Hebrews 10:25
Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Sermons
A Blessing Attends Public WorshipHebrews 10:25
Absence from Week-Night ServicesUnited PresbyterianHebrews 10:25
Absence from WorshipHebrews 10:25
Attendance on Public WorshipB. Beddome, M. A.Hebrews 10:25
Attendance on the House of GodWilliam Burns.Hebrews 10:25
Attendance on the Means of GraceC. F. Buchan.Hebrews 10:25
Christian FellowshipC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 10:25
Exhorting One AnotherJ. Jortin, D. D.Hebrews 10:25
Influences Which Ought to Radiate from the SanctuaryHebrews 10:25
One Benefit of Regular ChurchgoingHebrews 10:25
Public WorshipG. Sexton, D. D.Hebrews 10:25
Public WorshipJ. Parker, D. D.Hebrews 10:25
Public Worship -- a ReminderHebrews 10:25
Religious AssembliesG. Lawson.Hebrews 10:25
The Church BeneficentJ. Service, D. D.Hebrews 10:25
The Daily ServiceJ. H. Newman, D. D.Hebrews 10:25
The Day ApproachingH. McNeile. D. D.Hebrews 10:25
The Day ApproachingWm. Gregory.Hebrews 10:25
The Day ApproachingO. Feltham.Hebrews 10:25
The Duty and Benefit of Social WorshipRobert Foote.Hebrews 10:25
The Duty of Divine WorshipJoseph Watson, D. D.Hebrews 10:25
The Duty of Regular Attendance At Public WorshipProfessor Legge.Hebrews 10:25
The Growing Urgency of ReligionHomilistHebrews 10:25
The Hour-Glass in the HandNew Cyclopedia of IllustrationsHebrews 10:25
The Importance of Public WorshipJ. Burns, D. D.Hebrews 10:25
The Perils of Religious IsolationScientific Illustrations and SymbolsHebrews 10:25
The Public Worship of GodWin. Brown, M. D.Hebrews 10:25
The Social Genius of ChristianityC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 10:25
WantedAnon.Hebrews 10:25
Warning Against the Neglect of Social WorshipW. Jones Hebrews 10:25
Weather or NoSword and Trowel.Hebrews 10:25
Why Go to ChurchJ. C. Barry, M. A.Hebrews 10:25
Working Men's Objections to Public WorshipThe ChristianHebrews 10:25
Worship no WasteMons. Landriot.Hebrews 10:25
Help One AnotherHebrews 10:24-25
Inspiring EmulationJ. Bruce.Hebrews 10:24-25
Love and Good WorksJ. Vaughan, M. A.Hebrews 10:24-25
Love and Good WorksF. W. Farrar.Hebrews 10:24-25
Motives and Arguments to CharityI. Barrow, D. D.Hebrews 10:24-25
Mutual AidS. Martin.Hebrews 10:24-25
Mutual Christian DutiesJ. Burns, D. D.Hebrews 10:24-25
Mutual Christian IncitementS. Martin.Hebrews 10:24-25
Mutual ConsiderationW. M. Statham, M. A.Hebrews 10:24-25
Mutuality in the Christian LifeD. Young Hebrews 10:24, 25
Stimulating to Good WorksA. Moody Stuart.Hebrews 10:24-25
Sunday-School WorkA. Rowland, LL. B.Hebrews 10:24-25
The Duty of Christians to Provoke One Another into Love and Good WorksS. Mummery.Hebrews 10:24-25
The Nature and Source of True PhilanthropyW. Arnot.Hebrews 10:24-25
The Provocation of LoveHebrews 10:24-25
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is; but exhorting one another. This exhortation is not a positive command, but arises out of the nature of things, and the need of man as a spiritual being. Social worship does not become obligatory because it is commanded in the Scriptures; but we are exhorted not to neglect it because it is needful for us. The obligation springs not from the exhortation, but from the necessities of our being. Let us consider -

I. MAN'S NEED OF SOCIAL WORSHIP.

1. Man needs worship. A god is a necessity of man's being. He must have something to worship, even if it be only a fetish. This arises from the presence and influence of the religious and devotional elements and faculties in human nature. As these are refined and educated, so man is able to receive pure and exalted ideas of God. One of the bitterest of human wails is, "Ye have taken away my gods, and the priest; and what have I more?" The loss of even a false god is deemed ruinous by those who confided in it. The cry of the man whose religious nature has been enlightened by Divine revelation is, "My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." The body needs the exercise of manual labor, or of athletics, or gymnastics, or it becomes weak and incapable. The mind must be employed in the acquisition of truth, in reflection upon truth and life, or its powers must be called forth in some other way, or it will sink into a condition of feebleness and decay. And the principle is equally applicable to the religions soul. If its powers be not employed in the worship of the Divine Being and in the effort to live usefully and holily, those powers will perish; the eyes of the soul will become blind, its ears deaf, its aspirations extinct. Man needs worship for the life and growth of his own religious nature.

2. Man needs social worship. He is a social being. His heart craves friendship. In sorrow and joy, in labor and rest, we long for companionship and sympathy. We are formed for fellowship and for mutual help. Hence, social worship is a necessity of our being. This need was divinely recognized in Judaism, and provision was made for it in the temple, in the great religious festivals, etc. Our Lord recognized this need in various ways (Matthew 18:17-20; Luke 4:16). So also did the apostles. Even in the darkest seasons in the history of the Church of God, devout souls have felt this need and have sought satisfaction for it. "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another," etc. (cf. Malachi 3:13-17).

3. Social worship is often very beneficial and blessed. Our Lord has promised that the unanimous prayers of such worshippers shall be answered, and that he himself will meet with them (Matthew 18:19, 20). In such assemblies of believers devotion and holy feeling pass from heart to heart until all hearts are aglow. Mutual prayer strengthens the weak disciple. One man is cast down and almost faithless, but his faith is invigorated and his soul encouraged by the influence of another who is believing and hopeful. Nor is worship the only engagement of these assemblies. Our text speaks of mutual exhortation. "Exhorting one another." Brotherly counsel and encouragement and admonition are profitable to strengthen faith, incite to diligence, guard against declension, and promote the progress of the soul.

II. MAN'S NEGLECT OF SOCIAL WORSHIP. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is." Notice:

1. The causes of this neglect. As our Epistle does not speak of the neglect of worship by the irreligious, but of the desertion of the Christian assemblies by those who themselves were avowedly Christians, we shall confine our attention to the causes of the neglect of social worship by those who manifest some respect for religion.

(1) The necessity of social worship is not recognized, or inadequately recognized. The neglecter says, "There is no need for my frequent attendance at church; I can read the Bible or a sermon by my own fireside; and as for worship, we have that in the family." But reading a sermon is not attendance upon the divinely instituted preaching of the gospel. And family worship is not enough for man as a social being. Religion itself is social. As we need friends beyond our own domestic relations, so we need in religious exercises a wider circle than the home one.

(2) Absorption in temporal and worldly affairs is another cause of the neglect of the Christian assemblies. The interests and occupations of this world and time fill the whole being; spiritual and eternal interests are disregarded; the soul and its needs are neglected; thus men are unjust to their own higher nature.

(3) Decline in the spiritual life is another cause of this neglect.

2. The danger of this neglect. They whose custom it was to forsake the assemblies of Christians were not yet apostates from the Christian faith and confession. But the admonition and exhortation of the text suggest that they were in danger of apostasy. And the awful warnings which immediately follow more plainly indicate the dread peril. He who neglects the Christian assemblies is likely ere long to forsake the Christian Church and renounce the Christian faith, and ]:e may even go on to tread underfoot the Son of God, and do despite unto the Spirit of grace. - W.J.







Not forsaking the assembling.
We can scarcely help reading into a passage like this ideas which belong to our time, and not to the time of the writer; that is to say, ideas which are our own rather than his. Our notion as to Christians assembling themselves together is that which has been fixed in our minds by our custom, an old custom now, of attending church on Sundays. The truth is, however — and it is a point which has not received all the consideration to which it is entitled — meetings of Christians in those early times were not exactly of the same character as ours. Not only were they not as formal as we make ours by having an official person to conduct them, and, in fact, to take up most of the time with set religious discourse — not only were they not as formal as ours are thus made, they had, it is evident, different objects from those at which we aim in ours. These people who are here charged not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, did not meet to hear a sermon, or to pray and sing hymns; they met, it is plain, as Christian workers, to discuss their work and to carry it on. "To provoke unto love and to good works," to consider one another, to take steps for the relief of their poor, the succour of their sick, the instruction of the young, the conversion of heathen friends, the advancement of their faith, the promotion of every scheme which an enthusiastic philanthropy suggested for making the world better and happier; this was the business which brought them together. Their meetings did not end as ours regularly and systematically do, in nothing at all; if there is anything certain with regard to them, it is that they served to combine the intelligence and the energies of the Christian brotherhood for the accomplishment of a variety of objects which were none the less Christian that they were not always what you would call religious. And yet it is not to be supposed that on this account their meetings were less devotional than ours are. Because, instead of being devotional and nothing else, they were taken up chiefly with matters of Christian business, those primitive assemblies which are here in question would not, in the nature of things, be less favourable to the spirit of supplication or the spirit of thanksgiving, than Sunday meetings are now. I cannot but declare my conviction — I have long been firmly convinced — it is because we have no business in our meetings except devotion, that our devotion is so dull a business. I must take for granted for one thing, that every intelligent man, who is not strangely destitute of religious feeling, has known at times the need, or at any rate the good, of joining with numbers in acts of worship. There is something in the voices of a congregation united in the praise of God which lifts a dull worshipper out of his dulness as nothing else can. It is to be deplored, therefore, that so many nowadays forsake churches, and, in doing so, at any rate deny themselves whatever profit there is in public worship. It is obvious, whatever is the reason of it, our present system of what we call public worship is not what it once was in point of health and vigour, and rough-and-ready methods of putting new life into it, from which much is hoped, have little outcome. So far from the attendance at church increasing over the country, it is, I believe, steadily falling off. It may well be a question, therefore, whether we should not, along with the multiplication of churches or in place of it, begin to consider whether churches ought not to be somewhat different from what they are, and perhaps made a little more like what they were once. While we are thinking only of how to enlarge our ecclesiastical machinery, or to drive it faster, the question perhaps really is, whether it ought not first to be remodelled. The thing which is to be done, the only remedy for the evil, is to make the church a more attractive institution than it is. In the first place, it is obvious we deny ourselves much of the advantage we might have from attention to what is beautiful and pleasing. Independently of the sermon altogether — for the sermon is made the most important part of public worship, utterly against the nature of things — there should be excitement in our church services sufficient at any rate to keep people from falling asleep in the middle of them. Congregations, not ministers, no doubt are to blame if this excitement is often conspicuous by its absence. Wherever the blame may be supposed to rest, it is certain this part of our worship, not the least important part, is in general made as unattractive as complete neglect can make it. They complain that long extempore prayers, such as are common among ourselves, are often sermons without a text, or Scripture in great disorder. They allege further, that as the sermon is generally made the most important part of the service, so it is generally the most tedious part. If this, then, or anything like this, is the account which is to be given of our public worship, or a great part of it, we can scarcely wonder if there are some who forsake it, and many who are not attracted by it. I hasten now to remark, that while we more or less deny ourselves the advantage of the beautiful, we altogether reject the far greater advantage of the practical and useful. To put the matter broadly: in connection with churches much good work is done, done by ministers and office-bearers, by committees, by associations of members, but as churches we do nothing. When we come together here on Sunday, after having been for hundreds of Sundays in the habit of coming, it is just to go through the old routine of prayer, praise, sermon, and go away home; the congregation, as a congregation, after the benediction, goes away home, that is to say, goes out of existence. Nothing equals the regularity with which our meeting takes place, except the regularity with which nothing comes of it. Take them as they commonly are, churches are like corn-mills carefully constructed and plentifully supplied with steam or water-power, but never put in motion, never made to grind a bushel of grain. In our congregational life it is all saying and not doing. It would involve the remodelling of our churches to an extent to which few of us, perhaps, would care to see them remodelled; but, if the practical and useful were as prominent in their arrangements as other things are, they would not have to complain so much as they have now of being forsaken. What is needed to fill churches and put life into them, is to revert to the original idea of a church, and make it a society " to provoke unto love and to good works." If we were, even in the loosest sort of way united as a congregation in an endeavour to further Christian objects, to relieve the poor, to comfort the sick, to instruct the ignorant, to reclaim the erring, to remove temptation out of the way of the young, to promote decency, sobriety, honesty, truth, gentleness — if we were ever so loosely united as a congregation in this endeavour, it is impossible, being as many as we are, that we should not accomplish something. Now, if there were this kind of business first, and devotion followed it, or if business and devotion were somehow combined in the order of our Sunday services, we should have what gives zest to meetings for other and inferior purposes — the sense that we are dealing with what is of immediate practical utility to ourselves and to others. Before I conclude, let me advert for a moment to an objection which may be urged. Would you, some one may ask, suppose it were possible, divert the activity of churches from those purely spiritual objects, which only churches are fitted to promote, and direct it to philanthropic but still secular ends, which other institutions and other agencies are intended to further, and are possibly better fitted to further? To this, however, it is to be answered, that charity never faileth, nor the need for that organised charity which a church ought to be. When all other institutions and agencies, even the most benevolent and most useful, have done their best, much will still remain to be done, for the welfare of mankind, much which only Christian philanthropy can do, or will attempt to do, and it is the business of churches to concern themselves with that.

(J. Service, D. D.)

I. THE ASSEMBLING TOGETHER. All on the same level, except so far as we may differ in spiritual things.

1. Assembling together is a duty.

(1)God has commanded it.

(2)The practice is co-equal in point of time with the existence of the Christian Church.

(3)It is necessary for carrying out the Lord's work.

(4)It is essential for the spiritual well-being of every Christian man.

2. A privilege. To neglect it is to starve the soul.

II. THE OBJECT OF MEETING TOGETHER.

1. TO draw near to God.

2. To receive spiritual blessings.

3. To exhort one another.

III. THE INCREASING IMPORTANCE OF THIS MEETING TOGETHER AS THE PARTICULAR DAY NAMED IN THE TEXT DRAWS NEAR.

1. The day that you may be deprived of the opportunity of meeting.

(1)From sickness.

(2)From loss of inclination.

2. The day of trial and affliction.

3. The day of death.

4. The day of judgment.

(G. Sexton, D. D.)

I. THE ADMONITION GIVEN.

1. That to assemble together is a Christian duty.

2. Some who profess attachment to Christ's cause neglect this duty. Some are once-a-day worshippers; others are fine-weather worshippers; while many are merely fancy-worshippers, and go to the Lord's house just when it may please them. Great reason is obvious, no spiritual relish, only a name to live, &c. Only form of godliness, etc.

3. It is of the utmost importance that we do not thus forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

(1)On God's account, who demands and infinitely deserves our service.

(2)On the Church's account. The Church is to be visible.

(3)Especially on our own account.We are deeply interested in these assemblies. We might "forsake," &c., if we had no mercies to acknowledge, no sins to confess, no blessings to crave, no enemies to overcome, no soul to sanctify, no hell to escape, no heaven to gain.

II. A SPECIFIC DUTY STATED. We should exhort each other —

1. To watchfulness and vigilance.

2. To determination and constancy.

3. To zeal and diligence.

4. To courage and perseverance.

III. A POWERFUL MOTIVE.

1. The day is approaching.

2. This day is truly a momentous one.

3. The believer sees the day approaching. That is, he never loses sight of that truth.Learn:

1. The place of the Christian's delight will be God's house.

2. From our present circumstances, we all stand in need of exhortation (1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Timothy 4:2; Hebrews 3:13).

3. We cannot fail to be stimulated, both to diligence and faithfulness, if we keep the truth before us that the day is approaching.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. THE NATURE AND REASON OF DIVINE WORSHIP IN GENERAL. Though it must be confessed to be a duty on many accounts to worship God in private, yet I think it may plainly appear that it ought to be performed publicly too. For what is it we mean by the worship of God but such acts as do immediately declare our love, fear, and reverence to Him; our obedience, gratitude and resignation towards Him? Now, if the nature of God's worship consists in our honouring Him, that must certainly be the most acceptable way of worshipping Him which tends most to His honour, and that is doing it in solemn and public assemblies; for by this we take away all suspicion of our being either afraid or ashamed of our duty to Him, and many seeing our devotion may be influenced thereby to glorify their Maker more abundantly. Besides this, we may consider that as there are two parts of worship, the one internal, by which we bow our souls before God, and the other external, by which we give visible signs of our inward devotion, such as uncovering our heads, kneeling, praying, and praising God with an audible voice, and the like; so the chief use of this latter part of worship is for public assemblies. Again, the reason on which Divine worship is naturally grounded declares for it being public. God is our Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor, and doth not this as evidently demand our public as our private devotions? Doth not He bestow public blessings on us, and prevent or remove public evils from us, as well as private? But, furthermore, can we imagine that man was made a sociable creature for civil concerns only? Does not the affair of religion, and the immortal comforts that depend upon the true profession of it, as much deserve our united care and endeavours as the fading, transitory things of this lower world?

II. GOD'S POSITIVE INSTITUTIONS CONCERNING IT. All the directions He gave to Moses concerning the tabernacle, concerning the priests, concerning the sacrifices, concerning the Sabbath and feasts, were institutions of a public nature, and supposed His worship, to which they all related, to be a public worship. He hath nowhere declared for the cessation of public worship; but, on the contrary, hath plainly intimated His will to have it continued, and promised that His presence shall propitiously attend on our Christian assemblies lawfully met in obedience to Him, as it formerly did on the Jewish. For the promise then was (Exodus 20:24). So now it is wheresoever, i.e., whether at Jerusalem as before, or in any other place, two or three, i.e., any indefinite number, of you are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of you (Matthew 18:20).

III. That public worship is the duty of all Christians may be proved likewise from THE VERY BEING AND ECONOMY OF THAT CHURCH. For, in the first place, if we consider what the Church simply is, we can have no other conception of it but of a number of people called together and chosen out Of the unbelieving world, to profess the faith of Christ and to worship God according to the instructions which Christ gave. Now, a number of people, called out of the world to worship God after the same manner, and with unity and consent touching any instructions given them for that end, must in all reason be supposed to do this by meeting and assembling together. But if we consider it under that metaphor which the scriptures gives us of it when they call it Christ's body, and the several Christians that compose it, the members of that body (1 Corinthians 7:27). This will still further convince us that Christians are bound to worship God in communion; for why is the Church represented as a body but to signify to us its unity? And what can that agreement be which unites Christians so as to make them one Church or spiritual body but their joining together in the performance of those offices for which they were incorporated, and therefore surely in the worship of God, which is none of the meanest of those offices. And yet this will further appear from the order and government of it. For if it had no need of public worship, why are we so solemnly admitted into it, and excluded out of it?

(Joseph Watson, D. D.)

There is one fact implied in the text, you perceive, and one asserted. First, it is implied that even in the early time when this Epistle was written Christians were accustomed to meet statedly for the worship of God and to receive the word of exhortation. You do not doubt this. It is the dictate of our nature that God should be honoured and worshipped. Men are social, and constituted to act in concert. Then, moreover, Christianity is pre-eminently a social religion. There is another fact, you perceive, directly asserted in the text, that it was the manner of some to neglect this practice of statedly meeting together. It appears wonderful, indeed, that such individuals should have been among the members of any of the apostolic churches. But let us consider two or three circumstances that may mitigate our surprise. The parties spoken of had forsaken the practice of Christian assembling. They had once observed it. There was a time when they delighted to frequent the place of prayer, and to sit at the feet of those who had the rule over them, and to obey them. What had made them forsake them? For one thing, whether they were Jews or Gentiles, there was the scorn of the world, and often its wild and bloody violence. To be a Christian made a man the mark for obloquy and persecution. The attending at Christian assemblies was the most palpable avowal of having embraced Christianity. It was throwing down the gauntlet to the un-Christian world. With many, through God's grace, this only served to brace their minds to the conflict and endurance. With others we can hardly wonder the effect was different. The scorn and persecution were too much for them. They yielded and abjured the gospel. Some of them, perhaps, merely temporised and forsook assembling with their brethren. They gave up the Lord's Day and the sanctuary, vainly thinking that they might still retain their religion. For another thing, suppose that the " some " of whom the text speaks had been Jews. We can see how difficult it would be for them to part with their seventh day and adopt the first instead of it as their day of holy solemnities The step must have been a great shock to their established habits, and roused against them the fury of their countrymen who continued to reject the claims of Christ. For one thing more, suppose that the " some" of whom the text speaks had been Gentiles. How difficult must it have been for them to form the habit of keeping the Lord's Day! Here is a heathen man who has known nothing either of Sabbath or Sunday, of a day of rest or a day of worship. He is convinced by the preaching of the gospel, believes, is baptized, and received into a Christian church. But he is in business, perhaps, and has partners. If he will keep the Lord's Day, they know nothing about it; and they will not have their arrangements disturbed by his new-fangled notions and scruples. In whatever position of life he is, the assembling with other Christians subjects him to manifold annoyance, not to say loss, and marks him out as having separated from the mass of his countrymen. For a time, while he is powerfully under the influence of the Christian truth that has laid hold of him, he is seen regularly in his place in the sanctuary. By and by his new impressions begin to lose their vividness and his old habits to regain somewhat of their power. His attendance becomes irregular. These considerations help us to understand the melancholy fact mentioned in the text. But they do not justify it. The case of those "some" was adduced by the writer as a Warning to others, and it may also serve as a warning to us. Allow me, by way of application of our subject, to ask you all to receive from it the word of serious exhortation.

1. Consider the fact implied in the text concerning the existence of a stated day for Christian worship among the Hebrews is a fact palpable and acknowledged by us. Here is the sacred ordinance. It is ours. We ought to use is according to its design, and not forsake on it the assembling of ourselves together.

2. Consider none of the circumstances which I described, not to excuse but to explain the conduct of the "some," condemned in the text, can be pleaded by us. We were not brought up Jews, and the keeping of the first day holy does not clash in our minds with any reverence which we have been accustomed to attach to the seventh. We were not brought up Gentiles, in ignorance of God and Christ and immortality, trained to be of the earth earthy, so that the keeping of the Lord's Day should be to ourselves something new, and to all around us a thing outrageous and revolutionary. We are not exposed to any violence of persecution if we obey the exhortation before us. We are verily guilty, we have no excuse to allege, if we forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

3. Consider what high ends are answered by our assembling ourselves on the Lord's Day. Strength and beauty are in the sanctuary.

4. Consider the consequences likely to result from neglecting the ordinances of the sanctuary are disastrous. The man who neglects them declines the open profession of his faith; he cuts himself off from the highest exercises of his nature and the purest sources of virtue and happiness. His indifference and carelessness will grow on him, till backsliding becomes desertion, and desertion will become rebellion, which can only issue in his outcasting himself from the presence of God and the beatific vision of heaven; a life ruined and a soul lost, — without God, without hope:

(Professor Legge.)

The first Christians set up the Church in continual prayer (Acts 2:46, 47). St. Paul in his Epistles binds their example upon their successors for ever (1 Timothy 2:8; Colossians 4:3). Observe how explicitly he speaks, "I will therefore that men pray in every place"; — not only at Jerusalem, not only at Corinth, not only in Rome, but even in England; in our secluded villages, in our rich populous busy towns, whatever be the importance of those secular objects which absorb our thoughts and time. Or, again, take the text, and consider whether it favours the notion of a change or relaxation of the primitive custom. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." The increasing troubles of the world, the fury of Satan, and the madness of the people, men's hearts failing them for fear, the sea and the waves roaring, all these gathering tokens of God's wrath are but calls upon us for greater perseverance in united prayer. Consider how this rule of " continuing in prayer" is exemplified in St. Peter's history also. He had learned from his Saviour's pattern not to think prayer a loss of time. Christ had taken him up with Him into the holy mount, though multitudes waited to be healed and taught below. Again, before His passion, He had taken him into the garden of Gethsemane: and while He prayed Himself, He called upon him likewise to " watch and pray lest he entered into temptation." In consequence, St. Peter warns us in his first Epistle, as St. Paul in the text, "The end of all things is at hand, be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." Stated and continual prayer, then, and especially united prayer, is plainly the duty of Christians. And if we ask how often we are to pray, I reply, that we ought to consider prayer as a plain privilege, directly we know that it is a duty, and therefore that the question is out of place. Surely, when we know we may approach the mercy-seat, the only further question is, whether there be anything to forbid us coming often, anything implying that such frequent coming is presumptuous and irreverent. Now, Scripture contains most condescending intimations that we may come at all times. For instance, in the Lord's Prayer petition is made for daily bread for this day; therefore, our Saviour intended it should be used daily. Further, it is said, "give us," "forgive us"; therefore it may fairly be presumed to be given us as a social prayer. If, however, it be said that family prayer is a fulfilment of the duty, without prayer in church, I reply, that I am not at all speaking of it as a duty, but as a privilege; I do not tell meal that they must come to church, so much as declare the glad tidings that they may. This surely is enough for those who " hunger and thirst after righteousness," and humbly desire to see the face of God. Doubtless, even in your usual employments you can be glorifying your Saviour; you can be thinking of Him. Doubtless: only try to realise to yourself that continual prayer and praise is a privilege; only feel in good earnest, what somehow the mass of Christians, after all, do not recognise, that " it is good to be here" — feel this, and I shall not be solicitous about your coming; you will come if you can. I account a few met together in prayer to be a type of His true Church; not actually His true Church (God forbid the presumption!) but as a token and type of it; — not as being His elect, one by one, for who can know whom He has chosen but He who chooses? — not as His complete flock, doubtless, for that were to exclude the old, and the sick, and the infirm, and little children; — not as His select and undefiled remnant, for Judas was one of the twelve — still as the earnest and promise of His saints, the birth of Christ in its rudiments, and the dwelling-place of the Spirit; and precious, even though but one out of the whole number, small though it be, belong at present to God's hidden ones; nay, though, as is likely to be the case, in none of them there be more than the dawn of the True Light and the goings forth of the morning. Some, too, will come at times, as accident guides them, giving promise that they may one day be settled and secured within the sacred fold. Some will come in times of grief or compunction, others in preparation for the holy communion. Nor is it a service for those only who are present; all men know the time, and many mark it, whose bodily presence is away. We have with us the hearts of many. How soothing and consolatory to the old and infirm who cannot come, to follow in their thoughts, nay, with the prayers and psalms before them, what they do not hear! Shall not those prayers and holy meditations, separated though they be in place, ascend up together to the presence of God? Who then will dare speak of loneliness and solitude, because in man's eyes there are few worshippers brought together in one place? or, who will urge it as a defect in our service, even if that were the case? Who, moreover, will so speak, when even the holy angels are present when we pray, stand by us as guardians, sympathise in our need, and join us in our praises?

(J. H. Newman, D. D.)

It is a rather remarkable fact that in this text we have the nearest approach that is found in the New Testament to a commandment enjoining what we now call attendance at public worship; and the reason for such attendance, which is suggested by this mild remonstrance against neglect of the practice, is rather notably different from that with which we have nowadays become familiar. We have been so long accustomed to regard going to church on Sunday in the light of a religious duty, and indeed as almost the chief religious duty of the week, that it must surprise us, I believe, to find that the duty is scarcely enjoined at all in the New Testament. The observance of the Sabbath was no part of the original motive of the early Christians for the weekly assembling of themselves together; and in the absence of any other express commandment, it is plain that some spontaneously felt need and desire led them to seek such fellowship. What that need and desire were could hardly be better expressed than in the first words of our text, "Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works." It was consideration of one another as interested in one common cause, as devoted to one common Lord and Master, as having one great end of life in view, and as needing common counsel and encouragement in the pursuit of that end, that led them to practise the assembling of themselves together. They did not think they were serving or glorifying God in any specially sacred manner by meeting together for praise and prayer on the Lord's Day — Christ had given them very different ideas of how God should be served and honoured. It was because their whole life was consecrated to God and to the service of Jesus Christ, in the practise of love and of good works, that they felt the need and followed the practice of meeting together to consider one another, and comfort and encourage one another, in the difficult task of living such a life in the world. And it will be of little use, we may be sure, to admonish and exhort men to the maintenance of the ancient custom of meeting for prayer and praise on the Lord's Day, unless we can show in ourselves and excite in them the ancient spirit of consecration to God and devotion to Christ which first originated and inspired the custom. What we ought to aim at is not to get careless, unspiritual persons to come to church — that is putting the cart before the horse — but to get them awakened to some thoughtful interest in Christ and His salvation. It was Christ that drew men to the Church in the first place, not the Church that drew them to Christ; the ardour of faith and hope in Christ drew them together to form a Church, and the contagion of faith and example of love among those who first formed the Church was the strongest force to draw others into it. We have almost completely inverted this order of cause and effect now, and instead of awakening interest, first in Christ and then in the Church, we put the Church first, and trust almost entirely to the influence of the weekly assembly of the Church to bring men to Christ. When we do get back into the vivid conception of this primitive principle and motive of the " assembling of ourselves together," it will work great changes not only in the extension of the practice of going to church, but also in the way we organise and conduct the worship and teaching of the Church. Churches will not depend then so much upon good preachers and pastors as upon good people; ministers' sermons will then be fewer, more practical and business-like, serious and urgent as an "officer's address to his troops before a battle," "addressed by a soldier to soldiers." More, "perhaps, of the ministers' time will be given to teaching the rudiments of the faith to the young, and less to reiterating first principles to the old. And Christians will meet not as "hearers," nor yet simply as " worshippers," but as ardent and hopeful co-operators in a great common cause which each is anxious to understand his own part in, and to which each daily and nightly applies all his own mind and heart and contriving skill and practical energy.

(J. C. Barry, M. A.)

I. THE PRINCIPAL ENDS WHICH REAL CHRISTIANS HAVE IN VIEW IN ASSEMBLING THEMSELVES TOGETHER.

1. To express submission to the authority of the Lord their God.

2. To improve in spiritual knowledge.

II. SOME OF THE IMPORTANT EFFECTS OF ATTENDING ON ASSEMBLIES FOR WORSHIP.

1. The belief of a dependence upon God, as the Author of all our blessings, is preserved and enlivened in the mind.

2. We exercise and improve the benevolent affections of the heart.

3. We are training up for the devotional exercises of the heavenly temple.

III. EXHORTING ONE ANOTHER, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching."

1. If exhortation was necessary in the days of the Apostle Paul, it may be easily admitted that it is equally so in ours. Let me exhort you to remember that weekly worshipping assemblies are not an appendage to Christianity which we may add or keep off at pleasure.

2. The text adds this awful reason for exhortation, "and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." A regular and devout improvement of the Lord's Day, is an excellent preparation for meeting the Lord when He comes. The transition seems natural and easy, from a house of prayer on earth to a house of praise in heaven.

(Robert Foote.)

I. CONSIDER OUR OBLIGATIONS TO ASSEMBLE TOGETHER FOR THE WORSHIP OF GOD.

1. Public worship is sanctioned by Divine authority, and the example of the saints in every age.

2. Public worship has the special promise of the Divine presence.

3. The profit and advantage arising from public worship require also to be considered. Our own interest is concerned, as well as the glory of God (Psalm 36:8; Psalm 92:13). There the ignorant are instructed, the languid are quickened, the broken-hearted are bound up, and the wounded in spirit healed.

II. INQUIRE INTO THE CAUSES OF NEGLECT.

1. In some instances it arises from a spirit of scepticism and infidelity.

2. In others it arises from a spirit of profaneness, daring to resist convictions, and to trifle with obligations which cannot be denied.

3. Neglect of public worship frequently proceeds from sloth and idleness.

4. It is often the effect of self-conceit and pride. There are some who think they know enough, and have no need of instruction; they are also good enough, and need not to be made better.

5. The interference of personal prejudices too frequently prevents an attendance on the means of grace, but can never be urged in justification.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

The text does not point to secret devotion, but to open religious fellowship. There is a devotion which is to be hidden from all human knowledge, in which the soul discloses itself without reserve to the scrutiny of the Most High. To neglect such devotion is to dry up the springs which rise from the very rocks. Without it there can be no spiritual life. Yet there is something beyond it. What solitude begins sympathy completes. There is a subtle and indescribable power of sympathy in public worship. Individually we sing the more expressively because of the animating song of those who are round about us. Our idea of worship is enlarged. We get glimpses of that splendid possibility — a whole world engaged in common prayer! Public worship helps us to see deeply and clearly into the unity of human nature. On the streets we are many; in the sanctuary we are one. In taste and whim and special fancy we are an innumerable throng; but in the true hunger of the heart we are as one man. In other places we may meet as groups, but in the house of prayer we meet as a race. A wondrous, sad, glorious sight, is a great congregation of worshippers. What histories are represented! What madness of ambition, what recklessness of the best gifts, what sin done in darkness, what plots of avarice, what broken-heartedness, what wealth, poverty, loneliness, pain, what strength, fury, nobleness, truth! yet we are all one, one in sin, one in want. I pray God we may be one in the ineffable ecstatic joy of pardon through the Son of God. If I may put the matter personally, I do not hesitate to say that I must have the benefit of public worship if I would save myself from spiritual languor. Unrelieved solitude narrows a man's nature. We correct and complete one another. We settle each other into right proportions. We see greater breadths of the bounty and love of God when we compare our common experiences or utter our common thanksgivings. It is not uncommon to hear men talking in some such words as "When I worship I go out into the temple of nature: I uncover my head in the aisles of the forest: I hush myself under the minster roof of the stars: I listen to the psalm of the sea." This kind of talk sounds as if it meant something. It touches one side of life; how far it touches the other remains to be seen. As Christians we claim to have sympathy with nature. From the rash talk of certain avowed lovers of nature it would seem that Christians, by reason of their Christianity, did not know the sea when they were looking at it, and that they required to have the sun pointed out with a rod before they could distinguish it from the moon. I love nature. I have seen some of her pictures, and heard many of her voices. She is always full of suggestion. But let me tell you something farther. I will be frank that you may understand me. Nature is to me often the saddest of all sights. She is but a succession of phases. I cannot keep her at any point. The spring dies; the summer vanishes; autumn delivers her gifts and turns away; winter is a presence I would not detain; the sun is but for an appointed time, and the stars withdraw long before I have half-counted them. More than that. Nature is but an alphabet or, at most, a primer. I soon begin to find that she has no answer to my deepest wants, and that I can ask her questions which will stagger her with dismay. My heart aches, and I ask for a physician that can extract the pain. My conscience tortures me and I cry for rest. Then I find the spiritual sanctuary; I pass within the veil; I see the Cross, the Priest, the Sacrifice, and ever after, nature is but an outer court, and Grace is the presence-chamber of the Redeeming King. Application:

1. Come to worship.

2. Resist the influence of a bad example, "as the manner of some is." The object of public worship is twofold.

1. Edification, having in view the stimulus and encouragement of believers, and their defence from manifold temptation.

2. Conversion, having in view the salvation of those who are afar off. A special blessing is theirs who love the house of God; their own dwelling shall be watched and blessed. "They shall prosper that love Thee."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Assemblies are of many kinds; amongst the many differences of them this is one, that some are civil for matters of this life; some are religious, for matters spiritual, wherein we do converse with God and amongst ourselves. These assemblies were instituted and observed for public converse with God, and these were occasional or more solemn and observed at set and determinate times, and in times of peace and liberty in certain convenient places erected or separated for that end and use. Hence synagogues and Sabbaths amongst the Jews. The heathen also had their temples and sacred places and their solemn times, yet abused to superstition and idolatry, The light of nature doth dictate that God is to be worshipped not only in private, but in public, and that this worship, if orderly performed, requires not only certain solemn times but also convenient places; yet the times were always more considerable than the places. To enjoy these assemblies and have liberty in public to serve their God, both in convenient places and at certain and solemn times, was a great mercy of God and a great benefit to man. For in these they testified their union and agreement in the same faith and worship. And we are very brutish or very inconsiderate if we understand not the excellency of these religious public assemblies, and very unthankful if we acknowledge not the benefit of them. The persecuting enemies of the Church knew full well if they could scatter these meetings and conventions, demolish their houses of worship, and deprive them of their solemn and sacred times, they might do much to destroy Christian religion. David did love the place where God's honour .dwelt vehemently, desired God's presence in that place, and sadly complained to his God when he was banished from these holy and blessed assemblies, and yet those were far inferior to these of the gospel. And doleful was that lamentation of the captives of Jerusalem when God had taken away His tabernacle, as if it were a garden, destroyed the places of assemblies, had caused the solemn feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and had despised in the indignation of His anger the king and the priest (Lamentations 2:6).

(G. Lawson.)

Bear with me while I set before you some of the causes which prevent them from obeying the decision of their consciences, and the command of God. The mechanic has been so severely wrought during the week, that he indulges a little longer in bed on the Sabbath morning, and the hour of meeting arrives and passes by ere he can get himself prepared; or if he happens to attend, he is so wearied out with the exercises, to him tedious, that he remains at home during the rest of the day, reading the newspapers, lolling in listless apathy, or entertaining a friend. The man of business is so much immersed in his merchandise that he can find no time to go to the house of God; what with arranging his books, answering letters, and conversing on the present position and future prospects of trade, he is entirely engaged; and if perchance he may drop in occasionally, his restless and discontented aspect bespeaks that his mind is not there. One considers he fully discharges his duty when he goes once to church; more than that he esteems unnecessary and inconvenient. Such seize upon the quiet that prevails, to amuse themselves with their families, spend an afternoon with a neighbour, or take a walk in the fields. Others are only found in the house of prayer, on the fashionable diet, forenoon or afternoon as it may chance to be; they would not be obeying the rules of etiquette if they departed from this custom, and if they transgressed would certainly be included among the common people, or be counted too serious and strict; after this they could not appear at the gay tea-table, and to be excluded from any one of these is a punishment greater than they are able or willing to bear. Ought these things to be so? Oh! it is an awful and overpowering reflection, but not more alarming than it is true, that for every sermon which you have not heard, you will have to account, if you had an opportunity to hear it, but thoughtlessly or wilfully allowed it to glide past unembraced and unimproved. If ye despise the services of the Church militant, how do you expect to join those of the Church triumphant? By an immutable law of our nature, our happiness does not consist so much in the objects that surround us, as in the harmony which subsists between these and our own dispositions and tastes. Now suppose you were this instant translated to the general assembly and church of the first-born, do you think you could find any satisfaction in the fellowship of the saints above, when it is uncultivated and even avoided below?

(C. F. Buchan.)

What do you mean, you who say, "If we do not go to church, we read good books — besides our Bible; and we are not guilty like some, of traversing the fields, and setting a bad example to others"? This will not stand examination. What would you think of a steward who, instead of assigning to each of the servants under him his work and his wages, should say, "I do not indeed do this, but I read my master's letters, and carefully peruse his instructions"? To what purpose, when you do not fulfil the design of the letter and instructions he sends? You read good authors, but to what purpose, since these very authors will be called to witness against you, that you did not attend to what they said in reference to the very first of duties — that of publicly calling upon God and hearing His Word? Oh think here again of precious opportunities neglected, past, never to be recalled! I went in by mistake, one Sabbath-day, to the house, not of the invalid I intended to visit, but of one in health. The inmates had not been in church; the mother was in the attitude of leaning half asleep upon a table, and another person, a stranger, slumbering by the fire; I asked the cause of absence from the house of God. The reply was, with sharpness of tone, "One cannot be always hearing preaching." No! said I, you will not always have it in your power; we had need to improve the day of visitation; now is the time accepted. A short time elapsed, when the individual who made the remark above expressed, sickened, and in a few hours expired! Various are the excuses for absence; one has not a seat he wished to have had; another wants some article of clothing; another thinks he or she got cold the last time of being in church; another says he intends coming again by and by, "and you will be sure to see me now and then at the church," for he at least has no idea of never coming more. Are your reasons of absenting frequently from church such as will appear satisfying to you on a death-bed? I once visited a man who had frequently defended the irregularity of his attendance at the house of God, on the ground particularly, that being somewhat skilful in treating the diseases of cattle, he was often sent for when he was on his way to church. This might have happened now and then, but as a defence of frequent absence was not tenable. I saw him when on his dying, bed, and he then, with grief, acknowledged that he urged an apology which was very insufficient, and "Oh!" said he, "that I had it in my power to come and hear the Word of God; I did not go when I might and ought to have gone, and now gladly would I go, but am not able. What would I give to hear another sermon!"

(William Burns.)

There are many persons who, while they acknowledge themselves to be Christians, yet depreciate the public worship of God. The reasons assigned for this line of conduct are various. I shall mention some of those which I have actually heard urged. The labouring man says, "It may do very well for you rich people to go to church twice, but it is needful for a poor man to have some rest on the Sabbath." The rich man considers church-going habits as of great importance for the working .classes, but he thinks such strictness unnecessary in his own station. One individual says that he can very well learn his duty in half an hour of a forenoon. Another, still supposing that to learn our duty is the only purpose of attending church, observes, "We hear more than we practise." A third, partly looking around him on the conduct of others, and partly judging by the state of his own mind, says that those who go to church twice a day are not better than their neighbours. A young man, possessing a highly intellectual mind, and ardent in the pursuit of knowledge, complains that at church he hears nothing new, nothing which he cannot learn as well from books, and therefore, while he goes once a day to please his parents or friends, he spends the rest of the day among his books. One who goes to church, perhaps merely from habit, without ever thinking of the principles on which habit should be based, says that his ideas of God's power and goodness are much better excited by a walk among the objects of nature than by sitting in the close and unwholesome atmosphere of a church. Another individual of a speculating mind, quite absorbed in the pursuit of science, when in church finds that his attention is not arrested by the preacher, that his thoughts are unconsciously roaming among his favourite studies, and under the guise of avoiding this sin, which he thinks he cannot otherwise help, he forsakes the public worship of God, and makes his occupations entirely worldly. The example of our blessed Saviour I have heard stated as a reason why medical philanthropists should neglect or but rarely attend on the public exercises of religion; and to have been visiting the sick is considered an unanswerable excuse for absence from church. Lastly, it has been gravely alleged that there is no commandment in Scripture for going to church twice a day. To notice this last argument, in the first place, I at once acknowledge that there is no commandment for going twice to church; but it must be recollected that neither is there any commandment for going once. The Bible does not contain a code of minute rules, but a series of principles which are much better fitted for our guidance, and which we ourselves are to apply to even the smallest concerns of life. The man who has the fear of God in his heart, and who is constrained by the love of Christ, will need no specific commandment as to worshipping God in public as well as in private, on the Sabbath as well as on other days. It is urged, however, that God may be worshipped in any place; and a great deal is said about the suitableness of the God of universal nature being adored amidst His works of rural scenery. This is just. Those whom the providence of God plainly excludes from the sanctuary may enjoy His presence with them in the several places of their seclusion, and will find the want of public ordinances fully compensated by that gracious presence. But it is to be doubted whether the man who purposely takes a rural walk in preference to the sere-ice of the church, who makes Sunday the day for doing all the odd pieces of work which have been left over from the week — it is much to be doubted whether he can rationally expect the blessing of God on his soul. He is a God of order; He has blessed the Sabbath, and sanctified it specially for His worship; and the wilful forsakers of His ordinance have no right to expect His blessing on their voluntary substitutes for His appointed sacrifice. Christianity is a religion of mercy, and I would not for a moment depreciate or discourage the services paid to the sick on Sunday. But we must recollect, that our Lord never neglected the public worship of the temple or synagogue, and that His cures on the Sabbath were usually performed on those who had come to attend that worship. In the commencement of my professional life, while honestly desirous of regularly attending church, I yet satisfied myself that this was beyond my power, and considered it a subject of regret that my duty called me away from the house of God. I continued in this belief for a considerable time, till meeting with the life of Mr. Hey of Leeds, a name in the first rank as a surgical authority, I found it stated that " he rarely missed attending the morning and afternoon service of the Church." This impressed my mind much, and I argued with myself that if he, with his extensive practice, could accomplish this, it must be still more easy for a young man with a limited practice. I resolved, at least, to attempt it; and by a better arrangement of my time, by paying many visits on Saturday, and by leaving only the necessary ones for Sabbath, I generally found myself at liberty to attend divine service both forenoon and afternoon.

(Win. Brown, M. D.)

When Theodore Hook, the celebrated humorist, arrived at a friend's late for dinner, the host supposed " that the weather had deterred him." "Oh," replied Hook, "I had determined to come, weather or no." Be this the resolve of all who have no valid excuse, "I am determined regularly and punctually to attend the sanctuary, weather or no!"

(Sword and Trowel.)

You and I know that it is one of the sweetest things outside of heaven to talk to one another, and to exchange notes of our experience. As nations are enriched by commerce, so are Christians enriched by communion. As we exchange commodities in trade, so do we exchange our different forms of knowledge while we speak to one another of the things of the kingdom.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Christian.
A meeting of working men was convened in Camden Town, in order to learn why they as a class were "conspicuous by their absence" from public worship. The followins were twenty of the reasons assigned. No.

1. I like to walk out on Sundays to see the works of the Creator.

2. The church is hot and close, and I like to get into the fresh air.

3. The world is God's house; I can worship God anywhere.

4. What's the use of going to listen to a man reading a discourse? I could do that as well as him.

5. I can read and pray at home quite as well as at church.

6. I work hard all the week; Sunday is the only day I can be with my family.

7. Sunday is the only day I've got to attend to my garden.

8. I mend my children's shoes on Sundays.

9. I go to see my daughter who is in service on Sundays.

10. The sermons are dull and the ministers want talent.

11. On Sunday mornings I attend to my private business, in the afternoons and evenings I rest.

12. I want to read the newspaper on Sundays.

13. I wouldn't go to be a hypocrite.

14. If I go I cannot have my pipe, which I enjoy after a week's work.

15. My dress is not good enough to go in.

16. They preach, but very few of them practise.

17. When I've got the will to go, I'll go.

18. Going to church won't carry me to heaven.

19. It's all done to frighten the people and to keep them down.

20. I had enough of religion and imprisonment at the Sunday school.

(The Christian.)

A patent umbrella, warranted to turn a Sunday rain, and protect the owner from a Sunday sun. The ordinary umbrellas are ample for all the other days of the week; but then you know that Sunday rains and Sunday sunshine are much more trying. Such an invention might swell the attendance at many of our churches on rainy and hot Sabbaths, and might bring out the very people who most need to "renew their strength."

(Anon.)

Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.
The sun is necessary to health. Important changes take place in the constitution of the blood in consequence of the cutaneous vessels on the surface of the body not being freely exposed to its oxygenating and life generating influence. It is a well-established fact that, as the effect of isolation from the stimulus of light, the fibrine, albumen, and red blood-cells become diminished in quantity, and the serum or watery portion of the vital fluid augmented in volume, thus inducing a disease known to physicians and pathologists by the name of leukaemia, an affection in which white instead of red blood-cells are developed. This exclusion from the sun produces the sickly, flabby, pale anaemic condition of the face, or exsanguined, ghost-like forms so often seen among those not freely exposed to air and light. The absence of these essential elements of health deteriorates by materially altering the physical composition of the blood, thus seriously prostrating the vital strength, enfeebling the nervous energy, and ultimately inducing organic changes in the structure of the heart, brain, and muscular tissue. Now that which the sun is to the body, friendship is to the soul. Wherever you find a nature withdrawn from the genial influences of friendship you will observe traces of abnormal weakness and melancholy. In the shadow of solitude man loses the ruddy glow of joyousness, and a gloomy misanthropy and sometimes mental decrepitude are apt to derange all his affections. True friendship is the sun of the soul. It stimulates, strengthens, and gladdens our whole being.

(Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)

Religious duties may be likened to the food and drink which are given to the reaper during his labours under the summer's sun; it is evident in a mathematical point of view, that he must lose a little time in eating his dinner, drinking, and taking a few moments' rest. Yet who would call that wasted time?

(Mons. Landriot.)

Communion is strength, solitude is weakness. Alone, the fine old beech yields to the blast, and lies prone upon the sward; in the forest, supporting each other, the trees laugh at the hurricane. The sheep of Jesus flock together; the social element is the genius of Christianity.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

United Presbyterian.
"Prayer-meeting and lecture as usual on Wednesday evening in the lecture-room. Dear brethren, I urge you all to attend the weekly meetings. 'Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.'" Some of the "dear brethren" deported themselves in this way: Brother A. thought it looked like rain, and concluded that his family, including himself of course, had better remain at home. On Thursday evening it was raining very hard, and the same brother hired a carriage, and took his whole family to the Academy of Music, to hear M. Agassiz lecture on the "Intelligence of the Lobster." Brother B. thought he was too tired to go, so he stayed at home and worked at the sledge he had promised to make for Billy. Sister C. thought the pavements were too slippery. It would be very dangerous for her to venture out. I saw her next morning, going down street to get her old bonnet" done up." She had an old pair of stockings drawn over her shoes. Three-fourths of the members stayed at home. God was at the prayer-meeting. The pastor was there, and God blessed them. The persons who stayed at home were each represented by a vacant seat. God don't bless empty seats.

(United Presbyterian.)

Ruskin discovered a very ancient inscription on the church of St. Giacomo di Rialto, Venice, which reads, "Around this temple let the merchant's law be just, his weights be true, and his covenants faithful" — a beautiful epitome of the influences which ought to radiate from the sanctuary, to elevate and purify the world around. He says of the discovery, it is "the pride of my life."

A clergyman relates the following: — "Several little girls were in my study, seeking counsel to aid them in becoming Christians. One of them, a dear child, not much more than eleven years old, said, 'I have not been to two or three of the meetings lately.' Desiring to test her, I answered, 'It does not make us Christians to attend meetings, Lizzie.' 'I know that,' she replied at once; ' but it keeps it in my mind.'"

One Sunday morning a lady, stepping into a hackney-coach in order to ride to a place of worship, asked the driver if he ever went to church. She received the following reply: "No, madam; I am so occupied in taking others there, that I cannot possibly get time to go myself!"

A devoutly pious man, who lived some six miles from the house of worship, once complained to his pastor of the distance he had to go to attend public worship. "Never mind," said the good minister, "remember that every Sabbath you have the privilege of preaching a sermon six miles long — you preach the gospel to all the residents and people you pass."

One winter day, a gentleman riding on horseback along a Kentucky road met an old coloured slave plodding on through the deep snow to the house of God, which was four miles from his home. "Why, uncle," cried the gentleman, "you ought not to venture out such a distance on such a day! Why in the world don't you stay at home? .... Ah, massa," was the answer, "I darn't do dat! 'Cause, you see, I dunno when de blessing twine to come. An' 'spose it 'ud come dis snowy mornin', and I away? Oh, no! dat 'ud nebber do." Would God's service ever be dis-honoured by empty houses of worship were all Christians possessed of such faith?

Exhorting one another.
Amongst the social and friendly duties which seem to be recommended, is the duty of exhortation. Exhort one another. To what? To good works, without question; to everything that a Christian ought to do. Much of the same nature is the precept, Admonish one another, and warn one another. Exhortation ought to proceed from brotherly love, else it would be faulty in its motives, and unsuccessful in its attempts; and because it often is so, this has given rise to two splenetic observations, made by those who view human nature in the worst light. First, that every man is liberal of advice; secondly, that no man is the better for it. If a person exhort another, purely because he is a friend, and desire his welfare, the very manner will show the man; for love has an air which is not easily counterfeited; he will temper his advice with discretion and humility; he will add whatsoever is necessary to recommend it; and if a person be persuaded that he who gives him his advice would also give him anything else that he could reasonably desire, he is not a little disposed to attend to it. Exhortation comes most properly from superiors and from equals. It is part of the duty of rulers to subjects, parents to children, masters to servants, the elder to the younger, and friends to friends, since friendship always finds or makes a certain parity. It cannot be convenient or decent that every man, upon every occasion, should exhort every man; but every person has his inferiors, or his equals, and towards them he is to exercise this office upon all inviting opportunities. Besides, there is a sort of indirect exhortation, if I may so call it, to virtue and to goodness, which every Christian ought to exercise, even towards his superiors; and that is, to speak well of all those who deserve well of him; to praise good things and good persons; to which I shall not add, that he has the same call to blame those who are deficient, and who want either the capacity or the will of acting suitably to their office and rank; because censure is often as nearly related to censoriousness in reality as it is in sound, and is not a weapon rifler every hand to wield. But here, likewise, there is an indirect censure, as well as an indirect exhortation; and surely every one may assume the honest freedom to pass by in neglect and silence those who deserve reproach and disgrace. The office of exhortation is, in a more particular manner, incumbent upon us who are the ministers of the gospel; and we are expressly required to exhort, warn, admonish, incite, and reprove, with humble authority, and modest resolution, and meek integrity, and prudent zeal. There are particular seasons and occasions for particular exhortations: as when a person is advanced to any high station in the Christian republic; it is then expedient that he should be admonished to beware of himself, and to remember what God and men expect from him; and every one who deserves such a station will take it kindly to be thus reminded of his duty.

(J. Jortin, D. D.)

So much the more as ye see the day approaching.
Homilist.
I. THE NECESSITY OF RELIGION INCREASES AS THE DAY APPROACHES.

1. Duties become more numerous and complicated as you advance in life, and you need religion to enable you to discharge them.

2. Circumstances will become more and more trying as you advance, and you will need religion to enable you rightly to bear them.

II. THE OBLIGATIONS TO RELIGION INCREASE AS THE DAY APPROACHES. Sinner, each drop in the rich showers of mercy that are rained upon thee every moment has a voice, and that voice says, with imperial emphasis, "Yield yourself to God."

III. THE OBSTRUCTIONS TO A RELIGIOUS LIFE INCREASE AS THE DAY APPROACHES.

1. Your insensibility increases.

2. Your indisposition increases.

3. Your incapacity increases.

(Homilist.)

A note of time is struck here, and the context shows that the apostle makes use of this note as a stimulus to Christian earnestness in every department of the Christian life. The expression " day" is a very common one in the Bible. It is used, as other words are, in various senses. It is used to signify the natural day of four-and-twenty hours; it is used to signify the artificial day, the rising and the setting of the sun, which varies at different times and seasons, because of the obliquity of the sphere; it is used to signify the civil day, which varies in the manner of counting according to the habits of the various nations of the world. But the expression "day" is used in Scripture in a less direct manner than this, to signify an indefinite period of time. It is used to express the forty years during which the Jews were in the wilderness, called "the day of temptation," that is, the period of temptation. And in this larger sense we read in Scripture of a "day" of grace, a "day of vengeance," a "day of death," a "day of judgment." Let us consider these.

I. The apostle did not say to the Hebrews that their "DAY" Or GRACE WAS "APPROACHING," nor can I say so to you. Their day of grace had come, and so has yours. Your day of grace did not approach with this new year; you had it last year, you have had it all your years, you have it still — it has followed you into this new year. "Now is the accepted time, now is the clay of salvation." The gospel sun has risen upon you in all its light, in all its warmth, in all its privileges, in all its responsibilities. But there is a setting of the gospel sun as well as a rising. Of this the Hebrews are warned. The gospel is not always left in the same country, nor in the same part of the country; not always in the same town, nor in the same congregation in a town. Now, avail yourselves of these opportunities while you have them, and tell your neighbours to do the same. You are not all doing this as you ought.

II. But, then, secondly, in many places and in many persons, where a day of grace was long enjoyed, there has also succeeded a "DAY OF VENGEANCE." "God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"; and the reaping is often in this world as well as the sowing. The retribution is not always kept for eternity; there is retribution in time. Opportunities are put an end to; domestic circumstances occur, withdrawing men from means of grace, from the gospel; distances are enlarged, and prosperity is diminished; expenses cannot be incurred, and opportunities cannot be enjoyed, as before. There is a solemn calamity. Domestic judgments fall also upon families; I say not in anger, because of means abused, but as a matter of fact, whatever the motive may be in Him who brings them. Without presuming to scan His reasons, we are commanded to observe His doings; and these things He does. He brings, in various ways, domestic and relative and personal judgments, which cut short, or greatly diminish, the opportunities of grace. Now in other ways days of vengeance, putting an end to days of grace, are brought upon men, as in national calamities. A day is approaching which may shake every throne and every established church in Christendom. And what then? What should Christians be prepared for? We should all be prepared for storms. How do we prepare for natural storms? Why, we build a strong house and have it fortified against the tempest. We take care that the doors and windows are made capable of resisting the impetuosity of the gale. We seek a hiding-place from the tempest; and in a climate like this we should be considered mad if, with the means of having a house over our heads, we were to wait until the storm came to get a house. We prepare the house for the storm, and we prepare it with the more earnestness because we see the storm approaching. What is to be done here, then, as ye see a day approaching when your means of grace may be removed — a day when even our own favoured country, hitherto comparatively quiet, may be disturbed. Is there, then, no possibility of a day approaching? And where should Christians be found? We have a new and living way of access to God; we have a High Priest over the house of God. We should "hold fast our profession," for "He is faithful that promised." And we should "consider one another," have a friendly eye to things around, consider where failures are, kindly, but firmly, point them out, to "provoke unto love and to good works," and this "the more as ye see the day approaching."

III. Though no such day as I have imagined should approach our favoured nation within our time, yet is there another "day approaching" which calls for preparation — a day which no power can ward off, no riches bribe. It may come suddenly to many of us; to all it is approaching with gradual, but determined and decisive step. It is giving notes of warning as it comes in many of us. "WE HAVE THE SENTENCE OF DEATH IN OURSELVES." It was Dr. Watts who said to a friend that came to see him on his death-bed, "You come now to see an old friend; we have talked on many subjects of learning, and criticism, and controversy; now none of these things suit me; I must now take that view of the gospel which the poorest Christian in the town can take as well as I." And so he died, in simple reliance on Jesus. See, then, my brethren, that you realise this reliance, "so much the more as ye see the day approaching."

IV. "WE MUST ALL APPEAR BEFORE THE JUDGMENT-SEAT OF CHRIST." Every one of you "must give account of himself to God," where there will be no possibility of concealment, no doubtful examination of witnesses, no hesitation about facts, no cross-examination to ascertain what the facts were, but where all will be transparent to the Judge — all that we have done in the flesh, whether it were good, or whether it were bad. How shall we be ready for the " day" which is thus " approaching"? The answer is as before: no man shall stand in that judgment but the man who is in Christ Jesus. This is the only preparation for the judgment — "the day" of the judgment of God.

(H. McNeile. D. D.)

I. NOTICE THE DAY APPROACHING.

1. The day of providential trial, when the judgments of God will fall on the wicked, and the Church of Christ will have to pass through the fires and floods of persecution.

2. Then the day of death is approaching — approaching us all, and perhaps is much nearer to us than we generally suppose. We see it approaching in every grey hair on the head, in every attack of disease, in every puncture of pain, in every token of decay, in every symbol of mourning, in every funeral procession, and in every open grave.

3. And the day of general judgment is approaching. Oh what separations, what disclosures of character, what wrecks of false hopes, what shrieks of despair, what bursts of joy, what strange transitions, will then be seen and heard!

II. THE INFLUENCE WHICH THE DAY APPROACHING SHOULD HAVE UPON OUR PRESENT CHARACTER AND CONDUCT.

1. Be diligent and earnest in seeking your own personal salvation, "and so much the more as ye see the day approaching."

2. Then, next to this, be diligent and earnest in the discharge of all Christian duties, and the improvement of all your Christian privileges, "and so much the more as ye see the day approaching."(1) The first is, to live near to God, in a new spiritual state of regeneration and grace, in covenant union, in a holy walk and conversation, in child-like obedience, in fervent love, and in ardent desire: "Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith."(2) The second is, steadfastness in our religious views and professions, amidst all trials and temptations: "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering."(3) The third is, mutual affection, influence, and co-operation: "Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works."(4) The fourth is, a careful observance of the appointed seasons of conversation and worship: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is."

3. Then you should be diligent and earnest in a cultivation of a spirit of weanedness from the present world, and of attachment to heaven and heavenly things, "and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." When that day comes, what a poor insignificant thing will this world appear! How low and brief its pleasures! How vanishing its wealth and honours! How dim and fading its brightest glories! How infinitely below the capacities and wants of an immortal mind!

(Wm. Gregory.)

Time is. like a ship which never anchors; while I am on board I had better do those things that may profit me at my landing, than practise such as shall cause my commitment when I come ashore.

(O. Feltham.)

New Cyclopedia of Illustrations.
There was an ancient custom of putting an hour-glass into the coffin of the dead, to signify that their time had run out — a useless notification to them. Better put the hour-glass into the hand of every living man, and show them the grains gliding steadily out. Soon all will be gone.

(New Cyclopedia of Illustrations.)

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