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authority, and its neglect on no account tolerated. He who would train his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, has no warrant to expect success if he lay no stress on this particular matter. But proverbially, example is mightier than precept. How can parents expect their families to become attached to the services of God's house, when they themselves are absent from these services nearly as often as they are present? Must not this growing habit of going to public worship only once a day, have a most baneful influence on the upspringing generation?
It is gladly conceded that many who stay away spend the time in a manner as holy as if they were in the House of Prayer. But what of those who are encouraged by the example of their elders to absent themselves also? Their habits are unformed-they have not that spirit which makes every day a Sabbath and every place a temple-and is it likely that they will spend the hours taken from public worship with equal piety and profit? Upon our fallen nature the evil part of an example is usually more powerful than the good. In many cases it will be found that the children imitate their parents in keeping away from the House of God on the Sabbath evening, and there the imitation ceases. Let it be admitted that the Christian man can serve his God as acceptably, and nourish his piety as successfully, in his home as in the assembly of the saints; still it may be urged that for the sake of being a good pattern to his household he should not be absent oftener than necessity compels.
V. Is there not the possibility of detriment to the personal piety of once-a-day worshippers?-The assurance has already been expressed
Great delight in the services of the sanctuary and in the "communion of saints," has generally been one distinguishing characteristic of men eminent for their piety. The jubilant strains of David were written for another dispensation, but they serve equally well to express the gladness of Christian hearts anticipating that foretaste of heaven which is enjoyed in the united worship of the Lord's day. "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." This has been a favourite psalm with the best men of the church in all generations; but it is to be feared that the "once-a-day " custom will diminish the fervour with which it is sung. Apart from experience, it might be supposed that those who come but once, would come with keener appetite for "the provisions of God's house." This is not the case where the fasting is a matter of free choice, and not of necessity. The generation that beyond all others restricts attendance to " once a day," is also the generation that above all others is most intolerant of long services, and cries out most loudly for fewer prayers and shorter sermons. is generally found that those who
service in the day, are most ready for the slightest reasons to forsake the first service also. Thus in too many instances unnecessary absence from the house of God tends to diminished love for it, and to diminished enjoyment of its services. This cannot be, and piety sustain no damage. With this state of things, the seed that falls into good soil may bring forth thirty-fold, but how rarely will its fruitfulness reach to sixty and a hundred-fold. God's mercy is great; and so even with this growing neglect of public worship, we may have a race of Christians who shall be saved so as by fire; but how can we hope for many of those who, because of a lofty piety, shall have "an entrance ministered unto them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
So far as the requirements of personal piety are concerned, there probably was never a period when Christian men of business could less afford to be irregular in the use of Sabbath advantages. In former times, before railways and telegraphs had driven all leisure out of the world, quiet hours could be secured during the week for direct spiritual culture. Now, the fierceness of competition makes attendance on week evening services absolutely impossible to many. Trade and commerce, like the two daughters of the horse-leech are ever crying, "Give, give," and each day they seem to become more clamorous, so that Sabbatic seasons in the mid-week cannot now be enjoyed as they were in the less bustling and hurrying days of our fathers. English society is very far from growing out of the need for a rigid reservation of the Lord's day for purely devotional
purposes. All our modern tendencies and peculiarities make that necessity deeper and deeper; and does not the compulsory diminution of public worship during the week, render the voluntary diminution of it on the Sabbath more blameable, because more detrimental to a high state of piety?
We can conceive of the men of former times being content with one service, not only on account of its greater length, but also because of the preparedness with which they came to it. Some of our hymns for Saturday evening refer to a state of things which it is to be feared has largely passed away. Are there now many such scenes as that described in Burns's "Cotter's Saturday Night?" That evening used to be a season of preparation. It was made a fitting prelude to the hallowed season that followed. The altar was made ready and the wood was laid in order for the expected fire of the morrow. Households, by quiet social worship, drew nigh to God.
They spent that night as it were in the Holy Place, and as soon as the Sabbath dawned were ready, with right spirit, to pass into the Holy of Holies, and see God face to face. Could we have on a wide scale such Saturday evening preparation as that, one Sabbath service might be more profitable to all, than two are now. With ground thus got ready, one seed-sowing were enough for an ample harvest. But this can scarcely be. Business hath seized the Saturday night with relentless grasp, and will have its last hour and its last minute. Even then it reluctantly retires, and numbers in our congregations cannot snatch a single moment of the evening for purposes of preparation. They need the first service of the Sabbath to unsecularize their minds, and
WE all of us complain of the shortness of time, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives are spent either in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them. So wrote Seneca hundreds of years ago. It was true in his time; it is true now. Men are continually talking of the shortness of life, and at the same time wasting ninetenths of the life they have. If any one were asked his age, and should before giving an answer, deduct from the period of his existence all the time he had spent in eating, drinking, sleeping, the toilet, and in sheer idleness, what an infant of years would he appear!
There are many persons who may be said to vegetate rather than live, to consume time rather than spend it, to throw it away rather than em
ploy it to any valuable purpose The Bookworm is of this class who reads for his own amusement or instruction simply, who greedily devours every book he can obtain, but who never seeks to benefit others by the knowledge he acquires. The Recluse also and many others might be mentioned.
How few comparatively may really be said to LIVE! What different views of "life" have obtained among men; even as to the meaning or use of the word! Our Saviour said, "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth;" and his words implied that in the estimation of men generally a man's life did consist in the abundance of things he possessed. In accordance with this is the use of the word "living." A clergyman's benefice is called "a living." its worth is estimated, not by the opportunities of usefulness it affords, but by the yearly stipend it yields. "Good living" means good fare, luxurious eating and drinking, and
a gourmand is said to be fond of good living. What different ideas would be associated with the word "LIFE" in the mind of the epicure, the philosopher, the politician, and the sportsman; and how differently would they interpret the words "Live while you live!" There is a further use of the word as employed by the man of pleasure, or the young man who comes to London to see a little of "life" before he sobers down and enters on his settled profession or occupation. To how many a young man has this "life" proved the gateway to ruin and death, both of body and soul; and the path to everlasting burnings in hell! Let any young man pause before he takes even a taste of this life-the very first sip of the poison may be destruction.
Very few lives considered in themselves are really worth living. Apart from the extremely poor, who can hardly keep body and soul together, how small a proportion of human lives deserves the name of life, or is of any worth. Take, for instance, the labourer. His life is one incessant round of toil, from morn tonight, for which his remuneration is hardly sufficient to provide things necessary for subsistence. His enjoyments are few or none. For him home and family have few or no comforts, but many burdens and anxieties. Surely such a life, considered in relation to this world simply, has but few charms. The condition of the mechanic is only a little better. Take the shopman or clerk. The former spends his life in weighing out tea and sugar, or measuring calico or silks, and the latter in forming letters and figures representing to his mind little more than strokes. This surely is a life in itself of little worth. The life of the merchant
is consumed in calculating profit
and loss, studying the markets, and scheming enterprizes involving care and anxiety, and frequently heavy disappointments. The lawyer consumes his energies among musty volumes reading up precedents, or among covenants and title-deeds, possessing in themselves no interest and leaving no traces of pleasure or profit besides the fees that may be exacted from suffering clients. The life of the doctor, the warrior, or the statesman, is very little better. All is toil, vanity, and vexation of spirit. Fashionable life has been aptly denominated "butterfly life,' as far as its uselessness is concerned, but its gay wings flutter more among acids and thorns than among sweets and flowers. Envy, jealousy, dissatisfaction and ennui are its more general accompaniments. "A season in London," is a season of excitement, vexation and fatigue. The unsatisfactory character of life in general and leisureable life in particular, is indicated by the sensation novel, the fashion and the rage, and perhaps the curse, of the present day. None of the classes we have considered, can be said to live while they live. They live to no purpose they have no true enjoyment simply in the occupations and pursuits of life. Life to them all, is little better than that of the animal or brute. It is consumption, not life. "The minding of the flesh," or the pursuit of earthly things simply, "is death." "Perdidi diem," I have lost a day, might be said by most at the close, not of one day only, as by Titus, but of every day.
But it may be asked-Is this to be condemned? How can it be otherwise? Is it not necessary that the labourer, the merchant, and the others mentioned, should thus act? Is not man born to
work? and does not Paul say that if a man work not, neither shall he eat? We do not condemn them for thus acting. All this is necessary for man; but this is not necessarily all. Man is spiritual as well as material. True life is spiritual life in addition to the material. The chief end of man, as we are correctly taught in the Assembly's Catechism, is to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever. True life is the enjoyment of God, and the glorification of God, or LIFE IN GOD AND FOR GOD. This life may be enjoyed in nearly all the positions above mentioned. The poor labouring man in his poverty, may have life and joy in God, and by his contentment and honesty glorify God. The mechanic in the workshop may live to purpose as by his example and deportment, he leads his fellow workmen to Christ. The shopman may be happy in the realization of God's love, and exert an influence for good over his companions, and even his employers. There is no condition of life in which life and joy in God may not be realized; and eating and drinking and every other engagement, even the most menial, be made the medium of God's glory
All may of thee partake,
Nothing can be so mean, Which with this tincture (for thy sake), Will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause,
Makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
This is the famous stone,
That turneth all to gold, For that which God doth touch and own, Cannot for less be told.
This life is Christ's gift. He only who believes in Christ can thus live. But Christ is ready to give this life to every one that asks
Him. "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." "He that heareth my word," says Christ, 66 IS PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE." Trust then in Jesus; live a life of faith on the Son of God; live in God and for God; and you will live while you live.
Let us look at the subject from another stand-point-THE END OF LIVING-What will be the end of life to the vast bulk of Society? To what purpose beyond mere subsistence does the labourer, mechanic, tradesman, or professional man live? When the end comes what result of all his toil or pleasure remains? Suppose he succeeds in acquiring wealth, it is only a little finer house, or gayer clothing, or more luxurious living that is secured and what is that worth? That, also, little as it is, may not be possessed long-death comes, and then all that has been acquired, must be left to the man that shall come after him.
who knoweth," says Solomon, "whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? And yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity." Wise Solomon was succeeded by foolish Rehoboam, and all the treasures he had been years amassing, were carried away into Egypt. Suppose a young man successful to the full extent of his most ardent desires, that he acquires wealth, wisdom, and reputation-what will the end be? Death must come; and what then?
The following quotation from a sermon of the late Archdeacon Hare, most forcibly presses this question:
"A good and pious man was living