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observance of the first day of the week, our Sunday.Yet the practice of the primitive church, (Acts xx, 7. 1 Cor. xvi, 1, 2.) their freedom from the Jewish Sabbath, (Col. 2, 16.) and the actual appointment in our country of the first day, plainly require our observing Sunday, the Lord's day, (Rev. i, 10.) being the first, instead of Saturday, the seventh day of the week.
While our Saviour has, in some measure, relaxed the strictness of the Jewish law, and allows us to perform works of necessity and charity, (Matt. xvi, 12, 13.) it is yet our plain duty, as far as it is possible, to devote the day wholly to the service of God. "We are going," says Mr. Cecil, "to spend a sabbath in eternity. The Christian will acquire as much of the sabbath spirit as he can. And in proportion to a man's real piety in every age of the church, he will be found to have been a diligent observer of the sabbath day."
Alas! how perpetually is this holy day profaned in our Christian land! what multitudes transact their usual business! how many shops in large towns are more or less open ! how many thousands of Sunday newspapers are published, sold and read! what needless travelling, visiting, writing letters, settling of accounts, &c !
But how much more holy and more happy is the Christian's employment of this day. It is to him a delight and a joy. He gives it wholly to its varied, but sacred duties. He reads the Scriptures and other devotional books, examines his heart, thinks on his ways, and meditates on spiritual and eternal things. He attends public worship, and instructs his family, or visits the poor and afflicted. He seeks to have his heart with God all the day long, and thus passing his sabbaths here below, he becomes better prepared for an eternal sabbath above. But to return to the duty of public worship.
My readers may be of two classes:-either more or less neglecting public worship; or constantly attending it. Are you LIVING IN THE NEGLECT OF PUBLIC WOR SHIP? To such it may be said, though it be no certain mark of the truth of a man's religious profession that he comes to public worship, yet the habitual or frequent absence, when he has it in his power to come, is a plain mark that a man has no real religion. He is unlike his Saviour, and unlike the disciples of that Saviour: and thus continuing to despise the earthly house of his God, he will fail of an entrance into his eternal mansions.It was foretold, that in the days of the Messiah, his followers should generally and unitedly assemble together, to engage themselves in his service. "Many people shall say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. Isa. ii, 3. May you, then, be excited by the considerations which I have stated, to begin a constant, regular, and habitual attendance at the house of God, and thus not only gain inestimable benefits yourself, but also by your example and your influence bring others thither.
But perhaps you may imagine that you have sufficient reasons to induce you to stay at home.
It is not an uncommon objection made to a due attendance on the duty of public worship, I CAN PRAY BETTER
AT HOME, I CAN LEARN MORE AT HOME BY READING GOOD
BOOKS.-The preceding observations have already furnished a sufficient answer to this objection. Those who make it, not unfrequently totally neglect also religious duties at home. Public worship is a means of grace of divine appointment, and therefore must not be neglected. Though you may not seem to derive that profit and edification which you think you gain from reading
a religious book, you do in reality lose all the peculiar benefits of public worship yourself, and do all that the power of example can effect, to keep others from its advantages. Besides, did you really know more than your teachers, you might still learn, from the example of our Saviour, in whom were and are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, to attend public worship. We read of him, "as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day." Luke iv. 16.
Others think that it is UNNECESSARY TO GO CONSTANTLY.-The same reasons which require you to go at ail, call on you also to be constant in going. It is the regu lar return of the duty which makes it so valuable in the Christian life. You do not think it unnecessary to partake constantly and regularly of food for your body; nor is it less necessary to be regular in seeking food for your soul. A leaky vessel in the ocean, continually letting in the waters, needs continual pumping and bailing to keep it free; and thus the corrupt heart of man calls for a constant use of every means to keep it free from sin. There is a great advantage in a constant attendance. "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God; they shall bring forth fruit in old age, they shall be fat and flourishing." Ps. xcii, 13, 14. It would appear from Heb. x, 2527, that remissness respecting the assembling of ourselves together was the first step to Apostasy. Will not the constancy of the early Christians in frequenting their assemblies for worship in great difficulties, and often at the risk of their lives, condemn you who refuse to attend, though the house of God is open and you have full liberty to go thither?
Some refuse to go because they have a personal PREJUDICE AGAINST THE MINISTER.-There may be, indeed,
trying cases of unfaithful teachers, and there is a sad wo pronounced on those by whom the offence cometh; but surely this objection ought not to induce you altogether to neglect attendance on public worship. We should not disregard that instruction even of an ungodly minister, which is scriptural. "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do ye not after their works, for they say, and do not." But let me ask, have you practised fervent, persevering, and united prayer for your minister ? Try this, and perhaps your prejudices may be removed, or his character changed. Christians often forget, in their desire of having a faithful minister, who shall preach to them the pure doctrines of Christ, that it is as easy for God to enlighten their present minister, "with the true knowledge and understanding of his word," to enable their present pastor, "both by his preaching and living, to set it forth, and shew it accordingly," as it is to send them such an one as they desire. Let me strongly and urgently recommend you to try the plan of fervent and persevering prayer for your minister.
Many of my readers, however, ATTEND PUBLIC WORSHIP CONSTANTLY.*-To them, on this point, I need only say, be not weary of well doing. You have, however, perhaps, relatives, friends, dependents, or connections whom you greatly love, who never come at all.May what has been said incline you to use every proper means in your power to bring them. You have over
It is to be regretted, that the appointment of the Church of England, for public worship twice a week as well as on Sundays, is, through the decay of Christian piety, in a great measure nugatory. It is, however, in some measure supplied by the weekday Evening Lectures, which are more convenient to our present habits, and which Christians in most large towns have now an opportunity of attending.
them, probably, the influence of authority, circumstances, friendship, or affection; use this talent of influence in your Saviour's service; and, by the constraining power of love, compel them to come in to his house. And while you thus exert yourselves in their behalf, O seek, on every account, duly to perform that great duty in which you yourself are engaged. Seek, when you come into his courts, to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
We proceed to consider How WE MAY DULY WORSHIP GOD IN HIS HOUSE.-We must worship God in the beauty of holiness. We do this, when approaching him, in the name of Jesus Christ, and through the assistance of his Spirit, all our faculties are fixed and engaged in this work; our expressions accompanied by suitable affections, by holy longings and thirstings of soul after God. In short, when the whole man is dedicated to the solemn act of worshipping God.
There is no beauty of holiness, without a reference to the mediation of Jesus Christ. God cannot, but through him, look on sinners with acceptance. But Jesus Christ, like the High Priest of Israel, bears "the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel hallow in all their holy gifts." He has HOLINESS TO THE LORD upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord. Exod. xxviii, 38. Every prayer must be offered up in his name. John xiv, 13, 14.*
It may be useful to point out some things inconsistent with this due worship of God.
* Here I cannot but remark, that the conclusion of the various Collects in the Liturgy gives the members of our church a frequent and continual opportunity of having respect to the intercession of the Saviour, and offering up every petition in his name. Many excellent persons have found the advantage and comfort of this