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ber, by communing with our own hearts, by fervent prayer, by holding high converse with our Maker, and cultivating some acquaintance with that unseen world to which we are all hastening, and which, in one way or other, must be our portion for ever.
Many of those whom I now see before me havé, from their high ranķ and situation in life, full leisure and ample opportunities for all these important purposes; and let them be assured, that a strict account will one day be demanded of them in what manner and with what effect they have employed the tálents, the time, and the many other advantages with which their gracious Maker has inclulged them.
And even those who are most engaged in the busy and laborious scenes of life, have at least one day in the week which they may, und which they ought to dedicate to the great concerns of religion. Let then that day be kept sacred to its original destination by all ranks of men, from the highest to the lowest. Let it not be profaned by needles, journies, by splendid entertainments, by crowded as5
semblies, by any thing in short which
precludes either ourselves, our families, or our domestics, from the exercise of religious duties, or the improvement of those pious sentiments and affections which it was meant to inspire. Let me not, however, be misunderstood. I mean not that it should be either to the rich
poor, or to any human being whatever, a day of gloom and melancholy, a day of superstitious rigour,and of absolute exclusion from all society and all innocent recreation. I know of nothing in Scripture that requires this, I know of no good effects that could result from it. On the contrary, it is a festival, a joyful festival; a day to which we ought always to look forward with delight, and enjoy with a thankful and a grateful heart. But let it be remembered at the same time, that it is a day which God claims as his own ; that he has stamped upon it a peculiar mark of sanctity; and that it ought to be distinguished from every other day; in the first place, by ręsting from our usual occupations, and giving rest to our servants and our cattle; in the next, by attendance on the public worship of God; and in the remaining intervals, by relaxations and M 2
enjoyenjoyments peculiarly its own; not by quotidian tumult, noise, and dissipation; but by the calm and silent pleasures of retirement, of recollection, of devout meditation, of secret prayer, yet mingled discreetly with select society, with friendly converse, with sober recreation, and with decent cheerfulness throughout the whole.
It was to draw off our attention from the common follies and vanities of the week, and to give the soul a little pause, a little respite, a little breathing from the incessant importunities of business and of pleasure, that this holy festival was instituted. And if we cannot give up these things for a single day, if we cannot make this small sacrifice to Him from whom we derive our very existence, it is high time for us to look to our hearts, and to consider very seriously whether such a disposition and temper of mind as this will ever qualify us for the kingdom of heaven.
“ Could ye not watch with me one hour ?" said our divine Master to his slumbering companions * Can
ye not give me one day out of seven? may he now say to his thoughtless dis
* Mark xiv. 37.'
ciples. Let none of us then ever subject ourselves to this bitter reproach. Let us resolve from this moment to make the Christian sabbath a day of holy joy and consolation ; a day of heavenly rest and refreshment; and above all, a day for the attentive perusal of those sacred pages which have been the subject of these Lectures, and of your most serious attention. It is to be hoped indeed, that we shall not confine our religion and our devotion to that day only; but even that day properly employed, will in some degree sanctify all the rest. It will disengage us (as it was meant to do) gradually and gently from that world, which we must soon (perhaps sooner than we imagine) quit for ever; it will raise our thoughts above the low and trivial pursuits of the present scene, and fix them on nobler and worthier objects ; it will refine and purify, exalt and spiritualize our affections; will bring us nearer and nearer to God, and to the world of spirits; and thus lead us on to that CELES, TIAL SABBATII, that EVERLASTING REST, for which the Christian sabbath was meant to prepare and harmonize our souls.
MATTH. CAAP. vi. AND viž.
N these two chapters our Lord continues
and concludes his admirable discourse from the Mount.
The first thing to be noticed here is a strong and repeated caution to avoid all show and ostentation in the performance of our religious duties.
The three instances specified are the acts of giving alms, of praying, and of fasting,
The direction with regard to the first is, “ Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them, otherwise
ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thy alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men; verily !