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calling, must daily aspire after that divine aid which makes his progress certain and his triumph sure. The minister of the gospel who would be raised above discouragement in view of his own insufficiency and the greatness of his work, may, if he have the faith and prayer to ally his own weakness with the energy of the Holy Spirit, persevere in his labours, not only with undiscouraged cheerfulness and resolution, but comforted hopes. The church that “sows in tears may reap in joy.” The spirit of prayer will give her confidence and hope. Whom she cannot awaken, and convince, and convert, God can rouse from their apathy, open their hearts to understand his word, and at a time, and in a way that shall make his own power and grace the most conspicuous. · Prayer makes the doubting hope, the feeble strong. It gives humility and confidence in God. It makes every effort for the salvation of men spiritual and holy. “Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.” Who would be insensible to the value of prayer?
THE OBLIGATIONS OF THE WORLD TO THE BIBLE FOR
Every reflecting man must, one would suppose, contemplate with grateful admiration, the great wisdom of the divine Author of the Scriptures in the institution of the Sabbath. I know of nothing like this observance in any other system of religion except that revealed in the Bible, unless it be some faint traditions of it in some pagan lands of remote antiquity. It is a weekly observance; fixed and permanent; hebdomadal from its original institution, and to the end of time. Some of the ancient pagan nations had something in the form of an hebdomadal observance. Hesoid, the celebrated Greek poet of Bæotia, who lived about nine hundred years before the coming of Christ, says, “ the seventh day is holy.” Homer, who flourished about the same period, and Callimachus, also a Greek poet, who flourished in the reign of Ptolemy Euergetes, about seven hundred years later, speak of the seventh day as holy. Lucian also, a Greek writer, born at Samosata, who flourished about four hundred years after Callimachus, says, “ The seventh day is given to the schoolboys as an holiday.” Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian,
says, “ No city of Greeks, or barbarians can be found which does not acknowledge a seventh day's rest from labour.” In the earlier ages of Greece, the years were numbered by the return of seed time and harvest, and the several seasons of labour and rest; and the day divided, not into hours, but into morning, noon, and evening. The months of the Greeks were divided into decades, or three periods of ten days each; and I do not find any mention of a division of time into weeks among that people. There was no Sabbath among the ancient Romans. was originally divided by Romulus into ten months; and afterwards, by Numa, into twelve. Their months, like those of the Greeks, were divided into three parts, kalends, nones, and ides. The custom of dividing time into weeks did not obtain until the reign of the emperor Severus.* Both the Greeks and Romans had their days of cessation from labour, but they were not hebdomadal. They were also religious observances; that is, they were devoted to the honour of their pagan gods. They were days on which their aitars smoked with sacrifices; days of festivity; days on which their public games were celebrated, and on which their temples, groves, and sacred fields were stained with blood and resounded with bacchanalian madness. When heathen poets and historians therefore speak of holy days, they mean days of mirth and wickedness. Such are the days of rest throughout all Mohammedan countries. A late correspondent in one of our religious periodicals, describes a Sabbath in Constantinople as a day of universal sport and diversion.t Modern missionaries, if I mistake not, uniformly testify, that there is no Sabbath in pagan lands. I have conversed with gentlemen of high intellectual and Christian character, who have resided years in China and India, who have informed me, that they could never see any signs of a sabbatical observance in those vast countries. Nor have I been able to find any traces of a Sabbath among our own aborigines. The remark, therefore, needs no qualification that the Sabbath, as its design and duties are disclosed in the Scriptures, is one of the strong peculiarities of a supernatural revelation. It was given to the great progenitor of our race while he was in a state of unfallen innocence; it was the first command, taking the precedence in point of time even to the prohibition of the tree of knowledge; it rests on the essential relation of a creature to his glorious Creator. During the whole progress of the patriarchal age, you find traces of its observance. The manner in which its observance was revived and re-established before the commencement of the Mosaical economy and before the Israelites came to Mount Sinai, proves that it was an institution previously recognized, and had never been entirely lost. The authority and dignity given to it in the moral law affords decisive proof of its perpetual obligation. The allusions to it in the Psalms and in the Prophets, as well as its strict observance under the New Testament, show that it was destined to form a part of the gospel dispensation. The Saviour and his apostles honoured it, by honouring the ten commandments as of perpetual force and obligation; by respecting its sanctity in their own deportment, and by recognizing its continuance at a period when all obligation to a merely Jewish institution would long have ceased. Nor was any thing abrogated under the Christian dispensation with respect to the Sabbath, except those temporary and figurative enactments which constituted the peculiarities of the Jewish age, and changed the Jewish Sabbath into the “Lord's Day."* The Sabbath therefore is one of the great peculiarities of a supernatural revelation. And not only is it one of its strong peculiarities, but an institution for the existence and influence of which the world is under untold obligations to its great Author.
* Potter's Antiquities of Greece, and Adam's Roman Anti quities.
Cheever's Letters to the New York Obseryer.
We may advert to this institution in the first instance, simply as a day of rest. One principal design of it was to give both mart and beast one day's respite from labour out of every seven. It deserves our special notice, that the letter and spirit of the divine command require both man and beast to abstain from all servile occupations on this day. Rest constitutes one of the essential parts of this observance. In the language of the Scripture, to “profane the Sabbath" is the same thing as to labour. upon the Sabbath, while to sanctify the Sabbath signifies to rest from labour. The Jews were scrupulous in this particular, that they would not even take up arms in self-defence on this day; so that when Antiochus Epiphanes and Pompey availed themselves of this conscientious tenderness, and attacked them on the Sabbath day, they became the victims of their fury without opposition. It was designed to be a day of respite from anxiety and toil; a day of refreshment both to the mind and the body; and though not required to be a day of feasting, was specially forbidden to be a day of fasting and sadness.
* See these positions illustrated and defended in an able treatise on the Authority and Perpetual Obligation of the Sabbath, by the Rev. Daniel Wilson, now Bishop of Calcutta.