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with us. His eye is not closed, that it cannot see; his car is not heavy, that it cannot hear; his memory is not impaired, that it cannot preserve the recollection of profane, prayerless, godless sabbaths, or of those, in which we gave many of those sacred hours, and all the life, and love, and energy of our hearts, to some carnal, vain, sensual, frivolous, or sordid pursuit. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. And he who persists in offending, because judgment against an evil work is not executed speedily; but wilfully overlooks the recompences of the tribunal of Christ, acts with as much inconsistency, as he, who having been warned of the rocks before him, sails proudly in their very track, nor dreams of danger, until he perish in the waters. We have been mercifully warned. The command to hallow the sabbath is openly proclaimed on the morning of every Lord's day, in the house of God. Its tender mercies solicit us to pass it in those sanctifying employments, which may advance our meetness for the sabbath of eternity. Is a denunciation of death made against the violation of this command; and is the fate of this sinner against his own soul recorded? It is for our example, that when we open our eyes upon the light of the sabbath, we may arouse from the
slumber of the soul to cry, This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice, and be glad in it.
It has been my aim, throughout this discourse, to commend myself to every man's conscience in the sight of God. I trust, however, it will not be deemed inconsistent with ministerial moderation, as I am sure it is not with ministerial affection and love, to address those two classes, into which the fourth commandment, in the spiritual extent of its application, divides every community of Christian worshippers.
(1.) Let me first address those who break the sabbath by following their worldly business. Is it nothing to you to pour contempt upon the blessed day, which the free compassions of a bounteous God provided for our growth in grace with the church below, and to prepare us for our glorified repose with the church above? You think God a hard master, because an evil heart of unbelief rebels against sabbath duties, as a task, instead of rightly appreciating sabbath employments, as the best privilege of redeemed and sanctified men. Some pressure of worldly business tempts you to intrude upon the day of God, and rob him of his honour and service. Do you really expect that plans so forwarded should prosper?
Can the blessing of the Almighty rest upon that very conduct, which flagrantly insults him? Let me suppose your wishes granted; and the wealth thus dearly purchased to be your own. O, what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
But you are mournfully in error to suppose, that any man's temporal interest is eventually and substantially advanced, by his labour on the day of God. Sir Matthew Hale, one of the most profound among those gifted men who have administered the laws and justice of England, has given a testimony to the contrary. He was no thoughtless enthusiast; but an inflexible judge, a profound scholar, and a sincere, humble, zealous believer in the grace and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. "I have found," says this admirable man, "by a strict and diligent observation, that a conscientious regard to the duties of the Lord's day, hath been attended with a blessing upon the rest of my time: and the week that hath been so begun hath been blessed and prospered to me. And on the other side, when I have been negligent of the duties of this day, the rest of the week hath been unsuccessful and unhappy to my own secular employments: so that I could easily make an
estimate of my worldly success through the week following, by the manner in which I passed that day which God hath declared holy to himself." Such also, I apprehend, would be the very general experience of observant men. O, call not the sabbath a weariness. They who have been most in the spirit on the Lord's day, have consecrated these seasons in their dearest remembrance, as hours in which their peace and joy have most abounded; and in which, mounting up to heaven with wings as eagles, upon the ascending sacrifice of prayer and praise, "they have looked by faith into the invisible state, and obtained some glimpses, and some foretastes of that blessedness which it shall reveal and impart hereafter." Has the desecrated sabbath given you any thing to compare with this distinction? Surely not. Cast in, then, your lot with those who keep it holy. God the Father waits to bless your sanctification of his appointment. God the Son waits to invest you with the riches of his salvation. God the Holy Ghost waits to apply to your souls all the means of grace which the sabbath affords. Ye will not surely continue to refuse the treble mercy, so long offered, so criminally neglected. Turn ye,
Sir Matthew Hale's Contemplations, p. 260.
turn ye, for why will ye die? The sabbathbreaker in Israel perished as a contemner of the law. If he, then, that despised Moses' law, died without mercy, under two or three witnesses, of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing; and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace?
(2.) To those who keep holy the sabbath-day little is necessary to be said. Ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Ye know the value of sabbath mercies, and the high privilege of. coming to "the Mount Sion, the city of the Living God, the new Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven; and to God the Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than that of Abel." Go on to sanctify the Lord's day; and let your profitting appear unto all men. Deal with those parts of the day not employed in public worship, as the Saviour dealt with the bread which remained over and above, unto the five thousand which had eaten-gather up the fragments