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hold by reading, or by catechising, there is not this pretence to be set up. For this is not, like prayer, so much a work of times and seasons, but one that may be taken up at any time, without stated appointment. Must it not be a bounden duty, of every Christian master of a household, to make some effort to provide this means of spiritual improvement for the souls beneath his guardianship? It will not serve a person's turn to urge, that “people do not " like such interference, which is no better than “ a task to them, and therefore that they will “ not listen to it.” All that are “ disposed to "everlasting life” will listen to it, and by degrees will like it. But grant that there are some who will not; that does not alter his responsibility, to whom a household is committed. Then only is it time for any Christian to allege he can make no return from any talent trusted to his care, when he has traded with that talent honestly, and made experiment how far the Lord who gave it will bless it with increase or not. If he have not tried thus, himself believing, (and so, committing all his work and hope to God in faith, “ nothing wavering",") he has no title
to advance a plea, which rather springs (it may be feared) from indolence or unbelief.
The manner of holy reading may fitly enough and will be different, according to the manifold differences of circumstances and condition ; and it is not a seemly thing, to burthen or to bind a Christian's lawful liberty. Only, let none think himself exempt from such a duty, who is the master of a family; no, not the honest father or mother of children, wherever is the power of reading. (And if in any case there be not this power, so much the more necessity there is for prayer !) Shall these be made afraid, because perhaps their words are few, and this their offering poor and simple, that therefore it can only be expected “ to return unto them void,” and not to prosper in the thing whereto they would direct it? Let them take courage. It is not to be doubted, there is more of real Christian fellowship in the society of humbler families, than can be in the aggregate of higher ones; and more especially, perhaps, in any religious communion of such. Who questions that the love of kindred or of equals is a heartier love than that which must, in higher stations, unavoidably be mixed with a respect of persons ? Alas! the simple sense of common brotherhood—“one Lord, one faith, one baptism, “ one God and Father of us all”-must almost universally grow colder, as the station among men becomes the more exalted! And when we think of this (which is in truth a painful thing)—that we may take a countervailing thought of comfort by the way, let us be led to “magnify the Lord, “ and bid our spirits thankfully rejoice in God our " Saviour,” that he hath in this respect so kindly os regarded the low estate” of his faithful servants! How much more does it than make amends for want of those things which are now the objects of envy! how much nearer, probably, will it bring the lowly and meek unto the Lord himself in heaven!
But doubtless, it will be said again that “we “ may see such practices often exercised, and “ many are none the better for them.”
True: and so (to all outside appearance) are many--very many-none the better for having been baptized; many, none the better for coming to church ; none the better for even having been partakers of " the most comfortable sacrament of " the body and blood of Christ.” Yet would you wish to see a Christian people without the ordinances of the Lord ? Do not let us think or speak so. This is not the becoming way to look at things, if we would be indeed the “ children of
“ God.” We know that the effect of all Christian endeavours rests, and must rest, with the Most High alone ; we do not need to be told, that we ourselves cannot work miracles ; we know it but too well. But if it be the truth, that certain means, placed by the Almighty within our power, are of a nature to promote, and likely to promote, the end of holiness; if we have ground for feeling sure, that the employment of such means is agreeable to reason, and cannot but be in accordance with the will of God; then are we bound to use such instruments, and leave the issue in his hands. That is the way to prove our love, one towards another, such as Christ's love was to us—to leave no means of love untried for good. Look, then, at the particular subject now before us in a better and a wiser point of view. And where we see a Christian honestly resolved to present himself and those belonging to him before the Almighty day by day, let us attend to the true language which such determination speaks, and should be understood to speak of itself. Are not the words that follow something like what we may seem to hear such master of a family speaking, by this very act, to those around him ?
“My dear children and domestics, whom God “ hath entrusted to me, I assemble you thus
“ together, and so long as you remain under my “ roof shall continue to do so, that I may present “ you daily before the Lord, as those that are his. “ The Scriptures tell us, and my own heart bears " them witness, that he is the Lord our God, “ and we are all his people and the sheep of his “ pasture. On him therefore we should call “ continually; for we live but by his mercy. “ But we are bound together by a tie yet closer " than this. We are indeed the sheep of his “pasture ; but we are, by nature, sheep gone “ astray; and we can neither approach him now " acceptably by prayer, nor justly hope to come " to him hereafter in presence, except in the " name and for the sake of one great Shepherd ss of us all—the Lord Jesus Christ. Concerning “ him we shall learn more in reading pious books " and the divine Scriptures ; as we shall also be “ instructed more concerning the work and power " of the Holy Spirit in confirming Christian faith, " and making holy a believer's heart. But it is “ only needful to say now, I deal with you in this -manner because I believe in God, and in his “ Son, and in the Holy Spirit with my own heart, "s and would have you believe the same. My s own belief is fixed by many weighty reasons, " but perhaps by this one above all because I