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to the wants, the necessities, the infirmities, the obligations, and the duties of a created and a dependent being." Yet “ we see continually, that the most trivial pretences of weather, of indisposition, of business, of company; pretences, which would not be suffered to interfere, one moment, with any favourite pursuit or amusement, are thought reasons of suf. ficient weight to justify us in slighting the express commands, and deserting the service of our maker and redeemer."*
Instead of falling into this criminal indiffer. ence and neglect, let me beseech you habitually to " consider one another to provoke unto love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is.” Be “ glad, when they say unto you, let us go into the house of the Lord,” and “ take the most earnest heed to the things which you hear, lest at any time you should let them slip. Dismiss not, when you leave the courts of the Lord, the impressions of seriousness which may have been made upon your minds ; nor lose the remembrance of the important truths, to which you have listened. This reminds us,
* See Bisbop Porteus' sermon on Exod. v. 12.
4. That the duties of the sabbath do not end with the publick services of the day. Deep reflection should follow, as well as precede our solemn approaches to God. To retire from his presence in a thoughtless frame of levity ; and, as too often happens, plunge immediately into frivolous conversation, dissipating amusement, or worldly business, is a daring affront to his authority, and a fatal obstruction to our improvement. Such persons, '" like the man beholding his natural face in a glass, behold themselves, and go their way, and straightway forget what manner of men they were.” This is one of the most common and influential causes of that shameful insensibility to divine things, which so generally prevails among mankind. “ The cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choak the word, and they become unfruitful.”
When you seek light and counsel in sublunary concerns, you do not turn from your advisers, and think no more of the subject. You view and review it, in all its different aspects, relations, and dependencies; and you spare neither time nor pains fully to understand and advantageously to apply it. Pursue the same course, in quest of religious instruction ; employ the retired hours of each successive
şabbath in pondering the lessons you receive, in testing your hearts and lives by the oracles of divine truth, in imploring grace and assistance to see and forsake your errours ; and “ your path, like the shining light, shall shine more and more unto the perfect day.” . For “ if thou turn away thy foot from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable ; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words : Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord, and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”
ON PUBLICK WORSHIP. .
JOHN XX. 24. : But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was
not with them when Jesus came.
AFTER the death of our blessed Lord, it was the uniform practice of his disciples, on the first day of the week, a day which has ever since been held sacred among christians, to meet together, and unite in prayer to God for the direction and aid of his spirit, and consult the scriptures for their mutual instruction and edification. At this time, and for these purposes, they were assembled, when Mary Magdalene brought the welcome tidings of their crucified Master's resurrection, and when Jesus himself made his first appearance to them, with that endearing salutation, “ Peace be unto you.”
On this occasion Thomas, one of their number, was unhappily absent; and, of course, lost that convincing evidence, with which the rest were furnished, that the despised Galilean, whom he had followed, was indeed the Messiah, and Saviour of the world. Hence, as we are told in the sequel of the story, he continued unbelieving, till his doubts were re. moved by an instance of condescension and grace, no less undeserved than extraordinary. When he was informed of the fact, instead of giving credence to the information, he perti.. naciously replied, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Had not the compassionate Redeemer seen fit to comply with this extravagant demand ; at least, had he not deigned, by some incontestible proof, to demonstrate the identity of his person, and the consequent divinity of his mis.. sion and religion, Thomas had, in all human probability, “made shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.”
From the words thus briefly exhibited in their connexions, we may remark, first, the duty of assembling for social and publick wor. ship ; and, secondly, the danger of neglecting,