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blessed Saviour: from whom we learn this general rule, that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath*: and therefore all works of great necessity, or great goodness and mercy, if they cannot, be deferred to another time, be they ever so laborious, may very allowably be done then. Only so far as the public wisdom of the laws of the land hath restrained us, we ought certainly to restrain ourselves, even from such things, as, in our private opinion, we might otherwise think innocent. As to matters of less labour, what propriety, and decency, and reasonable convenience require, we surely need not omit. And what the practice of the more religious and considerate part of those, amongst whom we live, allows, hath without question no small title to our favourable opinion. But the liberties, taken by thoughtless or prophane persons, are not of any authority in the least. And the safest general rule to go by, is to omit whatever may be sinful, and is needless; and neither to require, nor suffer, those who belong to us, to do, on this day, what we apprehend it unlawful to do ourselves.

2. A reasonable part of our day of holy rest must be employed in the public worship of God. This, you have seen, the Jews understood to be requisite on their sabbath: and the earliest account, which we have of ours, informs us, that on the first day of the week, the disciples came together to break bread†: which means to celebrate the Lord's Supper. That with this was joined the Apostles' doctrine and prayer, we learn from another place of the same book of Scripture. And that every Lord's day was dedicated to the public offices of piety, the history of the church fully shews from the beginning. To † Acts xx. 7.

Mark ii. 27.

Acts ii. 42.

strengthen the obligation of attending on these offices, the laws of the land also enjoin it. And as all persons need instruction in their duty both to God and man, and the generality have scarce any other season for it, than the leisure of the Sunday: if this most valuable time be either taken from them, or thrown away by them; they must become ignorant and vicious; and of consequence miserable in this world and the next. How wicked then, and how unwise, is it, either to throw contempt on such an institution, or on frivolous pretences to neglect improving by it!

3. Besides assembling in the church on the Lord's day, every one should employ some reasonable part of it in the private exercises of piety; in thinking over their past behaviour, confessing their faults to God, and making prudent resolutions against them for the future: in praying for the mercies, which they more especially want, and returning thanks for the blessings, with which Providence hath favoured them; in cultivating a temper of humanity; in doing acts of forgiveness, and setting apart something, according to their ability, for acts of charity (for which last St. Paul hath particularly recommended this time*): and in seriously considering at home, whatever they have heard in God's house. For our

public religion will soon degenerate into an useless form, unless we preserve and enliven the spirit of it, by such means as these, in private: to which they, above all persons, are bound on the Lord's day, who either have little leisure for them on others, or make little use of it.

When once persons have brought themselves to spend so much of the Sunday as is fitting in this

1 Cor. xvi. 2.

manner; it will then, and not before, be time for them to ask, how the remainder of it may be spent. For it is a very bad sign, to be careless of observing what is commanded; and zealous for extending to the utmost what at best is only permitted. Over-great strictness however must be avoided. And therefore decent civility, and friendly conversation, may both innocently and usefully have a place in the vacant part of our Lord's day: of which it is really one valuable benefit, that it gives even the lowest persons an opportunity of appearing to each other in the most agreeable light they can, and thus promotes mutual good-will. Nor is it necessary at all to banish cheerfulness from our conversation on this day; which being a festival, though a religious one, we should partake of all God's blessings upon it with joyful hearts. But then such instances of freedom and levity, in talk and behaviour, as would scarce be proper at any time, are doubly improper at this: and tend very fatally to undo whatever good the preceding part of the day may have done.

And as to the taking further liberties, of diversions and amusements: though they are not in express words forbidden, for the desire of them is not supposed, in the word of God; yet by the laws both of church and state they are. And what need is there for them, or what good use of them? If persons are so vehemently set upon these things, that they are uneasy to be so much as one day in seven without them; it is high time, that they should bring themselves to more moderation, by exercising some abstinence from them. And if they are at all indifferent about them, surely they should consider, what must be the effect of introducing and indulging them: what offence and uneasiness these things give the

more serious and valuable part of the world; what comfort and countenance to the unthinking and irreligious part: what a dangerous example to the lower part what encouragement they afford to extrávagance and the mad love of pleasure: what a snare they place in the way of all, that think them unlawful; and yet will thus be tempted, to these liberties first, and then to others, against their consciences : and, to add no more, how unhappily they increase the appearance (which, without them, God knows, would be much too great) of religion being slighted and disregarded; especially by the upper part of the world, who should be the great patterns of it.

And if this be the case of merely unseasonable diversions; imprudent and unlawful ones are still more blameable on this day: but most of all, that crying sin of debauchery and intemperance, which perverts it from the service of God to the service of the devil; and leads persons more directly than almost any thing else, to utter destruction of body and soul. Therefore let us be careful, first to guard ourselves against these transgressions, then to keep our children, servants, and dependants from the like, if we make any conscience of doing well by them, or would have any prospect of comfort in them. Nor let us think it sufficient, to restrain them from spending the day ill; but to the best of our power and understanding, encourage and assist them to spend it well. And God grant, we may all employ in so right a manner, the few sabbaths, and few days, which we have to come on earth; that we may enter, at the conclusion of them, into that eternal sabbath, that rest, which remaineth for the people of God*, in heaven!

Heb. iv. 3. 9.



Part I.

HAVING explained the precepts of the first Table, which set forth the duty of men to God; I now come to those of the second, which express our several obligations one to another.

Now the whole law, concerning these matters, is briefly comprehended, as St. Paul very justly observes, in this one saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Our neighbour is every one, with whom we have at any time any concern, or on whose welfare our actions can have any influence. For whoever is thus within our reach, is in the most important sense near to us, however distant in other respects. To love our neighbour, is to bear him goodwill; which of course will dispose us to think favourably of him and behave properly to him. And to love him as ourselves, is to have not only a real, but a strong and active good-will towards him; with a tenderness for his interests, duly proportioned to that, which we naturally feel for our own. Such a temper would most powerfully restrain us from every thing wrong, and prompt us to every thing right;

*Rom. xiii. 9.

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