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REM A R K S

ON

MR. GILBERT WAKEFIELD'S

ENQUIRY

INTO THE

EXPEDIENCY AND PROPRIETY

OF

PUBLIC OR SOCIAL WORSHIP.

in swarming cities vast,
Assembled men, to the deep organ join
The long resounding voice, oft breaking clear,
At solemn pauses, through the swelling base;
And, as each mingling flame increases each,
In one united árdour rise to heaven.

THOMPSON.

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REMARKS

ON

MR. WAKEFIELD'S ENQUIRY.

There are some practices which have not been defended because they have never been attacked. Of this number is public or social worship. It has been recommended, urged, enforced, but never vindicated. Through worldliness, scepticism, indolence, dissatisfaction with the manner of conducting it, it has been often neglected; but it is a new thing to hear it condemned. The pious and the good have lamented its insufficiency to the reformation of the world, but they were yet to learn that it was unfriendly to it. Satisfied with silent and solitary desertion, those who did not concur in the homage paid by their fellowcitizens were content to acquiesce in its propriety, and had not hitherto assumed the dignity of a sect. A late pamphlet of Mr. Wakefield's has therefore excited the attention of the public, partly, no doubt, from the known abilities of the author, but still more from the novelty and strangeness of the doctrine. If intended as an apology,

no publication can be more seasonable; but if meant as an exhortation, or rather a dehortation, it is a labour which many will think, from the complexion of the times and the tendencies of increasing habits, might well have been spared. It is an awkward circumstance for the apostle of such a persuasion, that he will have many practical disciples whom he will hardly care to own; and that if he succeeds in making proselytes, he must take them from the more sober and orderly part of the community; and class them, as far as this circumstance affords a distinction, along with the uneducated, the profligate, and the unprincipled. The negative tenet he inculcates does not mark his converts with sufficient precision: their scrupulosity will be in danger of being confounded with the carelessness of their neighbours; and it will be always necessary to ask; Do you abstain because you are of this religion, or because you are of no religion at all? - - - It would be unfair, however, to endeavour to render Mr. Wakefield's opinions invidious; they, as well as every other opinion, must be submitted to the test of argument; and public worship, as well as every other practice, must stand on the basis of utility and good sense, or it must not stand at all: and in the latter case, it is immaterial whether it is left to moulder like the neglected ruin, or battered down like the formidable tower. It will stand upon this basis, if it can be shown

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