Imatges de pÓgina

prayed the third time, faying the fame words." "For this thing I befought the Lord thrice, that "it might depart from me." Luke xviii. 1. Matt. xxvi. 44. 2 Cor. xii. 8.*

* The reformed churches of Christendom, fticking clofe in this article to their guide, have laid afide prayers for the dead, as authorized by no precept or precedent found in fcripture. For the fame reason they properly reject the invocation of faints; as also because such invocations fuppofe in the faints whom they addrefs a knowledge which can perceive what paffes in different regions of he earth at the fame time. And they deem it too much to take for granted, without the fmalleft intimation of fuch a thing in fcripture, that any created being poffeffes a faculty little fhort of that omniscience and omniprefence which they afcribe to the Deity.





ONCERNING these three descriptions of devotion, it is first of all to be obferved, that each has its feparate and peculiar ufe; and therefore, that the exercife of one fpecies of worship, however regular it be, does not fuperfede, or difpenfe with the obligation of, either of the other two.

I. Private prayer is recommended for the fake of the following advantages:

Private wants cannot always be made the fubjects of public prayer; but whatever reafon there is for praying at all, there is the fame for making the fore and grief of each man's own heart the business of his application to God. This must be the office of private exercises of devotion, being imperfectly, if at all, practicable in any other.

Private prayer is generally more devout and earnest than the hare we are capable of tak

ing in joint acts of worship; because it affords leifure and opportunity for the circumftantial recollection of thofe perfonal wants, by the remembrance and ideas of which, the warmth and earneftness of prayer are chiefly excited.

Private prayer, in proportion as it is usually accompanied with more actual thought and reflection of the petitioner's own, has a greater tendency than other modes of devotion to revive and faften upon the mind the general impreffions of religion. Solitude powerfully affifts this effect. When a man finds himself alone in communication with his Creator, his imagination becomes filled with a conflux of awful ideas concerning the univerfal agency, and invisible prefence, of that Being; concerning what is likely to become of himself; and of the fuperlative importance of providing for the happiness of his future exiftence, by endeavours to please him, who is the arbiter of his destiny: reflections, which, whenever they gain admittance, for a season overwhelm all others; and leave, when they depart, a folemnity upon the thoughts that will feldom fail, in fome degree, to affect the conduct of life.

Private prayer, thus recommended by its own propriety, and by advantages not attainable in




any form of religious communion, receives a fuperior fanction from the authority and example of Christ. "When thou prayeft, enter into thy "clofet; and when thou haft fhut the door,

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pray to thy Father which is in fecret; and thy "Father, which feeth in secret, fhall reward thee openly."-" And when he had fent the mul❝titudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray."-Matt. vi. 6. xiv. 23. II. Family prayer.

The peculiar ufe of family piety confifts in its influence upon fervants, and the young members of a family, who want fufficient ferioufnefs and reflection to retire of their own accord to the exercise of private devotion, and whofe attention you cannot eafily command in public worship. The example also and authority of a father and mafter act in this way with the greatest force; for his private prayers, to which his children and fervants are not witneffes, act not at all upon them as examples; and his attendance upon public worship they will readily impute to fashion, to a care to preferve appearances, to a concern for decency and character, and to many motives beside a fenfe of duty to God. Add to this, that forms of public worfhip, in proportion as they are more comprehenfive,

henfive, are always lefs interefting than family prayers; and that the ardour of devotion is better fupported, and the fympathy more easily propagated, through a small aflembly connected by the affections of domestic society, than in the prefence of a mixed congregation.

III. Public worship.

If the worship of God be a duty of religion, public worship is a neceffary inftitution; forafmuch as, without it, the greater part of mankind would exercise no religious worship at all.

Thefe affemblies afford alfo, at the fame time, opportunities for moral and religious inftruction to those who otherwife would receive none. In all proteftant, and in moft Chriftian countries, the elements of natural religion, and the important parts of the evangelic hiftory, are familiar to the lowest of the people. This competent degree and general diffufion of religious knowledge amongst all orders of Chriftians, which will appear a great thing when compared with the intellectual condition of barbarous nations, can fairly, I think, be afcribed to no other cause, than the regular establishment of affemblies for divine worship; in which, either portions of fcripture are recited and explained, or the principles of Chriftian erudition are fo constantly

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