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swers. The forward motions of his love, David joyfully experienced.--I said, I will confess my transgressions unto thee; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. For this shall every one that is godly pray to thee in a time, when thou mayest bc found.
This example of our gracious Redeemer may be applied for the reproof of the irreligious, and the encouragement of the godly.
They who wholly neglect, or often intermit, the duty of secret prayer, are reproved by this example. Christ made it so much his constant exercise, that, rather than once omit it, he would rise before day, in a morning too which followed a laborious evening. Awakened and encouraged by this example, let us daily draw near to God. Let us never yield to trifling diversions, nor suffer the cares of the world to extinguish the spirit of devotion.
They who plead the want of leisure, or the want of place, for retirement, should consider, that when labours crowded, Jesus found leisure by rising the earlier, and when company thronged, he found a solitary place, by departing the farther.
Let those, who neglect the care of their souls, remember how laborious Jesus was in the work of men's salvation. Was that a trifling object for which he was so ardently engaged ?-Or, Čan you be safe in neglecting a work in which he was so assiduously employed ?
Great was that salvation which the Son of God came to procure for sinful men. Great were his labours, and greater his sufferings, in this design. Great was the price which he paid for our redemption. How shall we escape, if we neglect this great salvation ?
What mighty encouragement have we to seek it! The Saviour, who was so laborious in our cause, will approve and aid our labours. He, who was se much in prayer for men while he was on earth, will regard our humble prayers now he is in heaven. He is able to save to the uttermost them who come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession. He has departed from this world, and ascend ed into heaven, to appear in the presence of God, for us. Let all men seek after him. They who seek shall find. Them who come to him, he will in no wise cast out. He has commanded us to seek him ; and he has not said to us, Seek ye me in vain.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and
watching thereunto with all per sederance. OUR
UR text might naturally lead us to consider the duty of prayer at large : But what I have more especially in view, is the duty of family prayer. This is one kind of prayer, and therefore one thing intended by the Apostle, when he directs us to pray always with all prayer.
If family prayer was practised by pious men, under the old testament, and in the time of our Sav. iour and his Apostles, as I shall shew that it was; and if the expression, pray always, is generally used to signify daily prayer, as I think will appear in its proper place, then we must suppose, that in this exhortation, family worship is included, and principally designed.
I shall therefore, 1. Shew our obligation to family prayer. II. Inquire what reasons there are for stated morning and evening prayer.
III. Represent the manner in which family wor. ship ought to be performed.
I. I shall shew our obligation to family prayer,
The scripture, in giving us rules of conduct, has not descended to every minute case, nor stated the precise limits of duty in every possible circumstance ; for had it done so, it would have been too voluminous for common use.
All that we can ex pect from it, is, that it should lay down such general rules, as common reason, with an honest heart, may easily apply to all particular cases; and should illustrate these rules by such. familiar examples, as will, on all occasions, direct us to a just application of them. And this is what it has done. It has, for instance, explained and inculcated the duties of justice and charity; but has left it to human reason to apply the general precepts to particular cases. So it has urged the duty of prayer, pointed out many of the occasions of it, and shewn the temper with which it should be performed. But it has not distinctly specified all the possible occasions or mat. ters of prayer. To have done this, would have been not only endless, but needless, as wisdom, accompanied with a devout heart, will be sufficient to direct. It has inculcated prayer in general, and distinctly recommended secret and social prayer, as well as enjoined us to pray always with all prayer; and family prayer is so evidently included in the * general precepts, and comprehended within the general reasons of social prayer, that no devout and serious heart can doubt, but this is as much intended as any kind of prayer ; and he who attempts to disprove his obligation to it, must, at the same -time, deny his obligation to pray at all. And he who denies this, must not only renounce Revelation, but discard natural religion, and even the govern- . ment of Providence.
The obligation to social prayer is so plain, and so generally acknowledged, that I shall here take it to be conceded.
If this is a duty, Who are the persons to associ. ate for the performance of it ? Certainly they who are in a capacity to meet together they who are connected by common interest—they who share in the same wants and the same favours—they who are united in affection, and can make each other's ca. ses their own.-Who then are under so strong obligations to this duty, as the members of a family? They dwell in the same house—they naturally care for each other-their afflictions and mercies are in common if one member suffers, the rest suffer with him-ifone be honoured, all rejoice. A family then is such a society, as is under the first obligation to social worship. If you can find any precept in the Bible, which enjoins social worship, you need look no farther : You have found one for family worship
You will not deny, that it is your duty, as the master of a family, to bring up your children and domesticks in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But, Can you do this without the maintenance of family worship ? - Will the younger members of your household act under a sense of God and religion, when they see you regardless of him, and of the honour which you owe him ?
To impress on tender minds devout and pious sentiments, nothing can be better adapted, than family worship ; in which they daily hear a God acknowledged, his perfections adored, sin and guilt confessed, pardon and grace entreated, their dependence recognized, and every needed blessing implored.
If prayer belongs to religion, you are to instruct your children in this, as well as other parts of reli. gion. And, Is not example the most familiar and successful method of communicating to the young religious instruction ?-Without this will other means avail ? Prayer was one thing, in which Jesus