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clared by St. Paul to be the Communion of his Body and Blood, that is, a Participation of the Benefits of his Death; is yet, I fear, entirely omitted by moft, practised by many of the reft, very feldom; and by fome from very improper Motives: and fuch Reasons are pleaded for the Neglect, as have either no Weight at all, or equal Weight against the Hope of future Happiness. Praying to God is a Dictate of natural, as well as revealed Religion. And yet were a great Part of you here prefent questioned, how constantly you pray in private, indeed when you prayed laft, and whether you are careful to do it with Attention and Serioufnefs, or look on it only as a Matter of Course; what Answer muft you give? And as for public Worship: how many are there, who yet call themselves Christians, that hardly ever attend it? And how do many others think and speak of it? Perhaps as Matter of Curiofity and Amusement. If they can hope for an entertaining Discourse after it, they will condefcend to come and do Homage to him, that made them, or feem to do it: otherwise they will not. Or perhaps they vouchfafe to attend it as Matter of decent Example and Propriety.

e I Cor. x. 16.

D 4


Accordingly in fome Places they always go to Church; in others, never: forgetting, that the latter will be known, and will influence, full as much as the former. Or the leaft Trifle in the World fhall determine them, fometimes the one Way, fometimes the other. And both doing and omitting it they talk of, in an eafy, gay Manner, as a Thing of no Confequence at all. Nay, too often, it is directly pleaded, that they can spend their Time as well, or much better, another Way: for they know beforehand every Thing that is told them here. Now, not to inquire particularly, in what better Things, that they could not find Leifure for elfe, thofe Perfons actually spend the Time of divine Service, who tell us fo frankly they can: poffibly they may, fome of them, a little over-rate their Knowledge: at least, they frequently feem to have great Need of being reminded, if not taught: and had they none, another and higher Duty, for which we meet, is Prayer. But to this, and all other Acts of Devotion, they object, that true Devotion is in the Heart; and outward Shew is Nothing material. Why, fo is true Loyalty, true Friendship, every true Virtue. But are we therefore bound to give no external Demonstration of them?

them? At that Rate, what would they be worth, and how long would they laft? God indeed doth not want fuch Demonftrations: but we want them, to keep alive our Senfe of Duty to him: the World around us wants them, to spread a like Sense amongst others: and, were the Benefits of his Inftitutions much less evident than they are; ftill they are his, and we may be fure he hath Reafon for them. A good Subject will go beyond, rather than come short of, what the Laws require, in paying Honour to his Prince. A penitent Criminal will not fail to fue out and plead his Pardon in due Form, let Forms, in themselves, be Things ever fo infignificant: if he did, purpofely or negligently, he would well deferve to forfeit it. Every Man of common Prudence, on whom, or his Family, any Thing valuable is bestowed on certain Conditions, will think it of Confequence, to qualify himself, or them, according to thofe Conditions, whether he fees the particular Ufe of them or not. If then we think fuch Behaviour neceffary in all temporal Concerns, why not in fpiritual? God is our King, and hath prescribed to us the Manner of doing him Homage. He is our Judge, and hath directed us to the Method

thod of escaping Punishment. He is our gracious Benefactor, and hath notified to us the Means of obtaining his Favours. Why fhall any one Thing, thus ordered by him, and therefore undoubtedly ordered in Wisdom, be either omitted, or obferved with Contempt? Surely this is by no Means the Spirit, with which Sinners ought to receive a Tender of Forgiveness; and Mortals, of eternal Life. The Epiftle to the Hebrews directs the firft Chriftians, even in the Midft of Perfecution, not to forfake the affembling of themselves together, which comprehends every public Office of Religion; and laments, that the Manner of fome was to do otherwife'. How guilty then must they be, who are now of this Number; or put on the Appearance of despifing the Ordinances of Chrift, at the fame Time that they ufe them; and, though really, to fome Degree, ferious in them, are afraid of being thought fo! But this leads me,


3. To a farther Obligation we are under, which is to profefs our Regard, both for the Doctrines and the Inftitutions of the Gospel, openly and boldly, on all fit Occafions. It is a Reproach, I believe, peculiar to the Christians

+ Heb. x. 25.


of this Age and Nation, that many of them seem afhamed of their Chriftianity: would not perhaps be faid to have thrown it afide, yet would by no Means be imagined much in earnest about it: and therefore study, if poffible, to conceal their Way of thinking: or, when they are attacked upon it, excuse their Piety, as others do their Vices, with a Sort of laughing half Defence; and shift off the Subject, as well and as foon as they can. A moft aftonishing Treatment of what our eternal Happiness depends on: especially when our Saviour exprefsly requires us to confefs him before Men, as ever we expect, that he should confefs us before his Father, which is in Heaven". It is not meant, that we should be affectedly forward in talking of our Religion; but, whenever we are called to do fo, unaffectedly own it, and stand by it. In fuch a Cafe, Diffimulation, or even Referve, is a mean-fpirited Desertion of the worthieft Cause in the World: and the Words of the holy Jefus on another Occafion are justly applicable to this, that he, who is not for him, is against him". Whoever is unwilling to be taken for a pious and good Man, runs a great Rifque of foon becoming a Matth. xii. 30. Luke xi. 23.

g Matt. x. 32.


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