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Let me draw my picture of such a man, He may be
I trust fairly and charitably.
or dishonest in his dealings with his fellow-men; he may be in a certain sense kind or hard towards those around him; he may be a man of truth, or falsehood; pure in his living, or immoral; temperate, or intemperate. Those of whom I speak are sometimes of the one class, sometimes of the other. But it is not of these sins, or good qualities that I have to speak to-night, but rather of that one sin, that he never acknowledges God by private devotion at home; and never on the Sunday, much less in the week, attends the public worship of God in Church.
What do men go to Church for? Alas! -as I had to show you last Sunday-nightsome for play! A more unworthy motive could not possibly be found! Others go for mere custom's sake, the outcome of fashion, or because it is too wet, or too hot to go for a walk. These are all unworthy of the Temple's honour, and the dignity of Christianity! But
what ought every man to go to Church for? I answer, for worship.
How flippant often the tongue is to speak of things which, after all, the speakers little understand. I suppose no name gets uttered in the world with greater freedom than this word "worship." By what name is a Church or Chapel more frequently called than "a place of worship? And yet, I suppose, no word is less understood in the world than this word "worship." Merely to listen to a sermon is not worship. Nay, I suppose that every Sunday, in every Church, a number of persons in the congregation, who have attended the services, have never in those services performed one real act of worship. True worship of God is the most exalted of actions. It is not to thank God for His mercies to us; perfectly pure worship must not have a particle of self in it; it must be right out of ourselves, and only centred upon God. In Heaven there is pure worship when the angels veil their faces, and just cry, "Holy, holy, holy," and when prostrate before the golden throne, they just thank God for His own great glory, and
thank Him for what He is. But this real worship is such a lofty thing that it is out of all question to deal with it in connection with my present subject. It would be as if I entered into an infants' school, and began to teach algebra, and the intricate subtleties of the world of science. Before those little ones are fit for such lofty subjects they must be educated and taught the elements of knowledge. So with the man who has been an habitual forsaker of God's House, it is no good going to him and condemning him because he is not a worshipper, or an appreciator of the Holy Communion; it is no good defining to him the grandeurs of worship, for he has not advanced far enough to study such lofty themes. It would be asking him by one bound to reach the top of the ladder, without stepping up round by round. So with him who has habitually absented himself from the House of God I will take high ground, but not such high ground as that of pure worship. I must use an argument in which self must have some place, and show what the man himself loses who lives a life "without God in the world."
We all live on the brink of a precipice. That precipice is eternity. It takes but a little accident, or catastrophe, or illness, to precipitate us over the yawning gulf. It is no exaggeration to say that we all live with one foot in the grave. Humanity stands on the brink of a flowing river, and "threescore years and ten" will see the shore left desolate so far as that generation goes. Most uncertain is the duration of life; but certain its end. At this moment, at a place near to us in the South of France-a town many of us know so well-panic-stricken men and women are flying from their homes to escape the grim visitor of death, which, in the shape of cholera, has made its appearance there. To the victims it means but a few hours' illness, and all is over, at least, so far as this life goes. No one knows how near such a visitor may be to our own peaceful homes! Should we like thus suddenly to be called away, after having spent a life forgetful of God, and a stranger to His House of Prayer? Or, it needs but a little accident, or a little illness, and the end may come. Are men, whose lives may
thus be described, the sort of beings to live, standing on the edge of such a precipice, forgetful of God, and utterly neglecting to acknowledge Him in their ways, by frequenting His Sanctuary?
Or, let me put it in another light. What is a baser sin than ingratitude? Amongst ourselves we hate it. And the man with an ungrateful spirit is one who lacks friends, and gains little sympathy or support in the world. Now take the case of a man the most forgetful of God you can find. Whose lips never move to utter a prayer, and whose knees never bend at home, or in Church, to make supplication. Of whom the neighbours say " He never goes to any place of worship." Yet there is sunshine upon his dwelling, and upon his fields and garden the gentle rain falls, making them to yield forth fruit abundantly. But Who gives the sunshine, and Who sends the rain? The answer is in the Bible. "He (that is God) maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." But a man who never