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give up their innocent diversions entirely, and to forego their evening parties; and who could not but wish, that some place of public entertainment might be open, to which they might, as at other times,
Both these may, I apprehend, be accommodated, if they will pursue the plan which I shall offer to your consideration. The industrious tradesman and labourer shall, at the close of the day, have an instructor to assist them in the meditations, which they cannot themselves command: and the other sort shall find a house of publick resort thrown open, in which they shall have an opportunity of spending an hour, perhaps somewhat more, every evening in the week, in a manner which may in the end, I trust, afford them as much satisfaction, as if they had spent it at a card-table, in a ball-room, or at the theatre.
In short, and to remove your suspense, the Church shall be open every evening at an hour which, I conceive, will suit persons of all descriptions*: prayers shall be read first, and I will afterwards endeavour to improve the ignorant by some reflections on the occurrences of the fol
* Seven o'clock was the time appointed.
lowing Great and Holy Week; not without hopes of edifying, though perhaps not of informing, the other sort of hearers, who may think proper to attend; with an earnest desire, on my part, to promote in both that serious frame of mind, which the solemnity of the season so justly requires; and which may tend to lead many, and particularly those who have not yet fulfilled the vows which they have made, to partake of the blessed Sacrament of the LORD's Supper, which our Church strictly enjoins all her members to receive, at least three times in a year, of which she positively says, that Easter shall be one*.
But if what I have now said, carries not with it sufficient weight, to prevail upon you to be more than ordinarily intent on the religious duties, which our Church recommends to the daily observance of her devout members; I may confidently affirm, that the day of the crucifixion, “from the blessed effects of our Saviour's sufferings emphatically called Good-Friday," ought more especially to be observed as a day of strict devotion, and separated from all worldly employments whatever. The heathens them
*Rubric after the Communion.
selves, whose obligation to religion was infinitely inferior to that of Christians, had their solemn days, on which it was thought impious to transact any kind of business, either publick or private. The day of the crucifixion was a day of rebuke and of blasphemy*—a day whereon we ought to weep, not for our Saviour, but for ourselves and our children†; not that he was crucified, but that our sins were so heinous in the sight of God, that nothing but the blood of his own Son could expiate them. I hope to see that day continue to be observed by us, with as great solemnity, as are the days set apart for public humiliation, to deprecate national calamities.
It would be unjust in me to insinuate, that such an external attention has not been paid to the day in this town on the more solemn day of the crucifixion. I would, however, again recommend a continuance of such outward decency and I will venture to affirm, that at the close of that day, you who shall have laid aside your worldly callings, that you may with less distraction attend on the Lord, will, from having devoutly and conscientiously commemorated our Saviour's sufferings,
* Is. xxxvii. 3. + Luke xxiii. 28.
and bewailed your own sins which were the cause of them, receive greater satisfaction than can possibly arise to you, from any addition made to your wealth by an unremitted attendance on your ordinary secular employments. You too who live at ease, whom the Providence of God has exempted from the common cares and employments of life, and who have thereby more leisure to attend on the duties of religion, are without excuse, if you neglect those which the solemnity of that day requires you to perform.
And now, my Brethren, I have only to beseech you, to give the subject which we have been treating, such serious consideration as the importance of it demands; and to express my hope, that what I have said, will induce you to spend much time in meditations on the momentous transactions of this week, both privately and publickly. In the former your own discretion must be your guide, assisted by that ample provision which our Church has made for the latter, in the service appointed for every day of the week.
Allow me to hope also, that the assistance which I offer and mean to give towards both, may incline you to pay your own personal attendance here in the evenings of the week, and persuade you to
require those over whom you have influence, to do the same; that we may preserve the solemnity of the season.
And that our endeavours may be effectual, let us humbly beseech Almighty God to 66 prevent us in all our doings with his most gracious favour, and to further us with his continual help, that in this and in all our works begun, continued, and ended in him, we may glorify his holy name, and finally by his mercy obtain everlasting life, through JESUS CHRIST Our LORD." Amen.