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or to present the considerations which should urge them to do it. Now, let me ask, while this exercise is going forward, upon whom does the responsibility of it chiefly come? Is it the duty of a minister to interest the people, or that of the people to be interested by their own efforts, in the message the minister brings? Are you, in receiving a message from above, to reject it, or listen to it carelessly, and with an inattentive and listless air, because it is not presented in such a manner as to compel you, by the novelty of its illustrations or the beauty of its diction, to give it your regard?

A farmer sends his boys into a field to spend the day in work. He tells them what to do for an hour, and says that after that time he shall send a man to explain to them how they are to proceed through the day. The boys go on with their work until at length the expected messenger appears. He begins to tell them how the land is to to be ploughed, orin what way the father wishes the seed to be put in the ground. The boys listen to him a minute or two, until one perceiving some oddity in the man's manner, bursts into a laugh—another sits down on a green bank under a tree, and gradually falls into a state of drowsy insensibility,—a third looks away with a vacant countenance upon the hills and mountains around, utterly regardless of the message. The boys consequently do not learn what their father wishes them to do, and do not do it, and when night comes, and they are called to account for the labours of the day, they try to justify themselves with this preposterous excuse: " Why," they say to their father, "the man you sent us was not an interesting man, and so we did not pay any attention to his message. He had no talent at making his mode of explanation novel and striking, and so we did not listen to it." "I could not possibly fix my attention," says one. "He was a very sleepy talker," says another; "I could not keep awake." He was dressed so," says a third, "and he had such a tone that I could not help laughing at him."

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Such are the excuses which many persons give for not giving heed to religious instruction on the Sabbath. They try to throw off all responsibility upon the minister, and if he does not awaken, by the power of his genius, an interest in their minds, they consider themselves entirely excused from feeling any. They say in substance to themselves,—“We know we have disobeyed God, and he is sending us messen

gers to communicate to us the offers of forgiveness for the past and direction for the future, but unless he sends us agreeable and ingenious and eloquent men, we will pay no attention to any of them."

Who can stand in the judgment with such an excuse? And yet it is the actual feeling of thousands. But, my reader, I do urge you to abandon altogether this plan of throwing off upon the minister whom Providence has sent to you the responsibility of the interest you take in public instruction. It is his duty to deliver his message plainly and intelligibly; but it is your duty, most unquestionably, to be interested in it. Go to meeting, feeling that you have something to do there. You must be interested in what you hear, if it is a plain exhibition of religious truth, and you must apply it to your own conscience and heart by real active effort, or you must incur the guilt of rejecting the message from heaven. The less interesting the preacher then is, the more active and the more arduous the duty of his hearers. They should look him steadily in the face, and listen in silence and in deep attention to what he has to say, and feel at all times, though the minister must be faithful in delivering his message, that it is their most imperious duty to take heed how they hear.

There are a great many persons who are very constant in their attendance upon public worship, and who think their motive is respect for religion, and a desire to obey God's commands, when in fact they are controlled by other motives altogether. I do not mean by this, that they attend public worship, and sustain by their influence the ordinances of religion, through a distinct and deliberate design of merely promoting in some way their own worldly interest by it. Actual, intentional hypocrisy, is a means which few men will knowingly adopt to accomplish their purposes. It is of so mean and base a quality, that even the honourable principles of this world are usually sufficient to preserve the breasts of men from its pollution. It is degrading and humiliating to admit it knowingly and voluntarily as a principle of action. The great danger is, from a hypocrisy or something nearly allied to it, which comes in secrecy or disguise. It is not always an easy thing for us to decide by what motives we are governed in the actions which we perform. We are often swayed by inducements of which,

without rigid and impartial scrutiny, we are entirely unconscious; for there may be one motive, of fair and honourable appearance, which stands out to the view of the individual as the director of his actions, and there may be another of far different character, which in reality guides him, but which is coiled up, like a main-spring, in a secret place, and thus eludes his observation. The Bible, when it teaches us that the heart is deceitful above all things, tells us nothing which an unbiassed observation of human nature will not everywhere confirm.

Now, if some sinister motive is for a time actuating a Christian in his religious course, he can very easily detect it by the manner in which the public duties of the Sabbath are performed. A man who is secretly influenced by some worldly consideration in what he does, may be attentive and faithful in all the open and public services of religion. If we are thus influenced, however, as it is external appearance only which can bring us worldly advantage, we shall go no farther than to the outward appearance. We e may rise with God's people in his house of prayer, and assume the posture of reverential supplication, but if appearances are all which we regard, we shall be satisfied with merely assuming the posture. We may join with our lips in the song of praise, and if to be seen of men is our object, the service of the lip is all that is necessary for its accomplishment, and that will be all at which we shall aim. And we may listen with apparent attention to the message which the preacher delivers, but the appearance of attention will be all, if our object is such that this appearance will attain it.

On the other hand, if an honest intention of worshipping God be the motive which calls a man to the weekly assembly, it will carry him farther than to a compliance with the external form. When in the season of prayer, recognising the presence of the great God of heaven and earth, he rises to assume the attitude of respectful reverence, his heart will feel the reverence which his action implies. His thoughts, instead of wandering to the ends of the earth, will ascend in devout aspirations to heaven. Contrition for the offences which he has committed against that being who has been kind to him as a father,-resolutions to conform his conduct and character more completely to the divine will,-longings for that assistance from above, without which past experi

ence and the word of God inform him that his efforts will be strength spent for nought, and ardent supplications for blessings upon his fellow-men, dictated by a benevolence which comprises in its view the whole human family, and which looks forward, in its good will to men, to the enjoyments of eternity, as well as to the comforts and conveniences of time-these will be the emotions which will have control in the heart of the man of sincerity, while the affections of the man of form will be grovelling upon the farm, the money or the merchandize.

The song of praise, too, from the one who really worships God, will not be merely music on the tongue, it will be an expression of warm feeling from the heart. The voice of adoration and praise will arise from a soul which adores and praises, and which, as it lifts up that voice, will be itself elevated by the emotions of gratitude and love; while the offerer of an external worship will be lost in vacancy during the singing of God's praises, or only interested in the mere music of the song.

And in the listening to the sermon, the conscientious worshipper will give earnest heed to the things which relate to his everlasting peace. Knowing that he has in multiplied instances transgressed a law which God has established, and enforced by dreadful sanctions, he is convinced that it becomes him to attend in earnest to the means of averting the consequences of his guilt. With this view his mind is fixed in attention to the way of reconciliation with God, and to the duties which devolve upon him who cherishes hopes of immortality; and, all this time, he who is contented with outward conformity is lost in a mental and perhaps in a bodily slumber.

Let me urge my readers, then, to be careful how they perform the duties of public worship. The responsibility of being interested in them, and profited by them, comes upon you alone. You cannot throw it off upon your minister. Examine yourself with reference to the spirit and feelings with which these duties are performed. They afford you a very fine opportunity for close and faithful self-examination, for the sinister motives which in a greater or less degree undoubtedly exist in your hearts will show themselves here.

There is one thing more that I ought to present to the

consideration of my readers before closing the chapter on this subject. It is this:

In keeping the Sabbath, avoid all appearance of evil. I have endeavoured in this discussion to accomplish two objects. First, to convince my readers that the mere form and manner in which the Sabbath is kept, except so far as that it is a matter of express command, is not material; and, secondly, to convey to the mind a distinct idea of what I understand to be the spirit of the command, and to persuade all my readers to aim at producing, by the best means within their reach, upon their own hearts and lives, the effect which God had in view in the establishment of the institution. From these views of the subject, were I to stop here, it might seem that if we take such a course as shall really secure our own religious improvement on the Sabbath, we may do it in any way; for example, that we may walk, or ride, or visit, provided that we so regulate and control our thoughts and conversation as to make the spiritual improvement which it is the object of the day to secure. But no. We must avoid the appearance of evil. We must not seem to be breaking or disregarding God's commands.

For example. A Christian, living on the sea-shore, after having spent the day in the various duties which have presented themselves to his attention, stands at the door of his house, and looks out upon the glassy surface of the bay which stretches before him. It is a summer evening. The sun is just setting, throwing his bright beams over the water, and gilding every object upon which it shines. The Christian looks over this scene of beauty, and its expression of calmness and peace is transferred to his own soul. He feels the presence of God in it all, and rejoices in the power and goodness of the great being who reigns in every scene of beauty or of grandeur which nature exhibits.

With his heart filled with such thoughts, he walks down upon the beach, to indulge in the contemplation of God's goodness to mankind and to him. Now he is, it must be admitted, while doing this, accomplishing the object of the Sabbath, by meditation on the character of God. He may say, perhaps, that his views of divine goodness and power are more distinct and vivid while he is walking out among the beauties of nature, if his heart is in a right state, than

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