« AnteriorContinuar »
Christ Jesus our Lord. The Lord's day is thc badge of the covenant of grace. “He that offercth praise glorificth me,” saith the Lord by the Psalmist, “and to him that ordereth his conversation aright, will I show the salvation of God.”
3. Nor should the praise of the Holy Ghost be omitted amongst the especial blessings celebrated on the Sabbath. The rest of heaven is, by his grace and the anticipations le vouchsafes, scaled to our hopes. This is that cternal reposc in God which from the record of the first institution in Paradisc, to the latest argument of St. Paul, has been presented as the fipal object of the day of rest. It typifics, scts forth, assures to every sincere believer, the ultimate happiness at which he aims. “There remaineth” this last resreshment and salvation “sor the people of God.” Let us look up towards it, dear brcthen, in our meditations and hopes. Let every Sabbath preparc us for its appropriate cmployment. Let the Joly Ghost, who on this day was vouchsafod to the church, to be the comforter, teacher, guidc, sanctifier, and great Author of all grace under tlic New Testament, be adored and glorificd. Let us implore of him the power to rcalizc thc promises of redemption, to view with gratitude the wonders of crcation and providence, and to unite all with the prospects of the rest of heaven. St. Augustine considers the Sabbath as peculiarly the law of the lIoly Ghost. The first two commandments hc looks upon as relating to thc bonor of God the Father; the third, as especially referring to God the Son, the cternal word, whose name is not to be taken in vain, nor to be reduced to the rank of a mcrc crcature; and the fourth, or sabbatical precept, he refers to the praisc of the Holy Ghost, who, as the author of rest and pcace in his church, is peculiarly honored on the day which agrees so cntirely with bis own office. Wc cnter not into a defencc critically of the sentiment of the holy Father. We scize the thought; and glorify God the Spirit on the day which is to raise us by his inspiration to the forctaste and pledge of our hcar. enly rest!
And now from these considerations on the practical duties of the Christian Sabbath, let us, in applying the discourse,
I. Romark the conviction which such a discussion should fix in the minds of the irreligious and unconverted. At what a distance are they from the true spirit and temper of the servants of God! They dispute against the Divine authority of the Lord's day.
They complain of the various duties we enjoin. They declare the impossibility of rising up to such a tone of picly. They invent excuses for absence and omission. But what do they in fact admit in all this, but their want of religions taste and feeling? What do they avow, but the want of spiritual judgment, pleasurcs, pursuits? The more they argic against the Sabbath, the more they condemn themscles. The further they recede from devotional babits and delights, the greater distance do they place bet:vecu themselves and God.
Yes, let such bc induced to consider their own ways and turn to the Lord. Let them weigh the authority, and remember the duties of God's blessed day; and let them scck that fundamental change of beart which will render the devotions of the day a pleasure, its duties a choice, its proper exercises the spontancous overflowing of gratitude and love. Then would these Sabbaths be the nundinae spirituales, the spiritual m:irket-days (to speak with Bishop Andrews) to their souls; then would they be as anxious to carry away commeatum animae, provision for the mind, for reforming the will, for regulating the affection, for illuminating the understanding, as they are careful to carry away provision for the body from the markets whither they resort.
But what can we say a3 to the spiritual state of thosc multiludes, who still continue to have little or no conscience about hallowing God's blessed day? Where shall we place them? Under what class are they to be arranged? Where is the indoIcnt and sensual Sabbath keeper, or rather Sabbath violater to be placed, wlio rcs's only as his ox, or liis ass, or bis catilc? Where is the pleasure-taking Sabbath-breaker to be arranged? Where the gluttonous and winc-bibbing? Where the busy, mercantilc, or professional Sabbath-breaker, wlio thinks that the hurrics of his concerns cxcuse him from the worship of God? Where is the formalist's Sabbath, whose heart remains behind, when his person and his lips sccm to approach his Maker and Rcdecmcr? And what shall we say to the Infidel's Sabbath, the scoffer's Sabbath, the debouchec's Sabbath? Alas! the heart turns sick at the fcarsul guilt of the numbers, who, with knowledge and opportunitics, and mcans of sanctifying the day of gracc, abuse, neglect, despise, violate it. Lct such awakc, cre it be too late to their imnicnsc loss, as well as to their heavy criminality bcfore Almighty God.
Shall God, my fellow sinners, have consecrated a day from the crcation of man, and wilt thou stand out against his gracious command? Shall God have republished his will in the fourth commandment of the decalogue-shall he have enforced it by all the motives of his righteous authority--shall he have poured around it all the milder glories of the new covenant, as well as the tremendous judgments of the old, and wilt thou not give God his due? Wilt thou not yield him the just rent which he demands upon the gist of thy time, thy health, thy property, thy six days' labor? Wilt thou remain insensible to thine cternal interest, thy present and future happiness, the preparation thou nccdest for death and judgment? O, consider thy ways, scck thy Savior's forgiveness, be ashamed and confounded for thy past neglect. Begin a new life. Enter upon a new course. Scek that holy taste and divine principle of life which will make the Christian Sabbath natural, interesting, pleasant, delightsul, necessary.
Take at least the preparatory stcps. If you cannot enter into all the engag!ments of the Sabbath, enter into some of them. By degrees new and better habits will be formed. By degrees the whole compass of sabbatical duties will become casy. Only begin in the strength of God, and relying on the operations of his grace. Take a vicw first of the great end of the institution, the sanctification of the soul. Then folow out the different classes of duties which spring from it, as branches from the parent stock. Next seek for something of the spiritual taste which forms the Christian temper. And lastly, let the grand blessings of creation and redemption, and the hope of hcaven, be in soine degree the topics of your praisc.
II. But may we not, all of us, Christian brethren, discover topics enough of humiliation in the discussion which has taken place? Which of us discharges the duties of the holy day of God as we should ? In fact, the Sabbath is so closely connected with Christianity itself, that as our Christianity rises or falls, so will our observation of the sacred season be elevated, or decline. Nothing is more difficult, considering our corruption and the snares of Satan, than a holy, wise, kind, and yet resolute government of ourselves and families on the Lord's day. All possible hindrances arise to oppose this duty. Especially in the management of our children and household, we mect continual obstacles to our best purposes. One remark, however, may be offered on the other
side. We must preserve the amiable spirit of our Saviour, and the gentle temper of his religion in our domestic arrangements. Few things are more important than to make the Sunday agreeable, in a proper sense of the term, to young persons and servants. If any thing morosc and rigid is apparent in our manner, to those placed under our carc, it will incvitably create disgust and aversion. And yet remissncss, negligence, cowardice must not creep in. The wisc balancing of these things, then, will require much consideration and prayer. Variety may be thrown into the duties, so as to interest the young mind, without lessening in the Icast their general effect. The reading of the Scripturc—the writing or finding texts upon a given subject-the Icarning of hymns—catechising—the family devotions of the morning and evering—the public worship of God afford sufficient diversity, excite attention and dissipate lassitude. Much wisdom must, however, be cmployed, kindness of manner, consideration of age, health, circumstances. There should cver be a duc admixture of firmness with benignity-all supported by an unisorm cxample, and accompanied with fervent prayer.
Indeed prayer, especially for larger mcasures of the Holy Spirit, is indispensable to the right discharge of these important duties. If we can do nothing aright without prayer, much less can we sustain a course of obedience, with love and delight, in the consecration of the Sabbath, without the continual supplies of grace and strength. But these supplies will not be resused to us. Our defects will be forgiven us through the blood of Christ, our infirmitics succorcd by the power of the Holy Ghost. Thus will our Sabbaths pour into our hearts the consolation of the promises, and will at length terminate in God himself who first instituted the day and is its highest consummation and end.
STEADFASTNESS IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD.
By the Rev. TIOMAS GISBORNE, M. A.,
NUMBERS xiv, 21. But my servant Caleb, because he had anotier Spirit with him and hath followed
me fully, lim will I bring into the Land.
The children of Isracl, about tistoon months after their departure from Egypt, were now arrived on the borders of the land of promisc. Moses, according to the command of God, sont forth twelve chosen men, one from cach tribc, to cxaminc thic country; and directed them to bring accurate information to their brethren, whether the soil was rich and fruitful, or lean and barrer; whether thc inbabitants were few and focblc, or numerous and warlike; whether they were dwellers in tents, or in cities and strong l.olds. The twelve spics, after having been engaged forly days in exccuting the commissior, returned. They delivered a most favorable account of the fertility of the land of Canaan. They described it as indeed flowing with milk and loncy. And among other specimens of its luxurious productions, they brought with them a cluster of grapes so vast in size, that it was carricd betweca two of them on a staff. But the remainder of their report tillod the camp of Israel with alarm. They represented the people of Canaan as men of great staturc, some of them cven as giants, and as dwelling in very large and fortificd citics. And ten of the spics vchcmcntly dissuaded the Israclites from attempting to enter the country; and averred that its inhabitants were far too mighty to be attacked by them with any hope of success. The other