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each person, who is inclined to advance them, seriously ask his own heart, and let him ask it as in the immediate presence of God, whether he really wishes to join in the prayers of the congregation, and is really grieved when unavoidably prevented; let him ask himself whether his excuse for absence from church is such as ought in reason to be admitted ; whether in fine it is such, as he could venture to plead before the judgment-seat of Christ. There are indeed, I fear, some men who neglect public worship, without even pretending to make any excuse for their conduct. They absent themselves from church, from a mere spirit of indolence and carelessness. They think it of no consequence whether they go thither or not, and had rather spend the time in sleep, or in amusement; by their firesides, or in idle empty talk with thoughtless men like-minded with themselves. And what can we say to such persons as these? Alas ! if they would reflect seriously but for a single moment, surely they would be sensible that they are destitute of genuine religion; that instead of being possessed of that fervency of spirit which is recornmended by the Apostle, they are sunk in a deadly slumber, in a fatal spiritual lethargy, which, unless they are roused from it by some alarming dispensation of Providence, and the influences of God's good Spirit, will terminate in the everlasting destruction of body and soul in hell8.
And now by way of conclusion permit me to repeat the substance of what I have advanced.
It is your duty to resort regularly to divine service—and this both when there is no Sermon, and when there is one;—because it is your duty to take part in common prayer, on account of its peculiar ten
* I believe it sometimes happens that men absent themselves from church from a dislike to their minister. Now in the first place it is probable that this dislike is entirely groundless, occasioned it may be by their minister's faithful execution of his office. But even supposing it to be well-founded, yet what a weak pretext is this for neglecting a known duty? Those who go to church, go thither not to please their minister, but to please their God. For a man to stay away, to neglect the service of God, find the care of his own salvation, because he dislikes his minister, is an instance of folly unworthy a reasonable being.
dency to promote the glory of God, and the edification of man; on account of the especial blessing and presence of our Saviour promised to it, and because it is recommended by the precepts and example of the faithful servants of God. It is also your duty to come to church for the sake of the instruction, the exhortation, the admonition, there addressed to the congregation by God's minister. And farther, it is your duty because it is an important part of the observance due to the Lord's Day. The truth of what I have said on this subject, you are yourselves I am persuaded all ready to allow. Let me intreat you then seriously to reflect, that every time that you deliberately forsake "the assembling of "yourselves together as the manner of "some is every time that you wilfully absent yourselves from church, without a really good and weighty reason, you are guilty of sinning against God with your eyes open, are guilty of leaving undone what you know and acknowledge you ought to do. Of the danger of such wilful disobedience you cannot be ignorant. But surely, my friends, you will not act so foolishly; you will not be such enemies to your own souls. Let me rather hope that you will make the "Sabbath of the Lord," as in other respects, so especially in this, " a delight, holy to the "Lord, and honourable':" that so far from neglecting, you will be anxious to take part in his public worship, and like David be sincerely grieved when you are unavoidably prevented; that you will really take pleasure in the public exercise of devotion, and will rejoice to resort to the house of God "with the voice of praise and "thanksgiving, with the multitude that »( keep holy day."
Deut. iv. 28.
ALTHOUGH God the eternal Spirit is to be worshipped with a spiritual worship, yet the devotion of the mind may be assisted by sensible objects. It has accordingly pleased the divine Author of our religion to appoint certain significant rites to be the means of conveying to us God's grace, while at the same time they have in themselves a natural tendency to excite and strengthen a religious frame and temper of soul. Such rites are the two Sacraments: for by the word Sacrament, you know, is meant " an outward and visible sign"— a sign that may be seen—" of an inward M and spiritual grace given unto us;" which sign must have been "ordained" or appointed u by Christ himself, as a means, "whereby we receive such grace, and as a H