AN AFFECTIONATE HINT RESPECTING PUBLIC WORSHIP
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” – Heb. 10.25.
The great Jehovah, from His glorious throne,
Stoops down to make His love and mercy known;
And bids the chosen tribes of Israel meet,
Where He reveals the glories of His feet.
He sends His heralds forth in Jesu’s name,
To publish peace and pard’ning love proclaim;
Yea, He goes with them, and applies His Word,
And makes it life, and health, and joy afford.
Where, then, is that ungrateful sinner found,
Who slights and disregards the Gospel sound?
Who, when Jehovah in His courts draws near,
Neglects within those holy courts t’appear?
Can those who once have tasted Jesu’s grace,
Choose to be absent when He shews His face?
Shall a few drops of rain, or dirty road,
Prevent their public intercourse with God?
Shall gossip calls, or some inferior things
Detain, when summon’d by the King of kings?
Blush, brethren, at the God-insulting thought!
And prove in conduct you are better taught.
Remember, every time the house of prayer
Is open for the saints, the Lord is there,
To hold communion with the Heaven-born race,
And give them, from His fulness, grace for grace.
Let not such sacred seasons be forgotÂ—
Say to each worldly care, “Detain me not!
A feast is held, and I must share a part;
I’ll not be robbed, nor grieve my pastor’s heart.”
See! Satan’s slaves to scenes of riot go,
By day and night, through rain, or hail, or snow!
And shall some visitor, or worldly care,
Detain believers from the house of prayer?
Forbid it. Lord, revive Thy people’s zeal,
The lukewarm plague among Thy children heal:
We heirs of bliss, whom Jesus often meets,
Whene’er His house is open, fill your seats.
Jehovah loves the temple of His grace
More than the tents of all His chosen race:
Blest is the man whose seeking spirit waits
On all the means of grace in Zion’s gates.
Bear with me, while I say the crime is great
Of those who practise coming very late,
As if God’s service were by far too long,
And they omit the first and closing song.
Shall pew-doors rattle, hats and pattens* move,
To show how you the service disapprove?
Disturbing those who come to praise the Lord?
And even while they listen to His Word?
A little less indulgence in the bed-
A little more contrivance in the head-
A little more devotion in the mind-
Would quite prevent your being so behind!
Suppose an earthly prince should condescend
To bid you to his banquet as a friend,
Would you not try all means within your power
To be in court at the appointed hour?
Shall such attention to a worm be given,
And be refused to the God of heaven?
Who can expect to be by Jesus blest,
If absent when He comes to meet His guests?
O what a pleasing sight it would afford,
If, when the clerk says, “Let us praise the Lord,”
Each seat were occupied, and all the throng
Were waiting to unite in their first song!
My brethren, this might mostly be the case,
If we were lively in the Christian race;
Then every hindrance would be laid aside,
To see and hear of Jesus crucified.
If you complain you have so far to come,
Set out a little sooner from your home;
But those who dwell hard by have no excuse,
Except in idleness, or sleep, or use.
I grant, lest I should seem to be severe,
There are domestic cases here and there:
Age-illness -serviceÂ—things quite unforeseen,
To censure which I surely do not mean.
But such will not (unless I greatly err)
Among the prudent very oft occur,
And when they do, you surely should endeavour
To come at last: ’tis better late than never!
Joseph Irons, 1825.
* patten – a wooden sole with an iron ring under the shoe to keep it from the wet.