« PreviousContinue »
and curses of our country, the Sunday-newspapers.
2. But the believer calls the Sabbath a delight, because on that day he hopes to learn much in the school of Christ.
The Christian's experience is that of S. Paul, Not as though I had already attained. He knows from the testimony of other more experienced saints, and from the glimpses he has sometimes had in his more favoured hours of retirement and prayer, how much there is to be learnt which as yet he knows not. He knows that there are unsearchable riches of Christ to be dived into; a love of Christ which passeth knowledge; depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God which he has never fathomed. And he desires-(yes, I dare appeal to every Christian present, whether it is not the earnest desire of his heart)—to dive more deeply into those riches, to know more fully that love, to admire more that wisdom of his God. He looks upon the attainments of others with a holy envy; not with a wish that they should be brought back to his standard-God forbid ! but rather with a strong desire that he may be led on to theirs. Now, every day the believer ought to be advancing in this divine knowledge; every day he ought to be knowing more, and loving more, gaining ground on his corruptions, and reaching forth with a more determined aim and a bolder grasp, at the prize of his high calling. But on the Sabbath, especially, when the whole of the day is set apart for these purposes; on the Sabbath, especially, when fa
voured with all the means of grace, he hopes to be getting forward, growing in grace and in the knowledge of his God and Saviour. And therefore he hails the Sabbath with delight. Come, blessed day, and in so many calm and holy hours, unimpeded by the world, and with the peculiar aids of the Holy Spirit on his appointed ordinances, I shall surely set forward some steps in my journey towards the heavenly Jerusalem ; I shall surely begin the next week with views more raised above the world, stronger desires after heaven, and more entire devotedness to God, a more affectionate determination to give up myself to Him who loved me and gave himself for me.
Now, in all this again, there is nothing to make the unrenewed man call the Sabbath a delight. He knows nothing of the love of Christ, and he wants to know nothing. These things are foolishness to him. And why should he wish for the Sabbath to set him forward in a science which he has no inclination to attain ?
3. The believer calls the Sabbath a delight, because of that holy communion which it allows with the people of God.
On other days, his business too often throws him among those who fear not God, who know nothing of his joys or sorrows, and with whom he can have no communication respecting the things which are all in all to him; so that at times he seems forlorn and alone, and is ready to say with Elijah, I, even I only, am left. But to-day he comes forth with those who keep holy-day; to-day he meets some of the seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. And in the congregation of the Lord, he finds some hearts in tune with his, when he confesses his sins and wickedness, and says,
" There is no health in us;" he is not alone when he rises in praise, and says, “We praise thee, O God, we acknowledge thee to be the Lord ;” his prayers go forth with his brethren of Christ, and find entrance into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Thus his hands are holden up and strengthened. And it is not only with those who meet in the same congregation with himself that he holds communion, but with all the children of God scattered throughout the world, who are this day, he knows, lifting up hands in prayer, and filling the courts of heaven with the same sweet incense of praise. And it is a delightful thought that now, perhaps, while we are here assembled, some of us, I doubt not, in the name of Christ, there are others in all parts of the world engaged in the same holy work; some wbo have long known and loved the Lord, and some who are but now called to be partakers; some whom our Missionaries—and may God prosper them !)—are even now, under the blessing of the Holy Spirit, leading into the fold of Christ out of darkness, and barbarism, and foul idolatry; and whom the Bibles sent forth by our blessed Society, are now comforting and building up in our most holy faith. So that on this day the children of God more especially feel
that we are all one in Christ Jesus, that There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. *
Now can the man of the world feel delight, or rather will he not feel disgusted, in this view of the Sabbath ? He has no fellow-feeling with the people of God, and would shrink from every thing that would bring him into union with them. Oh, miserable blindness! that despises those who, in the sight of God, are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people!
4. The Christian calls the Sabbath a delight, because of the remembrances which that day brings with it.
We mark in the calendars the days on which we have received any fresh deliverance or blessing, and hail their return with pleasure. With what pleasure, then, ought we to hail the return of this day! On the Sabbath it was that God rested from his work, looked upon it with a father's eye, and pronounced it very good. And, like his Father, let the Christian rest, and contemplate the works of God. On the Sabbath, how many of our Saviour's gracious miracles were wrought! And on the Sabbath how many spiritual miracles doth he still work! The eyes of the understanding are opened, the man that was deaf to all offers of mercy is made to hear, the tongue that was dumb in the praises of its God is unloosed, the withered hand is stretched out in prayer and in acts of kindness towards the people of the Lord ; yea, the dead are raised up,-those that were dead in trespasses and sins are quickened. On our Sabbath it was (for the day of the week has been altered) that our Lord burst the bonds of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of them. Is not here matter of pleasurable meditation ? Salvation is finished ! the great work accomplished ! man restored to the favour, and presence, and image of God! 0, let not the Sunday pass without thanksgiving and triumph on this great occasion. Contemplate, not only a dying, but a risen Lord; sympathize with Him not only in his sufferings, but in his triumphs; congratulate with Him, that, being risen from the dead, He dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him. He died for our sins; He is risen for our justification; risen to show us that the work is complete ; to ascend up into heaven, there to manage the concerns of his brethren with the power of a God, with the tender sympathies of a man; risen as the pledge and first-fruits of His people's resurrection, and with the gracious and all-sufficient promise that, where He is, there His people shall also be. On the Sabbath too it was that, according to their Master’s promise, the Holy Spirit first descended on the disciples, in cloven tongues, like as of fire; and, on this day the Christian still expects, when gathered together with the people of God, the same Divine Person to new-create, to instruct, to enlighten, and to comfort.
* Ephesians iv. 4.