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DIALOGUE BETWEEN WILLIAM WALKER AND
WHERE have you been this morning, William? William. Been! Why you know what day it is, Thomas.
T. To be sure I do. It is Sunday.
W. Then how could you ask me where I had been? I have been to church to be sure.
T. How could I tell that? There is many a one that does not go to church every Sunday.
W. Yes, many a one indeed! And, by your asking, I should guess that you had not been there yourself to-day.
T. No, I have not been there to-day, But I go sometimes.
W. Sometimes! Well, I wonder how any body can ever stay away.
T. Stay away! why many people do that.
W. Yes; careless, thoughtless people, who never consider what they were sent into the world for. Such people go out of the world just as ignorant, with regard to their souls, as they came into it. But
one would not wish to imitate such people as those, you know, neighbour. We should try to imitate good people, and to be like them. Now they do go to the house of God on a Sunday.
T. I don't know: I think some of the people that stay away are just as good as they that go. Why, my mistress, my Lady Patience, never goes. I have worked on her estate this twelvemonth, and I have never seen her go to the church all that time; and yet every body says what a good lady she is: she is so good to the poor, that every body loves her.
W. If Lady Patience neglects to worship her Maker, she is not a good lady, though every body should say she is. Good Christians, it is certain, will always be glad to help the poor when they can; but they will not neglect other parts of their duty; and especially the worship of God. He that said, "Blessed is the man that considereth the poor and needy," said also, "Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy."
T. Well, but why does not my lady go to church then? I am sure she is a good Christian.
W. Indeed, Thomas, I believe she is; and I can tell you why she does not go to church. She has been kept to the house more than a twelvemonth, with a sad lingering sickness. Poor lady! They say she is almost always in pain, and that her poor body is nearly wasted to a skeleton. She cannot go. She would be glad enough to go if she could. When she was well, and a long while after too, she never kept away from church on a Sunday. She was always in her place. How often have I seen her on her knees in the church, with her whole heart and soul engaged in the prayers! And I am sure the Lord has heard her. All her desire was to do good, and to be good; to do the will of God, and to submit to it-and the Lord has enabled her. What is it, do you think, that supports her, and comforts her under her long affliction? They say, she is hardly ever an
hour of her life out of pain; and yet her nurse told me that you could never hear her say one murmuring word. What do you think it is, Thomas, that supports her?
T. I cannot tell.
W. Why, it is religion. She has prayed to God, and he has heard her. I remember, one Sunday, I happened to sit almost against her pew at church; and when the Minister said these words, " In all time of our tribulation, and in all time of our wealth"-from her very heart she seemed to say, "Good Lord, deliver us." And the Lord has heard her, and has delivered her in both these trials. It pleased God to give her wealth, I mean riches and prosperity; and she has always employed them in doing good, and seems to have been delivered from the snares to which they often lead: and now, in the time of her tribulation, and sickness, and sorrow, she is delivered from murmuring and repining, and is supported by Him whose help she so earnestly begged for.
T. Well, I knew she was an excellent lady: but I never knew that she had ever been so true to her church. But, however, this was before I came into the parish, and so I was not likely to know. But, be that as it will, there are many people that go to church no oftener than I do.
W. Yes, but what a reason is that, neighbour! There is a right and a wrong in all these matters, and wrong cannot be right, though all the world should practise it. The Lord will judge us all, and dreadful will be the punishment of those who wilfully do what they know to be contrary to his will. If I imitate. the actions of the wicked, I must receive the punishment of the wicked. I can find no comfort in that, neighbour.
T. No, that's true, indeed! To be sure it was very foolish in me to say I might do wrong because other people did. But I must not talk in that way
again; and, moreover, I mean to keep my church better than I have done. But yet it seems to me that many people go to church, without being much the better for it.
W. Yes, and many people sit down to a good dinner every day, but their stomachs are in such a bad state, that their food does not do them much good. And yet you and I should not wish to go without our dinners neither.
T. No, that we should not.
W. Well, it is just so with spiritual food. They that do not care about being nourished by it, and have no appetite for good things, will come out of church just as empty as they went in ;-but "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."
T. Well, I really think it is so.
W. Why, it must be so. It is in the Bible, Thomas, and I'll show it you directly.-Here, look here *!
T. Well, I see it-I see it-and I have experienced the truth of it in one way; but, unluckily for me, it is in the wrong way. I have not hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and so I have not been filled.
W. But I think, neighbour, I can see by your looks, that you do not mean to go so carelessly to church any more. If you desire to do the will of God, you will think it a great blessing that you can go to his house and beg his help. There is one of the Collects of the Church says, "We cannot do any thing that is good without Thee, O Lord +." Now I call it a great privilege that we may go to the Lord's house, to beg him to help us on in the way of godliness and in the path of duty.
T. But cannot a man say his prayers at home? W. Yes, a man can; and, if he be a Christian man, he will. But this does not keep him from
Matthew, 5th chapter, 6th verse.
+Collect for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity.
church. No, no, neighbour, it sends him to it. You may take this for a constant rule, that "Those who pray most at home, will be the most glad to pray in the house of God."
T. Why I cannot say that I prayed much in the church when I did go. I was sometimes thinking of other things when I was there. But I know now that it was a great sin to do so; but I have practised many a sin besides that—and do now-many a one.
W. Well then, Thomas, you must not lose another opportunity of seeking repentance and forgiveness. If you would read your Bible, and go constantly to church, you would see the need of repenting of your sins, and you would find that they might all be forgiven.
I. What then, do you think I may go on in my wicked, careless ways, and that I shall have every thing forgiven?
W. No, no, Thomas, I doubt we shall not find one word of that sort, either in the Bible, or in the Prayer-Book. "Whoso confesseth, and forsaketh his sins," says the Bible," shall have mercy." And in the Prayer-Book, when we speak of true repentance, we show what true repentance means, by praying that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy t.
T. Well, but I cannot lead such a life.
W. Why it seems as if you did not greatly desire it. You say, that when you were in the church, you did not pray for grace to enable you to please God; and that is the reason why you have not been able to please him. "Without Thee," says one of our prayers, we are unable to please Theet."
T. Well, I certainly did not ask His help, as if I cared about it, and so I have not been able to please Him. I had no desire to please Him.
W. Well, but the Prayer-Book teaches you to ask
• Proverbs 28th chapter, 13th verse.