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which is the character of the blessed man, Psal. i. 2. it is laid by as a sealed book. The dust, which, many suffer their Bibles to gather beside them, will be a fearful witness against them one day. But more particularly, I shall speak,
Of the evil of neglecting Family Duties. 1. To deter you from the neglect of family worship, consider in what a miserable state prayerless families are. The Spirit of God ranks them into the same category with the “ heathen that know not God." Jer. x. 25. For how should the families of Christians be distinguished from those of Turks and Pagans, but by the badge of family-worship? Without this badge then, you are ranked with heathens or persons excommunicated, that is, such as are cast out of the church into the devil's hands; for of such Christ saith, “ Let him be to thee as a heathen.” Again, consider what is there threatened against you ; a black cloud continually hangs over your families, ready every moment to pour out wrath and fury upon you, not in small drops, but in great showers to overwhelın you at once, from which your houses cannot defend you, though their foundations were on a rock, their walls of brass, and their doors of iron : for while you are without family-prayer, you want a roof to keep off the shower of wrath, and lie night and day expos. ed to this terrible threatening, “ Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name.”. It is not simply anger that is threatened, but füry, wrath in the greatest height and rage. O let prayerless families, through the land tremble at this threatening!. I fear, if it were presently executed, it would make thin cities and parishes somewhere : But though God be patient and long suffering, yet believe it, there are secret and invisible curses which light and lie upon prayerless families, and the works of their hands. Neglect of prayer doth uncover the roof to let God's curses drop through upon your persons, children, tables, and all your enjoyments; for you deprive yourselves of all security and protection. Family prayer is an excellent roof to your houses; it is like the roof that is made of Irish oak, which no venomous spider will touch, or lodge in.-Family-worship duly performcd, dislodges sin and vice ; nay, it dislodges the devil also :
And for these houses that are haunted with evil spirits, what. ever other reason may be given for it, no doubt this is ine; God's worship hath not been duly performed therein. And though the devil doth not appear in a visible or audible manner, yet he certainly haunts prayerless houses : for he hopes for large draughs out of them. Why? sin and wickedness are fair to reign there ; malice, pride, deceit and intemperance will bear sway; swearing, cursing, and lying, will be the language of the house, and the children will learn it betimes But, when prayer is introduced into a family, these vices are banished. and Satan removes : For either prayer will make you give over sinning, or sinning will make you give over praying ; they cannot dwell well to. gether. But the house which the unclean spirit finds empty of prayer, is a house swept and garnished for im and a black train of vices to enter and dwell in. If God's worship be not in the house, you may write “ Lord, have mercy upon us," upon the door, as they use to do when a house is shut up with the plague. What can we expect in a prayerless house, but the plagues and curses of God ? Abraham expected no good in a prayerless place ; therefore says he of Gerar, Gen. xx. ii. “Surely, the fear of God is not in this place ; they will slay me," &c. What a niserable place or house must that be, where God's fear is not ? Surely it must be a sink of sin, a butt of wrath, a cage of unclean birds, a habitation of devils,
() masters of fainiljes, will you piry the souls of your families ? Tremble lest their blood be found in your skirts. When a child or servant dies out of your family, it will be sad if conscience have it to tell
• Here one has slied out of your house with whom you never prayed ; you dwelt together, eat together, wrought together many years, but you never prayed together. And what if his soul be gone to hell through your neglect! What if his blood be charg
? How will you answer for it? Who knows but if he had seen and heard you pray, your words and ex. ample might have moved him to go into a secret corner and pray for his own soul, and so he might have been singing with the saints in heaven, instead of howling with the damned in hell po
But if the case be so melancholy when they die from you, surely it will be far worse when you come to die your.
ed on you
Belves. You have all your days kept your families godless and prayerless ; well, what accounts will you give of your stewardships, when you may be no longer stewards and what anguish do you thiok will seize on you, when, with Dives, you shall feel yourselves in hell, and then begin (not before) to lift up your eyes to heaven, and see the godly praying ones, whom you despised afar off, and a great gulf fixed between you and them; and also, when you shall see those of your prayerless families, whom you ruined by your example and influence, brought down to the same place of torment, to increase your misery, and add fuel to your flames ? O masters of prayerless families, think on these things in time.
Oh! will neither the fear of hell, nor hopes of heaven persuade you to family prayer ? I am sure far less would do it, could I assure you that the daily performance of it would gain you an estate of ten thousand merks a year : you would try it as you can, and be punctual in it too ; you would no more pretend multitude of business, want of time, gifts or confidence. And are you so atheistical, as to prefer a little of the world to heaven ? Or suppose there were strict laws made, that, for every time you neglected prayer, you should be thrown into a “ den of lions." as Daniel was for praying ; or that you should lose a finger off your hand, or but pay a hundred merks of fine; would you not pray as you can, and find time for it also, rather than lose your life, finger, or money? And are not the laws of God more awful and strict the laws of men ? Is not hell's dungeon, or a den of devils, more terrible than a den of lions ?
Are not hell's torments more fearful than the loss of a linger! Is not the wrath of the great God moré dreadful than a fine ? Oh, will not the fear of God prevail nore with
you than the fear of man ? Remember Daniel's zeal of family-prayer, who chose rather to be cast to the lions, before he would furbear it for one day : 0h, what shall we say of those, who will rather venture to be an eternal prey to the roaring lion, than be at this pains for salvation to themselves or their families ; but you may hear in their houses twenty oaths for one prayer!
2. Consider the great sin of neglecting family instructions upon the Sabbath, which, alas! is so common, by reason whereof many children and servants are ignorant, pray
erless, and graceless : Their parents and masters do not teach them to read, nor instruct them concerning the principles of religion ; they neither pray for them, nor direct them how to pray for themselves. Is the knowledge of Christ a choice and excellent treasure ? and will
withhold it from those whom you love, seeing it will not make you the poorer, but the richer, to communicate it to them ? It is the commendation of Abraham, that he both made his household know God's ways, and commanded them to obey the saine," Gen. xviii 19. and do you ever think to land in Abraham's bosom, that will not tread in Abrahain's footsteps? Have you no pity or compassion on them that are “bone of
your bone, and flesh of your flesh p” Where is the yearning of your bowels towards their precious souls, that are in a starving and perishing condition for lack of knowledge ? Will you be like cruel ostriches, Job xxxix. that are
“ hardened against their young ones," and leave them to be destroyed after they bring them forth ? Will you, in like manner, bring forth your young ones, and then carelessly leave them to be a prey to the devil, and eternally to be torn to pieces by him? Are you indifferent about those that came forth of your loins, and whom you profess to love so dearly, whether they live with the blessed Jesus in heaven, or with the cursed devils in hell ? Remember, parents, who neglect the education of your children, God may punish you for it, even in this world, by their unnatural and undutiful carriage to you in old age, whereby they may bring down your grey hairs with sorrow to the grave ; and no wonder though they make no conscience of their duty to you, who made no conscience to teach them their duty to God. Remember also, how ma. ny children have been brought to a miserable end in this world by the negligence and unfaithfulness of their parents this way ; some going to the gibbet have bitterly reflected on their parents as the cause of their ruin, for giving them such a bad example, and not instructing them in the time of their youth. But above all consider how your children and servants may
at the bar of God at the great day, and say, “ Lord, there stands my father, there stands my master, he never taught us, prayed with us, or for us
; he neglected prayer, he cursed, he lied be broke the Sabbath, and so did we after his example. It is true, we are justly condemned, but yet we perish through
their neglect, nur blood is upon their heads." O parents, will it not make you speechless, and sting you to the heart, to hear your poor children crying out against you in that day. saying, “ Had you noticed our souls as well as our boilies, had you been as careful to teach us the knowledge of God as of such a trade, it had not been with us as it is this day; we had not now stood trembling in expectation of that dreadful doom, which is just ready to be past upon
Cursed be the man that begat us, and the paps that gave us suck ; it is to you we owe our eternal ruin and misery.”
O negligent parents, what horror and confusion will then seize you in that great and terrible day of the Lord, to hear such a charge from your children ! but much more to hear God charge you with their blood, and say, 66 O unnatural wretches, behold how many precious souls you nego lected and ruined, whose happiness you were bound to procure by so many ties of duty and affection : They were ignorant, and you instructed them not ; they were prayer. less, and you taught them not; they were Christless, and you pitied them not : yea, you not only neglected to give them good instructions, but you gave them bad example ; you swore, lied, spoke obscenely, broke the Sabbath, mocked religion, &c. and lo, in these very practices they have followed you to hell, to be an addition to your torments there for ever."
Would you then prevent this sad reckoning, and be found with your children upon the Judge's right hand see that you instruct them and pray for them. O fathers, would you wish to have your children well provided, then lay up a stock of prayer for them, both family and secret prayer : This is a stock that would not be soon spent, nay, it will be bringing them in something when you are dead and retten, O mothers, your bodies travailed in pain at their first birth, let your souls travail in pain for their second birth : Where is your motherly tenderness towards the fruit of your woib? Would you not be sorry to hear them screeching, or see them frying in hell's flames, without remedy Then do what lies in your power, to prevent it, by instructing them, praying for them, and praying with th em
Thirdly, Beware of neglecting, secret duties this day, such as were afure mentioned, and particularly prayer.