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houshold to superintend and govern. So that it may be truly said of that Order, which the Apostle recommends, that it should extend to “all things;" and farther that there is no virtue, which we can cultivate, nor any duty, which we are called on to practise, to which it would not give constancy, regularity, and effect.
But, as the consideration of Order in this general point of view, would lead into too wide a field of meditation and inquiry, I shall apply it only to the regulation of our principles and conduct, with respect to the sacred and important duty of religious worship. This naturally divides itself into two parts, which would comprise our private, and our public duty; but I shall, on the present occasion, confine my observations to the latter.
Immediately, on the creation of the world, we are taught to believe, that the Almighty Father required the seventh day to be kept holy; and to be dedicated by his rational and immortal creatures to his peculiar service. The institution of the Sabbath was undoubtedly previous to the giving of the Law on mount Sinai ; because there it is introduced by the word
Remember," which of course implies some some antecedent knowledge of the duty that was enjoined. No divine law, therefore, is more ancient; and to those who consider its importance to human happiness in this world, and the next, none will appear of higher obligation. Let me particularly observe, in discoursing farther on the words of the text, that the great Creator, in establishing this important duty, recognises the force and propriety of that Order, which the Apostle recommends, and which so eminently distinguishes the works of infinite wisdom, goodness, and power. Had man been told to worship God generally, without any limitation of time, or place, annexed to the Divine Command, it is easy to perceive how desultory and unsocial, how weak and imperfect, comparatively speaking, his best services would have been. But the awful and impressive words, “ Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day,” were meant to give his public worship constancy and fervor, as well as unanimity and effect.
The laws of civilised society have co-operated in endeavouring to produce the same ends; and, in every community, where the name of Christ is honored, the Lord's day, or the Christian Sabbath, is appointed to be kept holy, and cer
tain hours are set apart for public worship. The discipline of our Reformed Church is
peculiarly calculated to render our duty towards God, in this respect, both practical and easy : but then obedience is required on our parts; and if all things are required to be done by us “ decently and in order," this surely is an occasion, on which indecency and disorder must be reprehensible in the extreme.
I do not mean to refer, on the present occasion, to habitual Sabbath-breakers, and professed infidels; or to such as “ live, as it were, without God in the world :" but I wish to address myself to those who have received a Christian education,—who have been regularly baptised, and taken their vows upon themselves ;—those who believe in the truth of the Gospel ; and, when questioned on the subject, profess themselves to be zealous supporters of their established Church and Constitution. Speaking of this numerous and respectable class of our fellowsubjects, I believe there is scarcely an individual Minister, who has not cause to complain of the want of decency and Order in the conduct of many individuals, who occasionally form a part of their respective congregations. I beg it may not be understood, that I have any particular reason to be dissatisfied--the cause of complaint is general ; at the same time, I have great satisfaction in knowing, that there are many present, to whom the observations which I have to make will not apply: but to others let me say, that they shamefully violate the Apostle's precept, in not frequenting the place of public worship with more constancy, and regularity
In addressing myself to such of you as cannot but feel conscious of this neglect, it is ne. cessary to use great plainness of speech, and undisguised sincerity. I shall therefore state what your conduct is, and then offer, with respectful, and I may add affectionate freedom, some animadversions on it. It cannot escape observation, that, if you attend a place of public worship (for the great purpose, it is hoped, of Christian edification) once, you absent yourselves twice, three times, and perhaps oftener.
This irregularity alone is sufficient to convince every thinking person, that however well-meaning you may be, there is but little of the decency of Order in your devotions.
As want of consideration, chiefly, perhaps, might lead to this shameful omission of duty, so it might also prevent you from seeing its mischievous effects. You are giving all descriptions of people, I will not say just cause, but certainly a strong pretence for thinking and speaking unfavorably of you; and it will be difficult for you yourselves, in moments of serious meditation, to claim the merit of consistency, or sincerity. You know that the constant observance of the Sabbath is sanctioned by the highest of all authority,—the laws of God and man.-You know that it is the principal means of supporting Christ's visible Church on earth ;-of diffusing the knowledge of salvation ;-and particularly, of giving rest, comfort, and instruction to the poor... As such, the institution of the Sabbath is an institution, which every good subject as well as Christian should support; and the only way irr which it is practicable for him to support it ---by his own example. The obligations, as well as the benefits, that attach to yourselves should be sufficient to make that example constant and effectual: but they will be increased by considering your relation to others.