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And as we cannot look upon ourselves as unconnected with those about us, should we not (as Masters and Parents of families) be moreover anxious to unite them with us in our devotions, and so take care that “our houses” as well as ourselves may “ serve the Lord?”
It may be hardly necessary to add, that you must not expect your prayers to be effectual, unless you endeavour to live as becomes Christians. But this it is most probable that you will do, if you really pray from your hearts. It has been well said, that “ a course of prayer and a course of sinning cannot consist together ; one will necessarily destroy the other. Prayer will either make a man leave sinning, or sinning will make a man leave praying.” So that besides the consideration of our performing by prayer one of our positive and most important duties, it has this very great recommendation, that, if properly performed, it is likely, with God's good blessing, to lead us to the performance of all our other duties.
May the good Lord give you the
grace of his Holy Spirit, that you may live as true Christians, “ worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called !” And may
he impress upon your minds how much it is incumbent upon you, both inwardly in your hearts and outwardly with your bodies; both in public, in private, and with your families, “ always to pray, and not to faint!”
Grant this, we beseech thee, O heavenly Father, for the sake of thy blessed Son, Jesus Christ: to whom with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, three Persons in the unity of one Godhead, be a. scribed all wisdom and power now and for ever! Amen.
SELF-DECEIT OF THOSE WHO ARE HEARERS, BUT
NOT DOERS OF THE WORD.
JAMES i. 22. Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
An important and necessary caution ! and if so in the times of the Apostles, then more especially in our days, my brethren ; when many make a great part, if not the whole, of their religion to consist in hearing; as if they served God, by being only taught how to serve him, or did their duty, by being only told how to do it. A more dangerous and fatal delusion cannot be practised by the Father of lies”
upon any of his miserable victims, than that which such persons practise upon themselves. And accordingly the Spirit of truth graciously and plainly admonishes them by the mouth of his Apostle, that they, who do so, “ deceive their own selves.”
In order to understand the full meaning of the admonition, let us first consider what is intended by “ the word,” of which the Apostle speaks: what by “ the doing" of the word; and what by “ the hearing” of it; and whence it is, that there are many “ hearers,” who are not “ doers” of it. It will then be an easy task to show, that such persons “ deceive their own selves.”
: I. By “the word” then we are to understand that which was delivered to mankind by the inspired messengers of God, and is transmitted to us in the books of the old and new Testaments. In this it hath pleased the Most High God to declare bis mind, and to reveal to us both himself and his will. In this he hath made known to us, what he would have us believe; what he would have us do; and what he would have us not do. In this he discloses the