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structions are given, and the services of the sanctu ary will be more edifying. Happy is the family, which, with united hearts, serve God and pray always happy the man, who is the head of such a family-happy the members of a house, which is blessed because of the ark of God-happy the church, which consists of such families. Such a church is one greater family, whose members are pursuing one common design; and the families are so many smaller churches, all builded together for an habitation of God, through the Spirit, and growing unto an holy temple in the Lord.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance.
IN our former discourse, on this text, we considered our obligations to maintain the worship of God in our houses.
We will now, as was proposed,
II. Inquire, whether there is any thing in reason, or scripture, leading us to fix on morning and evening, as the stated seasons of family worship.
1. Our prayers, certainly ought to be frequent and constant.
So much, at least, must be intended by our Apostle, when he directs us to pray always. Whatever reasons oblige us to pray at all, bind us to pray often..
We are continually dependent on God, and indebted to him. We daily feel new wants, or the return of former ones, and receive fresh favours, or the repetition of past ones. We often commit of
fences against God, and contract new guilt. If then it becomes us at all, it becomes us often to repair to the throne of grace with earnest petitions for the blessings which we need, and thankful praises for those which we have received; with humble confession of conscious guilt, and penitent supplication of God's gracious pardon.
If prayer is useful, frequency in it will make it more useful. One use of prayer is to cherish and strengthen our serious sentiments and resolutions, which, through the infirmity of the flesh and the influence of worldly objects, are too apt to languish and decay. It is by frequent communion with God, that our souls, which so naturally cleave to the dust, are raised above the world, enlivened in duty, and made to feel the power, and taste the pleasure of religion. If our converse with him should be but seldom, our holy affections and purposes, in the long intervals, would die away; and this deceitful world would get such strong possession of our hearts, that the rare exercises of devotion would be too feeble to dispossess it, or turn our hearts to better objects.
Family worship, if but seldom attended, will be of little use to the younger members of our houses. The frequent, unnecessary omissions of it, indicate such an indifference in us, that our children will easily be led to view it as a matter of trifling consequence. If we pray in our families only on the sabbath, or in a time of family affliction, taught by our example, they will naturally give the business of the world a preference to the duties of piety, and to the care of their souls. If now and then we suggest to them a different thought, it will but feebly impress their minds, while they see it so plainly contradicted by our daily conduct.
Frequency in prayer is expressly, and almost as often, inculcated in scripture, as prayer itself. We
are to pray always with all prayer-to pray without ceasing to continue instant in prayer-to watch thereunto with all perseverance-to pray always and not faint-in every thing to make known our requests. What less can these expressions import, than such frequency in devotion, as to keep alive a devout, spiritual and heavenly temper?
2. If we are to pray frequently, then there must be some stated seasons of prayer; for otherwise it cannot be attended with decency and order.
As it is necessary that certain days should be stated, by divine appointment, or by mutual agreement, for publick worship, that the whole church may come together into one place, and at the same time; so it is necessary, that certain hours of the day should be stated for family worship, that all the members may with one mind, and one mouth, glorify God. Accordingly we find in scripture, that there were periodical times, called the hours of prayer, which pious men used constantly to observe. Peter and John went up into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. What less can we understand by the directions, to pray always, and without ceasing, than that we should have some fixed and stated seasons of prayer? When we pray at all proper seasons, and keep alive the spirit of piety, then we may be said to pray always. Prayer has a just proportion of our time and attention.
3. It is evident, that prayer ought to be a daily exercise.
Our Saviour instructs us to pray after this manner-Our Father who art in heaven, give us this day our daily bread. The Psalmist says, every day will I praise thee-I will daily perform my vows-I cry unto thee daily-I have called daily upon thee. and stretched out mine hand unto thee. It is the voice of wisdom-Blessed is the man who heareth
me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. The primitive Christians continued daily with one accord in the temple. They daily attended the stated hours of prayer.
4. If prayer is to be made daily and statedly, then there is a special propriety in fixing on morning and evening for the performance of it. Reason itself points out these, as suitable hours for family worship.
In the morning, when we arise from our beds, and are returning to the labours of our calling, how just and reasonable it is, that our thoughts should be with God; that we should acknowledge his care, who has made us to dwell in safety, and at the same time should commit ourselves to him, imploring the protection of his providence, the restraints of his grace, the guidance of his counsel, and his blessing on the works of our hands!
In the evening, when we have finished the work of the day, how decent and proper it is, that we should gratefully recollect the benefits which we have received, penitently confess the evils which we have done, and commit ourselves to that Almighty Keeper who never slumbers nor sleeps; and thus lay ourselves down in peace!
At these hours our minds are more free from worldly cares, and our families more at liberty from worldly occupations, than at other seasons. We can therefore more readily unite in the worship of God, and more easily attend upon it without distraction.
And as reason, so scripture points out these for the stated hours of prayer. The prophet says With my soul I have desired thee in the night, and with my spirit within me I will seek thee early. This was the practice of the devout Psalmist, and he commends it as a good and useful practice for others. It is a good thing to give thanks to the