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in nature, or required by any law of religion, that he should pray without intermission. The words only imply, that this good man omitted no appointed or convenient season of prayer, and in the necessary intervals of devotion retained in his mind a just sense of his dependence on the God that made him, for every blessing; and therefore, in the estimation of God, and in the language of Scripture, is said to pray always. And thus ought every Christian, by frequent acts of devotion, and by a constant disposition to them, to keep alive in his mind an awful sense of God's majesty and his own weakness. His piety should resemble the fire of the altar under the Jewish law; which, though not always blazing out in the service of the Great Jehovah, was yet never suffered to be utterly extinguished, and, at least, was daily employed in the morning and evening sacrifice.
And as this religious temper of Cornelius does not oblige men to be always upon their knees, so neither does it warrant us to distinguish ourselves by a sad
and demure countenance, as the hypocritès do; nor to expose ourselves and our religion to contempt by raptures and unseasonable gestures; or by a sanctimonious ostentation of uplifted hands and eyes, in the markets and corners of the streets. For sure I am, that it is no way necessary for men to be ridiculous, in order to be religious. On the contrary, true piety, like' true charity, neither behaves itself unseemly, nor wishes to be seen of men: it will rather direct us, when we pray, to enter into our closet or secret chamber, and when we have there excluded the inspection of men, to pray to our God, who seeth in secret.''
Neither again does constancy in devotion, whether private or public, oblige, no, nor even allow, men to neglect the proper duties of their station or profession. Such notions indeed have in all ages been inculcated by men of weak and enthusiastic heads; but they have no foundation in Scripture, when rightly understood, as we may justly collect from the example before us; for the devout L 2
Cornelius' was a Centurion over the Italịan band of soldiers, and the soldiers that waited on him continually were devout men'; yet piety neither hindered the one from executing his command, nor the other from discharging their duties of ebedience; and that with an express testimony of God's approbation. In fact, the private duties of life are so far from being incompatible with true piety, that we are then serving God acceptably, when we are employed in the faithful discharge of them according to our several stations. And, on the other hand, the offices of piety are so far from hindering the prosecution of our secular affairs, that they sweeten the fatigue of them with a secret satisfaction, and encourage us to diligence in them, by the expectation of a blessing upon our honest endeavours. For, when a man has offered his morning sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving to God, he then goes forth with cheerfulness to his labour until the evening. And in the evening, when he has acknowledged the blessing of God upon his labours, and implored the protection of
the unsleeping eye of Providence over his house, he can say with the resignationi and security of the Psalmist,“ Now will “ I lay me down in peace, and take my c rest, being fully convinced, that God 6 will make me diell in safety."
"):17MT But whilst we guard some against that enthusiastic extravagance in devotion, which leads them to expose religion to contempt by unseasonable fervours, on their families tó tuin by a neglect of the necessary duties of life, it will become us still more to awake those unhappy slumbérers to a sense of their duty, who live às without a God in the world, and seldom or never look up to the throne of grace, from whence every blessing is derived. Let such men well weigh the ex. ample of this heathen soldier, who, amidst the din of arms, prayed to God always. Let such men, with a serious attention, hear what St. Paul saith, where he gives that strict injunction to his Thessalonians, $ to pray without ceasing.". Let such men remember what a greater than St. Paulmeant; when“ he spake a parable, to
the intent that men ought always to ço pray,
and not to faint.” If then ye profess yourselves Christians; if ye aşsemble in this holy place to know what the will of the Lord is ;-Why hearken ye not to the voice of his word ?Why, by a total neglect of divine ordinances, do ye live as heathens, and not as Christians ?
Should any imagine, that the formality of one day's attendance in thę sanctuary of God will excuse the neglect of him every other day, let them be assured, that he is unfit to come into the temple of God in public, who never looks the throne of God in private. He cannot come thither with that earnestness and devout frame of mind, which is to be acquired only by constant and habitual devotion : He cannot in a moment on the Sabbath-day lay aside those cares and pleasures of the world, which have intirely engaged his thoughts and excluded his God on every other day. And this is too clearly seen in the constant indevotion, in the wandering eyes, and still, I fear, more wandering imaginations, of any in almost every Christian congregation,