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his family or little college of difciples in prayer to God.
Cornelius, the Roman centurion, is defcribed to have been a devout man, and one that feared God with all his houfe, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.
Other fcripture-examples might be mentioned; but thefe are fufficient for evincing family-worship to have been the practice, and of course to be the duty, of the faints. Agreeably to thefe excellent patterns, the bulk of devout Chriftians, in every age and coun-. try, have affembled their families, to offer up frequent and united devotions to the great founder of families. Keep then habitually in view thefe venerable characters, and be ambitious to refemble them. Deem it your honour, no lefs than your duty, to be imitators of the bleffed Jefus, and of thofe who, through faith and patience, are now inheriting the promifes. Paul, in the conclufion of his epiftles, often falutes the faints by name, with the churches or focieties of worshippers in their houses. Let your houfes alfo be as temples of the living God; let your families be nurseries of religion, and focieties of devout worshippers.
4. Attend to the obligations of family-worfhip, from intereft, or the useful purposes to which it is fubfervient.
These are various, both with respect to the body and the foul, time and eternity. Were
they confidered with ferioufnefs and impartiality, they would prove powerful inducements to this duty. If performed with suitable difpofitions of mind, it will draw down the bleffing of Heaven upon your families, and your honeft industry. True piety is the most effectual preservative from dishonesty, intemperance, and debauchery, which ruin at once the character, fortune, and conftitution. It affords the ftrongeft excitements to industry in business, and the faithful discharge of the relative duties of life. The fear of God, and the fenfe of a future judgement, which are the principles of moft powerful operation on human conduct, are cherished by the exercises of devotion. With what propriety can that perfon who hath implored, in the prefence of his family, the divine direction and bleffing on his fecular affairs, neglect his bufinefs, and spend his time and fubftance in idleness and riot? How can he act the part of an unkind husband, an unfeeling father, a fevere and unreafonable mafter, or an unfaithful friend, after having made a folemn approach to a God of love, and interceded for them and himself before the fearcher of hearts? Can it be reasonably fuppofed, that one who acknowledges God regularly in his houfe, will dare to profane his name, and deride facred things, in the very prefence of those who have been the witneffes of his religious addreffes? A regard to outward profeffion and character must powerfully restrain from fuch in
decency and inconfiftency of conduct. But higher principles may be expected to influence thofe who are punctual-in family-devotion.
True godliness is profitable for the life which now is, as well as for that which is to come. Befides the tendency of thofe moral virtues which are infeparably connected with and cherished by piety, to promote our worldly intereft, may it not reafonably be expected, that the divine countenance and fuccefs will attend thofe projects which have been formed with a fenfe of our dependence on the Almighty, and accompanied with earneft fupplications for his blefling? "The curfe of the Lord is "in the house of the wicked, but he bleffeth "the habitation of the juft." Confcious of the divine favour and protection, ye who are the fincere worfhippers of the Moft High, need not tremble at the approach of danger, nor fink under any calamity: "God " is your refuge and ftrength; be not afraid "then for the terror by night, nor for the "arrow that fleeth by day, nor for the pe"ftilence that walketh in darknefs, nor for "the deftruction that wasteth at noon-day. "There shall no real evil befal you, nor fhall any plague come nigh your dwellings for "God fhall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways."
Further: Confider how beneficial focial devotion is to the members of your families. If you are in the married ftate, it is excellently calculated to procure the bleffing of Heaven
on that relation, and to render it fubfervient to your moft valuable interefts. St Peter, when treating of the duties of Chriftian hufbands and wives, clearly prefuppofes joint prayer, or family devotion, to be a part of their employment. He enjoins them to "live "together as heirs of the grace of life, "that their prayers might not be hindered;" that is, that the whole of their behaviour fhould be fuitable to their religious profeffion, and hope of falvation through Jefus Chrift, that fo the fuccefs of their united fupplications might not be prevented.
No affection can be fo ftrong and lafting as that which hath religion for its bafis, or where there is an union of hearts in the fervice of the fame mafter. When the charms of novelty and beauty have loft their power to please, when the clouds of adverfity have thickened around, this principle hath difcovered its energy in ftrengthening the mutual attachment of thofe in this relation, and in reconciling their minds to their condition. Joint prayer foftens impetuofity of temper, and difpofes to forbearance and forgiveness of injuries it blunts the edge of the difappointments, alleviates the cares, and gives double relish to the enjoyments of life. It is not to be supposed, that many will daily approacly a God of love in united acts of devotion, whilft their fpirits are rankled with jealoufy, hatred, or difguft. Family-prayer may be the means of awakening an unequal yoke-fellow
to a ferious concern about her eternal interests. In this respect fometimes hath "the unbelie"ving wife been fanctified by the believing '“ husband;" his prayers have been anfwered, and his endeavours for her falvation crowned with fuccefs.
No lefs advantageous is the frequent performance of this duty to your children. It must naturally ftrengthen their reverence and affection for their parents, when they hear them daily pleading with earneftness at a throne of grace in their behalf. Its influence is powerful in restraining them from vice. Reverence will be excited betimes in their breafts for the name of God, and the inftitutions of religion. A principle of imitation is natural to the human mind. Young people. are peculiarly apt to imbibe the fentiments,. and learn the manners, of those with whom they frequently converfe, and are intimately connected. Much therefore depends on the example of parents. How can you expect, that your children will honour God, and obey his laws, if, in their presence, or with their knowledge, you profane his holy name, and neglect his worship? How can you hope, that they will pay much regard to their earthly parents, whilft you ftifle in them a fenfe of duty to their Father in heaven? In no way can you so effectually teach them to pray, as by praying with them, and accuftoming them to join you in addreffing the Great Founder of families. This is a moft likely method