Monday, February 2, 2009

An Exhortation to Family Worship

Thomas Gouge, The Christian Householder:

LET the third Use be an use of exhortation, to stir up all Christian parents, and masters of families, to be careful, that their whole house do faithfully serve the Lord, as well as themselves; that they take up Joshua's resolution, As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. As you would not be guilty of the body and blood of your children, and servants' souls; and as you would not have them cry out against you in everlasting fire, see that you bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And to this end:

Oh! let religion be in your families, not as a matter of small importance, only to be mined by the bye, or at leisure hours, when the world will give you leave; but let it be the tending business of the house. O let your houses be nurseries for the church of God.

Yea, let it be said of your houses, as that of the Psalmist, Psalm lxxxvii.5. That this man and that man was born there. And, if you would that your children should bless you, that your servants should bless you? Oh! then set up religion and piety in your families. And, as ever you would be blessed, or be a blessing to them; let your hearts and your houses be the temples of the living God, in which his worship may be duly performed.Yea, every parent, master and governor, should be that in the body politic of his own house, which the Heart is in the natural body of man; as it communicateth life and vital spirits to the rest of the members: so must the master of the household endeavour to impart the spiritual life of grace, to all that are members of his body politic; and his house, by a constant conscionable performance of holy and religious duties there; and this would make it a little church; For, the maintaining the worship of God, makes every house to become a sanctuary, an house of God. Hence, divers pious governors in the New Testament, are said to have churches in their houses; as Philemon, verse 2. and 1 Cor. xvi.19. Aquila and Priscilla, and Nimphas, Col. iv.15. all whose houses were called churches; as in respect of the saints in their houses, so, in respect of the worship of God among them. Oh what an honour will this be to us, when, upon this account, our habitations shall be called rather churches, than private houses! temples of God, rather than the dwellings of men!

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