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duties could not be fulfilled without an entire cessation from all ordinary business and labour. This rest is also, as I have already observed, an institution characterized by that humanity and wisdom which mark its divine origin. To the labouring classes it is peculiarly beneficent, by affording them repose from exhausting toil and drudgery, and by enabling them to raise to heaven those eyes which their obscure lot has directed towards earth, and to re-invigorate, by communion with their heavenly Father and their Saviour, those limbs which toil and care had enfeebled. Nor is it less, perhaps it is still more, beneficial to those who are exempted from manual labour, especially to the higher orders of society. Business, ambition, intrigue, or mere amusement, too often engross the time and attention of such persons, and exclude all due regard of their eternal interests. Of what vast importance is it, then, to the human race, of all descriptions, to have one day in seven particularly devoted to religious exercises and meditation? Surely this proportion of time cannot be considered as too great, when we reflect on the indifference of mankind to spiritual improvement, and the difficulty of overcoming their habitual attachment to sensible objects. Indeed, it may be safely asserted, that without the institution of the Lord's day, the power of religion, already too small, even with this aid, would speedily be ex
tinguished. This institution is also most humane in regard to the brute creation.
It is, however, to be considered, that the Christian sabbath is to be observed in conformity to the liberal and exalted spirit of our religion. Intended, as all religious institutions evidently are, to be the means of establishing and advancing internal piety, it is never to be regarded as constituting its end, or as superseding the exercise of those virtues, or the discharge of those duties, to the habitual practice of which Christianity is designed to form us, and which will remain, as the chief ornament of the soul, and its unfailing source of happiness, when all the mere means of religion shall have vanished, and when "that which is perfect being come, that which is in part shall be done away." It is therefore not merely lawful, but incumbent, to perform, on the Lord's day, works of necessity and mercy. This is our Saviour's doctrine, expressly delivered in the gospels, and applied by him even to the Jewish sabbath: "Go ye," says he," and learn what that meaneth; I will have mercy, and not sacrifice ;" and, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”
It is evident, that the more time and attention every person bestows on his spiritual interests, the more, under divine grace, he advances them.
a 1 Cor. xiii. 8-10. Luke vi. 6. Matt. ix. 13.
b Matt. xii. 1-13. Mark iii. 1. Mark ii. 27.
This is a duty incumbent at all seasons and in all situations; but it must be most effectually discharged on the day appropriated to this very purpose. Still, neither the spirit nor the precepts of Christianity require us to observe it in a ceremonial and Judaical manner. That gloom and austerity with which many zealous but misinformed Christians endeavour to obscure the serenity of that day, is so foreign to the true genius of our religion, that the early Christians considered it as a day of triumph, since they celebrated it in commemoration of our Saviour's triumph over death and the grave. In offering their prayers on that weekly festival, they stood erect, and raised their heads to heaven; and hence these acts of devotion, as we learn from Tertullian, were termed stationes, prayers presented in a standing posture. "We hold it," says he, "to be unlawful to fast, and to pray kneeling, on the Lord's day."
From this short exposition of the first four precepts of the decalogue, which prescribe the duties that man owes to his Creator, together with what has been previously said on this subject, it is evident that the acknowledgment and habitual impression of his majesty, as possessed of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, love tempered with becoming veneration, resignation
* Die dominico jejunium nefas ducimus, vel de geniculis adorare. Tertul. De Corona, c. iii.
to his will, confidence in his unceasing and gracious providence, gratitude for his favours and mercies, especially for those of redemption, a steady purpose of obedience to his laws, as far as is compatible with the infirmity of human nature, constitute the substance of that internal piety which is the real essence of religion. This will necessarily manifest itself in the external offices of devotion, in ordinary conversation, and in the whole conduct of life, leading to fulfil all the duties which we owe to ourselves and to our neighbour, and which have been already stated and explained. But the most direct expression of internal piety, and, by a happy reaction, its principal sustenance and support, is external worship. To the consideration of this most important branch, as prescribed by Christianity, I shall now proceed. But, not to exhaust my reader's attention, I shall devote to it a separate chapter.
CHRISTIAN WORSHIP AND SACRED RITES.
I HAVE, in some measure, anticipated the subject of Christian worship, or have at least stated the general principles which ought to inspire and di
rect it. Something, however, still more specific, on this point, seems to be necessary in that sketch of the Christian scheme which I am now laying before my reader.
Language, and other external signs of thought, are useful to mankind, not merely as means of communicating it to others, but also as embodying to themselves the various operations of mind. All expressions of religious sentiment have this double use. The stronger and more generous affections of the soul prompt us to communicate them, and, if possible, to obtain that enjoyment and support which arise from sympathy and the participation of them. In this manner, also, such sentiments and affections gather new strength, and, by a species of reaction, are both more firmly rooted, and acquire a greater degree of expansion. This is peculiarly applicable to the expressions of internal piety. Man, deeply impressed with the consideration of deity, with his own dependence, and with all the benefits which he has derived, and still expects, from the author of all good; with his own consciousness of sin, with his necessity of pardon, and with his incapacity of future obedience without divine aid, naturally flies to his Creator, pours forth before him the strong expressions of these various feelings, and gives substance and body to them by the powers of language. He is also prompted to adopt such other significative marks of adoration,