« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Church and under the us, my Breti
But happy it is for us, my Brethren, that we are under the government of a Church which sends forti no such coercive mandates: a Church which wisely moderate in all her discipline, has relaxed much of diat primitive strictness, which was looked upon, in the early ages, as éssential to penitential rites: a Church which by recominending and encouraging a prudent abstinence froin innocent pleasures, as well as from the common liberties of food, directs the thoughts and affections of her devout members to the serious consideration of such things as concern their eternal salvation; that by reflecting upon the guilt of their sins, and disposing their minds to an abhorrence of them, they may be qualified for the benefit of their Saviour's expiation*. She has preserved enough in her discipline, to excite a becoming spirit of devotion, and by the additional service of each day in this week has directed our thoughts to those exercises of religious retirement, which our interest in the Redeemer's sufferings, if not our gratitude, will naturally suggestt.
I would not willingly be too diffuse in my observations, at once to convince your understandings, and direct your practice to the important duty of hallowing the Passion-Week with more than ordinary solemnities of devotion, after the example, although but in a small degree, of our Christian forefathers in the primitive Church; whom, as we have already ob-, served, the return of those hours which had been marked by the most important transaction that ever passed on earth, called to peculiar acts of publick, as well as private worship*. But that I may afford you some assistance in this necessary, and, I think, indispensable duty, I have yet something more to add.
+ Knowles's Passion.
Early in this discourse I observed two sorts of persons : one consisting of those, who through a necessary attention to their business, and to supply the wants of their families, could not possibly spare time to join in the additional service of each day in the week; and who could not, after the fatigue of the day, sit down to private meditation, ignorant how to proceed, or too weary to attempt it of themselves. The other sort were those who acknowledged the necessity, and practised the duty, of both publick and private devotion; but could not think it necessary to
* Sandford's Lectures on the Epistles in Passion-Week.
give up their innocent diversions entirelv, and to forego their evening parties; and who could not but wish, that some place of public entertainment might be open, to which they might, as at other times, resort.
Both these may, I apprehend, be accommodated, if they will pursue the plan which I shall offer to your consideration. The industrious tradesman and labourer shall, at the close of the day, have an instructor to assist them in the meditations, which they cannot themselves command : and the vinei sort shall find a house of publick resort thrown open, in which they shall have an opportunity of spending an hour, perhaps somewhat more, every evening in the week, in a manner which may in the end, I trust; afford them as much satisfaction, as if they had spent it at a card-table, in a ball-room, or at the theatre.
In short, and to remove your suspense, the Church shall be open every evening at an hour which, I conceive, will suit persons of all descriptions*: prayers shall be read first, and I will afterwards endeavour to improve the ignorant by some reflections on the occurrences of the fol,
* Seven o'clock was the time appointed.
lowing Great and Holy Week; not without hopes of edifying, though perhaps not of informing, the other sort of hearers, who may think proper to attend; with an earnest desire, on my part, to promote in both that serious frame of mind, which the solemnity of the season so justly requires; and which may tend to lead many, and particularly those who have not yet fulfilled the vows which they have made, to partake of the blessed Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which our Church strictly enjoins all her members to receive, at least three times in a year, of which she positively says, that Easter shall be one*.
But if what I have now said, carries not with it sufficient weight, to prevail upon you to be more than ordinarily intent on the religious duties, which our Church recommends to the daily obseryance of her devout members; I may confidently affirm, that the day of the crucifixion, “ from the blessed effects of our Saviour's sufferings emphatically called Good-Friday,” ought more especially to be observed as a day of strict devotion, and separated from all worldly employments whatever. The heathens them
* Rubric after the Communion.
selves, whose obligation to religion was infinitely inferior to that of Christians, had their solemn days, on which it was thought impious to transact any kind of business, either publick or private. The day of the crucifixion was a day of rebuke and of blasphemy*-a day whereon we ought to weep, not for our Saviour, but for ourselves and our childrent; not that he was crucified, but that our sins were so heinous in the sight of God, that nothing but the blood of his own Son could expiate them. I hope to see that day continue to be observed by us, with as great solemnity, as are the days set apart for public humiliation, to deprecate national calamities.
It would be unjust in me to insinuate, that such an external attention has not been paid to the day in this town on the more solemn day of the crucifixion. I would, however, again recommend a continuance of such outward decency: and I will venture to affirm, that at the close of that day, you who shall have laid aside your worldly callings, that you may with less distraction attend on the Lord, will, from having devoutly and conscientiously commemorated our Saviour's sufferings,
* Is. xxxvii. 3.
+ Luke xxiii. 28.