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THE SPECIALITY, AUTHORITY, AND SANCTITY, OF THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH.
NEHEMIAH, xiii. 15—-22. In those days saw I in Judah some treading
winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals, fc.
OFTEN, with great propriety, has our nation. been denominated 6. British Israel : there being a striking resemblance between the antient Jews of Palestine, and the modern Christians of England. Like that peculiar people, we have been long pre-eminently blessed; and as often abused our blessings. Like them, we have been frequently corrected for our faults; and as continually encreased our sins. Like theirs, our vices ripen for destruction; and, if some gracious blast check not their rapid growth, and make them wither on the branches; both the tree and its fruit, like the Jew and his crimes, must, ere long, be cut down and con-sumed together. For why should we experience: more lenity and compassion from God than the people of David, his servant; the children of Abraham, his friend ?
But there was no sin which the Israelites committed, that more provoked the Lord, or drew down greater vengeance upon themselves, than that of Sabbath breaking. While God pardoned thefts, murders, idolatry, and almost every other species of guilt; we seldom, or never, read of his pardoning any notorious violation of his holy Sabbaths. When these are profaned, “ He whets his glittering sword, his band takes hold on judgment, and he makes his arrows. drunk with the blood of his enemies." For the punishment of this sin, whole lands are desolated, cities depopulated, and Jerusalem itself is burnt with fire; thousands are dragged in chains to distant regions; and those that are left at home, spoiled of every comfort, sit weeping over their numerous dead, and the ashes of their favourite country.
Nor are we, as a people, at all behind the Jews in profaning that day, which God has graciously appointed for the moral improvement of our souls, and the glory of his holy name. We need only to look around, we need only to look at home, to see, that in this, as well as in most other virtues; we are far exceeded by that profligate people, whose conduct we despise, and whose sufferings. we deplore. And what are the direful effects of such daring impiety? Behold them in every shape, of every magnitude, on every side! To avenge this crime, this.
very crime, “ The pestilence is walking in darkness, and destruction wasteth at noonday; a thousand fall at our side, and ten thousand at our right hand.” Let us feel for our neighbours! Let us fear for ourselves ! .
And what shall we do? Let us, like Aaron of old, take fire from the altar of God; and, shedding on it the incense of our tears, run, with our censer, between the dead and the living; that the plague may be stayed, and we, and our country, be spared the judgments of an angry and avenging God, In every station, in which, by providence, we are placed, let us use our utmost exertions to arrest, and, if possible, to annihilate, a contagion which threatens a general destruction. In order, therefore, to do what we can, and what becomes our province, towards promoting the sanctification of the Lord's day; and consequently, the happiness of ourselves and those around us; we will lay before you, in the best manner we are able, the Claims of the christian Sabbath on the attention of the christian world. In doing which, we shall observe the following order : We shall consider
I. The Speciality, Authority, and Sanctity, of the Christian Sabbath.
II. The Profanation of the Lord's day, by the nation in general, and by individuals in particular.
III. The Non-advantage, and Evil consequences, of Sabbath breaking - And,
IV. The Means and Motives for its better observance.
While we are descanting on these particulars, we entreat' you to pay that serious and candid attention, which your own welfare, and the importance of the subject, demand. And may the Lord of the Sabbath be present by his Spirit, to enlighten, enliven, and to otherwise assist, the speaker, and to impress on your hearts what may be spoken according to his will.
I. We shall direct your attention to the Speciality, Authority, and Sanctity, of the Christian Sabbath. And,
FPRST.–The Speciality of the Christian Sabbath: in which we shall notice
(1.) The division of time into weeks of Sevent days.—“We find from time immemorial,” says the learned President Goguet, “ the use of this period among all nations, where the dim light of nature has not been entirely extinguished, without any variation in its form. The Israelites, Assyrians, Egyptians, Indians, Arabians, and, in a word, all Nations of the East, have, in all ages, made use of a week consisting of seven days. We find the same custom among the antient Romans, Gauls, Britons, Germans, the Nations of the North, and of America. The months of the antient Scandinavians were divided into weeks of seven days; a division which has prevailed among almost all the nations we have any knowledge of, from the extremity of Asia to that of Europe. Many vain conjectures have been formed, concerning the reasons and motives