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faith they have peace with God'. Now, if any one does not follow after holiness, but continues to live in sin, instead of being at peace with God, he is God's enemy; so that he can be no true believer, unless his life answers to the holy nature of the doctrines he professes : he can have no right whatever to the name, unless he possesses the character which it describes. Some persons, indeed, will call every body believers who are baptized in Christ's name, and who outwardly profess to be Christians. There may be no harm in calling them Christians, in common language, if we are not led by it into thinking them so likewise in the strict and Scripture sense, or making them think so of themselves. But we ought to be very careful not to confound a dead faith with a living faith, nor to think any thing of that which does not bring forth good fruit. Our Saviour told the Jews that they did not believe Moses, because they would not receive Him of whom Moses spoke.
ke. Yet these very persons professed the fullest belief in the Old Testament scriptures, and made a great boast of it. Christ also said to them, “ How can ye believe which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" From this we may be sure that neither the name nor the privileges of a believer can rightly belong to any one but the obedient servants of God, or at least to those only who seek to be his servants. Faith and godliness can never be separated. If they could, we might even give the name of believers to the wicked and lost spirits, for they believe and tremble ;" but this word can rightly apply only to those who,“ denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.'
PSALMS AND HYMNS AND SPIRITUAL SONGS.
Ephes. v. 19. The Heathen people, who knew not the true God, would sing drunken and impure songs to Bacchus, one of their false gods, who was supposed to encourage drunkenness and riotous feastings. St. Paul tells the Ephesians that now they had become Christians, there must be no more such songs as those heard among them, but that they must raise their voices to the praise of God in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. And then he goes on to show them that they must not be content with offering the mere words of their psalms and hymns, but that their praise must come from the heart; they must remember that they are singing to God," singing,” says the Apostle, “and making melody in your hearts to the Lord." According to this rule, whenever a psalm or a hymn is about to be sung in our Church, we are called upon to "sing to the praise and glory of God.” Now, supposing the singers should be using their voices for the sake of being admired and praised by the congregation, we may well ask whether they are singing to the “praise and glory of God," or to the praise and glory of themselves. It may, moreover, be asked whether the congregation knows its duty, if they are silent and only listen to the singers, when it is said, “ Let us sing to the praise and glory of God," and not, Let us listen whilst others sing. Is this "singing and making melody in our hearts unto the Lord ?" Many of the congregation can sing, but they do not sing in the church. Many who can sing but little would find themselves much improved by practice; and those who have neither voice nor ear for music should examine themselves well, that they may see whether they are making melody in their hearts unto the Lord. When the whole congregation is uniting together in singing praise to God, this gives a life and soul to the worship, and is in the very spirit which our Church requires; for ours is social worship: it is common prayer; the prayers and the praises are to be the united offerings of "all the people.” But it is a cold and dead work when a few men in a gallery get up a tune, and the rest of the congregation take no part in it. Indeed, in many churches the tunes are such as the congregation cannot join in, something which the singers have practised, and which seems to be got up, as if on purpose to prevent the people from joining in it. The tunes should be plain and easy. There are many such tunes, which the people would catch at once; and it is better to keep to a very few tunes till the people get well practised in them, and then a few more may be added.
1 Rom, v. 1.
It is grievous to think that some of those men who sit in the gallery, and tune their voices to “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," should, at other times, be heard at an alehouse, singing profane and impure songs to the honour of the god of drunkenness. This was bad in the heathen; how much worse in those who call themselves Christians !
TWELVE REASONS FOR GOING TO THE PARISH CHURCH.
Dearly Beloved,--Permit me to desire that you will carefully read the following reasons for attending church, and seriously reflect upon them. They have been written with much anxiety for your spiritual welfare, and are now put into your hands from a firm persuasion of the great importance of the duty which they recommend to you. Many, it is certain, neglect this duty altogether, though they inconsistently suppose themselves still to be Christians; and there are others who only now and then go to Church. How comparatively few, indeed, are there who have their hearts as deeply interested in their duty as they ought to be, and as they would be, if they truly felt the necessity of it in relation to their welfare in time and eternity. The reasons here given you have been printed upon this sheet, that, being hung up in your dwellings, it may easily be read at any time, and that it may thus put you in mind, especially on the Sabbath, of the duty you owe to God on that day, and of the motives which should lead you to the regular and constant performance of it. It is to be hoped that if any thing tempts you to stay away from church, you will use this paper as an antidote against what is with many a besetting sin. By reading these reasons from time to time, and especially when you feel backward in this duty of going to church, your resolutions may, by the divine blessing, be strengthened, and your consciences enlightened. Let me warn you, that if you can urge no better reasons for staying at home, than are here set before you for going to the house of God, the
word of truth must condemn you whilst acting contrary to a sense of duty; for his word declares, “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin;" that is, be it remembered, sinful in the highest degree. Commending these reasons to your hearts, with earnest prayer to the Spirit of all grace that you may know the blessedness of serving God, both in this world and the world to come, I remain your affectionate Friend and Minister.
1. The first reason for going to the parish church is, because this is the place which has been set apart for the public worship of Almighty God for many generations, and is therefore peculiarly entitled to our veneration and love as “ the house of God.”
2. Because we were there first solemnly dedicated to God in the holy rite of baptism; and it is good to be often reminded of these our vows, not only in the solemn services of the Church, but also in those monuments of our friends which affectingly warn us that they are gone to the world of spirits, and that we too are hastening thither.
3. Because it is in the Church that we are invited to hold public communion in prayer with that God in whom we live and move and have our being, and with that Saviour who came into the world to save lost sinners.
4. Because this is one special means of honouring God, of acknowledging that we are sensible of the duty which we owe Him, and of inviting and encouraging others by a public example of religion; that is, by a public profession of that obedience which become those who are, by profession, Christ's soldiers and the devil's enemies.
5. Because in the Church there is provided for us an excellent form of worship, which is intended to assist our devotions, without rendering us formal or hypocritical worshippers ; a form of prayer which is thoroughly suited to the spiritual mind, agreeable to the word of God, derived for the most part from the ancient usages of the Church, and which is suited by its simplicity, its comprehensiveness, and its energy, to engage all the best feelings of the heart, and to express, in the best manner, all that a true Christian should wish to express when he draws near to the throne of the heavenly grace.
6. Because this public union of many hearts, in the service of the Church of God, is a delightful exercise; and must, if engaged in sincerely and zealously, unite and bind us together as a congregation in the firm and holy bonds of Christian affection, besides also increasing the fervour of our petitions and thanksgivings, by the mutual example of each other's devotions; and we cannot, therefore, neglect to take our part in the public service, without testifying that we are either careless or forgetful of that great privilege of all true believers, called the “Communion of Saints," which is one of the Articles of our Creed, as members of the Church of England.
7. Because one great end of having a church in every parish, and a minister belonging to it, is, that the inhabitants may go there to receive spiritual instruction; it being evident that all stand in need, more or less, of being taught how to understand and apply the Scripture, and the Scriptures declaring that “ faith cometh by hearing , and that God has pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe', which declaration must imply, that wherever the Gospel is preached by those ministers who have a proper commission to preach it, there it is the great instrument which God employs in converting sinners, and in building up believers in the knowledge of divine truth.
8. Because there is much in the character of the Gospel itself, and of its ministers, which leads to the conclusion, that if we wilfully neglect “ the ministry of the word,” we shall tempt Christ, and grieve his Spirit, and thus in the end ruin our souls ; Christ having declared to his ministers," he that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me°;" and He having also given this final command to them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved ; and he that believeth not shall be damned *." So that it must plainly be no light matter for any person to refuse to hear this Ġospel preached, where it is preached with authority; or what is the same thing, to stay at home when they might go to
2 1 Cor. i. 21.
1 Rom. x. 17.