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the strongest incentives to that affectionate, and conciliating deportment, which, beside its conformity to the gospel of Christ, and the at: tendant prospect of a future reward, is adapt. ed to engage the confidence and esteem of all within the sphere of its influence. Than this. practice, what can more effectually ensure a umiform and faithful discharge of the various duties, which result from the conjugal, parental, filial, fraternal, and other intimate relations. of human life.. It sanctifies, cements, and endears the union between husband and wife. It encourages, and directs parents in the instruction and government of their household. It heightens the gratitude, docility, and submission of children. It excites and aids brethren to “dwell together in unity.” That: family, whose heads and members bear each other in mind at their secret devotions; and, frequently appearing before God in company, jointly call upon his name for a supply of their individual and collective wants, must, of course, be impressed with a sense of their respective oblige which will pervade every domestick transaction, alleviate every burden, and increase every joy.
3. To pray for our neighbours and acquaintances, with whom we have occasional dealings and intercourse, checks the ebulitions of envy, emulation and strife, and induces a kind, equitable, and generous deportment toward all around us. . After entering into our closets, or uniting with our families to intercede for the prosperity and happiness of others, in common with our own, can we harbour a propensity to counteract these intercessions, by fraud and injustice ; by taking advantage of the ignorance and necessity of a brother ; or by, insidiously undermining his reputation, and opposing his success in the world? Can the as. pect of his superiour wealth and splendour prove to us a source of regret, or a motive to. hostility ? Can we even wish to rise to opulence and honour at his expense ? No : we shall rejoice in the displays of divine goodness, wherever they appear; and, though less distinguished ourselves, we shail neither desire nor dare to “fight against God," by robbing the recipients of his bounty, either of the possession or enjoyment of the blessings which he has allotted them. Actuated by that “ charity, which is the bond of perfectness, all things, whatsoever we would that men
should do unto us, we shall do even so unto them.” The collisions of personal interest and enterprize, instead of unduly irritating our spirits, or provoking our resentment, whilst they render us more importunate for that “ wisdom from above, which is profitable to direct,” and suggest the propriety of additional petitions in behalf of our rivals, will call forth our unwearied vigilance, activity, and resolution to avoid every injurious design and perpetration, and adhere, with undeviating recti. tude, to the dictates of truth and righteousness. • 4. To pray for our enemies transforms hatred to benevolence, and revenge to pity.
When our indignation is roused by the discovery and contemplation of unmerited in. jury, could we prevail on ourselves, instead of “ rendering evil for evil,” to “ commit our cause to the Lord,” and implore the influence of his grace to show the offender “ the errour of his ways,” and bring him to the exercise, of the christian temper, it would, at least, calm our minds, and guard us against those violent sallies of passion, by which animosity is so often reciprocated, and contending parties ultimately involved in equal guilt and suffering. The presence of an omniscient God would remind us of our own imperfections,
and furnish the most powerful arguments to “ be kind and tender-hearted, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave us.” Our prayer, like that of David, in similar circumstances, would return into our own bosom ;” and fill us, not with the malignant purpose to “ do so to him, as he had done to us,” but with that cominiseration and tenderness, which are calculated to soften the asperity, and conciliate the friendship of the most obdurate mind. “ All that envenomed rancour," says a judicious writer, * “ which is apt to imbitter our spirits against mankind in general, and our enemies in particular, when we suffer, or think we suffer undeservedly, will abate and die away, as we strive to set our affections on things above.. Our thoughts, like the waters of the sea when exhaled towards heaven, will lose their offensive bitterness and salt, leave behind them each distasteful quality, and sweeten into an amiable humanity and candour, till they descend in gentle showers of love and kindness upon our fellow creatures.”
. 5. To pray for our country superadds a christian principle to the exertions of patriot.
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ism, and renders our conduct as citizens consistent and virtuous.
Were all civil transactions brought to this test; were men never to espouse or abet a project connected with the commonweal, till they had retired and asked counsel of God;" entreating him to direct their steps, and give an issue to their intentions and actions, favourable to the happiness of the nation, most of the ills, by which kingdoms and states are so often infested, convulsed, and dismembered would disappear. The politician, however mistaken in his theory, would not dare to seek elevation by intrigue and falsehood ; nor consent to sacrifice the publick good to the views of personal interest and aggrandizement. The citizen, though stiil exposed to errour, would distinguish between the furious impulse of party zeal, and a patriotick resolution to assert and defend his rights. He would not, therefore, be led blindfold in the disposal of his suffrage; but act with deliberation, and weigh the moral, as well as the political, character of rival candidates for office. Looking for a blessing both on his own person, and on the community at large, to the great arbiter of the universe, who “ requires truth in the inward parts,” he would be persuaded, in no