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stated and cheerful solemnity, fulfilled the injunction of God, to remember the Sabbath day.* If that day which the chosen nation formerly observed in memory of the creation of the world, . and of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, has since been changed in honour of him who was Lord of the Sabbath ; not merely in token that by him were all things created that are in heaven and in earth, but also in memory of that greater deliverance which he effected, when, having died for our sins, he rose again for our justification; our duty to be prepared to render a spiritual service, is by no means lessened, but is become even more binding and imperative, as well by reason of the greater benefits which it commemorates, as on account of the more enlightened homage which we are called upon to render.
Not only are the spiritual blessings which belong to a proper observance of the Lord's day both great and manifold; but good men have also remarked the beneficial influences which have resulted even to their worldly occupations during the week, when the entrance upon it has been marked by that temper and spirit which, as the day of the Lord, it may justly claim.
The testimony of Sir Matthew Hale on this subject is familiar to you all; and this, which is
See Lighfoot's Harmony, Josephus, Jennings. Jennings’ Antiquities, Brown's Antiquities.
but the experience of thousands of others, presents an appeal to that regard which all men have for their own prosperity and advantage, to induce them to keep holy that best of days. But it is chiefly in regard to our hopes and prospects as immortal beings, that we are bound to consider the gracious purpose of God in requiring us to draw nigh to him on this holy day; and when we think of the vast importance of these, a moment's reflection will convince us that it is our interest as well as our duty, to come before him with those pious dispositions, and religious motives, which he requires.
To stop, however, in a general acknowledgment of the propriety of doing so, will be of no avail; and this, my brethren, is all that we shall attain to, without some particular care and attention previous, to give to our thoughts and feelings a holy disposition and tendency; without some actual preparation of our hearts and minds to appear before him, and that duly as the Sabbath draweth on.
We are ever liable, my brethren, in mingling with the world, and pursuing its occupations, to imbibe its spirit, which is hostile to the spirit of the Gospel, and destructive of pious and devotional feeling. Now that this worldly spirit must be displaced, and holy affections take possession of the soul, before we can worship God aright, is too evident to require proof. But as in matter
there is a principle of inertness, so in mind there is an averseness and indisposition to change. A sudden transition from one set of emotions to another of a different kind, is unnatural, and never easy. The mind loves to proceed by a regular gradation from one train of thought to another. It requires to be excited and aroused before it is called to act; and it has a thousand associating links, which connect it with all the objects of perception and reflection, and by means of which it may be influenced and moved. If, therefore, we would possess it with any train of thought different from that with which it is commonly, or has recently, been occupied ; if we would raise it from the contemplation of earthly to that of heavenly things ; if from the thoughts of this world to the consideration of the next; we must not depend upon a sudden impulse to change the current; we must betimes regard and dwell upon the sentiments we would cherish; we must collect our wandering thoughts, and carefully direct them to their proper employment. “Watch unto
prayer," was the injunction of the Apostle Peter; and he therein had reference to this very principle of our nature, and inculcated the necessity of regarding previously the temper and disposition which it becomes us to encourage and cherish, in order to the right performance of any religious duty.
If, then, we would procure the blessings in
tended for us in the public worship of God; if we would carry with us, from each returning celebration of his goodness in our creation, and of his mercy in our redemption, a large portion of the spirit which belongs to the devotion of that day; and if we would spread its influence over all the actions of the ensuing week; we ought, before its approach, to compose our hearts for its duties, to weigh our necessities and our privileges, and never to forget this preparation, as the Sabbath draws on.
God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. He cannot be deceived, and will not be mocked. He, therefore, who rises on the sacred day, with his thoughts devoted to the world and its pursuits, though he may make a hurried prepartion, and present himself in the house of God, is not likely to perform an acceptable service. The world will still be in his thoughts; his sense of the Divine presence and inspection will be less reverent than it ought to be, and might have been; his desires after holiness less ardent, his thanksgiving less sincere, his prayer less spiritual. He will retire from the temple of God, if not dissatisfied with himself, unbenefitted and unimproved by the gracious influences which are there promised and vouchsafed; influences, both spiritual and temporal, which would have cheered his heart, and showered blessings upon his head. To him the Sabbath is not a delight; and it is no wonder if soon he grows weary of its services, and anxious to give himself up to the world and its deceits, should turn even from the songs of the temple, and say, “ When will the Sabbath be
?"* Let us contrast with this example of the careless man, who makes no preparation for entering upon the worship of God, or for profiting by the influences of his Holy Spirit, in his temple and in his service, that' of one who comes duly prepared, and with a disposition to worship him aright. Instead of the listlessness, indifference, and distraction of thought, which marked the former, he approaches with the animated language of feeling and of devotion, “O God, my “ heart is ready, my heart is ready, I will sing " and give praise. Awake thou lute and harp. “ I myself will awake right early. With my soul “ have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my
spirit within me will I seek thee early. My
voice shalt thou hear betimes in the morning. “ In the morning will I direct my prayer unte “ thee, and will look up. I will come into thy “ house in the multitude of thy mercy, and in thy (4 fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.”
When the devout man,' filled with such anticipations of blessedness, goes up to the temple of God, no wonder that he should have reason to