Page images

selves, which was the consequence of which God hath intrusted to our care. knowing that, like the first founders of We possess all the advantages which our religion, we have every where been other Christians enjoy, and we have spoken against. The prejudices which the advantage over them of possessing we have had to contend with, are those institutions of apostolical formation, which have been fustered from the first and of greater stability. It is not for settlenient of this country by the des- the purpose of boasting of these adcendants of those who separated from vantages that they are mentioned, but their mother, the church of England; to show that our shame will be the and also those which were excited in greater, if we do not preserve and de. the minis of the politicians of our coun- fend them. For this

purpose, union is try, from the connexion of our church, necessary; and to promote this union before the revolution, with the civil the several parts of the body niust be government of England. The lapse brought to act in concert. Every indi

of time is gradually destroying the vidual parishioner should feel that he : arbitrary associations on which these is related to his clergyman and to his

prejudices have been founded. The bishop. Every congregation should prejudices themselves, therefore, are feel, that it is a part of the diocese, so beginning to give way; and the in- intimately connected with the rest, that creasing divisions of religious sects, the sufferings and the joys of every springing inevitably from the principles member may pervade the whole body. of dissent, are beginning to open the Every diocese is to consider itself as a eyes of reflecting and conscientious portion only of the whole of our national men to the danger with which these church, acting always in unison, to prodivisions threaten our common Chris. mote the good of the whole. Our tianity, and to the great value of re- church, throughout the United States, ligious unity. In the mean time our is to look upon itself as a member of church has followed the undeviating that catholick or universal church, of tenour of her way, through evil report which Christ is the head and king. All and good report; her clergy have be- Christians are our brethren, entiiled to come more numerous and more tho- our sympathies and our benevolence, roughly united ; her laity have recover- as far as our power extends, and to our ed from the despondency occasioned esteem, in proportion to the purity with by the causes which have been men- which they receive the faith once detioned ; and she is now able to count livered to the saints, and the firmness within ber bosom some of the greatest with which they adhere to the order names which have adorned, and which of apostolical practice.

F. will hereafter adorn, the annals of our country. It is never to be forgotten, that the great and good Washington was, to the last moment of life, a firm

To the Editor of the Gospel Advocate. adberent to our communion.

As to the wealth and intelligence of I'm being the object of your useful mis. our Jaity, we can, in all the Atlantick cellany, not only to defend and instates, south of New England, claim a culcate the pure doctrines, but also larger share, io proportion to our num: to recommend and enforce the great bers, than any other denomination of duties of Christianity, I have thought it professing Christians.

might be useful to call the attention of These circumstances considered, it your readers to a subject, which has of. seems as if we were now especially ten occupied my thoughts, and as often called upon to exert ourselves for the awakened in my mind the most painful preservation and increase of the talent emotions. I allude to the frequent, and,

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

I fear, inexcusable neglect of the institu- glect of which we complain, we shal! tion of publick worship, by many who find them to be of a nature too trivial and profess and call themselves Christians. groundless even to palliate, much less It is to be hoped there are few.compara- to justify it. They are, for the most tively, in this higbly favoured part of our part, such as are seldom, if ever, suffered country, who entirely forsake the assem. to interfere with our worldly concerns, bling of themselves together for the pur. either of business or pleasure ; such as poses of publick devotion. This is a


we should blush to urge as a plea for duty so reasonable in itself, and so bene- deserting the interests or honour of an ficial in its consequences, considered earthly friend or benefactor. Thou. even in a temporal point of view, that sands, every sabbath, are kept from the no man, who has any just regard for bis house of God, some the whole, some, pero owo character, or for the welfare of the haps, but balf of the day, by consideracommunity, can.consistently withbold tions, which never on other days keep from it his occasional countenance and the husbandman from his farm, the me. support ; much less will he, who views chanick from his shop, the merchant the publick worship of God in its aspect from his counting house, nor the man of on a future world, as the best and only pleasure froin bis favourite indulgence, preparation for the worship of that tem. What guilt and presumption to neglect, ple not made with hands, eternal in the on such slight pretences, a duty, enjoinheavens, altogether forsake the worship- ed by the dread Sovereign of the uni. ping assemblies of saints on earth. But verse, and inseparably connected with whether we .contemplate this ordinance our highest interests; a duty which, with reference to its temporal or spiritu- like gadliness, of which it is an essential al advantages, the same considerations part, has the promise of the life that which demand our occasional attendance now is, and of that which is to come ! in the house of prayer, urge us to the How would such conduct be viewed in constant and uniform discharge of this clergymen? What would their congreduty. And, if we duly estimate our ob- gations think and say of them, were they, ligations and privileges in this respect, on account of the weather, their distance we shall suffer nothing, but the most from church, a slight indisposition, or urgent necessity, in any instance to de from a regard to their own ease and tain us from the habitation of the Lord's indulgepce, frequently to absent them. house, the place where his honour dwel- selves from publick worship, and leave letb. As often as the doors of the sanc: the flocks committed to their charge to tuary are opened to us, we shall enter wander upon the mountains, like sheep into its gates with thanksgiving, and into without a shepherd ? Would they not its courts with praise.

justly regard such negligence in their Why then is the house of God so often ministers, as deserving the severest reforsaken by many who profess a reve- prehension ? But can any reason be rence for his name and institutions ? given why it should not be viewed as Why do our congregations so frequently equally reprehensible in themselves ? vary in the numbers of their worship. Are not the obligations of clergymen pers? Why are the ambassadors of and laymen in this respect reciprocal ? Christ so often pained with the view of If it be the duty of the former to preach ; deserted walls and yacant seats? Why is it not equally the duty of the latter do the ways of Zion so frequently mourn to hear? that so few come to her solemn feasts ? It may be thought, perhaps, that the Wby are so many of our sabbaths lost neglect, of which we are speaking, is of to the high and holy purposes for wbich too trivial a nature to require or deserve the sabbatb was instituted ?

serious animadversion. But a little reĮf we examine the causes of the ne- fection will conyince us that it is far

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

otherwise; that nothing is trivial or un- hands? Has He, who is the brightness of important, which is connected with re. the Father's glory, and the express image ligion, which tends, in the remotest of his person, promised, that, where degree, to further or retard our progress two or three are gathered together in in the knowledge and practice of Chris- his name, there he will be in the midst tianity, our preparation for a better of them? And can we esteem it a light world. That negligence in our tempo- thing to desert the place thus honoured ral concerns is seldom crowned with by the special presence of the Deity ? success is proved by daily experience; When invited to meet our King and and are we authorized to expect that the Saviour in his earthly courts, shall we crown of life is to be won without ex. listen to the invitation with indifference, ertion ? On the contrary, do not the or in any instance, in which attendance scriptures every where inculcate the is practicable, refuse to comply with it? necessity of the most strenuous and un- To do this is to treat the Almighty with remitting efforts in order to secure the less ceremony or respect than we are promised possession ? Besides the ex. accustomed to show to our superiours press precepts of scripture o. this sub- on earth ; it is in truth to pour contempt ject, are we not constantly referred to on his character and institutions. And the examples of prophets, apostles, and shall we think this no offence merely martyrs, and to that of Christ himself, because we are not habitually guilty of as patterns for our imitation ? And do it? these examples afford any sanction to Further, this remissness on the part of the indulgence of an indolent and slothful professing Christians, is unfriendly to the spirit? Do they give us the least en- progress of the gospel. On the support couragement to hope that the lukewarm, of publick worship the very existence negligent Christian will follow them to of religion in the world depends. The the bright abodes which they now in. church is the pillar and ground of the

truth. In the same degree in which the Every instance of unnecessary ne. foundation is weakened or impaired, glect of publick worship is chargeable the stability of the superstructure is afwith the guilt of disobedience to the di- fected. Let the publick altars of reliFine authority. Publick worship is a gion be deserted, and religion itself must divine institution. Not to forsake the expire. Now it is obvious that those, assembling of ourselves together is an a- who entirely withhold from the institupostolick injunction. Whenever there- tion of publick worship their countenance fore we desert this institution withoạt an and support, contribute, as far as their adequate cause, we disobey an express example and influence extend, to the command, and consequently incur the destruction of the visible church, and divine displeasure. The circumstance consequently to the extinction of Chrisof the neglect being only occasional, tianity. And has not every instance of alters not the nature of the offence. neglect the same tendency? As often Were it to occur but once in the course as an individual absents himself from the of our lives, it would still be an omis- publick assemblies of Christians, does sion of duty, and, as such, ought to pe. be not virtually desert the banner of netrate our hearts with contrition, and Christ, and swell the ranks of the ene. carry us to the throne of grace for mies of his cross? Has not the Saviour

said, he that is not with me, is against This neglect is inconsistent with that me? The effect of his absence may feverence which is due to the sanctua- not be perceived at the time, but it ry of God, and to the name which is does not therefore follow that it will not there recorded. Does the high and lofty be felt; and were his example to be One, who inhabiteth eternity, conde, generally followed, the consequences scend to dwell in temples made with would be as visible as they are real ;

habit ?


[ocr errors]


the cause of truth and righteousness struction and devotion after another to would languish, and darkness would a- páss away unimproved, are in a great gain cover the earth. The warfare in measure unmindful of their obligatious, which the church is engaged, lis a per- insensible to their highest interests, and petual warfare ; the enemies with which in danger of coming short of that rest she has to contenu are vigilant and ac- which remaineth for the people of God! live ; and not a single soldier can be Viewing their conduct in the inost faspared from her ranks, even for a day, vourable light, is it sufficiently plain that without prolonging her conflict, and de. they are, conformably to the spirit of laying her triumpbs. How fearlul then the scriptural injunctions, seeking first the responsibility incurred by those who the kingdom of God and his righteous. so often toma deaf ear to the call of duty, ness, fighting the good fight of faith, and without any adequate excuse with- striving to enter in at the straight gate, hold their influence from a cause which giving all diligence to make their calthey are pledged to support ;-a cause ling and election sure ? Are there not in which angels delight to be employed; grounds to fear that they will be found for which the Saviour left the bosoni of at last among those to whom the Saviour his Father, and expired upon the cross ; refers, when he says, Many will say and for the advancement of which he unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have still intercedes at the right hand of God. we not prophesied in thy name ? and in

There is yet another point of view in thy name cast out devils ? and in thy which the neglect under consideration name done many wonderful works? assumes an alarming aspect. I mean And then will I profess unto them, I in its influence on the inoral and reli. never knew you: depart from me, ye gious character and attainments of those that work iniquity.” Reader, art thou who indulge it. The great design of verily guilty in this thing? In peruspublick worship, in common with the ing the above remarks, has conscience other means of religion, is to enlighten whispered, Thou art the man ? Have our minds in the knowledge of divine many of thy sabbaths been misemploytruth, and to form in us those holy prin- ed; many seasons of worship neglected ? ciples, dispositions, and habits, which What then is thy state before God ? constitute a meetness for the kingdom What account wilt thou be able to give of heaven. The means and the end of the talents which he has committed are inseparably connected. The latter to thy trust? Is not the great work, cannot be obtained without a right use which he has given thee to do, yet unacof the former. It is true in spiritual complished ? Were thy soul to be reconcerns, no less than in temporal, that quired of thee this night, would not thy it is the hand of the diligent only that last moments be embittered by a cermaketh rich. Hence we observe, that tain fearful looking for of judgment and the brightest examples of piety and vir. fiery indignation Think of these things Lue have uniformly been found among before it is too late. Thy remaining sabthose, who have eviuced the most ar. baths and seasons of improvement will Jent attachment to the publick institu- soon be numbered. Trifle no longer tions and ordinances of the gospel. with the things that belong to thy peace. “ Those that be planied in the house of Learn so to number thy days as to apply the Lord,” says the Psalmist, “shall flou• thy heart unto wisdom. And when thy rish in the courts of our God.” Is there last hour shall arrive, may it find thee a not then reason to apprehend that those successful suppliant at the throne of the persons, who are remiss in their obser- heavenly grace, and bring to thy ears vance of the outward means of grace, the welcome sentence, “ Well done, who, without any apparent concern, thou good and faithful servant, enter susier one opportunity of religious in- thou into the joy of thy Lord." A.

[ocr errors]

To the Editor of the Gospel Advocale,

sharp punishments, to be inflicted upon

those who would not comply with it. MR. WEBSTER'S DISCOURSE.

To inake the heritage of God, as a bird Is my last communication, I have of many colours by holding of divers given, I think, sufficient evidence, that religions, was, in their estimation, a the object of the puritans, in the reign sin ; and, accordingly, in one of the of queen

Elizabeth, was not to obtain pieces written by Johnson, a leader of a toleration for the quiet enjoyment of ihe Brownists, entitled " Antichristian their own tenets and inodes of worship; abominations yet releyned in England," but it was to subvert the existing es- the thirty-third abomination enumerattablishment, and to erect their own ed is TOLERATIONS: This curious docusystem upon its ruins. So far from ment may be seen in the Biographia wishing for a toleration, they expressly Britannica, article brown (Robert) vote disclaiined and refused one, when some. F. thing of the kind seems to have been The “MOLY DISCIPLINE," which the intended for them. There is a warm puritans laboured so hard to introduce, declaration of theirs, still extant, upon has been so oiten adverted to, ibat this point, directed to “ those who your readers will perhaps he curious labour to root out the weeds of popery.” to know something of its contents. It

" As for you, dear brethren, whom God was originally drawn up in Latin by ? hath call'd into the brunte of the battle, Mr. Travers, and printed at Geneva ;

the Lord keep you constant, that ye it was then diligently revised, correct

yield neither to TOLERATION, neither ed, and perfected, by Mr. Cartwright, 1

to any other subtil persuasions of dis- who translated it, and by other learned '' pensations, or licences, which were to ministers at the puritan synods; and fortify their Romish practices: But, as was finally published by authority in

: you fight the Lord's fight, be valiant. 1644, having been found in Mr. CartThe matter is not so small as the world wright's study after his death. doth take it; it will appear, before all One of the first laws is as follows: be ended, what an hard thing it is to cut “Let none be called" (to any ecclesioff the rags of the hydra of Roine. Let us astical benefice] but they who have not make the heritage of God us a bird of first subscribed the confession of doc. many colours, holding of divers religions trine and discipline ; whereof let them

, -but rather let us take away, if we be adimonish'd to have copies with can, the names, memories, and all themselves." This would at once monuments of popery.” Part of a Re. have deprived all the episcopal ciergy gister, p. 18.

p Who were meant by this throughout the nation. But this sub. description, in the year 1570, needs oo scription from every minister did not explanation. The bishops and clergy content them; for farther care nilist be of the church of England were then taken to prevent his changing his mind. constantly represented as bearing the “Let him be demanded, whether he names, and supporting the monu- will be studious and careful to mainments of popery. Agreeably to this tain and preserve wholesome doctrine exhortation, we see nothing in all tbeir and ecclesiastical discipline. Thus let petitions, adinonitions, supplications, the minister be examined, not only by &c. which looks like asking any indul- one eldership, but also by some greater gence or toleration only for themselves; meeting and assembly.” Nor was even but their single request or command, this sufficient; for the same holy disin what style soever they speak, is, cipline went on to say, “ In the exto overthrow, entirely, the established amination of ministers, the testimony government and worship, and introduce of the place from whence they come is their own, with penalties, and even to be demandeu, whereby it may be

« PreviousContinue »