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Richard began now to look serious, and to listen with deep attention. James continued: "I remember to have heard our minister one day discoursing on the importance and necessity of attendance on divine service. His words made a deep impression on me at the time, and I can easily repeat them.
"Our blessed Saviour," said he, "while he abode on earth, constituted a visible society, into which all who call themselves his disciples are to be embodied. To this society he gave pastors and teachers for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying the body of Christ.' We may fairly infer, therefore, that if we have any opportunity of hearing the Gospel preached, and neglect it, we deprive ourselves of a principal mean appointed by the great head of the church, for the conversion of unbelievers, and the edification of those who have already re.ceived the Gospel; nay, that by deserting the religious society of Christians, which St. Paul styles the body of Christ,' we cut ourselves off from all union with him who is the head of it, and consequently, from all those blessings which flow from that union both here and hereafter. For, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine,' no more can we, except we abide in Christ. By refus
ing, therefore, or, through criminal indolence, neglecting to associate with Christians, and to partake of those ordinances by which we have fellowship with Christ (mind, Richard)—we relapse into a state of sin and misery, and have no title to that salvation which is the gift of God, through the merits of Jesus Christ."
The time was now approaching, when James Meadows was to be called upon to pay the debt of nature; and happy would it be for us all, were we equally prepared with this good countryman, to meet the summons. Only eight days ago he was seized with a pleuritic disorder. At first his head ran continually on business, and his anxiety on account of his master's work prevented him from getting any sleep. By degrees the good old man became composed, and all worldly thoughts subsided. No hope of his recovery remained. Yesterday Sir James Mildly came to see him: it was the last time. He took him by the hand, and asked him how he felt himself. James said nothing; but gave him a look so full of tenderness, affection, and heavenly feeling, that it quite overcame him, and he went away in
This morning, before you arrived, I went to see him. When I entered the room, the bed
was surrounded with affectionate comforters, anxious to infuse fresh fortitude into his heart, and whose presence was a cordial to his courage on the approach of the last enemy. There stood those, whom gratitude for his kindness rendered fondly officious and affectionately busy, ministering to his last necessities.. His weeping descendants, with their families, surrounded his bed, while every groan of their dying parent opened afresh the fountain of their tears. Close at his side sat his aged wife, tenderly watching his glistening eye, exploring his latent wish, and pouring a fervent prayer for the prolongation of his life, or for peace in his death. I approached the bed. There was still in his countenance that placid and serene look, which nothing but an approving conscience, and a firm confidence in the mercies of God through a Redeemer, could bestow in such an awful moment. As he appeared perfectly sensible, I employed a few moments in assisting him to maintain the victory over the grave, which had been given through the resurrection of Christ, that adorable Lamb, on the merits of whose atonement, under a deep consciousness of his own unworthiness, he had long built the hope of his eternal happiness, while he had given the most satisfactory evi
dence of the reality of his faith, by a holy odedience to the precepts of the Gospel ;—in a word, in telling him with a firm tone the truths that in a firmer hour he had told himself. I paused, and the good man, unable to express his thoughts, clasped his hands, and cast his eyes towards heaven, beaming with the anticipation of future happiness. For nearly a quarter of an hour he lay in a state of motionless tranquillity, and then slightly raising his hand, as if engaged in mental prayer, expired with an enviable composure-a peace infinitely desirable. Ye men of the world! see in what peace a Christian can die. He was a man whose death might well inspire the wish, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."
"EVIL communication," says an inspired writer, "corrupts good manners." The truth of this saying the experience of all ages has confirmed. Bad company leads the unwary youth to neglect both the principles and the institutions of religion; this neglect at once weakens the encouragements of virtue and the restraints of, vice, and thus a way is paved for the commission of evil. A young man begins
with some smaller sin: he hesitates and feels compunction; but enticed by bad associates, he becomes bolder in iniquity, and at last commits those crimes which overwhelm him in ruin. "A youth," says a celebrated writer, "educated in the principles of Christianity, cannot at first think of a breach of the divine laws without trembling and inward convulsions; but he meets with bad companions, and by their fair speeches slides into trivial commissions. At first a damp arises over his mind, and he doubts there is some error in his way; he becomes un