« PoprzedniaDalej »
another to his merchandize, one to his pleasures, another to his business, thinking their whole time but too little for the prosecution of their temporal interests, and the pursuit of their earthly enjoyments, and little disposed to maķe a voluntary sacrifice of any portion of it to the affairs of a distant and uncertain futurity. And who or what should suggest to them their folly and their danger, and call them back to the serious consideration of more important matters? What sight would present itself to their blinded eyes, or what voice reach their dull ears, in the midst of a worldly life, to remind them of unseen realities that had no apparent connection with their present engagements? What would call their attention from the earth beneath them, and the world around them, to the God above, the soul within, the judgment hereafter? Would the bible, exposed on their shelves, be sufficient to check them in their career, and to direct their thoughts to higher and more worthy views? It would not long be suffered to obtrude its unwelcome presence, or to offer its unacceptable warnings.
I repeat it then, my brethren, that this is “ a most wise, most beneficial, and most merciful institution,” with which God has, in compassion to our infirmity, been pleased to accompany the
revelation of his holy word, and to preserve both it from the contempt which it would otherwise have experienced, and us from the fearful consequences of “neglecting so great salvation." How different is the state of religion from what it would have been if there had been no day specially consecrated to its service, and no ministers appointed to diffuse the knowledge, and to promote the practice of it.
Now, as soon as the quiet sabbath returns to suspend the bustling occupations of active life, the peculiar engagements of this sacred day necessarily remind us, that we have other interests to attend to than those of the body, and of the shifting scenes of this world ; though it be a day of rest to the body, it is a day of more than ordinary activity to the soul; a day, the business of which is all of a spiritual nature ; a day, whereon the common concerns of life are to be dismissed, and as much as possible forgotten; a day, whose hallowed duties are designed for the express purpose of continually counteracting the evil impressions which the world
have made upon the mind, during the preceding week; of renewing and quickening our religious affections; of fortifying us against the temptations to which the necessary recurrence of earthly cares will soon expose us; a day exclusively devoted to
the holy exercises of worshipping God, of learning his will, and preparing for eternity. Do you not acknowledge the incalculable importance of this holy day, and perceive the vast benefit of which it must be productive ? Just for one moment embrace in your minds the whole compass of the christian world; consider, that on this very day, millions are assembled in the house of God, engaged in the forms of devotion at least, and hearing from the mouths of thousands of ministers the blessed truths of the gospel. Consider what these same millions would have been about, if no such ordinance had existed ; that they would have been engaged, as on every other day, in affairs much more capable of diverting their thoughts from religion, than of leading them to it, but that they are now all of them making use of the means of grace ting themselves in the way of spiritual blessings. I think then, you will confess that the sabbath is as great a mercy, and as wonderful an instance of God's goodness, as the bible itself.
It may, indeed, be true, that multitudes of those who outwardly observe the duties of the day, are in their hearts and lives but little influenced by the spirit of religion. It may be, that the various houses of God are at this moment thronged by people who have come out of
and putform, or from habit, or curiosity, or want of other employment, or from some other unworthy motive; but they are nevertheless within the sound of the gospel; they are within the reach of instruction; they may be excited to listen, though they come with coldness and indifference; a seed may be sown in their hearts, which the a
, Holy Spirit may cause to take root and flourish there. Their prayers, though languid and feeble, yet ascending up to heaven, in unison with those of the universal church, and mingled with the more devout aspirations of pious worshippers, may come to the ear of God, so recommended by the society in which they themselves are to be found, as to bring down blessings more than proportioned to the desires which prompted them; God
may at last be found of those, who no otherwise sought him, than by frequenting the places consecrated to his service, and joining the assemblies of his faithful people.
Incalculable are the numbers who are brought to salvation by the institution of the sabbath, and by the house of prayer. And this is the reflection which always consoles me, when tempted at any time to regard with a desponding eye the apparently small success attendant on the labours of the christian ministry,
We see careless, and formal, and worldly,
and vicious characters, regularly attending upon the ordinances of religion; and we see them also, sabbath after sabbath, retiring from the house of God the same characters as they came to it, seemingly unimpressed with any more serious thought, unimproved, unrenewed, unconverted. Looking for an immediate effect, we are apt to be disappointed, and to ask, to what purpose is this unnecessary waste of effort ? Wherefore these continual addresses to ears that are so dull of hearing, and to hearts that are so void of feeling ? But when we consider what the whole effect of the sabbath and its accompanying ordinances must be, -when we consider, that without them there would perhaps be no true religion in the world, --and that through the “ foolishness of preach
of God has been communicated to countless multitudes, our despondency is checked and reproved, and we are encouraged to proceed in our exertions, in the hope of being humble instruments in the hands of God, for the accomplishment of his grand design, though each individual may fancy he sees but a small return for his own personal labours. “Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and bath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” In the same spirit we persevere in industriously sowing the