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made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore à have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever. This, in a peculiar manner, is that iniquity of the fathers, which, an of. fended God, visits upon their children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him.(x). When their fathers are impious, neglect their education, and set them evil examples, they cause them to become, as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation. Their father's sins become the very sins of their children, and so it proceeds from one generation to another : and because of their sins, God withholds his spirit and grace from, and his wrath comes on such children of impiety and disobedience, for many successive ages. How ought ye all therefore to fear and tremble at this sin ?
But how can you avoid this guilt, and escape the eternal ex. ecration of your own dear offspring, and
of ages to come ? How will you instruct and educate them for God, while you neglect to pray with them and for them ! is not prayer a very essential part of family religion? Can there be any true religion, or christianity without it? Are not prayerless families rather hea. then, than christian families ? Families of heathen under the light of the gospel ? Archbishop Tillotson, in his sermons on family religion, speaking of daily prayers to God, morning and evening, and of reading the scripture at the same time, says, “ Where it is neglected, I do not see how any family cas in reason be esteemed a family of christians, or indeed to have any religion at all." Prayer is an important part of that worship and religion which God requires of you and of your children. It is an important part of that religion, which ye are bound to teach them. It is one of the most solemn and impressive of all means of instruction. In this we acknowledge the being, greate ness, infinite perfections, dominion, and consummate blessed. ness of God. We confess our sin and misery, ask pardon in the name of Jesus Christ, as the Lord our righteousness. We acknowledge the mercies of God, our dependence on bim, and recognize the principal doctrines and duties of our holy religion. How is it possible to teach so many, and such momena tous things, in any other way, so solemnly, and to such advan. tage? Is there any thing which is calculated so deeply to impress the minds of vour children and domestics with a sense of the reality of the divine existence, of an universal Providence, of their fallen miserable condition, of their need of a Saviourg that Jesus is the Christ, and that there is salvation in no other, as this? What else is so calculated to fix in their minds a sense of the reality and importance of religion? What can so convince them of your concern for their souls and bodies, as your reading the scriptures to them, and praying affectionately for them, and
(*) Exod. xx. 5.
with them? What other method can so effectually teach them to pray, and engage them in the habit of prayer ?
Further, family prayer gives great dignity and importance to heads of families, in their own houses ; and gives an additional weight and infuence to all their instructions, counsels and reproofs. It gives weight to their authority, and is an impor. tant mean of order and decency in families. Every head of a family is a king and priest in his own house. Precious souls are committed to his care, and he is by God's appointment to instruct and govern them for him, and to offer their prayers and praises to him, and to be a continual intercessor for them. A inost solemn charge is committed to him ; the charge of souls, and he must account for them. He needs continual grace and influence to discharge his high trust, and that he may render his account with joy, saying, Here am I and the children thou hast graciously given me. Prayer is an appointed mean of obtaining all needed grace and wisdom, and does much to qualify heads * of families for the arduous duties to which God in his providence, has appointed them. Their reading and praying with their families, as their religious head, at once fills their families with veneration and esteem, and gives them a commanding superiority over them. It greatly assists and strengthens them in the government of their families, in restraining them from sin, and in engaging them in the practice of piety and righteousness. Continual family prayer, at the same time, will have a direct and powerful tevidency to secure the blessing of God on all your instructions and labours, in bringing them up for him. This will also give a consistency to your conduct. But how can ye expect his blessing on yourselves, your instructions, or your children, while ye neglect to ask it? What consistency, or sincerity, will there appear to be in your religious instructions and counsels to them, while ye cast off fear, restrain prayer, and neglect reli. gion yourselves? Will not your neglect teach them not to pray, weaken your authority and influence, and render all your reli. gious instructions, counsels and warnings of little or no weight with them? Will you not more than unteach by your example, all you attempt to teach by precept? Of what immense impore tance, in these vicws, is family prayer and religion ? Besides, do not all the commands of God, which enjoin love to him, and mankind, a regard to his honor, to the prosperity of Zion, or. the good of men, bind you indispensably to this duty ? Most certainly they do, since your own comfort and salvation, the peace, order, and happiness of your families, the usefulness, honour and salvation of your children, the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom, are deeply concerned in it.
It may further be observed, that family prayer may be urged upon the same principles that any social or public worship can be. If the perfections of God, his creating goodness and counts
less mercies ; if our dependence on him, our guilty helpless condition and need of his help; if the honour of God, our own edification and comfort, or the instruction and edification of others render public worship a duty, they all equally bind mei to the worship of God in their families. If the examples of the saints, and of our blessed Lord, teach the one, they also teach the other.
Indeed the common sense and feelings of mankind teach them that when a family or community have offended a prince or benefactor, jointly, by the head of the family or some other person in their name, to confess their faults and seek reconciliation. When Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon, they came with one accord to him, and having made Blastus, the king's chamberlain, their friend, desired peace ; because their country was nourished by the king's country.(y) When families, or particular communities, have received rich and repeated favors from a prince, or some noble benefactor, their natural feelings and good sense teach them to acknowledge such favors. How much more do they teach families to confess their faults, and seek reconciliation to God, and to bless him for his countless mercies ? Is he the only being to whom guilty, dependent families are not obliged to confess their faults? With whom they are under no obligations to be reconciled ? And to whom they are not bound to give thanks for all his benefits? An appeal is made to your reason and conscience. Let them seriously determine the point.
PRAYING always with all prayer, comprises all public prayer in the house of God, and in the assemblies of his people, wherever they may be convened. It implies your being instant in season and out of season, to offer your prayers and praises to God, and to supplicate his mercies, as well as to hear his word: and that you, by no means neglect the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is.(2) God has commanded his ministers to preach the word, to be instant in season and out of season ;(a) and this implies the duty of the people constantly to attend to offer their public prayers and praises to God, and bear the word dispensed. Whenever it is the duty of ministers to pray and preach in public, it is the duty of the people to hear. Public social worship has been sanctioned by divine institution, and the example of the saints from the commencement of the Jewish and christian churches unto the present time. Good men have always been remarkable for their love to the house of God, and attendance on the public worship. This was the language of David and the pious Jews, One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.(b) How amiable are thy tabo
(y) Acts xii. 20. (2) Heb. x: 25. (a) 2 Tim. iv. 24. (b) Psalm Xxvii. 4.
nasles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteté
lxxxiv. 1, 2, 5, 10. (d) Psalmi cxxii. 2. (e) Isaiah ii. 2, 3. and Micah iv. 1, 2. (f) Zech. viii. 20, 21, 22. (8) Luke xxiv. 53. (h) Acts ii. 42, 46. (i) Psalm lxix. 9.
rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain, there shall be the plague wherewith the Lord shall smite the heathen, that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. With what constancy, zeal and devotion should all go to pray before the Lord ? How should every one resolve, I will go also?
Praying always with all prayer and supplications, as the divine precept enjoins, comprises ejaculatory prayer; or an offering up of short mental petitions and praises to God, as occasions may require : when journeying or labouring, when sitting or walking. They may be offered at all times, and in all places. This is a constant recollection, that we are in the presence of God; and it greatly contributes to keep us always in his fear. Many are the examples of it in the scriptures, especially in the Psalms. I am persuaded that all persons, who have attained to any considerable degree of piety have been much exercised in this kind of prayer. They will rarely close their eyes in the evening, or open them in the morning without it. Immediate dangers, temptations, unexpected mercies, or deliverances, will engage the soul in short prayers and praises. Prayer is the very breath of the christian's heart, by which he maintains a constant course of communion with God. His eyes, like David's, are ever towards the Lord.(j)
In a word, praying always with all prayer and supplication, includes the acknowledgment of God at your tables. Our di vine Master has taught us to pray, give us this day our daily bread; and by his example, to ask his blessing in the participation of it. It is also expressly commanded, that we should give thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.(k) This is that life of prayer which all true christians live. They not only pray with all prayer and supplication, with all perseverance therein, but they pray in the spirit, worshipping the Father, in spirit and in truth. They are all the seed of Jacob, and know how to wrestle with God in prayer. They have all the spirit of Christ, and delight in drawing near to God. Because they are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Futher.(1). This is that life of prayer which the scriptures enjoin, which the examples of the saints, and the perfect example our our Saviour recommend. It is that life which every good man desires and determines, by the grace of God, to live, and which is most earnestly recommended to you, and to all persons to whom this address shall come.
To engage you in such a pious and happy life, ye are most seriously intreated to contemplate, not only the commands, but the example of Christ, and the resolutions and examples of the saints. As for me, saith the Psalmist, I will call upon God: eve(j) Psalm xxv. 15. (k) Eph. v. 20. (1) Gal. iy. 6.