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blessed, and continues to bless. It is but a short that it claims ; let us this evening follow up our season that we sit by the pools of Elim, undis- reflections. What soul that is capable of thinkturbed by the cares and vexations of time. God ing and judging correctly, can fail to be thankful forbid that it should be abridged. We need it all that God has so imperatively instituted a day of and would sue for more—were it not that He who hallowed rest? It has been appointed in wisdom knows our frame had said, “Six days thou shalt and mercy by the great Author of our being, who labour, and do all thy work. The sabbath is our knows what man is, and what man stands in need jubilee, our blessed privilege, a happy foretaste of of. Oh! how blessed is it, that on the recurour joy, when the last remnant of the curse shall rence of every seventh day the whole rational have passed away; for it is a respite from the offspring of God, some of them worn out by discurse, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat tracting, soul-oppressing, soul-ruining cares, others bread! Oh that on it and by it we may be ripened borne down and worn out by severe and hard toil and prepared for the eternal sabbath!
during the six days of the week, should on this holy day suspend all their labours, and leave all their cares and toils for a time behind them.
How blessed, that in their private retirements, FIRST DAY.-EVENING.
and in the bosom of their families, and in the • There remaineth therefore a rest to the people and solemn stillness, to meditate on things divine;
sanctuary of God, they are privileged, in peace of God,' Heb. iv. 9.
to hold converse with God; and thus to prepare The whole of the dispensation prior to and under for another and an eternal world. Sweet, indeed, the law, was prefigurative of the Christian. By is this day of holy rest, it is the best and most the sensible emblems of the one, the spiritual blessed of all the seven ; and that man who would nature of the other was pointed out; and all the denude himself of the spiritual enjoyments of this institutions and typical observances of the Jewish day, knows not what his privilege is; knows not economy were designed to shadow forth and what true delight means. And oh! who can prepare men's minds for the purer and brighter calculate the guilt and criminality of those who state of things under the gospel. The words would divert this sacred day from the grand puroffered for our meditation, are a conclusion
poses for which it was designed and instituteddrawn from some preceding arguments, to prove who would do anything themselves to desecrate that the sabbatical rest appointed on the it—who would prevent any, whether rich or poor, seventh day, when God ceased from his work from keeping it holy unto the Lord? Oh! it is of creation—as also the rest of the promised lamentable to think, that in this Christian land land of Canaan, were both the one and the there should be found one daring enough to rob other types and figures of another and a better God of his own day, and thus of his glory—bold, rest, into which all real Christians should be and cruel enough to rob man of his dearest birth-> admitted. The seventh day of rest was emble-right privilege—mad enough to afford the means, matical of the eternal sabbath—and the land of and hold out the temptation, to inconsiderate Canaan was prefigurative of the heavenly Canaan. souls to prostitute and profane this holy day. The Israelites had enjoyed their sabbaths, their But as every Sabbath-day is an emblem of the privileges, their rest in Canaan, still led to antici- eternal sabbath, it should be employed in such a pate something far more glorious and exalted. If way as to render it a preparation for the eternal Joshua had given Israel all the rest that God in- rest. It was instituted for this purpose, and men tended, when he brought them into Canaan, would are frustrating the design of Heaven, when their he have spoken of another day and another country exercises and employments on that day do not —would the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, lead the soul directly to God and to heaven. many ages after their settlement in the land of How then should the day of the Lord be spent? promise, and when they were in the height of Not merely in resting from bodily toil and earthly their prosperity, have spoken of another sabba- cares, but in engaging the mind in those spiritual tism, of another country, had there not been ano- and sublime exercises in which believers hope ther and better rest ; had there not been another to be eternally employed in the upper sanctuary. and a better country awaiting true believers, a It should be spent in praising and holding com sabbath that was everlasting ; a country that was munion with God—in uniting with the redeemeternally blessed?
ed above, in worshipping Him who sitteth on In the morning we were led to reflect on the the throne, and the Lamb that was slain—in fourth commandment, and the holy observance gratefully rejoicing in that event, to perpetuate
which this first day was instituted, viz., Christ's | labours and toils of our mortal condition-rest resurrection from the dead—and in meditating from all the cares and perplexities that enter into upon, and looking forward to, that sabbath our state here below-rest from all the infirmities, which they hope to enjoy, when the shadows of diseases, and pains that cleave to us as the chiltime shall flee away, and the realities of eternity dren of the dust—rest from all the fears, and shall commence. Believers enjoy their sabbaths bereavements, and sorrows, that are mingled in here, and praise God for them; still they look our cup—rest from all the temptations of the above and beyond them, they long for something world, the fiery darts of the wicked one, to which better.
we are exposed here-rest from all the stings of I cannot conceive any thing more comforting conscience, and the apprehensions of guilt that and heart-cheering than this gracious declaration, are inseparable from our present state-rest from
there remaineth a rest for the people of God.” all the rebellious thoughts, sinful desires, and Believed in and taken home, it is fitted to ease corrupt passions, that flesh is heir to-rest from every load under which burdened souls labour. all those lamentable differences that separate man Let us then meditate upon it for a little. The from man, Christian from Christian in this world rest of the soul, whether in heaven or earth, in -rest from the fear and the stroke of death to eternity or time, can only be found in God him which every child of Adam is subject. In short, self, in his love and favour through Christ. Till there shall be deliverance from all that can be such time as a sinner has learnt to place the bur- denominated evil or calamitous, whether it arises den of his guilt upon Christ, to look to God as from natural or moral causes; and this, just bea reconciled Father, and to choose Him as his cause there shall be deliverance from the very alone portion, he cannot know what rest means. existence of sin. And who does not sigh for this But induced and enabled to come to Christ, state of things? Tossed by the tempests of life, labouring and heavy laden, to look to him with who does not respond to the declaration, · Blessed steady eye, to repose in Him as the only Sa- are the dead who die in the Lord, for they rest viour, he experiences a peace and a tranquillity from their labours.' But this is not all. The of mind that passeth understanding. It is of rest of heaven is not mere negative, but positive this rest, of which the apostle speaks; and this enjoyment. It is, as we said, rest in God-in is tasted by believers here, this proves to them the enjoyment of God's presence—the seeing an earnest and foretaste of heaven; and this raises him face to face—the being gladdened with the them above all the toils of their pilgrimage-jour- smiles of his countenance and the sensible tokens ney, so that they can even glory in the tribu- of his love—the being filled with all the fullness lations of life. Still, whatever may be the ex- of God—the uniting with the spirits of the just perience of God's children here, and whatever made perfect—the doing God's will, celebrating peace God may impart to them in their passage his praises, and dwelling for ever with the Lord. through the wilderness, like the Israelites, they Now, this rest remaineth for the people of look forward to Canaan, and their gracious leader God. Great as it is, it is not too exalted for every still reminds them that there is a rest that child of the dust to aspire after. It has been remaineth. They may have a cup that is sweet purchased, it is prepared, and it is promised to put into their hands, but it is not unmingled; a every child of God. It is secure as the promise day that is bright, but not cloudless; a peace and oath of the unchangeable God—secure as the that is comforting, but not perfect; an enjoyment covenant of peace ratified by the blood of Christ of God that is enviable, but not full. There is can make it, and after it shall have been enjoyed always something in themselves, something in the through ages unnumbered, there still shall remain land where they sojourn, something in the inha- a rest, a growing felicity for the people of God. bitants of the country where they have pitched Let us then cast in our lot with the people of their tent, and something in the very atmosphere God, let us pray and strive to obtain their characthat they breathe, to remind them that this is not ter, and let us fear lest “a promise being left us the place of their rest. Now the rest that is here of entering into this rest, any of us should seem spoken of, is the rest of heaven, for never can it be to come short of it.' tasted in perfection till the Christian gets there; and though we cannot conceive of it aright now notwithstanding all that God has revealed of its nature, yet enough has been made known to quicken our desires, and to stimulate our exertions for the attainment of it. It is rcst from all the
most ancient uninspired authors, both say, "The
seventh day is holy. Other ancient writers have *And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh secrated one day in seven as holy:"The seventh
such expressions as these :—“The Phænicians conday from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanc- seventh day is observed among holy people:
day is the day which all mankind celebrate:''A tified it; because that in it he had rested from "The seventh day is given to school-boys as a all his work which God created and made, holiday:'•The Greeks, as well as the Hebrews, Gen. ï. 2, 3.
observe the seventh day as holy:''Almost all the It will greatly simplify and clear up our views philosophers and poets acknowledge the seventh of the ordinance of the sabbath, and at the same day as holy.' Josephus says, “No city of Greeks time furnish us with a most comprehensive prin- or barbarians can be found which does not ciple for determining how the day should be acknowledge a seventh day's rest from labour: observed, to be thoroughly convinced of its per- and Philo, the Jew, says, “The seventh day is a petual and universal obligation. Most erroneous festival to all nations.' Now, though in some opinions have been expressed on this point, by cases this custom may have been derived from some men of considerable learning and influence; intercourse with the Jews, yet, when we consider and the effect has been the disseminating of very its very early and very extensive prevalence, and hurtful doubts in the minds of many, both in the the general aversion of the nations from what higher and in the lower walks of life.
was peculiarly Jewish, we must conclude that, In the fourth commandment, the reason of the in most cases, it had a different origin. That institution is stated to be God's resting from the origin evidently was not any foundation in nature, work of creation. Now, as this reason for its like what exists for the yearly and monthly diviobservance existed so early, it must be a strange sion of time. The custom must be traced up partiality for a theory, which can lead any one through Noah to Adam, and can only be accounted to suppose that it was not observed till upwards for on the scriptural principle of the express comof two thousand years after. As to the argu- mand of the Creator. ment founded on Deut. v. 15,—had no other The universal and perpetual obligation of the reason been mentioned for the observance of sabbath, also appears from its occupying a place the sabbath, this passage would be much in in the moral law—the ten commandments. It is favour of the idea that it was not observed till moral as to its essence, which is, that some porthat time. But as the reason of God's resting tion of our time should be dedicated to God. from the work of creation is referred to expressly Its circumstantials are the exact proportion, and and repeatedly, the fair conclusion is, that the the particular day; either, or both of which might sabbath, which from the first was a commemora- be altered, and one of which has been altered, by tion of the creation of the world, was then to the authority of the Lawgiver himself. answer to the Jews the additional purpose of From this doctrine of the perpetual and unibeing a memorial of their deliverance from Egyp- versal obligation of the sabbath, as well as from tian bondage.
the most prominent idea in the passage now But to come directly to the point, the per- meditated on, we may clearly infer, that one great petual and universal obligation of the sabbath is reason why we should still observe the sabbath clear from its original institution, in the second under the Christian dispensation, is devoutly to chapter of Genesis. The reason given, existed commemorate God's work of creation. The first with as great force immediately after the crea- day of the week, being substituted for the seventh, tion, as at any subsequent period. This reason, must, of course, be considered as answering the drawn from the creation of the world, equally purpose of the seventh in this respect. It is not concerned the whole human race; and, therefore, for Christians, even under the pretence of exalting it is unreasonable to suppose that God would the glory of God in the work of redemption, to have enjoined the observance on so small a pro- undervalue, or overlook his glory in the work of portion of them as the Jewish people.
creation. The glorified in heaven praise him for the Another argument in support of the univer- things which he has made. They fall down before sality and perpetuity of the sabbath, and espe- him that sitteth upon the throne, and worship him cially of its early origin, arises from the fact that that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns almost all the nations of antiquity had a weekly before the throne, saying, "Thou art worthy, 0 division of time, and regarded the seventh day as Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power, for holy. Hesiod and Homer, who are probably the thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created.' So let us, on our sab- | all that is written in any part of the sacred scripbaths on earth, praise him who “in six days made tures with regard to it. heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them What, then, is the leading idea which the is, and rested the seventh day,' and on that scriptures convey as to the manner in which this account, 'blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed sacred day should be observed? It is that it ought it. While some have imagined that the world to be kept as a day of rest. There should be a existed by a necessity of nature, and others, that cheerful and total cessation from all worldly busiit owed its being to chance, and while many have ness. The only exception to this rule, let us ever persuaded themselves that the sun, moon, and remember, is the lawfulness, or rather, the incumstars governed the world; we see that the stated bency, of works of necessity and mercy; with this weekly return of prayer and praise has tended, exception, the rule ought to be strictly, unequivoand is still designed to perpetuate the knowledge, cally, and conscientiously adopted and observed. and to promote the glory of the one living and In connection with this, let us also remember, true God; and that it is a declaration on our part, that the negative observance is but one part of that we are neither atheists, nor idolaters, but the commandment, and that it has also its posibelieve in him, and worship him who at first tive duties to be discharged. Under the Old said, and it was done, and commanded, and all Testament, the sabbath was 'a day of holy conthings stood fast, and who still upholds and regu- vocation,' on which sacrifices and other services lates the universe. This, we also see, is worthy additional to the daily were offered at the temple, of the special consideration of those who addict and on which Moses and the prophets were themselves to the study of the history or the read in the synagogues. In the New Testament, philosophy of nature. They are here taught, Christians are exhorted ‘not to forsake the assemnot only that they ought to look through the bling of themselves together. But as the whole works of nature to the God of nature, but that day is sacred to the Lord, the remainder of it a view of the wisdom, power, and goodness should be dedicated to the more private duties manifested in creation, should lead them to the of religion. conscientious observance of the sabbath. If this Now, not to dwell longer on the sabbath as an be neglected by them, they may muse, or talk, authoritative commandment of God, what a of devout feelings as they please, but they have striking illustration is it of his goodness! It is no such devotion as the bible acknowledges, or merciful to the lower animals. These animals as God will accept.
need this rest to recruit their strength; God has ordered that they shall enjoy it.
What a merciful institution is the sabbath to
human beings of every class! How merciful to SECOND DAY.-EVENING.
servants, and to all who are employed by others
in any capacity! None can deny that such rest is ‘But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord good when men are labouring entirely, or partly,
thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, by compulsion, and for the benefit or pleasure of thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy others; it is also good, when they are labouring man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine voluntarily for themselves. The law of the Lord the labour of six. The price of labour is, in a | ever hail its return with joy, and consider it as great measure, determined by the demand and a call to withdraw our thoughts from this world's the number of labourers. A few might gain bustle, and cares, and sorrows, and to fix them something more, for a short time, in some depart- on the concerns of our never-dying souls, on God, ments, by working on the sabbath ; but that and Christ, and eternity. We would ever seek could not be generally or permanently profitable on it more light, more love, more joy; and ever to labourers, because if they were to work as hard study so to spend it that it may be the means of on seven days as they do on six, that, besides wast- building us up in holiness and comfort through ing away the body, and destroying the character, faith unto salvation. would have just the same effect as if one-sixth more labourers were to come forward, which would infallibly help down the rate of remuneration.
does not leave it to the discretion of any party ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy
whether men shall work on the sabbath or not; it
does not leave them at the mercy of the tyranny, man-servant and thy maid-serrant may rest as well as thou,' Deut. v. 14.
and covetousness, and ungodliness of others, or of
their own selfishness, and want of principle; but AGAIN are we called on to meditate this evening it wisely and graciously restrains them. Human on the pleasing theme of the sabbath of the Lord law is also merciful, when, in conformity with our God. May the Holy Spirit cause us to de- the divine law, it interferes to prevent the deselight to dwell on it; and may our contemplations cration of the sabbath by unnecessary work, or be blessed to lead us more and more to under- by amusement. There cannot be a greater misstand its duties, and more and more to value its take than to suppose that such laws bear hardest advantages.
on the lower classes; for the lower classes most From the doctrine of the perpetual and uni- directly reap the benefit of them. This is true, versal obligation of the sabbath we may infer the even in a merely temporal sense. No more wages way in which it ought still to be observed by us. would be drawn, on the whole, by working Our rules on this subject ought to be drawn from people, from the labour of seven days, than from
THIRD DAY.-MORNING. As the sabbath is equally incumbent on all classes, so it is equally a gracious institution to 'And Moses said, Eat that to-day; for to-day is them all. The rich need it, even for its tranquil
a sabbath unto the Lord : to-day ye shall not lizing effects on their minds, and the poor evi
find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather dently need it on every account. How clearly
it; but on the seventh duy, which is the saldoes it tend to promote health of body and
bath, in it there shall be none;' Exod. xvi. 25, calmness of mind! It is useful to reform savage
26. and slovenly habits, and to promote habits of I. We have here an additional proof of the unicleanliness, decency, civility, and social order. versal and perpetual obligation of the sabbath, in
But O what a proof have we of the goodness its being mentioned at this time, not as something of our God in the appointment of the sabbath, new, but as an institution with which the Israelwhen it is viewed in its bearing on our spiritualites were already familiar. This easy and inciand eternal interests! What a merciful institu- dental way of speaking implies, that they were tion is it to our precious and immortal souls! aware of the institution, though they needed to It is our own highest interest that is to be pro- be reminded of the duty of its strict observance; moted by the observance of this holy day. It and it was very natural thus to state a reason for is the chief outward means of preserving the the particular directions given about the manna knowledge and worship of the true God, of It is worthy of notice, too, that there is a plain making known the way of salvation through indication of the weekly division of time, and, o the Redeemer, of bringing men within the course, of a turning point in a sabbath, in the reach of the converting and edifying ordinances direction for the observance of the passover, and which the Holy Ghost usually renders effectual, before the Israelites left Egypt; 'Seven days shal of training them to all the graces and duties of ye eat unleavened bread," Exod. xii. 15. Le the divine life, and of preparing them for glory, no lax and mistaken theories, then, shake om and honour, and immortality. True, indeed, it orthodoxy on this point, or have any discourag is that the sabbath was made for man,' for ing effect on our sanctification of the holy sab man's temporal and eternal benefit.
bath. What a merciful institution for the uncon- II. Let us mark with reverence, the exampl verted and unbelieving! How thankful should which the Lord God himself sets of the sanctifi they be for the precious opportunity of escaping cation of the sabbath in this part of the sacre for their life, and how careful to improve it! history. He gave us an example at the origina The Lord, in his infinite mercy, then calls to institution of the ordinance, by resting from hi them, saying, “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?' works of creation. And here he gives us a Let them not refuse; let them not delay; but let example again in the way in which he proceed them close with the kind invitation, and flee for in his extraordinary providences, and also miracu refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them. ously. He rains manna from heaven on six day
What a gracious institution, also, for believers! of the week; but on the seventh day he cease If we have good hope through grace; if we have from that work, and no manna is given. H in any good degree attained to the character and orders it so that though, on the first five days feelings of children of God; if, notwithstanding the week, the people, however they gathered much imperfection, we delight in the law after the had all just a certain quantity; yet on the sixt inward man; how profitable, low precious, how day they gathered it in greater abundance, dear will God's own day be to us! We would that when it was measured and prepared the