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public service of the Church. In short, let us“ pray without ceasing; let us continue “ instant in prayer, praying always with all “ prayer and supplication, and watching “ thereunto with all perseverance,"
HEB. X. 25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as the manner of some is. THE first teachers of our holy religion, and the servants of God in every age, appear to have laid peculiar stress upon the duty of “ assembling together” for the purpose of public worship: For not only is it in itself a duty of great importance, the neglect of which seems, generally speaking, to imply no little disregard of our religion and of its divine Author, but because neither can doctrines be inculcated, nor other duties enforced with any prospect of success, while this continues to be neglected. For discourses upon subjects of whatever importance, are necessarily lost to those who refuse to come to hear them, who literally “set at nought their instruc* tion, and will none of their reproof.” To this duty, therefore, I now wish to draw your serious attention, and in treating of it I shall consider, first, the reasons on which it is founded; and secondly, the excuses which too many persons are ready to advance to vindicate their neglect of it.
I. First then; the public service of our Church is instituted, and excellently calculated, for two important purposes, distinct in their nature, but both tending to the same great end. These are, first, the joining together in public or common prayer and praise to God; and secondly, attention to the instruction, the exhortation, the admonitioň, and reproof contained in his holy word.
Let us consider the first of these, the joining in common or public prayer and praise to God, and examine-I will not say in what respects it is superior to—but in what it differs from, prayer addressed to him in private. And here I must request the particular attention of those persons, who are in the habit of saying, that they worship God sufficiently at home; that they can serve him in their own houses as well and as effectually as at church. We
We may remark then in the first place, that the holy religion which we profess is a social religion; a religion, the very nature as well as precepts of which, require its sincere professors to have fellowship or communion one with another; and this communion is particularly to be maintained in prayer and other religious offices. Accordingly we read of its first teachers, the Apostles, that they “all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication”,” that “
they " were continually in the temple praising " and blessing Godb:” and we are told of their earliest disciples, that “they continued “ stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and
fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and “ in” common“ prayers°;" and that they resorted to the place “ where prayer was “ wont to be maded.” So necessary, indeed, was this duty considered, that in the
passage which I have selected for my text, “ the forsaking the assembling of them“ selves together," appears to have been deemed by the Apostle as a sort of apostacy, as a desertion of the faith of Christ.
b Luke xxiv. 53.
c Acts ii. 42.
a Acts i. 14. Acts xvi. 13.
Again. Many of the blessings which we ask from heaven, are blessings of a public nature. “O, pray for the peace of Jeru“ salem,” says the royal Psalmist; the Apostle exhorts that “supplications and
prayers be made for all men, for kings “and all that are in authorityf;" and we are to pray for the general welfare and prosperity of the Church and nation to which we belong. And surely it is peculiarly fitting, that supplications for public and common blessings should be offered in common; that we should join together in imploring those mercies, of which, as members of society, we stand in need.
Of the especial blessing promised by our Saviour to the social exercise of religion, you are continually reminded in the prayer at the conclusion of the ordinary Church service. - Where two or three,” says he, “ are gathered together in my name, there " am I in the midst of them." Does it not follow, that to forsake the “ assembling of “ ourselves together" for public worship, is to act as if we despised this blessing, as if e Psalm cxxii. 6. !1 Tim. ii. 1, 2.
8 Matt. xvii. 20.