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THE SUBJECT OF THE CHRISTIAN GENTLEMAN'S SABBATH CONTINUED.-GENERAL CONCLUSION.
THE Christian gentleman does nothing for display-nothing with affectation; and yet he carries to all things a sort of sacred tact, and an unconscious propriety of behaviour. His walk into church, and his walk out of it, are like his walk in life, decorous, simple, and sedate.
Full of the honesty of real meaning, his carriage comports with his situation and object; he neither courts nor shuns observation; he has a direct and professed purpose in going to church, and to that he addresses himself, without regard to the eye or comment of man; it is his commerce with eternity-his earnest negotiation with his God; his heart is in it; there is nothing foreign to it in his look or manner; neither gesticulations, nor salutations, nor whisperings, nor greetings, divide his attention; nothing disturbs the polarity of his mind. On leaving the house of prayer, he walks quietly and uncovered, till he ceases to tread on holy ground. While others are impatient to resume
their worldly topics, his thoughts still linger within the sanctuary; while others are employed in remarks on the preacher or his sermon, he tacitly examines and criticises himself; while others are satisfied, he still thirsts; while others fall back within the world's enclosures, he continues his pilgrimage onwards, with the land of rest before him; while the loose devotion of others drops from them at the church porch, his. habitual religion takes faster hold upon him, with every renewed exposure; its analogies follow him into life and society; his soul, which has dressed itself before the mirror of the Gospel, still wears its white investiture, attracting the homage of gentle spirits, and forbidding the touch of unhallowed communication.
The heart of the Christian gentleman is in a tender state when he comes new from the house of God; a tenderness which becomes soreness, when he contemplates the state of things around him. Scarcely has he come into the open air, when the sound of wheels, and silly talk, and insane laughter, assails his ears; scarcely is he out of the hearing of God's awful dealings with his creatures, the records of his might, the mysteries of his grace, and the visitations of his wrath; hardly has the organ ceased, or the church-yard been crossed, when a world bursts
upon him, wherein an open indifference to all these things prevails; wherein the Sabbath is employed, as if the Lord's brief term in it had run out, and the inheritance, with a full right of disposition, had reverted to man, to devote it as interest or humour may suggest-to traffic, toil, or diversion; to the office, the counter, or the festive board; to gossiping visits; to the gathering and propagation of news; or to the fluttering tumult of parks and promenades.
From such unlovely scenes the Christian gentleman is glad to escape into the bosom of his family; happy if the domestic scene present a contrast to what he has witnessed abroad. And it generally must so do; for the wise example and admonitions of a parent have our better nature on their side; and, what is better still, the earnest of that new nature which is the great conqueror of the will and the reclaimer of our wild humanity.
The ways of God are unsearchable. A Christian is not always allowed to see the consummation of his pious wishes in respect of his children's dispositions and principles; such a case, however, is an anomaly in life, and a mystery in the divine administration. A stubborn heart is sometimes made more stubborn by caresses, and is in a manner congealed in the
temperature of a father's embrace, or a mother's bosom; but it is the ordinary course of Providence to bless the endeavours of a Christian in his parental rule. When such is the constitution of a family, the Christian father has a tranquillity about his hearth which cheers him in the midst of a misjudging world. It is his delight on the evening of the Lord's day, to draw the curtain between the scene of home and the great theatre of Sabbath profanation; to read and meditate upon the Scriptures of truth; to vindicate within the circle of his children and dependents Jehovah's claim to the total Sunday; to make it a day of deep interior delight; and to give it a refuge from the storm without, in the retirement of his peaceful domicile.
So much for the "Portraiture of a Christian Gentleman," who has not in these pages been designated as a member of any particular church or community of Christians. It would be unjust and presumptuous to say, that the exemplar is not to be found in any congregation of sin cere worshippers of the triune Jehovah; but it may, without offence, be said, that he is not in his worst attitude, on the floor of our national Church; that church, so mild and charitable,
so conformed to the earliest and purest standard; resting on Holy Scripture and apostolical foundations, simple in its worship, pure in its creed, modest in its pretensions, pastoral in its care; with a liturgy full of life and beauty, a discipline of sound ordinances, and a doctrine of peace and salvation; within whose scriptural pale the Christian gentleman may freely exercise his high and honourable commission.