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seded, they being only “a shadow of good things to come;" yet it is evidently a becoming duty, and more than ever fitting, that God's name should in these after ages be equally treated with public honour, and that his worship and service should still be celebrated and observed in the public congregation of the faithful. Prophecy in holy anticipation had announced this, had guarded against any misrepresentation in this matter: and the word of Christ having clearly taught us our duty in this respect, we as Christians are to understand ourselves as commanded, no less than were the Israelites of old, to pay public homage unto God; for we likewise possess, as they did, a sweet promise of acceptance and favour. For,” as said our Lord himself, “ where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." 4 And for what purpose, my brethren, wherefore has the holy rest of the Sabbath been given to us, if it is not to be sanctified by public prayer, thanksgiving, and praise ? Wherefore are we commanded to rest one day in seven from the ordinary routine of our worldly work and occupation ?wherefore is it desirable that we on the Sunday put away from us, as much as may be, the drudgery and the dirt, the turmoil and the fag, of this life's feverish strife ? wherefore this hallowing and separation? -if the Sabbath be not thankfully and profitably given up to God, to his honour and service; that we may on that day frequent “the habitation of God's house,” and be therein glad, and rejoice for all the good wherewith we have so undeservedly been blessed ?
4 Matt. xviii. 20.
Great, my brethren, great and valuable ought we to account the privilege and the opportunities of social and public worship ; although it may be feared that, like most other goods in possession, we do not appreciate the blessing and the privilege sufficiently as we ought to do. The many are slack and remiss, when they ought to be zealous and ready : and excuses most frivolous shall be brought forward, and causes most idle shall be allowed to interfere with, and to prevent our attendance at that public and religious assembling of ourselves together, which as it is our duty, and for our own spiritual profit, so ought it to be our pleasure and delight.
The word of God by his prophet to Israel, full as it is of temporal promises and blessings more peculiarly belonging to them as a nation, is nevertheless full of instruction and encouragement to us. “If,” as the pen of Isaiah was commanded to write, “ thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, 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
“ The mouth of the Lord,” my brethren, hath solemnly declared, that honour me I will honour; and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”6 And we may not lightly pass over these words, or think to disregard them with impunity. If, on the holy rest of the Sabbath, we are not merely reluctant to come to the house of God, but if, as it is to be feared is the case with many, we wilfully, and idly, and absolutely without any cause but our own perverse dispositions, refuse publicly to worship the Lord our God, is it likely that we shall in other respects keep holy the Sabbath-day? And how many,
ye, of those who thus draw back, will worship him in private, or in any way attend to the other sacred duties of the day? We dare affirm of those who come not to church when they can, --and leisure for which, by the way, many by a little steady forethought might make for themselves, that they, thus negligent of God's invitation, will be much tempted, and do oftentimes outrageously profane the Lord's day by acts of gross criminality, by acts not of mere idleness, but by positive sins, by sensuality and profligacy. They cast away the thought, they despise the service of the Lord of Hosts, and they are in strict justice abandoned by him to reap the bitter consequences of their own rebellion and sin, " Their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as the dust."7
5 Isa. Iviii. 13, 14. 61 Sam. ii. 30.
It were idle, my brethren, to seek to deceive ourselves in this matter, or to deny the fact that the generality of us are not altogether what we ought to be as concerning our attendance on the public worship of our church, giving little heed to the bidding of prayers, or to the more solemn and peculiar ordinance of the
7 Isa. v. 24.