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every where present, we may be sure of being heard wherever we make our addresses to him. If he is within our very minds, we cannot raise a thought toward him but he must perceive it. If he is infinitely wise, he knows exactly what is fit for us, and will grant such of our petitions as may be proper to be bestowed upon us, and withhold whatever may prove hurtful, though we have asked it. If it be reasonable to suppose that he expects all his thinking creatures to apply to him, we may do it with this comfortable consideration to encourage us that in addressing him, we are doing what is agreeable to his nature and will, and cannot offend him but by our manner of performing it. Were I to have an audience of a prince, it would give me great encouragement to know that he was graciously disposed toward me, that I should not offend him by begging his favour and protection; but that, on the contrary, he expected I should petition him, and would even take it amiss if I did not; that he had it fully in his power, as well as in his inclination, to grant me the greatest favour I should have occasion to ask him; and that it was his peculiar delight to oblige and make his subject happy. There are few princes of whom most of these things may be said; and none of whom all may be affirmed and yet they find, to their no small trouble and incumbrance, that for the few inconsiderable, perishing favours they have in their power, there are petitioners almost innumerable. Whilst the infinitely Good Giver of all things, whose disposition, and whose power to bestow happiness inconceivable, are equally boundless, is neglected and defrauded of that homage and devotion to which all his creatures ought to be drawn by a sense of their own absolute dependance upon him; of his ability and readiness to bestow; of his authority, who has commanded them to make their requests to him; and by the spontaneous dictates of their own minds, directing them to the performance of a duty so easy, so reasonable, and so promising of the most important advantages.

Though the principal part of prayer is petition, or addressing Heaven for the supply of our various wants for life and futurity, there are other branches, as confession of our infirmities and faults; thanksgiving for the various in

stances we have received of the Divine Goodness; and intercession for our fellow-creatures. The subject of our petitions for ourselves ought to be necessaries of this life, for which the rich, as well

as the poor, depend daily on the Divine Bounty, and the Divine assistance toward our being fitted for happiness hereafter. The first, if we judge wisely, we shall ask with great submission, and in moderation, as being of less consequence, and too apt to have bad effects upon our moral characters, when liberally bestowed. The latter, being of infinite consequence to us, we may request with more earnestness and importunity.

If we give the least attention to our own characters, we must find our thoughts often trifling and wicked, our words foolish and mischievous, and our actions criminal before God. If we have any consideration, we cannot but think qurselves deplorably deficient in the performance of ouv duty with regard to ourselves, our fellow-creatures, and our Creator. If we are in reason obliged to think often of the fatal errors of our lives, to view and review them attentively, with all their heavy aggravations, and to mourn and lament them in our own minds; if all this be highly proper and reasonable, it is more peculiarly reasonable to acknowledge our offences before Him, whom we have offended; to implore his pardon, who alone can forgive and depreciate his vengeance, which we have so justly deserved. We ourselves, when offended by a fellow-creature, expect that he should not only be convinced in his own mind of his misbehaviour, and speak of it with concern to others; but likewise, that he come and make a direct acknowledgment, and ask our pardon. Nor is there any thing unreasonable in all this. How much more, when we have offended Him who is infinitely above us, and from whom we have every thing to fear, if we do not, by sincere repentance, and thorough reformation, avert the deserved punishment; especially if we consider that the performance of this duty tends naturally to lead us to real repentance and reformation.

As we ought in our prayers to confess our faults and errors, and that not in general terins, but with particular reflection, in our own minds, upon the principal and grossest of them, which every true penitent has ever upon his heart, and before bis eyes; so ought we in all reason to return our sincere thanks to the universal Benefactor, expressly for every particular signal instance of his favour, whether those in wbich mankind in general share with us, or those in which we have been distinguished from others.

If we have upon our minds a due and habitual sense of our offences, we shall of ourselves be willing to make confession of them. If we have any gratitude in our nature, we shall not fail to express our acknowledgments for our favours received. And if we have any real benevolence for our fellow-creatures, we shall be naturally led to think it our duty to present to the common Father of All, our good wishes for them, that they may be favoured with every blessing which may tend to promote universal happiness, spiritual and temporal.

If it be at all rational to worship God by prayer, it is obviously so to join together at proper times in that sublime exercise. The advantages of public assemblies for religious purposes, are the impressing more powerfully upon the minds of the worshippers, the sublimity and importance of the duty they are imployed in, and the powerful effects of universal example. It is pretty evident, that the public worship on Sundays is what chiefly keeps up the little appearance of religion that is still left among us. I think there is no good reason against keeping up in public worship as much pomp and magnificence as may be consistent with propriety, and so as to avoid ostentation and superstition. We are, in our present state, very mechanical, and need all proper helps for drawing our inclinations along with our duty, for engaging our attention, and making such impressions upon us as may be lasting and effectual. Public worship ougbt to be so conducted, as to be most likely to prepare us for a more numerous society, in which more sublime exercises of devotion than any we are now capable of conceiving of, may be a considerable part of our employment and happiness.

Did our leading people think rightly, they would see the advantages of giving their attendance themselves at places of public worship, and using their influence and authority to draw others to follow the same laudable example. Deplorable are the excuses and apologies made

by them for their too general and infamous neglect of the unquestionable duty of attending the public worship of God. Nor would it be easy to determine whether their practice shows more want of sense or of goodness. One mighty pretence made by them is, That as to public instructions, truly they hold themselves to be as good judges of moral and divine subjects as the clergy; and therefore they think it lost time to give their attention to any thing which may be delivered from the pulpit. Now, it seems at least not very probable, that people who spend most of their time (Sundays not excepted) at the card-table, should as thoroughly understand the extensive sciences of morals and theology as the public teachers of religion, who have spent many years wholly in those studies. Those very persons, when they chance to be overtaken with sickness, are very ready to call in physicians, and do not pretend to understand, as well as they who have made physic their study, the nature and cure of diseases. But were it strictly true, that the polite people of our age are so wise that they are not like to hear any thing new, nor any known truth set in a new light by any preacher; still is it not an advantage to have a set of good thoughts, which lay dormant in the mind, excited and called up to the attention of the understanding, by an elegant and judicious discourse? Were there likewise nothing in this, what publicspirited person would not even go out of his way for the sake of setting a good example before the young and ignorant, who want instruction, if he does not. But when all is said, here is no pretence for neglecting the public worship of God, which is one principal end of religious assemblies. So that those, who habitually throw contempt upon this part of duty, are evidently guilty of a breach of common decency and natural religion, and are altogether without excuse.

If public worship, in which the inhabitants of a whole quarter join together, be reasonable, it seems as much so, that families should set apart stated times daily for that purpose. We are social beings, and ought to be social in all things that are commendable. And if heads of families are in reason obliged to take care that their children and dependants have opportunity of consulting the inte



rest of a future life, and of being led by example, or mor. ed by authority, to the observance of their duty; it is obvious, that in this important one of worshipping God, persons in stations of autbority and example, ought by no means to be wanting, lest the failures (through their bad example) of those over whom they have had charge, be hereafter justly imputed to their negligence.

The usual excuses for the neglect of family religion, made even by many who do not deny its usefulness and propriety, are, want of time; and a certain foolish reluctancy at performing the duty of addressing their Creator in presence of others. As to the former, there is no wellregulated house, in which the family cannot be called together for half an hour before the business, or the pleasure of the day comes on, to address their Creator for his blessing and favour through the day; and the same at night, to join in thanking him for the mercies of the day. That time must be employed in some way different from what has been yet heard of, which is applied better than to the service of God. If we can find time for eating, drinking, dressing, merchandising, or cards; to pretend to want time for worshipping God is monstrous !

As for the other objection against keeping up the worship of God in families, it is almost too frivolous to deserve any answer at all. Surely nothing is easier than to choose out a few proper passages from Scripture, or with the help of the common-prayer of the church, and other books of devotion, almost innumerable, to compile a set of devotions suited to the use of a family, and for the master of the bouse, kneeling or standing, with his children and domestics about him, to pronounce them with proper devotion, the rest joining mentally, or with a low voice, in every petition

If any master of a family chooses to compose a set of devotions for his own use, I will only mention one direction, which might render them more useful than they could otherwise be : It is, that in them, the moral virtues, or duties of temperance, benevolence, and piety, might be so worked into the petitions, that, in praying for the Divine Grace and Assistance to perform their duty, they should be led to reflect upon it, and put in mind to ex


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