III. The manner of it.
1. Worship God in your family. If you do not worship God in your family, you are living in positive sin; you may be quite sure you do not care for the souls of your family. If you neglected to spread a meal for your children to eat, would it not be said that you did not care for their bodies? And if you do not lead your children and servants to the green pastures of God's Word, and to seek the living water, how plain is it that you do not care for their souls! Do it regularly, morning and evening. It is more needful than your daily food – more needful than your work. How vain and silly all your excuses will appear, when you look back from Hell! Do it fully.
Some clip off the Psalm, and some the reading of the Word; and so the worship of God is reduced to a mockery. Do it in a spiritual, lively manner. Go to it as it well of salvation. There is, perhaps no mean of grace more blessed. Let all your family be present without fail – let none be awanting.
2. Command him – use parental authority. How awfully did God avenge it upon Eli, "Because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not!" Eli was a good man, and a holy man; and often he spoke to his too wicked sons, but they heeded not. But herein he failed – he did not use his parental authority – he did not restrain them. Remember Eli. It is not enough to pray for your children, and to pray with them, and to warn them; but you must restrain them. Restrain them with cords of love. From wicked books – from wicked companions – from wicked amusements – from untimely hours, restrain them.
3. Command servants as well as children. So did Abraham. Remember you are in the place of a father to your servants. They are come under your roof; and they have a claim on your instructions if they minister to you in carnel things, it is but fair that you minister to them in spiritual things. You have drawn them away from under the parental roof, and it is your part to see that they do not lose by it. Oh! what a mass of sin would be prevented, if masters would care for their servants' souls.
4. Deal with each as to the conversion of his soul. I have known many dear Christian parents who have been singularly neglectful in this particular. They worship God in the family, and pray earnestly in secret for their children and servants, and yet never deal with them as to their conversion. Satan spreads a kind of faults modesty among parents, that they will not inquire of their little ones, Have you found the Lord, or no? Ah! how sinful and foolish this will appear in eternity.
If you should see some of your children or servants in Hell – all because you did not speak to them and private – how would you look! Begin tonight. Take them aside and ask, What has God done for your soul?
5. Lead a holy life before them. If all your religion is on your tongue, your children and servants will soon find out your hypocrisy.
IV. The blessing which follows the performing of it.
You will avoid the curse. You will avoid Eli's curse. Eli was a child of God, and yet he suffered much on account of his unfaithfulness. He lost his two sons in one day. If you would avoid Eli's curse, avoid Eli's sin. "Poor out thy fury on the families that have not called on thy name" (Jer. 10:25). If you do not worship God in your house, a curse is written over your door. If I could mark the dwellings in this town where there is no family prayer – these are the spots were the curse of God is ready to fall. These houses or over Hell.
2. Your children will be saved. So it was with Abraham. His dear son Isaac was saved. What became of Ishmael I do not know. Only I remember his fervent cry: "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" Such is the promise: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Such is the promise in baptism. Ah! Who can tell the blessedness of being the saved father of a saved family! Dear believers, be wise. Surely if anything could mar the joy of Heaven, it would be to see
your children lost through your neglect. Dear unconverted souls, if one pang can be more bitter than another in Hell, it will be to hear your children say: "Father, mother, you brought me here."