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*' give us a System of Doctrines to be believed, ^'and Precepts to be practised, separately, by *'' every Person, without relation to one another; "but to mould and form all his Disciples into "one common Body, or Society; or, as we usually "express it, into one Church; and, in ordef '' thereunto, he appointed that every one, who "would embrace his Religon, should be entered "into that Church, or Society, by Baptism ; and', f* when they are so entered, and made Memberi f' of one Body, they should continue to exercise "all Acts of Membership, and Communion with "that Society j and that they might be the mote "effectually obliged to this, he appointed that *' the ordinary Means, or Conduits, or Chan*"nels, in which he would convey his Grace to "Believers, should be this exercise of Commur '' nion with his Church, the joining in her pub"lick Prayers, and Sacraments; so that if we "would partake of the divine Influences, which "Christ hath purchased, and without which we "cannot perform the necessary Terms of Sal-. "vation, there is an absolute Necessity that we *f should be Members of his Church: And, if "we be Members of his Church, there is a ** Necessity, likewise, that we should perform "those Acts by which that Membership is ex^ "pressed; and the chiefest of those Acts are, to "meet together for the Profession of our Faith , *' in Chri/l, for the worshipping God by Prayer, t' and for receiving the Holy Sacrament.—Nay, "I may add sarther, that Christ has so strictly all his Disciples in a Church, or So
"ciety, and so indispensably tied all that believe tc in him to join in the publick Duties of Relicc gion, as Members of that Society, that it is ,c in virtue of the Relation which we have to <£ that Society, and our Willingness to join in "those Duties, that God accepts even our pril£ Date Prayers; so that if we voluntarily cut "ourselves off from Communion with Christ's "Church, and refuse to join with other Christi(C am, we have no reasonable Grounds to expect "that God will have any Regard to the Prayers "that we put up in our Closets.—What I have "said, I hope, cannot fail of having sufficient "Force to convince reasonable People of the £c great NeceJJity of attending the publick Service "of the Church, as often as we have an Op"portunity -, much less can it reasonably be ** thought an indifferent Mattter, whether we *c attend it or not. No. If we have any Re,c gard to the Honour of God; if we have any "Regard to our own Benefit; if we have any "Regard to the Duties which either natural ,c Religion, or Christianity, requires from us, "we shall think ourselves obliged to be very "diligent and constant in attending the publick "Service of God; and, if our Circumstances "be such that, either we have not Opportunity £c of resorting to it; or, if, having Opportuni"ties, our other neceslary Business will not altf low us to attend it; yet, in that Case, these *' Considerations will oblige us to take care that "the Worship of God be performed in Fa& milieS, where Fathers and Masters have Au
"thority ^xonts to attend. If they can no oftene'r than1 Day in the Week be present at the pub-, "lick Assemblies, yet, they should every. Day* '?, in the Week join with .the CatholickChurch; **. in their own Families, in offering up, the so-' Jemn Sacrifice of Prayer for themselves, and 'i all, others.--In this Cufe every Master of a * Family is allowed to be a Priest} or, he may, "depute that Office to whom he pleaseth; but, "if no care be taken of the Worship of God in ** Families, especially, where they have not an ** Opportunity of resorting to the publick Offices, "I must: confess, I think the Master pf that, "A Family has not much Sense of Religion/ani| '* has a severe Account to make for the Trust, *] committed to him."
v Thus speaketh this excellent Person: To what has been said, I shall only add two short Observavations, 1st, That if the Point of religious Duty' were quite out of the Question, it would be their Interest, with regard to this Life, to keep up a* Face of Religion in their Families, as it would1 tend greatly to make their Children dutiful, and' their Servants faithful, by preserving a Sense of JDa/y amongst them,, which is the only thing that can secure to them a settled Esteem, and: Love, and Obedience j and, wherever this i$ regularly done, the good Effects of it are, very visible in the Behaviour of the whole Family, zdly, That all People ought to beg a Blessing' upon their set Meals, and afterwards. to. return?" Thanks for them: This is a Part of Vathily-wor
flip, a proper Acknowledgement of God's Providence, that we owe the Support of our Lives to his Bounty: This is so natural to every religious Person, and so proper a Means of preserving a due Sense of our constant Dependence upon God, that wherever 1 find this Practice neglected, I must take it for granted that they are, either very ignorant, or very irreligious in their Notions; at least, that they have not a true Sense of Religion.
Concerning the Place of Prayer,
BY the Place of Prayer I mean, Places appropriated and solemnly consecrated for pub' lick Prayer; I hope I have sufficiently proved the Duty of private Prayer; which may be very acceptably performed in any Place, neither can there be any one Place appropriated, much less consecrated for such Prayers, because they must often be put to common Uses $ the same may be said of Family-prayer j and, as'to larger Assemblies of Cbrijlians meeting, and joining, together in Prayer, if they have not the Opportunity of any set Place, no doubt, they may meet together in any Place which they can procure, occafionally, for that purpose; and such Prayers, when properly offered, will be accepted j or, if' they can have the Conveniency of some set Place, which it may not be proper to consecrate, (whichis very often the Cafe) such Places are preferable '". " .' to
to any other Place, occasionally, chosen for that" purposed Bur, what I mean to advance is this, that it is highly expedient, wherever they can be had, not only to set apart, or appropriate, particular Places for religious Worship, but solemnly to consecrate, and devote, them to the Worship of God, in such a manner that they shall for ever cease to be ours to put to any other Use: This is the true Notion of holy Places; in this Sense they are God's House; and, if they be, in a particular Manner, God's House, we have Reason to believe- that he will -dwell, or be present in those Places, in a manner in which he has not'-promised to be present in other "Places that are not so peculiarly given, or devoted, to his Use. The Philosopher, full of his "own vain Conceits, will scornfully ask whether Coiisecration alters the Nature of those Buildings, as the * 1 Papists affirm of the Consecration of the Elements of Bread and Wine at the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper; to which impertinent Ques- . tion we Christians may safely answer, No; andx yet, affirm that Prayers offered up to God jiv1 such Places may be more acceptable to him, and" more profitable to us, than if the Places, were • not so solemnly devoted to that Use. We affirm, 'that nothing can be more natural and rations \ than this Notion. Let us put the Case of Persons, instead of Places, and every Christian.Ob- • jector must be silent. The Clergy, like the Churches, are set apart and solemnly consecratea ) for the publick Worfiip of God, to administers the Sacravrents, and* to' offer up the Prayers of x