The Cloister of Grapes; Or, Family Prayer
Joshua 24:15
And if it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve…

Man, we all know, is not made to live alone. None of us could do so, even if we wished it. As no man can come into the world without a father or mother to bring him into it — as no child, when it has received the gift of life, could keep that gift for much more than a single round of the clock without some one to tend and feed it — in like manner, after we are grown up, and have gained strength to stand alone, we still need the help of our brethren in a thousand ways. Every worthy and reasonable and honourable work which man is permitted to perform can only be performed by him so far as he lives in union and communion with his brethren. Thus too is it with the highest and most precious of all the gifts which God has bestowed on mankind, the religion of Christ. This also is a gift which cannot be received alone, which cannot be enjoyed alone, which cannot be turned to any use alone. In giving it to man God did not give it to him as standing alone, but as living in communion with his brethren. He purposes that in spiritual things, as well as in temporal things, we should help and feed each other, that we should nourish each other with the bread of life, as well as with the bread that perishes. You remember our Lord's beautiful parable in which He compares Himself to the vine and His disciples to the branches. All the members of the same family, all the members of the same parish, should draw their spiritual life from the heavenly Vine, not singly, but together, joining heart and soul in the exercises and offices of devotion, and keeping in mind that it is when two or three are gathered together that our Lord has promised to be in the midst of them. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." This should be the plain, the avowed, the steadfast resolution of every one who bears rule in a house, of every master of a household, of every father, of every mother of a family. When God ordains that every one should be the master or the mistress of a household, He likewise ordains that they should take care of those who are under their authority, and should look upon them as committed to their special charge. In like manner when He is pleased to grant any one the blessing of being a father or a mother He links this blessing with the duty of taking care of the children, of bringing them up, of providing for them. We shall have to give account, not only for our own souls, but also, more or less, for the souls of those whom God has committed to our charge. Let this then be your watchword, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." It is not enough for you to say, "As for me, I will serve the Lord." A grape never stands alone: it is always part of a cluster. In truth no one can feel any hearty desire to serve the Lord himself, without being at the same time anxious that others also, that his friends and neighbours, above all, that the members of his own household, should bear their part in thin godly service. And one of the ways in which it behoves you to provide that your house shall serve the Lord is by setting up His worship in your house, by taking care that you and your whole house join day by day in serving Him with prayer and thanksgiving and praise. Most important, too, is it that every family should be perpetually reminded that, as a family, it is a Christian family — that the Church is not God's only house in the parish, but that every house in the parish ought to be a house of God. We have been led by our Lord's parable to liken a Christian family and a Christian congregation to a cluster of grapes. Such are they, if they hang from the true Vine, if the life which springs from the true Vine be ever flowing into them through prayer — through prayer offered up in brotherly communion one beside the other. And what can give a more beautiful image of the love, the neighbourly kindness, the peace, which ought to prevail in a brotherhood of Christians, than a cluster of grapes? None of them seems to have any desire of thrusting itself forward before the others, or of pushing them into the background, or of showing itself off at their cost. On the contrary each seems contented to stand just peeping out of its cell, half hidden by its neighbours, retiring behind them, and almost, as it were, in honour preferring them. Such are the grapes of the true Vine. Such are the families in the living Church of Christ. They hang from Him. Their love flows into them from Him; and therefore they love each other.

(J. C. Hare, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

WEB: If it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh."

The Christian's Choice
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