Imatges de pàgina

prayed the third time, saying the same words.“ For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that “ it might depart from me.” Luke xviii. 1. Matt. xxvi. 44. 2 Cor. xii. 5.*

* The reformed churches of Christendom, sticking close in this article to their guide, have laid abide prayers for the dead, as authorized by no precept or precedent found in fcripture. For the same reason they properly reject the invocation of saints ; as also because such invocations suppose in the saints whom they address a knowledge which can perceive what passes in different regions of he earth at the same time. And they deem it too much to take for granted, without the smallest intimation of such a thing in scripture, that any created being poffefses a faculty little short of that omniscience and omnipresence which they ascribe to the Deity,






ONCERNING these three descriptions

of devotion, it is first of all to be observed, that each has its separate and peculiar use; and therefore, that the exercise of one species of worship, however regular it be, does not supersede, or dispense with the obligation of, either of the other two.

1. Private prayer is recommended for the sako of the following advantages :

Private wants cannot always be made the subjects of public prayer; but whatever reason there is for praying at all, there is the same 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 fhare we are capable of tako

ing in joint acts of worship; because it affords leisure and opportunity for the circumstantial recollection of those personal wants, by the remembrance and ideas of which, the warmth and earnestness 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 impressions of religion. Solitude powerfully assists this effect. When a man finds himself alone in com

a munication with his Creator, his imagination becomes filled with a conflux of awful ideas concerning the universal agency, and invisible presence, of that Being; concerning what is likely to become of himself; and of the superlative importance of providing for the happiness of his future existence, by endeavours to please bim, 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 solemnity upon the thoughts that will seldom fail, in some degree, to affect the conduct of life.

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




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any form of religious communion, receives a superior sanction from the authority and example of Christ. “ When thou prayest, enter into thy " closet; and when thou hast shut the door,

pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy “ Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee

openly.”—“And when he had sent the mul“ titudes away, he went up into a mountain

apart to pray."--Matt. vi. 6. xiv. 23. Il. Family prayer.

The peculiar use of family piety consists in its influence upon servants, and the young members of a family, who want sufficient seriousness and reflection to retire of their own accord to the exercise of private devotion, and whose attention you cannot easily command in public worship. The example also and authority of a father and master act in this way with the greatest force; for his private prayers, to which his children and servants are not witnesses, act not at all upon them as examples; and his attendance upon public worship they will readily impute to fashion, to a care to preserve appearances, to a concern for decency and character, and to many motives beside a sense of duty to God. Add to this, that forms of public worfhip, in proportion as they are more compre


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hensive, are always less interesting than family prayers; and that the ardour of devotion is better supported, and the sympathy more easily propagated, through a small aslembly connected by the affections of domestic society, than in the presence of a mixed congregation.

III. Public worship.

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

These assemblies afford also, at the same time, opportunities for moral and religious instruction to those who otherwise would receive none. In all protestant, and in most Christian countries, the clements of natural religion, and the important parts of the evangelic history, are familiar to the lowest of the people. This competent degree and general diffusion of religious knowledge amongst all orders of Christians, which will appear a great thing when compared with the intelle&ual condition of barbarous nations, can fairly, I think, be ascribed to no other cause, than the regular establishment of allemblies for divine worship; in which, either portions of scripture are recited and explained, or the principles of Christian erudition are so conE 2


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