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common prayer: it may either be performed with a degree of public solemnity, under the guidance of a minister duly appointed for that purpose; or in the more limited, but distinct and well-defined circle of family and household, under the superintendence and direction of its head. Every man ought to consider himself as a member of that church in whose bosom he has been brought up; and also as the minister and steward of the church in his own house. And it is his own fault, and let me add, his folly, if the church in his house be not made a lively and genuine part of that branch of Christ's holy catholic church, to which he himself belongs.
"The laws of God, and in many cases those of the land, make every head of a family answerable for the conduct of his household, so far as he has the means of watching and controlling it; and it is unreasonable to suppose, that the responsibleness which is attached to him in things of inferior moment, should lose its force in the most important object of all, the religious principles and conduct of his children and servants. There is a certain legitimate authority vested in every master of a family, the proper exercise of which is a duty which he owes to society and to God: it is sanctioned not only by the enactments of human laws, but by the most express directions of the inspired preachers of the Gospel. This duty assumes a more sacred complexion, when it is considered as affording him the means of promoting the growth of true religion, and forwarding the salvation of souls. A heavy load of guilt lies on that Christian, be his station what it may, who suffers a soul to perish by his wilful neglect : and our religious duties are so intimately and inseparably blended with the relations of social and domestic life, that it is impossible for us to fulfil the latter, as we ought, without some consideration of the effects which our conduct may produce upon the religious state of those with whom we are connected. He that provideth not for his own, says the apostle, and especially for those of his own house, hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Surely if this be true of a provision for the bodily wants of those who depend upon us for support, it cannot be less applicable to their spiritual necessities, to all their means and opportunities of religious improvement.
"With regard to our children, I need not say a word, to prove the obligation which binds us to bring them up, by every possible means, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; to form them to early habits of piety and devotion; to make them betimes acquainted with God. If we know what religion is ourselves, our natural affection will inspire us with an earnest wish to make our children walk in her ways. With regard to our servants; as we look to them for honesty, sobriety, diligence, and gratitude, it is our duty to set before them the only motives which can effectually influence them to the exercise of these virtues; to make them, as far as we can, sincere and serious Christians; and to lay the foundations of obedience in faith and piety. There are no other ties, which can be relied upon to bind the consciences of men, than those which are supplied by religion; and if we are deceived and wronged by those, whom we have never taught to respect the only certain inducements to truth
and honesty, a great part of the blame will surely rest upon ourselves." P. 12.
"By family religion, I mean chiefly family prayers; for it is in the exercises of devotion that the religion of a family will shew itself. To prove the expediency, at least, of such a practice, it is not necessary for us to produce an express command of Scripture. It is enough to know, that it is the most effectual means of keeping alive a spirit of piety and consideration in those, who are bound together by ties which the Gospel recognizes: it is enough to know, that the use or the neglect of it may, nay, that it must make a very serious difference in the religious knowledge, principles, and habits of our children and servants; not to say of ourselves. It was said by one of the wisest and least enthusiastic of preachers,* speaking of family prayer; This is so necessary to keep alive and to maintain a sense of God and religion in the minds of men, that where it is neglected, I do not see how any family can in reason be esteemed a family of Christians, or, indeed, to have any religion at all.' I do not know that I could go so far as this: but of one thing I am certain; that where this duty is neglected in a family, its members are not such good Christians as they might be, nor consequently as God requires them to be; neither so well prepared for taking an edifying part in the public worship of the Lord's day, nor for discharging the ordinary duties of life." P. 17.
"I am persuaded that amongst those who now hear me, there is not a single father or master of a family, who does not acknowledge the justice of these remarks; who is not sensible of the advantages which must result from the use of family prayer. But I fear there are too many who altogether neglect it. And yet if I were to ask them why they neglect it? they could scarcely give me such an answer as would satisfy their own consciences. In many cases, I believe, it proceeds from a false shame; a fear of being supposed to think more about religion than other people; a dread of singularity. Now if this pious practice were as general as it ought to be, these objections, unworthy of a Christian in any case, would cease to exist altogether. It was formerly considered in this country to be a regular branch of religious duty; and God grant that we may see it again estimated and observed as it ought to be.
"Remember what an encouragement we have to the performance of this duty, (and to the Christian such an encouragement carries the weight of a command), in that gracious promise of the Saviour, Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. The spirit of supplication ensures the presence of the Lord Jesus himself; and where He is, there will be wisdom, holiness, and peace. And if into such a family, there should come a stranger, who is wanting in seriousness and devotion, he will, in all
*Archbishop Tillotson. "Let no man," says the Author of the Whole Duty of Man," that professes himself a Christian, keep so heathenish a family, as not to see that God be daily worshipped in it."
likelihood, be touched to the heart by the piety and good order of its inmates, and so falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in them of a truth. But if, after all, the benefits of family devotion should be less striking within the circle of our own experience, than we have reason to expect, we shall at least have the satisfaction of reflecting, that no part of the misconduct of our household will be attributable to our own neglect a reflection which can never be a source of comfort to him, who has omitted this most reasonable and promising of all the methods, by which his children and servants might have been preserved in the faith and fear of God." P. 20.
The sermon preached at Chester, before the mayor and corporation of that city, differs in many particulars from that which we have already considered. It issued from a higher authority, and it takes a wider scope; but the characteristic feature is that distinctness and simplicity of which the reader has already seen such exquisite specimens. The occasion of the discourse is thus stated in the preface:
"The following discourse was intended, not so much for an elaborate argument, `a `as for an earnest enforcement of the duty of mutual submission, upon a principle peculiar to Christians. Having, during the short period of my residence in this city, witnessed the lamentable prevalence of drunkenness amongst the poorer classes of its inhabitants; the open and scandalous profanation of the Lord's day; the disregard of civil authority; and, on one occasion, the most intemperate, lawless, and tumultuous conduct of thousands of the citizens; I felt it to be my duty to embrace the first opportunity which presented itself, of exhorting both magistrates and people to remember the relation in which they stand to one another, as members of a christian community." Pref. p. i.
"As good citizens, then, and as faithful Christians, let the respectable inhabitants of this place lend their aid to the efforts of the municipal authorities, to check and repress the growth of profaneness and profligacy, too notorious to be denied. Let fathers, and masters of families, exercise a proper control over their children, their apprentices, and servants; and prevent them from converting the streets and public passages of this city, into haunts of idleness and immorality, the schools of sabbath-breaking, drunkenness, and riot. Let them, as far as their opportunities may permit, take care to make their own families so many seminaries of religious principles, of pious and orderly conduct. So will the streams, which are now but too impure, be cleansed and sweetened at the fountain-head, and diffuse peace, and good order, and prosperity, where now are to be seen tumult, and strife, and the progress of decay." Pref. p. iii.
The sermon is written in the same vigorous strain. "When as Christians we speak of the fear of God, we mean that awful sense of our relation to him, which comprehends a dread of
offending him, a heartfelt sense of his exceeding mercy, and of our own demerits, and an earnest desire to be saved from his wrath: and this, when it has once taken possession of the heart, is so overpowering a sentiment, that it leaves no room for those little feelings of pride and anger which prompt the carnal man to spurn at every salutary restraint. Men who are properly impressed with a sense of their own unworthiness, and of the transcendent importance and difficulty of the work which they have to do, as servants of God and disciples of Jesus Christ, will not be much disposed to think highly of themselves, in comparison with their neighbours; or to be restless and dissatisfied under the rule and authority of those whom the common Lord of all has placed over them in this transitory state." P. 5.
"It appears then, that if we would effectually inculcate upon the different orders of society the duty of mutual kindness and submis ́sion, a foundation must first be laid in the true Christian principle of humility. The external aud accidental advantages of rank and power 'may command the outward tokens of respect; the strong arm of the law may coerce the violence of the ungodly, and enforce a reluctant submission; but the genuine spirit of obedience and subordination can only there subsist, where the spirit of Jesus Christ has prepared the heart to be the habitation of gentle and holy thoughts, and the fountain of meek, and kind, and charitable words and deeds." P. 11.
"These are the grounds upon which I would enforce the duty of a conscientious and sincere submission to the authority of the civil magistrate; these are the motives which will effectually constrain the genuine disciples of Jesus Christ to submit themselves one to another in the fear of God. These too, or such as these, are the reflections which ought frequently to occupy the thoughts of those whom the constitution of their country places in the seat of authority, and invests them with dignity and power, for the purpose of maintaining the good order and quiet of society. Where the Christian principle of quietness is unhappily wanting, it is theirs to enforce obedience by temporal motives. They cannot command the thoughts and affections of men, but they may control the excesses of their conduct: and where the preacher of righteousness is as little attended to as in the days when the flood came upon the earth, the magistrate may speak in the more persuasive language of the law. And what may be done, to aid the cause of religion and virtue, by the Christian magistrate must be done : he is clothed with a power ordained from above, for the express purpose of restraining ungodly men from the commission of offences, not more injurious to the public than hurtful to their own souls. He is the minister of God to thee for good. If thou do that which is evil, be afraid: for he is the minister of God, 4 revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.*
Rom. xiii. 4.
"A most important, a most awful truth is that, which the Apostle twice repeats, that the magistrate is the minister of God; his constituted and responsible minister, in things pertaining to the civil conduct of mankind; as the appointed teachers of the Gospel are in spiritual matters. He is bound, by the very tenure of his office, to repress and chastise unchristian conduct, when it breaks down the fences of the law and even where it keeps within the strict pale of legal delinquency, and yet offends against the rules of piety and charity, it is still his duty to discourage and restrain it by the authority of his advice and example. It is in his capacity of God's minister to men for good, that the Church offers up her solemn prayers in his behalf, and entreats of God, That it may please him to bless and keep the magistrates, giving them grace, to execute justice, and to
"Nor can I picture to myself a character more deserving of the esteem and regard of men, than that of the upright and religious administrator of the laws, who feels it to be his sacred duty to promote the cause of piety and godliness, both by his own example, and by a diligent and watchful enforcement of those temporal sanctions, which the natural infirmity of man has rendered necessary, in aid of the eternal obligations of religion, Such a person, conscious that he has never, from partiality or fear, or a respect of persons, nor from supineness, nor from that paralyzing spirit of indifference which careth for none of these things, abused his sacred trust, nor forgotten his duty as a guardian of the public morals, may take to himself that praise which is interposed in Scripture amongst the commendations of charity, I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.'*"
"These reflexions are addressed both to those who govern, and to those who are to be governed, as to members of a christian community, the common disciples of one Lord, the common children of one Father; who must one day stand together before the judgment seat of Christ, to receive the things done in the body-without respect of persons." + P. 14.
This solemn admonition commands an attentive hearing. The preacher does not waste his strength upon trifling or doubtful topics; but recommends devotion, and rebukes wickedness, in terms to which every Christian must assent. No better way can be devised for promoting that great cause in which he is so happily engaged; and while his discourses abound with plain truths upon plain subjects, the Manual of Prayer which he has compiled, may prove essentially serviceable to those who are awakened by his exhortation, or convinced by his reasoning. We conclude by recommending it heartily to our readers.