Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Thus have we seen in what manner that master of a family, who has himself on right principles resolved to serve the Lord, ought to regulate his conduct towards those whom Providence hath entrusted to his care. It is his duty_diligently to watch the morals of his children and servants-carefully to instruct them the principles of religion-regularly to maintain family devotion-to oblige them to attend on public worship--and to set before them a holy and pious example.To close what has been said,

1. We see the true reason why there is so little family-religion in the world.

It is because masters of families do, in general, pay so little attention to religion themselves. Is it imaginable that he who has entered into the genuine spirit of Christianity, and under the influence of those divine principles daily aims to please and serve God, can be totally insensible of his obligations to promote the best interests of those he dearly loves, and who look up to him for protection and support? It cannot be. The miserable neglect therefore of the duties we have been recommending, in ' too many houses among us, forces upon us the painful suspicion of the want of personal religion in those who preside over them. Every effort, therefore, should be used by those who fear God, both ministers and people, to diffuse the knowledge and savour of religion among their friends, neighbours, and acquaintance. He who best succeeds in this attempt does the most essential service to the community. Let us then, Christians, animated by the love of our heavenly Father to us the children of his family, set our hands and hearts to this great work. Let us, by our instructions, influence, and example, preach the gospel of our divine Master to all-around us, intreat and beseech men to become his disciples, and pour out our fervent cries at the throne of grace for an effectual blessing on our endeavours. Nor should we forget here to press it earnestly upon those who are just entering on life, to consider well the state of their own souls towards God, and to consécrate the houses in which they mean to dwell to his service, on whose favour their temporal and everlasting happiness depends. Erect an altar, Sirs, to God under the tent he has pitched. Dare not adopt any worldly schemes, or enter into any domestic connection without first

consulting him. Having him for your friend all will be well: bis arm will protect you from every danger, and his hand pour upon you every needful good thing.

2. How great is the condescension and goodness of the everblessed God, in deigning to dwell under our humble roofs !

Will he indeed, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, take up his abode with men ? What heart among us but glows with gratitude and love at these joyful tidings ! Let us, my brethren, at the head of our several families, in a transport of devout affection, welcome this kind and generous guest into our houses. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting doors of the heart, and the King of Glory shall come in a. Let us give him the entertainment he demands, even that of cordial love and unreserved obedience. Let us present him the sacrifices he requires, even those of daily prayer and praise ; remembering what he himself hath graciously said, Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me : and to him that ordereth his conversa, tion aright, will I shew the salvation of God b. And let us trem, ble at the thought of so demeaning ourselves in the habitations he has thus honoured, as ever to provoke him to depart thence.

3. And lastly. If the presence of God with his people here renders their dwellings so light, secure, and happy; how glorious must that house be which he has prepared for their reception above !

It has often been observed that an habitation wherein virtue, friendship, and piety reign, is a lively emblem of the heavenly state. But the latter infinitely excels the former. That house on earth which is most devoted to God, has yet more or less of imperfection, sorrow, and sin in it. But these evils are held at an eternal distance from those bright mansions, in which our heavenly Father resides above. There, in due time, his whole family whom he hath redeemed with the blood of his Son, will be assembled together. The most perfect knowledge, purity, and love, shall prevail among them. His presence, without an intervening cloud, shall gladden all their hearts. And, in the character of kings and priests, they shall be employed in acts of the most exalted and rapturous devotion to him that sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, for evermore. a Psal. xxiv. 4.

b Psal. I. 23.

[ocr errors]

DISCOURSE III.

FAMILY WORSHIP.

ROM. XVI. 5.-Likewise greet the church that is in their house.

We have laid before you, in the former Discourse, the duties of Family-Religion in general: that of Family-Worship merits a more particular discussion. To this purpose we have chosen the words just read, as the mode of language the apostle here uses will very naturally lead us into a pleasing view of this subject.

Indeed it is not absolutely certain that the little assembly here spoken of, is to be understood restrictively of the family of Priscilla and Aquila, as possibly other persons might occasione ally meet with them in their house for religious worship. But that the whole Christian church at Rome are intended 'is unlikely : and it is the more so, as a great number of persons are mentioned in the following verses who belonged to other households. And it is remarkable that in an epistle written from Ephesus to Corinth, the apostle having addressed the salutations of these same persons (who happened at that time to be at Ephesus) and of the church in their house, he immediately adds, All the brethren greet you a.

From whence it should seem na. tural to conclude, that the family (or church in the house) of Aquila and Priscilla, and the church of Ephesus, are clearly distinguishable from each other b. But I do not mean to lay the stress of the argument respecting our obligations to FamilyWorship on the words of the text, or on passages of a similar

Other evidence we have to adduce. Yet, as the text

nature.

'a 1 Cor. xvi. 19, 20.

b That the first epistle to the Corinthians was written, not from Philippi (as is said in the note added to the epistle in our Bibles) but from Ephesus, Dr. Whitby has, I think, clearly shewn in the preface to his commentary on that epistle.

3

will admit of the sense we have given it, we may be allowed to accommodate it to the purpose we have in view a.

Aquila and Priscilla, to whose family we consider the salutation in our text directed, were originally Jews, born in Pontus, and by occupation tent-makers. It is very probable from several circumstances, which we shall not stay to mention, that they were people of considerable wealth. Where, and by what means they were converted to the Christian faith we are not told. But it is evident, from the reception the apostle met with in their house at Corinth, and Apollos afterwards at Ephesus, from the attention they paid to the latter, whom it is said, they took unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly b, and particularly from the honourable mention made of them in this context, and in the Corinthians, that they were persons of distinguished characters for knowledge, benevolence, and piety. The apostle tells us, in the verses preceding the text, that they were his helpers in Christ Jesus ; that they had for his life laid down their oun necks; and that to them not only he gave thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. What led them first to Rome is not certain : but it seems they left that place, upon the edict published by the emperor Claudius for banishing the Jews from that city, and came to Corinth, a city of Greece c. From thence they removed to Ephesus, where they resided when the apostle writ his first epistle to the Corinthians, in which he transmits their salutations to that church, describing their family by the same terms as in our text. And

ز

a Wolfius, in his Curæ Philologicæ, observes on this passage, “Sunt qui existimant, per Ecclesiam, quæ ad domum hujus vel illius esse dicitur, intelligi tantum familiam domesticam numerosiorem. Theophylactus : 8tws noar 8T01 svôo. αιμοι, ως τον οικον αυτων παντα ποιησαι πισ8ς: τ8τ8ς γαρ εκκλησιαν ωνομασε.

Similiter alii patres apud Suicerum, Tomo I. Thesauri p. 1051. Vitringa tamen hic intelligere mavult fideles, qui ad ædes membri Ecclesiæ nobilioris soliti sint congregari. Hæc enim expositio maxime satisficere, videtur significationi receptæ vocis suxanova sicut præterea constat, primos fideles in ædibus privatorum Ecclesiæ membrorum conventus suos agere consuevisse. Ita Act ii. 46. cap. v. 42. Cumque privati unius ædes non caperent tantam hominum multitudinem, quanta Ecclesiam Hierosolymitanam constituebat, non potuit non fieri quin plures ad hoc institutum destinarentur.” But Dr. Whitby seems clearly of opinion, that where a whole family was converted to the Christian faith, such fainily was called a church. See his notes on the text, and on I Cor. xvi. 19. b Acts xviii. 26.

c Acts xviii. 1, 2.

afterwards they returned to Rome, for at that place it seems they were when the apostle sent this epistle to the Romans, which was written from Corinth, and after both the epistles to the Corinthians.

Such being the character of these excellent people, it cannot be doubted but they paid a due attention to domestic duties in general, and especially to that of family-worship. As their household is called a church, so we may be sure order, harmony, and devotion, the three main ideas in the description of a Christian church, prevailed therein. Assisted therefore by these hints, it will be no difficult matter, with a little scope allowed to imagination, to draw from these originals a pleasing picture of family virtue and piety.,

A cordial affection subsisted between this happy pair. Aquila attended diligently to his temporal affairs, and, by the smiles of Providence on his honest labours, was enabled to live in a generous and hospitable manner. He who had built many a tent for others, had no doubt a decent one to reside in himself. Priscilla too, like the virtuous woman of whom Solomon speaks, looked well to the ways of her household, and eat not the bread of idleness : so that her children arose up, and called her blessed; and her husband also praised her a. By her prudent management, plenty, harmony, and cheerfulness, reigned through the house. Nor was she so taken up with her civil concerns as to have no leisure for instructing her offspring, and counselling her servants in matters relative to their best interests. As she understood the way of God herself, so she was used to open her mouth to them with wisdom, and in her tongue was the law of kindness b. Every thing was conducted with regularity and de

Each one in the family had his proper department, and each contributed his share to the happiness of the whole. They who presided exercised their authority with such prudence and gentleness, as failed not to secure to them suitable returns of re. verence and affection. . And they who were in subjection, both children and servants, looked up with such duty and attention to their superiors, as drew from them every imaginable expression of tenderness and love. They all behaved in so cordial and friendly a manner towards orfe another, that their neigh

a Prov. xxxi. 27, 28.

corum.

Prov. xx

26.

« AnteriorContinuar »