ATTENDANCE ON THE ORDINANCES OF THE CHURCH

From these outward matters we pass to
the more inward. It is the duty of a mem-
ber of the Church to honor the ordinances
and services of the Church.

You will, of course, attend upon the ser-
vices of the sanctuary, as far as in you lies;
for, if you are possessed of the right spirit,
you will be attracted by them, and find in
them your life, strength, and joy. As the
child to the mother, so cling to the ordinances
of the Church. As the bird in the twig, so
rest in them. As the plant in the soil, so
grow in them. As the members in the body,
so live, act, and be strong in them.

Learn to regard the ordinances of God’s
house as truly means of grace — helps for
growth in the Christian life, with which you
cannot dispense. As natural food is neces-
sary to sustain the temporal life, so is the
food of the sanctuary necessary to the growth
of spiritual life. The means of grace in the
Church are not merely conveniences which
may be used, but they are necessities which
must be used. The use of them is not merely
a way to grow in grace, but it is the way —
the way divinely appointed; and only those
who obey have a right to hope for the bless-
ing which God is pleased to convey in the
use of them.

Resolve in your own mind, by the help of
God, to attend regularly. As it is necessary
to the enjoyment of health and strength to
eat regularly, to sleep regularly, and to be
regular in all our habits, so it is necessary
to a regular, healthy growth in the Christian
life, to enjoy regularly the means of grace.
The person who loses his appetite for food is
not well; so the one who loses his taste for
the ordinances of God’s house, is not spirit-
ually in good health.

Remember that the way of neglect is from
bad to worse. When you miss once without
an adequate cause, it will be easier for you
to fail again. The soldier who has once re-
treated, can never rally again with the same
courage; so, if you fail once through neg-
lect, you are weaker than you were before.
The downward way is easiest, and your
speed increases as you go. Ask backsliders,
and they will tell you that they began their
backward way by becoming irregular in
their duties. You must never find out that
it is possible for you to fail in a single in-
stance in this duty. You must not think of
it. You must resolutely treat it as something
which cannot be. O, let me intreat you,
never learn the dreadful secret that you can
disobey and be unfaithful to your solemn
vows.

Be hardy. Do not too much fear bad
weather. How pleasant to you will be the
warm sanctuary, when you have passed
through the cold storm! How refreshing to
you will be the cool sanctuary, when you
have reached it through the hot sun! Be-
sides the benefit you will derive from the
services, how delightful will be the after-
reflection of duty well and faithfully done!
The pastor, who has often further to come,
and who is perhaps less inured to the cold
or the heat than yourself, will be there; why
cannot you be there to cheer his heart, and
to encourage him for his self-denial and ex-
posure? Moreover, think whether you are
not often out on worldly business in worse
weather. If you can endure hardness for
perishable and earthly things, can ye not do
it for that which is imperishable and hea-
venly?

Let not the excuse that you do not feel
well too easily prevail with you. It may be
a mere temptation to keep you away. You
may feel just as badly if you remain away,
as if you go. Instead of nursing the indis-
position by a brooding spirit, master it by
turning your attention to the high concerns
of the spirit. If it is mere morbid feeling,
as it often is, the best place to lose it is on
the way to the sanctuary. Be assured, too,
that religious duty is good for the body as
well as the soul. The best place to rest a
weary body, and to forget light afflictions, is
to force the dull body and the brooding spirit
into the service of religion, and to seek re-
freshment for both in the green pastures and
beside the still waters of grace.

Be mindful, too, of the fact that your ex-
ample, whether good or bad, will influence
others. Your regular attendance will silently
draw others after you, and your absence will
do much toward keeping others away.

Let me beseech you to lay these thoughts
to heart. See that you do not lack in out-
ward, as well as inward respect for the house
of God. Enter the church reverently. Sit,
stand, and kneel in it solemnly. Listen
attentively. Sing heartily. Pray devoutly.
Go to the holy communion humbly. Endea-
vor, in all your acts of worship, to realize
that the Lord is in His holy temple, and that
all the earth should keep a respectful silence
before Him.

IV.

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