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cob wrestled all night, and as a prince with God he prevailed; so that God turned away from him and his feeble family the inveterate and fearful hatred of his brother Esau. In the contest of Israel with Amalek, when Moses, as a signal of prayer, lifted up his rod, Israel prevailed; when he let down the rod, Amalek prevailed. How often did Moses, by his importunate prayers, turn away God's wrath from the rebellious Israelites, and prevent their utter destruction. In the same way Joshua removed from the camp of Israel the shame and curse, which had befallen them before the city Ai. By prayer Samuel brought thunder and rain to terrify and humble the rebellious tribes; and, at another time, discomfited the mighty hosts of the Philistines, when they were ready to overwhelm the Israelites. "Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are; and he prayed earnestly that is might not rain, and it rained not for the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth gave forth her fruit." We might bring into view many other worthies, whose great success in prayer is recorded for our instruction and encourage ment.
But positive as the proofs are from experience and the word of God, that prayer is a fundamental duty, which ever yields the most beneficial effects; yet this pious exercise is often slighted and neglected, and sometimes assaulted with the language of impious objection. It is alleged against this duty, that God knows our wants without the aid of our petitions; that he is ever ready
to relieve the sufferings of his creatures; that he is not subject to passions, which can be moved by our entreaties; that all things are fixed in the counsel of divine wisdom; that the Disposer of events will not swerve from his course or change his counsels in consequence of our supplications.
To these cavils we may reply; that the moral character and disposition of creatures are ever taken into the account to ascertain, what shall be the course of divine administration towards them. Froward and ungrateful men are fit only for angry visitations. The humble and thankful are prepar ed for the reception and right use of mercies. It is the established course of God's moral government, that while we walk contrary to him in acts of disobedi ence, he will walk contrary to us in severe rebukes; but when we walk dutifully before him, in faith and prayer, he will make his face to shine upon us, and as far as shall be profitable, confer upon us the blessings of the life which now is, and that which is to come. Corrections are sent to produce a spirit of repentance and prayer. When this disposition is produced, the way is prepared either to remove the evils we feel, or to impart to us countervailing supports and con solations. The system of provi dence is, indeed, fixed; and God will not swerve from it. But this is an argument for the use of prayer; because prayer is an essential, leading part of this sys tem. Deliverance and salvation are to be wrought out in answer to prayer. Prayer is an import ant link in the chain of events, When omitted, the aspect of providence will be dark and
threatening. When duly performed, there will be a succession of gracious interpositions, diffusing light, and peace, and joy through the habitations of humble suppliants. Prayer is the means of obtaining the most valuable benefits for those, who piously wait upon God.
How unfounded, then, and impious are the objections, which infidels make against the holy ordinance of prayer. The pious soul will abhor objections, which would prevent his most delightful exercises, and cut him off from his best resources. He will never imagine, that he has employed the proper course of means to obtain needed blessings, before he has joined to all his other endeavours fervent and unwearied prayer.
The pious man in sickness will employ the prescriptions of the physician. But he will consider these means, as very defective, without adding his own prayers and the prayers of his Christian friends for a divine blessing upon the remedies applied, and, especially, for pardon and spiritual healing. The devout husbandman will diligently till the ground. But the principal means to secure the reward of his labour will be, humble, dutiful prayer to the Lord of the harvest. The virtuous citizen will apply his counsels, his exertions, and his property to avert impending public evils; but be will consider that only a small part of his duty is done, until he goes to God, and wrestles with him in prayer, to turn away his anger from his people.
Prayer does not generate sloth, nor lead people idly to wait upon God for favours. On the
contrary, it animates them to a more vigorous performance of other duties. An unwavering belief that God works for us, and will readily interpose in answer to our prayers, will excite us to joint prayers and labours, as the instituted way to obtain for ourselves and others, all necessary favours. With all good men industry and prayer will be inseparably connected, and go hand in hand through the Christian life.
Let us then wisely appreciate the importance of prayer, and seriously weigh the arguments we have to quicken us to the performance of this duty. These arguments should prompt us to fervent and incessant prayer in our secret retirements, in our families, with smaller collections of friends, and in public assemblies. We should pray always with all prayer, and intercession, and thanksgiving; remembering, "that praying breath was never spent in vain."
Do any despise, or neglect this solemn duty? Are their closets never witnesses to the fervent breathings of their souls after God their Saviour? Are their houses seldom perfumed with the sweet incense of the morning and evening sacrifice? Are they often absent from the sanctuary? Or do they attend as idle spectators of the holy exercises of Christian devotion? Do their affections take no part in the supplications and praises offered up to the supreme God and adorable Redeemer? Do their spirits wander from God, while their bodies are present in his house? What contempt do they cast upon the best means of safety and happiness. How do they reproach the word, the providence, and the
grace of their Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, and Redeemer, and cut themselves off from the rich est privileges and purest joys. When publick worship and family prayer have most generally prevailed; then have the people been most distinguished in all moral virtues and Christian graces, then have they been blessed with domestic comforts, and with social and national privileges. The neglect of prayer is ever accompanied with the decay of godliness, and the prevalence of those follies and crimes, which are the infamy of individuals and the ruin of the community. When a people cease to pray, God will
all who believe in God, and love our Lord Jesus Christ, unite in their humble addresses to the throne of grace, that God would be pleased to revive his work in the midst of these years; that he would pour out his Spirit upon his people, and his blessing upon their offspring; that he would create in us a new heart and a new spirit, and thus make us a people of his praise. Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.
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cease to bless, the glory of the QUACKS IN VARIOUS WALKS Lord will depart from them.
The fathers of our country were eminent for their Christian profession and their virtuous lives. They fled to this land, that they might pray to God according to his word, without reproach or molestation. Here they planted themselves, and made the wilderness vocal with their prayers and thanksgiving. By prayer they secured the richest privileges, both civil and religious, to themselves and their posterity. If we would enjoy the inheritance received from them, and transmit it down, unimpaired and meliorated, to our offspring; let us copy the examples of our pious forefathers, and become men of prayer. If we seek him diligently, we shall find him. If we forsake him, he I will forsake us. The revival of family religion, the devout attendance of people on public worship, the due observance of the Sabbath, and the pure rites of Christianity are the only sure pledges of divine favour. Let
QUACKERY is generally ap plied to the medical profession; a quack is a physician, who practises without skill or judgment; but there are quacks in other professions. Every man may be considered a quack, who pretends to more merit, than he possesses; who seeks more praise, than he deserves.
A minister of religion, who represents his brethren, who are equal to himself, as materially defective in knowledge, literature, charity, and talents, is indubitably a quack. By depressing others he intends to be considered himself, as one eminently distinguished for genius, catholicism, and goodness. On the other hand, the moaning enthusiast, who traverses the country, telling strangers, without any just reason, how dear they are to his heart, how his eyes weep, and his heart bleeds on their account, is doubtless a quack. If he be really concerned for their welfare, let him "weep for them in secret
places" without boasting of it. If he love them, let him prove it by his actions; if he be doing much for them, let them discover it by their own observation, or by experiencing the benefits. If he deserve much, let another man praise him, and not his own lips.
A professor of religion, who makes mournful faces, who tells how much he has improved in grace by afflictions and other instructions, it may be presumed is a quack. He, that often proclaims how bad he was, and how good he is; how impious he once was, and how devout and godly he now is, may be suspected of a design to pass now for more, than he is worth; he is a spiritual quack. Such also are those, who, while they overreach in their bargains, neglect the payment of just debts, and omit many duties of religion and humanity, are yet incessantly talking of ministers, and sermons, and orthodoxy, and faith.
A friend, who makes profession of entire devotion to your service, who often inquires, what he can do for your benefit, but never takes a step in your service, who inquires, what is necessary to your comfort, but never bestows a cent, though in many instances he must know your pressing wants, evidently designs to obtain credit for more, than he performs, more applause than he actually deserves. He intends that professions shall be reckoned as genuine friendship, and empty words, as useful actions. All these are quacks in different forms.
Vol. I. No. 6.
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ON THE MANNER IN WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE TO TREAT AN EXCOMMUNICATED BROTHER.
In the 1st Epist. to Cor. chap. v. verses 9, 10, 11, Paul, referring to the case of an incestuous man, thus writes; "I wrote unto you in an epistle, not to company with fornicators. Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world," i. e. of the heathen world, "or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters; for then ye must needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or an extortioner, with such an one no not to eat."
The question here is, What is that eating with an excommunicated brother, which the apostle disallows?
First; It cannot be eating at the Lord's table, for the excommunication itself is an exclusion from this. And besides; the eating intended is such as heathens may be admitted to; but these, however moral in their lives, cannot, while they remain unbelievers, be admitted to eat with Christians at the Lord's table.
Secondly; It cannot be eating at a common table, for then, as the apostle observes concerning a refusal to company with heathens, "we must needs go out of the world." As the case might happen, the wife must not eat with her husband, nor the children with their parent. The BETA. laws of Christ were never intended to interfere with domestick or
der or with common civility and hospitality. Our Lord has told us, that the offending brother, who cannot be reclaimed by the discipline of the church, is to be to us as a heathen man and a publican. And He never refused to sit down at a common meal with publicans and sinners. He condemned the rigour of the Jews in excluding such persons from their tables. And he would not prescribe to his church a rule of conduct, which he disapproved in the Jews, and refused to adopt in his own practice. The reason why he ate with publicans and sinners was, that by his courteous manners and instructive conversation he might bring them to repentance. They were sick, and needed a physician. The apostle directs the Thessalonian Christians, "to note the disorderly brother, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." But he cautions them not to carry this matter too far; "Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." This does not import a denial of common courtesy and civility.
What then is the eating for bidden in the passage under consideration?
In those ancient times it was common for people to make social feasts, to which they invited their special friends, that they might eat and converse together in testimony of mutual regard and confidence. To such feasts among the Jews our Saviour of ten alludes. Such convivialities among the heathens the apostle often mentions. And on such festivities made by heathens he allows Christians to attend. He says to the Corinthians, "If any of them, who believe not, bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go, whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience' sake. But if any phan say to you, this is offered in sacrifice to idols," and thus intimates a scruple, whether you ought to eat it, "eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience' sake. Conscience, I say, not thine own, but the other's," for though I know, that an idol is nothing, and makes the meat neither better nor worse, and therefore on my own account have no scruple to eat, yet all men have not this knowledge and discernment; "and why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?" i.e. why is my liberty so used, as to be judged and condemned by the conscience of my scrupulous brother?
Let it be remarked, that what is principally forbidden is keeping company, commixing, associating, maintaining special and particular intimacy with such a person; for so the Greek word, Dragobar, used here, and in the 2d Epist. to the Thessalonians properly signifies. On this word the force of the prohibition lies; and the eating disallowed is such a kind of eating, as implies this intimate mixing, associating and keeping company.
With respect to eating in an idol's temple, the apostle disallows it generally; for though an idol is nothing, yet such a publick act might give general offence to Christians, as carrying too great an appearance of a relapse to idolatry. But with respect to the private festivities of heathens, Christians need not scruple to attend them, except where they found, that their at