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stles, must appear to every thoughtful mind a fit and natural way and method of obeying this injunction of our Lord's, of openly testifying our regard for him.
For it is perhaps chiefly owing to this, as one of the special means of divine Providence, that the knowledge of Christ and his gospel has been preserved among men. For on this first day of the week, in memory of Christ being raised from the dead, and all our hopes in him confirmed by that event, from the time of the apostles to the present hour that we are met together, assemblies for social worship among christians have been held, wherever the reli gioh of the gospel hath been known.
And the reading of the divine scriptures, particularly of the memoirs of the life of Christ, and of the correspondence of his apostles with particular churches and persons, in the New Testament; and the lessons of piety and moral righteousness drawn from these writings, and enforced by the powerful mo tives of the gospel, which at first and since have generally made a principal part of the worship and service of the day;-these must have mainly contributed to keep up and spread the knowledge of Christ and his teachings so
important to mankind; and still further, which is the great end of all, to bring men to the virtues of the christian life, and fit them for an immortal happiness.:
And it is a fact confirmed by experience, though nothing more than might naturally be expected from the means used; that, in general, where the public worship of God is duly frequented with proper dispositions on this day, knowledge, virtue and sobriety of manners becoming christians, are found; and the contrary where it is neglected.
These considerations will not fail to move every serious mind concerned for the honour. of the gospel and the true happiness of mankind, not to fail in their attendance on the worship of God in the christian congregation on this day; and make them desirous also, by their influence as well as example, to bring others to conform to what is so right in itself, so. much the duty of all, and attended with such signal advantages, to prevent that fatal neglect of it among all ranks among us, which all good men lament.
Lastly: Our Lord knew that the want of
sincerity in his service would be a fatal hindrance to the spreading of the salutary truth of the gospel; and would also draw long with it by degrees the neglect of all other duties, and by degrees deprave the whole moral character; which was the reason of his making that severe and awful declaration; "Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Or, as another evangelist giveth our Lord's words upon the occasion; (Mark viii. 38.) "Of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels !"
Shame and disgrace are the things to which the human heart is most sensible; and they are most severely felt when they are irremediable, and when we are convinced that the misery and contempt which we justly undergo, we have brought upon ourselves by our own wilful neglect and obstinacy, and after many kind warnings which we have slighted and overlooked.
Figure to yourselves, then, the exquisite wretchedness of those christians, who, when they shall be awaked to life in another world, shall find that they had it once in their power, by
by an open adherence to that gospel of whose truth they were firmly persuaded, to have served the benevolent designs of the heavenly Father, in perfecting their own faulty characters, and bringing others from their sins to virtue and an endless happiness; but that they have lost these advantages for ever. Should it not, therefore, in all reason, excite us to endeavour to prevent, before it be too late, the mortifying reflection on our folly and past misconduct, and the inevitable shame and regret of falling from the prospect of the highest bliss, and being classed among worthless beings, who refused to be reformed, and to be made the instruments of others' happiness.
On the other hand, how calculated to work upon and win over every ingenuous and well disposed mind, is the reward here held forth by our Lord to all his faithful servants and fellow-labourers, who shall have been instrumental in forwarding the virtue and everlasting salvation of mankind; of his not being ashamed of owning them before God, and receiving them to his favour and friendship for ever in the presence of God, and in the society of all others, who, like him, having safely passed through this their
first state of trial, are fixed in virtue, and in that permanent increasing happiness which flows from it!
How pure and exalted is this idea of the heavenly recompense proposed to those who have been willing to suffer and endure hardships, to promote truth and virtue among
To live in the society of virtuous and happy beings, of all the wise and good who have ever existed on the earth, of such as the blessed Jesus, our great Lord and Master, and his apostles; to know, and to be known by these; to be connected with them in the same great benevolent pursuits and employments, now as much unknown to us as that unseen world to which we are going;-this is the highest entertainment and bliss to which a rational mind can aspire.
Even in this imperfect state, there is no satisfaction to be compared to that of living and conversing with worthy and upright characters, in whose friendship we can securely repose ourselves.
But the inequalities of temper to which we are subject, the unavoidable calamities and distractions of life, and many other cross in