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consider the matter in your own consciences, and as in the presence of God. Admitting that you are what you profess to be,-believers in the Gospel of Christ, and members of the established Church, what merit, or what value can you attach to a principle of piety, that sits so lightly on the mind, and is so capricious and irregular in its operation?-that produces its effect once now and then, we will suppose, but establishes no habitual practice; and if it lead to a good example to-day, restrains not a bad one
you should feel no shame, or compunction with respect to yourselves on this head; you cannot well be inattentive to consequences that may arise to others. Nothing propagates itself more silently, and more effectually, it is well known, than good or bad conduct. It comes with almost resistless influence, when sanctioned by the example of those we reverence and love. But if children and dependents, looking to your example, should perceive that the observance of religious worship is almost a matter of indifference; that it is practised, or not, just as temporary humor, idle curiosity, or casual inclination prevails,-they will learn to think it of no serious consequence; and the fruits of mere
indolence and irregularity, on your part, may on theirs, be habits of licentiousness, or confirmed infidelity and profaneness.
Now, the folly and the sin of these omissions seem to be aggravated you must allow, by the ease with which they might be avoided. There are duties, which in our Christian warfare call for such painful exertions of fortitude, patience, and self-denial, that human nature might claim some indulgence for its ordinary frailties and imperfections; but, to enter into "the courts of the Lord our God," with praises and thanksgivings, once a week (to say no oftener), on the day which He has commanded us to keep holy, and when the ordinary business and amusements of the world are, in a great measure, suspended; -to listen to the truths of his revealed word, to hear its warnings, and apply its consolations to our hearts, surely requires no extraordinary efforts; but is a duty that should be performed with as much pleasure as advantage.
Besides, let it be remembered, that it takes no one by surprise, nor presents any unexpected trials. Every week, it is appointed by "the God of order," that the Sabbath should return; and the subject of condemnation and regret is, that men should not always hold themselves
engaged, and chearfully prepared to fulfil its duties.
There may be a few extraordinary occa sions, which would seldom happen, if they were shunned, instead of being sought for, to apologise for casual omission, or neglect; and real illness always carries with it its necessity and excuse. But I will venture to affirm, that the causes which generally produce this irregularity, instead of being any apology for it, serve only to increase its sinfulness and guilt. In many instances, it is to be feared, that it arises from carelessness and indifference ;from want of consideration;-from total inattention to Order, as the means of regulating all our actions ;-from imitating others, as heedless as ourselves;-or from the wavering neutrality of "a doubtful mind." Where all these motives, or any of them, occasionally prevail, we can satisfactorily account for that inconsistency of conduct, and capricious neglect of duty, which we so often see and deplore; but where the importance of the subject is duly considered,-where faith is built on a solid foundation, and "the heart is right in the sight of God," we scarcely ever witness the same lamentable effect.
It must proceed, therefore, from the want of one, or more, of those requisite qualifications; but whatever our omissions and transgressions on this, and on every other occasion might be, the neglect of that decency and Order, or that proper distribution of our time, which St. Paul recommends, will increase them all.
For instance, inattention to the proper hour of rising, and the indulgence of indolent enjoyments, will encroach upon the duties of the day, and render the proper observance of the Christian Sabbath impracticable.
It is to be farther lamented, that this hallowed time is not only neglected, or suffered to waste itself unprofitably away, but that it is often profaned. As to the swarms of profligate and thoughtless beings, who look forward to it only as an interval of idleness and pleasure, they do not at present come properly within our notice; but there is an intermediate class of nominal Christians, who sometimes keep the Sabbath, and sometimes neglect, or profane it, just as trivial circumstances, and ordinary temptations occur. The attending on public worship is not by them considered as a sacred duty, founded on a paramount principle of re
ligion, that ought always to be obeyed; but it is referred to present convenience and inclination, or made subordinate to other concerns. Hence it is, that the avocations of the preceding day, or the protracted enjoyments of the evening, so often break in upon the Christian Sabbath; and the neglects of idleness, or pleasure, are often supplied out of the hallowed time, that should be devoted to public worship, and the interests of eternity.
Then too is the time with some, for adjusting the affairs of this life, instead of the next; and then, I am sorry to add, on the authority of professional men, is the time with many, for attending to those trifling ailments, and indispositions of the body, which, when the business and the pleasures of the world are in view, are scarcely felt or thought of. But, if they can find nothing else to do ;-if the interval of time from Saturday to Monday hangs heavily on their hands;-and if there is no inconvenience to be apprehended from the weather, or any other cause ;-but something, perhaps, promised as an occasional gratification, or variety, then they will go, for an hour or two, to some place of public worship. Influenced by