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in lovely groups. The chief solace in the prospect of your future trials; in the anticipated days of feebleness and pain, and in the imbecility and weariness of advancing age; is that a son will live to bless you by his toil, or to cheer your last days by his virtues; or that a daughter, lovely and tender, shall come around your bed, and mingle her tears with yours, and catch your last breath, and with a gentle hand close your eyes as you sink into the long sleep of death. I wish to show you that family prayer will be one of the most important helps in meeting your wishes in regard to your children. And in doing this, I invite your attention, in the
1st place, to the design of the family organization. God might have fitted up a world of independent individuals, bound by no common sympathies; cheered by no common joys; impelled by no common wants. All that is tender in parental and filial affection; all that is mild, bland, peaceful in love; and all that is sympathetic in sorrow,
and in joy; might have been denied us. Solitary beings, we might have wept alone, rejoiced alone, thought alone, died alone. The sun might have shed his beams around our lonely rambles, and not a mortal have felt an interest in our bliss or wo. Man might have lived unbenefited by the experience of his ancestors; and with none lo shed a tear around the bed of moss on which he would recline in disease, and where unwept he would die. But this is not the way which he has chosen. He has made the race one great brotherhood—and we feel some interest at least, in the obscurest man that seeks a shelter beneath a rock, or that finds a home in a tent, or in a cave. “I am a man, and I regard nothing pertaining to man as unimportant to me”-was the language of an ancient dramatist, and a heathen theatre rang with plaudits at the noble sentiment. This great brotherhood God has broken up into communities of nations, and clans, and tribes, and families, and neighbourhoods; each with its own set of sympathies; with peculiar interests; with peculiar resources. One design is, to divide our sorrows by sympathetic emotions. Another, to double our joys by imparting them to others who sympathize with us. Sorrow hath not half its pangs when you can mingle your tears with those of a friend; and joy has not diffused half its blessings until your joy has lighted up the countenance of a father, or touched the sympathies of a brother or a sister.
This organization will be seen at once to be eminently adapted to religion. On no subject have we so many sympathies as in the great business pertaining to our eternal welfare. I look on a family circle. What tender feelings! what mutual love! what common joys! what united sorrows! The blow that strikes one member, reaches all. The joy that lights up one countenance, diffuses its blessings over all. Together they bend over a sick member; together they rejoice at his recovery; or together they bow their heads and weep, and go sad to his grave. They are plunged into the same apostacy. They are together under the fearful visitations of that malady which has travelled down from Paradise lost. They are going to a common tomb; and over the circle shines the same sunbeams of hope; and the same balm of Gilead, and the same great Physician may diffuse health, peace and salvation there. Cheered with the hopes of the same immortality, they may travel to the tomb; and the joy in religion that beams from a father's eye, may be reflected from the happy faces of beloved sons and daughters. The whole organization
is clearly one of the most profound and wise in this world, to deepen, extend, and perpetuate the principles of the Christian religion. Of this any one may be satisfied who will for a moment compare the facilities of deepening and prolonging the feelings of religion under all the advantages of the family sympathy, compared with what it would and niust be if the earth were tenanted by isolated and independent individuals. God designed the organization with reference to all that is pure, and lovely in man; and in fact he has at all times made the family organization one of the most important facilities for extending, and perpetuating religious feeling:
The question now arises, whether the full benefits of this organization can be accomplished without the aid of family devotion? In answer to this, you will see at once, that the neglect of religion as a family, will be to break in upon the whole design of the organization, so far as religion is concerned, and to throw every member upon his own individual strength and responsibilities. That is, to separate religion from all other things, and deny it the aid which is rendered to every other object which you wish to promote—the aid derived from the sympathies of the domestic alliance, and the endearments of the family circle. You call in this aid when you wish to promote other commendable designs-when you would prompt to industry, to learning, to morals, to esteem; and you withhold this aid in the greatest and most important matter that can ever press on the attention of your sons and daughters, and make their religion to be a cold, isolated, independent matter, in which they receive no sympathy from you; and where they are rudely put back from all the tender sympathies which divide their sorrows, and joys, in all their other
interests. We all know the power of alliance and confederation. It is the way in which good and evil ever have been, and ever must be, propagated in this world. Solitary, undivided efforts avail little, and from the nature of the case must avail little. This is understood by all men. He who wishes to rouse his countrymen to arms, does it by an appeal to the social principle, and seeks confederated talents and valour. Individual and unorganized efforts would do little in the day when men struggle for freedom. Hence they seek to pour on the battle field combined talent, and organized and compacted energy. So in great deeds of evil. The drunkard, the profligate, the infidel, the pirate, seeks alliance and desires confederation in the enormous deeds of guilt which are contemplated and planned. In the same way, if religion is to be spread, it must be by the same alliance and confederation. It must be by bringing combined powers to act on combined ills and dangers. It is designed to be done by calling in all the aid of the family confederation; by appealing to all the authority and venerableness of a father; the tender love of a mother; the silken cords which bind sons and daughters in common love, and in common hopes. This is clearly one great design of the organization. Religion brings one of the most obvious and plain appeals which can ever be made to the family sympathies. It has more that is adapted to the family compact; more that carries forward the tender family sympathies; and more that will consolidate and cement the alliance, than any other subject that can be presented to the little community. Yet to secure this, it is clear that it inust be primary and prominent in the family doings. It must occupy a place that shall be obvious and often
seen. It must be often presented; and the strength and tenderness of the family emotions must be often brought to bear upon it. I shall attempt to show that this can never be done without family prayer. Indeed, it is almost so clear as not to admit of argument. The force of the organization—the power of all the sympathies in the family, cannot be made to bear on it, except by daily acts, in which the whole community shall bow with united feelings before the God of grace.
II. I proceed to remark, 2dly, that family worship is one of the most direct and obvious means of meeting the evils to which the family is exposed. The design of the family organization is well understood—at least all parents have some great ends which they are endeavouring to reach by it. Whatever these ends may be, it will be assumed that they contemplate education, restraint, guidance, defence from danger, preparation for future years.
You regard your children as exposed to dangers; subject to passions which demand control; liable to headlong and dangerous propensities, which need, in the earliest years, to be met and restrained. The world is setting in upon them even in very carly life, like a mist from the ocean, with a full tide of influences, which you desire to resist. You know there are a thousand opinions and habits among men from which you would gladly restrain your children. Pious you may not be; but you would be willing to see them walking in the paths of wisdom. You know that there are vices to which they are exposed; and they may meet with companions which would ruin them; and that they will soon be beyond your control; and you would throw around them a panoply which should shield them from evil. You seek that the influence of a father and mother may be prolonged, and live even