« السابقةمتابعة »
not mistaken, there are fome who cut off pfalmody, which is an effential and pleasant part of worship, from the religious exercises of the family, for no other reafon but to conceal from their neighbours and paffengers their keeping up the worfhip of God in their houses. But why do you affect this concealment? Why would you fmuggle your religion? Are you afhamed of your master? You are not averfe that it fhould be known by your neighbours, that you fit down regularly to meals with your family, at least you would not refrain though it were known: why then should you be fo anxious to conceal from your neighbours, that you celebrate the praises of God with your family, and endeavour to prepare them and yourselves for a better life? Though to be feen or praised of men, should not be the motive of any religious performance, we fhould not neglect any duty of piety for fear of being feen by men; efpecially if the nature of the duty is such, that if performed, it must be known by thofe around us. By fuch a concealment you diminish the influence of your good example, which might probably excite others to a duty in itself reasonable and advantageous. Boldly avow, then, your attachment to religion; it is your duty at all times, and never was it more needful than at present. Remember the declaration of our divine master: "Who'foever shall be ashamed of me and my words in an adulterous and evil generation, of
❝ him alfo fhall the Son of man be ashamed " when he cometh in the glory of his Father, " with the holy angels." Not only muft we " with the heart believe unto righteousness, "but with the mouth make confeffion unto es falvation."
There is only another apology (if it deferves the name) to which we would request your at tention, namely, that of those who acknowledge the reasonableness of these religious exercises, but after a long neglect cannot prevail on themselves to introduce them into their family. What does this amount to ? it is, that you are too proud to confefs a fault. How unreasonable for perfons who have fo great cause, to make fuch an acknowledgement! The longer you perfift in the neglect of known duty, your guilt is the more aggravated. Be affured there is nothing which can put you in a more honourable and advantageous light in the estimation of your family, than to acknowledge, that you are fenfible of having done wrong in the neglect of fa. mily-worship in time past, and that you are refolved to be punctual in the performance of it for the future. O that you had the humility and courage to adopt and effectuate the refolution of Joshua, "As for me and my
houfe, we will ferve the Lord."
It is not enough that you join with your families in religious exercifes on the Lord's day only, as is the practice of many. If you with them to be beneficial to your children and
and domeftics, they must be much more frequent. There are so many things around us to cool and extinguish the flame of piety, that daily feuel is requifite to preferve and cherish it. As there is no day in which a family hath not bleffings to ask or to acknowledge, this ought to be a ftated employment of every day. Some close the day with family-devotion. So far they do well; but if they would begin the day in the fame manner, it would be still better. It is highly fit, that a family of Chriftians fhould unite in acknowledging the mercies of the night, and in imploring the divine guidance and protection through the day. It may have the moft powerful influence in blunting the edge of temptation, in giving a proper direction to their minds under the viciffitudes of life, and in preparing them for a vigorous and fuccefsful difcharge of the active duties, for which the day is intended. The fame reafons which establish the propriety of fecret prayer morning and evening, may be urged for equal frequency in familyworship.
UPON the whole, I intreat all mafters of families in this affembly, to comply with the duty now recommended. I can fuggeft no argu ments more powerful to excite you to the practice of it. If you have hitherto neglected this duty, and are now fenfible of its obligations, make no delay in acting fuitably to your convictions. Pay no regard to the maxims or customs
cuftoms of the world, when they interfere with the dictates of religion, and the eternal interefts of your family.
As for you who worship God in your families, I beseech you to perform the duties of fuch a religious profeffion with frequency and ferioufnefs. Do not confider them merely as decent ufages, recommended by the advice and example of your parents, but as a reasonable and profitable service. Above all, be careful to live fuitably to your high character and profeffion; wound not the religion you profefs, by inconfiftency of conduct; give not the world occafion to reproach you with intemperance, dishonesty in your dealings, or any finful indulgence, though a worshipper of God in your family; remember that the prayers of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, efpecially when offered with a wicked mind, as a cloak to their fins, or a peace-offering for the omiffion of the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy, and faith. There cannot be more deliberate impiety, or a groffer perverfion of every worthy principle, than fuch a conduct indicates. The moft awful judgements are threatened in the word of God, and fhall certainly be inflicted, on thofe who are chargeable with fuch prefumptuous guilt. "But we hope better things of you, "and things that accompany falvation, though "we thus fpeak." Let the purity of your manners recommend you, and the religion you profefs, to all around you. Strive to be VOL. III. D
equally exemplary for pious and focial duties there is an infeparable connection between them : "He that hath clean hands, and a "pure heart, who hath not lift up his foul "unto vanity, nor fworn deceitfully; he fhall
receive the bleffing from the Lord, and righteoufnefs from the God of his falvation."