Such is Family Worship. We would remind you, my dear hearers, of all the motives which ought to hasten its establishment in your families, and we entreat you, and particularly those of you who are husbands or wives, fathers or mothers, to put your hands to the plough.
But do you say, ‘This is so strange a thing’? What, my brethren! Is it not more strange that a family professing to be Christian, professing to have a firm hope for eternity, should advance toward that eternity without giving any sign of that hope, without any preparation, without any conversation, perhaps, alas! without any thought concerning it? Ah! this is very strange!
Do you say, ‘This is a thing of very little repute or glory, and to which a certain degree of shame is attached’? And who, then, is the greatest: that father who, in former and happier days, was the high priest of God in his own house, and who increased his paternal authority and gave it a divine unction by kneeling down with his children before his Father and the Father of them all; or that worldly man in our days, whose mind is engaged only in vain pursuits, who forgets his eternal destiny and that of his children, and in whose house God is not? O what a shame is this!
But perhaps you say, ‘Different times have different customs; those things were well enough then, but all has changed now’? It is precisely because all has changed that we must make haste and raise up the family altar in the midst of families, lest the feeble tie that still holds back these families should be broken, and they drag both Church and State into ruin. It is not when the disease has spread with great violence that remedies become useless; and before a man’s life is despaired of, the most powerful preservatives are given to him.
Thus, then, do you, who, by the grace of God, are well disposed, and have made good resolutions, make an attempt, and be not discouraged; make another still; resort to prayer; ask God to guide you himself, to sustain you, and give you success; ask Jesus Christ to be with you; for “where two or three are gathered together in his name there is he in the midst of them.”
But, my brethren, if you wish to erect an altar unto God in your house, you must, first of all, erect one in your own heart. And is there one there? I ask you, my brethren, Is there one? Ah! could I draw back the vail, could I now penetrate into the hearts of those who listen to me, what would I see? Or, rather, O Lord! what must thou see in our hearts—thou, from whom nothing is veiled, and before whom all things are naked and visible!
In your heart, my dear hearer, I see an altar erected to pleasure and worldliness; there you offer up your morning sacrifice; there you sacrifice, especially in the evening; and the incense arising from it intoxicates and bewilders you even at night.
In your heart, my dear hearer, I see an altar erected to the good gifts of this world, to riches, to Mammon.
In yours, my dear hearer, I see an altar consecrated to yourself. You are the idol whom you worship, whom you exalt above every thing else, for whom you wish for all things, and at the foot of whom you would fain see all the world kneel.
My brethren, is there an altar in your hearts erected to the only living and true God? Are you the temple of God, and does God’s Spirit dwell within you? So long as there is no altar erected to God in your souls, there can be none in your houses; “For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?
Be converted, then, in your hearts! Die to the world, to sin, to yourselves even, and live to God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Immortal souls, Christ hath redeemed you at a great price! He gave his whole life on the cross for you. Learn, then, “that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” “Wherefore come out from among idols, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
O happy is that family, my brethren, which has embraced that God who says, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people”! Happy for time, and happy for eternity! How can you hope to meet with those whom you love near Christ in heaven, unless with them you seek Christ on earth? How shall you assemble as a family there, if you have not as a family attended to heavenly things here below? But as to the Christian family which shall have been united in Jesus, it will, without doubt, meet around the throne of the glory of Him whom it will have loved without having seen. It will only change its wretched and perishable dwelling for the vast and eternal mansions of God. Instead of being a humble family of the earth, united to the whole family of heaven by the same ties, it will have become an innumerable and glorious family. It will surround the throne of God with the hundred and forty- four thousand, and will say, as it said on earth, but with joy and glory, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power.”
O, my brethren, if but one father or mother would now resolve to meet together in the presence of the Lord, if one single person not yet bound by domestic ties were to resolve to raise an altar unto God in his house when he shall be so bound, and would, in some future day, so act that abundant blessings would descend upon him and his, I would give thanks unto God for having spoken!
Dear hearer! may the Lord so affect your heart that you may now exclaim, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord!” –Amen.