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NEW SERIES—No. 19.
January and February, 1822.
TWO FAMILY PRAYERS, FOR THE MORNING AND EVENING OF
A UMIGHTY and ever blessed God, Source of all being, and Fountain of all good; we thy children, created by thee, preserved by thee, and indebted to thee for all that we possess and all that we enjoy, would come before thee this morning, to express our deep sense of thy never failing goodness to us, and to acknowledge our entire dependence on thy care. Thou hast made us in thine own image, thou hast endowed us with reason, and thou bast promised us immortality. Glory be to thy name, that thou hast made us capable of holding communion with thee, the Father of our spirits, and of receiving the revelations which thou hast graciously vouchsafed us of thy being and character, thy paternal government, thy mercy, and thy love. Glory be to thy name, for the sublime and holy doctrines, the plain and purifying precepts, and the inspiring assurances, delivered to us in the gospel of thy Son ; that the virtues which it enjoins were manifested in the spotless life of its author, and that the laws which it promulgates are sanctioned by the most powerful and momentous considerations both of time and of eternity. It is our earnest prayer to thee, O God, that our hearts may be touched by its holy influences, that our characters may be formed by its spirit, that our principles may be established on its motives, and that our lives may be governed by its laws. Let it not be our condemnation, we beseech thee, O Father, to choose the darkness rather than the light, to prefer evil to good, falsehood to truth, vanity to honour, sense to soul, and slavery to Nero Series-vol. IV.
freedom; permit us not to wander perversely and darkly in the mazes of ignorance and sin, rather than be guided by thee in the ways of wisdom to a heavenly home.
May our attendance this day on thy public worship, and the services and instructions of thy house, be followed by the best effects on our hearts and lives. May we enter thy gates with thanksgiving, and thy courts with praise, and bring with us our best desires, our best affections, and our best resolutions to the Temple of the Lord. Suffer not our minds to be distracted, and our devotions to languish and grow cold. Let not the thoughts which ought to be engaged in the holiest offices, be still returning to the cares and pleasures and follies of a transitory world; let us not, we pray thee, take thy name upon our lips when our hearts are far from thee, when our dispositions and habits are openly at variance with the sentiments which we profess, and the services which we perform, when our intentions are still bent upon evil, and our passions are rebellious and unreclaimed. But may our prayers and meditations exalt and purify and improve us, and assist us in discharging the duties of life, and contribute to prepare us for that eternal world to which we are brought nearer by every bour.
May all who call on thy name this day, approach thee in the spirit of sincerity and truth, of humility, of reverence and of love. May all denominations of Christians, casting away their prejudices, their fears, and their animosities, be joined together in the bond of peace. May the Gospel of thy Son have free course and be glorified, may it spread through distant lands, and barbarous climes, till the whole world shall submit to its authority, and be humanized by its influence. In his worthy name, and as his disciples, we offer our petitions, ascribing to Thee, the King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the only Wise God, all glory and honour forever. Amen.
Our Father who art in Heaven, from whom all blessings proceed, and to whom all our gratitude and praise and adoration are due; in the morning we seek thy face and bow before thy throne, and in the evening we would offer on the altar of our hearts a sacrifice of thanksgiving and prayer. Accept, we beseech thee, our grateful acknowledgments for thy goodness to us this day, for preserving our lives, for shielding us from harm and evil, for supplying us with our daily food, and for permitting our attendance on the ordinances of thy house. Let it not be in vain that we
have lifted our thoughts to God, and listened to the voice of instruction. We fervently pray, that whatever good impressions have been made, may be durable, that whatever good resolutions we have formed may be stedfastly persevered in, that the errors of which we have been convicted may be immediately reformed, that the sins of which we have been proved guilty may be forever abandoned, that those devout aspirations, and virtuous sentiments which may have engaged us, may go with us from the sanctuary into the world, and regulate our thoughts, and mingle with our occupations, and guard us against temptation and defilement. May we constantly live as in thy world, in thy sight, as thy subjects, thy creatures, thy children. Let no fear be so powerful over us, as the fear of offending thee; let no hope be so cherished by us, as the hope of pleasing thee; let it be our constant study to love thee as we ought, and our most earnest endeavour to deserve thy love.
We acknowledge, most merciful God, that we have sinned, often and deeply sinned, before Heaven and in thy sight. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and have done those things which we ought not to have done ; and notwithstanding we have been continued here from day to day, and our comforts have been spared, and thy mercies have never ceased from flowing, our ingratitude has still been manifested in our disobedience, and our transgressions have been multiplied against us. Forgive us, we beseech thee, O Father, purify and reclaim us; make us to see, and to lament our guilt, and give us that repentance which needeth not to be repented of. Enable us to become true followers of Jesus Christ, to clothe ourselves with his bumility, his meekness, submission, piety and purity. May thy will, as it was his, be ours; like him may we go about doing good, and consider it our meat and drink to obey thee. May the contemplation of his character, and imitation of bis example, bring us near and more near to his own perfection, and near and more near to those mansions of everlasting happiness, which he has promised to his true disciples, and gone before to prepare for them.
Take us, Almighty Father, under thy sovereign care and protection. Sanctify our domestic relations, and strengthen the bonds of nature and love which join thy servants together. May the blessings which we are continually receiving inflame our gratitude, and animate our obedience, and may those sorrows and privations with which, in thy wisdom, thou mayest see fit to afflict us, be suffered with resignation and improved to our eternal peace. Watch over us, we pray thee, during the darkness of night, and the defenceless hours of sleep; preserve our persons and dwelling from harm, and bring us to the light of another morning, better inclined and enabled to serve thee than we ever yet have been. We implore thy mercy and grace, for ourselves and for all men, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
FOR THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE.
It is made a common reproach to that class of Christians whose opinions are those of the Christian Disciple, that they substitute morals for religion; that their system is a cold and heartless philosophy. It is not my purpose to deny, that men have called themselves Unitarians and liberal Christians, whose theology was liable to this imputation, nor that many, who be. lieve as we do, may be guilty of that fault in practice : but when this is imputed as a necessary result or an avowed part of our views of Christianity, we repel the charge as wholly unauthorized. Indeed it seems to have less pretence to support it, than almost any other one which is cast upon us ; for although we believe, that an immoral man cannot be a Christian--a truth of which some of those who make the charge do not seem fally aware-yet we think the character required by our religion is composed of much nobler principles, than were ever learned in any school of ethics; nay, we hold that even in ad. dition to good morals, to be thoroughly right on doctrinal points, and to have faith to believe things unintelligible, is not enough. We are not indeed of that school, which looks on all righteousness as filthy rags ; yet we hink the truly Christian man differs as much from the merely moral man, in kind though not in degree, as Jesus Christ differed from the Heathen Philosophers. And so is the Gospel preached by liberal Christians; and they who deny it, have heard them inattentively or uncandidly. It is true, that there is less ardour or enthusiasm in the manner of those, who think that "eligion should be addressed to men's reason and feelings, rather than to their passions ; and it is this which has caused them to be charged with coldness and philosophy. To the last imputation they may cheerfully submit, nor be ashamed of applying that mode of inquiry to discover the truths of religion, in the use of which God has blessed man's en. deavours at finding out the less important, but no less divine, truths of physical nature.
But it is not so much my intention now to remark upon such aspersions, as to enforce on the readers of the Christian Disciple the necessity of that piety in practice, which the professors of their faith are accused of neglecting in theory. For it must be confessed, that the substitution of morality for religion is a danger more incident to those who believe as we do, than to those who inake it our reproach; although the fault of substituting religious fervour for good principles, we think, is not one of less magnitude and peril. Such as our danger is, however, and by whomsoever and with whatever feelings we are warned of it, we must do all in our power to avoid it.
Piety is as necessary as morality to that perfection of the human character to which the Christian should aspire. This is very commonly said, but not so commonly attended to; for we often see men of good moral characters, which they owe directly or indirectly to religion, neglecting or laying aside that religion as if it had done its perfect work. They think that if they are moral men, and perform with punctuality and strictness the duties of life, religion is no longer necessary to them, however suitable it may be to keep up in others a
sense of duty. They are conviriced that the whole course of life commanded by the Christian faith is rational and suited to their nature and condition ; and this appears to them so evident, that if they could not have discovered it themselves by unassisted philosophy, yet being once taught a thing so natural and undeniable, they no longer need the sanctions or the excitements of the Gospel to preserve them in the practice of it. They go on paying all decent respect to religion, because they feel its utility, and would not by their example impair its authority with those who need it more than they do. They discharge all their duties to society with exactness, avoid all immorality, and are proof against all the ordinary temptations of life; but they hardly think it a duty to keep up a communion with God, and a sense of their dependence on him. The worst of this error is, that it befals the best of those who are not wholly in the right; for it is one that may deceive even a good man, while what I have spoken of above as the opposite fault, can only be the sin of a hypocrite or a fool. There may be morality without piety, and it is even then of some value; but piety without morality is impossible. To pretend to love God, and yet to be unjust and uncharitable to man, is a wicked mockery. But the same reason which makes this so dangerous an error, gives some hope of correcting it; because those who are most liable to it, are those, to whom exhortation is most successfully addressed.