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expense, and the Lord Jesus Christ has ordained, that they who preach the gospel, should live of the gospel.* Love to God, and divine institutions, and a regard for the honour of Christ, will open the heart of a christian; and he will be ready to contribute liberally for the support of the gospel, and will much rather retrench his expenses in other things, than fall short of his duty in this, which he will consider as a privilege, rather than a burden. And it is the duty of every christian, to make all those exertions, and be at all the expense, which may be necessary to spread and propagate the gospel, to those who have not enjoyed it, according to his opportunity, capacity and ability, to promote such an important design.
5. A serious, pious manner of conversation, which is the proper effect and expression of a belief of the great truths of christianity, and a sense of their importance and excellence; being ready to speak and hear of the things of religion on all proper occasions; speaking of God, his works, and ways, and institutions, and the things of the invisible, eternal world, as being realities, and with becoming reverence and solemnity; and care"Let no fully avoiding all vain, trifling conversation. corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."t
6. The christian ought to give great and constant attention to his Bible, reading and studying it daily, that he may know what is the will of God there revealed, and understand the important truths it contains, and that they may be more and more impressed on his mind, and be plain and familiar to him." His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night." And he will be disposed to improve all the advantages and helps which are in his reach to understand the scriptures, and make advances in divine knowledge, both by reading the writings of those who have explained the scriptures, and inculcated the doctrines and duties of christianity; and by conversation with those from whom he may hope to get instruction. In this, and in his devotions, he spends all the time † Eph. iv. 29.
1 Cor. ix. 14.
+ Psal. 1. 2.
which can be spared from his particular worldly business and calling, and for which the Sabbath gives him special advantages.
7. The pious education of children, and of all who are under his care, is a duty comprehended in the practice of piety. This consists in family government, and giving them religious instruction, at all proper opportunities, and in advising, exhorting and admonishing them respecting their religious exercises and conduct. This was strictly enjoined on the children of Israel, as has been particularly observed in a former chapter; and is implied in St. Paul's direction to christian parents to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
8. Prayer, or devotion, is a great and important branch of christian exercise and practice, and is the constant employ of a pious heart, and essential to true christianity. This comprehends, adoration, confession, petition, thanksgiving and praise; of all which God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is the immediate object Adoration consists in thinking and speaking of the divine perfections, character and works, in devout addresses to Him. And as this is to be done with veneration, and a sense and acknowledgment of the divine worthiness, excellence, and glory, consisting and appearing in these, which is praise: Therefore, adoration and praise are not to be distinguished, so as to be considered distinct and separate from each other. Confession consists in an acknowledgment made to God of our sins, unworthiness, guilt and misery; and of our absolute dependance on God for every good. And profession may be considered as implied in this, of repentance, and dependance on God for pardon and all the good we want, in a belief and approbation of the truths contained in divine revelation. Petition, is making request to God, and asking for the good things which we want and desire for ourselves, or others, or for any good which appears to us desirable, and not contrary to the revealed will of God to grant or do. Which petitions are always to be made with an unreserved, absolute resignation to the will of God. Thanksgiving consists in expressing our gratitude to God, for all the expressions
and exercises of his benevolence, which come within our view For benevolence or goodness expressed is the only object or ground of true gratitude, wherever it appears, and whoever be the subjects of it; and however it may be abused and perverted by individuals, and turned into the greatest evil to them.
Prayer, taken in this large sense, as comprehending all this, even the whole that is implied in addressing God and holding intercourse with him, in secret, private or public, is much spoken of in scripture, and recommended by many precepts, and examples of pious men, and of Jesus Christ himself. He spake a parable to show, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint, and to encourage them to do it.* And we are commanded, in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, to let our requests be made known to God. "To pray without ceasing: To pray always, with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, watching thereunto with all perseverance." And the greatest motives and encouragement to prayer that are possible, are exhibited in divine revelation, both by precept, example and promises; of which every one must be sensible who is well acquainted with the Bible. It is therefore thought needless to go into particulars to prove or illustrate this.
The christian is always near the throne of grace. God represents his ear as always open to the cry of them who look to him, and trust in him. The Mediator has opened the way of access to God, for sinners, and bid them ask all good things in his name; and promises that they shall be heard, and have their petitions granted. Therefore, we may have free access to God, on all occasions, and at all times, and we may pray always, with all prayer; and this is both the duty and interest of a christian. Wherever he is, whatever be his circumstances and business, his heart may rise to God in any part of devotion, petition, thanksgiving, praise, &c. in desultory ejaculations, and he pour out his heart before God, in groanings which cannot be uttered in words. With this sort of prayer, every christian is acquainted; Luke xviii. 1, &c,
and the higher he rises in the exercise of christianity, the more he practises it.
Set times of secret prayer, also, come into the practice of a christian; when he retires from the world, and out of the sight of men, and summonses his heart to attention to the worship of God in secret. Of this particular kind of prayer, Christ speaks in the following words: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."* It is plain, that Christ speaks here of personal prayer, in distinction from that which is social. No christian can live comfortably or as he ought, without the daily practice of this sort of prayer. It is suited to keep religion alive in his heart. He has many wants and particular concerns between God and his soul, which cannot be expressed in social worship, which it is highly proper and greatly beneficial for him to express before God in secret, where he may do it with unrestrained freedom.
Social prayer is also a duty, in which christians join with each other in worshipping God, in a greater or less number, more publicly or less, according to their particular connections, and special occasions. It is highly proper, and greatly beneficial, that each family should practise social worship together, and as a family daily, and in a constant, uninterrupted course. They have many family wants, mercies and afflictions, which are changing, and may be renewed from day to day, and which call for particular acknowledgment, confessions and petitions, which cannot be so properly made in any other way, but by the family uniting together, morning and evening, in social worship. And this, when properly practised, tends to keep up a view and sense of the things of religion, in the members of the family, and to solemnize and quicken all of them. And it cannot be conceived how parents and heads of families can properly educate their children, and those of whom they have the care, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and treat them in the best manner that tends to form them to piety and religion, if they do not pray daily with
• Matt. vi.
them and for them, in this social way; joining the serious reading of the scriptures with their devotions.*
A number of instances of our Saviour's praying with his disciples, which were his family, are mentioned; and there is no reason to think these were the only instances; but they are so related, that it is reasonable to conclude, that this was his constant practice. The Apostle Paul, when he presents salutation to christians, frequently mentions and salutes the churches in their houses, by which he means the members of christian families. They are little churches, when they unite in daily worship, and reading the holy scriptures; and proper instruction, order and discipline are maintained: And are little nurseries, from whence more large and extensive churches are supplied and supported. But the families, in which there is no religious worship practised, make a contrary appearance, and have a contrary tendency, even to demolish the church and root out religion; and are too commonly the places of irreligion and vice.
It is also agreeable to the nature and dictates of the christian religion, that persons of different ages and sexes, should unite and form themselves into different societies, and meet together at times and places upon which they shall agree, as most convenient for prayer and religious conversation, or reading the word of God, or books suited to instruct and excite them to their duty. This tends to promote religion, to keep up a sense of it on the
Devout singing in families seems to be a proper part of family worship. It has been, and now is, practised by many devout families. Christians are directed to sing psalms and hymns; and they doubtless did it in their families, as well as more publicly. They taught and admonished one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in their hearts to the Lord. Col. iii. 16. Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God, when only they two worshipped together in prison, Where this is wholly neglected in families, their worship appears to be defective. And doubtless, when religion shall appear in the true spirit and lustre of it in families, singing in a sweet, harmonious manner, will be one part of their daily worship. It is owing to a defect in the education of children, that they are not all taught to sing when young. If proper attention were paid to this, there would be but few, if any, unable to sing so as to add to the music and harmony. And children would be trained up in families, so as to be able to join with others in this part of public worship, and render it more universal, beautiful and melodious, and more becoming a christian, worshipping assembly. In the millennium, children will sing Hosannas to the Son of David, not only in public, but in families, when all will join with one heart, and one mouth, to sing praises unto God.
† Luke ix, 18, 28. xi. 1.