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converts to a party, by reciting the articles of an unscriptural creed, and then requesting the Almighty to impress all present with a belief of their truth. I have heard others undertake to pray down all who dissented from their interpretations of scripture, by informing the Lord of their heresy, accusing them of wilful depravity in rejecting their opinions, and dictating to the divine mind how to bring such unbelievers to the reception of their theological views. I have even known some who earnestly implored God to convert certain ministers of a different denomination, and save them from the downward road to hell in which they were fast travelling; thus taking upon themselves to judge the hearts of others, and condemn those as unconverted who had long exhibited much more scriptural evidence of being true Christians than they had themselves.
Now all such are prayers to men; and instead of being devotional, are directly calculated to call into exercise the worst passions of the human heart; to inflame the pride of all who think themselves of the number of the elect; and to rouse the contempt, if not the anger, of all who are thus publicly pointed out as objects of man's pity and God's displeasure. They are also unchristian prayers. For the gospel addresses us all as sinners. As such we should ever feel when we offer our devotions to our heavenly Father. We should all, the very best as well as the most depraved, penitently confess our manifold transgressions; humbly implore the divine forgiveness, and earnestly seek spi
ritual aid to preserve us from temptation and deliver us from all evil. Realizing our entire dependence, we should also pour forth the gratitude of our hearts for the unnumbered mercies of our lives; and fervently beseech a continuance and increase of all needed temporal and spiritual blessings. Feeling that we are all brethren, we should devoutly pray that the sick may be healed, the sorrowful comforted, the ignorant enlightened, the wicked reformed, and that the rich blessings of good learning, civil liberty, religious freedom, and true holiness may be enjoyed by every individual and nation on the whole earth. Such devotions will render us more pure, humble, benevolent, devout and happy; and no sincere Christian of any sect can hesitate to unite in such scriptural offerings. By pursuing this course, we may reasonably hope to be ranked among those true worshippers whom the Father seeketh to worship him in spirit and in truth.
Such are the principal duties of a minister in relation to the public worship. What then are the corresponding duties of a people? They require all hearers to unite heartily in the public devotions. But I fear many excuse themselves from this exercise for very unsatisfactory reasons. Some think they cannot unite with those who offer their devotions to the Father alone, and do not close their prayers with ascriptions to Father, Son and spirit; not considering that this objection would prevent their uniting even with Jesus and his Apostles; since all their addresses were offered to the Father alone, and not one of their prayers
closes with ascriptions to Father, Son and spirit, as the one God. Others think they cannot unite in Christian worship, because they can relate no experiences of a change of heart, and because they have been assured that the prayers of the unconverted are an abomination to the Lord. If they cannot pray sincerely; if their petitions would be hypocritical, they would surely be an offence both to man and his Maker. But if they can ask their Father and Friend, in sincerity and truth, for any one thing, that request will be kindly received and graciously answered. Others again suppose they have no further concern in this exercise than to preserve a decent behaviour; not recollecting that it is as much their province to pray as their minister's, and that he is not employed to pray for them, but to lead in their devotions; not remembering that by so doing, they lose the peculiar benefit of the service, and acquire a very dangerous habit. Consequently, no one can present any satisfactory excuse for neglecting, this part of his Sunday duty. It is therefore the privilege of all the people to unite heartily in the public devotions, and to make such exertions as shall impress them deeply upon their minds and hearts; thus obtaining gracious answers of peace and improvement from their Father in heaven.
THE MEANS OF CULTIVATING LOVE TO GOD.
How shall I learn to love God? Is it not an inspired grace? What can I do to acquire it? It is inspired through our employment of the appointed means of religious culture. Like every other affection it is formed, and strengthened by exercise, by the habit of frequently bringing God's goodness before the mind. This is the simple secret. How comes a child to love his parents more than other persons as good as they, or better? Only because of his constant intercourse with them, his more frequent perception of their kind qualities. So he that will commune with his God in regular habits of devotion will soon experience a growing love. His transcendant moral beauty only requires the attention, to win the heart.
Yet he who would love must not commune with him in the formal act of prayer alone; but in all the general habits of his mind. He must try to enthrone his maker over the whole strain of his thoughts, his rooted opinions, his favorite sentiments; and associate his image with every pleasureable emotion. It is this great law of association that rules the intellectual world. It must act for religion. It must enable us to connect the sentiment of pious gratitude with the smallest enjoyment in life. In the moment of happiness, however it may be ministered, pause awhile, and say, "from God it comes." See his hand operating for good in all the workings of nature. And when you walk forth amid its
gloriousness, beholding the beauty with which he hath strowed the earth and the splendors with which he hath garnished the heavens, let the instinctive suggestion of your heart be, “my Father made them all." In the soft breeze that cools your brow in summer's heat, hear his soothing whispers. In the genial light that gladdens your eyes in winter's gloom, see his cordial smile. In the golden robes of the fields and the rich burdens of the trees, and all the exuberance of autumn's treasures, mark his open hand scattering far and wide with indiscriminating liberality. Let all that is grand, and all that is lovely in his works, pronounce the name of their bountiful author, before they are permitted to teach any inferior truth. And this simple habit of devout reflection will make the Unseen always brightly visible, and bring down him who is in the height of Heaven to intimate communion with our lowly hearts.
Nor only so. Affectionate adoration will trace God's goodness in every exhibition of moral beauty as well as in the displays of outward nature. It will recognize his forming hand in all the loveliness and grandeur of lofty virtue. Every act of human goodness may be made to tell of him who created man "after his own image." Wherever kind emotion swells the heartwherever the tear of pity fills the eye-wherever benevolence puts forth her soft hand to bind up the wounds of affliction, there may you learn a lesson of love to God. See then his tender mercies reflected in the compassionate sympathies of his creatures, and let human virtue remind you of more than his benig