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not equal, all of them ought in reason, to take part of the burden.
3. Lastly, The promise made to joint prayers hath weight here, Matth. xviii. 19. If two of you Shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they Shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. Verse 20. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. It is certain, there is fuch a thing as extraordinary prayer, which hath a fhare in the benefit of this promife: and if the Lord is pleafed to lay fuch a weight on fome of his people their agreeing toge. ther to ask a thing of him, or their founding together, as the word properly fignifies; it is not to be doubt. ed, but extraordinary prayer in families, upon fome fpecial occafions, is both required by him, and ac ceptable unto him through Jefus Chrift his Son.
Secondly, As for a providential call to family fast. ing and humiliation by what is faid before, for clearing of one's call to perfonal fafting, it may be judged of and difcerned; the circumftances of the family being duly confidered, and what the conduct of providence towards it, appears to point unto. The cafe of others, in whom the family hath a particular concern, especially the cafe of the church, may found a call to family-fafting: as is clear from the practice of Efther with her maids, Esth. iv. 16. And fo may the private cafe of the family itself; whether in refpect of family-fins, family-ftrokes threatened or inflicted, or some special family-mer. cies to be defired. And fince the exemplification of thefe general heads, in one's private cafe, made in the second section of the foregoing chapter, may without difficulty be accommodated to the cafe of one's family, by perfons of the meaneft capacity difpofed to confider them; it is not neceffary here to defcend to particulars again.
Lastly, For directions towards family-fasting:
there are but few that need to be added unto those given before in the cafe of perfonal fafting. It is plain from the nature of the thing, that the external ordering and management of this matter belongs to the head of the family: and he or she is difcreetly to chufe and appoint the time and place, wherein the family may perform the duty with least disturbance; and to fee that all be done decently and in order. And,
1. Let the head of the family, fome competent time, at least the night before, give notice to them, that fuch a time is fet apart for, and to be fpent in, that exercife: and withal fhew them the causes of it, and exhort them to ftir up themselves to the duties of fuch a folemn approach unto God. Common prudence will direct, as well as Chriftian duty doth oblige, the husband to confult his wife aforehand, as to the fixing of the time to be fet apart in the family for that extraordinary piece of devotion.
2. In the morning, let each member in the family go apart by himself into fome fecret place, and there spend some time in reviewing, confeffing, covenanting, praying, and fupplicating, as directed in the cafe of perfonal fafting, so far as he can overtake them. The more confcientiously this fecret work is managed, it will readily fare the better with the family, when met together.
3. Let the head of the family, having taken to himfelf, and allowed to them, a competent time for their extraordinary fecret devotions, thereafter call them together. And the family being conveened, he may again, if need be, lay before them the caufes of their faft, with fuitable exhortations and encouragements, for exciting them unto the duty. And, after calling on God for the aid of his holy Spirit, let him fing with them fome pfalm or part of a pfalm, fuitable to fuch an occafion, fuch as Pfalm lxxx. 1. and downwards, Pfalm xxxix. 6. to
the end, Pfalm li. 1. and downwards; read before them fome pertinent paffage of fcripture, fuch as thofe mentioned in the 6th direction of the preceeding chapter; and then pray with them. After prayer made by the head of the family, let the mistress of the family, and fuch others as he judgeth fit, pray, one after another. It is very defirable, that each member of the family, being through grace fit to be employed, to take a part in that work. In the intervals of prayer, there may be finging, reading, or conference, as may be found molt expedient.
4. It is fit that in these prayers there be extraordinary confeffion of fin, as particular as may be expedient; together with profeffion of repentance, and hearty forrow for fin, and of unfeigned defire to return unto God, and unto the duties of a Christian life: and then, fervent and earnest fupplications, upon the matters that are the peculiar caufes of the fast.
5. It is proper, that the concluding prayer be made by the head of the family; and that therein he resume the confeffions, profeffions, and fupplications on the matters of the faft; humbly acknowledge their failures in the management of the work; and profefs their looking for pardon and acceptance through the blood of Jefus Chrift alone, and alfo for grace to walk in the ways of new obedience, through the fame atoning blood. Then the joint exercife may be closed, with finging fome part of a pfalm, fuch as Pfalm xc. 13. to the end, Pfalm lxxxv. 6. to the end, or Pfalm Ixix. 30. and downward.
6. Lastly, The joint exercise of the family being over, let each of them go apart by himself again, and fpend fome time in a review of what they have been employed in, and in fecret prayer: the which is but a fuitable conclufion to fuch folemn work. And fa.. mily-reformation ought to follow hereupon; every member of the family watching over himself, and all of
of them watching one over another; that by their holy walking, in peace and unity, and a confcientious performance of their relative duties, it may ap pear, that they have been fincere and upright before the Lord, in their fast.
ND now, to recommend the practice of thofe duties, to perfons and families, these five things are offered in favour thereof; namely, that the practice of them is a proper means. 1. To bring ftrangers to religion acquainted with it; 2. To recover backfliders; 3. To prevent relapfes; 4. To prepare for a time of trial; and, laftly, To get matters clear for eternity.
First, The practice of personal and family-faftig and humiliation, is a proper means to bring ftrangers to religion acquainted with it; that thofe who have not yet dipt into practical religion, may begin to enter into it. The work of converfion unto God begins at folemn ferious confideration of one's own fpiritual state and cafe: the which if finners could once be brought unto, there would be fome hope of them, as of the prodigal, when he came to himself, Luke xv. 17. And if they would fet themselves to the duty of perfonal fasting, and masters of families would now and then ufe family fafts, they might at length be brought to confider of their spiritual state and cafe. Wherefore,
1. Ye who are young, and have not yet dipt into the heart of religion, this memorial is for you. It is prefumed, ye were baptized in your infancy, and that now ye are come to the years of discretion: but have you ever as yet taken a folemn deliberate view of your loft and undone state by nature, under fin and the curfe; and of the remedy provided for you in Jefus Chrift? And have you ever as yet perfon
ally entered into covenant with God, by taking hold of his covenant of grace? You eat, you drink, you fleep, you work, you play or divert yourselves; and fo do young beafts too, the which, when they are dead, are done: but you have an immortal foul, that must eternally live happy in heaven, or miserable in hell. It may be, you fay your prayers too: but have you as yet perfonally renounced the devil, the vain world, and the flesh? You cannot but fee, that death feizeth fome as young and fprightly as you are; and you know not how foon God may call you off; have you then laid your measures for eternity? Alas! you are heedlefly running about the devil's trap, playing yourself about the pit's mouth: and fhould your foot flip now, you are undone for ever. Thus faith the Lord of hofts, Confider your ways.
2. Careless finners, careless about the concerns of the other world, whatever your age or years be, this memorial is for you, Ye careless ones, ftrip ye, and make ye bare, and gird fackcloth upon your loins, Ifa. xxxii. 11. What is your religion? Is it not like the foam on the water, no substance in it? What is your life and converfation? See your own picture, Jer. ii. 24. A wild afs ufed to the wilderness, that fnuffeth up the wind at her pleasure. What condition is your foul in? The emblem of it is the fluggard's vineyard, All grown over with thorns, nettles covering the face thereof, and the ftone wall thereof broken down, Prov. xxiv. 30, 31. Can you really perfuade yourselves, that you are going forth by the footsteps of the flock? that the faints now in glory took the finful liberty of thinking, speaking, and acting, that do? that their fouls ftate and cafe coft them as few ferious thoughts as yours hath cost you? Do you think to stumble on a faving interest in Christ,
pardon, a heaven? No, you will not find it. fo. Up, then, and be doing: fet apart fome time for confidering of, and doing fomething effectually in