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is, that he doth not know that ever he observed any repentance in a malefactor, who did not bitterly lament his neglect of his duty to God on that day.
IX. In the last place. The dispensations of divine providence may be brought in, as giving suffrage to the sanctification of the Lord's day. God hath highly honoured this day, by doing many mighty works upon it: On this day he created the light, and began to make the world; on this day he gave the law from mount Sinai, as Grotius observes. Nay, it is affirmed by an ancient council held at Constantinople, Counc. 6. Can. 8.. "That Christ was born on the Lord's day, and the star shined to the wise men on it. Christ fed the five thousand with the five loaves and two fishes on this day; and he was baptized, rose from the dead, and sent downthe Holy Ghost on this day." And some of the ancients have further affirmed, that whatsoever notable thing was done in the world, (the Lord ordered it so.) was done to the honour of this day. Thus God hath consecrated the first day of the week, or Christian Sabbath, by doing so many of his wonderful works upon it; to intimate to us, that it is his will we should sanctify this day, and observe it weekly, for publishing and proclaiming his worthy acts, and keeping up the memory of Christ's nativity, passion, resurrection, &c. to the end of the world, without instituting days of our own for these ends.
Moreover there are various dispensations from God, both of mercy and judgment, that conclude for the observation of this holy day. The gracious providences, that attend the conscientious observers of the Lord's day, are most remarkable. On these the Lord pours down the gracious influences of his Spirit, in his ordinances dispensed this day; he eminently blesseth them with increase of grace, tenderness of conscience, and holiness of life; and with all his best blessings, both spiritual and temporal. God hath now for these 1700 years past, granted all his churches through the world, many signal marks of his favour and presence in observing the Lord's day, which they could not have expected, had they been in an error in keeping it. How often hath he poured out his Spirit upon them when attending ordinances on this day, and blessed them with conviction, conversion, and manifestations of his love? Nay the universal experience of Christians do testify, that all the bles
sings and mercies, promised to the observers of the Sabbath under the Old Testament, are now transferred and accomplished to the keepers of the Christian Sabbath : for the change of the day being by divine authority, the first day Sabbath doth lawfully succeed to all the privileges, promises and threatenings formerly pertaining to the seventh day Sabbath. We see what blessings are promised to the keeping of the Sabbath of old, both spiritual and temporal: that is a remarkable word, Jer. xvii. 24. 26. "If ye hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein, then they shall come from the cities of Judah, and all other places, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat-offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise unto the house of the Lord" i.e. When the Sabbath is duly observed, then the church shall flourish, religion shall be promoted, and the name of God highly exalted. And do we not see this promise visibly accomplished to such churches and persons as strictly sanctify the Lord's day? Among such Christianity doth flourish, knowledge is increased, reformation is advanced, grace is multiplied, and a conscientious regard is had to all the other duties of religion.
Again, we find temporal mercies annexed to the keeping of the Sabbath, Isa. Iviii. 13, 14, "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath," i. e. if thou ceasest from profaning it, "I will cause thee to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father:" i. e. Thou shalt be blessed with outward prosperity, and many earthly enjoyments.-This is again confirmed in Jer. xvii 24, 25." If ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein, then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots, and this city shall remain for ever:" i. e. The nation and city shall be blessed with all secular and civil advantages. Accordingly the people of God have found the hallowing of the Sabbath day sensibly prosperous to them with respect to their secular affairs: when they have discharged the duties of this day with a good conscience, it hath fared the better with them all the week after. In testimony whereof, I shall here narrate the experience of that excellent person, Sir Matthew Hale, lord chief justice of the king's bench, in the reign of king Charles II. who was both an eminent lawyer, and a good divine. In his book, called Contemplations,
moral and divine, he hath these words: "I have found
Again, the judgments which often follow upon the violation of this day, do give testimony to its divine authority. How sad are the spiritual strokes, though little noticed, which God inflicts upon the slighters of his holy day, by giving them up to hardness of heart, searedness of conscience, and vile affections; so that commonly they fall into scandalous out-breakings, and notorious crimes, proceeling from evil to worse, till they at length run themselves into some fatal mischief! And, when men neglect to punish the profanation of this day, the Lord usually takes the sword into his own hand, and by visible temporal judgment, plagues the profaners of it. If the violation of the Jewish Sabbath, was by a divine order, punished with death, under the law, Exod. xxxi. 15. surely the breach of
the Christian Sabbath shall not escape without some signal marks of the divine vengeance, according to the scripture threatenings, which are levelled against the one as well as the other, as I shewed before. Let us not forget that terrible denuncitaion of judgment, which we have in Jer. xvii. 27. "But if you will not hearken unto me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched." The Jews (as Augustine observes) fell generally into this grievous sin of profaning the Sabbath for though they pretended to hallow it, by forbearing servile labour upon it; yet upon that day, above all days, they used to pamper the flesh with carnal delights, and run into the excesses of gluttony and drunkenness. Against these sins did our Saviour warn them; but, they persisting, the foresaid direful threatening was at length exactly fulfilled: for upon that very day, so abused by them, their regal city Jerusalem, the glory and master-piece of the whole earth, was burnt down to the ground by the Romans. And this Hegisippus and Dio observe to have been done on the Sabbath day, in September, about forty years after Christ's death.
And doth not that prophetical commination concern us, as well as the Jews? And have we not cause to fear the accomplishment of it for the breach of the Christian Sabbath ? Yes, we have found it to be true. Some impartial observers of God's judgments in the world have remarked, that this sin, viz. the breach of the fourth command, by the profane neglect of God's worship upon the Lord's day, and the spending of this time in open works of impiety, hath been frequently visited upon cities and private persons, by consuming fires that have happened upon this day: of which many instances might be given in this same island, as well as other parts of the world. That fiery prediction against Jerusalem bath been oftener than once fulfilled and executed upon the two capital cities thereof, many of whose inhabitants have been as guilty of profaning the day set apart for God's service as ever the Jews were. In London this vice reigned, and there it was dreadfully punished with a furious and astonishing fire in the year 1666, which laid the most part of that great city, with its fairest
churches and buildings, in rubbish, in three days space : and it is remarkable, that this dreadful fire broke forth on the Lord's day very early in the morning, being the second day of September.
Likewise in Edinburgh, where Sabbath breaking very much abounded, (as appears by the acts of assembly made against that sin) the fairest and stateliest of its buildings in the Parliament close, and about it, (to which scarce any in Britain were comparable) were on the fourth of February, 1700, (being the Lord's day,) burnt down and laid in ashes and ruins, in the space of a few hours, to the astonishment and terror of the sorrowful inhabitants : whereof I myself was an eye witness and the effects of that fire are visible to this day. Yea so great was the terror and confusion of that Lord's day, that the people of the city were in no case to attend any sermon or public worship upon it, though there was a great number of worthy ministers convened in the place, (besides the reverend ministers of the city,) ready to have prayed with or preached to the people on that sad occasion; (for the General Assembly was sitting there at the time :) But the dismal case of the city made this impracticable. However the Lord himself, by that silent Sabbath, did loudly preach to all the inhabitants of the city, setting forth to them, in a most awakening manner, the great sin and danger of irreligious neglecting of God's worship upon the Lord's day, and profaning it, by doing their own works, and finding their own pleasures."
I have read of the town of Stratford upon Avon, that it was twice, upon the Lord's days, almost consumed with fire, chiefly for profaning the Lord's day, and contemning his word in the mouth of his faithful minister. The like also might be told of several towns in Scotland.
Dr. Beard, in his Theatre of God's judgments, tells us of the town of Feverton, in Devonshire, that was often admonished by her godly pastor, that God would bring some heavy judgment upon the inhabitants of that place, for their profanation of the Lord's day, occasioned chiefly by preparing for their weekly market, which they then held on the Monday. Accordingly, very soon after the said minister's death, on the 3d of April, 1598, God sent a terrible fire, which in less than half an hour consumed the whole