« PreviousContinue »
Even those who stay away from public worship, either to pursue their worldly business, or with the idea of resting at home so as to be better prepared to resume it; even those, we are persuaded, lose rather than gain. Though some of them may be prosperous, we cannot believe that they will uniformly enjoy the blessing of their God; or, that they will so constantly be able to pursue their business, as those will be, who rest from temporal labour, in spiritual duties. But even if prosperity should seein to attend their cause, we expect to see their example to their children, the means of their adversity ; to see that parents who have broken the Sabbath with economy and prudence, have brought up children to break it as spendthrifts. At the same time they acquire a love of company, and of indulgence, which makes many deductions during the week days, doubly injurious, since they are made both from their labours and their earnings. As time
passes and their habits form, they get to be idle, thriftless men, and have the misfortune to find themselves, in middle life, surrounded by a family unprovided for, and a throat that would swallow double what they are willing to earn. Many a man might be found in our city, who began his life in good business, and whose neglect of God's worship seemed to him, well paid for by the amusements he enjoyed, who is now, in middle life, in bad cireumstances, in bad health, with bad habits, a poor drunkard, or a drunkard that will be poor, and to make his situation most uncomfortable, the headman of a tribe of idle, thriftless, beggarly children, who are to begin life with vagabond habits, and a botile at their mouths. We know that there are prosperous men who go to no church, but we beg them to look about and see if many miserable families were not once as prosperous, and to fear lest prosperity in sin should not always continue, lest their trouble should come in the ruin of their habits, and the prodigality of their children. Admitting that your interests were secure, we should only lose our weakest argument. We urge you to attend public worship:
2dly. In comparison with those employinents which keep you away. We cannot conceive any employment which ought to displace the public worship of God; it is an employment so delightful in itself, 'so glorious to God, so like to heaven, that every employment which displaces it, must be unworthy of reasonable and immortal creatures. It is the employment which will last forever. In heaven, where love will never cease, worship and praise will be the endless employments of men, made equal to the angels of light. And will you, dear friends, when God is inviting you to begin the employments of heaven, when he sets you apart one day in seven, freed from worldly care and business, -when he invites you to assemble yourselves together, and enjoy a little of the sweetness of heaven—when heaven below opens its gates to receive you, and you are invited to tune your voice in harmony with saints and angels in earth and heaven, --will you, can you prefer to seek only “what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, or wherewithal you shall be clothed ?" Can you prefer merely to amuse your immortal minds ? Oh! can you prefer the fishing, bathing and hunting places, which
sound horribly with oaths, and are polluted with sinful mirth and drunkenness
3dly. We urge you because your own conscience urges you. Perhaps we may be mistaken in thinking so. There are people in the world whose conscience is hushed into deadly silence. Among the crowds who stay away from the house of God, we fear there are many who have sinned so long, or so much against the former rebukes of their conscience, that conscience now disturbs them no more; who can sin without self-reproach; who look at God forever with a brazen face; and who, perhaps, are given over to hardness of heart. But we hope better things of you. We hope you belong to that greater number, who are not so hardened but that they feel remorse. We wish to reckon you among the number of those who have always to struggle against their conscience, and to suffer from the sharpness of its sting, when they turn away from God's house, and spend his Sabbath in neglect or violation of religion. We feel as if we could hold a more promising argument with you, who are almost convinced already. And we wish you to know how every check which you feel, is an evidence that you err against light and knowledge ; and we feel as if we had a claiın to be heard, since we coine to you, only as a helper to your conscience: we beg you also to fear that unless you soon listen to the faithful friend who has so long uttered his reproaches in your own bosom he may cease to reproach. You perceive that his voice daily seems weaker and weaker-tremble lest the hour be at hand when it shall be heard no more.
4thly. We urge you because we consider your neglect of public worship as a neglect of all religion. If we thought there were one in 10,000 of the habitual neglecters of public worship, who spend their Sabbaths in privately worshipping God, and seeking to know his will, we would make it a part of our business to persuade them, that it is a duty and privilege of the highest importance to attend the public worship of God. But we feel quite sure, that of ten thousand such habitual neglecters, not even one spends his Sabbath in a devout and pious way. We beg you seriously to ask yourself whether your own neglect be not a neglect of all religion.
5thly. We urge you because we have no right or wish to force you. The laws of neither God nor man have given us
the right to turn you, in this matter, to the right hand or to the left. God has left you entirely to your own choice: he has given you the opportunity to choose the evil and refuse the good; or, to choose the good and refuse the evil. You can go or you can stay; you can go to hear the sweet offers of mercy, every Sabbath, and to pray God to forgive your manifold sins; or, if you choose, you can despise his Sabbaths, neglect his worship, and scorn his mercy. Dreadful liberty! God, your Maker, has bestowed it. Use it, and not abuse it. Choose not the evil because you are at liberty to choose it. You need not drink poison because you have the liberty to drink it; you need not be your own murderer, because you have free hands and deadly wea. pons. Think of that day when you will mourn over abused liberty ; when you will wish you had been compelled to obey, rather than to have had the dreadful freedom of choosing to withdraw from God's worship, and God's mercy.
6thly. We urge you, because we believe that your neglect is every day making you more sinful, and preparing you for a severe punishment.
There is one sure rule for judging whether you are growing worse. If you are becoming less and less troubled in your conscience; if you can sin with more and more ease; especially if you can make a mock at sin; then are you indeed tending very fast the downward road.
Search yourselves, and see if you are not becoming every day more and more insensible to sin ; if regard to God is not daily departing away from you.
Oh if you will persist in living as if there were no God, you will at length receive the heaviest of all earthly curses, to feel as if there were no God. What curse can be so great as to be able to live without one desire to please God, without one fear to offend him; without one self-reproach for increasing sin! Oh it is a curse which threatens an accursed and suffering eternity. The stupor within prevents all fear of future punishment, because it takes away all sense of present guilt, and while you are stupified by drinking in iniquity like water, you say with an easy heart, “ because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn away from me.” But He, your final Judge, calls him not innocent, who is stupified by sinning, and he will “ plead with thee because thou sayest I have not sinned.” How awful will be your case, if you cry "peace, peace," until eternal destruction come suddenly upon you.
7thly. We urge you, not to prove yourselves unfit for heaven.
On his holy Sabbath, God offers you a specimen of heaven-He sends down to you the leisure of heaven, the holiness of heaven, and the employments of heaven. See now the thousands who turn away froin the public and private worship of God !-See the idleness at home - the dissipation abroad. See in every street how they linger as if they dreaded the employments of heaven. How eagerly they seek some vain amusement; how many even spend their time in rioting and wantonness and drunkenness,--among base and vicious companions.
Alas! are not they unfit for heaven who so dislike the smallest portions of it offered them on earth ? Should God give to them all the heaven that they love, and withhold from them the heaven of which they abhor the smallest parts and specimens, then will many thousands of our citizens be altogether and forever separate from heaven. A heaven, eternally filled with the sin and folly which they choose on the Sabbath.
8thly. We urge you who have children to be just and honourable towards them in this matter. Your children have a claim upon you ; you are under the highest obligation which can subsist between men, to lead them in the way that they should go. God has revealed a Gospel to you, to the knowledge of which they have a right. God has offered men the privilege of prayer and praise, and you ought to lead them to his house; you have no right at all to keep them from knowing the Gospel of salvation ; and to keep them away from heaven. And if you do it, you are most uprighteous as it regards man and man-and the most dishonourable of all the unrighteous, in as much as you are unrighteous to your own blood—in as much as having taken charge of a never dying spirit, you lead it away froin happiness to misery, from heaven to hell. If you are willing to use your liberty to slight God's mercy and seal your own damnation, you have no right, even if your heart be hard enough to be a devil of a man, to make yourself the ringleader of your own flesh and blood to eternal ruin.
Oh it is enough to make one abhor the very name of man, to see a tender-hearted father, or a still more tender-hearted mother, so stupified and hardened by sin, as to trifle away God's Sabbath, and to neglect his worship, thus encouraging their children to spend the day with wicked companions, and in wicked ways. Whither tend their teachings and their example, but to that place where wicked parents
and wicked children must be judged together? Whose gray hairs - shall come down with deepest sorrow to the grave, whose eternal
sorrow shall be hardest to be borne, but his, who, dying, leaves behind his Sabbath breaking children, and who in hell lifts up his eyes upon his children, made, by his example, his fit companions in the torments of hell!
Dear reader, take this with you to the house of your neighbourand urge him to the house of God. God can make you successful, and may you and he sweetly sing praises together in the house of God below, and sweetly sing praises forever—when his body and your body shall be raised—when an eternal smile shall shine on his face and yours—and you and he shall be EQUAL TO THE
TO MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL.
may be done, sirs, by your visits! It would be well for you to impose it as a law upon yourselves, “never to make an unprofitable visit”—even when you pay a visit merely for civility or entertainment. It would be easy for you to observe this law : “that you will drop some sentence or other which may be good for the use of edifying, before you leave the company.” There have been pastors who have been able to say, that they scarce ever went into a house among their people, without some essay or purpose to do good in the house before they left it.
You may resolve to visit all the families belonging to your congregation ; taking one afternoon in each week for that purpose : and it may be proper to give previous notice to each family, that you intend at such time to visit them. On visiting a family, you may endeavour, with addresses as forcible and as respectful as possible, to treat with every person about their everlasting interests. 'First, you may discourse with the elder people upon such points as you think most proper with them. Especially charge them to maintain family prayer, and obtain their promise of establishing it, if it has hitherto been negYou
lected; yes, pray with them, that you may show them how to pray, as well as to obtain their purposes for it. You may, likewise, press upon them the care of instructing their children and servants in the holy religion of our Saviour, to bring them up for him. If any with whom you should have spoken are absent, you may frequently leave one or two solemn texts of scripture, which you may think most suitable for them; desiring some one present affectionately to remember you to them, and from
you to recommend them to that oracle of God. may then call for the children and servants; and putting to them such questions of the Catechism as you think fit, you may, from their answers, make lively applications to them, for engaging them to the fear of the Lord. You may frequently obtain from them, promises relating to secret prayer, reading of the Scriptures, and obedience to their parents and employers. Some of the younger people you may order to bring their Bibles, and read to you from thence two or three verses, to which you may direct them : this will try whether or not they can read well. You may then encourage them to think on suc things as you remark from the passage, and never to forget those
faithful sayiugs” of God. You may sometiines leave with them some serious question, which you may tell them they shall not answer to you, but to themselves; such as the following: "What have I been doing, ever since I came into the world, about the great errand upon which God sent me into the world ?" “ If God should now call me out of the world, what would become of me throughout eternal ages ” “ Have I ever yet, by faith, carried a perishing soul to my only Saviour, both for righteousness and salvation ” You will enjoy a most wonderful presence of God with you in this undertaking; and will seldom leave a family without having observed many tears shed by all sorts of persons in it. As you can seldom visit more than four or five families in an afternoon, the work may be as laborious as any part of your ministry. My son, I advise you to set a special value on that part of your ministry, which is to be discharged in pastoral visits. You will not only do good, but also get good, by your conversation with all sorts of persons, in thus visiting them“ froin house to house." And you
will never more “walk in the spirit” than when you thus walk among your flock, to do what you can amongst them. In your visits, an incredible deal of good may be done, by distributing little books of piety. You may, without expense, be furnished with such books, to suit all persons and circumstances : books for the old and for the young—for persons under afflictions or desertions—for persons who are under the power of particular vices—for those who neglect domestic religion-for seafaring persons for the erroneous. You may remarkably enforce your admonitions, by leaving suitable books in the hands of those with whom you have conversed ; you may give them to understand that you would be still considered as conversing with them by these books, after you have left them. And in this way you may speak more than you have time to do in any personal interview ; yea, sometimes more than you would wish to do. By good books a salt of piety is scattered about a neighbourhood. Christian Herald.]