A pious tradesman, conversing with a minister on the subject of family worship, reelated the following instructive circumstances respecting himself:- When I first began business for myself, I was determined through grace, to be particularly conscientious with respect to family prayer. Accordingly, I persevered for many years in the delightful practice of domestic worship. Morning and evening, every individual of my family was ordered always to be present; nor would I allow my apprentices to be absent on any account. In a few years, the advantages of these engagements manifestly appeared; the blessing of the upper and nether springs followed me; while health and happiness attended my family, and prosperity my business.
At length such was the rapid increase of my trade, and the importance of devoting every possible moment to my customers, that I began to think whether family prayers did not occupy too much of our time in the morning. Pious scruples arose respecting my intention of relinquishing this part of my duty; but at length worldly interests prevailed so far as to induce me to excuse the attendance of my apprentices; and not long after, it was deemed advisable, for the more eager prosecution of business, to make the prayer with my wife, when we rose in the morning, suffice for the day.
Notwithstanding the repeated checks of conscience that followed this base omission, the calls of a flourishing concern, and the prospect of an increasing family, appeared so imperious and commanding, that I found an easy excuse for this fatal evil, especially as I did not omit prayer altogether. My conscience was now almost seared as with a hot iron, when it pleased the Lord to awaken me by a singular providence.
One day I received a letter from a young man who had formerly been my apprentice, previous to my omitting family prayer. Not doubting but I continued domestic worship, his letter was chiefly on this subject; it was couched in the most affectionate and respectful terms: but judge of my surprise and confusion when I read these words: “Oh, my dear master, never, never shall I be able sufficiently to thank you for the precious privilege with which you indulged me in your family devotions! O sir, eternity will be too short to praise my God for what I learned there. It was there I first beheld my lost and wretched state as a sinner, it was there that I first knew the way of salvation, and there that I first experienced the preciousness of ‘Christ in me the hope of glory.’ O sir, permit me to say, never, never neglect those precious engagements: you have yet a family and more apprentices; may your house be the birthplace of their souls!” I could read no further; every line flashed condemnation in my face. I trembled, I shuddered, I was alarmed lest the blood of my children and apprentices should be demanded at my soul-murdering hands.
Filled with confusion, and bathed in tears, I fled for refuge in secret. I spread the letter before God. I agonized, and – but you can better conceive than I can describe my feelings; suffice it to say, that light broke in upon my disconsolate soul, and a sense of blood-bought pardon was obtained. I immediately flew to my family, presented them before the Lord, and from that day to the prese:nt I have been faithful; and I am determined, through grace, that whenever my business becomes so large as to interrupt family prayer, I will give up the superfluous part of my business, and retain my devotion: better to lose a few shillings, than become the deliberate murderer of my family, and the instrument of ruin to my own soul.
[From The Christian Treasury, reprinted in the May 1944 issue of The Free Presbyterian Magazine.]