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WHAT IS TO BECOME OF THE SECOND SERVICE ?
In about half a score of our churches, this question is already settled according to the doctrine of annihilation : they have no second service, and they never intend to have one. The rest of our societies continue to insist upon a double-barrelled gun as the “regulation "weapon of the spirit. It is manifest, however, that the second service lags sadly; and it is next to impossible to have it catch up with the first in popular confidence and affection. Very few, now-a-days, think they shall be heard for much speaking. As a weariness of the flesh, much listening is taking the place of much study; and is it not nearly time for "a corporal's guard” to be dismissed with a pension, while we adopt “ an afternoon congregation” as less threadbare and equally expressive ? · The trouble is neither modern nor local. Selden, who died more than two hundred years ago, must have been considering this problem when he said, “The main argument why they should have two sermons a day is, because they have two meals a day: the soul must be fed as well as the body. But I may as well argue, that I ought to have two noses because I have got two eyes, or two mouths because I have got two ears. What have meals and sermons to do with one another?” In Switzerland, lately, the roof of a church was crushed by the snow. When we saw that the people thus buried alive were over fifty women, and less than ten men, we recognize the familiar proportions of a second service, although the hour of the day was not mentioned.
Let us notice several classes who advocate the perpetuation of the ancient usage.
In all congregations, there are some naturally devout
persons, to whom religious exercises are such a delight, that they can scarcely have too many. They would be glad it it should be said unto them, three or even four times every Sunday, “ Come, let us go into the house of the Lord.” In unfeigned sincerity, they demand repeated opportunities of public worship. Where such persons are sufficiently numerous, few devoted ministers would shrink from diligent efforts to supply their needs. There is hardly an instance of a church full of hearers thirsting in vain for a second draught of the water of life. Where the number of earnest wishers for more than one service is quite limited, the most that they can reasonably ask is another meeting in some room proportioned to the size of the assembly. If only your wife and one daughter are going to ride, you do not put them in the carryall, but in the chaise.
In congregations of moderate intelligence, where the people have no libraries which they use, and take few periodicals which they read, it is almost a matter of necessity that they should be provided with several services. This is the chief way in which the day of rest is to be made
The minister of such a congregation is a workman that needeth to be ashamed if he will not double the toils of his body by dividing the weekly products of his mind.
There are other champions of the double order, who are entitled to less favor. In this uncomely class should be placed all who would have two services merely because “the Orthodox” have them, and those who are mischievously exacting in their requirements of ministerial labor.
Every denomination has its peculiar methods. “The Orthodox” never think of observing customs that take no hold on their own convictions, merely because Unitarians observe them; and Unitarians should be above affecting a
show of zeal that is imitative and not honestly spontaneous. If the example of “the Orthodox” is so potent, why not adopt their doctrines as well as their practices ? Besides, Mr. Beecher, who in pulpit power is at least one-half of Orthodoxdom, is in favor of one sermon; declaring that the human mind is constructed on the principle of a popgun, and can retain only one charge at a time!
The exacting laymen are as mean as the conforming ones
ness of indolence to all clergymen who do not exult in preaching to pews and pillars. Men who stay at home afternoons, but insist that their pastors shall serve their time out, are treating the shepherds as miserable birelings, if not wretched galley-slaves. This feeling must have culminated in the remark of a profanely blunt parishioner, “I consider that silent prayer of yours something like a dodge.” .
After all, the decision of this question is, practically, in the hands of the people. Let them attend the second service in strong force, and there is not the slightest danger that it will be abandoned. It is their neglect of it, their failure to furnish an ecclesiastical quorum, which hangs a mill-stone around the neck of a preacher's enthusiasm. There is a remark of Kean’s which ought to be quoted in this connection, « Such an audience would extinguish Ætna.”
While the people are making up their minds, they will please to consider the moral of this fact, given to us by Macaulay: “Rumford proposed to the Elector of Bavaria a scheme for feeding his soldiers at a much cheaper rate than formerly. His plan was simply to compel them to masticate their food more thoroughly. A small quantity, thus eaten, would afford more sustenance than a large meal hastily devoured.”
M. A. C. .
The solemn vista to the tomb
And give another cypress room.
We walked, O friend! from childhood's day; And, looking back o'er fifty summers,
Our foot-prints track a common way. One in our faith, and one our longing
To make the world within our reach Somewhat the better for our living,
And gladder for our human speech.
The old beguiling song of fame;
And love was better than a name.
Thy genial nature fondly clung;
Ran back, and left thee always young. And who could blame the generous weakness,
Which, only to thyself unjust, So overprized the worth of others,
And dwarfed thy own with self-distrust?
All hearts grew warmer in the presence
Of one, who, seeking not his own, Gave freely for the love of giving,
Nor reaped for self the harvest sown.
Thy greeting smile was pledge and prelude
Of generous deeds and kindly words:
Open to sunrise and the birds.
The task was thine to mould and fashion
Life's plastic newness into grace;
And light with thought the maiden's face.
O'er all the land, in town and prairie,
With bended heads of mourning, stand The living forms that owe their beauty
And fitness to thy shaping hand.
Thy call has come in ripened manhood,
The noonday calm of heart and mind: While I, who dreamed of thy remaining
To mourn me, linger still behind ;
Live on, to own, with self-upbraiding,
A debt of love still due from me, The vain remembrance of occasions,
For ever lost, of serving thee.
It was not mine among thy kindred
To join the silent funeral prayers; But, all that long sad day of summer,
My tears of mourning dropped with theirs.
All day the sea-waves sobbed with sorrow,
The birds forgot their merry trills ; All day I heard the pines lamenting
With thine upon thy homestead hills.
Green be those hillside pines for ever,
And green the old memorial beeches,
Name-carven, in the woods of Lee VOL. IV.