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with great propriety be inculcated: one especially · should not be omitted. It is too well known, that many who call themselves Christians, and even appear to be religious in the house of God, neglect his wor. ship in their own houses, and in this respect, resemble the heathen:* Would it not then be peculiarly suitable to this occasion, should any master of a family, who is consciously criminal in this matter, call together his domesticks, own before them his conviction that his former neglect had been very sinful, and declare that he had now adopted Joshua's resolution, “ As for me " and my house, we will serve the Lord;"f and should he, having made this declaration, begin to read the scriptures to them, and join with them in worshipping God from that time, in a regular and constant manner? Thus instructing and “commanding his chil. “dren and household after him, to walk in the ways “ of the LORD,” in imitation of Abraham's example; he might reasonably hope that God would regard his prayers for the guilty, as he did those of the Patriarch for Sodom; and that future generations also might in some measure derive benefit from his pious endeavours. I
It becomes us, on this occasion especially, to enquire seriously, what talents the LORD hath committed to our stewardship? and whether we have duly improved them? This will conduce to our humiliation, and instruction in our own duty; for no real advantage
Jer. x. 25.
+ Josh. xxiv. 15.
Gen. xviii. 17-33.
can arise from an acquaintance with other men's faults and duties, or intermeddling “as busy-bodies in other “men's matters," whilst our own business is neg. lected. Such a conduct in domesticks throws a family into confusion, and it can produce no better effects in the community: but when every man studies to know and practise the duty of his station, the whole goes on regularly and is well managed. Numbers, indeed, will continue ignorant or negligent of their proper work; and will be ambitious of attracting the attention of their fellow-citizens, by a clamorous officiousness in matters “ too high for them:" but Christians should“ be ambitious (12072ee7o fas) to be quiet, " and to mind their own business."*
The minister of state and the minister of religion, the senator and the magistrate, the gentleman and the merchant, the rich and the poor, the master and the domestick, have their several stations, talents, and em. ployments assigned them by their common LORD, “who is no respecter of persons.” Every man should, therefore, conscientiously rectify what hath been amiss, perform what hath been neglected, and improve every advantage of his situation in “doing good to all men, “ and especially to the household of faith; " not know. ing how soon it may be said unto him. “Give an ac“ count of thy stewardship, for thou mayest no longer « be steward.” Nor can any Christian consistently spend his precious time in animadverting on the faults of others; except his office require him “to reprove, re“buke, exhort with all authority and doctrine;" or unless it be his duty to inspect the conduct of some part of the community. By attending to our own business, we may all, in some measure, conduce to a revival of undefiled religion, and help to preserve the peace or improve the morals of the nation; which things are not likely to be effected by those who know every one's duty but their own, quarrel with vice in every body except themselves, and are zealous for a reform any where rather than in their own lives and families. But here alas! their charity should begin at home.'
* Thes. iv. 11.
It is also incumbent upon us, brethren, at present to give peculiar attention to the scripturalexhortations "to fear God and the king, and not to meddle with " those who are given to change:»* The ministers of Christ are required to put you in mind, to be sub*ject to principalities and powers, to obey magis“trates,” and “to honour and obey the king;” “ to
tribute also," and " to render to Cæsar the " things that are Cæsar's.” Indeed it is of the greatest importance to the honour of the gospel, especially in these turbulent times, that “all who name the name of “Christ” and would be deemed his disciples, should set an example of peaceable obedience “ to every or“ dinance of man, for the Lord's sake,” in all things not contrary to the commands of God; of respect to the persons of rulers, as the ministers of providence, and of regard to the publick peace. Thus should we aim “to put to silence and shame" those false accusers who represent us as “troublers of the city,” and
Proy. xxiv. 21, 22,
as “enemies to princes and provinces:” and we ought likewise by such a conduct to express our gratitude for the religious liberty we enjoy. But should any man object that he disapproves some things in the conduct or measures of our rulers; and that he deems himself on that account liberated, in point of conscience, from the obligation to honour and obey them: let him honestly answer these following questions. Did the apostles see nothing amiss in the characters and administration of the Roman emperors, or of their ministers and deputies? Are not our rulers and government, in many respects, an entire contrast to those under which they delivered these precepts? Did the primitive Christians ever start this objection to the exhortations of their inspired teachers? Do your children and servants see no flaw in your conduct? Or do you deem them justified on that account, in disobeying, reviling, or exposing you? I own I am conscious of so many faults in myself, that I feel no surprise when I am informed that they, who fill the post of temptation and observation, are not found immaculate by their numerous and rigorous judges. We, are, however, answerable only for our own conduct: the crimes of others will not excuse our express disobedience to God; and the more we are abased for our sins, the less shall we be disposed “ to despise domi“ nion, and speak evil of dignities."
Among the various evils which prevail in the land, the religious divisions and contentions that subsist among us, are not the most inconsiderable; for by them
CHRIST is “ wounded in the house of his friends;" and the enemy of souls now makes a great advantage of political disputes, to alienate the minds of serious people from each other more than ever. We cannot heal these divisions as they exist in the outward state of the church: we allow, that there are persons who do not hold the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, and to whom we must not “bid GOD speed;” (though we may feed them when hungry, and relieve their ur. gent necessities;) and it is our duty “ to withdraw " from every brother that walks disorderly:" yet we should be careful not to harbour prejudices against whole bodies of men, because of the faults committed even by a large part of them: Judas was found among the apostles, and Joseph of Arimathea among the rulers of the Jews.-" He that is not against us is on our part:" we should not “ forbid those who cast
out devils in CHRIST's name, though they follow "not with us;” but “endeavour to keep the unity of
the Spirit in the bond of peace;" “ to love as bre. "thren all that are born of God," and pray that
mercy and grace may be with all those who love the "LORD Jesus in sincerity.”—We are commanded to “ lift up holy hands” without wrath or doubting: and the union of all true Christians, on these solemn occasions, resembles that of an army composed of several nations and distinct battalions; if they forget their personal and national disputes, and vie with each other in courage and zeal for the common cause; they are formidable and effective: but if any malignant influence prevail on them to turn their arms against each