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faints, or angels, and much lefs corrupted by their fancied images and relics. By these things God was fore difpleafed; by fuch practices his holy houfe, and place of prayer were fhamefully defiled; for which he hath justly punished many nations, according as the measure of their iniquities was filled up, and agreeable to this prophetical fentence of St. Paul, If any man defile the temple, bim will God deftroy. For fuch deliverances it is impoffible we can too highly magnify God's name; in that all fuch fuperftitious and idolatrous manners as are wholly vain and inconfiftent with our Maker's glory, are now entirely abolished, as they ought to be; nor fhould we be lefs thankful, that the things by which his folemn worship' may be advanced and honored, and the congregation edified, are decently prejerved for thofe good ends, and ftill in common practifed in our churches.
To conclude, as you must by this time be perfuaded, that it is God's good pleafure that you fhould conftantly and devoutly refort to your proper churches, upon this holy day of reft, and general religious exercife; as you cannot fail to fee, by the fad conduct and fate of other nations, what displeasure your abfence, or irreverent attendance must provoke; what heavy plagues and punishments the Lord, at different times, hath vifited upon his difobedient people; as you must be fenfible what outward bleffings God will graciously beftow, and what heavenly and inward comforts are the reward of all who humbly obferve this commandment of coming to God's houfe, and keeping the fabbath day holy; even that bleffed is the man that dreth it; and that bim God will bring to his holy mountain, and make him joyful in his boufe of prayer: And as you cannot deny but that all thefe exhortations hold out effectual encouragment to obferve this duty, and that you are frequently and earneftly admo
nifhed from this place, (nay in season and out of feafon, as the Apostle advifes) to avoid the fure and dreadful confequence that ultimately muft follow your neglect of it; it becomes moft feriously neceffary, that we fhould lay these things to heart. To be extremely careful of not falling off in the first, and most effential duty of humble chriftians, and dependant creatures; and that we fuffer no wordly excufes whatever (which our bufy and bitter enemy is always ready to multiply and prefent to us) to prevent our joining the congregation of our fellow chriftians, at all fuch times as are duly appointed, and commanded to be obferved. Call to mind the inftruction of our Bleffed Savior, in the parable of the Marriage Supper. A great feast was prepared, guefts were bidden, and many excufed themselves, and would not come. The cares of the family, the business of the house, the various concerns or engagements of selfish defires kept them away, and inclined them ungratefully to refufe the invitation. I tell you, faith Chrift, not one of them that were called fhall taste of my fupper. By this great fupper, is reprefented the true religion of the Almighty God, by which he commands us to worship him, in duly receiving his holy facraments, in fincerely preaching and hearing his bleffed word, and practising the fame by a fuitable life and converfation. This feaft is now prepared in God's banquetting houfe, the church; you are all thereto called and jointly bidden. If you refufe to come, and make your excufes, fuch, as in the error of your worldly hearts, you may think fufficient; the fame answer will be juftly given to you that was delivered to the rude, and gracelefs guests, whom the condefcending king, in mercy, had invited, but who declined his favor. Confider for a moment only, how ready we are to accept the invitation of an earthly friend, efpecially a fuperior; how unworthy and fenfelefs indeed it would be to refuse
it, when proffered for our advantage; how often we prefer fuch invitations, to the gracious calls of Him who would feaft us with the bread of everlasting life, and reward us with inconceivable happinefs? Confider and weigh well the fin and folly of preferring an earthly to an heavenly invitation, and you will not be liable to fall into this tranfgreffion. Come then, for the future, without fail; come chearfully and gratefully, as behoves fuch friendlefs, helpless creatures. Enter God's house of feafing with joy and thankfulness, that ye may be made happy partakers of the many valuable benefits provided for you, and left, finally, ye be condemned to the boufe of mourning. But be fure you come with a wedding garment, and not as the hypocrites. is not your being elegantly dreffed, but the purity of your hearts, that is fignified in this figure of speech Neither come from mere cuftem, or for fashion fake, but because you both love and fear God. Come not unwillingly, as if you would rather ftay away, for forced prayers are no devotion. God loveth the chearful giver of his fervice, as well as of his alms, and he hateth and punisheth all fuch false pretenders, who approach him with their lips, but in their hearts are far from him; who come for any part of the feaft, rather than that which will moft profit them, viz. The honor of being in his prefence, and of being benefited by his word. The danger of coming on any other principle than that which is acceptable to the mafter of the feast, is evident from the very language of the parable before us: Friend (faith God, under the character of an earthly prince) bow cameft thou here, not having on the wedding garment? And for which prefumption we read, that be commanded his fervants to bind him band and foot, and caft him into outer darkness, where fhall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; that is, anguish of foul, defpair and mifery inconceivable!
And this moft furely will be the lot of all who either wilfully abfent themselves from the public worship of God's houfe, or profane it with unfanctified lips, and unbecoming manners. To the end then that ye may avoid this dreadful and unalterable fentence, keep in mind the wholefome admonitions which have been delivered to you at this time, in the language of our Church Homilies, on this important fubject; above all things correct the wicked and dangerous habit of deferting God's houfe, and violating his holy fabbath, but pray to him moft fervently to give you grace to approach him there at all times, in a wedding garment; that is with an humble, ready, holy difpofition to honor and obey him; seeking God's glory in the act, in order that you may render an acceptable facrifice of praife to him for all his goodnefs; that you may continue in his fear, and in peace and charity with all mankind: for charity or univerfal love, is the fulfilling of the law, and prepares us for the pure love of God, without which all elfe is mere found, not fubftance. Remember that your very beft works will never be pleafing in the fight of God, while you continue uncharitable towards your neighbor; that is, unlefs you have a true love of God himself upon your hearts, which qualifies for the difcharge of every other virtue. In fhort, unless you forgive, as you hope to be forgiven by Him we all offend continually, and make every favorable allowance for one another, that becomes a weak and fallen race. Come then, with your hearts proved, and purified fram every worldly affection, at leaft defiring that they may be fo. Shake off every vain and foolish thought, that may interfere to fpoil the holiness and humility of your christian service: and as the bird, when it would fly, fhaketh and cleanseth her wings, fo prepare yourselves to foar higher than the"
fwifteft bird; that after you have performed your duty properly in this church or earthly temple, you may afcend on high, and be received into the glorious temple of God, in the heaven of beavens. Through the interceffion and merits of Chrift Jefus our Lord; to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghoft, be all glory and honor, and praife. Amen.