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manner : but this I think does not often happen. It is the people that go to see the wedding that generally behave the worst. There are some idle gossips in this parish, that are sure to be at every wedding, though they perhaps seldom are at Church at any other time; and then there is often a noise, and a whispering, and laughing, and a.going in and out, and a clattering of pattens, so as to raise a very great disturbance in the Church, and to make every thing quite different from what it ought to be.
T. I wish you had been at Church this morning, William, you would have seen nothing to find fault with. I had heard that our good Minister, when he first came to the parish, had talked very seriously to the people who came to see a wedding. They had not behaved to his mind; and, when service was over, he begged them to stop a few. minutes, as he had a word or two to say to them ; and they listened very attentively to what he said, and he then told them, that, when they attended any of the services of the Church, it was but decent and proper that they should be still and quiet; moreover, he said, that there was a great deal of good to be got from these services, if we attended to them, and joined in them as we ought to do. He said that he did not wish to keep them away from the Church on such occasions, for he was always glad to see them there; but that they ought to consider themselves as a congregation assembled in God's house, and ought to conduct themselves accordingly; that they should come before the service began, that they might not disturb any body, and that they should take their seats in the Church and join in the service, and do it with devotion and reverence; that he could then look at them with pleasure, and believe that, when they all joined together in prayer to the Almighty, their petitions would be heard. And I assure you, William,
that the people who came to the wedding this morning, all seemed as if they remembered what he had said. They all took their places, and all behaved steadily ; some had prayer-books with them; and it seemed to me as if they all joined in the prayers.
W. Certainly, Thomas, the people present are supposed to be a congregation of Christian worshippers, and the Minister is directed to address them as such. At the beginning of the service he says, “ Dearly beloved, we are gathered together in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony." And then we may expect a blessing when all the people present join in such a prayer as this;—“O eternal God, creator and preserver of all mankind, giver of all spiritual life ; send thy blessing upon these thy servants,”_" that they may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
T. I say, William, the more I think of these things, the more consistent and excellent I see that all the services of our Church are; and therefore the more one feels disturbed when they are not looked upon as they ought to be. But I can assure you, as far as outward appearance went, every thing this morning was very much what one could wish.
W. Why, you know, we can only judge by outward appearance, we can see no farther: and we know that if things are wrong outwardly, they cannot be right within.
T. That is certainly true; but there may be a good fair outside appearance, whilst all is wrong within.
W. Certainly; but of that “God is the judge." -When, however, I see a solemn attention to outward forms, I am always disposed to hope that some good is going on within : and I wish to con
sider decency of behaviour as a sign that the heart is right.
T. This is the charitable way of considering the matter, certainly; and I hope it is often the true way; and we may say, I think, that devotional outward behaviour, often leads to an inward devotion of the heart; so that I really believe that our Minister's attention to all the services of the Church has been the means of producing a real spirit of religion in this parish, and has, with God's blessing, brought many to a knowledge of the truth, and given
them a desire to believe and to live like real Christians.
W. I fully believe it, Thomas; and, as you justly say, it must be “ with God's blessing;" for," Paul may plant, and Apollos may water,” but it must be God that giveth the increase.
T. Yes; and our Minister seems to be fully sensible of that: and, whilst he seems so anxious that all things should be done“ decently and in order,” he always tries to convince us that it is not merely for the sake of form that he wishes this, but that we may obtain the blessings which we ask for, and which we cannot expect to obtain if we ask them in a careless, irreverent, and trifling manner.
W. This must be all right, Thomas.
T. I think so; but, talking of the Marriage service, we often see that it is considered something that people need not be thoughtful or serious about. I am sure those who made the service of the Church, did not look upon it in that way. They did not consider it as a matter to be made light of.
W. Certainly, they did not ; neither ought we. I have often seen some of the silly people in the Church, look about them and laugh when they have heard the banns published :--but all this is wrong. T. To be sure. And, there is a custom which I have seen in some parishes, but I must say it appears to me a very bad one, I mean the wedding people meeting at a public house before the service, and walking from the ale-house to the Church.
W. Why, that is very bad, indeed, Thomas ; I hope it is not a common practice.
T. I hope not; for when once the people are in the public-house, we may expect that there will be some drinking going on.
W. Yes; and just 'on going into the Church too, and entering upon an engagement on which so much of the happiness of this world, and probably of the next, must depend ! On such an occasion, nothing should be done to disturb the mind, and keep it from that calm and devout reflection which it ought then particularly to possess.
T. I cannot help thinking that it was for the sake of keeping the mind in a sober and steady frame, that the Church appointed weddings to take place in the morning, between the hours of eight and twelve; fór, in the morning, people seldom drink, and are therefore the calmer and quieter in their minds, and fitter for thought and reflection.
W. I dare say that was the reason; to be sure, a sober good man would never, at any time of the day, take so much as to disturb the calmness of his mind: but; in a morning, drinking at all is not comniont, so that this was the best time of the day to choose. But, if people go to the ale house before they go to be married, we may, I say, expect that there will be drinking, and then there is an end of all the good which the Church intended. Neither should they go to the ale-house after the wedding; it is the worst place they can keep the wedding at.
T. To be sure.-Well, as I said before, we had every thing, this morning, quite as one could have wished. I think I never paid so much attention
to the Marriage service before. I could not help feeling greatly affected by it. It is a beautiful service.
W. Yes; and it is wonderful to see how little attention we are apt to pay to these services; for whenever we think of them as we ought to do, we cannot help seeing how very noble, and beautiful, and devout they are. The Church seems to have a Christian watehfulness for all her people ; she would willingly lead them in the way of godliness, from the cradle to the grave,
T. It is very true. I was much struck with the solemn address of the Minister this morning, at the beginning of the Marriage service, where he speaks to the people, and, with the true affection of a Christian, calls them his “ Dearly beloved ;" and he then said, that we were gathered together “ in the sight of God, and of this congregation.” This was enough, at once, to put an end to trifling thoughts. Then he went on to tell us that “ Ma. trimony was an honourable state, instituted by God himself,”--and that it was therefore not to be undertaken « unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly." I thought it good to be reminded of these things; and this solemn address is well suited to engage the attention of all the congregation, as well as of the bridegroom and the bride. I think I shall make it my business often to look at the vow which I myself made at my Marriage, that I may see what I have so solemnly promised, and examine myself whether, in my own behaviour to my wife, I am keeping my vow, or not.
w. I think that is a very good plan. I have, for many years, been in the habit of reading over the service every year, on my wedding day.
T. And I think I shall do the same, as long as it shall please God that I may live. The husband promises to love his wife, to honour and keep her in sickness, and in health'; and, forsaking all