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honour him, when we call the Lord's day a delight, and the place appropriated to his worship honourable when we find not our own ways, nor our own pleasure, nor speak our own words.
The opinion, that the time of public worship is the only holy time under the gospel, excludes all distinction between the Lord's day and any other time which may be observed in social worship: It does not well comport with being in the Spirit: It intermingles earthly things with heavenly : It has not a good afpect on the previous preparation and after meditation which become our stated religious afsemblies, and conduce to their greatest advantage:
Our Father in heaven never intermits of his care over his great family. The author of our religion. healed the fick on the Sabbath, and blamed not his disciples for attending to their own neceflities on that day. He reproved those who poftponed mercy to sacrifice, who consecrated the spoils of nature and humanity." We may not neglect the care of our dependents, or any object in distress, under pretence of piety. Positive institutions were ordained to subserve justice, mercy and faith.
and faith. On the love of God and our neighbour hang all the law and the prophets. If any, neglecting the duties of the second table from a professed reverence for those of the first, think they are spiritual, they deceive themselves.
We should every day observe the power, wisdom and goodness of God displayed in the works of nature and providence; and especially his loving-kindness to the children of men. We should shew forth his loving-kindness every morning, and his faithfulness every night-should acknowledge him in all our ways, and commit every undertaking to him. He numbereth the hairs of our heads, and disposeth the most contingent and casual events. He cannot be far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being.
But the daily cares of life, the neceffary business of our particular callings, admit not of that contemplation and abstraction, which are highly useful for us as probationers for a world which flesh and blood cannot inherit ; and where the powers of the soul will not be impeded by fenfitive objects. The inhabitants of that world, always on the wing of contemplation, reft not day and night from the pure and perfect worship of God and the Lamb. It is then a token of divine wisdom and goodness, that a fixed and frequently returning day is appointed for the suspension of earthly cares and employments. But why su pend them? The answer is,
Secondly, To appropriate the time to contemplations on God and Christ, and our immortal interests.
We are in the Spirit, if, laying aside other thoughts and cares, we are free to contemplate the soul's dignity; man's apostacy; the diseases of the heart ; the value of the ransom provided by God; the fuller manifestation of his glory in redemption than in his other works; the duties of such an appropriate day as this, and the good tendency of observing them.Recollection is necessary, that our worship may be without distraction. While the thoughts wander on every foreign concern, how are we in the Spirit ? Shall our thoughts be diffipated on that day when the things of the kingdom should swallow up every other thought ? Shall we even then think intensely on the things of this life? Or shall the day of sacred rest be wasted on the bed of floth? Was it appointed for bodily indolence? Is it sufficient to refrain from secular business or recreations ? Does not being in the Spirit imply a collected, thoughtful frame ? Can it consist in consuming the hours in sluggishness, or in visits, or in trifling conversation, or in vain speculations? Is this to regard the day as the Lord's-a day set apart for
special attention to the one thing needful; the good part which can never be taken away?
Thirdly, To be in the Spirit includes self-recollection and devotion. In other words, communing with our own heart, enquiring into our fpiritual state, entering into our closet, praying to him who seeth in sem cret, dedicating our souls to him, reading the scriptures, and other pious and useful books for our instruction. The things of heaven thus become familiar and delightful. Notwithstanding the weekly recurrence of the Lord's day, good men find that secular thoughts and cares are apt to overcharge their hearts. How then should we be swallowed up with such thoughts and cares, were it not for the return of the day appropriated to special self-converse and religious homage, the cultivation of good principles and affec. tions ?
Fourthly, To be in the Spirit may well include family instruction and devotion.
Heads of families, having the spirit of religion, will especially improve the opportunity, which the day of the Lord affords, to impart religious counsel to the members of their household. Shall it be thought a talk, to employ a part of this day in imbuing the minds of children and youth with moral and Christian truths, taking them by the hand, and leading them in the way everlasting? This most reasonable and profitable employment, should be a delightful one: It cannot be omitted without great guilt. It behoves us to talk on spiritual concerns before our families—and especially on that day which we are expressly commanded to rćmember and keep holy.
Those who argue that early religious instruction encourages implicit faith, appear to take it for granted that scepticism is preferable to parental instruction in religion. If so, why should they blame parents for withholding instruction in things of this life? For
the knowledge of the things of eternal life cannot be of less moment. Let heads of families teach their household what they believe to be the way of the Lord, and let their example enforce what they incul. cate.
Fifthly, A steady and devout attendance on the public institutions of religion is included in the frame of spirit with which the Lord's day should be observed.
It belongs to God to say what means of grace are needful for us-what proportion of time we must devote to public prayer, praise and instruction—what ordinances we must observe-what means he will bless. The Lord's day and the duties of it conduce to excite and improve divine and social love, and prepare for the company and worship in heaven. By these means light, strength, animation and comfort are communiçated. When the desire of the soul is to God and the Redeemer, to the exercises in which glorified saints and angels are employed, then are we in the Spirit. Are we about to approach an earthly superior ? we consider how we shall order our speech and behavior so as to find acceptance. . We must bow before the great God with preparation of heart-with exalted thoughts of him, and the lowest thought of ourselves. Were it not that he delighteth in mercy, how could we come before him? We can open our lips with no other plea than the publican’s, God be merciful to me a sinner. When David engaged in the folemn worship of God, his heart was fixed. Our heart must be so. Are we present in body before the Lord, but absent in fpirit ? We pay him no homage. The same holds true, if we worship for a pretence. God is not mocked. He dwelleth with the contrite and humble. To what purpose is the Lord's day observed, if we have no communion with the Lord of the fabbath? To what purpose do we assemble for Christian worship, if the head
of the church doth not-vouchsafe his presence ? To enjoy this blessing, our fouls must thirst for the waters of life-must aspire to the employments and bliss of that world of eternal rest and joy, of which the Lord's day is an emblem. The religion of the closet and family prepare for the folemnities of the sanctuary. Minds thus prepared go up with joy to the temple, to pay their homage where God recordeth his name, and meeteth with and blefseth his people. “My soul thirst“eth for God, for the living God, to see his beauty,
power and glory in the sanctuary. I have thought “ of thy loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of thine
holy temple. Blessed are they who dwell in thy “ house. They go from strength to strength : Every “ one of them in Zion appeareth before God. We “ have boldness to enter into the Holiest,” through the Mediator between God and men. At the right hand of the Majesty on high, he pleads our cause. All our offerings must be presented, and whatsoever we do must be done, in his name. We have access to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. “Whatsoever
ye shall alk in my name, that will I do, that the Fa. « ther may be glorified in the Son.” This is to be remembered at all times—and especially on the Lord's day, when the universal church on earth join with the church in heaven, ascribing “ blessing, and honour and “ glory and power unto him who fitteth on the throne, “and unto the Lamb."
SECONDLY, The religious obfervation of the Lord's day is of the greatest utility and importance.
Separate from divine institution, one day has no preference to another. Reason might dictate some intermifsion to the labours and cares of life, and the appropriation of fome part of time for special attention to our immortal concerns. But without a divine interposition, no universal or general agreement could ever have taken place on these points. Without such agreement, all attempts of the kind would be constantly de