Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

strength, more mighty than the strength and arm of man. Thus it has been, and thus it ever shall be. Why, then, should we be disconcerted or dismayed? The hearts of all men are in the hands of God. Let us but faithfully implore that God; and he will so touch and purify our hearts, that, “ what it was our fear to lose, it shall become our joy to cast away.” (10)

And now, my brethren, for the present I have done. It remains for you, to expand the hints of this discourse by reflection; to impress them, by serious meditation ; to improve them, by devout and fervent prayer. One fact only, I would recommend to your soberest attention. It is not by the best possible employment of one day in seven, that we can be fitted for the happiness of the blessed. The Lord's day must become the leaven of this present life, or it will never be the foretaste of a better life to come. Our Sunday thoughts, and words, and works, must diffuse a sweet,

but powerful influence, through all our other days. Like a fountain of living water, they must flow through every portion of our conduct. Like that mystical stream, which attended the Israelites through the wilderness, they must never desert us, till we reach the Canaan above.

NOTES. (1) Page 137. Isaiah lviii. 13, 14.] By the choice of this text, and by a close adherence to the exposition of its clauses, I have consciously, and indeed intentionally, avoided many topicks usually enlarged upon. What has been most ably executed by our best divines, I was unwilling to injure by far inferior execution. The reader, therefore, who wishes for competent information on the subject of the Christian sabbath, should look to other sources; and particularly to the discourses on that subject, of BARROW, SECKER, Ogden, and HORSLEY.

In former times, it was a question, how far the fourth commandment is binding upon Christians. That question is, now, perhaps, at rest for ever. It has been proved, beyond all reasonable controversy, that the appointment of a sabbath was coeval with creation; that it was an obligation, binding, not merely upon Jews, but upon Gentiles; that it was an institution, not only positive and ceremonial, but moral also, and spiritual: that it could not be abrogated by the abrogation of Judaism, any more, than any other obligation binding the whole human race, could be so abrogated; and, finally, that while, for wise reasons, the day was changed from Saturday to Sunday, by apostolic authority, (perhaps, as some of the fathers maintain, by the authority of our Lord himself,) the consecration of a seventh day, that is, of one day in seven, has been acknowledged, as matter of permanent obligation, by the undeviating usage of the church; an obligation farther sanctioned, by the universal voice, in all Christian communities, of those higher powers, which are ordained of God.

The learned reader will find it his advantage to consult an able dissertation by Danzius, published among the Talmudical illustrations of MEUSCHEN. Nor should the well-argued treatises of BAXTER *, WATTSt, and DoDDRIDGE ļ, be omitted: men, from whom it is matter of pain to differ; and with whom it is matter of honest satisfaction, when we can agree. (2) Page 141. Restrain thy hands from all needless work ; thy mind from all low-thoughted care.] The words of Doctor BARROW are exquisitely to the purpose. “ Not distracting our minds with care: not exhausting our bodies with toil : but allowing our mind convenient and seasonable freedom; affording our soul sufficient leisure, with vigour and alacrity to enjoy its nobler entertainments, and to pursue its higher interests.”

In various degrees, indeed, they had their errors, and perplexities; their doubts and scruples. But they now enjoy their sabbath; they now rest from their labours; in a world, where, to the sincerely pious, all honest errors are forgiven, all perplexities are disentangled, and all doubts and scruples are for ever at an end :

66 Apparet --- Numen, sedesque quietæ,
Quas neque concutiunt venti, neque nubila nimbis
Adspergunt; neque nix acri concreta pruinâ
Cana cadens violat; semperque innubilus Æther
Integit, et largè diffuso lumine ridet."

Lucretius ; Lib. iii. line 18.

There godhead stands revealed; and blest abodes,
Of quiet, which nor tempests shake, nor clouds
Obscure, nor snow white-drifting violates.
But calm and cloudless ether o'er that region
Smiles, with diffusive sempiternal light.

* Works, fol. vol.iii. p.764–806.
+ Works, 8vo. vol. iii. p. 123–145.
# Works, 8vo. vol. v. p. 310–516.

Exposition of Decalogue.

(3) Page 142. Amusements allowable in themselves.] What are allowable amusements ? Such recreations, and such alone, as may, in some degree, assist our faculties of mind and body, to perform that great work, for which they were united, and placed in this probationary world. No amusements, therefore, are allowable, which produce weariness of body, or lassitude of mind; which indispose us for serious thought and feeling; which keep us cold and indifferent respecting wisdom and virtue : which break down the barriers between us, and the vices and follies of the world; or which leave behind them a disrelish for the close inspection of our hearts, and for devotional intercourse with our God.

Respecting amusements in general, it would be well for all persons, and especially for those who yet retain the freshness and innocence of youth, to regard the sage counsel of Lactantius. * “ He that is stu

*“ Qui veritati studet, qui non vult se ipse decipere, abjiciat inimicas ac noxias voluptates, quæ animam sibi vinciant, ut corpus cibi dulces. Præferantur vera falsis, æterna brevibus, utilia jucundis. Nihil aspectu gratum sit, nisi quod piè, quod justè fieri videas; nihil auditu suave, nisi

« ZurückWeiter »