« PoprzedniaDalej »
benefits towards us? Let each of us say, "O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid."
The most of us who are young have still good mothers. Let us tremble at the thought of rejecting their authority, or treating them in any degree, or on any occasion with disrespect. The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it."
It is presumed that the most of us (who have wives) have good wives; but if any of us are not so comfortable in that connection as we could wish to be, it may be well for us to remember, that the blame may be in the man rather than the woman.
And to all, whether young or old, married or unmarried, the admonition of the apostle applies: "Brethren the time is short. It remaineth, that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it. For the fashion of this world passeth away."
2. The subject suggests the importance and necessity of an extended and perfectly Christian course of education, for the female mind. The Redeemer always has made, and always will make, extensive use of females in his great and extended plans of mercy. The whole plan of salvation has for its object the restoring of our lost race and our apostate world, to something like their original dignity and glory. Hence we have every reason to believe, that the whole body of women will be renovated and elevated, as an essential and effi. cient part of the great system of means for accomplishing this great and glorious end.
Were all the mothers within the bosom of the church, the good mother of the Bible, all the children of the church would be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and every family would furnish in a very few years, one or two missionaries for the heathen world.
Were all the mothers in the land, the industrious, economical, and pious mother of the Bible, the whole face of society would be changed to the better in half a generation, and the government of the nation, the conducting of all national affairs, would become a very simple and easy operation.
3. To any husband who has lost by death a good wife, and to any children who have by death lost a good mother, the subject suggests not only a reason for the most cordial resignation, but reasons also for holy joy and elevation of mind.
A pious lady, whose husband had died in the evening, being asked next morning by a friend, how she felt, answered: "I have just been thinking how happy my good husband must be this morning, as he has been one night with the Redeemer in glory."
It was your new covenant God, who gave the good wife and the good mother, who made her a blessing and comfort, while she was continued here below. And she was preserved and made a blessing, under the protection of the prayer of the Mediator, "I pray not that thou shouldst take her out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep her from evil." And when she had served her God in her day and generation, she was removed in answer to another prayer of the Mediator, "Father, I will that she whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that she may behold my glory which thou hast given
And it is no mean honor to have a wife and a mother thus exalted. And heaven is the home of the great family of the redeemed. They shall come from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God. And thrice happy will that mother and father, and those sons and daughters be, who having been united in the closest ties on earth, shall as an unbroken family, become a constituent part of that one great assembly above.
BY REV. DAVID MAGIE,
THE SABBATH A NATIONAL BLESSING.
Mark ii. 27. The Sabbath was made for man.
No one, who believes in a future retribution and makes the Bible the basis of his sentiments, can fail to see that the Sabbath is associated with all our dearest interests for eternity. The command to keep one day in seven holy unto the Lord is grateful to his heart, because he is deeply sensible of the value of such a season of spiritual refreshment. It is on the Sabbath, more than on any other day of the week, that he rises above the world, holds fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, and ripens for the rest which remaineth for the people of God. On this account every real Christian prizes the fourth precept of the Decalogue, and is ready to offer his devout prayer, that its authority upon the minds of the community may never be weakened.
Thus far all is plain. But has the Sabbath no blessings to scatter along the path-way of men, through the life which now is? Is this institution so exclusively spiritual in its character and aims, and so entirely blended with the high concerns of eternity, that it bestows no regard upon mankind as dwellers upon earth? Every attentive reader of the Bible, every candid observer of passing events will answer, that the Sabbath was intended to exert, and actually does exert, a most benign influence upon all the personal, domestic, and social relations of the present life. No individual or family, no neighborhood or community, ever kept the Lord's day holy without reaping rich temporal blessings from it. So well established is this truth, that the sanctification of the Sabbath may be forcibly urged, without taking one step over the confines of our civil and social enjoyments, or casting a single glance at the awful realities of the world to come.
The minister of the gospel can indeed take very high ground in enforcing the observance of one whole day in seven, as a season of rest. He may point his hearers to the ouas and darkness which enveloped Mount Sinai, and bid them listen to the voice of the Almighty, saying: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." He may come forth to his people encompassed with arguments from the bed of death, the scenes of the last judgment, and the bliss or wo of the eternal world. These are the most cogent motives he can urge. But why should he not, for once, change his position, and trace the influence of the Sabbath upon the every-day, the fireside, the temporal condition of mankind? This is not divesting religion of its sacredness; it is only spreading that sacredness over the surface of society, so that its benefits may be apparent even to worldly men.
The Sabbath, our Savior says, was made for man. This is true, not in the sense of those who advocate so liberal an exposition of the fourth commandment as to rob it of its hallowed character; but as understood by those who regard the day as, in every point of view, an inestimable blessing to the world. This sacred season was scarcely less intended to cheer our residence on earth, than to prepare us for a better residence in heaven.
My sole object, on the present occasion, is to show that the Sabbath is peculiarly adapted to raise the character and improve the condition of men in this world. I beseech you to hear me candidly and patiently, and then say, whether the Lord's day is not fairly entitled to the affectionate regards of
all those, who would identify themselves with the great interests of public and private happiness. If religion is deemed of little account, I solicit your attention on other grounds. My appeal is to you as philanthropists, as patriots, as genuine republicans, as citizens of this free and favored land, in behalf of an institution which, as will be shown, stands connected with the welfare of our common country. You are called upon to see what respect you ought to pay to the Sabbath, and what efforts you ought to make to preserve it from desecration, from the relation which it bears to your dearest earthly comforts. My train of reasoning will be simple and unambiguous.
1. The provision which the Sabbath makes for rest from labor, is in itself a great blessing.
This is confessedly lowest in the scale of considerations for the observance of the Sabbath, but no benevolent man will affirm that it is a consideration unworthy of regard. We all feel more or less the effects of the curse: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread;" and it ill becomes us to turn away in disdain from the very institution which was designed to alleviate that curse. It is owing to the goodness and mercy of our God that we are permitted, every seventh day, to rest from the cares and toils in which the "fall" has involved us.
Man is so constituted that he cannot be incessantly putting forth his energies, without almost necessarily bringing upon himself premature debility and decay. This point has been decided, again and again, by the unerring test of experience. There must be seasons of relaxation for the laboring classes of society, regular days on which the mental and physical powers may unbend, or they soon lose their strength and elasticity. Both mind and body have their limit of care and toil, and the God who made them knows just what suspension of effort is necessary. This exigency of man's nature he has mercifully consulted, in the appointment of the Sabbath as a day of entire and uninterrupted rest from every secular pursuit and concern.
Go to the industrious, enterprising farmer, mechanic, or merchant, and ask his opinion on this interesting subject. He will tell you, from his own experience, that six successive days are long enough for close and constant exertion, and that one seventh part of the time is not more than is requisite to recruit his exhausted strength. He rejoices when the cares and perplexities of the week are ended, so that he may withdraw himself for a little from life's busy scene. On the Sabbath he can lay aside every worldly labor and anxiety, go to the house of God, mingle with kind friends, and have his mind occupied with cheering and refreshing truths. Thus passes away the day, and he rises the next morning with a peaceful bosom and an invigorated frame, to resume the duties of his proper calling. Such an one, mark it when you will, can accomplish more for this world than he who sets at naught the institution of the Sabbath. One of the most distinguished civilians of our country has given it as his deliberate and fixed opinion, that six days in a week for either labor or study are better than seven.
There is no lack of competent and credible witnesses to testify to the truth of these remarks. The late excellent William Wilberforce declares, that at one period of his parliamentary career, his duties were so multiplied and exhausting, that his health must have been utterly prostrated, had it not been for the seasonable relief which the Sabbath afforded him. The stillness and serenity of this holy day refreshed his spirits, after they had been jaded by the arduous debates of the British senate. It is encouraging to see a man, every where regarded as an honor to the land which gave him birth, and a benefactor of the race, paying such decided homage to the Sabbath, and acknowledging his deep indebtedness to its gracious provisions.
Still more important is this arrangement to that portion of the community, whose time is very much at the disposal of others. One reason, and a permanent one too, why the Israelites were required to observe the Sabbath was, that their man servant and maid servant might rest as well as themselves. How merciful is the aspect of such a requisition towards all the poor and
dependant in the land. The return of the Sabbath rescues them, for a season, from every thing painful in the inferiority of their allotment, and reminds them that whatever be the depression of their civil condition, they may still be the Lord's freemen. They visit the same sanctuary, and join in the same songs of praise with those who in other respects are above them. The happy influence of such an arrangement upon the minds, the habits, the sense of self-respect, and the feeling of contentment of those in the lower walks of life, can scarcely be sufficiently estimated. The effect of the Sabbath here is twofold. It blunts the edge and smooths the asperity of authority on the one hand, and on the other, it begets such a temper that submission itself becomes pleasant.
We are not, however, to stop here. The God of the Sabbath condescends to notice the very cattle which minister to our gratification, and provides for them a season in which they also may enjoy repose. Truly his tender mer. cies are over all the works of his hands. A day of rest for these inferior animals is kind and compassionate, even when they are in the hands of men of humane and tender feelings. But it is not every man that regardeth the life or the comfort of his beast. The owners of these creatures, in multitudes of cases, are cruel and mercenary to the highest degree, and disposed to push them far beyond their real strength. How important then that such men should be restrained by the strong arm of God's authority! Whatever be their dispositions, there is one day of the week on which they may not, under pain of the divine displeasure, employ one of their beasts for any secular purpose at all. Rides for amusement, and journeys for business cannot be taken, without flying in the face of an explicit command of the Most High.
But will men be losers by obeying God in this particular? Far from it. If we had nothing further in view than to have our horses clothed with strength, and our oxen firm for labor, we must yield to them that portion of time, which the Decalogue prescribes. This point was fully proved in the recent inquiries in the British house of commons, in reference to the better observance of the Lord's day. It was then ascertained, by the testimony of the most extensive and respectable stage proprietors, that a horse can perform more service, and will enjoy more health and spirits, in a given number of years, by giving him every Sabbath as a season of rest. All the gain, therefore, is on the side of godliness.
No-it is not in anger, but in love that God requires a stop, a complete stop, to be put to all business on this sacred day. The good of the community requires that the sound of a tool, the prancing of a hoof, or the rattling of a wheel, for secular purposes, should not be heard from one end of the land to the other. All should be quiet and tranquil, as on that blessed morning when God himself rested from all his work which he had made.
2. The worldly interests of mankind are promoted by a careful observance of the Sabbath.
It is not affirmed that every one who keeps the Sabbath holy, will as a thing of course become rich, or great, or honorable, in the common acceptation of these terms. But the proposition to be established is, that the due observance of the Sabbath has a direct and palpable tendency to improve a man's temporal condition.
Hear what the Scriptures say on this subject. "If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments and do them, then will I give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage unto the sowing time, and ye shall eat your bread to the full. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people."
These are specified as some of the happy results of keeping the Sabbath. But let us look at the reverse of this bright and animated scene. "If f ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments, ye shall sow
your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set my face against you, and ye shall flee when none pursueth. And I will break the pride of your power, and make the heaven as iron, and the earth as brass. And your strength shall be spent in vain, for the land shall not yield her increase, nor the trees their fruit. And I will walk contrary unto you, and I will punish you seven times for your sins. And I will bring the land into desolation, and it shall enjoy her Sabbaths."
It is in this way that God himself speaks. Without reference, however, to any particular interposition of Providence in the case, it may be shown that the proper observance of the Sabbath tends to prosperity as a natural and obvious result. The hallowed influence, with which this day comes attended, cannot but operate favorably on the whole character and habits of man. Not only does it refresh him for labor, but by its lessons of industry and sobriety it always disposes him to turn that labor to good account. Will a man go away from the sanctuary to squander his estate by extravagant arrangements and expenses? Will he depart from the courts of the Lord, to forget that diligence in business is a duty, as well as fervor of spirit? Will he be seen one hour in the temple of God, and the next in the tavern or the grog-shop? Will he lose sight of the claims of his wife and his little ones, while he hears from the pulpit that such a man is worse than an infidel? This, as a general thing, is not to be expected. If he becomes a spendthrift, an idler, or a follower of strong drink, you will soon see him bidding adieu to all the ministrations of the Sabbath.
There is one fact, which serves to set this subject in a strong, but just light. Every unsanctified Sabbath is likely to be attended with those extra expenses which idleness and vice seldom fail to create. One of these days devoted to amusements, costs more than five, or even ten of them occupied with their appropriate duties. Desecrated Sabbaths stand at the head of those avenues which lead directly to the abodes of infamy, intemperance, and death. There is nothing to be gained by breaking the fourth commandment. You could not multiply the number of squalid, miserable, and vicious poor, faster than by blotting out the remembrance of the Sabbath from the minds of men. Such a measure would be sure to infest our streets with noisy beggars, and fill our hospitals and prisons with hapless inmates.
But some one may still ask, whether the preacher is prepared to make good the assertion that all labor on the Sabbath is unproductive? Will he maintain that the immense business which on this day is driven forward on our rivers, canals, and rail-roads, is always unprofitable? Is it his idea that no man can enlarge his estate by taking the Lord's time for the dcing of his own work? These are fair questions, and they deserve a candid answer. Let it then be conceded, that since the present is a state of trial and not of recompense, the most wicked individuals in the community, who neither fear God nor regard man, are sometimes suffered to increase in wealth, until their eyes stand out with fatness, and they have more than heart could wish. But does this prove, as a general principle, that there is any natural connection between impiety and prosperity? The owner of a stage-coach, or a steam boat, may accumulate thousands, and yet run them every Sabbath day; but how is it with the pleasure-loving throng, who are thus enticed from their families and their homes? Does it put either money into their pockets, or contentment into their hearts? All the advantage here, if advantage there be any, is on the side of the few, while the loss falls upon the many. Even this, however, is not stating the whole case. The wisest and best observers of human events tell us that, if we follow along the path of these men, we shall generally find that the end of it is covered with darkness. Their sun, after all, is wont to set in a cloud.
Especially is the Sabbath the poor man's friend. Its uniform tendency is to encourage those industrious and frugal habits, which are so inseparably connected with the comfort and respectability of the humbler classes of society. You cannot ordinarily consign to want, ignorance, or vice, the individual who