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holy desires that God would send home to our hearts what we hear, the more we thus hear with self-application and earnest prayer, the more profit we shall receive.
After the close of the service, you should be glad of the
pause allowed in all well-ordered congregations, for secret prayer to God, that he may pardon every imrerfection, and impress all that you have heard on your heart.
III. A due return from worship.
Alas! how alive is the great adversary to rob us of every good which we may obtain ! The benefit and comfort of meeting our fellow Christians in a solemn act of worship, is often lost by the vain or trifling conversation with them, which so frequently succeeds immediately on leaving the church. Is it not the fulfilling of that saying, “When they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts?" Mark iv, 15.
Christians should aim at carrying on the benefits of public.worship by suitable, spiritual, and heavenly conversation, while obliged to be in company. And they should, if practicable, retire as soon as may be from the church to the closet, to examine what has been the state of their minds, and to meditate and pray over what they have heard and done. It would greatly assist in impressing the sermon deeply on your heart, to turn as soon as may be, after hearing it, the substance of it into a prayer; confessing the sins that have been brought home to your conscience, and asking for grace to fulfil the duties that have been inforced. O that all minister's had such bearers !
Lactantius says, “ That is not true religion which is left at the church. The holy and heavenly principles enforced, or exercised there, should be carefully nourished to influence the life.” The Church of Christ would soon assume a far brighter character, did we duly improve
Yet let not any, for we are apt to err on every side, be too much disCOURAGED BY THE STRICTNESS RECOM
The writer freely confesses how much he falls short of what he recommends; the good I would I do not ; the evil I would not, that I do. Let the conviction of our falling short only lead us to see the necessity of a total surrender to the righteousness of our crucified, risen, and interceding Saviour; and to come more simply to him for strength to do that which is of manifest excel lence, and a plain duty.
THERE are some very important means of grace, and outward observances, which are plainly implied in the word of God, for the performance of which we have fet, if any, positive, plain, and express precepts. We are left to gather them from the examples of holy men, and from various incidental circumstances : such in some degree, is the duty of public, and such more plainly is the duty of family, worship.
The reasons may be these. The Christian dispensation is designed as a religion for people in every country, and in every situation in which a human being can be placed. It is more of a spiritual transanction between God and the soul than the Mosaic dispensation was. Had there then been positive precepts respecting the means of grace, and the circumstantials of religion, and particularly respecting time, place, or frequency, the tender conscience, of which God has ever manifested particular regard, would necessarily have been burdened when placed in situations where the duty was impracticable.
By this, also, another important end is answered. A trial is made of men's spirit. It is seen, whether, because a positive precept cannot be brought requiring its performance, men will neglect a duty plainly implied. Thus more of the real state of our ininds is discovered,
* The greatest part of this Chapter may perhaps be read with advantage by the master of a famiiy, wben first beginning to attead to this duty,
and it is manifested whether we have, or have not, a full, and ardent love for God, his worship, and service.
It will not, however, be difficult to prove the OBLIGATion to family worship in various ways.
Consider THE EXAMPLE OF ABRAHAM, the father of the faithful, and the friend of God.-His family piety is that for which he is blessed by Jehovah himself: “I know Abraham, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” Abraham is here cominended for instructing his children and his household in the most important of all duties,--the way of ihe Lord, the great doctrines of religion, and justice and judgment, its great duties. And observe, he will command them ; that is, he will use that just authority which God gives the father and the head of a family in the religious instruction of his children. Abraham also prayed with, as well as instructed his family. Wherever he fixed his tent, there he built an altar to the Lord. This we read he did in the plain of Moriah. And when he removed to a mountain on the east of Bethel, - there he built an altar, and called upon the name of the Lord.” Gen. xii, 7, 8. Now, we may say to those who neglect family worship, that as all real Christians are Abraham's seed, (Gal. iii, 29.) If ye were Abraham's childien, ye would do the works of Abraham. John viii, 39. Your neglect of this duty, tends to shew that you do not really belong to Christ.*
* Let us also notice he principle which influenced Abraham. If Abraham were justified by works, he hath uhereof 10 glory. But he ullerly renounced such ideas. In pleading before God, how he abases himself: Behod, now I have iaken upon me lo speak un. to the Lord, which am bul dust and ashes. Abraham was justified hy faith; and relying on the promises of God, bis heart was filled with love, and hence be sought to impart to his family those spi. ritual blessings which he himself enjoyed.
The EXAMPLES OF OTHER HOLY Men are similar to that of Abraham. Consider the holy determination of Joshua, who declared to all Israel, “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Josh. xxiv, 15. Neither the exalted station which he occupied, nor his various and pressing public labours, prevented his attention to the religion of his family. When David had brought the Ark of God into Jerusalem with gladness, sacrifices, and thanksgivings, after discharging all his public duties, and blessing the people in the name of the Lord of Hosts, he returned to bless his household. 1 Sam. vi, 20. In addition to these might be brought the examples of Job, (ch. i, 5.) Daniel (ch. vi, 10.) and others. While the ark rested in the house of Obed-edom, a blessing came upon him and all his household. Would you then obtain the blessing of God on your household, let your family be daily assembled for prayer and praise. Observe the praise given to Cornelius; he was “a devout man, and one that feared God, with all his house ; which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to Cod alway." Acts x, 2. The early Christians practised this duty. St. Paul greets the Church in the house of Priscilla and Aquila, when they were at Rome, (Rom. xvi, 5.) and sends the salutation of the Church that was in their house when they were in Asia. 1 Cor. xvi, 19. We may probably gather hence, that he alludes rather to the assembly of a religious family than to that of a stated congregation. See also Col. iv, 15. Philemon 2. When Peter was released by the angel from prison," he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, where many were gathered together praying." Acts xii, 12.