« PreviousContinue »
While we see so many doomed to labour for “the meat that perisheth,” can any wise or good man fail to regard that as a merciful dispensation, by which one day in seven is allotted to rest, that the poor man may recruit his wasted strength, and partake, in his heavenly Father's house, of the bread of life? On the morning of that sacred day, he rises, not to renew his labours, but, by God's command, to rest from them :to put on seemly attire, that he may go with the multitude, to worship God in his holy temple, and to spend the remainder of this blessed day in the bosom of his family :-to sit down with them, and to enjoy the pleasures of a father, a husband, or a son. He has this day graciously given him, that he may, according to his ability, instruct his family in their duty to God and man,—urge them, on Christian principles, to the discharge of it,—teach them, from the Word of Truth, “the things which belong to their eternal peace,”-shew them the redeeming love of their Saviour to a lost and guilty race, and converse with them about that better world which is to come.
Ye, then, my friends, more especially, whose station compels you to labour throughout the week, welcome the dawn of the Sabbath, as a day of comfort. Bless God for it, as one of his most gracious appointments; for such, when properly employed, according to his divine purpose, it will most certainly be found. Receive
it with heartfelt gratitude to your heavenly Father; and while you thankfully enjoy the rest which it affords you, let your thoughts ascend to that merciful Being, whose “ loving kindness is over all his works." Seek during its continuance, by diligent prayer, the aid of God's Holy Spirit; and instead of allowing it to be spent in idleness and sloth, in thoughtlessness and vain amusements, let it be a day of religious exercises, and of peaceful enjoyment to yourselves and to your families. Thus, by divine grace, you will reap the benefit which God mercifully designed it to bestow. You may be assured, indeed, your beneficent Creator ordains nothing that is not intended for the good of his creatures,-nothing which, if properly improved, will not conduce to that end ; and, as the Sabbath is an institution peculiarly calculated to benefit mankind, take heed, I beseech you, that ye slight not the ordinance of the Most High ; lest, by your negligence or impiety, that which “should have been for your health, become me unto you an occasion of falling:
Pure and undefiled religion is undoubtedly the greatest of earthly blessings: and thus it is constantly found that the most religious nation is the happiest ; that the society which is formed upon Christian principles is the best and most orderly; and that those persons who conform with most exactness to the precepts of the Gos
pel, are the most valuable members of the state, and, under all circumstances, the most truly happy in themselves : nor can it be otherwise; for while on scriptural authority, we know that “righteousness exalteth a nation,” and that it is “a good and pleasant thing for brethren to dwell together in Christian unity ;" we are no less certain, with regard to individuals, that he, whose sure hope is in “the Lord his Redeemer,” enjoys that“peace” which the world can neither give nor take away.
The great usefulness of the Sabbath depends upon its being made a religious institution. This was certainly the design of its divine Author: and indeed the peculiar distinction of this holy day is its religious character. The Sabbath is the pillar that supports the temple of piety. It is the Sabbath which affords the best opportunity of implanting right principles, of correcting errors, of shewing the true nature and the hideous deformity of sin, of explaining the duties we owe to God, and the scriptural grounds and reasons for performing them. Were it not for the Sabbath, and the sacred ministry connected with it, how many are there who would have no means of learning even the necessary duties which belong to their station in civil society. But, eternal thanks to this gracious institution, such persons (throughout the whole civilized world) can repair to the house of God; they can praise Him in his holy temple, "for all the benefits that he hath done unto them;" they can confess their sins, and implore his pardon ; they can hear his holy Word, and receive from his appointed ministers the message of peace and reconciliation, delivered in the name of his only begotten Son. Here neglected children are taught the duty they owe even to their negligent parents. Here the wife learns the duty of cheerful obedience; the husband of affection and tenderness. Here the duty of submission to government is enforced, whilst, at the same time, the duty of rulers is pointed out. Here the necessity of mutual forbearance and forgiveness is inculcated ; as well as the duty of every man to renounce selfishness, and to seek the welfare of his brother rather than his own. Here we are taught the reverence due to the aged; and the kindness and compassion which ought to be shewn to the afflicted and distressed. And here, above all, are inculcated those truly scriptural principles, and those pure and Christian motives, which can alone produce genuine holiness of life. Thus, as far as instruction will avail, are formed obedient subjects, dutiful children, prudent and tender parents, kind and faithful husbands, discreet and affectionate wives, mild masters, faithful servants, sincere and steady friends, and kind neighbours. In a word, it is the obvious tendency of the Sabbath, to pro
mote the good of society; to persuade men to “love without dissimulation,” to be “
“kindly affectioned one towards another with brotherly love ; in honour preferring one another;" to be “not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord :" to“ distribute to the necessity of saints ;” to be “given to hospitality;" to
rejoice with them that do rejoice, and to weep with them that weep;” to “mind not high things but to condescend to men of low estate;" to “ recompense to no man evil for evil;" to "provide things honest in the sight of all men,” “if it be possible, to live peaceably with all men;" to “avenge not themselves, but rather to give place to wrath ;” to “be subject to the higher powers, knowing that the powers that be, are ordained of God,” and to be “subject too, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake;" to “render to all their due ; tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom, fearto whom fear, honour to whom honour: ” to “owe no man any thing, but to love one another.” Yes, brethren, and were not such beneficial tendency of the Sabbath too often slighted and counteracted,-were that divine appointment but duly observed, it would conduce more than any other, to banish discord, and strife, and envy, and pride, from the world ; and to render society on earth a resemblance, however faint, of the blessed state of happiness enjoyed by the saints in heaven.