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exposed in consequence of their religion, are, for the most part, of temporary duration; and are invariably and amply compensated, by the approbation of the good, by the testimony of conscience, and by rewards, which, as the world cannot give, it cannot take away. We all know by whom it was said,
HAPPY THE PERSECUTED ON ACCOUNT OF RIGHT
ISAIAH, LVIII. 13, 14. (1)
IF THOU TURN AWAY THY FOOT FROM THE SABBATH,
FROM DOING THY PLEASURE ON MY HOLY DAY; AND CALL THE SABBATH A DELIGHT, THE HOLY OF THE LORD, HONOURABLE ; AND SHALT HONOUR HIM, NOT DOING THINE OWN WAYS, NOR FINDING THINE OWN PLEASURE, NOR SPEAKING THINE OWN WORDS; THEN SHALT THOU DELIGHT THYSELF IN THE LORD.
THE whole constitution of nature is
providentially adapted to the wants of man. This fact is abundantly established, by researches into the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms; by the most extended navigation of the great and wide sea; and by daily-increasing knowledge of that air which we breathe, and of that subtile fire which pervades all substances. But the providence of God is very specially displayed, in the wise adjustment of the heavenly bodies. To the regularity of their movements, real or apparent, we are indebted for the sure vicissitudes of light and darkness, summer and winter, seed-time and harvest : and, though the sun and moon existed for no other purpose, than that of dividing the day from the night, we could never be sufficiently thankful, for this benignant distribution of our time; for this regular succession, which recruits our faculties by repose, which prevents lassitude by variety, which excites us to renewed exertion, by the commencement of a new existence with each rising sun, and which reminds us of mortality by presenting in each night an image of death, of that night in which we must all lie down in the grave.
Thus, day unto day uttereth speech; and night unto night declareth knowledge. . A speech, however, and a knowledge; more immediately subservient to the management of this present life;
promotive of activity in common duties, of sobriety in ordinary pursuits, of assiduity in the wise employment of our time.
But we are formed for another world. This life is but the dawn of our existence. We are to live hereafter, through eternal ages. Is it not, then, desirable, that we should gain some acquaintance with our future destination ; that we should learn to anticipate the life to come; that we should be taught the habits, inspired with the tempers, and instructed in the language, of that heaven, for which we were originally formed, and to which we should habitually tend ? For this purpose, the Sabbath was engrafted on the natural division of time. It precisely marks out a certain portion of our being. It consecrates that portion, by the exclusion of common business, and common pleasure. It provides a rich variety of employment and recreation, in the religious service of God, the quiet enjoyment of ourselves, and the benevolent
assistance of our fellow-creatures. And, when thus employed, and thus improved, it affords a pledge and foretaste of that eternal rest, which remaineth unto the people of God.
The sacredness of this day, the original cause of its institution, its nature, both as a rest from labour, and as a period of devotional employment, are all stated and enforced with impressive authority, in various parts of Holy Writ. But, perhaps, in no other passage, are its duties, its enjoyments, and its rewards, so happily described, as in the words of the text. The prophet writes, no less for Christians, than for Jews. He looks beyond the cold formality of ritual obedience, to the enlarged and free spirit of rational devotion. With him, the Sabbath breathes, as it ever ought to breathe, the cheerful animation of a festival. “ If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable ; and shalt ho