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are determined to go to ruin, why should we go with them.
Possibly his master, or parents, bade him go but God is greater than all, and whoever bids us break his commands must not be minded. If it is our duty to obey our parents, or our master, it is much more our duty to obey God.
He might urge necessity; and say, it was to dress his food, or to warm himself and his perishing family. He should then have provided them before. God allows six days for worldly labour, and may well require the seventh to be wholly spent in his service.
If he said he did not do it often, he should remember that if it is wrong, it should not be done at all. Such an excuse is acknowledging that it is wrong, and shews him to be guilty of sinning with his eyes open.
Or should he, like many say, he should not be all day about it, but should attend public worship notwithstanding; he might be told, that the whole day is the Lord's, and is to be spent in his service. If we would not be saved by halves, we must not attend by halves to religion.
With such excuses many quiet their
consciences. But such excuses will not be accepted of God, they will not stand in judgement, they will not save from hell.
God was greatly offended with him, and will be equally so with us, if we do as he did. The man was put in prison till the will of God was known concerning him; and the will, the express .command of God was, let him be stoned to death.
To us is this example given to us is the same commandment sent, "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy, &c." and against us, if we break it, will the same God shew his anger. Let us remember then, That those who break the sabbath, must expect heavy punishment.
I will tell you what it is to break the sabbath, and why it should be punished. First. To break the sabbath, is to do any thing on that day which God has forbid, or to omit any thing which he has required.
1. To do any thing God has forbidden. The will of God is our rule in all things. If we attend to this, we shall always be right, if we make any thing else our rule, we shall often be wrong.
Now God has expressly forbid sin. That is at all times displeasing to him, but especially on the sabbath. When we ought to be doing the work of God, to be doing the work of the devil, is bad indeed. When God calls us to pray, if he finds us swearing: when he calls us to worship, if he finds us blaspheming him: when he calls us to his house, and he finds us in an ale-house; surely this must greatly offend him. He expects us to serve him every day, but on the sabbath he calls for our service more decidedly and expressly if he finds us then serving sin, how great must his anger be.
As what is sinful is forbidden on the sab. bath day, so many things in themselves lawful, are on that day sinful. Pleasure, that is, the gratification of worldly desires, is forbidden, on a day sacred to spiritual things. There is a time to feast, a time to dance, a time to play, and a time to be merry; but the Sabbath is not that time. To walk in the fields, to visit our friends and neighbours, are unfit pleasures for the Lord's day, though very allowable on other days.
All sorts of business are forbidden then. Whether it be working at the loom, serv
ing in a shop, waiting upon customers, settling accounts, or whatever else relates to the care of our worldly concerns. Nehemiah when he found the people guilty of buying and selling, fetching goods, and doing business, severely reproved them, and exerted himself vigorously to prevent it. Nehemiah xiii. 15,-22. It does not signify whether the business is open, or secret; if man does not see it, God does: if we do it openly, it shews we are hardened sinners indeed; and if secret, our attempts to hide it, shew we know it to be wrong.
And as hateful as any thing on that day is idleness. If at any time we ought to be diligent, it is when the business of our immortal soul is in hand. By hard work in the week, to support our bodies, and by idleness on the sabbath, to ruin our souls, is very foolish conduct. How many by sleeping too long in a morning, or by sauntering about in the day, lose the opportunities for prayer, and spiritual instruction, which are then given; and their souls, like a garden that is never cultivated, are grown over with briars and thorns, whose end is to be burned.
2. As it breaks the sabbath to do
what is forbidden, so likewise to omit what God has commanded.
The great duty commanded on that day, is the care of our souls. We are all guilty before God, deserve his wrath, and are liable to be called to judgement, and cast into hell at any time. If there was no hope for us, how wretched would our state be; and as there is hope for us in the gospel, how diligent should we be, to secure our interest in that great salvation which is by Jesus Christ. He tells us to strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many shall indolently seek to enter in, who shall not be able. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose, his soul." This should be his care every day, and especially should he attend to it on the Lord's day, when the means which God has appointed for salvation, are open to him.
As God is our Creator, Preserver, and the bountiful Giver of all we possess; it becomes us to worship him, to confess our dependence upon him, and entreat the continuance of his bounty. This would have been our duty if we had never by sin forfeited his favours: and since we every day deserve to lose them, how much more