“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
“Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” We have said, my brethren, on a former occasion, that if we would die his death, we must live his life. It is true that there are cases in which the Lord shows his mercy and his glory to men who are already lying on the death-bed, and says to them, as to the thief on the cross, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The Lord still gives the Church similar examples from time to time, for the purpose of displaying his sovereign power, by which, when he is pleased to do so, he can break the hardest hearts and convert the souls most estranged, to show that all depends on his grace, and that he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy. Yet these are but rare exceptions, on which you can not rely absolutely; and if you wish, my dear hearers, to die the Christian’s death, you must live the Christian’s life; your heart must be truly converted to the Lord, truly prepared for the kingdom, and, trusting only in the mercy of Christ, desirous of going to dwell with him. Now, my brethren, there are various means by which you can be made ready, in life, to obtain at a future day a blessed end. It is on one of the most efficacious of these means that we wish to dwell today. This mean is Family Worship; that is, the daily edification which the members of a Christian family may mutually enjoy. “As for me and my house,” said Joshua to Israel, “we will serve the Lord.” We wish, my brethren, to give you the motives which should induce us to make this resolution of Joshua, and the directions necessary to fulfill it.
Family worship is the most ancient as well as the holiest of institutions. It is not an innovation against which people are readily prejudiced; it began with the world itself.
From the beginning
It is evident that the first worship which the first man and his children paid to God could be nothing else than Family Worship, since they constituted the only family which then existed on the earth. “Then,” says the Scripture, “began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” Family Worship must indeed have been for a long time the only form of worship addressed to God in common; for as the earth still remained to be peopled, the head of every family went to live separately; and, as a high-priest unto God in the place which was allotted to him, he offered unto the Lord of the whole earth the homage due to Him, with his wife, his sons and daughters, his man-servants and maidservants. It was only by degrees that, when the number of men was greatly multiplied, various families happened to settle near each other; then came the idea of adoring God in common, and Public Worship began. But Family Worship had become too precious to the families of the children of God to give it up; and, if they began to worship God with the families of strangers, how much more was it their duty to worship him with their own families!