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IL CONSIDER its importance in another view, as it respects the world. When we survey the general state of mankind, we find them continually immersed in worldly affairs; busied about providing the necessaries of life, occupied in the pursuits of their pleasures, or eagerly prosecuting the advancement of their interests. In such a situation of things, a small measure of reflection might convince any one, that without some returns of sacred days, and some solemn calls to public worship, it were impossible to preserve in the world any sense of objects, so foreign to the general current of thought, as an invisible Gvern or, and a future state. If it be of importance to the peace and good order of society, that there should prevail among men the belief of One in the heavens, who is the protector of righteousness and the avenger of crimes; if it be of importance that they be taught to look forward to a day of judgment, when they are to be brought to account for their most secret actions, and eternally rewarded or punished, according as their conduct has been good or evil; if such prin-ciples as these, I say, be of consequence to the public welfare, they certainly enforce the authority of public worship, and prove the necessity of religious instruction.

E speak now particularly with a view to the multitude, the great mass and body of the people. We all know, how seldom from education, or private instruction, they have the advantage of deriving sentiments of religion or morality. Early obliged to labour for their bread, they would remain all their days in gross ignorance of every moral or sacred principle, were it not for those public assemblies in

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which they hear of God, and Christ, and judgment, and heaven, and hell. Shut up those temples to which they resort with reverence; exclude them from the opportunities they now possess of receiving religious instruction, and imbibing religious ideas; and what can you expect them to become? No other than a ferocious rabble, who, set free from checks of conscience, and fears of divine vengeance, would be prone to every outrage which they could commit with impunity. It is well known, that in the early ages of the world, sages and legislators who endeavoured to tame and to associate the barbarous hordes of men, found it necessary for this purpose to have recourse to religion. By bringing the rude multitudes to worship together, and at stated times and places, to join in hymns and songs to their deities, they gradually restrained them from violence, and trained them to subordination and civilized life.

During the progress of society in after-periods, religious assemblies at church continue, I am persuaded, to have a very considerable influence on the civilization and improvement of the people. Even independent of effect upon the moral principles, by leading numbers of them to meet together in an orderly way, and in their most decent appearance, they tend to humanize and polish their manners. They strengthen the social connections, and promote friendly intercourse among those who are in the same neighbourhood, and in the same lines of life. It must, at the same time, be agreeable to every humane mind to think, that one day in seven is allotted for rest to the poor from their daily labours, and for such enjoyments of ease and comfort as their station affords. It is the only day which gives them

occasion to feel themselves as belonging to the same class of beings with their superiors; when joining with them in the same acts of worship, and recognizing a common Lord. Amidst those distinctions which the difference of ranks necessarily introduces into human society, it is surely fit that there be some occasions when man can meet with man as a brother, in order that the pride of the great may be checked; and the low may be taught that, if they discharge properly their appointed part, they have reason to expect from the Lord of the universe, the same rewards with the rich and the mighty.

It will, I believe, be generally admitted that forms of public worship, and means of religious instruction, are important, on several accounts, for the body of the people, and belong to the maintenance of public safety and order. But many who admit this, are apt to think, that to the common people alone they may be left. To persons of liberal education and enlarged minds, what benefit can arise from hearing what they already know; and what, perhaps, is to be inculcated on them by those who are of inferior capacity to themselves ? - Admitting this plea of superiority which their vanity forms, and setting aside for the present any personal obligations they are under to worship God, I must ask such persons, how they can expect that religious assemblies will be long respected by the lower ranks of men, if by men of rank and education they are discountenanced and forsaken? Do not they know, that those lower ranks are ready to copy the manners, and to follow the example of their superiors, in all things; but assuredly in nothing more than in what appears to set them free from restraint, and to gratify licentious.

ness? While they acknowledge the importance, and even the necessity of public religion to certain classes of men, do they nevertheless contribute by, their behaviour to defeat the end of public religion, and to annihilate that importance which they ascribe to it?

—They are employed in framing laws and statutes for preventing crimes, and keeping the disorderly multitude within bounds; and at the same time, by personally discountenancing public worship, they are weakening, they are even abolishing, among the multitude, that moral restraint which is of more general influence upon manners than all the laws they frame. In vain they complain of the dishonesty of servants, of the insolence of mobs, of the attacks of the highwayman. To all these disorders they have themselves been accessory. By their own disregard of sacred institutions, they have disseminated profligacy among the people. They have broken down the flood-gates which served to restrain the torrent; they have let it loose to overflow the land; and by the growing deluge may themselves be swept away. But I must next argue upon a different ground; and proceed,

IH. To set forth the importance of the public worship of God to every individual in every rank of life. Whatever his station be, he is still a man; and has the duties of a man to perform. Were his attendance on divine worship of no other effect, than to add countenance to a salutary institution, this alone would render it his duty. But moreover, we assert it to be his duty on his own account; if it be the duty of every man to use the proper means of preserving and fortifying his virtue. All the Christian

institutions have a direct tendency to this end. They all serve to give warmth to piety, and to add solemnity to moral virtue. A very high opinion, indeed, that man must have of his own character, who imagines that, amidst all the follies and corruptions of the world, he stands in need of no assistance for enabling him to act his part with propriety and dignity.

The question is not, Whether persons of rank and education are to learn any thing that is new to them, by frequenting the places of public worship? The great principles of piety and morality are obvious and easily known; and we shall readily admit, that 'there are many to whom no new instruction is communicated in the house of God. But, my friends, the purpose


your going there is to have known truths recalled to your mind, and their dormant influence awakened; is to have serious meditations suggested ; to have good dispositions raised; to have the heart adjusted to a composed and tranquil frame. Is there any man of reason and reflection, who will not acknowledge such effects, as far as they follow from attendance on religious ordinances, to be of the most beneficial nature? These occasional cessations from the cares and anxieties of life, these interruptions to the bustle and the passions of the world, in order to think and hear of eternity, are both a relief and an improvement to the mind. By this retreat from its ordinary circle of thoughts, it is enabled to return with more clearness and more vigour to the business of the world, after a serious and proper pause

But I must ask the persons with whom I now reason, whether there be no other call to come to God's house, than to hear instruction there? Is not the

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