My friends, there are many questions which cannot be satisfactorily answered, there are many which are not worth answering, and there are many which may be answered most distinctly, and are so important, that no man should give himself a day’s rest till he has settled them to his complete satisfaction. It seems to me, that this question, “Whether it is your duty to attend Church?” is of the last kind, being an inquiry both which may be, and which ought to be, decided upon by every man for himself, without delay.

What is contained in the following paper, I have written with the view of persuading those of my own parishioners, who absent themselves from the house of prayer, to consider the subject. And if God shall be pleased to bless my weak, though sincere, endeavours to them, or to any others into whose hands this paper may fall, I shall give thanks to God for the same all the days of my life. And let me entreat the reader, if he is a neglecter of God’s house, seriously to read what is here written. The subject is worth half an hour’s consideration. And who knows whether God may not give him repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.

And if the reader be himself one of those who love the gates of Zion, the place where God’s honour dwelleth, and who, happily, do not need this appeal, may I beg this kindness of him, that he will put it into the hands of some one whom he knows to be far both from God and from his ordinances. Such persons are, alas, become so numerous, that every one knows many such, God is often pleased to bless even the weakest representations of truth to effect the most salutary and important purposes.

A Christian is a person who obeys Jesus Christ; and any one who is not seeking to make Christ’s will his rule, is not a Christian but a heathen. He may hare been baptized when a child, and he may wish himself to be reckoned a Christian, now that he is grown a man; it matters not, he is a heathen in reality, just as much as if he had lived in China or Japan; he is, in truth, more a child of wrath than the veriest pagan, and shall be beaten with more stripes.

The precepts of Jesus Christ are many, though all depending on one principle; but they are, most of them, very plain. Many people flatter themselves that if they observe some of these, they may violate the rest. And all but true and genuine believers reserve some command or other, which they think they may indulge themselves in transgressing, in consideration of their obedience to the other commands. But I tell you, friends, that that man who suffers himself to violate any one command, which he knows Christ has given, is not a Christian but a hypocrite. He is a foolish man, who buildeth his house upon the sand of his own presumption, and when the judgment of God shall be made manifest, it shall fall, and great shall be the fall of it. “For why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46. The man who obeys so many of Christ’s commands, and suffers himself to set at nought the rest, is not serving Christ but his own humour, and is as much a disciple of Christ, as Herod was of John the Baptist. That reprobate king heard John gladly, and even did many of the good things which the holy prophet recommended; and then imprisoned him, and then cut off his head; that is, in other words, he obeyed John so far as pleased his own humour, and when it pleased his humour he murdered John. If any one does what Jesus Christ enjoins, through respect to his authority, he has the same reason for complying with all his injunctions, as for complying with any of them; and those people who think they may make an election, may pick and choose what commands they shall attend to, and what they shall dispense with, set their own authority clearly above that of Him, whom, like self-deceived hypocrites, they yet call “Lord, Lord.” But though they have named the name of Christ, him, as their Lord and Master, they have not known, and their judgment tarrieth not. “I never knew you; depart from me ye that work iniquity.”

It is a command of Jesus Christ, that his followers should assemble on the first day of the week, to celebrate his resurrection from the dead, and their own with him. The first Christians universally did so. Paul charges them, by the authority of Christ, “not to forsake the assembling of themselves together; and to them, thus assembled, our Lord himself gives this promise of his presence and blessing, “I am in the midst of them, to bless them and to do them good.”—John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Heb. 10:25; Matt. 18:20.

It is also specially to be noted, for it is a truth too little impressed upon believers themselves, that the promises given to Christians are made to them, not as separate and distinct individuals, but as members of that body the Church which Christ hath purchased with his own blood. It is only when individual believers are collected together, it is when the separate stones are builded together into a house, that they become “an holy temple,” and “an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Christ’s body is the Church, and as a man’s spirit dwells in his body, so, in Christ’s body, his spirit dwells. Every stone in the temple derives its use and beauty from their arrangement and order, their mutual connection and dependence; every member of the body derives its importance from the union of all the members, and from the common life and will which inform and actuate the whole. What is a single stone of the temple out of its place? What a single member cut off from the body? It has neither beauty nor use. So it is, when “we have fellowship one with another,” that “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” A man, disunited from the body of Christ, has no connection with Christ, the head of that body. He is a dead branch, “which cannot bear fruit of itself.” If we would have Christ for our Master, we must join ourselves to Christ’s household.—1 Cor. 3:16,17; Eph. 4:4,6,12,16, and 5:25-30; 1 John 1:7.

One symbol of this union among Christians is their partaking of the [ordinance] of the Lord’s Supper. They are “the household of faith,” and, as one household, they all sit at one table, eat of one bread, drink of one cup. Christ is the Master of the feast, and he calls them no longer servants but friends; for they are enfranchised now from their servile estate, being incorporated into the body of Christ, by which the Son of God hath made them indeed free, constituting them both sons and heirs of God. That union is both signified and ratified by the act of communion in the [ordinance] of our Lord’s Supper, as the Apostle Paul fully and plainly teaches.—1 Cor. 10:17, and Rom. 12:5; also 1 Cor. 12; John 15:1-61; Gal. 6:11; 4:1-7.

Another symbol of the oneness of believers in their common Master and Head, consists in their assembling, in his name, on the first day of the week; by which act they assume the attitude and appearance of one family, congregated to worship their common Father, through his only begotten Son, by whom they enjoy access with confidence to “the throne of the heavenly grace.” For, though known unbelievers are not excluded from these assemblies, as they are from partaking of the Lord’s Supper, but are rather invited to frequent them, yet the assembly itself is always regarded as a congregation of Christians, sons of God, and members of Christ’s body; and those without profession, who may happen to be present, are viewed as strangers, whom the family permit to be present, and to partake of the children’s bread, in hope that they may be persuaded to join themselves to the household of the faith, and to enjoy the privileges of the sons of God.—1 Cor. 14:23-25.

My friends, I will give you ten reasons, which shew the duty, the propriety, the wisdom, and advantage of attending the public worship of God on the Lord’s day; which ten reasons, I know, no man on earth can answer, and no man but an absolute and hardened infidel will attempt to answer. And I pray God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, that the consideration of them may induce many who have hitherto absented themselves from the house of God, to obey his ordinance, “not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some is.”


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