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ton fports, or idle converfation, and in such indulgence frequently, of fenfual lufts and appetites, that it is fadly evident, God is more difhonored by all fuch perfons, and the devil better ferved upon the Sunday, than upon all the days of the week befides. So that one may truly fay, the very beafts, (which, from the fpirit of the commandment, are indulged with reft upon the fabbath day) carry an appearance of more reverence to the Great Creator, than people of the defcription abovementioned.
Let thefe fad truths awaken all backfliding and thoughtless chriftians, to lay their hands upon their hearts, when they are confcious of their transgreffions, and to repent of, and amend this dangerous wickednefs. Stand in awe of God's commandments, confider your ways in your own hearts, and fin not. Gratefully and joyfully follow the example of God himself; nor continue in difobedience to the holy order of Chrift's church, as appointed and kept by all his true difciples, from the time of the Apostles to this very day. Let a juft fear of God's high difpleafure, and the manifold plagues wherewith he can eafily overtake you, prevent your being negligent of his laws, and guard you against the fins of travelling or working on the fabbath day; but whatever elfe is left undone, be not backward to come together, to celebrate and magnify God's moft bleffed name, in humble adoration and peaceful holiness.
The flated TIME for worshipping the Supreme, having been established fully, by divine authority, we proceed now to fpeak concerning the PLACE where people ought to come together, for that good purpofe; that is, where particularly they ought to hallow and celebrate the fabbath day in PUBLIC. That place then is properly called the temple or church, because the company or congregation of God's true fervants (which is alfo properly
called the church) do there affemble themselves on the days appointed for that folemn fervice: and because Almighty God has fixed upon a stated time whereon he chooses to be honored, fo is it very proper, holy, and likewife neceffary, that there should be a place established, where the people should come together in order to join in ferving their gracious God, and moft merciful Father. It is true indeed, the holy patriarchs or first fathers, for a great number of years, had neither temple or church to go to, and the reafon was, they stayed not long in any place, but were continually traveling through different countries, fo that convenient opportunity did not offer to erect a fettled church or place of worship; but as foon as God had delivered his people from their numerous enemies, and gave them a time of reft and freedom in the wilderness, he appointed them a costly and curious tabernacle, which ferved them as a parish church, or place wherein his facrifices were to be offered up, and the other rites and ceremonies of his wor→ fhip ufed. But when the Almighty, according to the everlasting truth of his promife, had quietly fettled his people in the land of Canaan (now called Jewry) He, in his own appointed time, commanded a great and magnificent temple to be erected by king Solomon, fuch as rarely hath been. feen; a temple fo beautifully and richly ornamented, as was, in God's wisdom, proper for the character and difpofition of the people at that time, who were apt to be attracted and pleafed with nothing so much as with the outward fplendor and gaiety of things. This then was the temple of God. The mother church of all Jewry. Herein was God honored and ferved. Hither was the whole realm of all the Ifraelites bound to come, there to ferve the Lord their God. But it will concern our own cafe much nearer to proceed now to fay fomething of chriftian churches.. This
being a fubject that occupies the minds of many amongst us, who think it matter of indifference whether there be an established church or not, and fupport their prejudices and mistakes upon the fuppofed authority of the earliest times of chriftianity. It must be readily granted, that in the time of Chrift and his apoftles, there were then no temples or churches, for chriftian people to refort to, as a feperate congregation. But why was this? Because they were always exposed to fuch perfecutions, hindrance, and trouble, that they could obtain no liberty for that purpose, and not that they were careless about an established place of worship. Other reafons alfo might be advanced, to account why, in the very early ftate of chriftianity, there were neither public temples or churches for the exercife of divine worship. The Apostles at the first propagation of Christ's religion, were difperfed in various parts, making converts to the faith, and forwarding their Master's kingdom upon earth: fo that though the above impediments had not interfered, they could not conveniently have fucceeded in erecting churches; and indeed an outward building was not neceffary, till congregations were fettled with power to attend and protect them. Befides, the first chriftians were fo perfecuted for the exercise of their faith, even in private duties, that a general public fervice could not, in the nature of things, have been established in hafte, or anfwered any purpose, but to have increased and inflamed their enemies on all fides. Still, however, we are informed, that God delighted much that they fhould often come together in one place; and, therefore, after the afcenfion of our Lord, we read, that they remained together in an upper chamber, which then was large enough for their community. Sometimes they alfo entered the temple, fometimes they went into the fynagogues, holding them facred, as being dedicated to God, and used for his wor
fhip, (although not confecrated upon the principles of the fecond covenant), and never speaking against them, or depreciating them, as ufelefs and unfanc tified. Sometimes, indeed, from the cruel circumftances of their different perfecutions, and in confequence of their pious zeal, they were obliged to worship God together in prifons, in their own houfes and in the fields, but this (it is probable) continued only till the faith of Chrift began to fpread throughout many regions of the world; for when different kingdoms began to be established in Chrift's true religion, and God had given the followers, of his Son's gofpel, both peace and reft; then kings, nobles, and nations were univerfally moved with a spirit of godly zeal to build them temples and churches, wherein the people might more conveniently affemble to do their duty to their Maker, and to keep holy the fabbath day, with open general confent. To thefe temples or churches, chriftians have been accustomed to repair, from time to time, as unto proper places, where, with one accord, they might praise and magnify God's holy name, yielding him thanks for the benefits he daily poureth upon them, fo mercifully and abundantly, in various shapes and inftances. Where they might also hear his bleffed word read, explained, or preached fincerely, and enjoy the valuable benefit of having his holy facraments duly and purely adminiftered unto them. It is true, that the chief temple of God, wherein he taketh the greatest pleasure, and moft delighteth to dwell, are the body and mind of pious chriftians, God's chofen flock; and this is upheld by the doctrine of St. Paul, Know ye not (faith he) that ye be the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? The temple of God is holy, which ye are, 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17; and again, vith chap. ver. 19th, he faith, Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghoft, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are
not your own. But though all this is fcripture, and the truth, yet doth God approve, and by his providence continue and blefs the material temple built with hands; and as often as the people meet together there, to praife his holy Name, he acknowledgeth it to be his house, and the place where he bath fet his name, where he hath promifed to be prefent, and where he will hear the prayers of all who call upon him in fincerity, and humility of heart. Of this truth we have, abundant proof by the teftimony of Chrift, his Apof tles, and the holy Fathers; who notwithstanding they were affured that God will always hear the prayers of every faithful fervant where or whenever offered up in purity of spirit, yet they failed not, at all convenient times, to pay their adoration in the outward established temple or place of worship of their coun try that by joining in prayer with the reft of the congregation, they might afford authority by their conftant practice, for the value and folemnity of fuch true and holy worship. It behoveth all therefore, who profefs to be true followers of Chrift, and confequently glory in the bleffed' name of chriftians, to fhew the utmoft veneration for the example he has fet them. Faithful difciples will ever be zealous to imitate their Mafter's pattern in all things, and to walk in the fteps of their fellow fol diers in Chrift, thofe exemplary leaders of chriftianity, the first apoftles and difciples of the Holy Jefus. Fail not to lift up pure hands and clean hearts to the throne of grace at all proper feafons and occafions; but be not fatisfied with this alone, fince it has been clearly fhewn you, that it is equally a duty of found religion, to do the fame in public, in God's eftablished church or temple, according to the cuftom of our pious ancestors, and the communion in which we were brought up; and efpecially as fuch a holy practice fecures the honor due unto the fabbath in the manner of God's own ap