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more remiss in our Attendance upon Religious Duties) the less qualified shall we be to withiland Tempra. tions of all kinds; those especially which Aatter Flesh and Blood, by offering such Systems as loosen the Bands of Religion, and leave us more Scope and Liberty to act as we please. It is here that we are to look for the true Cause of the Growth of Infidelity among us; not that its' Abettors have more Sense, but that we bave less Virtue; not that the heavenly Seed hath less of vital Force, but that we are in no Condition to give it proper Nourishment. If the Husbandman will not till his Ground, what can be expect but Briars and Thorns? And what is Neglect of God's Worship but the Neglect of that which is the proper Cukure of the Soul ; that which gives it Seriousness, Resolution, Earneftness, and whatever elfe it be, in which the Strength of a Rational Being confifts ? This is the great Use of Frequency in the Exercise of re. ligious Duties, that it makes God always present to our Minds ; by which every inbred Corruption is check'd in its moft early Motions; every Suggestion from without, which reflects Dishonour upon the Gofa pel, is received with Abhorrence ; so that Men can neither Sin without Shame, nor be perverted without Deliberation. Whilft the Oatworks are thur carefully guarded, we are secure we shall not be taken by Sure prize ; and we need be under no Fears about our Faith, if the Cause is to be decided in fair and
open Trial. But if we throw down thefe Fences to our Virtue; if we diffolve in Ease and Sloth, and never think of God, and a future State, but when we cannot help it; our Adversaries will find too easy a Conqueft. For caly most be the Victory, when those who are assaulted are more than half willing to be overcome.
To conclude all; The Fear of the Lord is the Br. ginning of Widom; the first Principle of Virtue, and therefore the Foundation and Corner-Stone of that Happiness, present as well as future, publick as well as private, which must be raised upon, and supported by Virtue. And lince publick Worship is the great
Instrument of securing that general Sense of Providence; that Knowledge of God's Will; that Remem-. brance of his Mercy and Goodness vouchsafed us in Jesus Chrif; those Hopes of eternal Life, and those Fears of eternal Vengeance, which the Religion of a Chriftian imports : It becomes every one's Concern, as he tenders the Honour of God, and his Son Jesus; as he values his own Happiness; the Happiness of his Family, or the Happiness of Society; by Example, by Authority, by Instruction, by every Means which the Station and Capacity he is in, puts into his Pow. er; to endeavour to procure it Eteem and Reverence. The wider its Influences reach, so much the better will Religion thrive: For all Men may, and will improve by it; che Wise and Learned, as well as the most Ignorant ; the Rich, as well as the Poor. But to the latter, it is more particularly necessary, who, by their Condition being debarr'd almost all private Means of Improvement, must owe their Virtues chiefly to these publick Administrations. This thews of how much Consequence it is, that the People be brought up in a Liking to our publick Worship, and it thews the Advantage which the Members of the Church of England have above the Members of any separate Communion among us. I speak not this by Way of Reproach; but in Fact it is true, that the Church of England ministers more frequent Opportunities of wora shipping God in publick, than any separate Congregations do; and it is a Point well worth considering, whether in judging of the Reasonableness or Unreasonableness of Separating from the established Church, this Circumstance ought not to be taken into the Account? For what have the Diflenters to lay as a Balance to this Advantage? Oor Disputes with most of them are chiefly about Forms of Discipline, and Forms of Worship; which Things indeed do affect the Decency, Regularity, and Perf.ction of the out. ward Oeconomy of the Church: But surely cannot land in Competition with that Faith and Righteous. xefs towards God, to which all Order is subservient,
and which the frequent Attendance opon God's Worthip naturally helps daily to strengthen and improve. Men may work themselves up almost to any thing : and by giving way to Prejudices, contract such an A. version to our publick Worship, as shall unfanctify their Devotions, and make them as unacceptable to God, as they are disagreeable to themselves. But this is their own Fault. Cool Reason, found Judg. ment, and a diligent Trial, would soon convince them, that our Worship (contemptible as it may seem) would, if minded as it ought, minister more real and solid Benefit, than all the fancied Advantages of separate Worship, (under such a Scarcity of Opportunities) can possibly yield. The Argunient would come with more Strength, as well as Decency, if we had it to say, that the Order of our Church is in all, or in most Places regularly observed. But allowing, (what cannot be denied) that in most Country Parishes the daily Service is seldom read; How fands the Cafe with Diflenters in those Places? Why, proportionably as bad. I hope there are few Parishes in which Di. vine Service is not perform'd, at least every Lord's Day; but it is very certain, that there are Numbers of Families, who (if they had not been taught to dislike the establimed Religion) would probably have gone to their Parish Church every Sunday, but, thro' want of Conveniency to go to a Meeting. house, seldom resort to any Place of publick Worship at all. Thus Nonconformity degenerates into a kind of Heathenism, which, if by Degrees it does not wear off a good deal of those common Notions of Religion in which Men have been bred, leaves them open to the Delusi. ons of their own Mind, and to great Unfruitfulness in their Lives and Conversations.
I wish there was Encouragement enough to recommend the Revival of FAMILY WORSHIP; so far loft at present, that in many families it is thought a Disgrace to acknowledge God's Goodness even at those Times when they have the most sensible Experience of it, their common Meals. I lould hope that no
good good Chriftian will easily fall in with this Heathenish Custom; bot even in the foberest Families there is too general a Neglect of joint Prayer, which I look upon to be a very great Omission, and what has helped, among other Things, to bring Religion into Diseiteem Care only should be taken, when Masters of Families make it a Cuftom to call their Children and Servants to their daily Prayers, that there be a Confiftency and Correspondency in all other Points of Behavior; otherwise Worship degenerates into an empty Shew, and does but expose Religion to Scorn,