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practised the duty of family prayer, become exemplary in his conduct; he would be anxious for both the present, and the future welfare of his children; and would cultivate in his own mind all thofe qualities and difpofitions he wishes to be exercised towards himself. For he would be afhamed of giving way to intemperance, who had afterwards to fupplicate God to preferve him from it: he could not be detained, in loose and idle company, till his family had retired to reft, whofe fixed and unalterable purpose it was, to join with them in worshipping God.
It may feem ftrange, that any objections fhould be made to a duty, in itself fo reafonable; in its effects fo beneficial; suggested by natural, enforced by revealed, religion: objections, however, to the utter difgrace, I pray God it may not be, to the final condemnation, of Chriftians, are frequently urged. I have only time to take notice of one. It is faid, that, where families are large, little good is derived from the celebration of domeftic worfhip; that the family, almost individually, attend it with reluctance; and, that they do not confider, for what end they are called to
gether. This objection to family prayer becomes the strongest argument, for the neceffity of it. The man, who has fuch an houfhold, cannot too foon, nor too earnestly, strive to reclaim them. Let him affemble them, not as he would confine a flock of fheep in a fold; but let him tell them he laments, that he has lived fo long in the neglect of this important duty; that he will obferve it during the remainder of his life; that the defign of it is to give glory to God; to beg his bleffing and protection, and to render both himself, and thofe committed to his care, happy to all eternity. This communication will be received, though not perhaps by all, yet certainly by fome, with fatisfaction, and pleasure. And what time is fo -proper, to communicate fuch intentions, as the evening of this day, when, if your children and domeftics are now, as they ought to be, at church, their minds will be prepared for it? III. I will beg leave to detain you a little longer, whilft I earnestly, I God I may effectually, exhort you, to the regular obfervance of this indifpenfable fervice.
It is a juft reproach to the members of the eftablished Church, that the duty, I am now recommending,
recommending, is more neglected by us than, I believe, by any other communion of Chriftians. And the reproach is aggravated, by confidering that thofe "who go out from us, when they join themselves to any other congregation, generally establish this duty in their families. Such of us as live in the neglect of it, may be faid to have not the knowlege of "God." We live in the profeffion of the true Religion: the fource is pure; the channels through which its refreshing streams are conveyed, are free, and unmixed; but they fall upon a foil, too often, alas! barren of improvement. Yet we do not, furely, make a profeffion of Religion by accident: we are initiated into it, not by custom, I trust, but by piety; we have embraced it, not by chance, I hope, but from principle. I exhort you, therefore, my brethren, in the name of God, to let practice be correfpondent to your profeffion. Are we members of a pure, and reformed, Church? Are we defirous of making our Religion productive of immortal happiness? Let us not then be fo deceived, as to fuppofe that we can be faved, without a vital fpirit of piety. And in whatever dwellings that vital fpirit, refides,
refides, there will be heard the voice of joy "and falvation." Is the loving kindness of God the theme of your thanksgivings; is his mercy the fubject of your fupplications, in your family? you are not far," it may be prefumed," from the kingdom of God." But you who live in the neglect of this duty; who receive fo many mercies, and bleffings, from the God of all goodnefs, without joining your acknowlegements with those who partake of them; fhall I congratulate you on the fecurity of your fituation? No! It is my duty to exhort you, and it is and it is your intereft to attend to the exhortation, "to flee from the wrath to ❝come." Is prayer in your family, a duty you owe to God? And dare you live in the neglect of that duty? Look around you; look into the history of mankind; and fee" whe"ther any hath hardened himself against God "and profpered?" And is it not hardening yourselves against God, if, when ye are convinced by reafon, admonished by conscience, and commanded by Revelation to join in devout fupplications, with your whole house, in the worship of God, ye are either diverted by amusements, or withheld by difinclination, I 3
from the discharge of this reasonable, this important, this indifpenfable, fervice? Look forward to the awful period when you shall be ftruck by the hand of death; when you fhall lie upon the bed from which you must arife by borrowed strength; and let me appeal to your hearts, whether do not think the pangs of separation from your family would be rendered lefs violent, by the reflection of having uniformly, and devoutly, difcharged the duty I am now recommending? Had God, in his anger, refused to hear your prayers; had he commanded you not to appear before the throne of Grace; though you might be furrounded with abundance; though you lived in the vigor of health; though you were beloved by your family, idolized by your friends, reverenced by the world; all these reflections, foothing as they are, "would avail you nothing;' you would envy the fituation of those who daily "go to their work and to their labor "until the evening," if he "who heareth "prayer," accepted their petitions, and granted. their requests. If then either fear can awaken, or intereft can engage you, to begin this necef fary duty; if affection for your families, if the dread