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“ earth,” but occupy with it, as those who expect the coming of their Judge. The affluent may use their estates, and the influence derived from them, to good purpose; if they consitently endeavour, by every means, to discountenance vice and irreligion, and to recommend piety and righteousness to all around them. The merchant may render commerce subservient to the noble design of propagating christianity, and disseminating the word of God in distant regions; thus counteracting the effects of the crimes perpetrated by nominal Christians, among Pagans and Mahometans. They who have families, should, by their example, converse, and instructions, labour to imbue their minds with good principles, and to lead them to holy practice. Every man has his circle, in which he possesses some influence, which may either be abused to bad, or improved to good purpose. Few industrious persons are so poor but they may spare a trifle from needless expence, to promote the gospel, the dispersion of pious books, and such other designs, as counteract the endeavours of those who disseminate error and vice among mankind: nor will the poor widow's two mites be overlooked, when consecrated to such services.
Thus every man, in his proper place and duty, (like officers and soldiers, constituting a well disciplined army,) may contribute to promote that reformation of manners and prevalence of religion, which alone can ensure the continuance of our national prosperity: and, though the attempts of each person, separately considered, may appear trivial, yet the united efforts of a large multitude, engaged in the same cause, as with one heart and soul, may, by the blessing of God, produce extensive and durable effects. -
3. They who can do little else, may be helpful by their prayers, for “the effectual fervent “ prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” All true believers are righteous before God; none of us think more humbly of ourselves, than they did who prevailed so wonderfully in former ages; and omnipotence can effect its purposes by second causes, as well as by miracles: if then we pray according to the precepts, doctrines, promises, and examples of Scripture, with a view to the glory of God, in dependence on his power, truth, and mercy, with submission to his Providence, and love to our fellow creatures, and with earnest importunity and perseverance, we may be confident that “ by the Spirit” we offer that “effectual, fervent prayer, which availeth “ much.”
“Let me alone,” (said the LORD to Moses, when he pleaded with him in behalf of rebellious Israel,) “ that I may destroy them in a moment :" he could not, so to speak, proceed to take vengeance, unless his servant would cease to plead for them. Abraham desisted from asking, before the Lord delayed to grant his supplications for guilty Sodom. Sennacherib's numerous host was too feeble to withstand the united prayers of Hezekiah and Isaiah: nor could Herod's prison aud guards detain or destroy Peter; when time was given to the church to pour out their prayers for him. Do we then hear of good designs which seem likely to be frustrated, through the artifices of the enemy, and their interference with men's secular interests? Let us remember that our prayers are appointed and effectual means of removing these impediments: and perhaps the Lord delays the success of such designs, till he be importuned by the whole multitude of his people; that as he alone can send prosperity, or give the blessing, so the whole glory may thus be given to him, whatever instruments he may honour by employing in such beneficial services. It is, however, our bounden duty thus to assist all who labour to do good.
We should pray, without ceasing, that the ministers of Christ may be faithful, bold, zealous, prudent, and successful; that the LORD would send forth labourers into his vineyard; that pure christianity may be diffused on every side ; that the church may become as “a city that is at "unity with itself;" that at this time,“ when the “enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the “ LORD may lift up a standard against him;" that irreligion and false religion may be suppressed; that Jews, Pagans, Infidels, and Mahometans, may be converted; that such as are gone, amidst manifold dangers and hardships, to preach the gospel in remote regions, may be protected, supported, comforted, and prospered; and that “the earth may “speedily be filled with the knowledge of the LORD, * as the waters cover the sea.”
We should pray, (not only in the service of the church, but in our closets and families,) that the LORD would bless our king, and all his counsellors, ministers, senators, and magistrates, with wisdom and grace; that the best methods may be taken to preserve peace, and promote religion at home; and to extend the same blessings to the nations abroad. We should intreat the LORD, who hath all hearts in his hands, to dispose the contending parties to peace, and thus prevent the further effusion of human blood; to stem that torrent of iniquity and misery, which bears down all before it, in the once flourishing land of our enemies; that so a way may be made for the establishment of peace, order, and good government, at an equal distance from despotism and anarchy; and that a tolerating system may open a door for the successful preaching of the gospel among them: and, in short, we should beseech him so to over-rule present ca. lamities, that now “his judgments are abroad in
“ the lands, the inhabitants of them may learn *“ righteousness.”
Charity, in all its branches, constitutes an important part of our present duty, as it was emphatically inculcated in the lesson for the morning service. But whilst “ we give our bread to the “ hungry, and bring the poor outcasts to our "houses;”. we should also remember “ to forgive in “our enemies, to bless them that curse us, to "pray for them who despitefully use us; and “not to be overcome with evil, but to overcome “ evil with good.”
These are some of the principal duties incun. th bent on us : and in vain does any man pretend to be a patriot, who will not practise them: for by his sins he is helping to bring down divine judg.is ment on the land; and he refuses to concur in the proper means of averting them. The preparation for, and subsequent improvement of, such solemn observances, constitute a principal part of their benefit; and, if due attention be paid to these obvious duties, by those in general who apparently keep this day according to the desigu of it, we may expect important consequences.
I would conclude with observing, that if there should be any present, who have not felt them. selves interested in these things, and purpose not to give heed to them ; they may perhaps be preserved from national judgments, by the human ble prayers of those whom they despise : but