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himself, the fear of God is not in this place; and accordingly he looked for nothing but injury and violence. Where the public is corrupt, private happiness must always be affected by it; and we know of no remedy for public corruption but public devotion.
There is only one thing farther that need now be observed in behalf of public prayer, which is this, that the devotion of heaven is the devotion of society. Angels and saints all join in the adoration of the same Divine Being : there are no monastics, no professors of retirement; but they are all of the same heart and mind, praising God with one voice, and inflaming the rapture of every individual by the powerful union of an infinite multitude. Men united together in great numbers have a powerful influence on one another's passions here upon earth: how much more will the multitudes of immortal spirits in heaven spread abroad the flames of divine love in the hearts of those who shall be blessed with their society! This consideration should draw Christians together; whose chief duty it is now, to join their voices together in charity, and make intercession to God for the forgiveness of their own sins, and of the church and nation to which they belong : that so they may be prepared to
meet meet in heaven, and join in the worship of the church triumphant ; where intercession shall be changed to thanksgiving ; where there shall be no more sorrow, because there shall be no sin ; where the devoticn of the day shall not be interrupted by the darkness of the night; and where the God, whom they worship, shall no longer be an invisible object of their faith, but present to their sight in glory everlasting.
Thus far I have endeavoured to justify and recommend the public worship of God. I have warned you of the corruptions of popery on the one hand, and of the error of the sectaries on the other; who in a manner excluded the charitable duties of prayer, to make room for vain and seditious discourses from the pulpit. I have insisted, according to the words of the text, that the house of God is a place intended for the office of prayer, the proper employment of poor sinners, who may hear sermons all their lives, but will never find themselves nearer to God, till they know how to taste the pleasures of devotion. All the sacrifices which were offered from the beginning of the world, all the incense of the tabernacle, all the smoke of the altar, did not minister to the work of preaching, but were the vehicles of prayer, intercession, and atonement. Prayer
ever was, and ever will be, the vital part of religion : without it there is no religion ; and with it, the person who has only learned his catechism, may, with God's blessing, find his way to heaven, with little or no assistance from sermons. I have likewise observed, that public prayer borrows its efficacy from the place in which it is offered ; a place separated from common use, and holding communication with heaven itself, the dwelling-place of God ; that the servants of God, in all ages, had a reverend esteem for the place of divine worship; having regard to it always in the manner and the time of their private devotions: and that God hath shewed special favour to those who applied to him at the appointed time; that the great end of all these appointments is the edification and happiness of the people of God, who are knit together in charity, by uniting in prayer; that public blessings are the sure reward of public devotion; and that individuals cannot be at peace, unless there is religion in the society to which they belong. Above all, that the devotion of the congregation upon earth is preparatory to the felicity of heaven ; and that he must pray with Christians in this vale of tears, who would join in the worship of angels in the sanctuary above. Surely these were the con
siderations siderations which possessed the heart of the holy Psalmist, when he uttered those sublime expressions of charity and devotion, the hearing of which is sufficient to warm the coldest heart. I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself ; for thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord-O pray for the peace of Jerusalem ; they shall prosper that love thee--for my brethren and companions' sakes I will wish thee prosperity ; yea because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do thee good.
And now, my brethren, give me leave to inform you, that I have chosen this particular subject, because the season of Lent is at hand, and our case is particular. You all know it was my practice, when I came first to this place, to have weekly prayers at the church : but my congregation, which was always small, did at length fall away so, that I was discouraged from proceeding any farther. This was the first accident I had ever met with of the kind since I entered into the ministry ; which made it the more grievous to me. However, I will not give up a good cause in despair ; and that
the fault may not lie upon myself, I have determined to speak my mind freely, having some encouragement so to do. You were slack in sending your children to be catechised; but when I spoke to you upon that subject in the church, I found an immediate attention for the better: who knows, but that what I shall now say may be attended with the like happy effect? At least, I am persuaded you will do me the justice to believe, that your benefit is the principal object I have in view. Therefore let us consider the case fairly and impartially. I know the excuse you have to offer for not attending the prayers of the church on Wednesdays and Fridays-You are busy, and have not time. And indeed, I must admit this excuse as sufficient with those whose employ- . ment or situation places them at a great distance from the church, and whose families depend upon their daily labour : therefore I must argue the case more particularly with those who are near the church. To them I answer, that the time of their attendance is short ; not much more than half an hour twice in a week; and that this little portion of time cannot occasion any very great interruption in their affairs. Let them ask their own hearts seriously, whether they would not be prevailed upon to spare