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much time therein; for there is little need of any such caution with respect to spiritual conversation. Alas, there is little time spent therein : J. S. had employed his pen much better, if he had recommended this sort of conversation on the Sabbath : for that of a carnal sort, people are apt enough to learn it without a teacher.
2. I freely own the Lord's day to be a festival, but it is for the soul, not for the body. This is the day in which Christians are brought into the banqueting house ; but the fare is celestial, the dainties spiritual. On this day they are feasted and filled, but it is with the fatness of God's house, and the rivers of his pleasures : this day they are made joyful, but not with carnal joy and mirth; the pleasures are spiritual, the joy is divine. I do not say that this day ought to be kept as a fast-day for afflicting the body; no, it is necessary the body should be seasonably refreshed and supported, that it may be serviceable to the soul in the work of the day, and service of God. and may call the Sabbath a delight, rejoice in God's goodness, and be cheerful in the celebration of the love and praises of our Redeemer. But to say that set feasts, carnal entertainments, and good fellowship, are proper duties on the Lord's day, is strange doctrine; for then I see not how carnal mirth and jollity can be excluded ; and so God's holy day shall be turned into a carnival, destructive to the blessed ends and designs of it. Modest and honest provision for our tables on the Lord's day, is what I do not discommend: but I say, “ Set feasts, sumptuous entertainments, and too liberal partaking of the creatures, are not proper on this day; in regard they are apt to indispose us for the duties of the day, by rendering the body dull and sluggish, and inclining us to drowsiness and sleep;" as also, the preparing of them doth detain servants from the ordinances, and divert them both from public and private duties necessary for the sanctifying of the Sabbath. It is observable of our blessed pattern Jesus Christ, that though he fraukly went into the houses of Pharisees, and others on week days, when invited ; yet on the Sabbath day, it is only said, he went into one of their houses to eat bread, Luke xiv. 1. that is, to take such moderate refreshment as was suitable for that day, and for the work of it, teaching us, that on this day, we should, like Moses and Jethro, with the elders of Israel, Exod. xviii. 12. - eat bread before God," i. e. with a deep sense of his all
seeing eye, and special caution against all manner of excess, or any thing that may indispose us for holy duties.
Moreover, observe what manner of conversation Christ had at this Sabbath-day's refreshment: He indeed solaced himself and the company with a mutual and cheerful conversation, but it was wholly spiritual and heavenly, concerning the feast provided for us in the gospel. This was suitable Sabbath-day's conversation, that needed not J. S's caution against spending too much time therein.
But J. S, is so zealous for those Sabbath-days recreations and entertainments, that he is not content to prove the lawfulness of them, but he will have them binding on us as necessary duties.
But I would fain know how any man will prove the dutifulness of them : Pray where is the command for them ? where is the advantage of them ? wherein do they promote the great ends of the Sabbath, God's glory and our soul's edification ? I think I have clearly proven the contrary
I shall only add this word; I make a supposition, that a poor soul is brought under a law work, or deep convictions, like the jailer, by means of the sermons on the Lord's-day: will any man say, that it would be his du. ty presently after, to go to these feasts, entertainments and recreations, and thereby hinder or quench the ope- . rations of God's Spirit on his soul ? I would rather think it his duty to retire from the world and company, to prayer, and self-examination, in order to entertain and cherish the Spirit's work on his heart.
Object. VI. " But these recreations and entertainments will not binder the sanctification of the Sabbath, but rather help to quicken and prepare us for our succeeding devotions."
Ans. I am persuaded that those who exercise themselves to godliness, and are acquainted with the power of it, will not talk so; nay, they will tell, from their sad experience, that the meeting of promiscuous companies on the Lord's day, for carnal entertainments, vaip talking, walking, and sporting, are so far from fitting us for after devotions or spiritual exercises, that they directly tend to deaden the heart, suppress convictions, quench any warmness of affections and liveliness of frame wrought in us by the public ordinances, and so render us the more indisposed for spiritual employments. Instead of quickening and disposing our
minds for returning to God's worship, they do the more increase our averseness thereto. Experienced Christians can tell, that private meditation, reading, or Christian conference, are far better means to fit us for our evening devotions on the Lord's day, than carnal recreations.
Object. VII. “ Some intermission for recreation is needful; for we cannot be employed in spiritual exercises a whole day: This would be a great toil to the spirit, especially of such who have been sore toiled with servile labour through the week; nay, the best are ready to faint and weary in the continued exercise of piety.”
Ans. 1. The extent of God's precepts is not to be measured by our ability or inability ; neither can our impotency to give obedience to God's commands, in the least invalidate or weaken the authority thereof.
2. By the same argument, the Jews might have pleaded, that they were not bound to rest the whole Sabbath, nor spend the whole day in religious exercises ; for they were liable to the same infirmities that are incident to us.
3. I frankly allow what refreshment is necessary for supporting nature, and for the better performance of the duties of the Sabbath ; but, for the aforesaid carnal diversions, they are so far from being necessasy for furthering the work of the Sabbath, that they are great hindrances thereto.
4. If labouring people need recreation for their bodies, then let them have some time or week days for it. If for their minds, I know no such fit recreation as the joyful commemoration of the love of Christ, and our redemption from hell and wrath through his blood, and the cheerful singing the praises of our Maker and Redeemer, which is the very work of the Sabbath. Is it not a recreation for Christ's sheep to feed in his green pastures, and to be led by him beside the still waters 1 to behold the waters of life, clear as crystal, flowing betwist the banks of ordinances ? to get a pleasant prospect from mount Nebo, of the promised land ? Is it not a recreation for a condemned man, to come and hear his pardon pronounced ? for a hungry man to get pleasant food and heavenly dainties ? for a sick man to get all his diseases healed ? Must it not be a carnal and stupid heart, that will call these a burden or weariness? There are many whd seary not to spend whole days at markets, in
buying and selling; nay, whole days and nights in gaming and drinking: And, will you call a day spent in such pleasant and refreshful work a toil, which is the highest privilege of a rational creature ? Surely, no workman can be so glad of a day's ease from his sore. labour, as a believer should be to have a day's release from his worldly business, that he may freely and entirely converse with his God and Saviour, and rejoice in his bounty and redeeming love.
5. Every Sabbath we meet with many unavoidable interruptions, which take us off from the duties of God's worship, though we go not to contrive unnecessary diversions and recreations for this end. There is much of every Sabo bath spent in preparing food, dressing and feeding our bodies, going to the church, and returning from it, attending children, cattle, &c. O how many are our avocations and intermissions in serving our Creator and Redeemer on the Lord's day, which we cannot shun! And shall we think the rest of the day too much for this important work, that we must
seek carnal diversions to drive it 6. I grant, the best are ready to grow weary of duty, because of the aversion of our corrupt nature to that which is good; but carnal recreations will never cure this aversion, nor overcome that weariness, but will certainly indulge and increase the same. The best way to cure weariness (next to the grace of God) is practice and experience in religion, and sincere wrestling and striving against it. Resisting overcomes it ; but giving way to it doth increase it.
7. The Lord knows the carnality and weariness that our hearts are naturally prone to in the work of the Sabbath ; wherefore, for remedy thereof, he hath graciously appointed variety of exercises on the Sabbath-day, that, when we weary of one, another may be our recreation. weary of hearing ? then recreate yourselves with prayer : If of that, then recreate yourselves with singing of God's praises : If of that, then recreate yourselves in reading God's word, and other good books: If of that, then recreate yourselves with meditation : If you weary of that, then recreate yourselves with Christian conference, repeating the sermons, instructing your families, &c. If you weary of public duties, then go to private; if of these, go to secret duties. Is there not here a delightful variety of pleasant spiritual employments, sufficient to recreate ourselves with
for one day, without needing the help of any sensual diversion, to put off the precious time of this blessed day? How think you to spend a whole eternity in spiritual exercises, when you weary so much of one day ? Whatever carnal men think, I am sure a godly soul will be far from counting this work a burden. Hearing and reading the seriptures is a far less burden to him, than recreations and pastimes would be; for God's 6 testimonies are his delight, and he rejoices in them more than in all riches,” Psalm cxix. Yea, nothing in the world is such a burden to himn on the Sab. bath as his ill heart, his little delight in the Sabbath, and shortcomings in the duties thereof; and nothing such a pleasure and recreation to him, as when he can win above these, and get his heart lifted up in the ways of the Lord.
I am sure it is no unpleasant work that God calls us to on the Sabbath ; who, but a wicked man, will count it a wearisome thing to think on Christ, and his dying love ? to hear the sweet messages of free grace, and rejoice in the foresights and foretastes of his everlasting love You know the black character of these, who of old called Sabbath-work a burden, and said, “ When will the Sabbath be gone ?” Amos viii. 5. This temper stands in opposition to gospelholiness, therefore I think J. S. and every gospel minister, should be so far from indulging it by giving way to carnal recreations and diversions, that he should do what lies in his power to reprove, discourage and remedy it. And if ministers would be at pains to preach and pray with life and awakening seriousness, and afford their people a pleasant variety of wholesome discourses concerning Christ and eternity, it would be a far better way to cure their weariness, than to prescribe carnal recreations on the Lord's day; for this is a cure that both strengthens the disease, and is as bad as the disease.
Object. VIII. “ But walking in the fields on the Lord's day seems to be a harmless practice : why will you not allow of that?"
Ans. Whenever the works of piety, necessity or mercy do require it, it is allowable: but to do it idly, Tor putting off the time, or for worldly employments or recreations, is what the word of God condemns. It is not only lawful, but dutiful to walk abroad, if it be for attending public ordinances, visiting the sick, or other Sabbath duties; fo