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Nor are these all the beneficial effects
upon civil society, which the Sabbath is intended to produce. Within these hallowed walls a bond of sacred union is formed among persons of allclasses. Here are blended, in Christian fellowship, those who otherwise would have no intercourse with each other. Here “the rich and the poor meet together,” to offer their common supplications at the throne of grace, and to pour out their thanksgivings to that Almighty Being, who is the Maker, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of them all. Here, however different their outward circumstances, they learn to consider themselves as forming one body: they partake of the same table, and kneel down in holy worship to one universal Lord and Saviour, who suffered and died for them : they look up alike to one Father, unite in one hope, one faith, and learn to love as brethren. And are not these things sufficient to recommend the Sabbath to every friend of mankind ?
Yet these benefits, great as they are, are far inferior to those which may be derived from the Sabbath as a religious ordinance, calculated for the improvement of the soul.
Consider the employments of the labouring man during the other six days of the week. In what is he chiefly engaged ? Merely in things relating to this world, and to his poor perishing body. But look at the poor labourer on the Sab
bath : then may you perceive in him the child of God, the heir of immortality. You may behold him in the temple of his God, employed in a noble work ;-a work worthy of an immortal being ;—a work indeed in which angels themselves are engaged. He is worshipping his great Creator; his affections are fixed upon things spiritual and eternal ; he is “looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith,” through Him he has access to his Heavenly Father, and in the name of his adorable Redeemer, his soul converses with God: his thoughts ascend beyond the confined bounds of sense and time, and meditate on eternity ; his ears are listening to the Word of God, and to the knowledge of his divine will; his tongue is speaking the high praises of God, or addressing him in confession, supplication, and prayer ; his eyes are lifted up through faith in Christ Jesus, to him who is the “ Father of lights, and the God of the spirits of all flesh.” Behold here the proper employment of the Sabbath, and see how it dignifies and exalts even the humblest of the fallen sons of men !
During the six days, I repeat, the object of man's labour is to provide for the body—that body which is soon to turn to the dust out of which it was taken ;--that frail and perishing body, which, in numberless instances, can scarcely be kept in a state of tolerable health,
even for the few days of our sojourning here. But on the seventh day our attention is directed to our nobler part,—the soul :-we are engaged in promoting its moral improvement, in cultivating its exalted powers, in labouring, by divine aid, that it may be restored to the lost image of God. The seventh day is truly the day of jubilee,—the season of holy rejoicing. On this sacred day we hear the glad tidings of a Saviour's work : we meet him in his own house, and at his own holy table, where he is in the midst of us. It is the Lord's Day, and it introduces us to the Lord's presence; it shews us the precious benefits of his death and resurrection, the inestimable value of his intercession, and the boundless extent of his love. It awakens our souls to a sense of his mercy, “in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us ;" that, being justified by his blood, we might be reconciled to God, and receive remission of our sins, and an eternal “inheritance among all them that are sanctified.” It is besides the emblem and foretaste of that eternal Sabbath above, where the Redeemer reigns with his glorified servants in endless and unchangeable bliss.
But the Sabbath is also peculiarly calculated for the comfort and benefit of the afflicted. To the assembly in the house of God may repair the mourner and the distressed; the destitute and the friendless; those who are sinking under
the burden of poverty or oppression, of suffering or despondence. Such have the Gospel preached to them; to all such are its gracious promises extended. They are exhorted to bear their afflictions with patience, looking unto Jesus, who, in all his sufferings, complained not, “but submitted himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” The healing balm of Christian consolation is poured into their wounds; their sorrows are soothed by the blessed assurance that their “light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory :” while their hopes are raised, alike above the cares, and the fleeting joys of this mortal life, and they are directed to seek by faith “a better country, even an heavenly,” where sin and sorrow shall be no more, and where “all tears shall be for ever wiped from their eyes."
In conclusion, then, let me earnestly call upon you all, my brethren, seriously to meditate upon
the great and important duty of “hallowing the Sabbath Day.” Remember, that if the Sabbath be dishonoured and profaned, all the fences of religion will be broken down, and infidelity and immorality will rush in like a flood, and deluge the land to its utter destruction. If then, you have any regard to the eternal welfare of your children-if you would wish them to be blessed
in the favour of God,-if you would desire, that in the strength of divine grace, they should become meet for the inheritance of immortal bliss,-teach them the highest reverence for the Sabbath ; and let them not only learn from your precepts, but see by your example also, that you yourselves really feel the importance of that duty, which you would otherwise, too probably, labour in vain to inculcate. Again,-if you have any regard to the honour of God—any just fear of the awful day of judgment, when you must give an account to Him of all the deeds done in the body, I beseech you, honour the Sabbath, and observe it as a day set apart for God's glory, and the eternal benefit of your souls. This, my friends, I need scarcely remind you, is an imperative duty, incumbent on all, in every relation and rank of society. But more especially would I exhort you that are masters of families, to set an example to your
children and your respective households, of regular and uniform obedience to this express command of God. Shew them that you spend not the Lord's Day in sloth or in worldly concerns, or in any unprofitable and trifling pursuits, but as a day in which you seek to“ give the Lord the honour due unto his name ;” to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Let no vain and frivolous excuses, nothing indeed but absolute necessity, prevent your regularly attending the public service of