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2. A second and most important way in which the internal arrangements of a family
worship, and were sending up the melody of praise to the God of salvation. This practice is universal in the island on the Sabbath-day. When there is no public service, the members of each family (or where there are more families they combine) join in singing several hymns, read the Gospel and Epistle for the day, a prayer or two, and one of Vidalin's Sermons. Where the Bible exists, it is brought forward, and several chapters of it are read by the young people in the family."-Vol. ii. p. 124.
And again : “ At the conclusion of the evening labours the family join in singing a Psalm or two, after which a chapter from some book of devotion is read, if the family be pot in possession of a Bible; but where this sacred book exists, it is preferred to every other. A prayer is also read by the head of the family, and the exercise concludes with a Psalm. Their morning devotions are conducted in a similar manner at the lamp. When the Icelander awakes, he does not salute any person, but hastens to the door, and lifting up his eyes towards heaven, adores Him who made the heavens and the earth, the Author and Preserver of his being, the source of every blessing. He then returns into the house, and salutes every one he meets, with, God grant you a good day.”” p. 368.
There is much in this description to remind the reader of that primeval state of blessedness described by our greatest of poets, when
“ As soon as sacred light began ta dawn
may be made to foster devotion and church principles, is by a strict attention to the duties of the Christian Sabbath. Christianity could not long exist in a nation if that divinely appointed day were entirely neglected; nor can a high tone of religion prevail, where it is only partially and ceremonially observed. That such is unhappily the case in too many families of all ranks, notwithstanding many recent symptoms of improvement, is but too notorious. It is true, we are not at present labouring under the national guilt of a Book of Sports, or Sunday drilling, or any other of those authorized profanations which at different periods have disgraced our municipal regulations. Nay, we are proverbial among our continental neighbours for our regard to the duties of the day of sacred rest, and, upon the whole, observe it probably as well as most Protestant, and better than most Roman Catholic, nations. But is there not room for improvement? or rather, is
And again in the evening :
« When at their shady lodge arriv'd, both stood,
there not an absolute necessity for it? The paucity of our churches in many towns and villages, compared with the amount of the population of those places, would of itself lamentably attest that large numbers of persops seldom or never attend public worship; even if there were not visible on every side many additional confirmations of the fact, such as Sunday-travelling, and an undisguised devotion to pleasure, and, in many cases, to the ordinary business of secular vocations.
And even of many of those who profess to adhere to a more decent line of conduct, what is the usual practice? They abridge the Sunday of its early hours by slothful indulgence: a part only of their family attend Divine worship for an hour or two at church; and the rest of the day is spent in letter-writing, visiting, travelling, self-indulgence, or in mere indolence of body and vacuity of mind. But whatever be the specific pursuit, one thing at least is clear, that “God is not in all their thoughts *.”
* The following classification of the pursuits of different ranks of persons on this hallowed day, as given by a modern author, will corroborate and amplify these remarks. us turn our attention," he remarks, “ first to the drudges of the community ; that immense multitude of people composed of our day-labourers, porters, carters, &c. little
· Now without entering upon the question what may be considered as included in those
thought of as immortal creatures by many of their employers; and to whose habits little regard is paid, provided they are ready when wanted to perform that service for which they are hired, whether gain or pleasure be its object. Let us add to these, the vast numbers of people employed on the water; the thousands of our street-criers; the almost incalculable number of artizans and manufacturers all discharged from labour on a Sunday. How does this vast collection of beings, having an equal interest with the rest of their species in the concerns of religion, generally dispose of a Sunday? Not one in a thousand of this multitude perhaps is there ever seen in a place of worship! The interval of rest seems to be divided, by these classes, between sloth and harddrinking. Of this, without going into their wretched haunts, we often have sufficient indications as we go to the House of God, by meeting these unhappy creatures in the streets, in the dress of their working days, and with the hagard looks which their debauch has left on their features.
“ Go to the other extremity of the scale. Think of the entire streets in the fashionable part of the town, inhabited by people whose Sunday scarcely begins till the morning service in the churches is nearly over ; who spend the noon in the Parks, then go home to dine, and dispose of the rest of the day in the drawing-room.
“ Take a survey of another class, situated about midway between the highest and the lowest orders. Think of the general flocking of the better conditioned men of trade into the country on a Sunday; the morning consumed in the journey, the middle of the day in conviviality, the evening in returning to their neglected homes, where the uninspected servant arrives just time enough to open the door to his careless master. Nor is it impertinent to recollect here, that many of this class have their country-house in places
works of necessity and mercy, which, in addition to works of piety, are lawful on the Christian Sabbath, it is very certain that many of the above-mentioned pursuits are far without the pale of either. For assuredly it is not “merciful” to employ the irrational animals, and still less our servants, in Sunday travelling, after they have been diligently toiling in our service all the week? Nor is it “ necessary" for those to ride even to church, who are endued with health, and who, living within a reasonable distance of the sacred edifice, might, on most occasions, quite as conveniently walk, and by so doing allow their dependents to enjoy a portion of rest as well as themselves. Nor is it “
necessary,” or “merciful,” or “pious,” for the ordi : nary refreshments of the table to be doubled on that day; or for the hours of repast to be
too far removed from a church for their family to attend public worship, had they leisure enough on a Sunday for this duty, which, however, they seldom have, on account of the general custom of having a large party to dinner on that day.
“What a mass of people does this contemplation present to us, never coming within the action of any thing adapted. to the formation of religious character! and this in the midst of every incentive to vice, every means of unlawful pleasure, and the greatest facilities for the perpetration of every crime by which private happiness or public safety may be endangered."-Zeal without Innovation, pp. 5-8.