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DIVINE AUTHORITY AND PERPETUAL OBLIGATION
THE LORD'S DAY,
DELIVERED AT THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST. MARY,
IN THE MONTHS OF JULY AND AUGUST, 1830.
BY DANIEL WILSON, M. A.
AUTHOR OF LECTURES ON THE EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY, &c.
First American Editiou,
RECOMMENDATORY PREFACE, BY REV. L. WOODS, D. D.,
Professor in the Theol. Sem. Andover, Ms.
47, Washington Street:
ENTERED according to the Act of Congress in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-one, by CROCKER & BREWSTER, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of Massachusetts.
ADDRESSED TO THE PUBLISHERS.
Gert.-This volume by the Rev. Daniel Wilson, on the authority and obligation of the Lord's day, I have just received from a friend in England, with a request that I would recom. mend the publication of it here, should it appear well suited to be useful in addition to the excellent discussions of the same su bject by Edwards, Dwight, Humphrey, and others of our own country. I hand it to you as the publishers of some other invaluable works of this Author, and have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that it is adapted to be peculiarly useful in this country. It can hardly fail, I apprehend, to convince and satisfy every candid reader, of the DIVINE AUTHORITY AND PERPETUAL OBLIGATION OF THE LORD'S DAY. The arguments and practical inculcations of which it consists, all rest on this form foundation, instead of being derived from considerations of mere expediency. As might be reasonably expected, therefore, from a writer of such well known ability and piety, this work is in all respects calculated to promote a scriptural observance of the Lord's day, and it appears to me singularly happy in its tendency to engage the feelings and affections of the reader in the cuties, public and private, of that hallowed period, and to invest it and all its services with associations in the highest degree appropriate and interesting.
Much might justly be said in commendation of the plan and style of this volume. A glance at the summary of its contents will at once show such a selection of topics, such a felicity in the statement of them, and in their order and connection; and such particularity and completeness, as cannot but afford to the reader very great satisfaction; and in the perusal, instead of a cold, abstract and formal manner and diction, he will be engaged with a style and manner characterized alike by scriptural simplicity, and by the fervency and earnestness of a truly Christian spirit. And it is to be noticed and commended as alike rare and inestimable in such a work, that the author having exhibited his positions in a strong light and sustained them by suitable arguments, brings them, with all the sincerity and fervor of his own spirit, to bear on the conscience and heart. Feeling himself a solemn conviction of the truths he inculcates, and a lively sensibility to their claims upon the consciences and their bearings upon the characters and destinies of men, he cannot proceed with his reader without bringing him continually to consider these claims as personal, and admonishing and exhorting him to yield to them an immediate and cordial obedience. To succeed in argument, and convince the understanding, does not satisfy him; he labors to gain the will, the affections, the whole inner and outer man. In the spirit of true friendship he takes his reader along with him as an accountable fellow-being in whom he has an interest, and to whom it is at once his office and happiness to do good.
This characteristic method of the author is exhibitted with great advantage in his other works, and especially in his admirable volumes on the Evidences of Christianity; every page of which requires the reader to feel his personal interest in the question at issue.
In all these hortatory and persuasive applications of his subject, the claims of Almighty God on the conscience and heart of man, are ever held conspicuously in view, in connection with man's accountability, and all the essential facts, doctrines, and sanctions of revelation. In this respect the present volume is not only suited to readers of every class, but worthy to be held a model to preachers and writers. There is an array of motives, and a fulness and faithfulness in it, which merit imitation.
There is another characteristic of this work which I may be excused for mentioning, namely, the Christian spirit which pervades it—the humility—the benevolence-the reverence of the Supreme Being and of his inspired teachings and requirements-the deep sense of the prevalence and evil of sin, and of the unspeakable blessings of salvation—the manifestation of faith and hope—the harmonious and comprehensive view which seems ever present to the author of all the objects, doctrines, duties, blessings and prospects of religion.
The present work, without pretending to be more elaborate or learned on every point than some of the treatises now extant on the same or parts of the same subject, is, I think more comprehensi ve than any of them, and has the advantage of being altogether of a more popular cast; and it is on this account exceedingly well suited to the present time. There is at this moment great need of such a work in this country. The public measures adopted within two or three years for promoting a better observance of the Lord's day, having been directed too exclusively to the attainment of civil and secular aid, instead of relying on the appro. priate aids and sanctions of scriptural instruction and example, have failed to occasion the benefits anticipated by their zealous patrons; and the attention which was awakened to the subject, has, it is to be feared, in a great measure disappeared. There is therefore special occasion and necessity for a popular work like this, full of warmth and earnestness, establishing in a satisfactory manner every position, answering and obviating objections and difficulties and carrying home to the bosom of the reader the practical lessons and sanctions of the subject.
It is by the preaching and publication of sermons and essays like these, that the public mind is to be enlightened and a reformation promoted. There exists a lamentable want of scriptural knowledge and conviction on this subject. Even the religious portion of the community have too generally but very defective notions and convictions, as to the divine anthority and obligation of this hallowed day; and its observance depends too much on the authority of custom and expediency, and too little on the requirements and sanctions of revelation.
A few passages of local application, in the admirable pastoral address of the author, and also near the close of the volume, the