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had grown colder: happy, if he did not also find that he had caught some bad habit, and fallen into the practice of some known sin. But to the poor, to whom the church is the best school, and often the only one they can go to,-to the poor, who on workdays have little leisure for reading, and who sometimes know not how to read,—o -our churchservice is invaluable. In the hope of leading you to set a due store by it, I purpose to explain it to you hereafter; and with God's blessing shall go through the Order for Morning Prayer, with the view of enabling you, so far as in me lies, to pray as befits reasonable beings, and as St Paul commands us, with the understanding.
The prayers however are not the whole of the Prayerbook: far from it. There are also those beautiful Psalms, which are fitted above all other writings to kindle a spirit of devotion in the heart. Then there are the Gospels and Epistles, of which I need not speak, as they are copied word for word out of the New Testament. They shew how vain is the objection, which one sometimes hears brought against the Prayerbook, when persons, instead of judging it fairly, according to what it is in itself, try to disparage it by comparing it with the Bible, and speak slightingly of it, because it is the work of man, and therefore not equal to the work of God. They might as well speak slightingly of a house, because that too is the work of man, and therefore
not so grand as the sky above our heads, which was created by the word of God. simple answer to such objections.
There is a very
of both. The sky was not meant to keep us from building houses to shelter ourselves; nor was the Bible meant to hinder us from composing prayers to express our wants and desires. But the fact is, that nearly two-thirds of the Prayerbook are taken word for word out of the Bible, being made up of the Psalms, and of the choicest and most useful passages in the New Testament, put together for the edifying of the people. And shall we not prize such a work? a work, nearly two-thirds of which are Scripture,-a work, the whole of which is founded on Scripture,—a work, by which the spiritual necessities of every class amongst us are plentifully supplied. Shall we not love such a book? If we do, let us shew our love by making a worthy use of it.
Many persons, I believe, who try to learn from the sermon and from the lessons, attend very little to the prayers. But this is a sad mistake. For the privilege of praying to him is the greatest that God has given to us. He who does not pray, neglects this privilege, and throws away the opportunity afforded him of speaking to God himself. So far from not caring about the prayers, you should say to yourselves, before you come to
church, "I am going to the court of my King and my God, who is my Father also. I am going to speak to God himself. It is true I cannot see him: but the Bible teaches me that, where two or three are gathered together in Christ's name, there Christ is in the midst of them. So that I know he will be there. I will not be afraid to speak to him for the apostle exhorts us to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and help. I want mercy from God; for I often sin against him. I want help from him; for I am often tempted to disobey him; and I know my own weakness too well to put any trust in myself. This mercy and this help, which I have such great need of, I will ask from God this morning. I will ask boldly, as a son would ask a favour from a kind and rich father: but I will ask reverently, as I ought, when speaking to my King and God." If people would come to church with thoughts of this kind, the service would no longer be tedious to them. Anything is tedious and tiresome, in which we feel no interest. It would be tiresome, if we had lost our appetite, to be forced to sit through a long dinner: but no hungry man ever complained of its being tiresome to sit down to a table covered with dainty meats. So, if a man feels no appetite for prayer, the church-service will seem long and tiresome to him; and he
will be disposed to say, with the profane Israelites, "What a weariness is this!" (Mal. i. 13.) But he who hungers after righteousness, he who feels he has much to ask for, will duly prize the privilege of being allowed to speak to God himself: he will make the most of the opportunity which our service gives him of addressing his heavenly Father and King: he will be thankful that such good words are put into his mouth, to teach him how to pray. The service will become a matter of real business to him. He will be desirous of learning; and so he will learn. He will be greedy of obtaining blessings; and so he will obtain them. Our Saviour's promise to those who hunger after righteousness will be accomplished in him: he will be filled.
Here let me remind you, how bountiful your heavenly Father has been to you, in ordaining that every Sunday should be a day of rest, on which you should have no other labour, no other employment, than that of learning to do his will. Think what rich, what abundant opportunities for that purpose the holy rest of the sabbath gives you. One often hears people complaining that they have no time to make themselves acquainted with God, and his works, and his ways, and his will. Whose fault must that be? Assuredly it must be their own. God has given them time enough. My brethren, did you ever call to mind that a seventh
part of your whole lives is made up of Sundays? One week in every seven is a week of Sundays. One month in every seven is a month of Sundays. One year in every seven is a year of Sundays. A year of Sundays! And shall any one dare to plead that he has not had time to learn the will of God? "Not time enough! (the Judge will answer:) What have you done then with your years of Sundays?" Let us take a man in the prime of life, say at six or seven and thirty, cut off and summoned into the presence of Christ. What opportunities, what time, think you, has that man had for learning his duty to his Maker? Without counting infancy and early childhood, he has had four good years of Sundays,-four years during which it ought to have been his special business to listen to God's word read and preached, to pray to God in the great congregation, and then, in the quiet of his home, to think over what he has heard, what he has asked for, what he has promised. So plentifully has God provided for the nurture of our souls in godliness: he has set apart a seventh of our whole lives, ten years out of the age of man, during which we are commanded to abstain from every other work, that we may give ourselves wholly to the most important of all works, that of learning the way to heaven.
Only remember that these, and all other religious exercises, as they are often called,—and the