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to insult and cry out,There, there! so would we have it :- —Not, perhaps, that we are so much the subject of malice and aversion, but that the licentious age seems bent upon bringing christianity into discredit at any rate; and, rather than miss the aim, would strike thro' the sides of those that are sent to teach it. -Thank GoD, the truth of our holy religion is established with such strong evidence, that it rests upon a foundation never to be overthrown, either by the open assaults, or cunning devices, of wicked and designing men. The part we have to act, is, to be steady, sober, and vigilant; to be ready to do every good work; to reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all long-suffering; to give occasion of offence to no man: That, with well-doing, we may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
I shall close all with that excellent collect of our church :
Blessed LORD, who hast caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning,-grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that, by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in thy Son, our SaviOUR JESUS CHRIST.
Now, to God the Father, &c.
PSALM xcv. 6, 7.
O come, let us worship and fall down before him :— For he is the LORD our GOD.
TN this psalm, we find holy David taken up with the pious contemplation of GoD's infinite power, majesty, and greatness :--He considers him as the soveriegn LORD of the whole earth, the maker and supporter of all things ;-that by him the heavens were created, and all the host of them; that the earth was wisely fashioned by his hands ; he had founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods : That we likewise, the people of his pasture, were raised up by the same creating hand, from nothing, to the dignity of rational creatures,-made, with respect to our reason and understanding, after his own most perfect image.
It was natural to imagine, that such a contemplation would light up a flame of devotion in any grateful man's breast; and accordingly, we find it break forth, in the words of the text, in a kind of religious rapture !
O come, let us worship and fall down before him :-For he is the LORD our GOD.
Sure, never exhortation to prayer and worship can be better enforced than upon this principle,that God is the cause and Creator of all things ;that each individual being is upheld in the station it was first placed, by the same hand which first formed it ;-that all the blessings and advantages, which are necessary to the happiness and welfare of beings on earth,are only to be derived from the same fountain ;-and that the only way to do it, is to secure an interest in his favor, by a grateful expression of our sense for the benefits we have received,and an humble dependence upon him for those we expect and stand in need of.-Whom
have we in heaven, says the psalmist, but thee, O GOD, to look unto, or depend on ?-to whom shall we pour out our complaints, and speak of all our wants and necessities, but to thy goodness, which is ever willing to confer upon us whatever becomes us to ask, and thee to grant ?-because thou hast promised to be nigh unto all that call upon theeyea,unto all such as call upon thee faithfully;—that thou wilt fulfil the desire of them that fear thee, that thou wilt also hear their cry, and help them.
Of all duties, prayer certainly is the sweetest and most easy.There are some duties which may seem to occasion a troublesome opposition to the natural workings of flesh and blood ;-such as the forgiveness of injuries, and the love of our enemies :- -Others, which will force us unavoidably into a perpetual struggle with our passions, which war against the soul;such as, chastity,temperance,humility.There are other virtues, which seem to bid us forget our present interest for a while,such as charity and generosity ;- -others that teach us to forget it at all times, and wholly to fix our affections on things above, and in no circumstance to act like men that look for a continuing city here, but upon one to come, whose builder and maker is GOD. But this duty of prayer and thanksgiving to GOD -has no such oppositions to encounter; it takes no bullock out of thy field,—no horse out of thy stable,―ner he-goat out of thy fold; -it costeth no weariness of bones, no untimely watchings it requireth no strength of parts, or painful study, but just to know and have a true sense of our dependance, and of the mercies by which we are upheld :- -And, with this, in every place and posture of body, a good man may lift up his soul unto the LORD his GOD.
Indeed, as to the frequency of putting this duty formally in practice, as the precept must ne
cessarily have varied according to the different stations in which GOD has placed us ;-so he has been pleased to determine nothing precisely concerning it ;-for, perhaps, it would be unreasonable to expect, that the day-laborer, or he that supports a numerous family by the sweat of his brow, shoull spend as much of his time in devotion, as the man of leisure and unbounded wealth. -This, however, in the general, may hold good, that we are bound to pay this tribute to GOD, as often as his providence has put an opportunity into our hands of so doing ;-provided that no plea, drawn from the necessary attention to the affairs of the world, which many men's situations oblige them to, may be supposed to extend to an exemption from paying their morning and evening sacrifice to GoD. For it seems to be the least that can be done to answer the demand of our duty in this point-successively to open and shut up the day in prayer and thanksgiving ;- -since there is not a morning thou risest, or a night thou liest down, but thou art indebted for it to the watchful providence of Alinighty GoD.-David and Daniel, whose names are recorded in scripture for future example :-The first, though a mighty king, embarrassed with wars abroad, and unnatural disturbances at home; a situation, one would think, would allow little time for any thing but his own and his kingdom's safety ;-yet found he leisure to pray seven times a day :-The latter, the counsellor and first minister of state to the great Nebuchadnezzar; and, though perpetually fatigued with the affairs of a mighty kingdom, and the government of the whole province of Babylon, which was committed to his administration ;though near the person of an idolatrous king, and amidst the temptations of a luxurious court,yet never neglected he his God; but, as we read, he kneeled upon his knees ree times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before him.
A frequent correspondence with heaven, by prayer and devotion, is the greatest nourishment and support of spiritual life :-It keeps the sense of a GOD warm and lively within us,- -which secures our disposition, and sets such guards over us, that hardly will a temptation prevail against us. Who can entertain a base or an impure thought, or think of executing it, who is incessantly conversing with his GoD ?- or not despise every temptation this lower world can offer him, when, by his constant addresses before the throne of GOD's majesty, he brings the glorious prospect of heaven perpetually before his eyes?
I cannot help here taking notice of the doctrine of those who would resolve all devotion in the inner man, and think that there is nothing more requisite to express our reverence to GOD, but purity and integrity of heart,-unaccompanied either with words or actions.-To this opinion, it may be justly answered-That,in the present state we are in,we find such a strong sympathy and union between our souls and bodies,that the one cannot be touched, or sensibly affected, without producing some corresponding emotion in the other.-Nature has assigned a different look, tone of voice, and gesture, peculiar to every passion and affection we are subject to; and therefore, to argue against this strict correspondence which is held between our souls and bodies;- -is disputing against the frame and mechanism of human nature. We are not angels, but men clothed with bodies, and, in some measure, so governed by our imaginations, that we have need of all these external helps which nature has made the interpreters of our thoughts.-And, no doubt, tho' a virtuous and good life is more acceptable in the sight of GOD, than either prayer or thanksgiving, -for, behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams ;-nevertheless, VOL. III M m