« AnteriorContinua »
will be our endeavour to provide widows whom we cannot now assist. such entertainment for our young We respectfully appeal to the friends in this new department of pastors and members of our the Magazine as will not be with- Churches to co-operate with us in out value to “ children of a larger our attempt to make this Magazine growth.”
(which is the only publication But it must be added, no efforts connected with the Baptist denomi. which we can make to improve the nation that devotes any portion of literary excellence of our Maga- its profits to denominational purzine, or to adapt its religious teach- poses) all that it ought to be. It ing to the times in which we live, is for them to deterinine whether can secure the results we seek, if the success we strive to deserve, our readers be indifferent about its shall be obtained by us or not, and circulation. Could we but enlist we shall rely upon their willing aid the active exertions of our present to increase our circulation, and subscribers, we might easily raise thereby to promote our usefulness. our issue to 20,000 monthly, and If they fail us, they cannot, with we should then be enabled to enlarge fairness, complain that the Magazine the Magazine by an additional does not take its place in the foresheet of 16 pages without any in. most rank of similar publications, crease of price, and to provide for its character and influence are some help for many necessitous entirely in their hands.
ONCE A DAY.
BY THE REV. C. VINCE, BIRMINGHAM.
It is said that, in the production of call attention to a custom indulged mischief, thoughtlessness is nearly in by many who probably would as fruitful as wilfulness. Assuredly, not yield to it so constantly if they amongst Christians it is a prolific could only be induced to fairly look source of actions whose appearance,
at it and see the bad influence it is if not their influence, is evil. Many
any calculated to exercise, and the evil of thethings which mar the beauty of issues to which it may probably saintly character, and hinder Chris- lead. The custom referred to is that tian usefulness, originate solely in of restricting attendance at public a want of earnest consideration of worship to one service on the Lord's what consistency requires. Dead day, On the testimony of many flies are seldom put into the apo- witnesses it may be unhesitatingly thecary's ointment by hands deli. affirmed that this habit is already berately devoted to wrong-doing wide-spread, and is also rapidly
. They generally get there through growing, especially in large towns sheer carelessness on the part of and amongst our wealthier and some one, but they spoil the oint- more influential congregations. In ment as completely as if they had many of these latter, there are been wilfully introduced for the numbers who have become so havery purpose.
bituated to once-a-day worship that The design of this article is to they never make an effort to be present at a second service. The for their absence from the House of thought seems not for a moment to God. Nor is it likely that God will enter their minds that possibly at
suffer such to sustain spiritual loss tendance at the House of God twice by their absence. For them the on the same Sabbath
be within Divine love, so considerate as well the range of Christian duty, even if as compassionate, will repeat the it be outside the circle of Christian wonder it wrought of old in the wil. privileges. This state of things is derness when he who could gather not confined to those who have made but little of the manna had no no public profession of religion. lack. Not a few church members are fore- Others can put in the plea of dismost in the practice. It has also tance, and in many instances this spread amongst the office-bearers must be deemed a full justification. in our churches, and as many a dis- Butthe question is thereby suggested heartened minister can witness on -"Are not religious considerations eachLord's day evening even deacons too much overlooked in the choice are conspicuous by their absence. of residence ?” To some no choice In reference to the last-mentioned is permitted by stern circumstances; class, it would surely be difficult but those who are free to decide are (excepting in very extreme cases) not consistent if they decide withto justify the custom or frame a out any regard to the nearness or passable excuse for it. It is true the the farness of spiritual advantages. Apostle does not mention regular It requires more than ordinary reaand constant attendance at the sons to warrant a Christian man in House of God as one of the duties placing his family where their reof a deacon. Doubtless he omitted gular attendance on vigorously-conthis for the same reason that, in his ducted worship and an instructive statement of a wife's duties, he evangelical ministry is next to immakes no mention of love to her possible. For want of care in this husband. He considered such an matter how many young people who injunction to be altogether super- might have become honoured lafluous.
Paul apparently did not bourers “in the kingdom and patideem it possible that any man ence of our Lord,” have been forced holding office in a Christian church into a state of comparative inactiwould need to be warned against vity! They lived so far away from habitually absenting himself from the church to which their parents one-half of the holy assemblies belonged that they could take no and Sabbath services of that part in its religious and benevolent church.
endeavours. Their piety hath susThe writer is not forgetful of the tained a consequent blight, for there fact that to some, attendance more could not be in their case the fulfil. than once a day is impracticable. ment of that promise which of all Old age, or bodily weaknesses, or His gracious declarations our God domestic claims may interfere and most abundantly brings to pass, absolutely forbid it. It is not to “He that watereth shall be watered these that the remonstrances and also himself.” In other instances, the appeals of this paper are ad- this has led either to the neglect dressed. Duty never requires a of nearly all public worship on the person to be in two places at the part of younger members of families, same time, and those whom duty or to their absorption into the bosom calls elsewhere are not to be blamed of the Establishment. The evil of
the latter result can only be ap- to the large numbers of people of all preciated by those who know that, classes who live in the total neglect as a general rule, in suburban and of public worship.-The facts in ih's rural districts, more than in the respect are perfectly appalling, the centres of large towns, fidelity to Registrar-General's returns showing spiritual religion and evangelical that, on the census Sunday in 1851, truth demands the maintenance of out of eighteen millions in England nonconformity. The losses our Dis. and Wales, nearly eleven millions senting churches have sustained in were not found in any place of this way can scarcely be over-rated. worship. Allowing largely for those It cannot be too much to ask that who from physical disability could Christian professors, in fixing on not be present, the compiler of the the locality in which to live, will returns states that more than FIVE not forget that the soul has claims MILLIONS were absent from simple to be regarded as well as the body. indifference or disinclination. This Supposing that some temporal ad- state of things must surely create vantages have to be sacrificed on dismay and sadness in the hearts of the altar of spiritual prosperity, will those who know that “faith cometh those shrink from the sacrifice who by hearing,”and that with very few count themselves disciples of Him exceptions all conversions wrought who said, “What shall it profit a by the Spirit of God are wrought man if he gain the whole world and on those who are found in attendlose his own soul ?”
ance on the public means of grace. When, from the number of once- No individual must in this matter una-day worshippers, all are deducted derrate the importance of his own for whom full justification can be example. Each Christian must be found, there will remain, it is to be careful not to lend the influence of feared, a large proportion who are his own conduct to this crying evil. very much without excuse. It is to By all possible constancy of attenthem the writer would address him- dance he must silently proclaim his self with courtesy and frankness- sense of the importance of public assured that, if they will only con- worship, and do what he can to sider the matter in all its bearings, allure others into the sanctuary they will see that such a custom is where (humanly speaking), above not to be yielded to thoughtlessly all other places, “the power to or unnecessarily. In the limits of heal" them is most likely to be a single article the subject can- present. Must not "judgment not be fully discussed. All that commence at the house of God ?” can be done is to indicate a few of If religious professors leave half
a its alleged evil tendencies. Some the services of the Sabbath unat. of these may appear to the reader tended, is it likely that the ungodly to be of an inconsiderable charac- will be cured of their habits of ter, but let it be remembered that total neglect ? the subtle influences which mould II.—This custom may be consisociety, and thereby affect individual dered in its relation to the particular welfare and destiny, are composed congregation whereto those who inof elements very minute when sepa- dulye in it professedly belong:rated, but very mighty when com- “God knoweth our frames.” For bined.
wise reasons, and with wondrous I.—The custom under considera- adaptation to our nature, he hath tion may be regarded in its relation ordained worship to be social and
public, as well as individual and joy on one face calls up an answersecret. In no dispensation, Patri- ing brightness on many countearchal, Jewish, or Christian, hath nances !
The fervour of one heart He permitted His people to forsake helps to foster the sacred fire in the assembling of themselves toge- another. Each feeling of grief or ther. The first recorded act of gladness, of fear or hope, seems to worship seems to have been united be contagious, and swiftly passes worship. “At the end of days” from one to another, till at last Cain and Abel came with their scarcely a soul is left untouched ! offerings, as if at a fixed time, and Is
Is it not with regard to results an appointed place, they met before such as these that God bids his the Lord. Reference scarcely need children come forth from their sobe made to the manifold provisions litudes, and join with each other there were in “ the law that came in
and praise. Public worby Moses” for bringing the people ship is to be maintained because together in their devotions, that incident to it-we had almost said heart might sympathise with heart, created by it-are spiritual influand voice blend with voice. The ences which can scarcely be realised early Christians had neither temple when each worshipper is alone. nor synagogue in which to meet, but If the above be a true statement in the face of all disadvantages they concerning pubļic worship, it must would maintain “ the communion follow that each worshipper by his of saints.” Against social and pub- presence contributes to the effilic worship persecution was ever ciency of the service. the fiercest, for the foe was wise as well as receives help from his enough to know that the holy bra. companions in the House of Prayer. very he sought to subdue secured When he is absent, he keeps back much of its nourishment from the so much life and power from the fellowship of kindred minds. “Iron devotions. That this is not mere sharpeneth iron ; so a man sharp- theory most of us can
can testify. eneth the countenance of his Empty pews here and there, have friend." There is a strange power strange power to chill those who in numbers. Who hath not felt it? occupy surrounding places. Vacant The same sermon is not the same, seats are so many weaknesses in when, instead of hearing it amidst the electric chain that links soul to an array of empty benches, we hear soul, and along which the currents it in the presence of a sympathising of spiritual sympathy have to travel. multitude. The same hymn of Hence we plead with once-a-day praise is not the same, when, in worshippers on the ground not of stead of being sung by a few, it is what they lose, but of what they lifted heavenward on the voices of cause others to lose.
We say noa great assembly. The same prayer thing now of the good they miss, even- -how different it seems when but of the harm they do. By their we can feel that, instead of being absence they, to a certain extent, the utterance of a small congrega- take spirit from the general praise, tion, it is gathering to itself the fervour from the common prayer, deep desires of a thousand hearts ! and force from the sermon. How silent, and yet how mighty, III. This custom
be consiis that mysterious sympathy which dered in its relation to the minister. is secured by the blending of many -Dean Ramsay tells of a woman spirits in the same service! The who lived in the neighbourhood of
the church to which Dr. Chalmers have this treasure in earthen was drawing vast crowds. She was vessels.” It may be a weakness on asked if she ever attended any the part of a minister to be sadplace of worship. “Ou, ay,” she
“Ou, ay,” she dened as he looks round on Sabreplied, pointing to the church, bath evenings, and sees the places “ there's a man ca'd Chalmers of so many of his leading people preaches there, and I whiles gang yacant; but “those that are strong in and hear him just to encourage ought to bear the infirmities of the him, puir body.” Despite the self- weak." It is, we are aware, not a complacency of the woman, she did modern idea-it belongs to oldnot much overrate the importance fashioned notions about the relative of her presence. If she, and many duties of people and pastor-and others like her, had kept away and left yet we venture to urge that some the great preacher numerous empty little weight is due to this argument places to look at, it might have against “once a day;" it is oftenbeen a clog to the chariot wheels, times to the minister “a heavy even of his eloquence. We know blow, and a sore discouragement.' it is not appealing to the highest IV. The custom may be looked at motives when we speak of church- in its relation to the families of those members, and others, being con- who indulge in it.-For the young, stant in their attendance for the the habit of regular attendance on sake of encouraging the minister. public worship is of prime impor. But if one be pondering whether tance. The neglect of it has been he will go or stay away, it is surely with numberless youths the first neither unlawful nor unseemly for step towards utter ruin. Absent him to throw into the scale against from the house of God--wandering staying away this consideration. on Sabbath evenings through the " By my absence the minister may streets or fields, they have verified be disheartened.” It is not forgot the saying that “ Satan finds some ten that ministers ought to be mischief still for idle hands to do.” above all such influences. Think- Some Christian parents have the ing of the grandeur of their theme fear that if their children be at all and the issues of their labours constrained to attend a place of full of loyalty to Christ and of zeal worship, they will imbibe a strong for his glory, they ought to be able dislike to it. Experience and obto conduct the service and proclaim servation alike convince us that the the truth with equal force and fer- fear is, to a large extent, groundvour, whether few be present or less. On the other hand it
be many. Of course they should strive asked—“Did ever any young perto cultivate a lofty spirituality, son get a liking for the House of which would lift them out of the Prayer by being freely allowed from region of petty considerations as to very childhood to go or stay away who are there, and who are not just as his own fancy dictated ?" there. They should seek the spirit We have seen irreparable mischief of their Lord, who to that one result from the too feeble exercise Samaritan sinner, by the well of of parental control in this respect. Jacob, discoursed with as much of We have known not a few who, in divine zeal and fulness, as when to mature life, have given God thanks the thronging multitude he preached that their early home was one in the sermon on the Mount. But it which the duty of attendance on must be borne in mind that “we worship was insisted upon with al