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so that I come again to my father's house in


then shall the Lord be my God.” Jacob was now sensible that all things belong to God and that all blessings come from him. He felt his entire dependence upon him and his unworthiness of any favor. He does not appear to have been elated, but rather humbled by the mercies God had shown him and by his great and precious promises. He desired first and above all things the presence and protection of God; and limited his requests for temporal blessings to food and raiment and a peaceful return to his father's house. Such is the rational and happy influence of the spiritual and experimental manifestations which God makes to his people. With God for their friend and portion, they have moderate desires for earthly possessions. And in the love and favor of God, they have kind and tender affections towards their relatives and their fellow-creatures.

5. Jacob made a solemn devotion of himself to God. He vowed a vow and engaged that the Lord should be his God; and the object of his supreme reverence, affection, confidence and enjoyment. And he consecrated the stone, on which he had laid his head to sleep and on which he had poured oil, to be a memorial of his devotion to the worship and service of God and of his covenant with him. He also engaged to acknowledge his dependence upon God and his obligations to him when he said, Of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”

The preceding considerations suggest the following remarks.

1. The condition of young men, on their entrance upon life for themselves, is very sorrowful. It is no small reason for sorrow, that they leave their homes and are removed from the affections and services, which none but parents can render unto their children. On such an event they find themselves alone and destitute ; and the world, on which they begin to enter, is a dark and dreary and dangerous wilderness. The past scenes of their homes are pleasant yet mournful to their souls. What place on earth can be as the home of our childhood ? What human beings can be to our hearts as our father and mother, brothers and sisters? They are left

and must be left by every young man who enters upon life for himself. But what shall that life be? If it be sorrowful to leave what is past, it may be terrible to meet the future! How many young men, when they leave their homes, are as solitary and sorrowful as Jacob, when “ he lighted upon a certain place and tarried there all night, because the sun was set.”

2. At their entrance upon life for themselves the blessing of God is the one thing needful for young persons. Every human being needs, for his safety, honor and happiness in this life, that the Lord should be his God. But there is not a more important and critical period in human life, than the time young persons enter upon the world for themselves. They must then choose their objects, adopt their sentiments, select their companions and establish their habits. And without the instruction, guidance and comfort of religion they will take and keep the way of the wicked, which is as darkness. But if they have the friendship and blessing of God, all things shall work together for their good. O, that every child and youth would regard the words of the Lord Jesus Christ; " One thing is needful !"

3. The manifestations of God to his people are exceedingly glorious. They are made under such circumstances and with such connections and consequences, as produce the greatest and best effects. In their spiritual experience and in his providential dispensations, his people see and know him to be what he declares himself in the Scriptures. Every pious person has reason to say unto God, “ Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word.”

4. The spiritual experience of religion is a most evident reality. It formed the peculiar character of Abel and Enoch and Noah, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Of his people God says, “ I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord : and they shall be my people and I will be their God; for they shall return unto me with

! their whole heart." Their knowledge and enjoyment of God are not imaginary, enthusiastic, or superstitious; but rational, spiritual and experimental.

5. From the conduct of God towards Jacob we may perceive the importance of piety in families. He received



the knowledge and blessing of God through the examples, the instructions and influence of Abraham and Isaac ; and according to the divine covenant and promises. God commonly preserves the knowledge, practice and enjoyment of religion on the earth by the bestowment of his Spirit and blessing upon the children of his people. To Abraham God said, “I will be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee." And to his own people he says,

“ I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed and my blessing upon thine offspring."

6. The great mercy of God to Jacob should induce all persons, on their entrance upon life for themselves, to hope and trust in his name. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob still lives. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is “a sun and shield ; he will give grace and glory; and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” May he be to every young persona refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”



Then Jacob said unto his household and to all that were with

him, Put away the strange gods that are among you and be clean and change your garments ; and let us arise and go up to Bethel : and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress and was with me in the way which I went.

GENESIS, xxxv. 2, 3.

In the verse before the text it is stated, that God called upon Jacob to arise and go to Bethel and make there an altar unto God, who appeared unto him when he fled from the face of Esau, his brother. This call reminded Jacob of the mercies he had received from God in a time of great

a distress; and also of his religious engagements. And it seems to imply, that Jacob had been, in some measure, indolent respecting his duty and the spiritual interests of his family. By the call and command of God, Jacob was awakened to the moral state of his family, to the removal of offenses from his household and to the performance of his duty. The call of God and the conduct of Jacob place before us the following sentiment,

The reformation of religious families is highly important.

In our attention to this subject it is proposed,
I. To show when a family may be accounted religious.
For this purpose it is necessary,

1. That the head of the family should publicly and sincerely profess religion. If the instruction, government and conduct of a family be not under the influence of such a profession, it cannot have the appearance and reputation of religion, though some of its members should be truly pious. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, wherever they might sojourn, or reside, built altars unto God and


maintained, publicly and sincerely, a profession of real piety. And such was the conduct of other patriarchs.

2. A religious family regularly maintain the social worship of God. 6 Noah builded an altar unto the Lord ; and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” This was his first social act after he left the ark. Jacob called on his household and all that were with him, to arise and go to Bethel to worship God. Joshua said, “ As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” After an account of Job's conduct in the worship of God with his family, it is added, “ Thus did Job continually.” The petitions in the Lord's prayer imply the daily worship of God in a social manner. Of Cornelius it is said, “ He was a devout man and one that feared God with all his house and prayed to God alway.”

3. In a religious family there must be the existence and practice of real holiness. Without supreme love to God and true love to men, without the holy fear of God and a proper regard to man, without repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ, without the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit, there is no real religion, or goodness in a family, or individual. So far as a family is religious, holiness has a prevailing influence in their sentiments and actions. It is proposed,

11. To show in what respects a reformation may be needed in religious families. The state and conduct of religious families may be different. And in these respects the same pious family is liable to changes. Who would have thought that there could have been strange gods among the household of Jacob ? and that he could have known they were there and yet have been negligent of their removal ? Religious families may greatly need reformation ; and they commonly need to be reformed in the following respects.

1. Reformation may be needed respecting religious government, discipline and order. It requires a watchful eye, a steady hand and a faithful heart to maintain, in a family, the benevolent and powerful influence of real religion in this respect. So far as any member of a family is selfish, slothful and careless, he disturbs the peace and order of the house and counteracts and perverts the happy and lovely effects of religion. In a family without

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