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that Men should give the Tenth of their Increase, Deut. 14. he forbad not Free Will Offerings ; fo when he 22, 28. commanded one Day in seven to be kept Holy, this hinders not the Church from hallowing to God other Days of the fix: As the Church of the Jews, to whom the Commandment was given, did in the Dedication of the Temple, the Feast of Purim, &c.
Q. Is not the Church of England's symbolizing with the Church of Rome, in hallowing of Days, an Objection against the Observation of them ?
A. I apprehend it is not ; because Conformity to any Church in such Institutions as tend to promote Piety, and are agreeable to Scripture and primitive Antiquity, no way deserves Censure : Neither is the Church of Rome blameable for hallowing of Days, but for grafting upon them such erroneous and superstitious Practices as are unknown to Scripture, and to the purest Ages of the Church : For which Reason, and many more very substantial, we were forced to separate from her Communion.
Q. But doth not the Abuse of Festivals to Intemperance and Luxury, make it necessary to have ibem abolished ?
A. I think this a very terrible Objection, fomewhat of the Nature of that of the scandalous Lives of Christians against the Efficacy of the Christian Religion: But as that is an Objection not so strong against Christianity, as it is shameful to Christians ; so this perverting of Holy Seasons Thews only the greatest Depravity of Mankind, in turning their Food into Poison; and no way reflects upon the Prudence and Piety of the Institution. For as they who
are intemperately disposed, do upon these Occasions turn Feasting, design’d for Hospitality and Charity, into Luxury and Excess; so the fame Men treat the Lord's Day with as little Respect, and make the Advantage of Rest and Leisure from their worldly Affairs only an Instrument to promote their Pleasure and Diversions. But I wish Christians would lay this seriously to Heart, and retrieve the Honour of such Holy Seasons by the Exercises of Piety and Charity; left our spiritual Governors should be forced to lay these Festivals aside, as it is certain the Ancient Church was to abolish even some Apostolical Rites, viz. the Agape and Kiss of Charity, through Mens obstinate Abuse of them.
Q. Whence arose those Festivals in the Primitive Church wbich were kept in Commemoration of Martyrs ?
A. This Practice seems to be founded upon the Exhortation of St. Paul to the Hebrews, who, to encourage them to Conftancy in the Faith, advises them to be mindful of their Bishops, and Governors, who had preached to them
the Gospel, and had sealed it with their Blood. Heb.13.7. Remember them, faith he, which have the Rule
over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God; whose Faith follow, considering the End of their Conversation. And it is not without Reafon that St. Paul is thought hereby chiefly to hint at the Martyrdom of St. James the Bishop of Jerusalem, who not long before had laid down his Life for the Testimony of Jesus. Hence proceeded the great Reverence People then had for those who luffered for the Profesion of Christianity, and laid down their Lives for the Con
firmation firmation of it: Thus the Church of Smyrna pro-Eufeb. fessed they wortbily loved the Martyrs, as the Hift. Lib. Disciples and Followers of our Lord ; and because 4.C. 15. of their exceeding great Affection to their King and their Mafter. Upon this Account they thought it reasonable to do all possible Honour to their Memories ; partly that others might be encouraged to the same Patience and Fortitude, and partly that Virtue, even in this World, might not lole its Reward.
Q. How did they use to observe these Festivals.
A. They were wont once a Year to meet at the Graves of the Martyrs; there folemnly to recite their Sufferings and Triumphs, to praise their Virtues, to bless God for their pious Examples, for their holy Lives, and their happy Deaths. Besides, they celebrated these Days with great Expressions of Love and Charity to the Poor, and mutual Rejoicings with one another, which were very sober and temperate, and such as became the Modesty and Simplicity of Christians.
Q. Were these annual Solemnities early praclised in the Church?
A. It is certain they were very ancient, though when they first began is not exactly known. In the Axis of the Martyrdom of St. Ignatius, we AA. Mart. find that those that were Eye-witnesses of his Ignat. Sufferings, for this Reason publish the Day of his Martyrdom, (which, according to learned Men, happened about the Year 110) that the Church of Antioch might meet together at that Time to celebrate the Memory of such a valiant Combat and Martyr of Christ. After this we read of the Church of Smyrna's giving an Ac
Euseb. count of St. Polycarp's Martyrdom, (which was Hift. 1. 4. A.C. 168.) and of the Place where they had
entombed his Bones, and withal professing, that they would assemble in that Place, and celebrate the Birth-Day of his Martyrdom with Joy and Gladness; both in Memory of what he suffered,
and for the Exercise and Preparation of those De Cor. that might hereafter suffer. Tertullian, who is
very careful in recounting the Practices of the Primitive Church, affirms, that Christians were wont to celebrate yearly the Days of the Martyrs Birth, that is, their Sufferings, as a Custom
received from the Tradition of their Ancestors. De Vit. In Constantine’s Time these Days were commandCon.lib.4. ed to be observed with great Care and Strict
ness; and it was thought a Piece of Prophane,
ness to be ablent from the Meetings of the Ser. 353. Christians at such Times. And St. Augustine de temp. makes it a Character of a Son of the Church, to
observe the Festivals of the Church.
Q. Why did they call the Days of their Death their Birth-Days?
A. Because they looked upon those as the true Days of their Nativity, wherein they were freed from the Pains and Sorrows of a troublefome World, placed out of the reach of Sin and Temptation, delivered from this Valley of Tears, these Regions of Death and Misery, and born again unto the Joys and Happiness of an endless Life, an Inheritance incorruptible, that fadeth not away.
Q. How ought we 10 observe the Festivals of the Church?
A. In such a Manner as may answer the Ends for which they were appointed : That God may be glorified by an humble and grateful Acknow
ledgment of his Mercies and that the Salvation of our Souls may be advanced, by firmly believing the Mysteries of our Redemption; and by imitating the Example of those primitive Patterns of Piety that are set before us.
Q. What Manner of keeping these Days anfwers tbese Ends ?
A. We should constantly attend the Publick Worship, and partake of the Blessed Sacrament, if it be administred. In private we should enlarge our Devotions, and suffer the Affairs of the World to interrupt us as little as may be. We should particularly express our Rejoicing by Love and Charity to our poor Neighbours. If we commemorate any Mystery of our Redemption, or Article of our Faith, we ought to confirm our Belief of it, by considering all those Reasons upon
which it is built; that we may be able to give a good Account of the Hope that is in us. We should from our Hearts offer to God the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving, and resolve to perform all those Duties which result from the Belief of such an Article. If we com. memorate any Saint, we should consider the Virtues for which he was most eminent, and by what Steps he arrived at so great Perfection; and then examine ourselves how far we are defective in our Duty, and earnestly beg God's Pardon for our past Failings, and his Grace to enable us to conforın our Lives for the Time to come to those admirable Examples that are iet before us.
Q. What Command is there concerning the Manner of observing Festivals under the Law? A. That they sould not appear vajore the Lord Deut
. 16. empty. Every Man jould give us be is able, &c, 16, 17,