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duty, and to the practice of virtue? must it not occasion thousands and thousands of good sentiments and actions amongst mankind ?
Indeed experience allows us as little to doubt of it as the nature of the case itself. No, all do not depart unimproved from these schools of christian wisdom and virtue. Many have to thank them for inducement and excitation to amendment, many for their return to the way of duty, many for precautions against fin, for taste and inclination to goodness. How often does some truth, important to the religion or the morals of a man, dart like a pure ray of light into his benighted soul, touch him to the quick, thoroughly affect him with hope or fear, with trouble or with joy; discover to him the true state of his heart, the real frame of his life; beget in him the noblest wishes, the best resolutions ; accompany him home, attend him in all his affairs, pursue him in all the companies he frequents, and let him have no rest till he surrender himself to its influence, and fully experience its improving and blessing energy ! -How many a wicked purpose is rendered abor. tive, because he who conceived and cherished it in his breast, led by the kindness of providence exactly to hear fome certain doctrine or precept of religion, particularly suited to him, delivered with sentiment and force, is struck and alarmed by it, brought to reflection, and moved to an alteration of mind! How many a good and christian deed, how many a reconciliation with adversaries and foes, how many a
resolution to lead a new life, how many a step to. wards virtue, how many acts of liberality have been occafioned by such discourses and acts of worship! How
many sallies of violent, brutal passions been thus prevented !-- And even if these effects fall out but rarely, if it be only now and then that a wicked person is induced to fórsake the error of his ways; yet who can deny his having been streng. thened by these means in good purposes, that he has been rouzed to zeal and perseverance in good. ness, that he has been made happy in the more lively fentiment of his truly christian dispositions, the comfort of an approving conscience, the affurance of divine approbation and favour, has a foretaste of the blessed reward of his fidelity, and thence feels the acquisition of fresh courage and resolution to complete the work he has begun, to pursue his course with confidence, and to allow nothing to deprive him of the prize appointed for him that overcomes? Yes, it is indisputable, that public and focial worship throws the most falutary impediments in the way of wickedness and vice, and prevents numberless disorders and crimes in human fociety; it is not to be denied, that it aninates the true
hristian to more strenuous efforts in goodness and virtue, and keeps him from becoming weary and disheartened in integrity and beneficence. And what great advantages are not these!
How much tranquillity and comfort does not, thirdly, this worship diffuse over the hearts of men !
How many anxious cares, how many consuming vexations, does it not moderate or remove !
How differently do they not there often learn to judge of the world and their own condition !
How totally different to think of what are usually termed success and misfortune! How much more calmly and refignedly to bear their troubles, how much more confidently and chearfully to hope in God in the midst of want and misery, how much more undismayed to encounter, every danger and even death, when all thefe things appear to them in the light of religion and christianity, when they have learnt to consider them in their dependency on the will of the all-wise and all-gracious ruler of the world, and in their connection with human perfection and happiness! And when forgiveness of fins is there anounced to the contrite and returning finner, the promises of assistance and support held out to the feeble, a better and an eternal life displayed before the wretched, a compenfation and reward beyond the grave afsured to the oppressed and innocent sufferer, what a healing balm, what refrelhment and restoration, must not this shed into the soul that is thirsting and panting after comfort!
I here address myself to your own experience, ye who in fincerity of heart and design frequent the public worship. Say, my christian brothers and fifa ters, have ye not often come into the assembly of the worshipers of God, with heavy hearts and troubled minds ? Has not often a secret pain, a sorrow of
soul, attended you thither? Were ye not often languishing in search of comfort and repose ? and have ye not there often found this comfort, this repose? Has not the burden that oppressed you, there fallen off from your heart? Has not a chearful beam proceeded thence, that has enlightened your gloomy path, and shewn you an issue from the labyrinth in which you were involved ? Have ye not often returned home, comforted, strengthened, and revived? --And what well-disposed christian has not there re, joiced in the paternal love of God, in the fraternal affection of Jesus, in his relation towards God and Jesus, in his destination to a blessed immortality, in his approximation to the mark of his high calling; and, in the enjoyment of these delights, has he not learnt to endure, to despise, to forget all the troubles, all the sufferings, all the evils of the present life? Oh, who can recount all the comfort and serenity of mind that mankind have derived from christian wor, fhip, all the tears of forrow and pain which there have ceased to flow, all the chearful and blefled fensations which have there been taught to rise : what a diminution of human misery, what an augmenta, tion of human happiness has not arisen on all hands, in cottages and in palaces, among all' classes and conditions of men; and what an inestimable value must not this confer on public worship in our sight!
Public and focial worship acquires, fourthly, a new value, as it kindles and enflames our devotion, and gives more life and dignity to our personal worship.
What is not the solemn and public worship capable of producing, and how much does it often actually produce! How often does it inspire even the volatile and giddy with seriousness, the scoffer with reverence, and the insensible and careless with sentiment and reflection! How readily does it impart sentiments ; how principally the sentiments of piety and devotion ! Like an electrical fire they frequently seize on mien of the most different tempers and opinions, infusing into their hearts a spiritual life. And, if I attend a worship where prayer, pfalmody, the discourse of the minister, all combine to impress me with pious sentiments and reflections; where a profound filence, a general and continued attention prevails around me, drawing off my mind by degrees from all outward things, and fixing it entirely on itself and on God; when I there perceive my friends and acquaintance, or even unknown persons, of
every age, either sex, and each condition of life, absorbed in ferious meditation, and impressed with pious emotions; when I join there a great assembly, a whole congregation, humbly prostrate before the being who dwells in heaven, and who fills with his majesty both heaven and earth, imploring grace and merèy and help of him from one mouth; when I see them, under a lively sense of their weakness and their manifold fpiritual wants, open their hearts and minds to the influence of christianity and religion, and with eagerness of soul imbibe light and consolation and repose and power to goodness; when I hear VOL. II.