Page images
PDF
EPUB

2 Chron. ii. 4. xiii. 11. xxxi. 3. Ezra iii. 3. 2 Kings xvi. 15. 1 Kings xviii. 29. 36. Ezra ix. 5. And no doubt but they prayed with the sacrifices. Which David intimateth in comparing them, Psal. cxli. 2. " Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense, and the lifting up of

my hands as the evening sacrifice.” And God calleth for prayer and praise as better than sacrifice, Psal. I. 14, 15. 23.

All these I heap together for dispatch, which fully shew, how frequently God's servants have been wont to worship him, and how often God expecteth it. And you will all confess that it is reason that in Gospel times of greater light and holiness, we should not come behind them in the times of the law : especially when Christ himself doth pray all night, that had so little need in comparison of us. And you may observe that these Scriptures speak of prayer in general, and limit it not to secresy: and therefore they extend to all prayer, according to opportunity. No reason can limit all these examples to the most secret, and least noble sort of prayer. If but two or three are gathered together in his name, Christ is especially among them.

you say, that by this rule we must as frequently pray in the church assemblies; I answer, the church cannot ordinarily so oft assemble: but when it can be without a greater inconvenience, I doubt not but it would be a good work, for many to meet the minister daily for prayer, as in some rich and populous cities they may do.

I have been more tedious on this subject than a holy, hungry Christian possibly may think necessary, who needeth not so many arguments to persuade him to feast his soul with God, and to delight himself in the frequent exercises of faith and love; and if I have said less than the other sort of readers shall think necessary, let them know that if they will open their eyes, and recover their appetites, and feel their sins, and observe their daily wants and dangers, and get but a heart that loveth God, these reasons then will seem sufficient to convince them of so sweet, and profitable, and necessary a work : and if they observe the difference between praying and prayerless families, and care for their souls and communion with God, much fewer words than these may serve their turn. It is a dead, and graceless, carnal heart, that must be cured before these men

If

will be well satisfied; a better appetite would help their reason. If God should say in general to all men, You shall eat as often as will do you good: the sick stomach would say, Once a day, and that but a little, is enough, and as much as God requireth ; when another would say, Thrice a day is little enough. A good and healthful heart is a great help, in the expounding of God's Word, especially of his general commandments. That which men love not, but are weary of, they will not easily believe to be their duty. The new nature, and holy love, and desires, and experience of a sound believer, do so far make all these reasonings needless to him, that I must confess I have written them principally to convince the carnal hypocrite, and to stop the mouths of wrangling enemies.

CHAPTER IV.

General Directions for the holy Government of Families.

The principal thing requisite to the right governing of families is the fitness of the governors and the governed thereto, which is spoken of before in the Directions for the Constitution. But if persons unfit for their relations, have joined themselves together in a family, their first duty is to repent of their former sin and rashness, and presently to turn to God, and seek after that fitness which is necessary to the right discharge of the duties of their several places : and in the governors of families, these three things are of greatest necessity hereunto. I. Authority. II. Skill. III. Holiness and readiness of will.

I. Gen. Direct. “Let governors maintain their authority in their families. For if once that be lost, and

you are de spised by those you should rule, your word will be of no effect with them; you do but ride without a bridle; your power of governing is gone, when your authority is lost. And here you must first understand the nature, use, and extent of your authority: for as your relations are different to your wife, your children and your servants, so also is your

have no

authority. Your authority over your wife, is but such as is necessary to the order of your family, the safe and

prudent management of your affairs, and your comfortable cohabitation. The power of love and complicated interest must do more than magisterial commands. Your authority over your children is much greater; but yet only such as conjunct with love, is needful to their good education and felicity. Your authority over your servants is to be measured by your contract with them in these countries where there are no slaves) in order to your service, and the honour of God. In other matters, or to other ends you authority over them. For the maintaining of this your authority observe these following sub-directions.

Direct. 1. 'Let your family understand that your authority is of God, who is the God of order, and that in obedience to him they are obliged to obey you. There is no power but of God: and there is none that the intelligent creature can so much reverence as that which is of God. All bonds are easily broken and cast away (by the soul at least, if not by the body), which are not perceived to be Divine. An enlightened conscience will say to ambitious usurpers, God I know, and his Son Jesus I know, but who are ye?

Direct. 11. • The more of God appeareth upon you, in your knowledge, and holiness, and unblamableness of life, the greater will your authority be in the eyes of all your inferiors that fear God.' Sin will make you contemptible and vile ; and holiness, being the image of God, will make you honourable. In the eyes of the faithful a 'vile person is contemned; but they honour them that fear the Lord." "Righteousness exalteth a nation,” (and a person) “but sin is a reproach to any peopleb.

" Those that honour God he will honour, and those that despise him shall be lightly esteemed c.” They that give up themselves to "vile affections" and conversations d, will seem vile when they have made themselves so. • Eli's sons made themselves vile by their sine." I know men should discern and honour a person placed in authority by God, though they are morally and naturally vile : but this is so hard that it is seldom well done. And God is so severe against proud offenders, that he usually punisheth them by making them vile in the eyes of others; at least when they are dead and men dare freely speak of them, their names will rotf. The instances of the greatest emperors in the world, both Persian, Roman and Turkish do tell us, that if (by whoredom, drunkenness, gluttony, pride, and especially persecution) they will make themselves vile, God will permit them by uncovering their nakedness, to become the shame and scorn of men; and shall a wicked master of a family think to maintain his authority over others, while he rebelleth against the authority of God?

< 1 Sam. ij. 30.

a Psal. xv. 4.
d Rom, i. 25.

b Prov, xiv. 34.
e i Sam, jji. 13.

Direct. 111. Shew not your natural weakness by passions, or imprudent words or deeds. For if they think contemptuously of your persons, a little thing will draw them further, to despise your words. There is naturally in man so high an esteem of reason, that men are hardly persuaded that they should rebel against reason to be governed (for order's sake) by folly. They are very apt to think that rightest reason should bear rule. And therefore any silly, weak expressions, or any inordinate passions, or any imprudent actions, are very apt to make you contemptible in your inferiors' eyes.

Direct. iv. 'Lose not your authority by a neglect of using it.' If you suffer children and servants but a little while to have the head, and to have, and say, and do what they will, your government will be but a name or image. A moderate course between a lordly rigour, and a soft subjection, or neglect of exercising the power of your place, will best preserve you from your inferiors' contempt.

Direct. v. 'Lose not your authority by too much familiarity.' If you make your children and servants your playfellows, or equals, and talk to them, and suffer them to talk to you as your companions, they will quickly grow upon you, and hold their custom ; and though another may govern them, they will scarce ever endure to be governed by you, but will scorn to be subject, where they have once been as equal.

II. Gen. Direct. 'Labour for prudence and skilfulness in governing.' He that undertaketh to be a master of a fa

Prov. x. 7.

mily, undertaketh to be their governor; and it is no small sin or folly to undertake such a place, as you are utterly unfit for, when it is a matter of so great importance. You could discern this in a case that is not your own; as if a man undertake to be a schoolmaster that cannot read or write; or to be a physician, who knoweth neither diseases nor their remedies; or to be a pilot that cannot tell how to do a pilot's work; and why cannot you much more discern it in your own case?

Direct. 1. . To get the skill of holy governing, it is needful that you be well studied in the Word of God:' therefore God commandeth kings themselves that “they read in the law all the days of their lives 5;" and that “it depart not out of their mouths, but that they meditate in it day and night". And all parents must be able to “teach it their children, and talk of it both at home and abroad, lying down and rising upi.” All government of men is but subservient to the government of God, to promote obedience to his laws. And it is necessary that we understand the laws which all laws and precepts must give place to and subserve.

Direct. 11. Understand well the different tempers of your inferiors, and deal with them as they are, and as they can bear; and not with all alike. Some are more intelligent and some more dull : some are of tender, and some of hardened dispositions; some will be best wrought upon by love and gentleness; and some have need of sharpness and severity : prudence must fit your dealings to their dispositions.

Direct. 111. You must put much difference between their different faults, and accordingly suit your reprehensions. Those must be most severely rebuked that have most wilfulness, and those that are faulty in matters of greatest weight. Some faults are so much through mere disability and unavoidable frailty of the flesh, that there is but little of the will appearing in them. These must be more gently handled, as deserving more compassion than reproof. Some are habituate vices, and the whole nature is more desperately depraved than in others. These must have more than a particular correction. They must be held to 8 Deut. xvii. 18, 19.

'i Deut. vi. 6,7. xi. 18, 19.

h Josh, i. 8.

« EelmineJätka »