[Church at Bemerton]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 35: Evening


Resort to sermons, but to prayers most:

Praying 's the end of preaching. O be drest;

Stay not for th' other pin: why, thou hast lost

A joy for it worth worlds. Thus hell doth jest

      Away thy blessings, and extreamly flout thee.

     Thy clothes being fast, but thy soul loose about thee.

          Resort to sermons, but to prayers most; praying is the end of preaching. Oh be dressed; stay not for the other pin. Why you have lost a joy for it worth worlds! Thus hell does laugh away your blessings and severely ridicule you. Your clothes being fast, but your soul loose about you.

         Be ready for church. Be inside the church on time. Don't be fixing yourself up. Don't be still dressing when you should be in church or fixing yourself in church. Don’t enter church unprepared. In the time you spend getting ready, you lose the presence of God, that joy worth worlds. Hell laughs at such people who waste their blessings and applauds their behavior. While you fasten your clothes tightly, your soul blows away. When it is time for church, be dressed, outside and in.

          Sermons designate areas for personal improvement. The sermon focuses on one passage of scripture and draws relationships to other passages, writings and current events. It communicates God's word for us. The preacher's words explain God's love and mercy and our sinfulness and promise. Sermons may instruct and exhort. They can improve our attitude and resolve by reminding us of the scripture, the life of Jesus and the commandments of God, but unless we take the sermons personally they are only speeches. The benefit in sermons stays with us when they induce recognition, repentance, resolution and, most importantly, prayer. That is their intent. The message truly reaches us when it sends us to pray for forgiveness and spiritual courage. Sermons lead us to prayer.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

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