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of our graves. Of any one of us in this Church to-night, young or old, it may truly be said, "There is but a step between me and death," for a man's longest life is but as the flash in the pan when compared with the eternity that is before him. And the Church is given us as a place to prepare for eternity; to prepare for the dying day; for the great Life, that like an unmeasurable ocean lies out before us as an inevitable future.
These things are too awful, too solemn, too eternal, and too near us, to allow us to joke over them, or to treat them with irreverence and indifference. The Holy God. with Whom you and I have to do, will not lightly esteem acts of irreverence done to Him. If I open the Bible, its pages prove my assertion. I can find a number of cases where Christ readily pardoned sin. Almost every kind of sin was pardoned by Christ, but I can find no instance where Christ pardoned pure irreverence. Christ's work was to deal gently with sinners. It was His custom to show mercy and long-suffering. Mary Magdalene found her
most merciful Judge in Christ. But there is just one sin that Christ dealt with, without mercy, and with severity and indignation; and that was irreverence. And when He saw the buyers and sellers trading in His Consecrated Temple, behaving irreverently in His House of Prayer, the righteous anger even of the meek and gentle Jesus was raised, and " He made a scourge of small cords, drove them out of the Temple; poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables." Bad behaviour then in the Temple, or as we term it now "in Church," will meet with the anger and righteous indignaof Almighty God.
But I want to enforce this truth from another stand-point. There are some, who, when they behave irreverently in Church, think that after all it is only a matter that concerns themselves. That if they do not behave well, "that's" (as they term it) "their own look out." Of all the mistakes a man could be guilty, this is, I think, one of the greatest. Do you think that when you behave badly in Church you will, at the day of account, only have that one sin of
It is said, that if you
your own to answer for ? throw a stone into the sea, the ripple made by that stone will cross the widest ocean, till it reaches the far-off opposite shore. And let me tell you this, that every sin of irreverence adds to you a mountain of sins, for which you will have to give account at the day of Judgment. Let me illustrate my meaning. You come to a Service, and behave badly. There are people, good people, sitting or kneeling around you. They have come to Church to worship, and they are impressed with the solemnity of the place, and of the object for which they have met together. But they see your bad behaviour, and they are upset by it. They try to pray, but, through your bad behaviour they cannot do so. They try to join in the service, but they find it almost impossible. It is a wasted service to them. They feel angry: it is a Sunday service gone for ever, never to be. re-lived, so far as that Sunday is concerned, spoiled for them by you. Who will have to answer for that at the Day of Judgment? Not they, but you!
Or, sitting near you, there are some children, and they see the bad behaviour. They argue, as children often do-for children are deeper thinkers than we sometimes believe them to be-" If grown up people behave thus, why may not I?" And if the children act upon this argument, who in the day of judgment will be guilty? Not the little children, but you!
Or let me add the case of the clergyman. A clergyman often has his Sunday's peace and devotion destroyed by witnessing bad behaviour at Church in those who ought to know better. Sunday, to us, is a day of hard work, and a clergyman often has to drag through his Sunday with a head aching, a temper ruffled, and all peace of mind destroyed, by the irreverence he has had to witness in others. He tries to say a prayer, but his mind has been too distracted to do so, except merely as a lip service. He has tried to listen to the lessons or the sermon, but that bad behaviour has prevented him from doing so. He has tried to preach, but his thoughts have been
more upon those acts of irreverence, than upon the gospel he was trying to preach; he has tried to enjoy the great service of Holy Communion, but the same distracting cause has broken up his mind's peace. Who, I ask, at the day of judgment, will have to answer for that clergyman's lifeless devotion, his heartless worship, his prayerless service? Humbly I answer, he will not be judged for it, but those who by their irreverence and bad conduct, destroyed the service for him, and upset his peace of mind, and obliterated his devotion! And surely, everyone of us, even the best amongst us, have enough sins of our own to answer for, without having to answer for others beside ourselves.
The Temple is too grand, too solemn, too noble a place for such profaners of sacred things. "The Temple of God is holy," says the Bible, and no place for they that mock, and jeer, and make light over sacred things.
You do not often hear me preach thus strongly from this place. It is not often that I allow words of such severe condemnation to