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ship should be introduced into your family in the particular manner I have recommended. Use your own judgment, and pursue your own inclination; so that it be but effectually and immediately done. You may perhaps think it convenient to call them together, and read over this letter to them; telling them at the conclusion, that you are in your conscience convinced there is reason in it which cannot be answered, and that therefore you are resolved to act agreeably to it. You may then proceed to read a portion of scripture, and to pray with them in such a manner as you may think most expedient. But in whatever manner it be done, you will remember, that it must be with reverence and solemnity, and with unfeigned fervour of devotion, as in the sight of the heart-searching God. And you will farther remember, that when once introduced, it must be resolutely and constantly carried on ; for to cast out this heavenly guest, will in some degree be more shameful, than not to admit it. But I hope, sweet experience of the pleasure of these duties will be instead of a thousand arguments, to engage your adherence to them. May God give you resolution immediately to make the attempt! and may he assist and accept you, and scatter down every desirable blessing of providence and of grace, on you and yours! So that this day, (for I hope it will be introduced this very day,) may become memorable in your lives, as a season from whence you may date a prosperity and a joy hitherto unknown, how happy soever you may have been in former years : For very imperfect, I am sure, must that domestic happiness be, in which domestic religion has no part.
How shall I congratulate myself, if in consequence of the representation and address I have now been making to you, I may be the blessed instrument in the divine hand of inspiring you with such a resolution! What an additional bond will then he added to our friendship, while God continues us together in life! Yea, what an everlasting bond of a nobler friendship, in a future state ; where it will be, before the throne of God, my joy to have given such admonitions as these, and yours faithfully and obediently to have received them.
But if after all you will not be persuaded, but will hearken to the voice of cowardice, and sloth, and irreligion, in defiance of so many awakening and affecting reasons, you must answer it at large. If your children and servants grow up in the neglect of God, and pierce your heart with those sorrows, which such servants, and especially such children, are like to occasion ; if they raise profane and profligate families ; if they prove the curse of their country, as well as the torment and ruin of those most intimately related to thein ; the guilt is in part yours, and
(I repeat it again,) you must answer it to God at the great day, that you have omitted the proper and appointed method of preventing such fatal evils. In the mean time, you must answer the omission to your own conscience ; which probably has not been easy in former days, and in future days may be yet more unquiet. Yes, Sir, the memory of this address may continue, to torment you, if it cannot reform you: And if you do not forsake the house of God, as well as exclude God and his worship from your own house, you will meet with new wounds ; for new exhortations and admonitions will arm reflection with new reproaches. And in this uncomfortable manner you will probably go on, till what has been the grief and shame of your life, become the affliction of your dying bed ; nor dare I presume to assure you, that God will answer your last cries for pardon. The best you can expect under the consciousness of this guilt is, to pass trembling to your final doom :
-But whatever that doom be, you must acquit your minister who has given you this faithful warning*; and this letter, transcribed as it were in the records of the divine omniscience, shall testify, that a matter of so great importance hath not been wholly neglected, hath not been coldly and slightly urged, by,
P. DODDRIDGE. Northampton, Dec. 20, 1749.
TO prevent, as far as possible, any objection which might arise from not having any proper form just at hand, I shall here subjoin two, which I will recommend to those who may happen not to be better provided. The first is indeed, (so far as I know,) pretty peculiar, being intended for a family into which prayer is just going to be introduced, after having been long neglected: The other is for morning or evening, with such proper variations to suit either as common sense will direct. And I desire it may be observed, that it may well be used as a directory to those, who do not chuse to use it as a form. And I apprehend, it may be most serviceable in this view; as my desire to reduce it within narrow limits, and yet to suggest as many thoughts as possible, hath obliged me to such conciseness of expression, that the ideas are varied faster than many capacities may conveniently admit. But I pray God to enlarge your heart, that you may expatiate upon these hints to your own edification, and that of all those that join with you.
* If this letter should be presented by any of my brethren in the ministry to any of their hearers, they may easily see, that this expression is applicable to them, as well as to those who may receive it from my hands,
A Prayer, which may be used as an Introduction to a stated
Course of Family Prayer, where it hath been formerly neglected.
OH most great and glorious God! When we consider thee, as the gracious author of all those mercies which we enjoy in our persons and in our family, we have great reason to humble ourselves before thee, that we have not more solemnly acknow. ledged that goodness, on which we have so long and so com. fortably subsisted. Justly mightest thou, Oh thou almighty Jehovah, have poured out thy fury upon those, that herein have acted as if they knew thee not, even upon this family which hath not called on thy name. But confessing and lamenting this our sinful and inexcusable neglect, we earnestly intreat thee through Jesus Christ to pardon it, and to accept and strengthen the resolution, which in dependence on thy grace we would now form to be for the future diligent in it, and to do all we can in our respective stations to encourage and support it.
And we intreat thee to bless those religious opportunities, which as a family we may enjoy. Enable us to hear thy word with due attention : Open our minds to all the instructions we receive from it, and bow our hearts to humble obedience.
Be favourably present with us, when we are offering our addresses to thy throne! While we are adoring thine infinite perfections, may we feel a reverent and joyful sense of them upon our hearts! While we confess our sins before thee, may we inwardly abhor them and mourn over them, and be inspired with firm resolutions, that we will never return to them any more, but will guard against every appearance of evil! Excite in our souls earnest desires after those spiritual blessings, which we ask at thine hands! May we intercede for others with fervent charity! May we acknowledge thy mercies with the most lively gratitude, and devote ourselves to thee with full purpose of heart !
And on the whole, may every one of us find the divine life growing and advancing in our souls by every opportunity of this nature; that we may rejoice in each other, and in thee; and that true religion being firmly established in our own hearts, may by our means be communicated to others, so far as our influence over them may extend ; till at length, having worshipped thee together in such institutions as these in an holy and acceptable manner, we may join that large and blessed family above, which is for ever reoicing in thy presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee, Oh Father, and thine Holy Spirit, be everlasting praises. Amen!
A Prayer for a Family, to be used either Morning or Evening,
with such Variations as may easily be understood by any who are able to read it.
Adoration.-Most great, eternal, and ever blessed God! We thine unworthy creatures desire at this time with all humility to bow ourselves down in thine awful and majestic presence, acknowledging thine infinite perfections and glories. -[We adore thee, as the first and the last, the greatest and the best of beings; who art originally and necessarily possessed of knowledge and power, wisdom and righteousness, holiness and truth, mercy and goodness, in degrees which no other being can conceive.]--We pay thee our bomage, as the author and support of universal nature, the Lord and life of the creation. We acknowledge ourselves thy creatures, whose bodies and souls have been formed by thine hand, and continually maintained and defended by thy care and favour.
Confession.—Most justly mightest thou therefore, Oh our heavenly Father, have expected from us the most constant gratitude, duty, and obedience: But we humbly confess before thee, (and we desire to do it with the deepest humiliation and shame, remorse and sorrow,) that we have been very much wanting in those returns ; yea, that we have all most grievously offended thee.-(We confess, Oh thou holy, holy, holy, Lord God, that we are polluted and guilty creatures, and so most unworthy and unfit to appear in thy presence. ]-We acknowledge, Oh Lord, that we were shapen in iniquity, and in sin did our mothers conceive us ; and that we have, from our very childhood, been renewing our provocations and transgressions in our thoughts, our words, and our actions; and all these attended with circumstances of high aggraration.—(We own and lament, Oh thou most gracious Sovereign, that we have in numberless instances, negligently, yea and presumptuously broken those wise and holy laws, which thou gavest us for our good; and that by the breach of them we have deserved thy righteous displeasure :) So that we might have been made ex. amples of justice, and spectacles of misery, to all thy rational creation.-(We might long since have been cut off from this pleasant abode which thy goodness has assigned us, and from all the comforts thou hast given us in it, and been sent down to everlasting darkness, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.]
Petition for pardon and grace in Christ.-But we humbly implore thy pardon and mercy in Christ Jesus our Lord, thine
only begotten and well beloved Son ; who hath by thine appointment, Oh compassionate Father, visited this world of ours, not only to give it the most excellent instructions, confirmed by the most astonishing miracles, and recommended by the most amiable example; but also to redeem us to God by his blood, and to offer up his own life a sacrifice for us.—[He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification: And as he is now ascended into heaven, there to make a prevailing intercession for all that come unto God through him,]--we presume to approach thy sacred presence with all becoming regards to him, humbly pleading that atoning blood which he shed on the cross, and that all-perfect merit and righteousness of his, by which alone sinners may draw near unto thee with acceptance. And we intreat thee for his sake, and in regard to our relation to him, fully and freely to forgive us all our num. berless transgressions, and to be graciously reconciled to us; yea, to take us, unworthy as we are, into the number of thy dear children. For his sake we also humbly intreat thee, to free us from the power of sin, as well as from its guilt. Shed down, Oh thou God of all grace, thine holy Spirit upon our hearts in a rich abundance, to inspire us with a hatred of every thing that is displeasing to thee, and to form us to a love of universal goodness, and a desire of making continual improvements in it!
[Fill us, Oh Lord, we humbly beseech thee, with a fervent love to thy blessed self? In all things may we be obedient to thine holy precepts, and submissive to thy wise and gracious disposal ! May we be united to Christ by a sincere faith, which shall work by love, and shew itself in keeping his commandments, as well as trusting his atonement, intercession, and grace! May we be always led by the holy Spirit of God, and cherish his influence on our hearts as the spirit of holiness and of love! To our brethren of mankind may we be strictly just, and affectionately kind, doing to others as we could reasonably desire they should do to us, and rejoicing in every opportunity of advancing their temporal or spiritual happiness !]
While we continue here in this uncertain world, give us, if it be thy blessed will, food to eat, and raiment to put on, health of body, and cheerfulness of mind, and whatever other enjoyments thou seest necessary to make our journey through life comfortable! But let us not have our portion on earth! May our hearts be more and more indifferent to it, and our views continually raised above it!--[May we learn to govern with strict authority our appetites and passions, and to deny ourselves wherever the precepts of thy gospel require it! On the whole, may every part of our conduct, in every relation and