Page images

be taken from thee; thou choosest rather, if it must be, to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Art thou, O my will! thus honouring and blessing God, after thy ability, by a resolute choice of Him and his Gospel of love?

My affections! where are ye?-My love! art thou with the woman who was a sinner, to whom much had been forgiven, and who loved much; standing at his feet, behind him, weeping, washing his feet with tears, wiping them with the hairs of thy head; kissing his feet, and anointing them with that sweet ointment of the heart which He approves? Art thou, with Mary, standing without at the sepulchre, weeping? Oh, if thou art, Jesus himself shall meet thee there, and ask thee, Why weepest thou?-My hatred! art thou confined to thy one only object, the sins which nailed Him to the cross? Dost thou, with David, hate them right sore, as if they were thine enemies?



ISAIAH LVIII part of the 13th verse.-And call the Sabbath a delight.

THE difference between the people of God and the people of the world is seen in nothing more than in the observance of religious duties; such as prayer, the reading of the Scriptures, attending at church, and keeping holy the Sabbath-day. Some persons, indeed, make no pretence even of these duties; such are careless sinners. But there are many who do; whom yet, judging by the rest of their conduct, we cannot esteem among the children of God. There are some who join in the outward duties of religion, in order to keep up their character among men, or to make a gain thereby such are hypocrites. There are many, again, who are found at church, read their Bibles, perhaps attend the Lord's table, because they have been accustomed so to do, and their parents did it before them: such are mere formalists. And some are very diligent

* Preached at Mildenhall, Sunday morning, August 21st, 1822.

[ocr errors]

in all these outward services, thinking to win heaven and purchase the favour of God thereby : such are self-righteous persons. Now mark the difference. The real child of God engages in these duties, not to get honour from men, not to make a gain of godliness, not from mere habit, not thinking thereby to merit anything with God; but because he delights in religion, because his very heart is in every thing that brings him nearer to God. See how David, that man of God, speaks of the ordinances of religion. Of the house of God, How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. A day in thy courts is better than a thousand. Of the word of God, Oh, how I love thy law; it is my meditation all the day. And indeed the Psalms are full of these outgoings of the soul to God in the different ordinances of grace. Now, my friends, apply this before we proceed any further; ask yourselves, I beseech you, each one of you, as in the presence of God, who sees your hearts, and knows your motives, Why am I here to-day? Is it really and truly because you were glad when it was said unto you, Let us go unto the house of the Lord? Is it because you call the Sabbath a delight? May God incline, and enable you to look into your own hearts!

I. Permit me to point out a few particulars why the true believer esteems and calls the Sabbath a delight, showing at the same time why the natural man should find no delight, at least no holy delight, on that day. And may that Holy

Spirit who, upon a Sabbath, first descended upon the Apostles in His miraculous gifts, be with us to-day in His ordinary influences, enlightening our understandings, and opening our hearts, that we may indeed find this Sabbath our delight!

1. The Christian delights in the Sabbath, because it brings with it a cessation and rest from worldly cares.

The Christian has his employments in the world like other men; he is not taken out of the world, but kept from the evil of it; he has his family to maintain, his business to follow; and so far from any being made idle by religion, S. Paul laid it down as a rule to his Thessalonian converts, If any would not work, neither should he eat. Now, through the weakness of the flesh, the natural tendency of being engaged even in necessary worldly employments is, to draw down the heart and affections to them, to fill a man with cares about the meat which perisheth, and about things which he feels and knows are of no real importance, nay, are debasing and degrading, and can never satisfy the soul. And even when earthly duties are pursued only within just bounds, still the thoughts must be in them and about them for a time; and the Christian would fain have his thoughts elsewhere. And therefore he esteems that day a delight, which allows him to withdraw all his cares and thoughts from earth. On other days he would often be glad thus to withdraw them; but he must not, the duties of his station. do not permit it. Therefore, hail, holy day, on which by the merciful dispensations of a gracious

Father, I may carefully lay aside all cares, and anxieties, and earthly harassings. Come not near me, this day at least, vain world; this day I am privileged by my God to be free from thee!

Now, from this cause the worldly man can evidently receive no delight from the Sabbath. The service of the world is, indeed, a hard drudgery to him, but it is a drudgery he delights in; and wearied as he is in the pursuit of wealth or honour, or whatever else he has set his heart on, harassed as he is with cares, and sometimes almost heart-broken with disappointments, still he returns with his whole heart to this cruel servitude, and hates to be interrupted in it: so that, if common decency and respect for public opinion oblige him to refrain from the open carrying on of his business, or profession, or pursuit; all that he can do in secret, he does, and the Sabbath is neither a rest nor a delight to him. Some, indeed, finding themselves not obliged to labour, and not able to make gain on this holy day, turn it into a carnal rest and profane merriment. But this most assuredly is not the delight of which my text speaks. Sad, that the merciful institution of a gracious God, affording an intermission of labour and anxiety, should be thus abused, and his own kindness made the means of sinning against himself. Sad, that in a land calling itself Christian, and abounding in the privileges of Christianity, our papers should tell of the Sabbath's unholy parties, our very roads should be profaned by Sabbath journeys, and our press should send forth those nuisances


« PreviousContinue »