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PROFANATIONS OF THE SABBATH. 247 with the state of the nation ? with tittle-tattling about the afe fairs of families with the state of trade ? with fashions, with
diversions ? Are these subjects for such a day, and for crea
tures who have a heaven to gain, a hell to escape, a God to - glorify, an eternity before them, and but a few sabbaths to s improve? Yet what more common! What else do many pro
fessors of religion on the Lord's day converse about ? Many hearers of the gospel scarcely leave the house of prayer, before they begin discoursing on these or other mere worldly subjects.
A short and expressive account of the mode in which the ei sabbath should be spent, is furnished in the fifty-eighth chap
ter of Isaiah ; and an important promise connected with it: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father : for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."! Nothing merely of a ceremonial nature appears in this description, and though the latter part of the passage contained a promise more immediately applicable to Israel, yet the promise, “ Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord,” is so naturally connected with the solemn improvement of the Lord's day, that it may justly be viewed as made to all who pursue the practice previously required.
$ 5. Now allow me affectionately to urge upon you à devout, a strict improvement of this holy day. All that is dear to you as an immortal being, all that you are anxious to promote, if indeed a Christian, enforce such observance. "To this institution we owe far the greater part of the spiritual blessings which we enjoy; and, in a high sense, we owe them all. But for this day, we should neither have sought, nor secured, eternal life : for where no sabbath is, there is no religion. But for this day, earthly things would have engrossed all our thoughts. But for this day, the world, as a canker, would rust, corrupt, and consume all the disposition to piety, and all the hopes of heaven. The soul would be benumbed. Religion would die. God would be forgotten.
(n) Isa. lviii. 13, 14.
IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING The death of Christ would be vain. Mankind would cease to be saved : and heaven would fail of her destined inhabitants. How desolate the prospect! How strongly would this anger world resemble the regions of final despair! where no sabbath pening dawns; where no prayers nor praises ascend ; no sermons addre proclaim pardon and peace to sinners; the voice of mercy Ferenc never sounds; and the smiles of forgiving, redeeming, and paid sanctifying love never illumine the dreary valley of the shadow of death !"*
$ 6. A strictly religious improvement of the sabbath will lay be be fraught with incalculable blessings to yourself. It will counteract the influence of the world; it will strengthen every fathe grace; it will nourish the flame of holy love, and mature your time an soul for all the enjoyments of the heavenly world. Judge tin luke Hale observes, “ I have found by a strict and diligent obser- I Think vation, that the due observing the duties of this day hath every dat had joined to it a blessing upon the rest of my time, and the JV Buch week that hath been so begun, hath been blessed and prosperit? perous to me. And on the other hand, when I have been tim negligent of the duties of this day, the rest of the week hath been unsuccessful and unhappy to my secular employments. So that I could easily make an estimate of my successes, in fuls my own secular employments, the week following, by the telo si manner of passing this day: and this I do not write lightly or inconsiderately, but upon a long and sound observation and experience."
$ 7. To strengthen and deepen your impressions of the im. mense importance of the strict observance of the Lord's day, look at what passes around you, think of your obligations to Think God, and contemplate the scenes before you.
Look at what passes around you. Some will tell you that you a strict observance of the sabbath is superstitious; but observe their character. Can you point to one of this description, that displays any eminence in piety? Do their affections seem heavenly ? their hopes bright? their souls devout? Are they zealous and devout followers of the Lord ? Rather, are they not those, whose profession of religion is a cold, barren, heartless, worthless thing? Are these they with whom you would wish to die? and when they quit this transient world, uld you wish your soul in their soul's place ?
. • Dwight.
THE SABBATH HOLY.
249 Look at others, whose piety is elevated, whose zeal is warm, whose faith is strong, whose hopes are bright, who live as strangers here, and as travellers to glory, and whose souls are
ripening apace for heaven; to whom religion is their meat - and drink, their pleasure and their all :-these are they that - reverence the Lord's day, and strictly improve its holy hours. - Would you not wish to die their death? and to have your
soul gathered with theirs ? Then imitate their example. The
rule of the Lord Jesus, By their fruits ye shall know them, - may be applied here. Eminent piety is uniformly connected
with the devout and strict observation of the Lord's day;
and the want of a strict improvement of the holy day is, even - where a profession of religion is made, as uniformly connected with lukewarmness or hypocrisy.
Think of your obligations to God. Does he, who gives you every day, and from whom you hope for immortality, require too much, when he bids you consecrate to him one day in
seven ? Had he condescended to ask you what portion of - your time you would solemnly set apart for his peculiar ser
vice, would you have thought of less ? could you have thought c. of so little. Part of the sabbath is employed in receiving
needful support, and were a person from fourteen years of age to sixty, to spend ten hours every sabbath in employments of a strictly religious nature, in a life of sixty years, the time thus employed would by no means amount to three whole years; and is this much, in such a life, to consecrate to such a Friend ? Besides, while the Lord thus claims the day, he intends the profit of the day for you.
Think of what is before you-a dying day and an eternal world. And when you come to quit this transitory world, will you then repent of having improved the Lord's day with the most strict devotion ? Will you then wish to have trifled away in idle conversation, or vain amusement, or worldly science, its sacred hours ? Rather, would not the recollection of sabbaths thus passed, fill the hour of death with alarm, and plant with thorns your dying pillow? What way of spending the Lord's day will yield you most pleasure in death and eternity? Only spend it in that way. Spend it as you will wish in your last hours to have done. Spend it as a traveller hasting to eternity. Remember that every sabbath which passes, leaves you one less to improve, and one more to ac250 MOTIVES FOR SANCTIFYING THE SABBATH. count for; and consider, that for all an account must soon be will rendered before the bar of the Eternal. Sabbaths improved 320 are precious blessings; but wasted sabbaths are dreadful Tery w curses. O spend them as one who knows, that every sabbath, as it finishes, leaves you one sabbath nearer heaven or hell! O improve them as you should do, if you wish to be blessed bcs with the influence of a hundred or a thousand sabbaths, when am: they are gone for ever!
$ 8. In addition to all these considerations, it is no incon pro siderable motive for a strict observance of the Lord's day, that this may have the happiest effects in promoting religion. I have heard a respectable minister of the gospel relate a striking fact illustrative of this observation. A solicitor had a sch law-suit in hand, which was expected to come to trial on the alt Monday morning. Several signatures were necessary to some * papers, which were to be obtained previously to the trial; and ? on the Lord's day before the expected day of trial, he applied to a lady, a member of a dissenting church, for her signature. She refused to give it on the sabbath, but was willing to sign F the requisite deed the next morning. In vain he tried to move her from her resolution. All his influence failed; she was immovable. He then applied to two other persons also, members of a dissenting church in London, but met with a similar reception : they were willing to sign as soon as he pleased in the morning, but would not sign on the Lord's day. The effect of this consistent conduct on their part was very pleasing. He discerned the effect of religion-it led him to reflection-he perceived his own want of religion and the affair issued in his conversion. He became a firm friend of the gospel; was the principal, if not the sole, instrument in erecting a house of prayer in his own neighbourhood, and afterwards was a principal supporter of the interests of religion there. Such is one out of many instances of the happy effects produced, where Christians let their light shine before men.
$ 9. As this volume may probably fall into the hands of some, who are wasting those precious seasons, which are fly". ing so fast, never to return, perhaps it may be useful, in tha plainest way, to glance at some of the objections which arany brought against a strict improvement of the Lord's day, ano to offer a brief reply to each.
j. 1. Such strictness is making more ado than enougl.
It will make the day a weariness. Besides, where is it commanded ? Going to church or to chapel once in the day is very well, but as for any thing more, it is burthensome, and I am altogether indisposed to it.
Ans. My fellow-traveller to eternity, it is commanded when God says, Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. He claims all the day as much as any part of it. To profane the morning or the evening, is as much rebellion against God as to profane the whole, and unless you religiously improve the day, you have no share in the blessings promised to those who improve not the morning or the afternoon, but who remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. As to making too much of this sacred day, do they who are in heaven think that this can be done? do they who are lost in hell? or will you when death and eternity are near? You do not complain that six days are too long for serving the world ; you are contented all the week without the house of God, but not one day without the world. Which then has your heart? not God, but the world. If you are not awfully blind to your own state, you must perceive this; and while you are a lover of the world, the love of God is not in you. If one sabbath is a burthen to you, what would an eternal sabbath be? If you cannot be content for a few hours without the world, what happiness would you find even in heaven, where all is spiritual and devout? That you are indisposed for religious exercises, 18 both your sin and your misery, and confirms the importance of a change in you, great as a second birth. They that are after the flesh, the Lord declares, do mind the things of the flesh; and this is your case. While it is so you are a peFishing sinner, and never can be happy, unless you become a new creature in Jesus Christ.
Obj. 2. I cannot benefit by the minister where I attend.
Ans. Is that your fault or his? If his, go where you can. " yours, the objection only makes matters worse. Perhaps you go without previous prayer, and without any real desire of spiritual good. i Obj. 3. I have no time but the Lord's day to instruct my children in religion.
Ans. Instruct them then in the intervals of public worship, t forget not to give them the important instruction of ex
ple, by letting them see that you love and improve the house of God.