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duty. The Ninevites must cry aloud, and mightily to God, and it was not in vain :* Simon Peter bids Simon Magus pray, though in the gall of bitterness.†

(2.) We must distinguish betwixt a wilful and a returning sinner: we bid not a thief pray that he may meet with a booty, that is abominable; or men “regarding iniquity in their hearts:" but in a complex sense we bid them "turn from their evil ways, and so pray." Prayer must be joined with repentance; as prayer is a means of carrying the heart to God in worship, so it is a means to obtain grace.|| Prayer is the soul's motion God-ward, desire is the soul of prayer, and who dares to say to the wicked, desire not God, Christ, faith? By praying, men may learn to pray aright, "for God gives his holy Spirit to them that ask him."

Object. 4. There are wicked children or servants in the family, how dare we join with them? For whose sake God may justly reject us.

Answ. (1.) If the praying governor be a really religious character and pray aright, he need not fear nonacceptance: Christ was heard in his prayer, though Judas was present. What think What think you of poor ministers' prayers in mixed congregations?¶ certainly the presence of unworthy persons prejudiceth not the reception of sincere worshippers.

(2.) Prayer is God's institution to make bad good, some have been much wrought upon by prayers of others, God in time heard Stephen for Paul, if it advantaged not at present. Mr. Weemse said of Mr. Bruce, he brought down the Holy Ghost upon us all. Deny them not this means of conversion.

* Jonah iii. 8. + Acts viii. 22. Psal. lxvi. 18. Isa. lv. 6, 7. Medium cultus, so it is medium gratiæ. § Luke xi. 13.

Acts xxvii. 35.

Object. 5. This setting up of a family-altar for such constant prayer savours of forms, and will fill the country with formalists and hypocrites.

Answ. (1.) Forms in themselves as forms are not condemned, but forms only, wanting the power of godliness, 2 Tim. iii. 5. Our business is not to make hypocrites but converts: by form is meant a mask, vizor, or appearance opposed to substance and reality. But we persuade and direct to sincerity, as to principle, manner and end of religious exercises.

(2.) But a form of godliness is better than none at all men cannot have the power of godliness without the form, no more than you can have the kernel without the shell. He that He that prays doth something towards duty, but he that refuseth to worship God at all, bids open defiance to God's commanding authority, and saith, I scorn to bow so much as a knee to God in prayer. This is a presumptuous sin: "The wicked through the pride of his heart will not seek after God."* Let him answer it as he dare. The text saith, 1 Tim. iv. 8, "Bodily exercise profiteth little," рòç iliyov for a little, that is, for a little time; or for a little, that is, in some outward respects, as in Ahab's fasting though it reach not so far as the eternal salvation of the immortal soul:† however this is better than a total neglect.

Object. 6. But such kind of praying morning and evening is a stinting of the Spirit, a limiting of God to man's time, when the Spirit moves not to it.

Answ. (1.) Christ and his apostles had set times for prayer; Jesus oft times resorted to the garden, Judas knew his stated hour and place, John xviii. 2. "And the apostles had an hour of prayer," Acts iii. 1. Was this stinting the Spirit? Indeed this objection is +1 Kings xxi. 29.

* Psalm x. 4.

levelled against preaching, singing, the Lord's supper, and all stated ordinances, how do men know that the Spirit will move at such a season?

(2.) It is one thing to stint, another to lie in the way of the Spirit: men are bound to wait at the posts of wisdom's doors, and are blessed, and in the road of further blessing;* for the wind of the Spirit bloweth where and when it listeth:† and nobody will say he limits the wind who waits in the haven for a fair gale to waft him forward. Besides, God expects that men should stir up themselves to take hold of him. Self-excitation is God's appointment to get the heart into a good frame. How often doth David begin low and end high? We must stir up the gift of God in our hearts. A dead, dull, senseless heart is no supersedeas from duty: omission upon indisposition doth but harden the heart, indispose still more for duty, and gratify Satan, yea, and displease God.

Object. 7. This family-prayer is but a singular invention of brain-sick novellists, not used of old, and is more ado than needs.

Answ. (1.) In scripture-times it was used, and in the purest primitive times. Basil saith, that Christians made haste to prayers by day-break in the morning: Chrysostom saith we go not from table to bed, but to prayers, lest we be more brutish than brutes. It were easy to produce instances from Cyprian, Augustin, &c. of early Christians being frequent in prayers. You will say, but these were the prayers of churches? I answer: churches were mostly then in houses, yet some instances prove also daily family prayer and godly persons in all ages have used it.

(2.) Can men be too devout? Doth not our Lord

* Prov. viii. 34. + John iii. 8. Isa. lxiv. 7. || 2 Tim. i. 6. § Mane orto die, in precationes properare.

say, "One thing is needful; seek first the kingdom of God; thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, and strength."* Can you do too much for God? Can you be too oft with God? Alas! you cannot be over much righteous in the internal exercises of religion:† no, nor the external, as long as you keep to commanded duties, and one duty does not cross another: nay, when we have done all that is commanded, still we are unprofitable servants; we have but done our duty. It was Judas that said, "wherefore is this waste?" Pious souls still complain of defects. Whom have you heard complain on their death-bed that they had served God too much, or been too religious?

Object. 8. They are no better than others that pray in their families; they can lie, cheat, be covetous, proud, passionate, censorious, and hard-hearted.

Answ. (1.) Take heed what you say; act not the devil's part, to be false-accusers, taking up a false report, or without proof. It is well known, that nowa-days, if persons be strict and serious in religious duties, many pick quarrels with them, take advantage against them, aggravate their faults; these men's motes are beams, yea mountains; this sect is every where spoken against ;§ there needs no further jury to try them; but if they be praying persons, they are hypocrites, as if piety were a characteristic of hypocrisy. The Lord rebuke thee, O diabolist! judge charitably till you know the truth; you may wrong them, as primitive Christians were wronged.

(2.) Suppose they do transgress and miscarry; alas! they are but men. Thus the angel excused honest Joshua, when Satan accused him: "Is not this a brand

* Luke x. 42. Luke xvii. 10.

Matt. vi. 33. xxii. 37.
John xii. 3-5.

+ Eccles. vii. 16. § Acts xxviii. 22.

plucked out of the fire?"* Alas! he smells of Babylon too much; but may not such be upright for the main? and how will God take it if you slander his children? But suppose it be true that they are faulty, doth their religion teach them so? Is this the fault of their praying, or not praying aright? Is it because they are too religious, or defective in it? No, say you, they are hypocrites; but if they who are so devout prove so, what will become of you, that are so far short of them? If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall you appear?†

Object. 9. We pray in public and secret, is not that sufficient? what needs family-prayer too? surely God never required so much a-do.

Answ. (1.) One duty cannot supersede another: these are distinct parts of the same duty. Religion must be carried on in all places and relative circumstances; husband and wife must pray together; and even neighbours must call to each other, and say, come, come, let us go speedily to pray before the Lord. Think not then to put off God with one sort of religiousness, you must be holy in all manner of conversation, in every turn, turn you which way you will, to your general or particular calling, to a single or married state, to solitariness or company;§ you must still take your religion with you, and practise it as a member of a church or family.

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(2.) It is very doubtful whether those worship God sincerely in public, or at all in their closets, who worship not God in and with their families. It was the saying of Lactantius, "that is no true religion which men leave behind them at church." Men may make

*Zech. iii. 2.

+ 1 Pet iv. 18.

+ 1 Pet. iii. 7.
§ 1 Pet. i. 15. Εν πάσῃ ἀναστροφῇ.

|| Zech. viii. 21.

¶ Non est vera religio quæ cum templo relinquitur.

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