In the primitive time of the world, until the days of Enoch, Gen. 4.26. all the public and solemn worship, that God got, was in families; and after that, Men began in a more solemn and public way, to call upon the name of the Lord, as is there said; we have no ground to think, that this primitive domestic worship was quite laid aside by the holy patriarchs: for we find several plain vestiges thereof remaining, as in Enoch’s family; for of him it is said, Gen. 5.22. He walked with God, after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And this walking with God, as master of a family, cannot well consist with the neglect of family-worship; which is a special point of walking, and of keeping communion with God. So of Noah it is said, Gen. 6.9. That he was a just man, and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God: And this when all the rest of the world had corrupted their ways, and the imaginations of the thoughts of their heart, was only evil continually, verse 5. Shall we then suppose, that Noah’s family was as void of worship, as all the rest of the families of the world? How is this consistent with his being a just man, and a perfect man; and (as Peter saith, 2 Pet. 2.5.) a preacher of righteousness? Of Abraham we hear, That he was the friend of God, and so no doubt kept family-familiarity with him: And when he went with his son Isaac towards the mount, pointed forth to him by the Lord, he told his servants, that he and the lad would go and worship, Gen. 22.5. Intimating that his worshipping with his family, or with part of them, was no strange thing to him; otherwise his servants should not well have understood what he meant. So the Lord said of him, Gen. 18.19: I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. Pointing forth what a godly master of a family he was, and would be: and shall we think, that all this instruction and injunction would be without prayer? Was not this a part of the way of the Lord, wherein they were to be instructed, how to pray, that they may be enabled with grace, to do justice and judgment? And would he not in this go before them himself, and give them good example, and instruct them by his own practice. We read also of his building an altar, and calling upon the name of the Lord, Gen. 12.8. And that where he pitched his tent, or where his habitation or family was: So likewise, when he removed from Bethel towards Hebron, and pitched his tent there, Gen. 13.18. Thus also did Isaac. Gen. 26.25. and Jacob. Gen. 33.20. and 35.1. And it is observable (which may fully clear the import of Abraham’s and Isaac’s building of altars) that when God said unto Jacob, Gen. 35.1. Arise go up to Bethel, and dwell there, & make there an altar unto God. Jacob immediately laboured to prepare his whole family for the worship of God, saying, Verse 2,3. To 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. Whence we see, That these altars which these patriarchs built, were not for themselves alone, but for them and their families; and therefore Jacob’s family must be sanctified and prepared for the worship of God, by putting away the strange gods and changing of their garments.
~ John Brown of Wamphray