Richard Baxter was one of England's greatest ministers. In early life, he went into a large parish and a community which was composed almost entirely of rich, cultured people. He found that the congregation was cold, and all was not as he had expected it to be in the ministry. He was disappointed and disheartened. The young pastor said, "The way to save the church and this community is to establish religion in the homes of the community and to build the family altars." Thus Baxter spent three years in his visitation and in his determination to establish a family altar in every home in that community. He succeeded amazingly, and this condition in the homes was the fountainhead that filled his church to overflowing and started that magnificent ministry and life. Fundamentally, religion must involve the family relationship. You cannot even build a church altar that is an attractive center without the family altar. Baxter was right and proved it.
Now I will take you to the opposite side. Thomas Boston was likewise a great minister, but, unlike Baxter, he spent the years of his early ministry in the slums of a city among the poor people. There he discovered the same condition—the church was cold and empty. He had no influence. He was disheartened and discouraged. He said that the only way to save the church is to save the family. And he went all through that poor community and established family altars where they worshiped God in the home every day in the week. He built up the altars, and he says he spent three years doing it. And then Thomas Boston's church started to revive, and the community was filled with spiritual power and influence.—Courtland Myers.
Robert Murray of Boston was converted in a Billy Sunday meeting years ago. He is a master plumber... . Juvenile delinquency has come to his attention. He doesn't talk much about it, but he is going ahead to do something. He has refitted two rooms in his home in a poorer quarter of Brighton, Mass., and here the children play. He has put in oak floors, and bought a piano for them; also he has had dug a fifteen-by-eleven-foot pool for bathing. Heavy swings are also installed. Sixty-seven children are on his roll call. "We are laying a foundation for God in their hearts." He knows the taproot of juvenile delinquency. Wherever there is a tavern to menace the children of the community, there should be a place to help them. He hopes his center will be the beginning of "Children's Haven, Inc.," and he insists that the lack of Christian training and family prayer is back of all delinquency.—Sunday School Times.
I am back there now, on the banks of the Hudson River, in that old farmhouse, in that old kitchen, around that great fireplace—father, mother, twelve children, twice a day, the old family Bible, and the wonderful prayer lifted to God! I am remembering that old house, that old center, that marvelous influence.
Do not be surprised when I tell you that every one of those children was saved by the grace of God. Four of them became ministers of Jesus Christ, all the rest of them Sunday School teachers and God's chosen men and women. And they all found that inspiration and life at the family altar when father opened the Bible and then lifted his heart to God. That is the greatest heritage in this world.
The greatest inheritance is the influence of Christian blood and life, moral character, and spiritual uplifting power. Now if your old home gave you that, you do not need to have a dollar. My father and mother never left me a dollar, but they left me the greatest riches in the world.—Courtland Myers.
Rear you an altar that will last forever,
Longer than any shafts or marble dome;
Erect it there beside your own hearth-fire—
The chaste, white family altar in the home.
Chisel the Word of God upon the waiting
Hearts and minds of the dear ones gathered there;
The blowing sands of time will not erase it,
Nor friction dim the imprint of your prayer.
For memory will hold those chiseled letters,
And prayer shall be imbedded in the heart.
0 father, mother, rear that lasting altar,
And the children whom you love will not depart
From the way of life. The Word will last forever,
Though earth and heaven itself should pass away.
If you have not as yet begun the building
Of that eternal altar—start today. —Watchman-Examiner.
The interesting volume of reminiscences, "Forty-two Years in the White House," by the late "Ike" Hoover, who was chief usher in the Executive Mansion for that long period of time, gives an interesting glimpse of President Harrison's term in the early nineties. "Immediately after breakfast the family would retire to the upper floor and be closeted in one of the upper rooms for a half-hour of prayer. The entire atmosphere of the household would be surcharged with religious feeling during that time. Until the ceremony had been completed, one could not go about one's daily duties without a feeling that prayer was disturbed." Benjamin Harrison was pictured by the cartoonists of the day, of the opposition, as sitting in a chair much too big for him. But he was big enough to be humble; he was big enough to pray. Could any nation have a better sense of its safety, peace, and prosperity, both temporal and spiritual, than comes with the realization that its earthly ruler joins with his own family circle, in his home, in prayer to the God to whom all earthly rulers owe their exalted position?—Sunday School Times.
If every home were an altar
Where holiest vows were paid,
And life's best gifts in sacrament
Of purest love were laid;
If every home were an altar
Where harsh or angry thought
Was cast aside for kindly one,
And true forgiveness sought;
If every home were an altar
Where hearts weighed down with care
Could find sustaining strength and grace
In sweet uplift of prayer;
Then solved would be earth's problems,
Banished sin's curse and blight;
For God's own love would radiate
From every altar light.—Sunday School Times.
A little girl of five had just asked grace at table. "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest," when, suddenly turning to her mother, she said, "But, Mother, I do not want Jesus to be our guest." "Why, dear?" demanded her horrified parent. "Well, a guest is one who comes only sometimes," said the child. "I want Jesus to be here all the time."—Courtesy Moody Monthly.
Charles H. Spurgeon, the Christian preacher, once said, "Family prayer is an instrument of family piety, and woe to those who allow it to cease." Another has said that the family without the prayer circle is like a family living without a roof over its head. When the storms come and the winds blow and the rains fall there is no protection. Surely when the home is without prayer there is no protection for the life from the problems and distresses which come our way.
One family gave the excuse for not having a family altar because they were too busy. A friend asked a question: "If you knew that your children would be sick through the neglect of family prayer, would you have it?"
"Of course," was the answer.
"If one child was smitten down with fever each morning that you neglected prayer, would you have prayer then?"
"Oh yes," they quickly replied. "We would surely have it then."
"And if there was a law that you should be fined five-dollars if you did not meet for prayer each day, would you have prayer then?"
"Well, then," said the one asking the questions, "it is surely a poor excuse when you who profess to be children of God say that you have no time or opportunity to have family prayers, if you would have them for such simple reason as you have just said."
If you do not have a family altar in your home, then heed this Scriptural exhortation to pray: "Pray without ceasing;" "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." Finally in Ephesians 6:18 we read, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication ... for all saints."—Harry Albus.