« הקודםהמשך »
voice spake this command, and wrote it with his own finger. With this example and with these solemnities was one day in seven consecrated to Jehovah.
W ben the new creation was finished, the creation of boliness in the soul of man, the creation of a church, comprising immense multitudes of immortal minds, as a holy and eternal kingdom unto God, Christ arose from the dead to endless life and glory, became the first fruits of them that slept,' and their forerunner into the heavens. On this divine occasion, the same exalted beings, who sang together wben the Heavens and the earth were made, and proclaimed 'glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will towards men,' when the Saviour of the world was born, now renewed their songs, and entered with Christ into the highest heavens, with all the pomp and splendour, which invested Sinai at the promulgation of the law.
On this day the Spirit of grace and truth descended upon the apostles of our Lord and Saviour ; baptized them with fire, endued them with inspiration, the gift of tongues, and the spirit of prophecy, gave them to understand the Gospel in its glorious mysteries, and enabled them, with wonderful miracles, to prove its divine origin, and thus to erect the spiritual kingdom of God in the world.
All these examples, the most august, the most amazing which the universe ever beheld, leave their whole weight, their infinite authority, upon this institution. Every Christian therefore, while he keeps the Sabbath holy unto God, ought, in order to quicken himself in his duty, to remember that on this sacred day God rested; that his Redeemer rested; that the Spirit of Grace descended ; and that angels repeatedly united together it enraptured praise. Nor ought be, in any wise, to forget that no institution can plead so many and so great things done to solemnize and consecrate it as holy unto God, and as indispensably binding upon man.
3. We learn from the observations already made with what emotions the Sabbath ought to be regarded by us.
We assemble in the house of God, to glorify him in the religious worship which he has appointed, to seek the everlasting life of our own souls, to obtain and increase holiness in our hearts, to remember, admire, and celebrate the wonderful works of the old and new creations, and the glorious perfec
tions of the Creator and Redeemer. What emotions ought ve to feel while engaged in this divine employment? Such unquestionably as angels experienced, when these works were done, and these perfections were displayed.
Particularly, the Sabbath demands of all men profound reverence and solemn awe. All the things, which have been mentioned, are supremely great, sublime, and wonderful. The most awful of all beings is brought near to our hearts, and presents himself before our eyes, in manifestations of a most majestic and astonishing nature. Had we been present at the work of Creation, and heard the awful command, which brought into being the immense mass of original elements ; bad we seen the light, at the bidding of the great workman, disclose and involve thy formless confusion; the sea and the dry land separate; the grass, the herbs, and the trees instantaneously arise, and clothe the earth in one universal robe of life and beauty; the sun, the moon, and the stars lighted up in the heavens; the various animals filling the world with living beings; and man, the lord, the crown, and the glory of the whole, formed a rational and immortal being, to understand, enjoy, and celebrate, the divine work; could we have failed to experience the most profound awe, amid this complication of infinite wonders, and to glorify the great Author of them with that fear of the Lord,' which is the beginning of wisdom?'
Had we again been present at the crucifixion of our divine Redeemer, and beheld the earth tremble, the rocks rend, the veil of the temple part asunder, the graves open, the saints arise, and the sun hide his face in darkness; bad we accompanied his body to the tomb, and watched the descent of the angel, the convulsions of the second earthquake, the lightning's which streamed from his countenance, and the swooning of the guards who kept the sepulchre ; had we seen our Lord resume his life, come forth from the grave to his doubting, trembling disciples; had we seen him rise from the earth, enter the bosom of the cloud of glory, and, with a solemn and magnificent progress, ascend to the heavens ; must not the same awful emotions have been instinctively renewed ?
But all these things, this sacred day, this divine festival, places before our eyes. If, at the same time, we further remember, that we are in the house of God; that hither he
comes to meet us op designs of infinite love, to forgive our sins, to renew, receive, and save our souls; that we stand before hiin as sinners, as apostates, condemned, ruined, helpless, and in ourselves hopeless also ; that we are suppliants for mere mercy, dependent on the obedience of another, and without any righteousness of our own; must we not feel our littleness and our guilt? Must we not, instinctively, lay our hands on our mouths, and our mouths in the dust, and cry, Unclean?' Can we fail to fear that glorious and fearful name, Jehovah, our God?
This emotion every thing in the Scriptures conspires to improve and strengthen. The law of God, with all its commands, promises, and threatenings, its divine rewards and amazing penalties; the Gospel, with its solemn establishments of the law, its remedies for the imperfections of the law, the means of life for sinners, its glorious invitations, supreme allurements, and heavenly promises ; conspire with infinite force to persuade us to 'fear the Lord our God,' and to * tremble at his word.' He who is thoughtless and irreverent here, ought to have considered how he would have felt amid the thunders, the lightnings, the earthquake, the sound of the trumpet, and the flame of devouring fire, from which the Creator said, • Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.' To this man, more than to almost any other sinner, is addressed that humbling rebuke, . The ox knoweth bis owner, and the ass his master's crib ; but Israel doth not know; my people doth not consider.'
At the same time, the Sabbath is to be regarded with peculiar joy.
All things relating to the Sabbath are not only solemn, but joyful things. At the creation, a new universe started up into being, and life, reason, virtue, and immortality were given to an endless multitude of creatures. At the new creation an endless multitude of perishing sinners, destined to eternal sin and eternal woe, were recalled from the melancholy regions of death and depravity to immortal holiness, life, and glory. On these stupendous occasions all the sons of God shouted for joy. We are still more interested in the last of them than they could be ; for we are the miserable beings who are redeemed and saved. On the Sabbath, the great body of the church has been brought into the kingdom of grace and
prepared for the kingdom of glory. On the first Sabbath, upon which began the great work of erecting the kingdom of Christ in the world by the apostles, three thousand souls were added unto the Lord. On the first Sabbath the apostles were baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire,' and divinely empowered to spread salvation through the world. On the Sabbath the souls of men have ever since been flocking into the kingdom of Christ, and taking possession of immortality. The Sabbath has been the great means of preserving that kingdom. To the Sabbath it is owing, that the glad tidings of salvation are now heard in this desolate world. To the Sabbath it is owing, that in this land, where, ever since the deluge, nothing was heard but the howlings of wild beasts, the war-screams of savages, or the groans of torture and death, now through a thousand churches is weekly resounded the music of heaven, and the proclamation of life eternal to mankind, The Sabbath is appropriately the accepted time;' it is eminently · the day of salvation. To the Sabbath will our salvation be owed, if we attain salvation. On the Sabbath all Christian assemblies meet to offer up their humble prayers; to send up their hymns of praise to their · Father who is in heaven;' to teach, and receive, the words of
• eternal life;' to be baptized into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;' and to receive the body and blood of their crucified Redeemer. On the Sabbath the Christian world bears, in this manner, no unhappy resemblance of heaven; and a little part of the melancholy hours of time become a fair image of the pure and never-ending Sabbath beyond the grave.
With these delightful things in view, can we fail to unite with the church of the first-born,' and the innumerable company of angels,' and repeat and respond their divine exultation? Shall not our songs bear an humble unison with theirs ? Shall not the joy which they feel on the great business of the day, the repentance and return of sinners, find a · welcome admission to our hearts ? Shall we not' rejoice in him that made us?' Shall not the children of Zion be joyful in their King ?'
Ġod on this day rejoiced over the creation which his hands had made. Angels rejoiced in the wonders of the work, and in the divine workman. Christ rejoiced over the church, which
he redeemed with his own blood. Heaven has rejoiced at every return of this delightful season, and renewed its transports over all the sons of Adam, whom this day has with divine efficacy raised from death to life. “The Lord God is’ now
' our sun and our shield. Now he gives grace and glory.' This day he withholds no good thing from them that walk uprightly. Let mortals behold these things with wonder and gratulation, and anticipate the pure and permanent transports of the everlasting Sabbath in the heavens.
Nor is this holy day to be less regarded with gratitude.
All the benevolent things which God has done for us this day brings before our eyes. Our being, our daily blessings, our redemption, our salvation, the resumed character of holiness, the title to endless life, the final escape from sin and misery, this heavenly season proclaims with an unceasing voice. At this season, God comes down to dwell among men, divested, with respect to all who are willing to receive bim, of the awful frowns of an offended judge, clothed with the smiles of an eternal benefactor, and adorned with the endearing titles of the Father, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier of
Here the calls to gratitude are all united. The blessings of earth and heaven, of time and eternity, here invite us to love and praise the Author of all our mercies. Can we fail to render to him according to his benefits? Can we fail this day to ascribe · blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, to him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever?'
4. How ought the Christian church to bless God for this institution.
To this institution we owe far the greater part of the spirual blessings which we enjoy, and, in a high sense, we owe them all. But for this day, we should neither have sought nor secured eternal life; for where no Sabbath is, there is no religion. But for this day, earthly things would have engrossed all our thoughts. Honour, wealth, and pleasure are the real syrens, which charm mankind to shipwreck and death. To their songs the ear of man is by nature attuned, and the heart beats in regular response. But for this day, the world, as a canker, would rust, corrupt, and consume all the disposition to piety, and all the hopes of heaven. The soul would be benumbed. Religion would die. God would be forgotten.