Imatges de pÓgina

effect appears to be produced in such a case; is there not reason to fear, that, "though we spread forth our hands, the Lord will not regard us, or hearken to our prayer," because we disregard his holy commandment ? Do not those profane the Sabbath, who spend it in visiting their friends, because they will not spare time during the week to do so? Servants, and those who are obliged to work during the week, look upon the Sabbath as their own day, upon which they may do what they please, and spend as they think proper; but let such persons remember that it is the Lord's day-a day to be spent more especially in the service of God; and will a man rob God, and deprive his own soul of such a precious means of improvement as the Sabbath affords? Besides, God has forbidden us to take our pleasure on his holy day. Isa. Iviii. 13, "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from taking thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord and honourable, and shall honour him, not doing thine own ways, or finding thine own pleasure, or speaking thine own words." It is a most awful thing for persons who are busily employed during the week, and to whom, on that account, the Sabbath might be the greatest blessing, to be found squandering away the precious hours of that day, wandering about in idleness, or seeking their amusement in the ways of sin. And it may here be observed, that the heads of families are most blameable, in allowing their servants to go to visit their friends on the Lord's day, instead of allowing them some time during the week, if necessary, to visit them. Again, are not those persons guilty of profaning the Sabbath, who take journeys on that day, or who travel part of the day, and think if they have been to public worship, all is quite right? Are we not guilty of breaking the divine command, as explained in the passages of Scripture mentioned above, when we indulge in worldly conversation, on the Lord's day, "speaking our own words;" for as it is the heart service which God requires, and as it is out of the heart the mouth speaketh, if we give way to worldly conversation, we cannot be even endeavouring to keep our hearts fixed upon God and spiritual things? There are many more ways which might be mentioned, in which the Lord's day is profaned, such as writing or sending letters, looking over accounts, &c., besides the more glaring breaches of the divine law, of which those are guilty, who have no fear of God before their eyes; but as this is chiefly addressed to those who are professors of Christianity, and not to the open enemies of

God only, the abuses most common among them have been mentioned. And before we proceed farther, let us "consider our ways." We who profess to have received Jesus as our Saviour and King, and therefore to honour him by obedience to his laws, through his grace bestowed upon us, can we say that

we desire that we endeavour to honour the Sabbath; that we do not wilfully transgress the command of God in any of the ways here mentioned; that we do not, on any occasion, or from any plea, do the work of the week-day upon the Sabbath? We may be tempted to make many excuses for our conduct, such as, "if we did not do such things, we would not hold the situation we do"-persuading ourselves that such practices are right, because we say, that it is in the way of our business, and we would not get on without doing so; but such excuses are utterly vain; the word is, "thou shalt keep the Sabbath-day holy, in it thou shalt do no manner of work;" and if we be really sincere in our Christian profession, we will prefer giving up any temporal advantage, rather than break one of the least of the commandments.

Having made these few observations on the evil of Sabbathbreaking, we shall conclude with a few remarks on the keeping of it holy. The hours of the Sabbath should be spent in spiritual exercises, such as prayer, reading, and hearing the word, pious conversation, and the religious instruction of the ignorant. We should prepare for the Sabbath on the preceding day, so that nothing of a worldly nature, which we could foresee or avoid, should occupy its sacred hours. This should be especially attended to by large families, where, if previous preparation be not attended to, there must, of necessity, be much confusion and labour to servants and others on the Sabbath. The Lord's day should be commenced by secret communion with God, wherein we should confess our past sins, especially those things in which we have particularly transgressed during the past week. Then seek for grace and strength, to walk more holily during the one we have entered upon; and we should endeavour to realize the influence of this during the entire day. "The Sabbath" (as it has been well observed) "is the market-day of the soul." On that day God is especially present in his house, and with his people, ready to dispense mercies and spiritual blessings, and we should be waiting for them, and expecting to receive them-those who know not the truth, for converting grace; and those who do know it, for upholding and comforting grace. "The Sabbath should be our delight," and we may gene

rally form a tolerably correct idea of the state of our own souls, by the manner in which we spend our Sabbaths; we should aim at something more than merely abstaining from what is outwardly wrong. -we should endeavour, like St. John, to be "in the Spirit on the Lord's day," and should seek for a real spiritual improvement from it, as a precious means of grace. In conclusion, let those who neglect the due observance of the Lord's day, be warned of their danger. They may imagine that their guilt is not so great as that of a thief or murderer; but it matters not what we think of ourselves or others, it is by what God says that we are to be judged; and he has said, that "he that offendeth in one point, is guilty of all." One sin may injure ourselves or our neighbour more than another, but every transgression of the law is a sin against the Lord of heaven and earth, and exposes us to his righteous indignation; and, therefore, if you, my readers, have hitherto profaned or neglected the Sabbath, I entreat you to stop and consider your ways; if you do not, you will find in the end that everlasting destruction shall assuredly overtake you. The Lord your God is ready now to give you repentance for the past, and grace to enable you to walk in obedience for the future. And will not you be ready to receive these blessings from him? Let others beware of neglecting the due improvement of the Sabbath; we should value that day as a precious gift from God. It is not enough that we are engaged in reading the Bible or other religious exercises, as a useful

riter of the present day has said, “many a person has broken the Sabbath entirely wasted every hour of it, and yet done nothing but read the Bible from morning till night." We should aim at a real improvement in Christian duty on the Lord's day, we should seek to know more of God, and how we ought to walk, and to please him; and desire to abound more and more in conformity to his holy will.

And now, in conclusion, as the only means of performing this or any other duty, I entreat you to pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit, that you may be enabled to do the things which are commanded; for he alone is the source of all that is good in man, and from him, as the fountain of light and life, do all right thoughts, and all good actions proceed. Let us therefore ask this precious gift, and assuredly we shall -receive it..



No. I.

"This Article undertakes to state, and briefly to vindicate the PRINCIPLES OF PRESBYTERY, as originally acted upon in England."

THE Erastian sentiment, "that no one form of church government is prescribed in Scripture," seems much in accordance with the infidelity of the present age. If the Almighty, however, has enriched the church with the blessings of redemption by Jesus Christ, it certainly must appear strange, should he have left her external mechanism to man's capricious fancy. If Jehovah furnished the pattern of the ancient tabernacle, even to the pins, the loops, and the taches, it seems passing strange, that the construction of the Christian temple should be so undefined, that every conceited adventurer may, with impunity, put forth his hand in remodelling the sacred edifice. If the Almighty Creator had no satisfaction in contemplating the earth when it was without form and void, and sent his Spirit to move upon the face of the waters for the organization of the terrestrial ball, it appears astonishing in the extreme, that, but for the interference and inventions of the erring children of men, the church of God's Eternal Son should be without symmetry, and without any adjustment of its principles to the grand design of the Gospel dispensation. It is altogether inconsistent with His procedure who is a God of order, and whose management of the universe displays consummate wisdom in its every department; and surely it is quite inadmissible, that the framework of this stupendous ob ject, upon which the thoughts of Deity, from all everlasting, have been fixed, and for whose salvation the artillery of hea ven have been employed, should alone be left to the inventive powers of some unskilful contriver, or even to the collective wisdom of the kingdoms of this world's imperfect councils. The admission of this baneful doctrine has sorely disturbed and distracted the peace of the Christian Church in England, as well as in other places; and little honour did Cranmer, Whitgift, and others of our early reformers, put upon their names, when they maintained that the polity of the church should, in all cases, resemble the government of the country where the Gospel was received;* consequently,

* Neal, p. 117, vol. III.

whether that government should be a despotism, a limited monarchy, or a republic.

In consequence of the admission of this pernicious sentiment into the church, and its revival by the liberal religious thinkers of recent times, many schemes of ecclesiastical polity have been introduced into the Christian community; and differ exceedingly, as they do, from each other, and vague as their abettors may admit that, the Scriptures are upon the subject of church government, they all claim the sanction of the word of God for the views which they entertain. Unless it were for the perplexing speculations and unwarranted predilections of men, it might be thought, nothing more was needful than to open the Bible and trace the finger of God pointing to the grand outline of the Christian superstructure. Involved, however, by sophistry, as the subject of church polity has become, the attainment of truth on this important topic does certainly demand the exercise of an unbiassed judgment and a devout appeal to the teaching of the divine Spirit. In this befitting frame of mind let us look, for a moment, at the prominent plans of ecclesiastical government which have divided the church-they resolve themselves into that of Episcopacy, or of Presbytery, or of Independency.

The Episcopal form of church polity which the Church of England has embraced, rests the management of ecclesiastical affairs in the hands of the diocesan bishop, with the king as the source of supreme canonical authority. Independency intrusts what concerns each congregation with the whole body of the members indiscriminately, rejecting the counsel, the inspection, and the interference, in every point of view, of any other church. The Presbyterian form of ecclesiastical government, which the Church of Scotland has been long wedded to, as the only scriptural method of governing a church, commits the management of her affairs to the ministers, in council with a select number of their brethren, whose decisions, however, respecting a particular congregation, are subject to the review and authoritative control of ministers and elders in other assemblies. The question, then, naturally arises, to which of these forms of church-polity do the Presbyterians of England belong? This inquiry becomes the more necessary when you reflect that the most numerous_body of religionists in England, who designate themselves "Presbyterians," have not one prominent feature of resemblance to the Scots Church in doctrine, and just as little similitude in regard to the principles of Presbytery. But do you ask, what were the views of their

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