Job 1:4
Parentage involves authority, responsibility, power, and honour. It imposes special spiritual or religious duties; it demands right personal conduct, as an example; prudent discipline and careful instruction. It is the duty of a father to protect his family, not from temporal evils only, but from spiritual; to provide for their temporal and spiritual needs. The religious duties of parents embrace -

I. RELIGIOUS EXAMPLE.

II. RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION.

III. RELIGIOUS GOVERNMENT OR DISCIPLINE.

IV. RELIGIOUS WORSHIP.

The Christian father, standing as the priest or representative of his family before God, has not to offer a sacrifice for the sins of his family, but may and should p/cad the one Sacrifice on behalf of all committed to his care. These the first conditions of a happy home. In Job's case the spiritual instincts of the father are excited on behalf of his family exposed to the evils of surrounding idolatry. The Christian father has equal cause to be watchful. Consider

(1) responsibilities,

(2) toils,

(3) rewards, of faithful Christian parents. - R.G.







And his sons went and feasted in their houses.
I. THE FESTIVE MEETING. "And his sons went," etc.

1. It was a united family. There were no schisms in that body. The sons had all grown up, had their own houses, their own lands, and their own flocks and herds. Yet Ephraim did not envy Judah, and Judah did not vex Ephraim — without jealousies, without shyness, without any affected superiority, without mistrust. "Behold, how good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." And what an evil thing it is where this unity is wanting.

2. It was a social family. "And called for their three sisters to eat and drink with them." It is a noticeable feature of patriarchal life that great respect was always paid to the home courtesies. We claim it as one of the refining and beneficent results of Christianity that it has restored woman to her social place and dignity. And, as compared with her lower position in an immediately preceding age, no doubt it did. But the courtesies of the sisterly relation have never been observed more sacredly than by the patriarchs, who thus learned under the paternal roof the graceful attentions and refinements which should the better befit them for married life. We open a deep spring of elevating and softening influences when we establish among brothers and sisters a systematic regard to domestic courteousness. A young man is sure to grow up a churl — rude, half-humanised, unmannerly — who does not care to maintain a kindly and affectionate bearing toward a sister at home.

3. It was a convivial family. "And his sons went and feasted in their houses." It was not then inconsistent with patriarchal manners to mark these family gatherings by a feast. Abraham made a feast at the weaning of Isaac; Isaac makes a feast to Abimelech and Pichol; and Laban made a feast on the occasion of the marriage of Jacob. God has clearly made some things for the service of man only, but He has as clearly made other things for his enjoyment, for his refreshment. The Psalmist tells us in one verse that the great Parent "caused the grass to grow for the cattle, and the herb for the service of man," he tells us in the next verse that He causeth "wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make him of a cheerful countenance." Only in the abuse consists the sin of these well-spread tables.

II. THE FAMILY SACRIFICE. The seven days' feasting were past. "And it was so when the days of their feasting were gone about, Job sent and sanctified them," etc.

1. Job sent and sanctified his children; that is, bade them prepare themselves for a sanctifying ordinance. The most ordinary exercises of devotion are well preceded by a moment's pause; it gives the soul time to attire itself for the Divine presence chamber — an opportunity to shake off the dust from our feet before approaching to speak with God upon the mount. The present was a great family occasion in Job's household. There were mercies to acknowledge, shortcomings to bewail, responsibilities to renew, lessons to sanctify. What changes might pass over their domestic fortunes before the yearly feast came round! That cloud, now no bigger than a man's hand, what may it not grow to? That sorrow, now lighting heavily on our neighbour, and on account of which we dare not even utter to him the customary kind words of the season, how soon may that sorrow be ours! God of the future, and of the unseen, and the unknown, how should a devout parent desire to roll on Thee the burden of these responsibilities! Avert them from our children and families we cannot, but if, like Job, we send and sanctify them, a year which is begun with prayer we may hope to conclude with praise.

2. Observe, too, they were grown-up sons on account of whom Job evinced solicitude. The fact may suggest whether in our day the filial and parental relations are kept up long enough. It seems to be too much taken for granted that the quitting of the home roof is the signal for the discharge of the parental responsibilities. "And he rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings." Early in the morning, for this was a marked characteristic of the devotions of men of old time. Abraham, David, and Job seem to have thought that they who prevented the dawning of the day in their supplications would carry away the best blessings. God sitteth between the cherubim, waiting for prayer, and they who come first shall be heard first. "I love them that love Me, and they that seek Me early shall find Me." "And offered burnt offerings." How so, when as yet there was no written law, no order of priesthood, no ordinance or sanctuary? The answer suggests how far back, and how universally the day of Christ has been looked for. How much or how little Job understood of the moral scope of these burnt offerings does not appear.Two features of Job's practical religion come out here.

1. In making an offering he measured the amount by the greatness of his mercies.

2. His offerings were not thank offerings only, they were intercessory, and in this view they mark the beautiful individuality of a pious father's prayers.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

Our text gives us a very pleasing picture of Job's family. He was a happy man to have had so many children all comfortably settled in life; for they all had houses, and each was able in turn to entertain the rest. Perhaps the soberness of age disqualified him for joining in their feasting, but he commended it, he did not condemn it.

I. The text, and THAT IS FESTIVE; so we will ring a merry bell. I distinctly hear three notes in its merry peal.

1. It gives a licence to the righteous. They may meet together in their houses to eat and drink, and to praise God. The Puritans tried to put down the keeping of Christmas. God forbid that I should proclaim the annihilation of any day of rest which falls to the lot of the labouring man. Feasting is not a wrong thing. Job only feared lest a wrong thing should be made out of a right thing. These young people met in good houses, and in good company. Their feasting was a good thing, for it had a good intent; it was for amity, for cheerfulness, for family union. And at the feasting there was good behaviour. Good men of old have feasted. Abraham made a feast when his child was weaned. Shall I tell of Samson and his feasts, or of David, or of Hezekiah, or of Josiah? Feasting was even an essential part of Divine worship under the old law. There was the feast of trumpets, of tabernacles, of the passover, of the new moons, etc. And our Saviour countenanced a feast, and even helped to provide the guests for it. He was not Himself out of place at the wedding feast at Cana. And God has provided in His world not only enough for man's need, but also abundance for man's feasting.

2. It suggests a caution. Job said, "It may be." Though they were good sons, they may have "blessed God too little in their hearts." They may not have been grateful enough for their prosperity, and for the enjoyments God had given them. This caution is necessary, because there is no place free from sin. Wherever two meet together Satan is always a possible third. Because there is many a special temptation where there is a loaded table. More men have perished by fulness of bread than ever died by hunger. More have been drowned in the bowl than ever were drowned at sea. Because they who sit at table are but men, and the best of men are but men at the best.

3. It provides a remedy. Job sent for his sons as a father; he sanctified them as a preacher; he sacrificed for them as a priest. Our feasts should be sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.

II. What is in the text, and THAT IS INSTRUCTIVE; So we must ring the sermon bell. If Job found it right with a holy jealousy to suspect lest his sons might have sinned, how much more do you think he suspected himself. He who was so anxious to keep his children clean was himself more anxious that he might always fear his God and eschew evil. Then be careful, be watchful of yourself.

III. The text, THAT IS AFFLICTIVE; here we ring the funeral bell. Calamity came while the children were feasting. Between the table and the coffin there is but a step. Then do nothing that you would not willingly die doing. Be today what you would wish to be in eternity.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

The feasts mentioned were probably birthday festivities. The pious father, while he permitted these youthful festivities, knew the moral danger by which they were attended. So once a year, when the round of feasts was complete, he called the family together, and kept a feast unto the Lord. He "sanctified" them, that is, on this occasion he specially set himself and his children apart for God.

I. THE DANGER TO WHICH JOB'S CHILDREN WERE EXPOSED: the danger of sinning.

1. Youth is an age of ignorance and inexperience. Life is new. They have not proved its innumerable perils, its unfathomable deceits. They look at life through the medium of their own frank and buoyant and hopeful feelings. The more self-assured is the unthinking youth, the more likely he is to miss the narrow path of obedience and truth, and fall into temptation and snare.

2. In the age of youth the passions of human nature are most irregular and impetuous. Reason is too often dethroned, and lawless appetite usurps her seat.

3. In the age of youth evil example exerts its most pernicious influence. Man in all periods of his existence is an imitative creature, but more particularly so in the days of youth.

4. In the period of youth the great destroyer of the peace, and of the souls of men, is especially assiduous in his bad work.

5. This danger of sinning is never, perhaps, greater than on occasions of festivity, when luxury and gaiety reign.

6. What aggravates the evil of sin is its tendency to increase, so that a young sinner may go so far as to "curse God in his heart." Dreadful as such a sin is, it is that towards which all other sins lead.

II. THE DEEP AND ANXIOUS CONCERN OF THE PATRIARCH lest his children should have fallen into this evil. His expressions indicate great anxiety, tender and heartfelt apprehension.

1. To sin against God must of necessity be a most odious and dreadful thing.

2. The consequence of sin is misery. The parent whose heart is right with God knows well that there is no calamity like the calamity of sin; no pang like the pang of remorse.

3. Not greater is the misery than is the deep dishonour which sin ensures.

III. THE MANNER IN WHICH JOB SOUGHT TO DEPRECATE, ON BEHALF OF HIS CHILDREN, THE GREAT EVIL OF SIN. He had recourse to sacrifice — the only mode in which the guilt of sin can be cancelled, and its punishment averted. The father who felt it his duty to institute these solemn family atonements would accompany them with such faithful admonitions, such affectionate counsel, and such religious instructions, as the occasion would dictate, and as their wants required. Nor would these annual sacrifices be unaccompanied with earnest prayers and intercessions on behalf of his children. As parents we may plead in private for our children. We may give parental instructions in our customary family devotions. We may have, like this patriarch, special seasons of family consecration.

IV. THE EFFECT WHICH THE SPIRIT AND CONDUCT OF JOB MUST HAVE HAD UPON THE MINDS OF HIS CHILDREN. They could not behold the pious concern which their father manifested for their religious and eternal well-being; they could not behold the annual solemnities, which he instituted for their sake, unmoved. We may charitably hope that the effect upon them was beneficial; and that such a pious parent was rewarded by the piety and obedience of the children. The holy anxiety, the private and domestic intercessions, the kind and tender admonitions of pious parents, constitute, for their children, one of heaven's loudest calls. Conclusion — To parents. Have you been sufficiently alive to the religious and eternal interests of your posterity? Ought we not to look to God, who knows all our need, for grace to fulfil, in a more effectual manner, the Christian parent's part?

(J. Bromley.)

Job's domestic felicity seemed secured by the solemn acknowledgment of the Divine authority with which it was accompanied, and by that godly jealousy with which the patriarch regarded his children, for which there was probably no more specific ground than the fatal tendency of human nature, especially in the fulness of prosperity, to forget the obligations of spiritual religion. At the close of their social meetings, he was wont to assemble the whole family for sacred exercises; and in conformity with the prescriptions of religion in that early period, to offer sacrifices for them all, and to renew the dedication of them to Jehovah, accompanying these acts with confession of sins and prayer for Divine grace. We do not know whether, in reference to his children, the calamity did not bear a character of righteous displeasure. The faith of Job would not have been fully tried if some doubt had not existed on this point; if the apprehensions of parental solicitude had not accompanied the sorrows of bereaved affliction. That social and convivial meetings are, on some occasions, allowable and becoming, few will be disposed to deny; nor can it, be supposed that religion, which prescribes mutual benevolence and affection, should prohibit mutual enjoyment. The Scriptures allude, with manifest approbation, to several occasions of festivity. In the Christian Church, though no festivals are prescribed, except of a spiritual kind, yet private hospitality, on suitable occasions, is abundantly commended. It is the folly and weakness of man that plants his enjoyments with dangers and snares,

1. If you would act a Christian part in your social intercourse and entertainments, it is manifest they must be conducted with such prudence and moderation as to exclude the idea of extravagance, vanity, and excess. Under the fair guise of hospitality, may not injustice sometimes be detected? Sinister and dishonest views may sometimes prompt an expensive show of hospitality, but perhaps a more ordinary motive is found in a principle of worldly ambition. The parade of wealth is sometimes assumed as a means of obtaining wealth. But no fortune, however ample, will justify a vain and expensive conviviality, or vindicate either extravagance or excess.

2. Our social entertainments should be attended with corresponding liberality to the poor. While the heart is expanded with the feelings of kindness, and warmed with the communications of hospitality, we should take care that the poor come in for a proportionate share of our fellow feeling, and that our social enjoyments be accompanied with a more express attention to the duties of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.

3. Your social intercourse, if you would please God in it, must be so conducted as to be, not injurious, but subservient to the high ends Christians should ever aim at — their personal improvement, and the glory of their Heavenly Father. As a Christian should form no voluntary engagement on which it might not be permitted to ask the blessing of God, so should he act so as to invite this blessing. It becomes him who daily prays, "Lead us not into temptation," to guard against those circumstances that would endanger his integrity and purity.

(H. Gray, D. D.)

Among the blessings of Job, his children are reckoned first. How his children were affected we cannot define so well as of their father, because the Holy Ghost saith nothing of them but that they banqueted, which doth sound as though He noted a disparity between Job and his sons. So it seems that Job's sons were secure upon their father's holiness, as many are upon their father's husbandry. We do not see by any circumstance of the story that the sons abused their feasts. Their meetings tended to nourish amity. Why did God create more things than we need, but to show that He alloweth us needful and comfortable things? All the good things which were not created for need, were created for delight. If feasts had been unlawful, Christ would not have been at the feast in Cana. The story saith, "Job sent for his sons, and sanctified them, and sacrificed for them." In which words the Holy Ghost showeth the pattern of an holy man and good father, which kept the rule that God gave to Abraham, to "bring up his children in the fear of the Lord." Job goeth to the remedy. Albeit my children have not done their duties in all points, but offended in their feastings, yet I am sure that God will have mercy upon them and upon me, if we ask Him forgiveness.

1. The cause which moved Job to sacrifice for his sons. "It may be that my sons have blasphemed God in their hearts." He was glad to see his children agree so well together; but he would have them merry and not sin, and therefore he puts them in mind every day while they feasted, to sanctify themselves. Job thought with himself, It may be that my sons have committed some scape like other men; I cannot tell, they are but men; and it is easy to slip when occasion is ready, though they think not to offend. It is better to be fearful than too secure. Blasphemy is properly in the mouth when a man speaks against God, as Rabshakeh did; but Job had a further respect to blasphemy of the heart, counting every sinister affection of the heart as it were a kind of blasphemy or petty treason. We may see this, that the best things may soon be corrupted by the wickedness of men; such is our nature, ever since Adam. It is good for man, so long as he liveth in this world, to remember still that he is amongst temptations. We must look upon our riches as we look upon snares, and behold our meats as we behold baits, and handle our pleasures as we handle bees, that is, pick out the sting before we take the honey; for in God's gifts Satan hid his snares, and made God's benefits his baits. One lesson Job's action may teach us, to prepare ourselves before we eat the communion; that is, to sanctify ourselves and meats, as Christ did. We may also learn to suspect the worst of the flesh, and to live in a kind of jealousy of ourselves. When thou seest some selling in the shops, some tippling in the taverns, some playing in theatres, then think of this with thyself: it is very like that these men swallow many sins, for God is never so forgotten as in feasting and sporting and bargaining; then turn to thy compassion, and pray for them, that God would keep them from sin when temptation is at hand, and that He would not impute their sin to their charge.

(H. Smith.)

One of the greatest hindrances that religion finds is the false idea that it involves giving up all that makes life happy and enjoyable. We can never set forth too clearly that such an idea is wrong and unscriptural. Sin is the only thing to be given up; and in avoiding sin we do not cut off any part of true happiness; we increase it, by getting what alone can make any heart really happy — the joy and peace of a good conscience. Religion is not to make us sombre, morose, and dull, but is able to fit us to join in the pleasures of life, as those who, loving God most of all, are able also best to truly love their fellow men. Job did not join his children, yet he allowed their happiness. He was a wise man, and able to discern between youthful pleasures and youthful lusts. The knowledge of their happiness in sinless pleasures made him happy too. Yet notice how he acted. He helps them, and in the best way possible. He remembers them before the throne of grace. He dedicates even their feastings and joys by prayer and sacrifice to God. Fear filled the mind of Job lest "his sons should sin, and curse God in their hearts"; lest feasting and prosperity should cause them to forget God's goodness. So it is specially on their feast day that Job remembers them at the throne of grace. Have you thus honoured God this morning, as the Giver of all good things? If not, learn a lesson from the patriarch.

(Rowland P. Hills, M. A.)

The apprehension thus expressed arose out of a deep knowledge of human nature. The apprehension was lest a time of unusual excitement should produce irreligious effects. In the case of Job the usual dangers of wealth and prosperity were mitigated and counterbalanced to the greatest possible extent. But now those dangers were on a particular occasion aggravated by the temptations of excitement. The even tenor of life was interrupted by a season of special festivity. The good, experienced man saw in this new risks and new solicitations to evil. The text tells how he met these new dangers. Excitement involves some such dangers as these —

1. A temptation to be more than commonly hasty and perfunctory in our strictly religious duties. The flagging interest, more than the failing time, is the real danger for us.

2. The way in which the world at such times asserts its importance, and would persuade us of its alone reality. It is a difficult thing to live in this world as if really expecting and belonging to another. That which is at all times a difficult thing, becomes in times of special excitement a thing impossible with man, a thing possible only in the strength of God.

3. Times of excitement are apt to be also selfish times. When once our thoughts are more of pleasure than of duty, we must be selfish. We may be selfish about duties; we are almost sure to be so about pleasures. When God is forgotten, we may be almost sure it is self, and nothing better, that is remembered.

4. Excitement is too often made an excuse for utter idleness. At such times there is generally a considerable abatement made of your regular duties. Often those which remain are less well done than ordinarily.

5. Times of excitement are generally discontented times. You see what was the special fear of the good man spoken of in the text. "Cursed God in their hearts." The moment we separate ourselves from God, we become impatient of Him.

6. Where such is the state of things within, there must be a condition, in the simplest sense, of terrific danger. Consider now God's goodness to us in providing us with some special helps in times of special difficulty. You see what the resource described in the text was. It is not much that others can do for you in this matter. In the example here before us we must see rather a type of the heavenly than of any human intercession. The application of Christ's one offering is still needed. At such times it is our bounden duty to pray. It is well, too, that we should rather force ourselves to an increased use of the means of grace than suffer that use to become more than commonly slack and infrequent. Good men at such times have found it necessary from time to time to set apart seasons for themselves of especial humiliation and prayer. How anxious and how difficult a thing is the restoration of the spiritual health! Then great reason have we to guard against its becoming impaired.

(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)

The father is the family priest. Job was an Arab chief. In that Arabian home there was, what there ought to be in every British home, a father who, as he sees his children about him, feels himself called to be a consecrated priest unto God, a priest ordained by the laying on of hands, the hands of his own little children.

1. The first, quality of a priest is sympathy. One who can "have compassion," because he knows life, and is able to sympathise. Sympathy means being able to know exactly what are the feelings of other people. Job had before him the question which comes to all parents, "How ought I to feel towards young people who are thirsting for pleasures which I have long lost the relish for?" Job's children were fond of feasts and holidays, and it is clear that their enjoyments caused him anxiety. He felt that there are times when young life needs a very watchful eye. Youth has its special temptations. What young life is really doing — its thoughts, its faults, its dangers — these are things that a parent wants to know. The Christian father would sit within the very soul of his child if he could, and keep the crooked serpent out of that new Eden. Feeling the limit of his own power, the good man kneels and prays. What he cannot do God can do.

2. A priest was a director. The education of a child is done by the schoolmaster, but it is directed from the home. What is it that makes or mars every life? It is personal character. This makes the man or woman, and it is Christ that makes character. Here is the sphere for the priest-like father. These young holiday-loving people in the land of Uz daily saw their model in their own father. They lived under the shadow of a sublime example.

3. Above all, a priest is an intercessor. There is one Mediator, and yet all are mediators. Every one is a bridge over which some benefit is conveyed to his fellows. And the most sacred of mediators are father and mother. On the priest-like father's heart are engraved the names of the household, for which he makes daily intercession. For these sacred home responsibilities, as for all other, the great preparation is the preparation of self. To give ourselves to God is the chief thing out of which all good influences come. Let us give ourselves to the habit of faithful prayer. The prayer and devotion of God's people ennobles and safeguards life.

(Samuel Gregory.)

In the text there are two parts.

I. JOB'S FEAR, OR JEALOUSY, CONCERNING HIS CHILDREN. The persons suspected. His sons. His daughters are mentioned, but Job's care specially concerned the sons, as responsible for the feast, and as more exposed to temptations of excess. But perhaps sons means children, and includes them all. Look at Job as another man than his children, and yet solicitous about them. Then we learn that a good and gracious heart is troubled about other men's miscarriages as well as his own. The good man will try to restrain others by his admonitions; to expiate their sins by his prayers; to bewail their sins in his reflections. So should we do, upon sundry considerations.

(1)Out of respect to the honour and glory of God.

(2)Out of respect to the souls of our brethren.

(3)Out of respect to ourselves.Consider Job in his relation as a father. His chief care was lest his children should offend God at their meetings and feastings.

(1)He did not find fault with the meeting itself

(2)He does not complain of the charge or cost of the meeting.

(3)He does not think wrongly of his not being invited.This was his fear, lest his children should offend, and trespass against God. He was solicitous about the sins of his children. No doubt he had been careful to instruct his children. But there is no trust to be given either to good relationships, or good education, considered alone by themselves. See the reasons and occasions for Job's fears.

(1)His love and affection for them.

(2)Their general corruption of nature.

(3)Their age and condition of life.

(4)Their employment, or the occasion of their present meeting — a feast.There are great temptations at such scenes: to gluttony, drunkenness, and intemperance; to strife, contentions, and brawlings; to lascivious carriages and speeches; to atheism and forgetfulness of God. Satan is usually vigilant to improve such opportunities.

II. THE PARTICULAR MATTER OF JOB'S FEAR is, lest his children should "have cursed God in their hearts." It may mean have blest (the word is barak) God in their hearts — that is, they may have sinned together with their blessing of God. This is usual, and it proceeds from that hypocrisy which by nature rests in men's hearts; men are careful to have a good outside now and then, and to conform to some outward duties of religion, because they carry some speciousness with them, but the inward frame and disposition of spirit is little heeded or regarded by them. The expression admits of such an interpretation as this: though my sons have blest God in their hearts, they may have fallen into some occasional and actual miscarriage. There are said to be sins of three sorts.(1) Sins of daily or frequent incursion, which, whilst we remain in the flesh, we shall never be freed from.(2) Sins which, in an especial manner, wound the conscience.(3) Sins of a middle nature between both; sins of a non-attendancy or neglect. Take the sentence negatively. "Have sinned, and have not blessed God," or "Have sinned, and little blessed God." Take it as "cursed God." This need not be understood in the proper and aggravating sense but rather in the qualified and interpretative. There is a blaspheming God in the heart, and there is a blaspheming that does not reach so far. Learn —

1. It is a thing very commendable in a Christian to repent of sin, even unknown.

2. It is the care of a gracious person, not only to take heed of notorious sins, but also of the shadows and resemblances of it.

3. A good Christian has regard to his thoughts, as well as to his words and actions.

4. A godly man is tender of passing hard censure upon the persons or actions of other men.

(T. Horton, D. D.)

I. CONSIDERATIONS WHICH RECOMMEND FAMILY WORSHIP. With respect to the Deity, it is due to Him, and it is pleasant to Him. Man is to worship his Maker in all the capacities and relations in which his Maker places him. As an individual, he offers to Him his private devotions. Communities, as such, bring to Him in public worship their gratitude and their prayers. And families living under the same roof, affected by the sins, interested in the wants, and blessed in the felicities of each other, owe a family sacrifice to the God of mercy, and Giver of their common safety and joys. Will it be said God has no need for such service? We have every reason to believe that this duty is peculiarly pleasant and acceptable to Him. It was from Abraham He resolved He would not hide anything He would do, because He knew the patriarch, that he "would command his children and his household after him, that they should keep the way of the Lord" (Genesis 18:19).

II. THE EFFECTS OF FAMILY WORSHIP UPON THE FAMILIES IN WHICH IT IS PERFORMED.

1. It is favourable to good order.

2. It is calculated to promote and preserve amity and kind offices in the family.

3. And it brings the blessings of heaven. This duty will appear still more important and beneficial, if we advert to its uses to the individuals of whom families are generally composed.(1) With regard to the pious part of them, it affords, next to the worship of the sanctuary, the most convenient and unexceptionable opportunity for that sociality in devotion which minds seriously impressed do very naturally and strongly desire. But all the members of the family are not religious. For those who are otherwise, family prayer may have the most beneficent operation.

4. Consider its influence upon the community as a whole.

(Bishop Dehon.)

There is not a father or a mother among us to this day to whom God has not often said, Hast thou, in this matter of thy children, considered My servant Job? No. We confess with pain and shame and guilt concerning our children, that Job here condemns us to our face. But we feel tonight greatly drawn, if it is not too late, to imitate Job henceforth in behalf of our children. We have not wholly neglected them, nor the Great Sacrifice in their behalf. But we have not remembered it and them together at all with that regularity and point and perseverance and watchfulness that all combined to make Job such a good father to his children, and such a good servant to his God. But if our children are still about us, and if it is not yet too late, we shall vow before God tonight that whilst they are still with us we shall not again so forget them. When they set out to go to school we shall look out of our windows after them, and we shall imagine and picture to ourselves the life into which they must all enter and cannot escape. We shall remember the streets and the playgrounds of our own schooldays, and the older boys and their conversations. And we shall reflect that the games and sports and talks of the playground will bring things out of our children's hearts that we never see nor hear at home. And then, when they come the length of taking walking and cycling tours, and fishing and shooting expeditions; and, still more, when they are invited out to eat and to drink and to dance, till they must now have a latchkey of their own — by that time it is more than time we had done with all our own late hours, and had taken ourselves to almost nothing in this world but intercessory prayer. We shall not go with them to watch and to judge over our children: but we shall not sleep till they have all come home and shut the door to our hearing behind them. And we shall every such night, and in as many words, plead before God the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, for each several one of our own and our neighbour's children.

(Alexander Whyte, D. D.)

Of course, we confess overt acts of sin, and also secret sins, directly we are aware of them. But our unconscious sins are vastly more numerous than our conscious ones, just as the elevations beneath the ocean waves are much more numerous than those which rear themselves above the breakers as islets. For every one sin you know of, there are perhaps ten of which you are ignorant.

1. Let us understand how unconscious sins come into existence. Old habits assert themselves, in the heat of life, without our noticing them, as a man may unconsciously give a nervous twitch. Besides, our sensibilities are blunt, and permit sins to pass for want of knowing better, as a clerk in a bank may pass a counterfeit banknote for want of longer experience. Moreover, our standard is too low; we measure ourselves against our fellows, and not against the requirements of God. Then, too, though we may resist temptation, we can hardly do it without getting some stain.

2. Let us learn when unconscious sins are most to be dreaded. During times of feasting and holiday. Because we then give less time to devotion. Because we relax our self-watch. Because we are thrown into light and frivolous company. Job was always anxious after such times, and said, "It may be."

3. Let us see how to deal with unconscious sins. They are sins. They will interrupt our communion. They will work a deadly injury to our spiritual life; for hidden disease is even more perilous than that which shows itself. They must be brought beneath the cleansing blood of Jesus. We need to ask many times each day, Lord Jesus, keep me cleansed from all conscious and unconscious sin.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

1. It doth well become godly parents to give their children leave to take moderate refreshing and recreation one with another.

2. Parents must not cast off the care of their children, though they are grown up, though they are men and women.

3. Children that are grown up, or have houses and families of their own, ought yet to yield all reverence and submission to the lawful commands, counsels, and directions of their parents. Do you think you have outgrown obedience and honour to parents, when you are grown in years?

4. A parent's main and special care should be for the souls of his children. The care of many parents is only to enrich their children, to make them great and honourable, to leave them full portions and estates, to provide matches for them; but for sanctifying their children, there is no thought of that.

5. He that is a holy person himself desires to make others holy too. Holy Job would have all his children holy.

6. The good which others do by our advice and counsel, is reckoned as done by ourselves. While we provoke others to goodness, that good which they do is set upon our account as if we had done it.

7. Holy duties call for holy preparation. Oh, come not to the sacrifice except you be sanctified!

(J. Caryl.)

1. That it is God's due and our duty to dedicate the morning, the first and best of every day, unto God (Psalm 5:3). We have a saying among us, the morning is a friend to the Muses: that is, the morning is a good studying time. I am sure it is as true that the morning is a great friend to the Graces; the morning is the best praying time.

2. That it is not safe for any to let sin lie a moment unrepented of or unpardoned upon their own consciences or the consciences of others. If a man's house be on fire, he will not only rise in the morning, or early in the morning, but he will rise at midnight to quench it.

(J. Caryl.)

1. That everyone is saved and pardoned by the special and particular actings of his own faith: every soul must believe for itself. Everyone must have a sacrifice.

2. That it is not enough for parents to pray in general for their children, but they ought to pray particularly for them. As parents who have many children provide portions according to the number of them all; and in the family they provide meat and clothing according to the particular number of them all: so likewise they ought to be at a proportionable expense in spirituals, to lay out and lay up prayers and intercessions, "according to the number of them all"; not only to pray in general, that God would bless their children and family, but even to set them one by one before God. The souls of the best, of the purest, though they do not rake in the dunghill, and wallow in the mire of sin, basely and filthily, yet they do from day to day, yea from moment to moment, contract some filth and uncleanness. Every man hath a fountain of uncleanness in him; and there will be ever some sin bubbling and boiling up, if not flowing forth.

3. A suspicion that we ourselves or others have sinned against God, is ground enough for us to seek a reconcilement for ourselves or others with God. If you that are tender parents have but a suspicion — if there be but an "It may be" — that your child hath the plague or taken the infection, will it not be ground enough for you to go presently and give your child a good medicine? And if Job prayed thus, when he only suspected his sons had sinned, what shall we say of those parents who are little troubled when they see and know their sons have sinned? It is safest to repent even of those sins we only fear we have committed. A scrupulous conscience grieves for what it suspects.

4. That we may quickly offend and break the law, while we are about things in their own nature lawful, especially in feasting. It is an easy matter to sin, while the thing you are about is not sinful; nay, while the thing you are about is holy. Lawful things are oftentimes the occasion of unlawful.

(J. Caryl.)

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