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• knoweth his owner, and the ass his mas« ter's crib.” Isa. i. 3.
If the love and goodness of God will not engage men in this grateful service, methinks that dreadful imprecation uttered by the Prophet should alarm their consciences : “ Pour “ out thy fury upon the heathen that know “ thee not, and upon the families that call “ not on thy name.” Jer. X. 25. And is it not awful to think that many who bear the Christian name, notwithstanding the solemn engagements they come under to perform this duty, when they are receiving the ordinance of baptism for their children, should trifle with their vows ? Such I would address in the language of an inspired writer, “ Bé not deceived; God is not mocked,' Gal. vi. 7., one day you will have to account for all the engagements you have come under to the Lord : think then what your reckoning will be.
But there are others who dare not neglect this important duty altogether, yet do it only by halves; such are those who in the morning, when their spirits are most vigorous and lively, begin the day with the pursuits of the world, and only close it with God, wheti they have nothing else to do. When the family, fatigued by labour, recline their weary heads in the prayer; and sometimes asleep, and sometimes awake, and sometimes properly neither, imagine they hear distinctly the pithless words which fall from the listless tongue of their yawning, drowsy, parent or master, which afterwards trying to recol. lect, they find all was deception, and they remember no more of them than the idea of a forgotten dream: Nor know they often when he faulters out, Amen; till he himself, or some other, surprised by the silence, start from his knees, and jog up the rest of his sleepy companions.
Is this any thing else than an offering of the torn and lame to God? But “ cursed «« be the deceiver which hath in his flock a
male, and voweth and sacrificeth unto the “ Lord a corrupt thing.” Mal. i. 14. And can you read this who follow such practices, and not see your own doom? but though this service be not always gone about in the evening with such languor as has been described, yet those who give the vigour of their spirits in the morning to the world, and reserve on
ly the dregs of the evening for God, I am afraid will come under this curse: the best you can make of it is only half service. Now, if a farmer pay the one half-year's rent ever so punctually, if he still continue to neglect the other, will his landlord be satisfied with his conduct? And think ye God will be well pleased with such a partial service ?
The omission of family-duty is often followed with the neglect of secret prayer, whereas the performance of the one is a strong indication of the observance of the other. The worship of God is a duty founded, not only on revelation, but even in nature itself; witness the worship which the heathens pay to their imaginary deities. And shall the poor blind heathens put enlightened Christians to shame?
From all this may I learn, like this poor man, evening and morning, to be presenting my body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is my reasonable service, Rom. xii. 1., renouncing my own righteousness, depending upon nothing in or about me or my services, for acceptance with God, but only in the merits of his Son Jesus Christ alone: And so may I close this evening, praying for a blessing upon my poor labours this day, both to myself and others.,