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A Disputation, or Arguments to prove the Necesssity of Family
Worship and Holiness, or Directions against the Cavils of the Profane, and some Sectaries, who deny it to be a Thing required by God.
Whether the solemn Worship of God, in and by Families as such,
be of Divine Appointment? Aff.
That excellent speech of Mirandula is oft in mind, Veritatem philosophia quærit, theologia invenit, religio possidet.' I do therefore with greater alacrity and delight dispute these points that are directly religious, that is, immediately practical, than those that are only remotely such : and though I am loath we should see among us any wider division inter philosophum theologum et religiosum' than between the fantasy, the intellect, and the will, which never are found disjunct in any act; or rather than between the habits of practical natural knowledge, and the habits of practical supernatural knowledge, and the practical resolutions, affections and endeavours, into which both the former are devolved; yet may we safely and profitably distinguish, where it would be mortal to divide. If, disputing in our present case, do but tend to, and end in, a religious performance, we shall then be able to say, we disputed not in vain; when by experience of the delight and profit of God's work, we perceive that we do not worship him in vain : otherwise to evince by a dispute, that God should be worshipped ; and not to worship him when we have done, is but to draw forth our learning, and sharpen our wits to plead our condemnation ; as if the accuser wanted our help, or the Judge of all the world did want evidence and arguments against us, unless he had it from our own mouth. Concerning the sense of the terms, I shall say somewhat, both as to the subject, and the predicate, that we contend not in the dark; and yet but little, lest I trouble myself and you with needless labours.
1. By the worship of God' we mean not only, nor principally, obedience as such : or service in common things,
called 'Asleia:' but we mean a religious performance of some sacred actions, with an intention of honouring God as God; and that more directly than in common works of obedience. This being commonly called “Aarpela’ is by Austin and since him by all the orthodox, appropriated to God alone, and indeed to give it to any other is contrary to its definition.
This worship is of two sorts, whereof the first is by an excellency called 'worship,' viz. When the honour of God is so directly the end and whole business of the work, that our own advantage falls in but impliedly, and in evident subordination : such are the blessed works of praise and thanksgiving, which we here begin and shall in heaven perpetuate. Yet see a more admirable mystery of true religion; we indeed receive more largely from God, and enjoy more fully our own felicity in him, in these acts of worship, that give all to God, than in the other wherein we more directly seek for somewhat from him. And those are the second sort of worship-actions, viz. When the substance or matter of the work is a seeking, or receiving somewhat from God, or delivering something religiously in his name, and so is more directly for ourselves; though it is God that should be our ultimate end in this too. You may perceive I make this of three sorts. Whereof the first consisteth in our religious addresses to God for something that we want; and is called prayer. The second consisteth in our religious addresses to God to receive somewhat from him ; viz. 1. Instructions, precepts, promises, threatenings, from his mouth, messengers, &c. 2. The sacramental signs of his grace in baptism and the Lord's supper. The third is, when the officers of Christ do in his name solemnly deliver either his laws or sacraments. His laws either in general by ordinary preaching, or by a more particular application in acts of discipline.
2. The word 'solemn' signifies sometimes any thing usual and so some derive it, “Solenne est quod fieri solet.' Sometimes that which is done but on one set day in the year; and so some make 'solenne' to be quasi solum semel in anno.' But vulgarly it is taken, and so we take it here, for both 'celebre et usitatum,' that is, a thing that is not accidentally and seldom, but statedly and ordinarily to be done, and that with such gravity and honourable seriousness as beseems a business of such weight.
3. By family' we mean, not a tribe or stock of kindred, dwelling in many houses as the word is taken oft in Scripture, but I mean a household.
'Domus et familia,' a ' household and family,' are indeed in economics somewhat different notions, but one thing. ‘Domus' is to familia' as 'civitas' to respublica,' the former is made the subject of the latter, the latter the finis internus' of the former. And so ‘Domus est societas naturæ consentanea, e personis domesticis, vitæ in dies omnes commode sustentandæ causa, collecta. Familia est ordo domus per regimen patris-familias in personas sibi subjectas.'
Where note, that to a complete family must go four integral parts · Pater familias, mater familias, filius, servus.' *A father, mother, son, and servant. But to the essence of a family it sufficeth if there be but the 'pars imperans, et pars subsida', one head or governor, either father, mother, master, or mistress; and one or more governed under this head.
Note therefore that the governor is an essential part of the family, and so are some of the governed (viz. that such there be) but not each member. If therefore twenty children, or servants shall worship God without the father, or master of the family either present himself, or in some representative, it is not a family worship in strict sense. But if the head of the family in himself (or delegate or representative) be present, with any of his children or servants, though all the rest be absent, it is yet a family duty; though the family be incomplete and maimed (and so is the duty therefore, if culpably so performed).
4. When I say 'in and by a family, I mean not that each must do the same parts of the work, but that one (either the head or some one deputed by him, and representing him) be the mouth, and the rest performing their parts by receiving instructions, or mentally concurring in the prayers and praise by him put up. Lastly, by divine appointment I mean any signification of God's will, that it is men's duty to perform this. Whether a signification by natural means or supernatural, directly or by consequence, so we may be sure it is God's will. The sum of the question then is, Whether any sacred actions religiously and
ordinarily to be performed to God's honour by the head of the family, with the rest, be by God's appointment made our duty ? My thoughts of this question I shall reduce to these heads, and propound in this order. 1. I shall speak of family worship in general. 2. Of the sorts of that worship in special. 3. Of the time.
1. Concerning the first, I lay down my thoughts in these Propositions following, for limitation and caution, and then prove the main conclusion.
Prop. 1. It is not all sorts of God's worship which he hath appointed to be performed by families as such; there being some proper to more public assemblies.
2. More particularly the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, are proper to the ministerial or organized churches, and not common to families : for as they are both of them committed only to ministers of the Gospel, and have been only used by them for many hundred years in the church : (except that some permitted others to baptize in case of necessity.) So the Lord's supper was appointed for a symbol and means of a more public communion than that of families. And though some conjecture the contrary, from its first institution, and think that as there is a family prayer and church prayer, family teaching and church teaching ; so there should be family sacraments and church sacraments, yet it is a mistake. For though Christ administered it to his family, yet it was not as a family, but as a church. For that which is but one family may possibly be a church also. This exposition we have from the doctrine and practice of the apostles, and constant custom of all the churches which have never thought the Lord's supper to be a family, duty, but proper to larger assemblies, and administrable only by ordained ministers. Nor will the reasons drawn from circumcision, and the passover prove the contrary; both because particular churches were not then instituted as now; and therefore families had the more to do: and because there were some duties
proper families in the very institution of those sacraments. And because God gave them a power in those, which he hath not given to masters of families now in our sacraments.
3. Many thousands do by their own viciousness and negligence disable themselves; so that they cannot perform
what God hath made their duty: yet it remains their duty still: some disability may excuse them in part, but not in whole.
I shall now prove, that the solemn worship of God in and by families as such, is of Divine appointment.
Argument 1. If families are societies of God's institution, furnished with special advantages and opportunities for God's solemn worship, having no prohibition su to use them; then the solemn worship of God in and by families as such, is of Divine appointment. But the antecedent is true; therefore so is the consequent.
For the parts of the antecedent, 1. That families are societies of God's institution, needeth no proof.
2. That they are furnished with special advantages and opportunities may appear by an enumeration of particulars. (1.) There is the advantage of authority in the ruler of the family, whereby he may command all that are under him in God's worship, yea, and may inflict penalties on children and servants that refuse; yea, may cast some out of the family if they be obstinate. (2.) He hath the advantage of a singular interest in wife and children, by which he may bring them to it willingly, that so they may perform a right evangelical worship. (3.) He hath the advantage of a singular dependance of all upon him for daily provisions; and of his children for their portions for livelihood in the world, whereby he may yet further prevail with them for obedience : he having a power to reward, as well as to punish and command. (4.) They have the opportunity of cohabitation, and so are still at hand, and more together, and so in readiness for such employments. (5.) Being nearest in relation, they are more strongly obliged to further each other's salvation, and help each other in serving God. (6.) They have hereby an advantage against all prejudices and jealousies, which strangeness and mistakes may raise and cherish among those that live at a greater distance, and so may close more heartily in God's worship. And their nearness of relation and natural affections do singularly advantage them for a more affectionate conjunction, and so for a more forcible and acceptable worship of God, when they are in it as of one heart and soul. (7.) If any misunderstanding or other impediment arise, they being still at hand, have opportunity to re