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triumphed in their last cold agonies, good, is a dictate of natural religion. and begun their eternal song before It is well known, that the heathen, altheir flesh and heart entirely failed. most every where, have, from the ear
And shall such a book,--shall the liest times, had their appointed seasons most precious gift of God to men, next of meeting to worship their gods. But to that of his Son, ever be laid out of not to insist on the example of pagans, sight for one day? Shall such a treas-though it might well shame multitudes ure be lightly esteemed by fallen man? who call themselves Christians, we How worthy to be kept every hour at have a more sure word of prophecy, to his right hand! How much more pre-|| which let us diligently take heed. The cious than all the gems that ever glit-law was appointed of old to be read in tered in the crown of royalty! It is the synagogues, every Sabbath day, said, that Alexander the great, fatsety And surely, if the priests were bound so called, took the works of Homer to read it, it was the duty of the peoalong with him in all his wars, and ev-ple to assemble and hear. Indeed, an ery night laid them with his sword un-express command of God to the Jews, der his pillow. How much more wor-was, Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and thy are the Scriptures to be near our reverence my sanctuary. To do this, hearts. Let the Bible, then, be our his people have in all ages aceounted most intimate companion. Especially one of their highest privileges. I was let the perasal of it always find a place glad, saith David, when they said unto in our early preparations for the Sab-me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. bath. Let all the time, on Saturday || Our feet shall stand within thy gates, evening, which is not employed in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as other religious duties, be spent in read-a city that is compact together, whither ing it. Let it be read in the morning, the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, before public worship, then during the unto the testimony of Israel, to give intermission, and again after the pub- thanks unto the name of the Lord. In lic services of the day are concluded. what plaintive strains does the same Let the texts selected by the preacher| holy man lament his exclusion from be carefully examined. Let all truth the sanctuary. How amiable are thy be treasured up in the memory. Let| tabernacles, O Lord of hosts ; my soul the fruits of righteousness abundantly longeth, yea even fainteth, for the courts testify, that the good seed has taken of the Lord. My heart and my flesh deep root in good ground.
crieth out for the living God. Blessed It would be very easy to specify a are they that dwell in thy house : they great number of religious books, with will be still praising thee. For a day in almost every person's reach, which spent in thy courts is better than a thoitmay undoubtedly be read upon the sand. Lord's day, provided they do not en It would be easy to show, did time croach upon the time which belongs to permit, that, the apostles, and other the Bible. The Bible must ever have primitive Christians, assembled stated the pre-eminence. It must be ready for religious worship, upon the first first, and read more than any other day of the week, which has been provbook or books. It is only when weed to be the Christian Sabbath. See bave time to spare from the Scriptures,John xx, 19, 26; Aots xx, 7; and that we may attend to the writings of 1 Cor. xvi, 1, 2. Nor must I omit to pious uninspired men, upon the Sab- refer the reader to Luke iv, 17, where bath.
the Evangelist informs us that our Di5. The Lord's day is to be sancti-vine Lord, as his custom was, went infied by a regular and devout attend to the synagogue, on the Sabbath day. ance-upon public worship. That fre Strictly accordant with the requisiquent and solemn public acknowledg. tions of the law, the custom of the piments are due to the author of all |ous Jews, and the practice of Christ
and his apostles, is the following ex-of a scriptural justification. God cerhortation of the inspired writer to the tainly no where requires of his creatures Hebrews. Let us consider one another according to what they have not. to provoke unto love and good works; When a person is confined to his room not forsaking the assembling of our with a broken bone, or to his bed with selves together, as the manner of some is. (a consumption, he plainly is not requiI will not spend time in proving, whatred to go out. Nor if he is so seriousthe history of the church puts beyond |ly indisposed, that he would be in all controversy, that the most eminent great danger of increasing or prolongservants of God have, from that day ing his distemper. But some people down to the present, highly valued the are visited with a sort of intermittent blessings of public worship.
or periodical disease, which comes on If, then, we regard his authority, who almost every Sabbath, and goes off by instituted the Sabbath ; if our feelings Monday morning. We see and hear and desires are akin to those of the of them, every where six days, but on. sweet Psalmist of Israel; if we regard the seventh they are confined. Now, the example of Christ; if we desire to it ought to be solemnly remembered, walk in the steps, and participate in the that it is not every slight complaint, bliss, of those pious men and women, which can excuse us from waiting upwho have gone to their heavenly rest, on God in his house. If we should we shall reverence the Lord's sanctuary, feel able to expose ourselves as much, by a conscientious and solemn attend- on a week day, and for a worldly purance on public worship. Nay, unless pose, the excuse is vain. If we are some should choose to be more hea- not so ill that we should be obliged, thenish than the heathen themselves, for that cause alone, to decline an inthey will not fail to unite, regularly, in vitation to dinner, or a tea-party, the public acknowledgments for the mer-excuse is vain. cies which they daily and hourly re Again; I shall readily admit, that ceive.
drenching rains in summer, and driftBut, alas, how many such heathens |ing snows in winter, may sometimes are there in this land! How many, render it hazardous for persons in who have been baptised into the name health, especially females, to go out on of the adorable Trinity, live and die, the Lord's day. But it is not every in sight of the Lord's house, where threatening cloud, or fog, nor even eve they are never seen, unless it be used |ery considerable fall of rain, or snow, for a secular purpose, and then only to that can be pleaded as a sufficient exmingle in the strife of party polities! cuse. If our souls long for the house How many more have taught us not to of the Lord, it is certain we shall not espect them in our solemn assemblies, be detained from public worship by triexcept when summoned by the voice fles. When any doubts arise, in reof death, in the removal of some near gard to what is duty, let us look to friend, or excited by curiosity to hear God for direction. He giveth liberally a new preacher, or an occasional ser-and upbraideth not.
How many saunter and sleep The excuse which some people away half the Sabbath at home, and make, for not attending public worship, then bless themselves for obliging us that they have not decent clothes with their presence a part of the day.lis, I believe, in nine instances out of How many sit down to eat and drink, ten, invalid. This excuse is not unfreafter the morning service, and rise up quently the offspring of pride. If those to play.
who make it had the ornaments of a Surely no candid reader will infer, meek and quiet spirit, they would be from the preceding observations, that, contented with and thankful for such in the opinion of the writer, absence apparel as they have. As for those from public worship can never admit/who are really destitute, it is certain
that most of them might clothe them-||into a holy flame; and though no man selves decently to appear in the house ever spake like him, multitudes of of God; because many actually do so, Christians can testify, from their own with means quite as scanty, and labor-experience, to the sweetness of reliing under embarrassments quite asgious conversation. How often has it great, as they possess. The cause of revived their languishing graces. How their alleged inability is to be found in happily has it contributed to clear up their idleness, in their tavern-bills, or their doubts, and to urge them forward in the marks that stand against the ini- in the race set before them. tials of their names, on the shelves and Such conversation tends, also, more walls of dram-shops.
than almost any thing else, to fix diTo the question, what portion of ho-vine truth in the meinory. Every one ly time ought to be appropriated to pub must have observed, how much easier, lic worship? no precise answer, per- and how much longer, he retains what haps, can be given. Generally, it has is imprinted in this way, than what he been found convenient to meet twice finds in books. Religious conversaevery Lord's day. In compliance with tion, then, should spontaneously grow this arrangement, it is the duty of all, out of every subject to which our atwho are interested in it, to attend both tention is called upon the Sabbath.services. Till we bear the pious mem- Let us avail ourselves of its enlivening bers of our churches complain, that the and warming influence. Let it be fapractice interferes with other duties, it miliar in our families.
Let it fill up is worse than trifling for persons who the intervals which are not occupied neglect other duties, to plead, that they || by any of the duties already mentionhave not time for this. If in some ex-led. Let it engage our thoughts and tensive and thinly settled parishes, it is affections, in going to and returns found very inconvenient, during the ing from public worship. It will precold season, to meet more than oncevent the intrusion of evil thoughts. It on the Lord's day, the rule of duty is will, by the blessing of God, make us changed; and it is changed again, if, in wiser and better. It will, if we are cities and other compact settlements, itChristians indeed, make us happier for is found that the interests of Christ's the time; and this holy communion kingdom are promoted by three stated will contribute not a little to prepare services. God has left this matter, as he us for the high felicity of eternal conhas many other things, to be regulated verse with saints and angels in heaven, by his people, according to circum 7. The pious instruction of chilstances. When, with a due regard to dren, is a plain and important duty of these, they decide upon meeting once, the Sabbath.' I regret that I have twice, or three times, on the Sabbath, room for little more than the bare menit is the duty of all concerned, to acqui-tion of a subject so important. Chilesce in the arrangement, and to honor dren should be taught from their crait by a cheerful attendance.
Ules, to esteem the Sabbath a delight, the 6. Some part of the Lord's day may holy of the Lord honorable. It is then, very profitably be spent in religious that parents are most at leisure, and conversation. The advantages of such that they should take particular pains conversation are many ; but I can only to explain the use and importance of find room just to mention two or three. the Sabbath; that they should cate
It brightens the intellect and warms || chise their children and domestics; the heart. Tron sharpeneth iron, so a should require them to learn and reman sharpeneth the countenance of his peat prayers, hymns, and portions of friend. Did the hearts of the two dis- Scripture ; should make them acquaintciples burn within them, when going to ed with the perfections of God, their Emmaus? It was the conversation of own sinfulness, and the necessity of Christ, which kindled their affections | their being made new creatures in
Christ, to prepare them for that glori- overthrows at once most of the arguous Sabbath, in the world above, which ments and pretences, by which thouwill have no end.
sands try hard to justify themselves, in I might infer, from all that has been their habitual encroachments upon said in this and the preceding number, those sacred hours, which God emphatthat social visits, on Saturday after-ically claims as his own. noon, are generally improper, because Since, however, the strict observthey tend rather to dissipate than com-ance of the Lord's day is a matter of pose the thoughts ;-that the reason vital importance to religion; and since why some Christians find so much oc- it has become fashionable to pare off casion to lament their coldness and and explain away, till the very essence leanness, is, that they do not remem- of the sacred institution is exposed, it ber the Sabbath; and that so far from seems necessary to examine the subits being an idle day, it will be found, Iject with some particularity. The by those who pray and read the Scrip-||prohibitions of the law respecting tures, and spend as much time in oth-the Sabbath, are concisely and admier religious duties as they ought, a day rably stated by the Assembly of Dinot less occupied than any other in vines, in their exposition of it, containthe week.
ed in our shorter catechism. But I must not enlarge further than fourth commandment,” say they," formerely to suggest, how pleasantly and biddeth the omission or careless perprofitably the sacred hours must passformance of the duties required, and with those who keep the Sabbath holy. the profaning the day by idleness, or What blessed communion must they doing that which is in itself sinful, or enjoy with the adorable Trinity by unnecessary thoughts, words, or What rapid proficiency must they works, about worldly employments or make in the knowledge of the Scrip-recreations." tures. How fast must they grow in The clause in this exposition, that grace, and ripen for heaven. May now claims our particular attention, such be the course, such the happiness is that, which declares, that it is of the writer, and of every reader. forbidden to be engaged, on the Sab“ In holy duties let the day
bath, in " unnecessary thoughts, words, In holy pleasures pass away, How sweet a Sabbath thus to spend
or works, about worldly employments In hope of one that ne'er shall end."
or recreations.” It will be proper for Z. X. Y. us to try the correctness of this expo
sition, by appealing to the law itself, ON THE SABBATH.
and by a careful examination of such The prohibitory part of the fourth com- explanations of this law, as God has mandment.
given us in various parts of the Sacred The correctness of what was advan-Volume. ced in my two last numbers being ad The prohibitory part of the law is, mitted, it follows, as a necessary conse-l as every well instructed child knows, quence, that no part of the Sabbath in these words: But the seventh day is may be devoted to common secular the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it employments or recreations. For, if thou shalt not do any work; thou, nor the whole day should be spent in med- thy son, nor thy daughler, thy man sera itation, prayer, self-examination, and|vant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy catsuch other religious duties, as I speci-||tle, nor thy stranger that is within thy fied, then no time can be left for the gales. In the clause of the commandindulgence of worldly thoughts, nor forment which immediately precedes this, any of the ordinary labors, or relaxa-| God had said; Six days shalt thou lațions of human life. This single infer- bor and do all thy work. Whether we ence, which, as it appears to me, can regard this, in the light of a permission Deither be fairly evaded, nor resisted, lllo labor six days, or as making it a
duty to labor, is immaterial to the pres-|| trusting in his bounty, for the supply of ent argument. Men are to do, not the our temporal wants. greatest part, but all their work in six Secondly, are we parents or masdays. There is no proviso to accom-ters, the prohibition includes our chilmodate the idle, the busy, or even dren and servants as well as ourselves, those, who may have been sick all the We may neither require nor permit week previous to the Sabbath. Everythem to labor upon the Lord's day. We one must admit, that the form of ex- may not requireit. If they have labored pression amounts to a positive prohibi-|| faithfully six days, they need the rest, tion; for who, that does all his work which the Sabbath was intended to give in six days, can have any left for the them. And whether they have been seventh ? But God saw fit to make the faithful, or not, we have no right to emprohibition doubly strong, by adding, ploy them about our secular affairs, on In it thou shalt not do any work.--that holy day. In saying, they shall Surely, no man, after reading this, could not do any work, God has precluded uz think of attending to his secular affairs from the exercise of that authority, on the Sabbath; till he had made up his which he permits, and makes it our mind to trample upon the law and set duty to exercise, on other days. To the authority of the Legislator at defi-| command a child or servant to work,
But a depraved heart, always when God has expressly forbidden him, fertile in evasions, might have suggest-|| is nothing les than setting up our aued, that children, servants, and cattle, thority, as paramount to that of Jehocould be employed in labor without a-l vah; and he, who does it, must pre, ny infraction of the law, had not every pare to abide the tremendous conseplea for such an interpretation been ta- quences. ken away by the explanatory clause Again; as we may not require, so which follows, in which the labor of neither way we permit, our children sons and daughters, of servants, of cat- and servants to work on the Sabbath. tle and of strangers, is explicitly for- God has subjected them to our authorbidden. All these things demand the ity; and made us, in no small degree, reader's particular attention. They answerable for their conduct.
It will were written for our learning on whom by no means be sufficient for us to the ends of the world are come. plead, when called to our last audit,
In the first place, then, we, who act that we laid no commands upon them, for ourselves, whether heads of fanii-| contrary to the requirements of the dilies or not, may do no work upon the vine law; that we gave them much Lord's day. We may and ought to be good advice; and that we should have diligent in our respective callings on been highly pleased, had they listened other days. Idleness is a great sin; but to it. Let us not forget the woes, we must not take God's time, for doing which were denounced against the our work. He has given us six days house of Eli, and which were fearfully out of seven, which, when rightly used, executed, because his sons made themare quite sufficient for our own em- || selves vile, and he restrained them not. ployments, We may not encroach up-|As parents, guardians, or masters, we on the Sabbath. It is holy time. If are, so to speak, placed in God's stead. we have been idle, or dilatory, we must And we are as much bound to resbear the loss. If we have undertaken train our children, or servants, from too much in one week, we must defer what the divine law forbids, as to ena part to the next. If we have been force their obedience to what it resick, or providentially called away fromquires. our business, we must not attempt to It may not be possible, I allow, for redeem the time, by breaking God's the most vigilant and faithful parent or law, but devoutly spend the day which master to prevent his children or serhe has sanctified, in religious duties,ll vants, in every case, from violating