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pass my lips, for I believe in those touching words of our gentle Christian poet
"Speak gently of our sister's fall;
Who knows but gentle love
May win her at our patient call
But the sin I complain of to-night warrants the plainest and strongest condemnation and rebuke. Thank God, in this congregation, as I believe in other congregations, those who behave thus badly in the service are only a few, not the many. But the thing is this, that one of these badly behaved persons can upset the devotion of a vast number. If the bad behaviour only affected the one who behaved badly, the sin would still call for the strongest condemnation from the pulpit. But, as I have just been showing you, it spreads like a fever, and penetrates like a pestilence; and it may be found that in a congregation of eight hundred people, nearly all may be annoyed and disturbed by the bad behaviour of some half-dozen persons; and the clergyman's peace, and the congregation's peace for a whole
Sunday, broken up and destroyed. Therefore no words of condemnation can be too severe to apply to such conduct. And I cannot think of one single valid excuse that can be brought in order to extenuate this sin. If it were only the ignorant, and the halfeducated, or those who had bad examples set them at home by their parents, who committed this sin, it would be in some slight degree a different matter. But alas it is not confined to the ignorant, but to those also whose education ought of itself to have taught them better and nobler things.
Whatever may be the cause of irreverence in Church, it can find no real excuser. Church was never meant to be a play-ground; never intended to be a Casino; never intended as a place where dying men and women could joke over solemn services, and commit acts of irreverence in the very presence of their God. And I cannot to-night allow any excuser to minimise this sin. I condemn it in the strongest language I can possibly make use of. Often at the end of a sermon, after having rebuked some
form of evil, we end by some soft words that partly, at least, do away with the severity of our rebuke. The sin I have rebuked to-night allows of no mitigating words. I end as I began, by stating that bad behaviour in Church is a great and grievous sin, for which no valid excuse can be found, and which God will most assuredly severely punish. Every man who has the nobility of a man about him, every one who has gained the respect and trust of his fellow-men, every man who is honoured and respected in the world condemns with no uncertain sound bad behaviour in the House of God. It is repulsive to all that is right, and high-minded, and manly, and noble. It evokes the cry of shame from all who realize that they are the creatures of the great God in Heaven. It is a sin of double dye, that will find in me no mind to palliate its excuse, or to try and lessen its offence in the eyes of an angry God.
Then, lastly, let me remind you that there is the proper place and time for everything. There is the time in our lives when to play and be merry has its proper season. There is the
time for the harmless joke, and the animated conversation, and the hearty laugh. But there is also the time, when these things, right and proper in their fit place, become a sin because out of their proper place. I conclude then with one of those solemn passages to be met with in the Bible, where it says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the Heaven. * * * A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." "A time to be born, and a time to die."
Bad Behaviour towards the Church :
AN ADDRESS TO THOSE WHO NEVER ATTEND CHURCH.
PROVERBS III. 6.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
I was speaking to you last Sunday night, as some of you will remember, upon one of the most indefensible sins, for which no valid excuse can possibly be found, namely, bad behaviour in Church. I tried to show you the gravity of the offence, and its terrible consequences. To-night I wish to touch briefly, but earnestly, upon another sin, as common as the one I spoke upon last Sunday night, and perhaps as sad in its results, and in its example; I mean the practice of never attending any place of public worship; never acknowledging God in daily life at home, and by the public act of attendance at Church.