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suing, while thus meeting together regularly from time to time ; that you may attend to some peculiarly instructive, searching, quickening or comforting, por
tions of scripture; or pious practical discourses of the ' most approved authors, which may be read among
you; that you may perhaps occasionally engage in conversation on interesting religious subjects, conducive to mutual information and edification ; and that you may “pour out your hearts” together before the
Lord in prayer, for all the supplies of mercy and grace, · which you need in the whole course and circumstances
of your work and warfare ; in social prayer naturally rendered more fervent, and therefore likely to be more effectual, by the consideration of your joining together in the same solemn act of worship, having in general the same sins, wants and sorrows, the same fears, doubts and desires to spread before God, and standing equalJy in need of the same blessings of his grace and salvation. .
“ As iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the countenance of a man his friend." And greatly is the soul often enlivened, and improved by joining in such religious exercises, as those which you have here in view, with christian friends and associates.' David, no doubt knew the value of religious society, when he said, “ I am a companion of all them that fear God and keep his commandments," and when he spoke of “his goodness as extending not to the Lord, but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom :: was all bis delight.”
Have not you also, often experienced important benefits in a similar way? In your ordinary "intercourse with your christian friends'; if you have perceived
them to be engaged, with some becoming degree of zeal or liveliness in the service of their God, and in their attention to the things of their peace ; and if, at the same time, you have been sensible of a more cold, remiss and languid frame of mind, have you not felt your resolutions awakened, to shake off the sloth which you have indulged, to resist the temptations by which you have been overcome ; “ to remember from whence you have fallen, to repent and do your first works," or to begin to seek in earnest the great salvation reveal- ; ed and offered in the gospel, if this had been before neglected ? And may you not promise yourselves the experience of similar advantages, and perhaps in a still higher degree, and larger measure, from your uniting, and taking part with each other in the appropriate duties and employments of such an association as this? How pleasing, how animating the thought, that in this way, you may be instrumental in contributing so much to each other's spiritual improvement in the present state of darkness and imperfection ; and consequently, in the same proportion, to the advancement of your mutual, everlasting happiness, in a future world of heavenly light and glory.
And if the divine life may be thus promoted in your own souls, by the means on which you here attend, will not the same means have the desirable effect of “ making your light shine with increasing lustre be. fore others, and so giving it an increased efficacy, in constraining them, while they behold in your good conduct, more and more of the lovely fruits of your holy religion, “ to glorify your Heavenly Father and Divine Redeemer ?" Or will they not, be thus, at least, more effectually reproved and corrected for their
impenitence," their unbelief and their disobedience to the gospel, which you profess to adorn ? · How cheering, also, how delightful is the hope, that the prayers in which you here unite, may be graciously answered by 6 Him who heareth prayer,” in the blessings of his favour, showered down in rich abundance upon yourselves, and upon many others, whom you bear on your hearts, in your devout addresses at the throne of Grace ?
« The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” The united prayers of the faithful, we are encouraged and warranted by the best authority to expect, may be still more availing. For to such prayers, our Lord has certainly given some special and peculiar encouragement, when he says ; “ If even two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask," (in bis name, and agreeably to the word and will of God,) « it shall be done for them of my Father, who is in heaven.” Now it is the declared will of God, that in the religious assemblies of his people “ their supplications, prayers and interces. sions, with giving of thanks, should be made, not only for themselves, but for all men.” You have then abundant reason for being strong in faith, and cherish. ing a good hope, and the most enlarged expectations, while you continue to unite your hearts with your voices in praying, not only for the salvation and the prosperity of your own souls, and for the edification and peace of the church of Christ and its individual members ; but for the wider spread and growing success of the gospel in the world, that it may have a free course and be glorified, in the salvation of multitudes in every nation ; and that the kingdom of our Redeemer, which is the kingdom of grace and righteousness, may be established and grow, and flourish, on the ruins of the usurped dominion of satan, whereever the children of men dwell on “ all the face of the earth.” Aud surely you cannot have less cause for believing and hoping, that you may be graciously heard and answered, when it is “ your heart's desire, and your prayer to God,” for your brethren around you, who enjoy with yourselves the external privileges of the gospel dispensation, without having yet experienced its saving operations, that while they are permitted to “see the heavenly light,” and to “ hear the joyful sound of the gospel,” they may be made to feel its divine energy, in “turning them from darkness to light, from the power of satan to God, and from their sins unto righteousness, so that they may obtain the forgiveness of their sins, and the salvation of their souls, and an everlasting inheritance of life and glory, among all them that are sanctified, through the faith that is in Jesus Christ."
Since then you are thus authorized to hope, that you may receive the most iinportant benefits to yourselves, and at the same time prove instrumental in securing the most precious blessings of the grace and love of God in Christ Jesus, to an unknown number of your fellow-men ; let your bearts be encouraged and animated by these considerations and prospects; and let it be your particular study and care, that you may continue to be of one mind, and of one accord, and that with a truly christian spirit of charity, zeal, and con
ncy, you may persevere in improving the means to ch you have thus resorted, and which you are now suing for the attainment of those most interesting
and desirable objects, to which your views were di. rected in the establishment of this society.
· For these purposes, may the God of love, of peace, and of all grace, be with you : and may you find him ever present and ever ready, “ to do for you, exceeding abundantly, above all that you can ask or think ;" through the riches of bis grace in Jesus Christ our Redeemer and Mediator ; " who is,” with the Father and the Holy Spirit, "over all, God blessed for ever. Amen!”