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1, 2. A relinquishment of all common business, and all ordinary pleasure, on the Sabbath
3. A delight in the peculiar occupations and enjoyments of the Sabbath.
4. A conscientious dedication of the Sabbath to our personal improvement in holiness and virtue.
5. A serious desire to promote the honour of the Sabbath, by our public and undeviating example.
6. And such a renunciation, on the Sabbath, of our own ways, our own pleasure, and our own words, as, in due season, and by divine assistance, will make the ways of God, our chosen ways; the pleasure of devotion, our favourite pleasure; and the words of eternal life, the theme of our most cheerful, most animated, and most delightful conversation,
The fulfilment of these conditions, it has not been denied, is matter of difficulty, but it is a difficulty which, through Divine aid, resolution will finally over
come; and which, by Divine appointment, victory will abundantly compensate. To unfold the nature, and the reality, of this compensation, is the object of the following discourse.
I have asserted, and I do by no means retract the assertion, that, if the duties of Sunday be observed with perseverance, though, perhaps, at first with pain, they will at length be regarded with complacency, and cherished, as a source of absolute enjoyment. Habit, so omnipotent in evil, is not weak and impotent in good. To maintain that it were so, would be to pronounce a libel on our Maker. But it is not only, or principally, on the force of habit, that, in this case, we rely. A special blessing from above, rewards the conscientious fear of God's commandments. And, as the lawless breach of the fourth commandment is the grand source of the worst evils which infest society, so, an honest reverence for this commandment is, perhaps, the very best commencement of a religious life; the very best introduction to that peace and joy, which is the crown and glory of all true religion. Therefore, we may rest assured, that the blessed influence which attends every sincere and faithful effort to keep any other commandment, will peculiarly support and prosper all those, who earnestly strive to keep holy the Sabbath day. And, in this particular, if the word of God be true, and if the testimony of all good men, be not an extravagant delusion, the path of duty, is the path of happinesss; and strenuous exertion is its own eventual reward. But the text invites us to the contemplation of a far more exceeding and unspeakable reward; a blessedness, to which, if God had not revealed it, man could never have aspired; and which, since God hath been pleased to reveal it, should, above all things, be the object of our inextinguishable aspiration. “ 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.”
To delight ourselves in God, my brethren, is a privilege, of which no human intelligence can justly estimate the value. The Seraphim, who stand before his throne, and veil their faces while they worship, may feel what it is; but they cannot communicate their feelings; for such feelings are unutterable things. But what, in this world, we can very faintly apprehend, we may still, within the bounds of humility, allowably conjecture. What we know in part, must exercise our minds, in order that hereafter we may know, even as also we are known. What may now be seen through a glass darkly, must occupy on earth our spiritual vision, in order that in heaven we may be enabled to see face to face. The value of delight in God, must be considered that it may be enjoyed. And the enjoyment must commence here, or it can never be prolonged and perfected in the regions of eternity. This examination, therefore, is closely connected with our happiness. It is one of those means of grace, which are introductive to the hope of glory.
Those blessings, it will readily be granted, are incomparably the most valuable, which expel, and replace, evils of an opposite description. Such, indeed, is the pleasure of vicissitude, that the gravest moralists, and most delightful poets, have agreed in the conclusion, that grief and pain, that disappointment and discomfiture, like discords in music, or like shades in a picture, give strength and expression to the whole composition of our life. If, then, transitions be serviceable, from joy to sorrow, and from hope to fear; how much more desirable the transition, from uneasiness to satisfaction, from terror to delight? And here, we have reached the very threshold of our present enquiry. For, to weak