[St. Andrew, Bemerton]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 37: Evening


He that gets patience, and the blessing which

Preachers conclude with, hath not lost his pains.

He that by being at church escapes the ditch,

Which he might fall in by companions, gains.

   He that loves Gods abode, and to combine

   With saints on earth, shall one day with them shine.

     He that achieves patience, and the blessing which preachers conclude with, has not lost his pains [for the time and trouble that he took for being there]. He gains just by being at church because he escapes falling in with companions who degrade him. He that loves God's abode, and to combine with saints on earth, shall one day shine with them.

     If he only learns patience [from the sermon] and receives the preacher's blessing, he has gained something. Patience, itself, prepares for the development of many virtues; it maintains perspective. If nothing else, he stays out of trouble and out of the reach of those who would harmfully rule him. This may not really be a noble reason, but it is practical. He is surrounded with a better influence from the people than he may have elsewhere. The scripture and the sermon provide a better environment than liars and practical jokers. And the music and silence give harmony and space to a life that may otherwise overflow with noise and coercion. Attending church gives immediate and lasting effects to all who seek to benefit from their presence.

     You will be influenced by your surroundings, either for worse or better. Choose a good environment, and allow it to enrich you. The church embodies the saints of God on earth. As you learn to love it and prefer it, you will grow increasingly in the love and forgiveness of God. Becoming part of the Communion of Saints in this world, you hope to participate in the glory of the Kingdom of God.

On the value of blessings see A Priest to the Temple, Ch. 36.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

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