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decency and inconfiftency of conduct. higher principles may be expected to influence thofe who are punctual-in family-devotion.
True godlinefs is profitable for the life which now is, as well as for that which is to come. Befides the tendency of those moral virtues which are infeparably connected with and cherifhed by piety, to promote our worldly intereft, may it not reasonably 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 wafteth 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 most valuable interests. St Peter, when treating of the duties of Christian 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 fuppofed, that many will daily approacly a God of love in united acts of devotion,, whilft their fpirits are rankled with jealoufy, hatred, or disguft. Family-prayer may be the means of awakening an unequal yoke-fellow
to a ferious concern about her eternal interests. In this refpect fometimes hath "the unbelie-ving wife been fanctified by the believing "hufband;" 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 reftraining 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 prefence, 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 fo 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 of fixing on their minds early and deep impreffions of the truth and importance of religion, and raising their thoughts above this world, to the contemplation of God, of Christ, and heaven: it will prepare them for the public fervice of the fanctuary, and for the due discharge of the active duties of life. Family-devotion will glew the affections of children one to another; a principle of divine love will ftrengthen the ties of natural connection. They will confider themselves as united much more clofely by being joint fervants of the fame mafter, and expectants of the fame heavenly inheritance, than by their bearing the fame name, or partaking of common blood. If you wish well then, parents, to yourfelves and to your children, do not neglect this reasonable fervice. Give not your children caufe to afcribe their irreligious and vitious conduct to their living in your prayerlefs houses. Speedily fet about this important duty; you will never have reafon to repent the performance of it.
Equally profitable is regular family-devotion for fervants or domeftics, as for children.. Reading felect paffages of fcripture, which ought to be a ftated part of this exercife, will awaken their attention to ferious fubjects, and instruct them in the leading truths and duties. of religion. It is likely to excite them to read their Bibles in fecret, and to animate them with the defire of fpiritual knowledge. Prayer and praife may prove the channels
through which the influences of the Holy Spirit may be conveyed to their fouls. Many have afcribed their converfion to familyprayer. It may probably introduce a fedate frame of mind, check the levity of youth, and impetuofity of paffion, and put them in a proper frame for discharging the duties of the day; it will remind them of the obligations to fecret prayer, and suggest the manner in which it fhould be performed.
I believe it will be found on inquiry, that the best fervants are to be found in praying families. This may be eafily accounted for from the connection between religious and relative duties. A reverence muft naturally be excited in the minds of fervants for thofe mafters who lead their devotions, and whom they hear interceding with earneftnefs for them before God This principle will reftrain them from offending mafters fo tenderly concerned for their intereft, and excite them to recommend themselves by their fidelity and diligence. If a fpirit of unfeigned piety, which is cherished by prayer, defcends from the head to the members of the family, it will not fail to produce this effect. Ye fervants of praying mafters, fhow that you "count them "worthy of double honour, and be obedient "to them in fingleness of heart as unto "Chrift: not with eye-fervice, as men-pleafers; but as the fervants of Jefus, doing "the will of God from the heart, with good