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tent upon accumulating Wealth and making a Family; his Head and Heart are quite full of it. A Third is wholly possessed with ambitious Desires; Places and Honours he must have, let the Means of acquiring Them be ever so inconsistent with the Precepts of his Religion, and his future Happiness and Glory. It is impossible that such Men fhou'd think their Salvation the one Thing needful, when they take so little Care to secure it. And yet these narrow minded Creatures (I cannot call them Men) think themselves, and are thought by others to be, the only shrewd People, because they value the poor, beggarly Concerns of this Life above those of Eternity. O gracious God! whence arises this Sottifhness? It is thou only, the Searcher of Hearts, that knowest the true Cause. Do thou take the Veil from before our Eyes. Break the Charm that bewitches us. Convince us that nothing but Eternity deserves our Solicitude $ that our Salvation is the one Thing needful, and that whatever does not tend to it is Vanity and Folly. Make us fee more clearly, and know more feelingly, these great Truths. Let them always be uppermost in our Thoughts, and give them such Force and Energy, that they may bring forth in us the Fruits of good Living, to thy Honour, and the Salvation of our Souls.
Hebrews, Hebrews, Chap. x. Ver. 25.
Not forsaking the Assembling of ourselves together, as the Manner of some is, but exhorting one antther.
THIS Precept was given by St. Paul m the Times of Persecution; which occasions many to absent themselves from religious Meetings, for the Preservation bf their Lives, their Liberties, and Estates. We are not under That Temptation to neglect our Duty; yet, in most Places it is shamefully neglected; and Men are so far from exhorting, that they are more apt to discourage, one another, by speaking lightly of it. It cannot, therefore, be unseasonable, and I hope, it will not be unprofitable, if I discourse to you upon the Three following Heads.
Firsl, That the forsaking of such Assemblies is a virtual Defection from the Christian Faith, and a Renunciation of our Religion.
Secondly, That it is a Neglect of the necessary Means of Grace without which we shall not be able, or willing, to practise the other Duties of Religion, or long to preserve in our Minds any true Sense Of it.
E 3 Thirdly
Thirdly, To enforce the Duty of Exhorting one another to Assemble ourselves. •
First, The forsaking the Assembling of ourselves together for publick Worship is a virtual Defection from the Christian Faith, and a Renunciation of our Religion.
For, what is the End of such Assemblies, but to make publick Profession of our religious Opinions; to acknowledge the Being, Attributes, and Dispensations of That God, in whom we believe; our Relations, and Obligations to him for our Creation, Preservation, rind Redemption? And our refusing publickly to testify This our Belief, is, in Effect, to declare that we do not believe them. There never was any People in the World, who believed a God, and yet did not publickly worship him agreeably to their Notions of him.
The Heathens, however different in their Opinions concerning their Deities, in different Countries, agreed in this great Article, viz. to join together in a publick Acknowledgment of God and his Providence over them. As they all ow'd their Being and the Continuance of it to the Power of their Creator, they all, as many as conveniently could, assembled together to testify their common Dependance upon him. As they were conscious that they had all been guilty of many Things which were offensive and displeasing to the Deity, they united in offering up such Oblations and Sacrifices, as they thought might be the
Means Means of appeaflng God's Anger, and averting his Judgments. As they, believ'd that he continually interpos'd to over-rule and govern the Affairs of the World, they offer'd up their joint and publick Requests, that he wou'd protect and bless them. This was so universal a Practice, arid it is a Practice so agreeable to natural Reason^, that if any one/ had been knowri wholly to withdraw himself from such religious Meetings, He wou'd have been deem'd an Atheist, who deny'd God'.s Being 4nd Providence; he' wou'd have been wonder'd at as a. Monster; he wou'd have been detested as an odious and dangerous Person; he wou'd have been executed, or banish cl the Society, as one disqualified for it.
The Religion of the Jews was different from That of the Heathens, but they agreed with them in having Assemblies wherein they jointly and publickly worship'd their God, suitably to their Faith. Besides the Truths of Natural Religion, they were favour'd with particular Revelations of God's Nature and Will, and they were enjoin'd particular Duties and Ordinances; in consequence of which they had those particular Revelations publickly read before them, and their Laws' publickly recited: they united, likewise, in the publick Observance of their peculiar Ordinances. And, carl we imagine, that if any one among these Jews had totally, or generally, absented himself from their religious Assemblies, never, or seldom^
E 4 appearappearing to hear the Word of their God read, and his Laws rehears'd to them; never, or seldom assisting at the common Rites and . Ceremonies; never partaking with them of the^ common Ordinances of their Religion: Can we imagine, I say, that such an one wou'd not have been thought, and very justly, to have thereby disown'd his Belief of the Jewish Religion?
The Religion of us Christians is different from that of the Jews, as the Jewi/h Religion was different from that of the Heathens. We have still more extraordinary Discoveries of the. Nature and Will of God; our Duty in the New Testament is more particularly explain'd to us, and we have common Ordinances, tho* fewer in Number, appointed us. Whoever, therefore, after the Manner of too many nominal Christians, refuses to appear at our Christian Assemblies, there to hear the Scriptures read and expounded, there publickly to profess the Dodlrines, and attend upon the Institutions, of our Religion; such an one St. Paul, the inspired Apostle of Jesus Christ; such an one the Nature and Reason of the Thing, declare to be an Apostate from the Faith, and to have rejected the Authority of our blessed Saviour. If he never, or seldom goes to any Place of publick Worship, nor makes any Kind of publick Profession of some Religion* we have no Room to believe that he has any religious Opinions at all, nor has he any Right to the Protection and Benefits