Imatges de pÓgina
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MOTIVES FOR SANCTIFYING THE SABBATH.

count for; and consider, that for all an account must soon b rendered before the bar of the Eternal. Sabbaths improved are precious blessings; but wasted sabbaths are dreadful curses. O spend them as one who knows, that every sabbath, as it finishes, leaves you one sabbath nearer heaven or hell! O improve them as you should do, if you wish to be blessed with the influence of a hundred or a thousand sabbaths, when they are gone for ever!

§ 8. In addition to all these considerations, it is no inconsiderable motive for a strict observance of the Lord's day, that this may have the happiest effects in promoting religion. I have heard a respectable minister of the gospel relate a striking fact illustrative of this observation. A solicitor had a law-suit in hand, which was expected to come to trial on the Monday morning. Several signatures were necessary to some papers, which were to be obtained previously to the trial; and on the Lord's day before the expected day of trial, he applied to a lady, a member of a dissenting church, for her signature. She refused to give it on the sabbath, but was willing to sign the requisite deed the next morning. In vain he tried to move her from her resolution. All his influence failed; she was immovable. He then applied to two other persons also, members of a dissenting church in London, but met with a similar reception: they were willing to sign as soon as he pleased in the morning, but would not sign on the Lord's day. The effect of this consistent conduct on their part was very pleasing. He discerned the effect of religion-it led him to reflection-he perceived his own want of religion—and the affair issued in his conversion. He became a firm friend of the gospel; was the principal, if not the sole, instrument in erecting a house of prayer in his own neighbourhood, and afterwards was a principal supporter of the interests of religion there. Such is one out of many instances of the happy effects produced, where Christians let their light shine before men.

9. As this volume may probably fall into the hands of some, who are wasting those precious seasons, which are flying so fast, never to return, perhaps it may be useful, in the plainest way, to glance at some of the objections which are brought against a strict improvement of the Lord's day, and to offer a brief reply to each.

j. 1. Such strictness is making more ado than enough.

OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.

251 It will make the day a weariness. Besides, where is it commanded? Going to church or to chapel once in the day is very well, but as for any thing more, it is burthensome, and I am altogether indisposed to it.

Ans. My fellow-traveller to eternity, it is commanded when God says, Remember the sabbath DAY to keep it holy. He claims all the day as much as any part of it. To profane the morning or the evening, is as much rebellion against God as to profane the whole, and unless you religiously improve the day, you have no share in the blessings promised to those who improve not the morning or the afternoon, but who remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. As to making too much of this sacred day, do they who are in heaven think that this can be done? do they who are lost in hell? or will you when death and eternity are near? You do not complain that six days are too long for serving the world; you are contented all the week without the house of God, but not one day without the world. Which then has your heart? not God, but the world. If you are not awfully blind to your own state, you must perceive this; and while you are a lover of the world, the love of God is not in you. If one sabbath is a burthen to you, what would an eternal sabbath be? If you cannot be content for a few hours without the world, what happiness would you find even in heaven, where all is spiritual and devout? That you are indisposed for religious exercises, is both your sin and your misery, and confirms the importance of a change in you, great as a second birth. They that are after the flesh, the Lord declares, do mind the things of the flesh; and this is your case. While it is so you are a perishing sinner, and never can be happy, unless you become a new creature in Jesus Christ.

Obj. 2. I cannot benefit by the minister where I attend.

Ans. Is that your fault or his? If his, go where you can. If yours, the objection only makes matters worse. Perhaps you go without previous prayer, and without any real desire of spiritual good.

Obj. 3. I have no time but the Lord's day to instruct my children in religion.

Ans. Instruct them then in the intervals of public worship, but forget not to give them the important instruction of example, by letting them see that you love and improve the house of God.

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OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.

Obj. 4. I am poor, and need recreation, and have no day but Sunday for it.

Ans. If pious as well as poor, you will love the house of God, and find true pleasure there, and if you are not pious you will be poor for both worlds, poor on earth, and poorer still in hell; and while you are in danger of this, have you much cause for amusement? Have you not something more important than vain amusement to mind? to flee from the wrath to come? to get your sins forgiven, and your heart renewed? And while you do not think it too much to spend six days in every week to obtain support for your dying body, should you think one too much to spend in pursuing everlasting blessings for your immortal soul?

Obj. 5. I observe the day more strictly than many of my neighbours; I go occasionally to worship, but they go never.

Ans. They are going to perdition, and if you should meet these ungodly neighbours in hell, will this be sufficient to comfort you when your soul, by sabbath-breaking and sin, is sunk there?

Obj. 6. I should cheerfully attend divine worship, but the care of my family prevents me.

Ans. This excuse may be true, and sufficient at times; but at other times it will not avail. Frequently where there is a will there is a way. If you could get a pound by going to the house of God, would your family hinder you?

Obj. 7. I have but little time for reading, and what harm can there be in reading a newspaper, or a book on history, on Sunday? I can get such knowledge at no other time.

Ans. What harm is there in it? It is not keeping the sabbath holy, and it is better to go to heaven without such knowledge, than to get it by profaning the sabbath, and thus to go to hell with it and for it. It does no good to your soul; it deprives you of spiritual good, which you might obtain. What harm would there be in your never getting knowledge of this description, compared with the mischief of injuring your soul?

Obj. 8. What harm can there be in an hour's friendly chat, or in an amusing walk, on a Sunday evening?

Ans. Probably that chat would be of such a kind, as if you had felt any serious impressions in the day to banish them. Would you like your discourse to be minuted down, and read to you at the judgment day? yet remember that every idle

CHRISTIANS MUST FREQUENT THE HOUSE OF GOD. 253 word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Obj. 9. Who can do with such strictness?

Ans. Who has any certainty of getting to heaven without it? The Lord Jesus says, Strive, agonize, to enter in at the strait gate; for many will seek to enter in and shall not be able.

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§ 10. Many persons neglect the public duties of the Lord's day, under the pretence that they read the Scriptures or other good books at home; but this is only one of those pitiful delusions by which multitudes delude themselves into eternal ruin. On this subject God has given a plain and express command: "Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love, and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." The services of God's house are by no means designed merely to communicate instruction, with which we were before unacquainted. This, it is true, especially with respect to those who are unacquainted with the gospel, is of unspeakable moment; but with respect to the disciples of Christ, their principal design is to give opportunities for social devotion, and to strengthen and revive every religious disposition and feeling. When the blessed Jesus tabernacled below, he united in public worship, and saints and angels in heaven are described as joining in the most solemn acts of united devotion. Hence you may see the folly of the excuse for neglecting the house of God,-I do not go because I can get as much instruction by reading at home. The object of public worship is not merely to gain instruction. Did the Lord Jesus Christ need instruction? Do angels in heaven need it? Yet he on earth united in the public worship of God, and they do so in glory. To forsake God's house is rebellion against God's command, Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together. It is a rejection of his blessings. It manifests disbelief or contempt of Christ's promise, Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Do you believe him thus present with his assembled disciples? and will you neglect to be present with them? Christians assemble for prayer, for praise, to hear the word of life, and to commemorate

(0) Heb. x. 24, 25.

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CHRISTIANS MUST IMPROVE THE SABBATH.

the dying love of Christ. Which of these should be neg. lected? Yet all must, by those who forsake assembling with his people.

Watch against this mischievous practice, and whatever others do, improve your sabbaths. This practice deprives the soul of benefits it might enjoy, and prevents its growth in grace. If the Christian were in a good state, this would sink him to a bad one; if in a bad one, sink him to a worse. It throws a stumbling-block in the way of others, and often leads to total apostasy. Then what a long and dreadful list of evils follow: hopes disappointed, vows broken, faith shipwrecked, expectations blasted, heaven lost, and the soul ruined.

Improve your sabbaths. Forsake not regular assembling with the children of God; but keep in sight the day that fast approaches, the day when all excuses for neglect will appear frivolous indeed; when all the guilt of broken sabbaths must be answered for, and all the mischiefs felt: the day when all these means shall end; when broken sabbaths shall too late be lamented. But if your sabbaths are loved and improved, the day, when the worship of earth shall be exchanged for the worship of heaven, the praises of time for those of eternity, and when, instead of the sabbaths which are so soon gone for ever, a day of blessedness shall dawn that never more shall end.

CHAPTER XIV.

ON PRIZING AND SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES.

§ 1. A MOST important help in the way to eternal life, is the regular and devout perusal of the sacred Scrip

tures.

The Bible is an inestimable treasure, and of all books

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