« PreviousContinue »
read, ufe may be made thereof, to make all the Fa mily circumfpect and watchful against the fame; or if any Judgment be threatned or mentioned to have been inflicted in that Portion of Scripture which is read, use may be made to make all the Family fear, left the fame or a worfe Judgment befal them, un2 lels they beware of the Sin that procured it; and finally, if any Duty be required, or Comfort held forth in a Promise,ufe may be made to ftir up themfelves to imploy Chrift for Strength to enable them for doing the commanded Duty, and to apply the offered comfort: In all which, the Mafter of the Family is to have the chief Hand; and any Member of the Family may propound a Question of Doubt for Refolution.
The Head of the Family is to take care that none of the Family withdraw himself from any Part of Family Worship. And feeing the ordinary Performance of all the Parts of Family Worship belongeth properly to the Head of the Family, the Minifter is to ftir up fuch as are lazy, and train up fuch as are weak to a Fitness for thefe Exercifes; it being always free to Perfons of Quality, to entertain one approved by the Presbytery for performing Family Exercife; and in other Families,where the Head of the Family is unfit, that another conftantly refiding in the Family, approved by the Minister and Seffion, may be imployed in that Service; wherein the Minifter and Seffion are to be countable to the Presbytery. And if a Minifter by Divine Providence be brought to any Family, it is requifite that at no Time he conveen a Part of the Family for Worship, fecluding the reft; except in fingular
Cafes, fpecially concerning thefe Parties, which (in Chriftian Prudence) need not, or ought not to be imparted to others.
Let no Idler who hath no particular Calling, or vagrant Perfon under Pretence of a Calling, be fuffered to perform Worship in Families to or for the fame; fecing Perfons tainted with Errors, or aiming at Divifion, may be ready (after that Manner) to creep into Houses, and lead Captive filly and unstable Souls.
At Family Worship a fpecial Care is to be had, that each Family keep by themselves, neither requiring, inviting, nor admitting Perfons from divers Families, unless it be those who are lodged with them, or at Meal, or otherwife with them upon fome lawful Occafion.
Whatsoever hath been the Effects and Fruits of Meetings of Perfons of divers Families in the Times of Corruption or Trouble, (in which Cases many things are commendable, which otherwife are not tollerable,) yet where God hath bleffed us with Peace and the Purity of the Gofpel, fuch Meetings of Perfons of divers Families (except in the Cafes mentioned in these Directions) are to be disapproved, as tending to the Hinderance of the religious Exercife of each Family by it felf, to the Prejudice of the publick Miniftry, to the renting of the Families of particular Congregations, and, in Progrefs of Time, of the whole Kirk; befides many Offences which may come thereby, to the hardning of
the Hearts of Carnal Men, and Grief of the Godly.
On the Lord's Day, after every one of the Fa mily apart, and the whole Family together, have fought the LORD (in whofe Hands the Preparation of Mens Hearts are) to fit them for the publick Worship, and to blefs to them the publick Ordinances; the Mafter of the Family ought to take Care, that all within his Charge repair to the publick Worship, that he and they may join with the reft of the Congregation: And, the publick Worfhip being finished, after Prayer he fhould take an Account what they have heard; and thereafter to fpend the reft of the Time which they may fpare, in Catechifing, and in fpiritual Conferences upon the Word of God; or elfe (going apart) they ought to apply themfelves to reading, Meditation, and fecret Prayer, that they may confirm and increase their Communion with God; that fo the Profit which they found in the publick Ordinances, may be cherished and promoved, and they more edified unto eternal Life.
So many as can conceive Prayer, ought to make Ufe of that Gift of God: albeit thofe who are rude and weaker may begin at a fet Form of Prayer; but fo, as they be not fluggish in ftirring up in themfelves (according to their daily Neceffities) the Spirit of Prayer, which is given to all the Children of God in fome Measure; to which Effe&t they ought to be the more fervent and frequent in fecret Prayer to God, for enabling of their Hearts to conceive, and their Tongues to exprefs convenient Defires to God, Gg 3
for their Family; and in the mean Time, for their greater Encouragement, let thefe Materials of Prayer be meditated upon, and made Ufe of, as followeth:
Let them confefs to God how unworthy they are to come in his Prefence, and how unfit to worfhip his Majefty; and therefore earnestly ask of God the Spirit of Prayer.
They are to confefs their Sins, and the Sins of the Family, accufing, judging, and condemning themfelves for them, till they bring their Souls to fome Measure of true Humiliation.
They are to pour out their Souls to God, in the Name of Chrift, by the Spirit, for Forgiveness of Sins, for Grace to repent, to believe, and to live foberly, righteously, and godly; and that they may ferve God with Joy and Delight, walking before him.
They are to give Thanks to God for his many Mercies to his people, and to themselves, and efpecially for his Loye in Chrift, and for the Light of the Gospel.
They are to pray for fuch particular Benefits, Spiritual and Temporal, as they ftand in need of for the Time, (whether it be Morning or Evening) as Health or Sickness, Profperity or Adverfity.o
They ought to pray for the Kirk of Christ in general, for all the Reformed Kirks, and for this Kirk in particular; and for all that fuffer for the Name of Chrift; for all our Superiors, the King's Majefty, the Queen, and their Children; for the Magiftrates, Minifters, and the whole Body of the Congregation whereof they are Members;
as well for their Neighbours abfent in their law. ful Affairs, as for those that are at Home. The Prayer may be closed with an earnest Desire, That God may be glorified in the Coming of the Kingdom of his Son, and in the doing of his Will; and with Affurance that themfelves are ac cepted, and what they have asked according to his Will fhall be done.
Thefe Exercises ought to be performed in great Sincerity, without Delay, laying afide all Exercifes of wordly Bufinefs or Hinderances, notwithstanding the Mockings of Atheists, and profane Men; in refpect of the great Mercies of God to this Land, and of his fevere Correction, wherewith he hath lately exercised us: And to this effect, Perfons of Emis nency (and all Elders of the Kirk) not only ought to ftir up themselves and their Families, to Diligence herein, but also to concur effectually, that in all other Families, where they have Power and Charge, the faid Exercises be confcionably performed
Befides the ordinary Duties in Families, which are above-mentioned, extraordinary Duties both of Humiliation and Thankfgiving are to be care fully performed in Families, when the Lord by extraordinary Occafions, (private or publick) calleth for them.
Seeing the Word of God requireth, That we fhould confider one another to provoke unto Love and good Works; therefore, at all Times, and fpecially in this Time, wherein Profanity abounds, and Mockers walking after their own Lufts, think it ftrange