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glorious and divine as the first creation of it, and as worthy to be gratefully remembered by us.
3dly. It is of some moment to observe, that this day has been uniformly kept as the Christian Sabbath from the apostolic age down to the present time. This fact is proved by the concurring testimony of historians in all the different periods of the church. At the same time, they tell us what hot disputes arose about other matters, particularly about the institution and observance of holy days. We find the Eastern and Western churches so divided with regard to the time of keeping Easter, as to proceed to excommunicate each other: but we hear of no controversy about observing the first day of the week; for in this they were all agreed. Now, what could have produced such perfect uniformity, especially in those ages, when there was no Christian magistrate to interpose his authority, but a clear conviction, and a wellgrounded belief, that this was really a divine institution delivered by Christ, or his apostles, to the church? Once more, in the
4th place, God hath remarkably hallowed this day, by many acts of grace done to his people, when employed in the religious observance of it. On this day, wheà “the disciples were all with one accord in one place,” the Spirit of God descended upon them, insomuch that they were filled with the Holy Ghost, to their own unspeakable comfort, and the admiration of all who saw and heard them. On the same day, the arm of the Lord was” gloriously “ revealed,” in the conversion of three thousand souls, who were brought from a state of enmity to Christ into the bosom of the church, by the plain and powerful preaching of the apostle Peter. On this day John was inspired with the spirit of prophecy, and had visible representations of
the various revolutions in the church of Christ, down to the final consummation of all things. And in latter times God hath signally blessed his people when met together on this holy day; making all his goodness to pass
be. fore them, and giving them such views of his power and glory in the sanctuary, that they have been obliged to say with Jacob at Bethel, “ This is no other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven;" a fore. taste of the everlasting Sabbath, an earnest of that rest which remains for the people of God. And is it to be supposed, that the holy and righteous Governor of the world would countenance his creatures in a superstition of their own contrivance, to the open and weekly neglect of a plain and positive law? No surely: These tokens of the Divine presence and favour dispensed on this day, are sure indications that this is the day which God himself hath made, and which he hath separated, by his authority, for the Christian Sabbath.
Thus have I finished the first thing proposed in this discourse; which was to inquire how far the precept in the text is binding on us; and I hope I have said enough to satisfy every unprejudiced mind, that it is still in force, as to the great scope and design of it; and that the change of the day, which is only circumstantial, bears such evident marks of divine authority, as suffi. ciently justify the uniform opinion, and uninterrupted practice, of all the Christian churches. I proceed now to the
Second thing proposed, Which was to show how this commandment ought to be kept or observed, “ Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
This, as it is the first, so it is likewise the principal and most important branch of the precept. Nay, the full scope and design of the law is probably expressed in
these few significant words. For I cannot help thinking that the bodily rest or cessation from labour, which is afterwards enjoined, derives its chief value from its subserviency to those spiritual exercises by which the Sabbath is most eminently sanctified; and that it ought principally to be considered as a description of the means to aid us in the duties of religious worship. I think it proper to mention this distinction, because some have contended, that resting from labour is all that is meant by keeping holy the Sabbath: but surely it cannot be thought that God, who is a pure and holy Spirit, would deliver a law with such solemnity, for so mean and low a purpose as this. He who so frequently declares, that the rites and ceremonies of his own appointment were no farther acceptable to him than as they represented spiritual blessings, and were improved for promoting internal purity, cannot be supposed to take pleasure in mere inactivity, or to have appointed a weekly day of rest, solely for the indulgence of the body. Besides, this expression of sanctifying or keeping holy, not only imports a separation from common use, but likewise a consecration to a sacred or religious use. In this sense it is always employed in the Old Testament, either when it is applied to the persons of the priests, or to the vessels of the sanctuary; and no reason can be given why it should be taken in a lower sense here, or why it should import any thing less than that the day is set apart for the service of God, and ought to be employed in the duties of religious worship-I shall, in the
1st place, Give you a general account of these duties, And then we shall see more clearly, in the
2d place, What things ought to be avoided by us, as inconsistent with the scope and design of this commandment.
In general, then, we are bound to sanctify this day, by assembling together for the public worship of God, that as many as can conveniently meet in one place may join in paying homage to their common Lord; and thug contribute their endeavours to make bim glorious in the eyes
of the world around him. For this we ought to prepare ourselves, by the more private exercises of familyworship. And because our hearts are naturally indisposed for such divine and heavenly employments, it is both reasonable and necessary, that each person apart should spend a competent time in reading and meditating on the word of God, and implore his presence and his blessing, by humble prayer, in the secret retirements of the closet. It will also be of considerable use, to render these several kinds of religious worship more beneficial to us, that, when occasion offers, we should discourse together on divine subjects, in order to increase our knowledge of spiritual things, and to fix upon our minds a more lively sense of God and of our duty.
1st. I say, we are bound to sanctify this day by a punctual and devout attendance upon the public ordi. nances of religion, assembling together in the name of the Lord, to offer up the sacrifices of prayer and praise; to hear his word explained and applied; and especially to partake, as often as we have opportunity, of the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the memorial of our Saviour's death, and the pledge of bis second coming. In such duties as these, did the people of God in former times chiefly employ themselves on the Holy Sabbath. Under the old dispensation, sacrifices were offered, and incense burnt in the temple, and the law was publicly read and explained, both at Jerusalem and other cities of Judea, where synagogues were built for that very end. After the resurrection of Christ, the apostles and
primitive Christians met together statedly on the first day of the week, that they might join in celebrating that great and propitious event, and in performing other acts of social religion. And ought not we to sanctify the Lord's day in the same manner? We are blessed with the ordinances of the gospel regularly, and I hope, purely dispensed. We have places set apart for public worship, and are countenanced in the exercise of it by law. ful authority, and therefore it must discover a strange perverseness of temper, and an unpardonable contempt both of God and man, to withdraw from the place of public worship, and, on any pretence whatsoever, to refuse to bear a part in such a becoming and rational ser
2dly. That the public worship may bave a greater efficacy, and that our minds may be better disposed to. enter into it, it is the duty of each fainily apart to spend some time, both before and after the public service, in reading the Holy Scriptures, and in joining together in prayer and thanksgiving to God. Were this practis. ed in a serious and devout manner, we might expect to see better days, and more fruitful and joyful Sabbaths than any we have yet seen. A congregation composed of a number of holy families, just come from conversing with God at home, to worship him together in the bouse of prayer, would be indeed a lovely sight, and could not fail to be honoured with the special marks of divine favour. We have some illustrious examples of family-religion recorded in' the Old Testament; but what chiefly ought to engage the attention of Christians, is that our blessed Lord bimself was pleased to become a pattern to us in this matter. In the intervals of his public work, we find bim frequently retiring with his little family, praying with them, and teaching them to pray, and instructing them in things pertaining to the kingdom of