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Cornelius' was a Centurion over the Italian band of soldiers, and the soldiers that waited on him continually were devout men; yet piety neither hindered the one from executing his command, nor the other from discharging their duties of obedience; and that with an express tes : tiinony of God's approbation. In fact, the private duties of life are so far from being incompatible with true piety, that we are then serving God acceptably, when we are employed in the faithful discharge of them according to our several stations. And, on the other hand, the offices of piety are so far from hindering the prosecution of our secular affairs, that they sweeten the fatigue of them with a secret satisfaction, and encourage us to diligence in them, by the expectation of a blessing upon our honest, endeavours, For, when a man has offered his morning sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving to God, he then goes forth with cheerfulness to his labour until the evening And in the evening, when he has acknowledged the blessing of God upon his labours, and implored the protection of
. 149 the unsleeping eye of Providence over his house, he can say with the resignationi and security of the Psalmist, Now will • I lay me down in peace, and take iny 46 rest, being fully convinced that God 6 will make me dwell in safety.” +$en ' ,. ' 'is. ..
voi But whilst we guard same against that enthusiastic extravagance in devotion, which leads them to expose religion cito contempt by únseasonable feryours,OP their families to ruin by a neglect of the necessary duties of life, it will becomé us still more to awake those unhappy slumbérers to a sense of their duty, who live às without a God in the world, and seldom or never look up to the throne of grace, from whence every blessing is derived. Let such men well weigh the ex. ample of this heathen soldier, who, amidst the din of armis, prayed to God always. Let such men, with a serious attention, hear what St. Paul saith, where he gives that strict injunction to his Thessalonians, $" to pray without ceasing.". Let such men remember what a greater than St. Paulmeant; when " he spake a parable, to
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66. the intent that men ought always to ço pray, and not to faint." If then ye profess yourselves Christians, if ye assemble in this holy place to know what the will of the Lord is ;-Why hearken ye not to the voice of his word ? Why, by a total neglect of divine ordinances, do ye live as heathens, and not as Christians ?
Should any imagine, that the formality of one day's attendance in the sanctuary of God will excuse the neglect of him every other day, let them be assured, that he is unfit to come into the temple of God in public, who never looks up to the throne of God in private.s He cannot come thither with that earnestness and devout frame of mind, which is to be acquired only by constant and habitual devotion : He cannot in a moment on the Sabbath-day lay aside those cares, and pleasures of the world, which have intirely engaged his thoughts and excluded, his God on every other day. And this is too clearly seen in the constant, indevotion, in the wandering eyes, and still, I fear, more wandering imaginations, of any in almost every Christian congregation,
When such men therefore approach this: holy place, God seems to speak to them in the fire of his anger, as he did to Moses' out of the flaming bush, “ Come not nigh “ hither; for the place where thou “ standest is holy ground:" Thou hast none of those qualifications, which are: necessary to recommend thee to God; thou wantest that humble and devout dependence upon him, which would leadii thee daily to implore his protection ; and therefore thou art, unworthy to tread his courts, or approach his altars, with presumptuous and unhallowed feet. .
A second part of this excellent Centurion's character is, that he took care to preserve a due sense of religion and piety in his family: “ he feared the Lord with - all his house."
When God has blessed men with children, or entrusted to them the government of servants or dependents, it is their indispensable duty to watch over their spiritual, as well as temporal welfare, and to see that they execute the comL 4
mands of God as well as their own. The Apostle tells us, “ If a man provides not
for his own houshold, he is worse than 69 an infidel.” And if so severe a charge lies upon him, who provides not for the temporal necessities of his family, how rauch heavier a sentence will fall upon him, who neglects to make any provision for their spiritual subsistence? And yet it is melancholy to consider, how little attention is paid to so important a point, even with respect to those, in whose welfare we are most nearly concerned, I mean our own children. We are anxious to provide for them the external accomplishments, which will recommend them in the eyes of the world; but we are too careless in providing for them those Christian graces, which are the noblest of all ornaments, and which alone can recommend them in the sight of God. We are again solicitous enough to guard them against the dangers of fire or water ; but we do not sufficiently consider, of how much more importance it is to guard them against the danger of being drowned in endless perdition, or cast into everlast