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ated solely to the former. •If the Lord is God,' is your God, 'serve him.' Give him not one half of a heart, which he made wholly for reason, religion, and himself. Follow not after a multitude to do evil,' when you see, how much beyond the present stretch of your consciences, they carry that evil; and consider, how probable it is, that you yourselves, abandoned by the grace of God for nibbling at an offence so provoking, may soon have as wide a swallow for it, as they. The discountenance given to this enormity by his majesty's example and proclamation, hath, for your encouragement, made it now as unfashionable, as it was always wicked. You are not of that class yet, who contemn the fashion, only when God and the king are at the head of it. If you do not resolve and vow against this enormity, now that in the house of God you are called upon so to do, how shall you ‘dare' again to tread in his courts,' and enter into his presence? Know you not, that he who keeps the fourth commandment, as it ought to be kept, sets himself in the fairest way to keep all the other nine; and that the transgressor of this 'is guilty of the whole law,' inasmuch as he offends against the authority of the Lawgiver who imposed the whole?
Remember, I beseech you, that the providence of God hath not raised you to riches and distinction, but for the gracious purposes of doing honour to him and his religion; of leading his lower and poorer people, by good examples, in the path of piety and virtue; and of relieving their necessities, as often as sickness and disasters put it out of their power to support themselves and their unhappy families. Remember, that you are kept up in affluence by their labour, and the bounty of Almighty God; and that to riot over their heads, and affront him with the fruits of their labour and of his bounty, at the gaming-table, and on his day, is a conduct, that must be severely accounted for before the common Benefactor and Judge of you both. Remember, that
your faces never sweat for one morsel of bread; that God in respect to rest, ease, and pleasure, hath given you every day of your lives for a sabbath, and exempted you alone from the original curse of labour, that every day of your lives ought therefore to be gratefully, consecrated to him as a day of thanksgiving and good works; and that in
stead of this, to desecrate your days of business by making folly and sin almost your only business, and to encroach with the vices of your other days, on that which God hath reserved to himself, is directly to insult him with a total disappointment of all his gracious purposes, and an utter perversion of all the goodness he intended you, and the rest of mankind, through you. Is it possible, that piety, which brought you this day to the house of God, should suffer you to continue in practices, so wholly repugnant to your principles, to your good sense, and to all the important ends of the solemnity? No; surely it is not, cannot be possible.
Keeping the sabbath, agreeably to the ends of its institution, is, I think, to a good mind, or one that wishes to be good, attended with such comfort and satisfaction, as no other exercise of its powers in this life can possibly bring along with it.
The acquisition of knowledge is, in itself, exceedingly pleasant to an inquisitive nature. But the knowledge of things, so surprising, so affecting, so exalted; knowledge, so perfective of our nature and happiness, without which we can neither be good nor happy; without which we must be despicable and miserable beings for ever, is an attainment, infinitely exceeding all others, in the benefit, the honour, the joy, it is capable, on this day, if kept holy, of communicating. Hath God appointed a day, whereon he purposes to assemble us, in order himself to teach us, by his own words, how to live for ever, for ever happy? How should we long for that day! How entirely, how strictly sabbatical, without a command, should we ourselves make it, that our whole attention might be riveted to his instructions ! Were God, on this his day, and at this his house, to present us with a charter of inestimable privileges, and honorary titles, together with the grant of an immense estate in fee, conveyed to us in the same deed, how should we hasten to receive it! How listen to its contents! How labour to understand and remember, on what terms of suit and service we are to hold it! Behold! this is the day, this is the house, and there is the charter! wherein the glorious privileges of the sons of God,' the titles of king and priest,' with an empire, wider than the world, and endless as eternity, are contained and
offered! Who then can stay away? or, being present in person, can be absent in thought?
Did we conceive ourselves to be invited at this time not only to knowledge so necessary and delightful, and to a grant so inestimable, but also to exercises, infinitely exceeding all our sensual pleasures, in a flow of joy, pure, transporting, lasting; were we invited to the contemplation of ourselves, and of this our own proper world, as the works of a Being infinitely beneficent to us; were we invited to a close consideration of this Being, labouring, suffering, dying, to save us from miseries, too horrible, and to bring us to joys, too ravishing, too glorious for human imagination to conceive; were we invited, at those times to a near and intimate enjoyment of that Being in accumulated blessings from him, and reiterated acts of gratitude and love from us; were we desired to bring our children and dependants with us into his presence, in order to hear him speaking, and to speak our wants and praises to him ; and were his
company at our own dwellings engaged to us for the remainder of the day, to be lengthened out in communications, so infinitely honorary, so full of joy; how should we pass that day! Could we give it to a worldly business? Could we yawn
it away in sleep and drowsiness? Could we prostitute it to despicable amusements, to silly conversation, to cards, or dice? Whence, then, in the name of wonder! the unnatural, but general disrelish to a party of pleasure with God and the whole court of heaven! Is it because we are commanded to enjoy! that we cannot enjoy, that we even loath!
But, if through the miserable weakness of our nature, not long able to keep up its taste for the most refined and delightful kind of pleasures, our minds should begin to lose their spring, and to flag into devotional dulness; there are 'a variety of amusements, so equally well suited to the solemnity of the day, and the refreshment of our piety, that I cannot do better, than just to hint a few of them to you.
Warm and affecting conversations on the goodness of God, heightened by others, expressing a deep sense of our own unworthiness, and ending in mutual exhortations to greater love, and better services, for the future, like fruit after a plentiful meal, would add considerably, both to our digestion and pleasure.
Close researches after religious truth, coolly, and can-didly managed in dispassionate conferences on the important, but controverted points of religion, afford at once a high degree of entertainment, and a prodigious accession of strength to the rational powers, exercised thereby, as wrestling does to those of a body, nourished with wholesome food. As the prejudices of the proud are riveted by their disputes, which differ but little from scuffles, and end in nothing, but defeats or triumphs ; so, on the contrary, the errors of the humble are dispersed, and truth, with a very sensible perception of pleasure, are the issue of those mental embraces, wherewith the candid engage in all their argumentations.
The perusal of books on all sorts of religious subjects, particularly such as have been written by men of true piety and genius, wherewith our language abounds, above all others, and wherein a force of reasoning, a fund of learning, and of sacred wit, together with samples of oratory, not exceeded, scarcely indeed equalled, by the writers of other countries, will amuse as fast, and as plentifully, as they instruct.
From these, the transition will be easy, with men of education, to such as contain intelligible systems of astronomy, and natural history, or point out the method of making experiments. To dive, by the assistance of the microscope, into the minute, but exquisite works of God, to sift the light by the help of a prism, and to expatiate, after the hand of creating wisdom and power, through its immense performances in the starry heavens, is an employment, inconceivably delightful, and surely much better fitted for the day of God, than making experiments with dice, and studying the effects of chance, that god of Atheists.
With thoughts, enlarged, and raised above this world, by such contemplations, and with hearts melting in a lively sense of God's infinite bounty to you, look out for your
fellow-creature, who shivers for want of clothing, who lan-. guishes on a sick bed, who hears the cries of his starving children, in the midst of a total inability to relieve them, or who pines in a loathsome dungeon, shut in from that sun, that light, that air, those innumerable blessings and beauties of nature, which court you, on all sides to a variety of pleasures; and bring the necessary supply, that a coarse coat,
and a morsel of wholesome bread, may enable him too to make this a festival, that is, to rejoice, and bless God; and that your charity rebounding to your own breast, may turn the sabbath into a jubilee there.
If, after exercises of this sort, each family should devoutly join in prayer, and where proper voices and instruments are not wanting, should conclude the festival with a hymn to the glory of the great Benefactor; how can we imagine a day more happily spent? Can small or trifling amusements fill up the vacuity in minds and hearts, where God and all his works, and all his mercies, and all our gratitude, might have found room?
Consider (I speak to you who are raised above others in this world), consider the dignity of your own nature, and the grandeur of those pleasures you are rendered capable of, and this day invited to; and disdain the very thoughts of such, as sink you into littleness and baseness of soul. Consider that crowd of your poor fellow-creatures, who are governed more by your example than by all the laws of God and man. Consider your own souls, which cannot be happy, if you lead theirs through wickedness to misery; and for the sake of both ; for the sake of God the Father, who gave you being; of God the Son, who died to save you ; of God the Holy Ghost, who, I trust, is now assisting you with his grace; consider carefully what hath been said to you on this subject.
Consider it, you also, whose narrow circumstances allow you hardly any other leisure, but on the Lord's day, to learn that religion, without which you cannot possibly be saved from vice, infamy, and misery, in both worlds. Obey not an earthly master in an act of rebellion against the Master and King of all. Follow not an earthly master, whom you see plunging headlong into destruction, both of soul and body, by practices, on the Lord's day, too full of guilt to need the additional provocation of profaneness. Obey God rather, in remembering the sabbath-day to keep it holy: Follow after Christ, who, although Lord of the sabbath, submitted to the commandment, and kept the day holy in acts of piety, devotion, and charity. The sabbath was made for you, that you might know the true religion, and enjoy God. Insist on your privilege ; and may that God give you un