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my knees unto the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, of whom
Do you say I have lost sight of my subject? No, by no means; Jesus is my rest, my eternal Sabbath; and whatever points to bliss beyond the sky, to bliss unutterable, points to him.
One remark I cannot forbear repeating; throughout all these Sabbaths and holy times, no labour was to be performed by the people to whom they were given. The people in every possible description, were particularly and emphatically enjoined to do no work on the Sabbath day. God determined to perform, and he did perform his own work without their assistance. These seasons, these Sabbath seasons, were seasons of rest, of rejoicing. It is wonderful this is not more generally taken into view. Thou shalt do no manner of work; such is the commandment of the God whom we adore. The inference is plain; God does not think so highly of our performances as we ourselves do, yet he is very willing we should be found in the practice of good works, even upon the Sabbath day. The author and finisher of our faith, thus questioned his pious children, who were judging and condemning him as a sinner-Pray is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath day? They did not know, that the inquirer was himself the LORD of the Sabbath; that it was made for him for whom all things were made, and that it was a constant witness for him to the people.
The Sabbath is a luminous sign not only of the salvation of the human family, but of the nature of that salvation; that it was by grace and not by works. “By grace are ye saved." It is a glori ous truth, that we are saved, and that it is by grace we are saved. Yes, truly, it is by grace, both in the first instance and in the last; for the top stone will be brought forth with shouting, crying grace, grace unto it.
The believer of these truths ardently longs for his heavenly home. Be not angry, O my friends, if I reiterate my wishes to depart; if I am in haste to be gone. I pray the God of my salvation, to grant me patience to wait quietly for the blessed, the liberating period; but indeed, and in truth, hope deferred maketh the heart sick; and of my connexion with this sluggish body, I am truly sick and very weary.
The twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus contains many particulars, that are highly worthy observation. The august Creator of the universe, considers both the land and its possessors as his own; at all times they are his own, nor is the right to dispose of themselves for wise purposes, delegated to them, a continued right; Its duration is limited. Hath any one sold his possession, any of his kindred may redeem it; or should he have the means in his own hands, he may redeem it himself; but if neither his kindred nor himself be able to redeem it, still it shall not be finally lost. In the Jubilee, it shall return to its original owner without money and without price :
"O Jesus ever blest, thou art our Jubilee,
Our restoration and our rest,
Are both, dear Lamb, in thee.
In thee our souls have found
Whate'er we lost, and more,
We see thy grace much more bound,
Through the whole of these transactions respecting persons, places, and things, the grand reason for the restoration is given in few words. "The land shall not be sold forever: for the land ie mine, saith the LORD."
But in the year of Jubilee, they were enjoined neither to sow their grounds, nor to gather the grapes in, of their vine undressed. Whence then were they to derive their support? I will take care of that, saith the LORD; I will cause the earth to bring forth
abundantly, so that ye shall feed throughout the sabbatic years, and through the year of Jubilee upon its increase; and thus you shall suffer no loss by your obedience to my command; to this, however, they refused credit. How is it possible? What, the earth give her increase without culture? No, it can never be. This, no doubt, they called reasoning; they could not see how man should reap what he did not sow; and many were ready to say, let them make the experiment, let them pass the seed time, and see how they will fare in harvest. Well, I will venture, says one; aye, it will do very well for you, says another, it will suit you admirably; you are an indolent fellow. "Ye are idle, ye are idle," said the task masters in Egypt, when the Israelites would have passed into the wilderness to worship the God of their fathers, "ye are idle, and idleness is the source of your devotion;" and the accusation is brought down to this our day. We are saved by grace, says the believer; "it is not of works, lest any man should boast." Ye are idle,cry our task masters, while the moderate man mildly says-" Hazard your hopes of happiness, if you please; make no effort for yourself, but for me; I will cultivate my land, and if, as you say, it will really be more fruitful than usual, it will do me no harm; but if it should not, what will be then your situation? You will come to me for help, but shall I not be justified in saying, he that will not sow, shall not reap. God will help us when we do our duty, but except we do our part, he will not lend us aid." The great Mr. Burket observes, "We can do nothing without God, and God will do nothing without us.' "Upon the whole, neighbour, you had better attend to your plough; work while it is day."
To every thing secular, in every thing terrestrial, this reasoning is indubitably conclusive; we must put our shoulders to the waggon if we would extricate, and again set it upon its wheels; but in the matter of our justification before God, we are not, we can never be fellow helpers; our work is not sufficiently perfect to be presented before God, and it is, therefore, God commandeth, "On this sabbatic year, thou shalt do no work.” "You cannot be right," says the objector, "but your doctrine is sweet to the idle and the worthless." Such was the language of the. rebellious Israelites, when Moses addressed them; but their opposition yielded them neither pleasure nor profit. Human nature is not naturally disposed to do good; but the children of men are nat
urally disposed to doubt the truth of God. The history of God's people, from the commencement to the close, evinces this truth. Never was so bad a people, never was so good a God. Throughout the Israelitish story, the brightest colours are exhibited upon the darkest ground.
But we are not furnished with a rational cause of complaint. To those who wish to work, there is an ample recompense offered; and except when tendered as payment for the great salvation, good works are beautiful, nay, they are more, they are good and profitable unto man, and in this view, well pleasing unto God. To these good works, every stimulous is offered; rewards, ample rewards | are tendered, so that the ambitious may find their account in the service of God, without the loss of liberty; for the service of God is perfect freedom. | Blessed be God, the Sabbath is the theme of christian professors of every denomination, while both Jews and Gentiles are equally ignorant of the grand design of that God, who gave us the Sabbath as an emblem of grace. I recollect, some years since, walking the street in company with a very religious friend, who was remarking upon the ignorance, and consequent prejudices of christian professors.
Yes, Sir, it is astonishing; I have known many instances of absurd prejudices obtaining in the minds, even of rational profesFor example; I am acquainted with a serious, sensible man, who is a regular attendant on public worship; I have seen him in the act of his devotional exercises, and when the minister approached the altar and repeated the commandments, this worthy, serious, sensible man, with great sincerity followed the responses, and upon the repetition of the fourth commandment, Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day; six days shalt thou labour, and do all that thou hast to do; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God, in it thou shalt do no manner of work, &c. &c. This honest, sincere man, year after year, never failed to repeat in his responses, "the LORD have mercy upon me, and incline my heart to keep this law." This commandment is written in letters of gold before his eyes; he cannot approach the altar without observing it, and yet this man never did, nor never intended to keep this law. He knew it was on the first day of the week he worshipped; he knew it was the seventh day of the week which God had hallowed, and yet, year after year, he passed on VOL. III.
without recurring to this fact, still repeating, "LORD have mercy upon me, and incline my heart to keep this law."
"Well, this is really surprising; but thus the world goes on." Yes, it is very suprising; and you will be still more surprised when I say, "Thou art the man."He started, he paused"I am really astonished; I never before reflected upon this, and yet it is a truth."
Aye, you see, my dear Sir,
"We to, ourselves, most partial judges be;
"Sir, I both see and feel this truth. But what are we to do in this case? Why do christians keep this day?"
The ancient christians preferred the day of resurrection to the day of rest. But neither ancient nor modern christians, possessed any right to change the ordinances of God.
"I have been told,the Apostles observed the first day of the week."
They met together upon the first day of every week, to make collections for their poor, and to attend to their secular concerns; to which business, it was unlawful for them to attend on the Sabbath day. The Jews do thus, in every place, upon the first day of the week.
"But did not our Saviour command us to keep the first day of the week?"
He commanded his disciples to keep the seventh day as the Sabbath.
"I have heard it observed, that the seventh part of time was all that was intended. Will not this answer as well?"
By the same rule, it might be as well to observe Monday or Tuesday.
"Why, yes, it might be as beneficial to the Redeemer; but it is the act of obedience which is of importance."
Yet the law is broken, and to break the law constitutes sin; sin is a transgression of the law, and where then is our obedience? "But what do you yourself do in this case?"
Why, almost as you do; I do not indeed pray, that God would incline my heart to keep this law; I am a professed christian; I do not reckon myself under the law, but under grace, I consider that Jesus Christ is the end of the law, and the LORD of the Sabbath. But our rulers have consecrated the first day of the week