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the intercourse and communications of Christian friendship? In the unbosoming of genuine and tried pious friendship, are pleasures and advantages peculiarly precious and exquisite. "As iron stiarpeneth iron, so "does the countenance of a friend his friend." They are eminently to each other what the Scripture is to us all, " profitable for doc"trine, * for reproof, for correction, for in"struction in righteousness, that the man of "God," the truly pious, " may be perfect, "thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
The pious exercises of devout retirement, or of the closet, and the communications of sacred friendship, do not supersede or lessen veneration for public worship; the private means and helps of devotion do not interfere with the ordinances of God's house; do not produce the indifference and self-sufficiency of spiritual pride, or the affectation of, 1' Stand by, I am holier than thou."
True piety assuredly forms itself upon the Scripture, upon its rules, and upon its patterns; it regards the authority of God; it recognises the wisdom and goodness of the God of Israel; it perceives the manifold grace and wisdom of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ; it acknowledges and honours Jesus Christ the great Head and King of his Church; the truly pious, therefore, will not "forsake the astembling "themselves together," will hallow the Sabbath, will unite in prayer and praise, will separate themselves from the world of the irreligious, will witness against them by assuming and wearing the distinguishing badges' of the Christian, will contribute to the preserving of the knowledge and honour of the revelations of God, and to the transmitting them entire to posterity, by celebrating the ordinances of God. See how highly public worship, and the institutions of religion, were prized in ancient times. "As the hart pant"eth after water brooks, in a dry and parched *' land where no water is, my foul thirsteth "for God, the living God; when shall I "come and appear before God? How ami"able are thy tabernacles ! my foul longeth, "yea even fainteth for the courts of the "Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out "for the living God: Blessed are they who "dwell in thy house; they will be still prais
"ing thee: A day in thy courts is better "than a thousand," &c. Consider what reviving promises are made to the worshippers of God: "In all places where I record my "name, I will come unto thee, and I will "bless thee: Where two or three are gather"ed together in my name, there am I in the "midst of them: I will make them joyful in "my house of prayer," &c. Let me only add, that if the saints felt such vehement desires and rapturous joys, under a darker dispensation, respecting a service which consisted much in types, and figures, and shadows; through which, at a distance, were seen the perfect day and substantial blessings of the Gospel, so early promised, so splendidly described, so earnestly longed for; could they, without delight and joy, have heard the invitation, "Let us go up to worship him, to "make his praise glorious ?" The truly pious Christian rejoices when it is said, Keep the holy festival; he enters God's courts with
2.1 Observed, That religious and devout affections and sentiments, are discovered in the frequency of the exercises of piety.
It is a conceivable thing, that some who are truly pious may employ too much time in religious exercises, and return so frequently to the offices of devotion, public and private, as to overlook, or to perform very imperfectly, the duties of life. It must be allowed, that with much warmth of heart, there may be weakness and indiscretion. The over-abundant in religious exercises do not so readily perceive their right-hand error, which is noticed and published, with exultation and contempt, by the irreligious. This is not the error or extreme of the present times. We have seldom any occasion of guarding our hearers against being employed overmuch in the exercises of devotion. "We have much reason to recommend regular, and constant, and habitual devotion. The truly pious will hear the exhortation, Let not the example of the world, of the cold and formal; let not the sophistry of the irreligious, nor the banter of the profane ; let not the suggestions of sloth, or of pride, or of self-sufficiency and security, reconcile you to suffer any length of time to pass without holy meditation, without the pouring out of the heart before God, without celebrating the ordinances
nances of God, and extolling the Lord together.
We do not pretend to say how often a pious person ought to be employed in immediate acts of devotion, nor what portion of time is essential to worship. You will permit me, however, to observe, that more time may be employed in religious exercises, in perfect consistency with prudence, and all the duties of life being properly performed, than is so bestowed by many. "Every day will I bless" "thee," says the Psalmist ; and says the pious of every age, " As ost as I rise in the morn*' ing I will publish thy loving kindness, and ** thy faithfulness every night." As every Lord's day returns, I will keep the day to the Lord, repair to his courts, and celebrate his ordinances. Blessings and afflictions, duties and infirmities, dangers and deliverances, and all the varieties of his dispensations, shall remind me of my God, with the confessions, and supplications, and thanksgivings, and joys of his children. Such is the language, and purpose, and practice of a piety that is genuine, and becomes more and more confirmed, and habitual, and joyful^ For,