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cret exercises, as cannot be done without omission of the public. And that where the public exercises allow but a little time at home, the family-duty should take up all that little time, except what some shorter, secret prayers or meditations may have, which will not hinder family-duties. And that it is a sinful disorder to do otherwise : because the Lord's-day is principally set apart for public worship; and the more private or secret, is as it were included in the public. Your families are at church with you; the same prayers which
you would put up in secret, you may (usually) put up in public, and in families : and it is a turning God's worship into ceremony and superstition, to think that you must necessarily put up the same prayers in a closet, which you put up in the family or church, when you have not time for both. (Though when you have time, secret prayer hath its proper advantages, which are not to be neglected.) And also, what secret or family duty you have not time for on that day, you may do on another day, when you cannot come to church-assemblies. And therefore it is an error to think that the day must be divided in equal proportions, between public, family, and secret duties : though yet I think it not amiss that some convenient time for family and secret duties be left on that day; but not so much as is spent in public, nor nothing near it.
If any shall now object, 'I do not believe that we are bound to all this ado, nor so to tire out ourselves in religious exercises. Where is all this ado commanded us?
I answer, 1. I have proved to you that in nature and scripture set together, as great a proportion of time as this for holy exercises is required.
2. But O! what a carnal heart doth this objection signify! What, do you count your love to God, and the commemoration of his love in Christ, a toil? What if God had only given you leave to lay by your worldly business, and idle talk and childish play, for one day's time, and to learn how to be like Christ and angels, and how to make sure of a heavenly glory, should you not gladly have accepted it as an unspeakable benefit ? O! what hearts have these wretched men, that must be constrained by fear to all that is good, and holy, and spiritual ; and will have none of God's greatest mercies, unless it be for fear of hell: (and they shall never have them indeed till they love them!) What hearts have those men, that had rather be in an alehouse, or a playhouse, or asleep, than to be in heart with God? That can find so much pleasure in jesting, and idle talking, and foolery, that they can better endure it, than to peruse a map of heaven, and to read and hear the sacred oracles! Who think it a toil to praise their Maker and Redeemer, and a pleasure to game, and dance, and drink! Who turn the glass upon the preacher, and grudge if he exceed his hour; and can sit in a tavern or alehouse, or hold on in any thing that is vain, many hours, and never complain of weariness! Do they not tell the world what enemies they are to God, who love a pair of cards, or dice, or wanton dalliance, better than his word and worship? Who think six days together little enough for their worldly work and profit, and one day in seven too much to spend in the thoughts of God and life eternal ? Who love the dung of this present world, so much better than all the joys above, as that they are weary to hear of heaven above an hour at a time, and long to be wallowing in the dirt again? Is it not made by the Holy Ghost, a mark not only of wicked men, but of men notoriously wicked, to be " lovers of pleasures more than of God ?" 2 Tim. iii. 4.
O sinner, that in these workings of the wickedness, and malignity of your hearts, you would at last but know yourselves! Is it not the "carnal mind that is thus at enmity with God, and neither is nor can be subject, to his law ?” (Rom. viii. 6—8.) Which will you take to be your friend, him that loveth your company, or him that is weary of it, and is glad when he hath done with you, and is got away ? What would you think of wife, or child, or friend, if they should reason as you do, and say, What law doth bind me to so many hours in the house, or company, or service of my husband, my father, or my friend? You do not use, if you have a feast, or a cup of wine before you, to ask, Where doth God command me to eat or drink it? You can do this without a command. If you hear but of a gainful market; you ask not, Where doth God make it my duty to go to it? If one would give you money or land, you would scarcely ask, How prove you that I am bound to take it? You would be glad of leave, without commands. If the king should say to you, Ask what you will, and I will give it you, you would not say, Where am I bound of God to ask ? And
when God saith, Ask and it shall be given you, you say, How prove you that I am bound to ask? You can sing ribald songs, and dance without a command; you can feast, and play, and prate, and sleep, and loiter in idleness without a command; but you cannot learn how to be saved, nor praise your Redeemer without a command. A thief can steal, a fornicator can play the brute, a drunkard can be drunk, an oppressor can make himself hateful to the oppressed, not only without law, but against it! But you cannot rejoice in God, nor live one day together in his love and service, without a law, no nor with it neither. For because you had rather not love him, it is certain that you do not love him: and because you had rather play than pray, and serve the flesh than serve your Maker; it is a certain sign that you do not serve him, with any thing which he will accept as service. For while he hath not your hearts, he hath nothing which he accepteth. Your knee and tongue only is forced against your will, to that which you call serving him : but your hearts or wills cannot be forced. When you had rather be elsewhere, and say, When will the sermon and prayer be done, that I may be at my work or play! God taketh it as if you were there where you had rather be.
1 pray you deal openly, and tell me, you that think a day too long for God, and are weary of all holy work, what would you be doing that while, if you had your choice? Is it any thing which you dare say is better? Dare you say, that playing is better than praying, or a piper or dancing better than praising God with psalms ? Or that your sleep, or games, or chat, or worldly business is better than the contemplation of God and glory! And will those deceivers of the people also say this, who teach them that it is a tedious, uncommanded thing to serve God so long? I think they dare not speak it out. If they dare, let them not grudge that they must for ever be shut out of heaven, where there will be nothing else but holiness. But if you dare not say so, why will you be weary of well-doing, that you may do ill? Why are you not more weary of every thing than of holiness, unless you think every thing better than holiness?
Especially those men, 1. Whose judgment is for willworship, should not ask, Where is there a command, for any good which they are willing of. But doth not this shew that you
had rather there were no command for it? Be
judges yourselves. 2. And they that are for making the churches a great deal more work than God hath made them, (O what abundance hath Popery 'made, and what a multitude of new religious particles !) methinks should not for shame say that God hath tired them out, and made them too much work already? Do you cry out, What a weariness is this one day, when you would add of your own such a multitude of more days and more work?
Yet though I talk of doing it willingly, if you had no forcing law of God, but bare leave to receive such benefits, my meaning is not that God hath left any such thing indifferent, or made them only the matter of counsels and not commands ; for he hath made it our duty to receive our own benefits, and to do that which tendeth to our own good and salvation. But if it had been so, that we had only leave to receive so great mercies without any other penalty for refusing, than the loss of them, it should be enough to men that love themselves, and know what is for their good. Much more when commands concur.
How the Lord's-day should not be spent : or what is unlawful
As to the resolving this question also, I would wish for no greater advantage on him that I dispute with, but that he be a man that loveth God and holiness, and knoweth somewhat of the difference between things temporal and things eternal; and knoweth what is for the good of his soul, and preferreth it before his body; and hath an appetite to relish the delights of wisdom, and of things most excellent and divine. And that he be one that knoweth his own necessities, and repenteth of his former loss of time, and liveth in a daily preparation for death; that is, that he be a real Christian; and then by all this it will appear, how the Lord's-day must not be spent; or what things are unlawful to be done thereon.
I. Undoubtedly it must not be spent in wickedness; in gluttony or drunkenness, chambering or wantonness, strife or envying, or any of those works of the flesh, which are at all times sinful. An evil work is most unsuitable to a holy day : and yet, alas, what day hath more rioting and excess of meat, and drink, and wantonness, and sloth, and lust, than it?
II. It ought not to be spent in our worldly businesses, which are the labours allowed us on the six days; unless necessity or mercy make them at any time become such duties of the law of nature, as positives must for that time give place to. For how is it a day separated to holy employments, if we spend it in the common business of the world ? It is the great advantage that we have by such a separated day, that we may wholly cast off our minds from this world, and set them on the world to come, and exercise them in holy communion with God and his church, without the interruptions and distractions of any earthly cogitations. A divided mind doth never perform any holy work with that integrity and life, as the nature of it requireth. Heavenly contemplations are never well managed with the intermixture of diverting, worldly thoughts : so great a work as to converse in heaven, to be wrapped up in the admirations of the Divine perfections, to kindle a fervent love to God, by the contemplation of his love and goodness, to triumph over sin and Satan with our triumphing, glorified Head, to commemorate his resurrection, and the whole work of our redemption with a lively, working faith, doth require the whole heart, and will not consist with alien thoughts, and the diversion of Aeshly employments or delights. Nay, had we no higher work to do than to search our hearts, and lament our sins, and beg for mercy, and learn God's word, and treat with our Redeemer about the saving of our souls, and to prepare for death and judgment, surely it should challenge all our faculties, and tell us that voluntary diversions do too much savour of impiety and contempt. It is the great mercy of God that we have leave to lay by these clogs and impediments of the soul, and to seek his face with greater freedom than the incumbrances of our week-day labours will allow us.
No slave can be so glad of a Sabbath's ease from his sorest toil and basest drudgery, as a believer should be to be released from his earthly thoughts and business, that he may freely, entirely, and delightfully converse with God.
III. The Lord's-day must not be spent in tempting, diverting, unnecessary recreations, or pleasures of the flesh.