granted them. The special direction and earnestness thus given to prayer, and the promise laid hold upon, make it doubly sure, that many home blessings are gained which would have been in no other way. A prayerful home knows not how much it gains; a prayerless one knows not how much it loses.
In the next place, where there are children, the parent is pledged to a holy example, by offering prayer daily in their presence. He feels, or should deeply feel, that he has committed himself, by the solemn act, to lead a life before them consistent with his prayers. No doubt every father, or mother, who is in the practice, is conscious of this virtual pledge-this blessed, needful pledge, additional to all others, and stronger than all others in this respect, that it is a daily one and is made before
all the household. All prayer is also a promise to do our part in securing its answer. The man who asks of God success in an enterprise, is thereby committed to do his own part in the enterprise. Family supplication commits to a pursuit of the specific blessings sought, and in general it holds up those especially who lead in it as people of prayer, and therefore of careful life, if they would be consistent. But it is also a pledge on the part of all, since all, by the act of kneeling, profess to join in it. For instance, if the prayer be to "grow in grace," each member of the house, uniting in it, is bound to strive after every grace-the graces of faith, patience, forgiveness, love, and the rest. And we all need to join in these daily pledges involved in family prayer; so weak are we so many the temptations that beset us, especially to an unchristian spirit in the household-that we need to commit and bind and oblige ourselves to be right, and do rightly and only rightly. Shall men give the pledge of a promissory note for a paltry sum of money, or be sworn into a small office, and shall they not give all surety, by social prayer and otherwise, to pay that duty to God, to men, to their own friends, which is more precious than gold, and to fulfil those high offices of home, which are more grand and momentous than those of Judge, President, or King.
But, after all the sureties we give, we are still imperfect, sinful; therefore, further, the occasion is fitly one of confession also, to God, and thus to each other. If we find no grace nor courage to acknowledge to each other our errors, we can at least do it indirectly, by pouring out sorrow to God, in the presence of each other. As it concerns the young, who quickly see the flaws in us, there is emphatic reason for improving such an occasion of hum ble confession. To guard them against our sins, to teach them to acknowledge theirs, to gain their sympathy, to secure ourselves. against harshness-all this alone is enough reason for every parent's kneeling daily with his household, and, if nothing more, at least exclaiming "God be merciful to us sinners!" Though that were all the prayer, it would be much, very much. But it would not be all, it would loosen the tongue, and make it easy to do what a writer recommends, when he says of parents and guardians that "instead of lecturing their children, always, on their peccadillos and sins, it would be better, sometimes, to give a lecture on their own. There is no other way to correct the mixture of evil you will blend with the family spirit, but to deplore it, and make it an acknowledged truth, that you, too, are only a child in goodness."
Again, in the ways already mentioned, and in others, your children will be taught to pray and praise, and will be variously warned, rebuked and instructed, by this means. "As," to use the beautiful image in the Song of Moses, "as an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her