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every where lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.” He whose faith is wavering—he whose heart is contentious—he whose hands are unholy-he whose conversation is unrighteous—he whose prayer is cold and inanimate-he asks amiss, he asks and he receives not. “Keep thy foot then,” saith the Preacher, “when thou goest into the house of the Lord :"† be assured, my beloved brethren, that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, and the words of his prayer are a mockery of this sanctuary. Abuse not the means of grace which your God holds out to you—throw not the improvement of

your Church at a distance-profane not the temple of the most high with vain oblations. This is the house of God-make it to you, my beloved, the gate of Heaven-respect the purity of him who fills it with his presence—fall down with holy worship before the majesty of him to whom “the Heaven is his throne and the earth his footstool.”I

* 1 Timothy ii. 8. † Eccles. v. 1. Isaiah lxvi. 1.



1 JOHN. i. 9.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our

sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Our morning service opens with the Minister's reading one or more of the sentences set down at the beginning of the order of prayer which have been specially selected from the Old and New Scriptures, as fitted to dispose the minds of the congregation to the duty on which they are to enter. “Before thou prayest” says the Son of Sirach,“ prepare thyself."* Indeed a proper custom has established itself, for each individual, at his coming into the Holy Temple, to acknowledge with his private reverence the dignified presence of him who inhabits it, soliciting from him the aids of his grace and the acceptance of a service which he is conscious is imperfect. Such short addresses, where persons come at different times into the Church, are extremely proper

* Ecclus. xviii. 23.

and should not be run over as a mere unmeaning form. They are left for each individual to make for himself. I know none fitter for the purpose than the short and impressive prayer with which the 19th Psalm concludes; “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."

But our Church has its general preparation in the recital of one or more of the Scriptural sentences, when all are supposed to be assembled. And here let me suggest to you, my brethren, how desirable it would be that the whole congregation should be in the Church before the time for the beginning of service. We know too well how small a circumstance distracts attention, especially in younger persons among us, and it would to a stranger present little appearance of respect for the Public Worship of the Church, or of feeling for those who were engaged in it, to find those in every pew interrupted continually by new comers in, and the congregation not entirely settled until the Psalms are nearly concluded. I know the distance of residence from the Parish Church may sometimes occasion irregularity, but would it not be better—or would it be difficult to fix the time of setting out such as to ensure the not being too late? If occasionally a little too early, the time might be profitably employed in reading the whole of the introductory sentences. Be assured that the selection is an admirable one, and that every frame of mind with which any may enter this place, would find here appropriate matter for meditation and improvement. The sentences contain what sinners should know; they express what those who come to pray should feel. They do this in various forms, some asserting, some supplicating; each of them is plain, concise, full in itself, and taken together they convey the Scripture Doctrine of repentance and give the comforting hope of God's mercy. What more suitable preparation, what more inviting encouragement for prayer than that which represents the Lord as “merciful, and gracious” to such as turn unto him, “not despising the broken heart," but shewing forgiveness even to those who have rebelled against him. Does any conceive it too late for him to begin the work of repentance? Does any deem himself too great a sinner to be admitted to pardon ? The Prophets of the Lord inform him that he may yet by “turning away from his wickedness and doing that which is lawful and right save his soul alive.” Does any believe * himself so strong in righteousness that he has no need to solicit aid, so clear of all sin that in his case a call to repentance would be un


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necessary? A Scripture is laid before him, which tells him that “in the sight of God no man living is justified.” The beloved Disciple of the Lord may apprise him of the delusions of his vanity and the falsehood of his assertions. “If we say,” says St. John, “that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Does any suppose that the day of repentance may be safely deferred to some distant season and content himself with the impassioned vehemence and the external forms and shews of grief? The command to “rend his heart and not his garments,” the awful notice that “the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” are fitted to correct his error and to accelerate his delay. In short all the misapprehensions respecting penitence, all the objections to enter on it, are met by these introductory sentences, and the most powerful incentives are urged to place the sinner by contrition in that state which fits him to offer up prayers and gives hope that his prayers will be heard.

That which the Minister is desired to read after these sentences is, in some degree, a comment founded on them : it is an exhortation to the people to make confession of their sins and to entreat forgiveness of the Lord. With affectionate piety the Minister addresses his dearly beloved brethren, exhorting them to acknowledge and confess without any attempt

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