Imatges de pÓgina

SERM. rious moment of account, and to be placed on XXI.

record, as it had been passed, as a day lost or gained to the useful and valuable purposes of life. Nothing could be more reasonable or more consistent with sound and solid sense.

In a Pagan it was commendable; in a Christian it should be considered as a matter of indispensable duty. When the sun sets in night, and the labours of the day are terminated, not so much by our own choice or will, as by the providential interposition of the great Ruler of all things, can any thing be more befitting a sensible and intelligent mind, than to bestow some moments of reflection, as well on the hours of activity passed by, as on the solemn hours of rest and relaxation approaching? What can be more befitting than that we should seize that

opportunity of offering up our, praises to God, for the health and strength afforded us during the busy occupations of the day, and of providing against that awful suspension of thought and will coming on, by making up our account while we are awake to do it; for sleep is so like death,” as a



celebrated writer has observed, that we SERM. should not “ dare to trust it without our

prayers*.” This is an elegant observation, and as just as it is elegant. The appointment of the Sabbath makes a second division of time, admirably adapted to the purposes of reflection and consideration. Six days allowed us for the administering our worldly concerns, the seventh (and only one out of seven !) peculiarly devoted to God. Is it possible to suppose, amid the chances and changes to which we are exposed, that even in so short a space as six days, something will not have passed that should demand of us either praise or prayer, thanksgiving or deprecation ? If it should have pleased God to have prospered our handy-work, shall we appear insensible of such a blessing? or if our labours shall have failed of their end, whither shall we fly for relief and redress, but to the Almighty Ruler of all events? The rest that is provided for us should not be made a rest of torpid indifference and indolence; the more our bodies are at rest,

* Religio Medici.


SERM. the more our minds should be occupied in

a contemplation of God's infinite perfections, and our own manifold infirmities. We should remember to keep the day holy to God, by offering up our sincere and fervent devotions in his sanctuary, and to render ourselves holy in his sight by repentance for past transgressions, and the most resolved purposes of amendment in future. It should be a day of rest to our bodies, and recovery to our souls; for, after all, the Sabbath is not such a day of rest as to demand no exertion ; if on the six other days of the week we labour for the bread that perisheth, on this day in particular we should labour for that which endureth unto everlasting life, working out our salvation with fear and trembling. The third division of time commonly admitted needs not to be enlarged upon ; it is regulated by the moon, and from thence called a month, which we again divide into weeks, so that what has been already said of the Sabbath may apply as well to this. We have a larger division and period in the one immediately under con




sideration, namely, the year; which, being SERM. regulated by the apparent course and motions of the greater luminary of heaven, bringing round the orderly succession of the four seasons, has so universally obtained as to promise a general agreement in time to come, however the period of its commencement may be varied, or the lesser divisions, for some reason or other, transposed and altered, as has lately happened in a neighbouring nation; where not only the commencement of the year has been changed, but the course and names of the months, and the period of the week, entirely abolished'; the latter, it is to be feared, for the express purpose of getting rid of the Sabbath, or seventh day, the

arrangement having taken place when infidelity reared its head in triumph, and was openly avowed (I am ashamed to record it) in a public assembly of the nation, without censure or reproach! It is not necessary at present to take particular notice of any other artificial periods than such as are immediately regulated by the course of the heavenly bodies, the rest be

SERM. ing chiefly multiplications of the former, XXI. such as the century of a hundred years,

the Sabbatical year of the Jews, and the jubilee of fifty years. It is not to be doubted but that all these stated times and seasons, as they recurred, must have made an impression on every considerate mind; and therefore, on exainining the records of the different nations of the world, we generally find some ceremonies instituted to distinguish, with suitable notice, the precise moment of such revolutions. Among the Jews particularly, the beginning of the new year was announced by the priest's blowing the silver trumpet, for which ceremony, though various reasons have been assigned, we cannot be much out, I should think, in connecting it, as many learned commentators have done, with the tradi- . tion extant among them, that on that day especially God judges all the actions of the past year, and disposes the events of the year ensuing, more particularly as they had other customs appropriated to this season, that serve in a great degree to support this interpretation; for they were


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