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All the things which you are learning, are taught you, because experience has shown your parents and instructers that they will probably help you in doing good of some kind or other to your neighbors, when you grow up. You cannot see just how they may help you in this; but you must have some trust in those who love you, and who, from their greater age and wider experience, are able to judge of these things for you much better than you could judge of them for yourselves. If you love to learn all your lessons because they will probably help you in some way to love good, to do good and to be good, then you will feel right about your lessons, and they will be most
useful to you.
Perhaps you now understand what I mean by lessons. But this book is called “Sunday Lessons;” and you may wish to understand its whole name. And I will endeavor to explain the rest of it in the next lesson.
I cannot very well explain to you what I mean by “ Sunday” Lessons, without telling you something in the first place about Sunday.
You know that the week contains seven days, and that Sunday is the first of these. And you have all been brought up to consider Sunday as different from the other days. You have heard Sunday called the Sabbath, or the Lord's day; the other days are called week days. You have noticed that your parents do not go to their stores or their common business on Sundays; and as you pass through the streets you have seen the shops all closed; and you go to church; and when in the afternoon you go to school, you see that the books and lessons of the week days are all put aside. You have heard the day called a holy day, and you have been told that it should be kept holy.
One reason for this difference you cannot but know. You have learnt the commandments, and
have therefore learnt that God commands us to keep the Sabbath day holy. And I hope I need not tell you that the highest and strongest and best possible reason for doing anything, is, that God commands it.
But you may wish to know, if you can, why the Sabbath is called holy, and why we are commanded to keep it holy. And I will try to tell you something about this.
Your Bible begins with an account of the creation of the world. You read there that the Lord created the world; that He was employed in this work six days; that on the seventh day He rested from His labors, and blessed this day and hallowed it.” To "hallow” means to make holy.
In the commandments, the Lord says, that because he rested from his labors on the seventh day, and hallowed it, therefore we must abstain from our ordinary labors, and keep the day holy. There is a meaning in all this which I shall be very glad if I am able to help you to understand.
The creation of the world signifies the creation of a new will in any person.
You have heard and
read something about regeneration; you may remember the gospels speak of being “ born again.” Now regeneration means being born again. You, and I, and all who are born into this world, are born with an evil will; that is, with a disposition to love what is evil. This disposition makes all the unhappiness which there is among men, in this world or the other; and with it a man cannot be otherwise than unhappy. And because the Lord loves us better than any Father upon earth loves his child, He wishes us to cease to love evil, and to love what is good, so that we may not be miserable, but become happy. And if this change takes place in us, the change is so great, that it is as if we came into a new world; as if we were born again; and therefore this change is called regeneration. Now there are some things about regeneration, which I wish you to notice very carefully.
The first is, that regeneration is entirely the work of the Lord; and that of ourselves alone, and without Him, we can do no part of this work, and nothing whatever towards it.
The second is, that regeneration is a work
which is done by degrees. Degrees mean steps ; and when I say a work is done by degrees, I mean that it is not done suddenly, and at once, but that it begins and goes on from day to day.
The next thing is, that though we cannot do this work of ourselves, and by our own strength, yet it can be done by us, because the Lord is continually and all our lives long working within us, and doing this work within us, and giving us strength to do it, if we will.
The next thing is, that when this work is completed, and regeneration has taken place, it is the work of the Lord, and then the Lord's work is done.
And now, perhaps, you may understand the next thing I have to say about regeneration; and this is, that the Sabbath signifies regeneration.
It is commonly said, a state of regeneration. The state of a man is his condition or way of being. And he who is regenerate, or whose regeneration has taken place, is said to be in a state of regeneration; and the Sabbath day signifies this state.
The six days of creation, or the six week days,