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labours and concern for you: and can derive no other benefit or pleasure from them, than that of doing good, of honouring God, and of meeting you and your dear offspring at the right hand of the Saviour, and of spending an eternity with you in his glory. Ye will have in this very address, a pledge and occular demonstration of our labours and desires to serve you. And will ye not awake to your duty ? Will ye, after all, destroy yourselves, and deprive us, as far as in you lies, of that only fruit of our labours and prayers, that divine pleasure and reward which only we are seeking or can ever expect from you? Will you not rath. er comfort our hearts with the pleasing prospect of your cordial reception of these exhortations? Let your closets, morning and evening, witness your sincere and fervent devotions. There confess and bewail your secret sins, your inward corruptions, your pride, your selfishness, your unbelief, impenitence, and the sins which most easily beset you ; your temptations and dangers, and pray for pardon and divine help. There let him who seeth in secret, witness your penitence, humility, faith, unfeigned piety and devotion, that he may reward you openly. Let Foung people early begin to mek the Lord in secret. Let them remember their Creator with love and holy fear, in the days of their youth ; and delight in drawing near to him in secret places, and in pouring out their hearts before him. Let them, like Isaac, be found meditating in the fields, in their closets, and in secret places, at even tide. Youth is the best and most successful time to seek the Lord. He hath said, I love them that love mc, and those that seek me early shall find me.(f) Praying to God in secret, prepares men to pray in the family, and in public. Early piety and prayerfulness prepares mien for distinguished usefulness in families and in the church of God. He pours upon them a spirit of grace and supplication, and by habituating themselves to prayer and communion with their Creator and Redeemer, they obtain an holy boldness and freedom in their approaches to him, and like Jacob, Moses, Samuel and Daniel, become eminent for prayer, piety and usefulness. In this way they by the grace of God, obtain great peace in life and in death, and are distinguished for dignity and happinesy for ever.
The Lord hath said, Them that honour me, I will honour, and they that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed.(g) If thou seek him, he will be found of thee: but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee of forever.(h)
Let all heads of families pray morning and evening in their families, and read the holy scriptures. Let them attend with great diligence to the instruction of their families. Be concerned early to devote your children to God, to catechise and in struct them in the great principles of religion. Teach them the holy scriptures, to pray to their Creator, to love and fear him,
(f) Prov. viii. 17. (g) 1 Sam. ii. 30. (h) 1 Chron. xxviii. 9.
to sanctify his sabbath, and to reverence his house and ordinan. ces. Teach them love and obedience to their parents ; obedience to magistrates and all in authority.; always to speak the truth, to be righteous, chaste, temperate and peaceable : to love their country, and do good to all men as they shall have oppor tunity. Restrain them as far as possible from vice, and from the company of corrupt and vicious men. Set them good examples, knowing that these are more forcible than precepts. These all belong to that nurture and admonition of the Lord, which God has so abundantly enjoined. Do these things immediately, and with all your might; knowing that you are mortal, and that your children are mortal; and that you may soon die, or that they may soon be taken from you, and there may never more be an opportunity to do any thing for their instruction and salvation. Consider what comfort it must give you on the bed of death, that you have devoted them to God, and educated them for him; and to leave them in the hands of a covenant God and Father. What pleasure must it give you, that they are the chil. dren of your vows, for whom ye have addressed thousands of prayers to the throne of grace? How pleasing must be the hopes, that having trained them up for him, he will be their God, cause them to set their hope in him, and walk in the way in which they should go; and after they have acted an honoura. ble and useful part in life, will bring them after you to his hearenly kingdom, and admit you to the enjoyment of himself, and of one another for ever in his glory. Should you be called to close the eyes of those dear enjoyments, and follow them to the grave, what consolation, in the midst of sorrow, must it afford you, that you had performed your duty to them; that you had seen in them the early buddings of piety; and hope that the God to whom you devoted them lias received them to his mercy, and numbered them among his jewels ? On the other hand, how dreadful must it be to reflect when you die, that you have wholly neglected your duty to them ; that by your neglect and examples you have destroyed their souls and your own ? How must this give a wonderful poignancy to your sorrows when you fol. low them to the grave? How tremendous must be your prose pects of meeting them as your accusers and tormentors, in the eternal world ? How must reflections and prospects like these harrow up your very souls ? Make no delay therefore with re. spect to these duties.
By all means be constant in your attendance on the public worship. Be instant in season and out of season, to offer your prayers and praises in Zion; to hear the word preaches, and to attend all the public institutions of religion." And be no less zealous that your children attend constantly, than to attend yourselves. Some headis of families, and even professors of rea ligion, who are zealous to attend the public worship themselves
have not the same care and zeal for the constant attendance of their children and other members of their families. In this they are altogether inconsistent and blame-worthy. The souls of their children and servants are no less precious than their own : public instruction is no less important to them, than to parents or masters. It is often, if not generally, more successful with respect to young people than to others. One important advantage of a good, religious education in the family, and in schools, is, that it prepares them to attend the public worship with much greater pleasure and profit. It has been observed by some of the best divines, that one great reason why the preaching of the word is so unsusessful with many, is for the want of a good education. They are so unacquainted with the scriptures, and with the doctrines and duties of religion, that they can receive but little advantage by the public worship and ordinances. But an early acquaintance with the scriptures, and with the first principles of religion, will be of peculiar advantage with respect to their understanding and profiting by the preaching of the word, and the other public institutions of religion. Private and public instructions exceedingly aid each other; and they both belong to that nurture and admonition in the Lord, in which heads of families are commanded to bring up their children and others under their care. But how can they receive this public benefit, or be trained up in the way in which they should go, unless heads of families will be careful and zealous to support the pub. lic worship, and to engage them in a constant attendance on the preaching of the word, and unless they habituate them to it in childhood and youth?
WHILE with unremitting care and diligence ye attend to these duties, be constant in the acknowledgment of God at your tables, and by continual mental petitions and thanksgivings, maintain an uninterrupted course of communion with the Father of your spirits.
Let christians whose hearts are warmed with divine love, be encouraged and quickened, by this address, to pray more abun. dantly and more fervently for themselves, their families and the church of God. Be intreated also, dear brethren, to apply your. selves with greater exertion and diligence to the religious in. struction and education of those whom God hath committed to your care. Do ye hope that he hath washed your polluted na. tures, that he hath forgiven all your offences, and made you the heirs of his kingdom ? Have ye professed his name, and bound yourselves by the bonds of his covenant, and will ye not be laborious and persevering in these important duties? Do ye know the worth of immortal souls, and the sublime pleasures of religion, and will ye not do all in your power, that your children and neighbours should be saved, and participate with you in those divine enjoyments? Have ye experienced in your own souls the benefits of prayer? Have ye been relieved and comforted by it, when pressed with guilt and fear. In the dark day of affliction, when almost overwhelmed with sorrow? Do ye experience a daily serenity, peace and joy in drawing near to him, and casting all your cares upon him, which the world can neither give nor take away? Is it a privilege of which ye would not to be deprived for a world of temporal good, and will ye not employ all your exertions, opportunities, and influence to teach and persuade those under your care, and all with whom ye bave influence, to pray always ? And to engage all men eve. ry where to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting? And as ye may be greatly assisted in the religious education of your children, by good schools religiously conducted, will ye not be zealous in instituting and supporting them? Will ye not employ your influence that prayer be daily made in them? That the instructors be men of good morals, able and disposed to teach them? Should ye be encouraged and quickened to the duties recommended by this address, should it in your opinion be convincing, impressive, and calculated to do good, will ye not pray for its success, put it into the hands of sthers, and spread it far and wide, that they may be quickened and benefitted with you ; that there may be a general awaking to duty, and as far as may be, a general and united exertion to promote a spirit of prayer, and zeal to educate your offspring for God. Is it not a time of great temptation and danger? Are not the enemy coming in like a food ? Are not numerous and fa. tal errors almost every where broached and spread abroad? Was there ever a time when constant watchfulness, fervent and persevering prayer were more necessary than at present ? Was it ever more necessary to revive family religion and govern. ment? Or to instruct and establish our youth in the doctrines and duties of our holy religion? Does not God expect that his own children will be intercessors and reformers? That they will arise and stand in the gap, and make up the hedge ? Should not they be zealous for the Lord of hosts, and lead in the way of reformation and duty? If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the spirit, if any bowels and mercies,(i) be entreated, dear brethren, to exert yourselves, with the utmost zeal and diligence for these noble purposes. Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest till he stablisk, and till he make Ferusalem a praise in the earth.(j),
ESPECIALLY, let those who have always been in a state of rebellion against God, casting off fear and restraining prayer be. (i) Philip, ii. 1.
(j) Isa. Ixii. 6, 7.
fore God: of practically saying, What is the Almighty that we should serve him, and what profit shall we have if we pray unta him, be convinced of their great sin and danger, and now arise and call upon God, that they perish not. Let them a wake also to the duties of family religion and government. This address will doubtless find its way into many prayerless families; into the lands of many parents who have neglected the religious instruction and government of their households ; into the hands of individu. als who pray not in secret; and perhaps very inconstantly, if at all, in the house of God. Are you not in this way, dear friends, exposing yourselves and your families to the judgments of God in this world, and to his endless displeasure in the world to come? Are ye not sinning against the clearest light and evidence of your duty? Does not your conduct tend to a great apostacy from God? To do the greatest injury not only to yourselves and families, but to the churches of Christ, and to the community at large. This address has been written, as far as may be, by the blessing of God, to prevent your continuing in these ways of misery, danger and death, and your bringing upon yourselves and families the most aggravated guilt and condemnation : to'pluck you as brands from the burning, and to bring you to participation in the pleasures of religion, and the blessings of eternal life. It has been written with many prayers, that it might be accompanied with these happy effects. It will doubtless come to you accompanied with the prayers of many good people, who will put it into your hands, in one place and another, with the most disinterested and benevolent designs. And will ye frustrate all these labours of love, the design of all these prayers, and disappoint every pleasing hope concerning you? Will ye continue in sin until ye fill up the measure of it, and bring wrath upon yourselves to the uttermost? Be intreated by all the labours, concern and prayers of the ministers of Christ, and of pious people for you, by the love of your own souls, the mercies of God and all your hopes of heaven, not to act a part so desperate.
By no means excuse yourselves from these duties. The commands of God admit of no excuse. They suppose all men every where to be capable of prayer, and of religiously educating their children, and that there is nothing to prevent their doing them, but their own criminal backwardness and opposition to duty. The divine threatnings denounced against all who neglect them imply that they are wholly inexcusable.
Do not excuse yourselves from family prayer on this ground, that it is no where expressly commanded. This is by no means necessary to bind us to duty. If the will of God be made known, by reason, by general commands, examples, or any other way, it binds us to do it, though it be not expressly command