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as the early Christians found that it kept God in their minds to dwell in His visible temple, so it is reasonable to think that to have churches constantly before our eyes, and to have them frequently opened for divine service, would with us also be a means of keeping God in our minds; and that if with all these helps we still should be in danger of forgetting Him, much more are we likely to forget Him if we use no help at all.
More frequent church services, more frequent communions, would then it seems be a real imitation of the primitive Church, and not merely a fond or formal one; because, with relation to the end aimed at by both the early Christians and us, namely, the walking with God in heart and spirit, we stand nearly in their case; and the same human nature in both of us, not being here affected by any differences of age or country, is likely to require in both the same helps. But in the meanwhile, for those who cannot alter the Church's ordinances, or if there be any causes which in any place render the imitation of the primitive Church as yet impracticable or inexpedient, then there is the proper place for the recollection that what is of the last necessity always, and to all, is the walking with God in heart and spirit. If our helps are fewer it is our misfortune; but if we do not use such as we have, it is our fault. This chapel is opened but rarely; the communion is
celebrated in it still more rarely. So much the more reason, then, why we should make the most of the occasions that are offered to us; why we should not be careless or inattentive during the short time in the week in which we can be in God's outward temple ; why we should not turn away from the breaking of the bread of Christ's communion, on those rare occasions when we can partake of it. This we may all do; and to neglect this is our folly and our sin. God is not tied in His dealings with us to save by few or many. If He gives many opportunities and we neglect them, as not needing them, that is our own presumption; but if He gives but few, and we avail ourselves thankfully of these few, their power multiplies under His blessing, like the five loaves and two small fishes, which fed more than five thousand men ; and, without continuing daily in the temple, or daily breaking the bread of Christ's communion, yet if we profit by such opportunities as we have of hearing His word, and partaking of His communion, we shall share the blessing of those who were in Christ at the beginning, and we too, like them, shall eat our meat with joy and singleness of heart: we shall live in thankfulness to God, and having favour with all good men.
But now, in conclusion, as I have in the case of the text taken the example of the early Church as applicable in more than its mere spirit to our
selves; or rather, as we have seen, not only that we should aim at the same end with the first Christians, but that we should do well also to pursue it by the same means; to what purpose, it may
be asked, were those cautions as to the study of antiquity, which I gave at the beginning of my sermon, as if the example of the early Church were not immediately applicable ? The cautions were given because on very many occasions they are greatly needed; and when referring in one instance to the example of the early Church, I wished to show how that example might always be consulted with advantage. Doubtless there are many points in which he may run who readeth, in which the practice of the early Christians was so clearly good, and their circumstances respecting it so much the same as ours, that it would be our wisdom to follow their example closely. But their practice was not always good; or at any rate difference of circumstances, in many instances, makes that which was most right and good in them no longer right or desirable for us. And here it is that a lively understanding of the present, and a comprehensive knowledge of the past, are, as I said, so necessary. I am most convinced of the wisdom of studying the remains of Christian antiquity; only it is to be desired that that study should be so conducted and united with so much of wider knowledge and lively understanding, that
may not sometimes mislead, and be useful only by chance, but may minister uniformly and according to fixed and intelligible principles, to edification and to truth.
April 5th, 1840.
ST. PAUL'S SPEECHES.
Acts, xiii. 43.
Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews
and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas ; who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
The congregation here spoken of was one at Antioch, in Pisidia, to which Paul had been setting forth the first principles of Christian truth. It may be observed that the wisdom of God has provided for us, in the Acts of the Apostles, specimens of St. Paul's manner of addressing three very different classes of hearers; from each of which we may derive a lesson in speaking to persons under like circumstances. We have in his speech to the Athenians a specimen of his way of opening the Gospel to those who were wholly unacquainted with it, who knew nothing of the expectation of the Messiah, nothing of the Old Testament, and next to