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The following Essay is not intended to supersede the use of any similar treatise on Domestic Duties: on the contrary, it is distinctly avowed, that this will furnish an incomplete manual without others, such as those of the Rev. Messrs. Morison, Anderson, and James. In dwelling, however, upon what ought to be the practice of Christians, the above excellent works have not stated out fully the theological principle from whence their several duties emanate, although they have all alluded to it. Many points will here appear,
for the same reasons, to be passed over too slightly, and others enlarged upon with disproportionate minuteness. But it was needless to say that which had been well said already; and the object was not repetition, but to be strictly supplemental to what had been written before. This Essay, therefore, is only to fill up what was lacking in others; nec fungar inani munere, if no other effect is produced by it, than that of causing them to be more read.
Something of the kind was required, for it is not uncommon to hear persons, in
every rank of life, speaking as if religion were a thing separate from duty; that is, as if it consisted in the belief of a proper creed, and in the performance of acts of mercy and charity ; but that all the business of life was a hindrance to the proper spiritual practice of a christian man. So far, indeed, as religion consists in, or rather is to be acquired by, reading God's word, and meditation thereon, so far is the business of life an hindrance to religion ; but so equally is visiting the sick, or any other act of social intercourse with our fellow-creatures. We find a labourer hasting to get his daily task finished, in order that he may resume some other occupation
which he calls more religious; he fancies that his religion has been left when he quitted his home and his Bible, and that he is not a religious man until he returns to it. The lawyer hastens to get through his causes, because he thinks that a court of law is not a place in which it is possible to be religious : and the merchant leaves his counting-house to attend a committee of a society, supposing that the latter is in performance of a religious duty which the former is not. But digging a field, pleading a cause, and sitting behind a counter, are as much religious duties to persons in those respective classes, as any other employment can be. Religion means a system of obligations; of bindings of man to God, and of man to man: the bands which hold are the ordinances of God's appointment; and every individual is religious or otherwise, according as he sees God in the sphere in which he is moving, and fulfils to Him the purpose for which he is placed in it. The Bible or Word of God gives indeed an account of God; and the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded by the Evangelists, and his operations detailed in the Apocalypse, show God in act; but it is only in his ordinances that the Christian can walk with Him -have fellowship with Him-live with Him. The Bible does not make the ordinances, but reveals them, in order that that servant of God may understand their meaning, and conduct himself in them as unto his Master which is in heaven.
Some friends, for whose judgment the utmost respect is entertained, have found fault with expressions in the following pages respecting the persons professing what is called Evangelical Religion. No one ought to be more offended at the use of this abstract term, than at the words Calvinism, Arminianism, Me