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nature. Whence then arises this neglect ? repeatedly has the answer been given, that it arises from their not rightly feeling the importance of the great subject, that they aim at obtaining benefit and profit by attention to worldly pursuits, and to them they therefore apply the whole of their powers, whilst their mind's-eye is never open to the future world, nor are they capable of following the example of the ancient Patriarchs, who '“ endured, as seeing him who is invisible.".
The natural consequence of uninvestigated truth, must be indecision and indifference. Is it possible for any one to enter a church, and not see these displayed in every part of it? no doubt, many of the persons to whom I allude, never enter the sacred walls; but in every congregation, we may see numbers, who come to the church without the smallest feeling of devotion; who walk in with the same aspect, and the same carelessness, as they would approach a coffee-house,
or a private room, and who conduct themselves, during the period of the holy ser, vice, and even whilst the prayers are read, which ought to be offered up to our Creator with an humble and contrite heart, in a lounging, negligent, and offensively indecorous manner. Whatever may be the motive which brings such persons to the church, it can be only a worldly one; it is impossible for them to feel that their steps are guided to the house of God by a proper sense of devotion, and by a desire of acting to his honor and glory.
Wanderings of mind and occasional distractions of thought may, and will, occur to the most serious Christian; but these will not only be short, but will be lamented by him as a human infirmity, and he will ever return with increased humility, and renewed devotion, to the duty of prayer. His posture will ever be that of one who is sensible that he is in the court of the Lord; he will ever be found, when offering up his prayers, in that attitude of body, which alone can designate the inclination of the mind, on his knees. No one, capable of reflection, can doubt the infinite importance, as it affects the community, of churches being regularly open to the population of a country, and the benefits of public devotion are incalculable; but still, with respect to each individual, separately considered, the real benefit to him must depend upon his own feelings, on his attention, or inattention, to the church-service, and his conduct in the sacred edifice. He will either be a worshipper, acceptable in the sight of God, or a cold and negligent formalist; who, if he should join in the public prayers, can only be said to "honor God with his lips, while his heart is far from him." Although our Saviour has most graciously declared, that, “ where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them;" yet, it can hardly be supposed, if those, who are collected together, feel no sense of their boundless obligation to that Saviour, or offer up their prayers in a cold and lifeless manner, that Christ can witness the assembly with favor and approbation, or that his promise will be extended to them.
“ Give me your heart," is not only the precept expressed by Solomon, but it is this which God positively demands from all mankind. He is to be the first object, and worldly considerations are not to be preferred to him. 6 Seek ye first, the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto thee."
Stocks and stones are not the only idols. A too inordinate pursuit of earthly objects, with an indifference to heavenly ones, forms a species of idolatry equally displeasing to that God, who is emphatically styled by himself, “A jealous God." Religion then, is the first object of every rational being. The cause of our redemption from our fallen state, and the conditions on which that redemption will be available to our immortal happiness, surely demand the utmost efforts of our understanding, and are the subjects of the most serious and important nature for our study.
We are told by St. Luke, in his account of the Acts of the Apostles, that “ the Bereans were more noble than the people of Thessalonica," and the reason which he gives is this, " in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so. It is earnestly to be wished, that all the nobles of this Christian land, as well as their inferiors in station, would follow the example of the Bereans, and learn the most dignified and most proper manner in which they can employ their minds. The profligate and the dissolute, the thoughtless and the trifling, may (if they are once brought to the pursuit) learn the errors