Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

actions this day, should be God's in a special manner; all that we are, all that we have, all that we can do, should be wholly devoted to God's worship and service on this day, Isa. lviii. 13. God would not only have our hands tied up from working, but also our tongues from talking, and our minds from thinking on worldly things this day.

2. With respect to the day, we should spend the whole of it in holy duties, either public, private, or secret. It is not for an hour or two only that we must study to be specially holy, but through the whole day; we should count every moment of Sabbath time precious, and suffer none of it to be lost that we can save, still aiming to be doing something for God and our own souls.

3. With respect to the duties of the day, we should es. teem them all, and make conscience of them all, since they all have a divine stamp upon them; reading, hearing, prayer, praises, communicating, meditating, conferring, catechising, giving alms, &c. God is to be found in every one of these duties, and therefore none of them is to be neglected : and, when we find him not in one of them, we must seek bim in another; and, if we conscientiously go the round of duties, we shall surely “ find him whom our souls love." Cant. iii. 4.

Lastly. This expression of being " in the Spirit on the Lord's day,” imports the performing the duties of it with pure and spiritual ends, viz. “ to glorify God, and enjoy him." God is the sole object of our worship, and he must be the principal end of it too. In our worship we must seek him, Heb. xi. 6. not ourselves. It is natural for man to worship God for self ends ; we often perform duties, not only to be seen and esteemed of men, but also to be seen and valued by God for them, Isa. lviii. 3. 66 Where fore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not ?" &c. They did not perform duties to glorify God, but to obtain a reward for themselves, and have a righteousness of their own to be found and plead upon. Let us study to be de. nied to our own duties, and guard against a selfisit and legal spirit in our Sabbath-days' performances. This will be a dead fly to spoil the ointment, and will keep our best duties from being savoury to God. Let us study then te perform them all in newness of spirit, and not in the old. ness of the letter," Rom. vii. 6. Let us use them all as

means for bringing God and our souls together, as means for obtaining communion and fellowship with God, and holding special intercourse with him, which is the only way to fit us for glorifying God both here and hereafter.

DIRECTION II.

Concerning the holy Duties requisite upon the Lord's Day.

THE duties necessary upon this day, are either public, private, or secret.

I shall not meddle with the duties of public persons as such on the Sabbath, or what is specially incumbent upon magistrates or ministers upon this day, in their public stations, but shall insist only upon those duties required of all Christians in common.

Quest. I. What are those public duties required of us upon the Lord's day ?

Ans. They are those which we are bound to perform in the public assemblies of God's people : and indeed the Sabbath is instituted chiefly for the solemn performance of the duties of God's worship, in the public meetings of his people: for the Lord hath a special delight therein ; 6 he loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob; and wherever two or three are gathered in his name, he will be in the midst of them.". Why? It is in the assemblies of God's people for public worship, that God receiveth the highest praises from us ; and hence the Psalmist saith, “ I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people. And in his temple doth every one speak of his glory," Psal. xxxv. 18. Psal. xxix. 9. And as in public worship God receiveth the highest praises ; so there it is he bestoweth the richest mercies, Psal. Ixv. 4. « Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts : we shall be satisfied with the goodness of th house," &c. O what good things are contained in that word, the “goodness of thy house !" There is pardon, peace, love, grace, life, light, strength, comfort, &c. Now, the public duties of the Sabbath, recorded in scripture,

which God's people ought to meet and assemble that day for, are various ; and particularly, they are to meet together for reading and expounding the word of God; for preaching, hearing, praying, praising, partaking of the sacraments, collecting for the poor, &c. for all which we may see Lev. xxiii. 3. Psalın xcii. Isa. Ixvi. 23. Luke iv. 16. Acts xiii. 14, 15. 27. 44. xv. 21. xvi. 13. xx. 7. 1 Cor. xvi. 12. But particularly,

1. Hearing the word publicly read and preached with reverence and attention, is a principal duty on the Sabbath ; nay, our life depends upon it, Deut. xxxii. 46, 47. It is the great mean God hath appointed for the conversion of souls, Rom. x. 14. 17. Whatever men think of it, it is the powerful instrument of our salvation, Rom. i. 16. The waters of the sanctuary run only through the channels of the word ; the mines of grace are found only in those climates where the gospel-sun shines. The Lord, if he pleased, could immediately, by his Spirit, break open sinners' hearts ; but he hath determined to honour his word in this work, as is plain in Lydia's case, Acts xvi. 9, 10. 14. Reading the word and sermons at home is good ; but hearing the word preached is the ordinary mean God hath appointed and promised to bless for conversion : and if this be slighted, or prove ineffectual, no other way can be contrived for it, as we are told, Luke xvi. 29. 31. So that though a glorified saint or angel should come down from heaven, and preach upon the beauty of Christ, and glory of heaven, in the most lively and demonstrative manner ; yet, if a preached gospel do not persuade sinners, neither would that. Or, though a damned soul should come up from hell, and preach the evil of sin, and torments of hell, in the most pathetic manner ; yet neither would that persuade, if the word do it not. Why, the one is God's instituted mean, the other not. Let us then have an high esteem of God's ordinance, and embrace all occasions for attending it. Be swist to hear," Jam. i. 19. Let none dare to count that mean, weak, or despicable, which the wise God bath instituted to save souls, 1 Cor. i. 21. 66 It pleased God, by the toolishness of preaching, to save them that believe."

And how comes believing but by hearing ? Reading good sermons (as one says) is like milk cold out of the dish, but preachine is like milk warm from the breast, which is far more nourishing to the child. Let us always then, as 6 new-born babes, desire this milk, that we may both live and grow thereby,” 1 Pet. ii. 2.

II. Another of the public duties of the Sabbath is public prayers with the congregation,

Prayer is a principal part of God's worship, and therefore is frequently put for the whole, Zech. viii. 21, 22. Acts xvi. 23. Hence God's temple of old was called the house of prayer. Publie prayer is most necessary for averting judgments, obtaining blessings, and preserving love and unity among Christians; also, it is a solemn owning the God whom we serve in the face of the world, and so highly glorifies God. The bountiful Lord is well pleased to see many beggars thronging at the beautiful gate of his temple, waiting for an alms from his hand. And their joint prayers are most prevalent with him, far more than private prayers : for a petition presented by a single subject, is not so prevalent as that which is made by a whole city. Peter is cast into prison to be executed, Acts xii. but the church meets and prays him out of his enemies' bands. The united prayers of the church are most powerful to procure God's blessing and presence; therefore, reader, see that you make conscience in joining therewith, and be not absent from them. It is a most graceless practice in some, they either come not into the church till the public prayers be over, or they go out after sermon before public prayers be made. I am sure such can expect nothing by the sermon but a curse, since they join not with the prayers for a blessing upon it to themselves and others.

III. Duty is the singing of psalms, and praising God with the congregation. Praising God by singing, is often enjoined in scripture ; yea, no less than four times in one verse, Psal. xlvii. 6. It is comely for the people of God ; they are called singing birds, Cant. ii. 10. they are such as should sing all the months of the year ; yea, even in the dead month of affliction : So did Paul and Silas in a prison at midnight, when their backs were sore with scourges, and their feet fast in the stocks, Acts xvi. 25. But in a special manner, singing praises to God is our duty in public assemblies, Psal. cxlix. 1. Luke xxiv. 53. And in these, “ both princes and people, young men and maidens, old men and children," are bound to act a part in this heavenly concert, Psal. cxlviii. 1, 12, 13. And above all days, the Sabbath is most proper for this duty, Psal. xcii. title, Psal. cxviii. 24. It is a day of thanksgiving and holy joy : We bave God's praises to celebrate for the wonders of creation and redemption, we have the glorious victories of the Captain of our salvation to extol and magnify; and therefore the duty of singing praise this day is highly necessary. By this duty we not only glorify God, but we edify one another, Col. iii. 16. The melody and conjunction of many serious souls, tend to raise and elevate the heart. Yea, it was one mean of Augustine's conversion ; he says, “ He wept when he heard the psalms sung by the church."

Singing is a reading with meditation, and gives free vent to the thoughts and affections, and helps to excite and actuate the graces ;

it is the breath or flaine of love or joy ; it is the eternal work of heaven, the music of saints and angels there, Rev. y. 9, 10, 11. xv. 3. And what are church assemblies here, but the place of our apprenticeship and prepartion for heaven ? know nothing in the world that more resembles heaven, than a company of God's people harmoniously singing his praise 6 with grace in their hearts, making melody to the Lord;" for then the soul rejoiceth in divine goodness, meilitates on divine promises, extols divine excellencies, and mounts up to God in acts of faith and love. Let us then make conscience of this heavenly duty in the public assemblies, and perform it with heart and tongue ; for were it not a rare exercise, God would not honour it to be the only work of heaven, to the exclusion of prayer, repentance, reading, hearing, communicating, &c.

IV. Partaking of the sacraments is another public duty of the Sabbath.

1. The first day of the week, our Christian Sabbath, is the proper day for celebrating the memorial of redeeming love in the Lord's supper, Acts xx. 7. This was the ordinary practice of the primitive Christians in ancient times : and, because of their constant breaking of bread on this first day of the week, it wont to be called dies panis, August Epist. 118. So fired were the hearts of Christians in those early times with love to and zeal for their glorious Redeemer, who had so lately poured out his blood for their redemption, that when they assembled together upon the

L

« ZurückWeiter »