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SERMON V.

ON ATTENDING THE PUBLIC WORSHIP

OF GOD.

Eccles. v. 1. Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more

ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools.

BY THE REV. JAMES RICHARDS, A. M.
Pastor of the first Presbyterian Congregation of Newark.

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NEW-JERSEY PREACHER.

SERMON V.

Eocles. v. 1.-Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be

more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools.

It is our privilege, brethren, to live near the house of God, and often to meet within its sacred walls. We have no such lengths to go as had the ancient church of Israel. The tabernacles of God are in the midst of us, and their doors, from sabbath to sabbath, are opened for our reception. Here we are permitted to send up our prayers and thanksgivings to God, while his ser. vants address us in his name.

With these advantages, should we not grow in grace, and daily ripen for that exalted service which is rendered by saints and angels in the higher courts? But how is the fact ? Do not many of the Lord's people cry out, 66 O my leanness, and barrenness! How far am I from God, and from the happiness of those who come near to him !” Do not others from month to month and year to year, visit this sacred place, without sustaining any important change in their disposition or habits? I fear the salutary caution in the text is too often overlooked. “ Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools."

That our future attendance upon God's house, may be more profitable than the past propose in the first

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that he should obey it. He would also have argued, as deists and unbelievers continually do, that it was against every principle of his nature; and inasmuch as God had given him that nature, he could not suppose that he would seriously call on him to violate all its strongest principles, and act contrary to its most amiable dictates : and he would therefore have concluded, that however plain the command of God might be, yet he must not interpret it according to its plain and evident import, or else he must not suppose it was designed for him strictly to obey. As to the nature of the duty, he would have argued, how can God be honored, or how can any good possibly come of such a deed by my hand. If my Son had been guilty of any great crime, or meditated any serious injury against society, public justice might require of me the necessary means of prevention, or the merited punishment. But, when he has done nothing, and meditates nothing of this kind, it would be unnatural and wicked in me thus to sacrifice a beloved son, and it could be productive of no good to fellow-creatures, and of no honor, but on the contrary of dishonor, to God. His justice, his goodness, and above all his promise forbids it : for in this very son he has promised me a seed in whom all nations shall be blessed. What therefore would be the consequence of obeying this strange command? And how could I justify myself, even to God himself, in view of the promise he has made me, and of the covenant he las established with me?

In consideration of such arguments as these, reason would have rejected, without scruple, the plainest and most direct command, and would probably have made high pretensions to piety and religious feeling in doing

After this manner, carnal and unbelieving men dai

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ly reason concerning commanded duties, of which they do not readily perceive the fitness, the propriety, and the end to be answered by them. And they think they argue correctly, and are led by the clearest reason to neglect such duties'; and having the utmost confidence in their conclusions, they think they may rest in them with a good conscience toward both God and men. Perhaps the greater part of professed believers allow themselves to be guided mostly by the same principles, and to rest in the same conclusions.

But it was not thus that Abraham's faith wrought with his works, when it made them perfect before God.

His faith esteemed the word and authority of God paramount to every authority, and to all law; and instead of looking to nature and to reason, looked to nature's God, the fountain of all true reason, for direction in the way of duty.

All that such faith needs, is only to know the command and word of God, and it can trust all the consequences of obedience to his disposing. Abraham's confidence in the wisdom, power, and faithfulness of God enabled him to submit the event, and trust in God concerning the consequences, while he was satisfied that he obeyed his command. This enabled him “ against hope, to believe in hope, that he might become the Father of many nations."

It was by this faith, that “ Abraham when he was tried, offered up Isaac ; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son; accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” His faith required nothing more than to know the command of God, and by this all the pleadings of nature and of reason were answered ; and for the apparent contrariety between the promise and the

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